A true red carpet dog, the morkie and its long, silky coat can really wow onlookers. But a coat that fancy means some daily and weekly maintenance is required. Read on for the complete scoop on keeping your morkie shiny, clean, and tangle-free along with the best practices on how to groom a morkie.
Morkie Coat Type
Both Maltese dogs and Yorkshire terriers have long, silky coats. They shed very little as their hair grows continuously. It gets longer and longer instead of falling out and being replaced by new hair. So in this case, brushing is important for keeping the long hairs from tangling and becoming matted, rather than for catching fur before it can fall onto the sofa and clothing as is the case with short-hair dogs.
Mats and Tangles
If your morkie’s hair ever does get too tangled to tame or even matted, it will need to be cut with scissors or shaved with clippers. Because morkies have thin, somewhat fragile skin, it may be best to entrust this task to a professional dog groomer to avoid accidentally cutting your morkie’s skin.
Gentle Grooming and Rewards
Morkies may grow uncomfortable with brushing time if they ever associate it with pain or other unpleasant experiences, so take your time and be gentle with your dog while you brush its coat out. Avoid dog brushes with sharp wires for bristles as those can be painful and may discourage your morkie from tolerating brushing. A brush like this is a good choice for morkies.
It’s also a good idea to keep some tiny training treats on hand to frequently distract your morkie during the brushing. Reward your dog whenever it sits still and accepts brushing for several seconds at a time and gradually lengthen the amount of time between treats until your dog only needs a couple to get through a brushing.
While daily brushing will help keep tangles and mats away, it may be challenging to remember to get that brushing session in every single day. Setting an alarm or reminder on your phone could help you remember. Or, with regular coat trimming, you could get away with fewer brushing.
Doggie Hair Do
Regular coat trimming is very helpful to prevent mats while also reducing the need for daily brushing. To keep the hair longer–which is more maintenance but maybe more aesthetically pleasing–you’ll need to trim with scissors. To keep the hair shorter–which is lower maintenance by may be less appealing to the eye–you can use electric clippers (such as for shaving mens’ beards).
Grooming with Scissors
When trimming with scissors, always use a comb as a barrier between the dog’s skin and your scissors. Thin morkie skin has a lot of elasticity to it and may pull with the hair more than you would think. So it’s always a good idea to protect the skin with a comb and prevent accidental scissor injuries.
Start with the front, trimming the hair around the face. Be careful not to nick the ears or cut the whiskers. Then work your way back over the neck, back, and rump. Then go over the feathering on the tail and legs.
Lastly, hold your morkie up slightly from the front so you have better access to the belly hair. It may be helpful to have an assistant do this for you so you can focus wholly on the grooming. Then trim the hair so that it is too short to touch the floor. Hair that drags on the floor will get dirty quickly and is more likely to get matted.
Grooming with Clippers
To shave with clippers, skip the face and start with the neck, back, and rump. Then the tail, legs, and belly. The face will still need to be trimmed with scissors, as a shaved face is not ideal. Trim the hair on the face with care to avoid nicking the ears and whiskers.
In some cases, shaving under the eyes can help with under-eye staining, but because of the risk of painful, permanent damage to the eyes if the clippers slip or the dog turns its head suddenly, it is best to leave that job to a professional groomer.
Daily Under Eye Cleaning
Under-eye staining can be a result of a variety of health problems, so it is best to consult a veterinarian to find out if there are any underlying health problems that need to be addressed.
To prevent under-eye staining, use a gentle eye cleanser such as Nutrivet Eye Rinse to discourage bacteria and irritants in and around the eyes once a day. If you find similar staining around the paws or around the muzzle, it could be due to those areas being too wet too often. Consider replacing your water bowl with a water bottle for rabbits and see if the reduced water bowl mess helps with the staining in those areas. You can also try applying the eye rinse to the feet and muzzle to reduce the staining.
Weekly Ear Cleaning
long ear hair can increase the chances of ear irritants, especially if your morkie has floppy ears rather than upright ears. Floppy ears are adorable but harder for a dog to scratch and clean on its own. So trim that hair down as much as you safely can while you’re grooming.
Dogs have an L-shaped ear canal, so it’s basically impossible to accidentally touch or harm their eardrum while cleaning with a cotton-tipped applicator (Q-tip). However, the skin inside their ears is very sensitive and prone to bleeding, so if you can leave the ear cleaning to your vet, that is ideal.
If you notice a bad smell coming from the ear, or a lot of redness to the skin even before you’ve started grooming the area, there could be an infection or even ear mites in that ear. Those are illnesses that only a vet can diagnose, and they will need medication from a vet to heal. So please seek veterinary care for your morkie if you notice these symptoms.
It’s best to avoid over-bathing, as too much bathing can dry out your morkie’s skin. Bathing no more than once every ten days is best. Dogs frequently lick themselves clean, so unless you notice your morkie’s coat looking dirty or smelling stinky, it probably doesn’t need a bath.
When you bathe your morkie, oatmeal-based shampoo is a great choice. If you opt to keep your morkies long coat, a dog hair conditioner might help you keep it silky and tangle-free.
Skin irritation in dogs can indicate allergies to food, shampoo products, external parasites, and a variety of other things. It can also signal invisible health problems, which only a veterinarian is able to diagnose. As long as you aren’t bathing your morkie more than once every ten days, skin problems shouldn’t arise. If you notice skin problems, consult your veterinarian.
Nail trimming is important to master when learning how to groom a morkie. All dogs have a blood supply to each of their nails. This blood supply is called the “quick.” Cutting the nail too high up will cut the quick also, which is painful and will result in bleeding from the nail. The pain will also scare the dog and make it less interested in cooperating for future nail trims. So it’s best to avoid the quick if at all possible.
If your dog has white nails, the quick is easy to see as a skinny red triangle with the point pointing toward the tip of the nail. Be sure to cut below the quick. If your dog has black nails, it’s difficult to see the quick. You can try holding a flashlight to the other side of the nail to make the quick visible. If that doesn’t work for your morkie, you’ll need to do smaller, more frequent trims of just the very tip of the nail.
Most dogs don’t tolerate at-home teeth cleaning. If your dog’s tooth health is good and you don’t notice any odors in its breath, then you don’t need to brush its teeth. If you do notice discoloration on the teeth or gums or a bad smell coming from your dog’s mouth, there is likely an underlying health concern that a vet should address. Vets are able to do thorough teeth cleanings under sedation if needed, which will do a much better job than a toothbrush could and will be less stressful on your morkie.
Learning How to Groom a Morkie is a Rewarding Process
Grooming your morkie can be a calm, rewarding process for you and your pup. Remember to be patient with your morkie during the grooming process and to reward it frequently so that it associates grooming with treats and praise. With practice, patience, and a little time, you can handle all of your morkie dog’s grooming needs.
If you have any tips and suggestions on how to groom a morkie, please share your suggestions in our comment section.