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I have been asked many times about how to 'clip" down a Maltese.  All of my dogs are kept in a similar clipped down cut after their show career is over......I call it their poodle disguise.

Below is a step by step illustrated version done by the late,
 Maltese breeder, Marjorie Martin, who was very well known
for her gorgeous Maltese.

How about a Maltese Shortcut ?

from Maltese Tales
September - October, 1983 issue
by: Marjorie Martin

All Maltese would look best in special coat, of course. But sooner or later, for reasons such as health, comfort, grooming, and time, most Maltese Champions, broods, studs, pampered pets and those on the other side of the hill are wearing cut hair. And what sorry cuts many Maltese get! Well-meaning owners give them a "hack-in-the-dark" and groomers do them out like misfit Schnauzers and Poodles.

Maltese deserve their own haircut. It should be attractive. After all, cut Maltese are often the ones who "sell" puppies and stud service, greet visitors at the door and go visiting with you. And since cut hair is essentially an everyday outfit for the Maltese, it should be simple to do and easy to keep

I've tried a lot of trims and variations and have found one cut that I think is most practical and complimentary. I call it the "Maltese Shortcut." It takes no special skills and little time to do. It's a snip to maintain and grows out nicely. Scissors, comb, clippers, and three blades (sizes 5,10, and 5/8), then ten short steps and your Maltese has a shortcut.


Chanel, fresh out of her show coat, has such super thick hair that she looks pretty sharp in her shortcut, especially wearing a rhinestone bracelet. Actually, she gets more attention now on walks than she did in oily wrappers!

Heidi was just in for a bath and touchup. Her shortcut is two months old and is quickly growing into a puppy cut.

1. Comb the hair on top of the dog's head back and cut off at the top of the neck between the ears.
Illustration 1.

2. Shave the back and sides of the neck and body with the # 5 blade. To keep the topline as short as possible, do not shave even a smidgen onto the tail. Make the arch high above each leg for a long-leg look.

Illustration 2.

3. Part the head hair in the middle and comb down on either side. Cut a line between the ears and eyes on both sides of the face.
Illustration 3.

4. With a # 10 blade, shave the sides of the head, the front of the neck, underside and rear end. Shave also the inside of each leg down a couple inches from the body to eliminate snarled areas.

Illustration 4.

5. Shave a small area between and under the eyes using the # 5/8 blade. This gives a "deep stop" look and eliminates most tear stain. DO NOT shave the muzzle all the way to the end of the nose to avoid a pointy profile.
Illustration 5.

6. Scissor hair on the top of the head into a "mushroom cap" effect. If the hair is thick and will stand, leave it a little longer (unless the head is large), for a more babydoll look. A little longer toward the back is generally most attractive.
Illustration 6.

7. Part the muzzle hair and comb down and forward on both sides. Trim along the sides straight out so hair is about 3/4 inch at the end of the muzzle and round off toward the nose. Comb the beard down and scissor to match the mustache with a point at the chin. Make sure you get those long hairs stuck in the dog's mouth.
Illustration 7.

8. Comb ears down and cut the ear hair off in a bobb-even with the beard or longer if the hair is suitable. If the ears are matted or to minimize grooming, hold the ears out and cut the hair off, about 1/2 inch from the ear edges. The shorter ear cut makes the neck appear longer and accents the eyes.
Illustration 8.

9. Hold the tail straight out back, comb all the hair down and cut about two inches long. A little shorter at both ends, so when it is curled over the back it looks like a pompom. A sparse haired tail looks better cut shorter. A low tail set may appear higher with the hair cut quite short near the body. If the tail does not go up and over at all, make certain that all the photographs are taken from the front.
Illustration 9.

10. Scissor the hair on each leg gradually getting longer from the shaved areas to make the legs look as straight as possible. Leave the leg hair about 1 1/2 inches long if it is thick and not a grooming problem. Cut the nails short and trim the hair off the bottom of each foot and scissor around the edges to minimize the foot. Do not shave the toes.


Illustration 10.

Well, that's my Maltese Shortcut.   I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is and how good your Maltese looks in it.   (If your Maltese's hair is quite long or very snarly, you might not get the perfect fit the first time, but it should be close.)   I tie satin ribbons around the necks of customers Maltese.   My owners Maltese wear fancy collars and name tags regularly and, when we go out, rhinestone people bracelets or flowers. Shortcut Maltese look cute in sweaters too.   Dressing up is not a Poodle's prerogative, you know!

With the shortcut, your Maltese can always be neat, clean and attractive with very little effort.   Just fluff his mustache and comb his ears and tail once in a while.   If he is a superstud, you might have to spot-wash his rear leg or two!   When he does need a bath, it takes only a few minutes. Once a month, do a touchup.

   1. Cut his toenails and scissor the hair off the bottoms and edges of his feet.

   2. With # 5/8 blade shave a circle ON THE BODY around the base of the tail to keep the body short and the tail high.

   3. Unless you are going to grow coat, trim area between and under the eyes to keep the deep-stop look and avoid eye stain.

After two or three months, since the hair on the body grows fastest, your Maltese will look like he has a "puppy cut" with generous ears and tail. After four to six months, when your Maltese's hair becomes a grooming problem, repeat the complete "shortcut."

Thus, with two or three shortcuts a year and a few touchup minutes, your Maltese is always presentable to show off your line's disposition and structure -- or just to show off! Now, don't you and your shortcut Maltese have more fun? Perhaps one day a Schnauzer or Poodle will ask his groomer to do him out in a Maltese Shortcut!


Below are pictures of a couple of my cut-down Maltese. 

The first is a picture of Vanity (of course) after her very first haircut.  You will notice that for her, I took her hair off of her ears. I didn't particularly like that look. Eventually, I ended up with keeping her face shaved like a poodle (she has always had allergies) and leaving hair on her ears.
The second picture is of Image (Vanity's grand-daughter)  after her first  haircut.  By this time in my grooming experience I had started doing a little schnauzer mustache on the muzzle with the scissored short topknot and the body clipped very short with a 10 blade.

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