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Archived Message
Readers Bark Back
by Sarah Jane Feldmann

Readers Bark Back I have never owned a Maltese, ever even known one. But circumstances dictate that I must chose a small dog at this point in my life. So I was excited when I read the "Breed in Brief" (February 1998, Living the High Life) in which Sarah Christie describes the Maltese as "not hyperactive or high-strung,: "emotionally stable and not overly sensitive," "unaggressive," "loyal and loving," a "temperament(s)...suitable for small children," "long-lived." What's not to like? Sounds like a big dog personality in a convenient (and beautiful) package. But then she adds, when talking about the coat, "You could opt for a utilitarian "puppy cut," but this defeats the reason for owning a Maltese...". Really? What about "not hyperactive, emotionally stable, unaggressive", etc.? I don't want a show dog, I want a friend. Why must the outward appearance count for so much?
I am sure a lot of us Maltese owners don't care about the outward appearance of our baby. The first thing they are, is our friends. If you don't go to shows you don't have to keep the coat long. I think they are as cute whit the short coat (called puppy cut ?). Now for the temperament, my Alex is very active, loves to play, loves to rampage in the garden, is very affectionate but when he does not like something he tries to stand his ground. For their small size, they are very courageous. At the slightest noise he does not know he barks : this is annoying sometimes. I hope he will grow out of that specially after all the "no" he gets. Being affectionate, they want you to show them affection to, so they need a lot of attention. I din't bought a Maltese for the coat, but because of his size and his affectionate character.
Oh, Sarah Jane! Just wait till you get to brush a silky-smoothe, long maltese coat! or pat your little dog with its fluffy, wonderful cape of hair! They are hysterical when attacking their toys - they look like demented ragmops! Loyal, eventempered, friendly companions they are for sure, but, there is no denying the joy their luxurious hair gives. I hope you get a Maltese. You'll see!
Hi! Yes, that phrase "defeats the purpose" set me back, too. Some Maltese owners feel very strongly "con" on the puppy cut debate. We keep Sweet Pea cut at about 2 inches, and she couldn't be cuter! We take her to the groomer every 4 weeks, for a scissor-trim. I couldn't manage the long daily grooming sessions required for the long, and admittedly elegant look of the show Maltese--but it would be foolish to let that stop us from being the proud, happy parents of our darling! Her personality is just wonderful, everything I'd heard is true. Sweet Pea is a joyous bundle of love--not hyper, not yappy, gets along well with others--I could go on and on! Perhaps the next Maltese Only survey could ask the question: Do you trim your Maltese? It would be interesting to see the results.
I never knew a Maltese dog either until September 1996 when my husband and I dogsat one for good friends of ours. By the fifth day we knew we wanted a small dog just like a Maltese, by the seventh day we definitely wanted a Maltese, and by the 10th day we didn't want to give the one we had back to his owners. Well, we did give him back (the owners are our best friends, after all), but within a month had a three-month old male puppy of our very own. He is just the love of our lives and he is everything you mentioned and more. Your description of a big dog in a small package is exactly right. As far as the puppy cut, I, for one, really prefer it. I think they are cuter with shorter hair, not to mention it being so much easier to keep up.
Hi, Your going to love a Maltese, it's true. They are hardy little dogs, and smart to boot. IMHO, they are so beautiful, that even those of us who clearly don't have show-quality Maltese, still fall in love with the tresses. Although I wish I had the tolerance to maintain his coat at 4-inches, I don't. I keep my Louie in a short cut because I don't comb him out daily and mats can arise (especially with the wearing of coats in winter), but he's still adorable. The only thing I disagree with about your description is that I question their being the right breed to bring into a house with children. As a small to tiny dog, they can be a frail for children and their form of rough-housing tends to be limited. Perhaps someone with children would be a better a better source for information, however. Good luck. It's a great breed.
Hi. I have two beautiful Malteses and I insist on keeping them both "puppy cut." I do not look at this entirely in a utilitarian sort of way. First of all, maintaining show-style, long flowing hair on the Maltese (as with any dog) requires an awful lot of time and effort. Second, I think that the puppy cut looks the best. These dogs are so amazingly beautiful, why hide them under a carpet of hair? Short hair is more practical, easier to maintain and so on. I know many owners feel that the classy, graceful look of long hair is wonderful, but if you don't intend to show your Maltese, why not opt to see "more" of your dog! Of course, this is my opinion only. Maltese's with long hair are gorgeous. The short hair just works best for me, Chilli and Belle.

Either way, Malteses are absolutely wonderful dogs. It's wonderful because many people have never seen a Maltese and are amazed when they see my two beautiful babies. I just suck up the compliments, and so do my pups. You should check out the photo album which is accessible off the home page of this web site.
Wendy P

Sarah, the beautiful long coat in my opinion is for a show dog. If you want a wonderful friend/companion opt for the puppy cut. This little guy/gal is for you not for someone else. I let my first Maltese' coat grow long but it was by no means "show quality". I groomed him myself as will I do Busters (my 5 1/2 mo old). It takes time and patience but well worth the loving affectionate little personality you will have.
Libby & Buster
Sarah Jane: I think the cut you keep your fur baby in should be your own choice. The maltese has a great personality and is a wonderful pet. Don't let someone elses opinion on how the coat should be kept influence you. If you think this is the right pet for your family go for it. Good luck.
Oh, I bet you are going to get a lot of replies on this one! In my humble opinion, there is nothing at all wrong with a "puppy cut" for your Maltese! I have had two friends with Maltese babies and they were both puppy cut and cute as can be. When I got my own puppy, I always knew that I would never want to spend the time to take care of a long coat. Their precious personalities always shine, so why worry about long hair? Even a puppy cut requires some care however so do be prepared for some combing and manicuring, but it is not very time consuming at all. Don't let this hair problem keep you away...you will love this dog! Good luck!
Barbara Davis
I, too, keep Taffys fur short, maybe from 2 to 3 inches. She is adorable. I love seeing the show dogs, but as a personal preference I wouldn't want her to have the topknot. They are just wonderful no matter what style you have on them! Taffy likes to go out in the yard, we are lucky to live where it doesn't get too cold. She likes the back door open at all times to go and play. If she had a long coat she would be a mess!
Robin K.
That article almost EXACTLY described my Puff!!!. Especially the big dog in a small (BEAUTIFUL) package... my dad used to brag to his friends: "I got 80 pounds of dog in an 8 pound bag of fur". I have to admit, we had him in long coat for a while, and I loved combing his beautiful long hair, but he isn't a show dog, and the time and effort involved to keep it clean and matt free (especially as one of his favorite passtimes was rolling in the grass in our yard... picture St. Patrick's Dog:)). I'm not sorry we had the puppy cut afterwards, he is still just so cute I can't hardly stand it!
Personality is what it's all about - IMHO!! Size was secondary, appearance third. How you keep your dogs hair is your business, what suits you and your dog. This little Maltese of mine shows every single characteristic that makes up the list for this breed - I could not be happier with her! At four months the jury is still out as to how I will keep her coat, it's only four inches from root to ip right now, but the silky adult hair makes up a good inch of it and it's so gorgeous! My biggest concern is that when I do start taking her outside that the hair will stain from the black mud here, it sure does a number on our carpet!

When I had my Yorkie I had to give him a puppy cut in the winter, those sweaters really did a number on that long hair, but it quickly grew out and he had a long flowing coat of hair for the remaining half of the year. GOOD LUCK!
Leslie R

Dear Sarah Jane: I had to share our "haircut" story and maybe you can picture it. At the end of the summer we took our then 5 month old Sofi for a TRIM. Her coat was beautiful (about 4 inches long) but I thought some shaping was in order and I had just had surgery and needed a little help. Something got lost in translation because four hours later my beautiful maltese arrived home looking like a weird (shaved!) poodle with bangs! Imagine my horror, not to mention Sofi's. Her hair is finally getting to the point where people will believe..."she IS a maltese...with a bad haircut."
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