Coat and Grooming
The Maltese Shih Tzu tends to have long, wavy or straight hair and does not have an undercoat. As the breed was designed to be low-shedding, hypoallergenic breed, this dog may be an excellent choice for owners who suffer from dander allergies. The Malshi does still shed, but in tiny, manageable amounts.
The Malshi coat color can be wide-ranging depending on genetics. Members of this breed are black, brown, white, white with tan markings, or a combination of these colors. The breed markings vary, making every Maltese Shih Tzu a little unique.
Despite its hypoallergenic status, the Maltese Shih Tzu does require weekly grooming to prevent mats and tangles although daily brushing is recommended to keep the Malshi’s coat shiny and smooth. The coat will remain bright and soft with regular bathing and with professional grooming, specifically clipping, every six weeks.
Malshis often have trouble with tear stains under their eyes, a genetic gift from their Maltese ancestors. Commercial tear stain removers may be required to address this issue, although keeping the eye and its surrounding area clean will reduce the amount of staining that may occur.
Other critical areas of grooming for the Maltese Shih Tzu are the teeth, ears, and toenails. A Malshi should have its teeth brushed two to three times a week to prevent the growth of tartar and bacteria. Daily brushing can go a long way toward preventing gum disease, bad breath, and other illnesses that can develop from poor oral health. The Malshi’s ears should be checked frequently for odors, scabs, or redness, which often indicate the presence of infection. Clean your Malshi’s ears with a cotton ball dipped in a gentle ear cleaner each time you check them to prevent the development of ear infections. Be sure only to clean the outer ear; never insert any object into the ear canal. The Maltese Shih Tzu’s nails should be trimmed once a month if they are not worn down naturally from use. If you are nervous about cutting your Malshi’s nails, ask your veterinarian or groomer to clip them or to teach you how to trim nails correctly.
Children and Other Pets
The Maltese Shih Tzu is an ideal dog for families with children of any age: this breed likes both older, more considerate children but loves to play with the youngsters too. As with any dog, introduce kids slowly to your dog. Educate them as to the ways to approach and pet dogs, so they do not grab or pull any fur, and make sure they know to leave sleeping or eating dogs alone. Above all, make sure children are supervised at all times around a dog.
The Malshi makes a good companion dog for other household pets (they would play all day with cats) provided that they are introduced and socialized regularly. Earlier socialization will lead to a better bond between a Malshi and another pet in the home. When properly socialized, this breed will engage in pay with other family animals. That said, for safety reasons, always supervise a Malshi’s playtime with a small animal such as a kitten, hamster, or bunny.