If you own a Maltese Shih Tzu, you're likely to turn heads as you stroll the streets with this attractive cross-bred dog. Happy and intelligent, with a friendly, playful nature, this pup is a winning combination. But along with a sunny personality and good looks comes the task of Maltese grooming, which includes brushing, bathing, clipping, and more.
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Shih Tzu hair can be profuse, which means regular coat combing is a must to remove tangles and knots and keep it free of debris. Fortunately, the Maltese Shih Tzu coat doesn't shed as much as other dog breeds, which means upkeep isn't too onerous and the animal is ideal for pet owners with allergies.
Follow our guide to Maltese grooming and you'll soon own the most stylish pet on the block.
Brush on a schedule
Maltese grooming requires a steady commitment to coat brushing and combing once a day. By staying on top of this task, your Shih Tzu's hair — sometimes written as "Shitzu hair" — won't become matted down. It's a good idea to invest in a well-made wire pin brush that can easily pass through the layers of your dog's fur. Keep in mind that if your Maltese Shih Tzu has a long coat, it can take up to 30 minutes to remove all the tangles.
Bathe once a month
The general rule of thumb is to bathe your dog every couple of months, but some breeds need it more often, especially if they get dirty. And since Maltese Shih Tzus have white fur, which can easily stain or get caked in mud after a walk, pet owners should plan on a bath once a month.
Gentle dog shampoo is recommended, as this breed is smaller and more delicate than larger dogs and stronger products may irritate its skin. Use a blow dryer on your Shih Tzu's hair so he won't catch cold after bathing and to give his coat a pretty puffed-up appearance. Always set the dryer to the lowest heat setting to prevent burning the dog's skin.
Keep hair trimmed
Clipping the Maltese Shih Tzu's coat is important as fur that's too long can irritate the eyes. Focus your trimming around your dog's rear end, ears, and eyes, as these areas tend to attract dirt and debris which may cause an infection in smaller dogs. You'll also need to trim the Maltese Shih Tzu's nails every two weeks, though if your walks are on concrete sidewalks, this tough surface will help to naturally smooth down the nails a bit (this isn't the case for a dog that's kept mostly indoors).
When you cut your dog's nails, trim them to just above the end of the line of blood you'll spy inside the nail. If your dog seems anxious when it's time to trim his nails, work to make the process more familiar. A few tips to try include handling your dogs' paws regularly and letting your pet sniff the clippers and hear the sound they make. You can also clip a tiny portion at the start and then offer a treat or two by way of positive reinforcement.
Check ears and teeth
Part of Maltese grooming includes an inside check of the dog's ears. Look for mites, sores, or dirt and remove any foreign bodies gently with a damp soft cloth. Ears are high-risk areas for bacteria build-up, which could cause an infection. Last up, your pup's pearly whites! Yup, keeping your pet's mouth clean should be part of your bathing routine as plaque can adhere to his teeth and lead to periodontal disease. Brush at least weekly, though the goal should ultimately be once a day for optimal oral health.