If you plan to put her in the dog show ring, only one hairstyle will do for your little Maltese furbaby. If you aren't going to show her, you can choose among a wide variety of Maltese haircuts more suited for play, social situations or just lounging around the house.
Best in Show
The show-dog cut is the only haircut accepted by the Maltese breed standard. It is not so much a cut as it is the result of painstaking and tireless bathing and brushing.
The hair of a Maltese prepped for the show ring is parted on a perfectly straight line down the middle of the back. The hair is brushed on each side to hang down in a single sheet to her feet. If the ends drag on the floor, you can trim them slightly, but the coat must be long enough to conceal your pup's toes at all times. A topknot tied with a bow keeps the hair out of her eyes.
A puppy cut is the most popular haircut for Maltese outside of the show ring. "Puppy cut" simply means that your little friend's fur is trimmed very short (typically to between 1/4 inch and 1 inch) all over the body, including the head, tail and legs. This gives your pet a more puppy-like, playful appearance, compared with the sophisticated look of the show dog.
Taking a Short Cut
All styles except the show-dog and puppy cuts are considered short cuts. In each, the hair is trimmed short over the torso, but the length varies over the head, tail and legs. A classic short cut leaves long, feathery hair down the back of the legs, and longer hair on the head and tail, similar to a lion cut in other breeds.
The Classic Bob
A Maltese with a bob haircut sports longer, parted locks on the head, much like, well, a human with a bob. The rest of the body is styled in a short cut.
A tail flair cut is the reverse of the bob -- a short-trimmed dog with a long, flowing tail fringe.
The "Scissor Cut"
Some groomers advertise a scissor cut. This just means the groomer will cut any fur on any portion of your pet's body to any length you want. You can choose to give your punk rock Maltie a Mohawk, or make your pet look like she's wearing bloomers and a vest, or even give your Maltese a mullet. Each would technically be a scissor cut. No defined style is associated with this description. If it can be done with scissors, you have a scissor cut.
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.