How to groom a Maltese (Brushing, bathing, nail care & more)

Grooming a Maltese will comprise doing several tasks such as taking care of the coat, clipping the nails, ear care, dental care, and others. These grooming processes can be done by a professional groomer but you can also groom your Maltese by yourself. 

However, it is always crucial that you know some of the most important Maltese grooming processes, the basics at least.

Some of the grooming tasks will be done more than others.

In this grooming guide, we are going to be looking at some of the steps that you can take when you are grooming your Maltese Terrier, why they should be done and how often they should be done.

Similar guide-How to groom a Poodle (Step by step)

So stick with us as we go through this step by step. 

Maltese Coat overview

The Maltese is a toy breed with a long and silky white coat with no undercoat. This makes the Maltese seem like he is floating in a cloud of white coat.

The human-like hair silky coat can grow long and even sweep the ground if not given a nice trim.

Fortunately, this dog does not shed much but will have high grooming needs to prevent tangling and knotting which can eventually lead to matting.

These dogs are also hypoallergenic meaning that they are suitable for allergy sufferers.

You can learn more about the Maltese Terrier by visiting our Maltese Lion guide.

How often should you groom a Maltese?

Knowing how often each of these tasks should be done can help you prepare an ideal Maltese grooming schedule to make sure that you never miss out on any of them.

Maltese grooming task Task frequency
Brushing the coat The Maltese coat should be brushed at least 3 times a week but daily brushing is preferred.
Bathing Once a month.

Can also be done when it necessary such as when the dog is muddy or smelly.

Some Malteses with skin conditions may be bathed after every 4 days with medical shampoo with a vet’s recommendation.

Nail care After every 4 weeks
Dental care The Maltese teeth should be cleaned daily, ideally.
Spritzing Should be done after brushing
Ear cleaning The ears should be cleaned at least once a month.

Ideally, ear care should be done weekly.

Wiping tear stains Should be done 2 times a day.

Maltese teddy bear cut

Maltese Grooming Tools

Brushing and combing tools

Pin brush:

A pin brush is great for straightening the Maltese’s coat without creating new tangles.

I would recommend getting a pin brush with ball-like heads at the end of the pins to protect the dog’s skin from getting irritated.

Bristle brush:

A bristle brush is great for helping settle down the coat after brushing but is not the best for getting rid of mats.

Some brushes are double-sided with one side being the pin brush side and the other being the bristle brush side. I would recommend investing in one of these. 

Grooming glove/Hand mint glove:

Grooming gloves are great for distributing Maltese coat oils and massaging your Maltese for a great grooming experience and bonding.

Using these gloves is easy and you do not have to worry about irritating the dog’s skin.

Steel comb:

Steel combs are great for detangling and removing knots that you may have missed after brushing the dog’s coat.

You should get one with closely spaced tines and another with tines that are spaced further away. Preferably you should get a double-sided steel comb with both closely and widely spaced tines.

Detangling spray:

Will help in conditioning the coat before brushing making brushing easier.

Bathing tools


You should use doggie shampoo and never use human shampoo. There are several shampoos that you can use depending on your preference or if your Maltese has a skin condition.

These shampoos include;

  • Fur whitening shampoos are designed for white coated dogs such as the Maltese just as the name suggests.
  • Smelly coat shampoos are great for dogs that may have rolled ins something smelly. I would recommend getting one with vegetable protein extract.
  • Medical shampoo for itchy skin, for treating skin conditions, sensitivity or allergies should be used with the recommendation of a veterinarian.
  • Shampoo for dry and dull skins.
  • Tick and flea shampoo.

You will need to buy a high-quality dog conditioner to provide the Maltese with moisturization. A conditioner is great for restoring some of the damage done by the shampoo on the hair.

A portable dog bath:

A portable dog bathtub can be used to bath your Maltese both indoors and outdoors. Get one that is fit for the Maltese as they come in different sizes and designs.

Some of the most popular dog baths are;

  • Shower bags
  • Multifunctional cleaning systems
  • Portable and elevated bathtubs

You will also need to invest in some towels and a dog fur dryer.

Nail trimming tools:

  • Nail trimming scissors for small dogs.
  • Guillotine nail clippers.
  • Nail grinders.

Maltese Hair trimming supplies:

Blunt edged scissors, especially for trimming hairs around the paw pads and ears.

Doggie hair clippers for giving the dog a nice haircut.

Dental and ear care supplies

  • Toothbrush
  • Doggie toothpaste
  • Cotton balls
  • Ear cleaning solution

How to groom a Maltese

How to Groom a Maltese (step by step)

Step 1: Bathing

Bathing a Maltese is important but overdoing it or doing it too often can have negative effects on the dog’s skin. This is because doing it too often strips the coat of the natural oils and causes the skin to dry out.

It can also be difficult to get your Maltese to cooperate with you during bathing.

You should, therefore, strive to make bathing a great experience for the dog by being gentle, praising him, and providing him with some tasty treats even time he stays calm during bathing.

Once you have all the supplies required for batting, you can proceed.

How to bath a Maltese

  1. First, brush the Maltese’s coat to remove all the tangles. Bathing your Maltese without first bathing him can make the tangles and knots worse. Brushing will also help remove dead hair that may clog the drain.
  2. Cover the dog’s ears with cotton balls to prevent water and shampoo from going in.
  3. Using a hose, jug, or shower spray, thoroughly wet the canine’s coat.
  4. Pour shampoo on the dog’s coat and massage it in, to lather using circular gentle motions. Make sure no shampoo gets around the eyes or ears and remember to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to dilute the shampoo.
  5. Avoiding the eyes and ears, rinse the coat thoroughly using clean water removing all the shampoo.
  6. After a thorough rinse, pour some conditioner on the coat and using similar circular and gentle finger motions, massage in the conditioner.
  7. Rinse the coat thoroughly for a second time using clean water. Remember to avoid the ears and eyes completely through and through.
  8. Drain away the water or take the Maltese out of the tub.
  9. Use clean and dry towels to get rid of most of the water. Set your high-velocity dryer to low heat and blow the dog’s coat to thoroughly dry him. Make sure you dry one area of the coat down to the skin before moving the next.

Step 2: Brushing the coat

Brushing the Maltese’s coat is essential because it helps remove debris, distribute coat oils, removes dead hair, and stimulates blood flow.

Before you begin brushing the coat, you will need to condition it by misting using a detangling spray.

A detangling spray will help to reduce static, make it easier to remove knots and tangles, minimize damage to the coat, rehydrate the coat and to restore the dog’s sheen.

When brushing the coat of a Maltese you should avoid using a slicker brushing or a de-shedding rake as these are meant for double-coated dogs such as the German Shepherd.

How to brush a Maltese

  1. Condition the coat using a detangling spray.
  2. Using a pin brush, brush the coat in small sections starting with hair closest to the skin and work all the way out. I would recommend starting brushing from the feet up to have a clear set brushing path.
  3. Use a bristle brush or mint glove to settle down and straighten the coat and to remove knots and tangles that you may have missed.
  4. Then work on the coat with a steel brush for the final touches. The comb should be able to go through the coat smoothly after you are done.
  5. Finally, with the steel comb, comb the dog’s face.

What is spritzing a Maltese?

Spritzing a Maltese is the process of spraying the coat with a leave-in conditioner to deodorize your dog’s coat. This will also protect the dog from the sun and prevent damage to hair due to friction. 

Other benefits of spritzing are;

  • Offer the Maltese protection from dry air during winter.
  • Help the coat repel dirt, debris, irritants, and allergens.
  • Keep the Maltese smelling nice and fresh.
  • Will keep the ends of the hair free.
  • Detangling and prevent the formation of mats.

Maltese puppy clip


Mats are common in the Maltese and if not addressed they could make the dog uncomfortable and be even act as a breeding ground for fleas and ticks.

The best way to deal with these mats is to make sure that they are formed in the first place through frequent brushing.

Mats should be removed using your fingers.

If you find a mat, moisturize it then slide your fingers through it parting small tufts of hair at a time.

After splitting the mat, go over it using a wide-toothed steel comb and finally a more tightly-toothed comb for the final touches.

Step 3: Paw care

Paw care will involve trimming the nails and trimming the hair between the paws.

Trimming the nails

Long nails can be a problem and even cause injuries to the Maltese when he is playing.

The nails should not touch the ground when the Maltese is standing in front of you. Also, if you hear the nails clicking on the floor while the dog is walking, you should know that they are too long.

The toenails are made up of dead tissue and a quick for blood supply.

When clipping or grinding the nails, the aim is to only reduce the dead tissue without going too deep into the sensitive quick.

You will also need to purchase a quick stop in case of any accidents.

Dog nail quick
Black Maltese Dog nail quick

Trimming hair between the paw pads

You will need to use blunt-edged scissors or thinning shears to trim the hair between the paw pads.

This can be done at least once every 2-weeks to provide a proper footing for the Maltese.

Step 4: Face and eye care

The eyes will need to be wiped daily and tear stain removed from the dog’s face.

Use a clean washcloth or cotton ball soaked in warm water to wipe the area around the dog’s eyes.

This will clean any tear stains from around the eye and prevent the stain from forming on the face coat. After cleaning the area around the eyes, apply a small amount of mild jelly such as vaseline.

For tear stain that may have formed on the dog’s face, you will need a tear stain remover.

Ideally, you should use a cotton ball and the tear stain remover to clean the tear stain then rinse that area with clean water. (Remember to read the instructions before use)

You can also for a vet’s recommendation on the tear stain remover that you should use.

Step 5: Dental care

For Maltese dental care, you can use a doggie toothbrush/finger toothbrush and doggie toothpaste to clean the teeth.

Brush the front and back of the teeth using a small doggie toothpaste amount.

Some dental chews and treats will also strengthen the teeth and also help in cleaning.

Step 6: Ear care

The Maltese had excessive hair around their ears that will need to be trimming using thinning shears to allow free flow of hair. This will also prevent the accumulation of debris around the ears.

You should also do weekly ear checks for wax build-up, sensitivity to touch, odor, inflammation, scratching, or the Maltese constantly tilting his head to one side. In case, you notice any of these you should give your vet a visit immediately. 

To clean dirt, wax, or debris in the ears, dampen a cotton ball in a dog ear cleaner, hydrogen peroxide, or mineral oils. (never use Q-tips)

Hold the ear flap using one of your hands then gently wipe the inner part of the ears. Move the cotton ball in the outward direction and avoid going too deep.

Change the cotton ball every time it gets soiled.

Your Maltese may also want to shake off excesses of the year cleaner, therefore, get out of his way before he does it.

If you have experience cleaning a dog’s ears or are not comfortable doing it, let a professional groomer do it for you.

Top 5 Maltese Haircuts

As I mentioned earlier, a Maltese may also need to get his hair trimmed to a more manageable size using thinning shears and blunt edges scissors.

This will also prevent the hair from sweeping the ground and getting dirty.

Here are the top and popular Maltese hairstyles;

1. Maltese Puppy clip

Also known as the Puppy cut this hairstyle is common in Maltese puppies but is also great for adult Maltese dogs.

The puppy cut will involve uniformly trimming the hair around the face, body, ears, tail, and underbelly to a length of between 0.5 to 1 inch. 

This hairstyle is cute, short, and easy to maintain.

Maltese puppy clip

2. The Standard Cut/Show cut

This is a popular and high maintenance haircut for individuals that want to show their Maltese.

It involves leaving the dog with a long coat that almost touches the floor and having long facial fur as well.

Some owners also tie a double-knot at the top of the head t complete this fancy style.

However, if you want you Maltese to don this style, you should be prepared for the high maintenance that it comes with.

Maltese show cut

3. Maltese Bob Cut

This hairstyle is also simply known as Maltese Bob and resembles tha human bob hairstyle.

To achieve this look the hair around the dog’s body is trimmed short while the hair on the tail and ears is left longer.

This look is easy to maintain.

4. Maltese teddy bear cut

The Teddy bear Maltese haircut is where the coat is trimmed to a length of 0.25 inches at the back and sides of the dog. The coat in the other areas is left longer, typically to a length of between 0.5 and 1 inch. 

Hair around the dog’s face is then trimmed to give it a rounded appearance and matching the length of the coat length.

You can also leave some hair at the top of the head for a knot.

Maltese Teddy bear Cut

5. Maltese Short Cut

This haircut is mainly done by professional groomers as it involves having some skills.

For this style, the hair around the back and sides of the torso is trimmed short to a length of about 0.25 inches. The hair around the chest, neck, stomach, and bottom is made even shorter to half the length of the torso.

The hair on the legs is trimmed to a length of 1.5 inches with rounding of the hair on the head and bob-ish ears.

For the tail, a fringe of about 2 inches is left.

Maltese Short Cut

Final take

If you have gone through the above process and understood it, it may be time to do grooming by yourself.

However, if you are a new dog owner some of the processes above such as nail clipping and cleaning the ears should be done a professional groomer.

Also, if you are still not comfortable with any of the grooming processes above you should visit a groomer and observe how he/she grooms your Maltese.

Was this grooming guide for you. Share your thoughts and questions in the comment section below. 

There you go, WOOF!