It’s easy to fall in love with the Maltese with those bright eyes and gorgeous white hair, but there are other factors to consider before making a dog a part of your family.
And this is especially true if someone in your family has allergies or you just don’t want to be cleaning up tons of dog hair. This will lead you to ask if the Maltese are known to be shedders. The Maltese are considered non-shedders, which also makes them hypoallergenic.
We’ll do a deep dive into everything Maltese, shedding, and allergies, so if you’re interested in learning more, please keep reading!
The Maltese Coat
The Maltese is a beautiful little dog that is known for their black eyes and nose amidst a glorious long coat of white hair. First of all, there is actually no such thing as a true hypoallergenic or a completely non-shedding dog. But some dogs don’t shed nearly as much as others, and the Maltese is one of those.
The first advantage the Maltese have is their size – a small dog will typically shed less hair than a larger dog. The second advantage the Maltese have is they have hair rather than fur. Fur is thicker, sometimes coarser, doesn’t grow, and is often double coated. Hair is silkier, usually single-coated, and continuously grows.
Maltese have a single coat of hair, and these two combinations mean they have a lot less hair to shed. Dogs like Huskies have double coats of short fur that create blizzards of fur inside the home when brushed.
The Maltese shed, no question, but it’s minimal, especially when held in comparison to dogs like the Husky. The Maltese coat is also quite soft and silky. It is traditionally kept long, which will undoubtedly shed more than if you keep their coat clipped shorter.
If the reason you’re considering the Maltese is that you’re looking for a hypoallergenic dog due to allergies, we’ll get into all of that here. Clearly, having a dog that doesn’t shed much might make them an easier dog to live with if you have allergies to dogs.
But bear in mind that our allergies are actually triggered by a protein found in the dander, saliva, sweat, and urine, and not the hair. These triggers hitch a ride on the hair, which covers the surfaces of your home, and this is why so many people mistakenly believe that the hair is the problem.
When the protein in the dander attached to the hair eventually finds its way into your lungs, your immune system is affected, and your allergies are triggered. This is why owning a dog that doesn’t shed much is more desirable for allergy sufferers – the less shedding, the less the dander. But there will always be shedding to some degree.
Allergies to Male or Female Dogs
So, we have some good news. It seems that not everyone who believes they have dog allergies are actually allergic to all dogs. Experts have found that approximately 40% of allergy sufferers are actually allergic to the prostate protein,1 which is only found in male dogs.
And if this is the case with you, you might be able to live with a female dog without any bothersome allergies! The only way to determine if you fall into the 40% is to have a special blood test that pinpoints the protein you’re allergic to. Speak to your doctor if you’re interested in learning more.
What Triggers Shedding?
As you’ve learned, the Maltese does not shed too much, but if they suddenly start shedding more than usual, it’s critical to take note of it and speak to your vet.
Stress is one of the main reasons why a dog might suddenly start losing more hair than usual. These things may cause stress, and subsequently more shedding, in your Maltese:
You get the idea. The Maltese are quite sensitive and can pick up on your own stress or react to the changes around them.
If you have a male Maltese or a spayed female, this clearly isn’t the problem. But if there is a chance your Maltese is pregnant, one sign of pregnancy is hair loss. Hormones cause hair loss, but she should get back her usual coat after giving birth.
Certain medical problems can cause hair loss, or alopecia, with some more serious conditions such as certain cancers and hypothyroidism. There is also the possibility of skin allergies, but most of these conditions will have other symptoms in addition to the hair loss. If you suspect your dog is experiencing stress or medical issues, bring them to your vet.
Managing the Shedding
Your Maltese will shed, so if you’re hoping for as little as possible, there are some steps you can take to manage the shedding, and this is all about just regular old grooming.
Brushing is necessary for all dogs but especially for the Maltese – particularly if you keep their coats long.
If their coat is long, they will need brushing every day, but with a shorter coat, they will need brushing a few times a week. If the coat becomes tangled, it will likely become matted when the loose hair isn’t consistently removed through regular brushing.
Aim for a pin brush for regular brushing sessions and look for one with bubble tips. Having a single coat makes it easier to accidentally scratch their skin. You can start brushing with the pin brush and finish with a slicker brush to smooth their fur.
The Maltese need a bath roughly every 2 to 3 weeks with high-quality dog shampoo. Their skin and hair must be kept moisturized, which will help control a lot of shedding. Brush their coat before the bath.
But overbathing will strip their skin of its natural oils and consequently cause more shedding. So keep to the bath schedule every 2 to 3 weeks unless otherwise necessary.
Use a dog shampoo made with natural ingredients, like oatmeal, to help with sensitive skin and moisturize the coat.
The food your Maltese eats will have a direct effect on the condition of their coat. A high-quality dog food formulated for small dogs will provide them with the right balance of nutrients, which will keep the coat in great shape.
Look for food that includes omega fatty acids, vitamin E, folic acid, and has no artificial ingredients. Picking up cheap dog food will influence their coat so aim for good dog food and ensure they have plenty of fresh, clean water.
In addition to a healthy diet, you might want to add supplements to your dog’s diet. This is particularly important if you can’t afford the more expensive food. Aim for fish oil supplements in either pill or liquid form.
Fish oil is fantastic for coats and is additionally great for their joints, nutrient absorption, organ function, and their overall health.
The Maltese most definitely do not shed very much unless there’s an issue with their health or they are stressed. Taking care of your Maltese’s coat includes regular brushing, occasional baths, and ensuring they have a healthy diet.
Take care of the outside and inside of your dog and keep them as happy as possible, and you will see very little shedding and a super happy companion!
Featured Image Credit: Jolanta Beinarovica, Shutterstock