Maltese dogs are known for their long, luxurious, silky hair — but don't be fooled. Though this breed generally taps out at less than seven pounds, their gorgeous coat is still a lot of work. We've seen the photos of gloriously flowing locks. Without the proper grooming, that can quickly turn into a matted, tangled mess. Enter: the puppy cut.
Puppy cuts are a favorite for small dog breeds, but the name is a little misleading. They're not just for puppies. Your adult dog may look absolutely adorable with a puppy cut, too. According to Portland Animal Clinic, it's just a catch-all term for a simple trim that leaves your dog with an even coat. Typically, the coat is kept between one and two inches in length, though Maltese puppy cuts may be a little bit longer just to enjoy the elegant locks that are a hallmark of the breed.
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While many pet owners opt to visit the groomer when it's time for their dog to get a haircut, you can give a Maltese puppy cut at home by following the steps below.
Prepare by brushing your Maltese
Cutting your Maltese's hair while it's still tangled is a one-way ticket to an uneven puppy cut. For this reason, you'll want to brush out your dog's hair using a groomer's brush and tooth comb designed to prevent mats and pick out pesky tangles. Always comb this breed from the tip of the hair to the body to avoid accidentally plucking out the hair.
If it's been a while since your dog has been groomed, you may need to cut out his mats and tangles. You should always try to soak the tangles with a conditioning treatment, first. Scissors may not be necessary, but if they are, trim mats and tangles at the absolute longest length possible. This will give you more to work with during the actual haircut.
Begin on your dog's back
To start your Maltese puppy cut, keep your dog in a standing or lying position. Whichever makes him the most comfortable. Begin by removing the hair on your dog's back with scissors or clippers until it's about an inch long (or up to two inches depending on your desired length). Use this length as a guide for the rest of your puppy cut as you move around to the hindquarters.
Remember not to cut your Maltese's tail. Though other small dog breeds have their tail trimmed during this type of grooming, a Maltese puppy cut leaves the breed's patented tail plume intact.
Move onto your dog’s legs
Once the hair on the back and hindquarters is cut, it's time to trim your Maltese's legs. Put him in the standing position and cut the hair in a straight line down each leg. This line should not narrow with the natural shape of your dog's legs. Trim the paws into a rounded shape, but leave them long enough that the nails don't show.
Cut the underside
Some dogs are easy and will lie on their back and let you trim their chest. Other dogs are more difficult. Most Malteses won't want to expose themselves while they're being groomed. Instead, keep your dog in the standing position and carefully trim around his stomach and genital area.
Though puppy cuts are generally uniform across a dog's whole body, you may want to cut a little more closely around your dog's underside because it's generally exposed to more dirt and bacteria.
Finish your Maltese puppy cut
Your Maltese puppy cut should end with the head and the ears. The hair inside a Maltese's ears needs to be regularly plucked to keep wax from building up, which leads to infection and inflammation. Since this area is sensitive and needs meticulous care, ditch your clippers (if you're using them) and opt for scissors for more precision.
It's important to trim away the errant hairs around your dog's eyes and nose; however, many Maltese owners choose to leave their dog's head a little bit on the longer side because they like the way the mustache looks on the breed. This starts to toe the line of puppy cut vs. teddy bear cut. Teddy bear cuts leave the face and legs a little fuller than a puppy cut, which is a uniform length all the way around. This generally works best on curly or frizzy-haired breeds, like if you have a Maltipoo.
Maltese puppy cut warnings
Though very short puppy cuts may be cute on a Maltese, it's important to remember that dogs actually rely on their coats to regulate their internal temperature. Many owners think that giving their dogs a short puppy cut during the summer can help them stay cool, but their coats actually have several layers that act as a natural cooling system. Never shave your dog's hair down to the skin.
If you've adopted a new Maltese puppy, it's important to train them to allow daily grooming from the start. This breed needs a lot of grooming, and it will be very difficult if they're not accepting of the process.