Here’s Summer before her haircut.
Isn’t she adorable??? Our Maltese named Summer came into our lives in the spring of 2013. We found a local breeder about a month before the pups were born so we had to wait 4 (extremely long) months to bring her home. It was the usual cold and miserable winter-spring weather here in Minnesota, so all of that played into coming up with her name. It was the first one my husband thought of so we put it on the list. Then we made more lists… and we Googled… and we debated… and we voted…
We kept coming back to the name Summer. It was the perfect fit for our seemingly never-ending wait and she was our little while light at the end of the winter tunnel. It was pretty cute around here listening to our 9 and 12-year-old girls giggle and say things like, “I can’t wait for Summer”, “Summer can’t get here quickly enough!” and “will Summer ever be here?”
First Night Home Shenanigans
We were immediately in love, but it wasn’t always easy, especially in those first few months. Here’s something I wrote about her the first night she came home to live with us. Our little 3 and a half pound bundle of joy had me up all night, so I saved this note on my phone about her shenanigans:
Sweet Summer, I love you tons already. I am writing this at 5 a.m. and I am officially calling 4 a.m. playtime over. No, you cannot eat my phone, lick daddy’s ears or sleep across his neck. No, you cannot explore under my bed or eat the Skittle you found. Please, no chewing on my hair or my fingers. You should not walk on my nightstand and fall down between it and the wall, requiring urgent rescue. Here, chew on your bacon flavored bone. Yes, you can sleep between daddy’s feet, I guess.
Save $500+ Per Year by Grooming at Home
I took Summer to a groomer for her first haircut pretty soon after we got her. I hadn’t realized when we named her that they call the short puppy-style cut is called a “Summer Cut”! The bill was painful, at $60.00 before the tip. I’m a frugal person, so that price tag got me thinking. I had considered grooming her myself, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to do a decent job. I finally talked myself into giving it a try. Her hair grows extremely quickly so I knew it would always grow back even if I didn’t do a perfect job! Here’s what I’ve learned over the years with my DIY Maltese Summer Cut and I estimate I save at least $500 per year in grooming costs.
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DIY Maltese Summer Cut
I ended up looking online for grooming tools that would work well for a Maltese. You can get started by investing under $50, so you’ve paid for your investment the first time you groom. Maltese dogs have very fine, super soft hair. It’s like the plushest stuffed animal mixed with a fluffy white bunny. This is fabulous for soft fuzzy cuddles, but presents some difficulties with grooming. I thought I would just buy a plug-in hair clipper, zip it across her in 10 minutes and almost be done. That’s not going to happen! I did invest in this Andis Clipper and Clipper attachments, but found that Summer’s fine hair would get caught in it. Also, since the hair doesn’t stand up on its own, like a poodle or other dogs with more firm hair, it was difficult to make it even.
The answer is to do most of the job by hand with a scissor cut, then I sometimes use the Andis Clipper at the end to “clean it up”. Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way through trial and error.
- my favorite scissors (almost 1,000 reviews, nearly 5 stars)
- pin brush
- grooming comb
- thinning shears
- Andis Clipper and Clipper attachments (optional)
Grooming Steps and Tips for Success
- Step 1 is to watch the video below! Keep scrolling to also see step by step photos.
- I cannot emphasize enough to use a good pair of scissors. Mine cost less than $10.00. They have a very fine grooves along the blades that “grip” the hair as you cut. They also have blunt ends, so you won’t poke your puppy with scissor tips.
- My DIY puppy cut is done by pulling up sections of hair between two fingers and trimming it off. It takes some time, but you just move section by section, cut and move on. Use your pin brush or grooming comb to brush the hair out, then do it over and over again.
- Cut so that the scissors are facing up to the ceiling or down to the floor. If you cut side to side, you’ll have obvious clip patterns.
- When you’re nearly done, you can use these thinning shears to make any obvious cuts less blunt. I use these at the bottom of Summer’s ears so they don’t have a perfectly straight line. I cut about 1/8 inch up from the end of the hair and this helps blend the cut.
- When Summer was younger, I had a hard time keeping her still for grooming. She’s better about it now, but it’s a good idea to have some doggy treats around. Here is the recipe for her newest favorite homemade treats, which are oatmeal-based. It’s made with just 4 ingredients and my younger daughter loves baking them!
Trimming the Ears
- I hold Summer’s ears straight up over her head, then place bottom of my fingers right along the end of her ears.
- I then trim the length sticking up over the tops of my fingers, which leaves about 1/2 inch past the actual ear length.
- Trimming upwards like this creates a natural feathered edge when the ears are down so the cut is not too blunt.
Trimming the Face and Muzzle
- Watch the video for this part! It’s hard to get the muzzle cut even when you’re just eyeballing where to cut.
- My trick is to comb and hold the hair from the sides over her muzzle up over her nose and cut in a straight line.
- When the hair falls back into place, it is even and has a naturally feathered edge.
- Carefully trim the corners of the eyes and eyebrows.
What to Avoid
- Be careful! I’ve accidentally cut my dog twice over the years. Both times I was pulling her hair taught and cutting. Once I got the webbing on her thigh and another time it was her elbow. If you stick to pulling up the hair between two fingers and trimming it off, you won’t accidentally cut your pup.
- Be careful not to cut the chin or muzzle too short! They will look like they have a pin-nose afterwards.
- Be careful not to cut the legs too short or they will look like they have spindly pin legs.
- Be careful not to cut the ears too short. I target for the length to be about 1/2 inch past her actual ear length.
Video with full grooming process
Photos – DIY Maltese Summer Cut
If you can trust your dog not to jump or fall off, it’s helpful to groom on a kitchen island to have her higher up as you work.
Showing the cutting motion cutting vertically, bottom to top. If you cut horizontally across, the scissor marks will be more obvious.
Hold arm up and cut across in a straight line
Gently pull hair outwards from between pads and trim
Hold ears up to cut them about 1/2 inch past the edge of the dog’s ear
Hold muzzle hair up above the nose and trim across for an even muzzle cut
Carefully trim close to corners of eyes
Finish using thinning shears to even out any blunt cuts
Nearly done, just needed to do some more work on her face and ears.