Are Maltese Picky Eaters? (9 Important Reasons for Picky Eating)

Maltese have a reputation for being a little picky when it comes to food. But is that really true? Are Maltese picky eaters?

It is not uncommon for Maltese to be picky eaters. Therefore it is important to make sure that your Maltese eats enough and maintains a healthy weight. Fortunately, there are some signs that your Maltese is a picky eater that you can watch out for. By watching for and recognizing these signs, you can react early. There are also some things you can do if your Maltese is very picky about food. The most important thing is certainly high-quality food.

Maltese are one of those dog breeds that are actually sometimes pickier when it comes to food. This can lead to being underweight and unhealthy for your Maltese and stress and worry for you.

In this article, we will explain what to look out for so that you can recognize in time if your Maltese is a picky eater. We will also discuss possible reasons for Maltese to be picky eaters.

Then we will give you some advice on how to find out why your Maltese is picky about food. We also explain how to help your Maltese if he is a picky eater.

Are Maltese Picky Eaters?

Maltese can be quite picky eaters. It happens more often with them than with most other dog breeds.

In many cases, they are simply picky about their favorite meal. Sometimes, however, there is a psychological or health reason for it.

If you notice any of the following signs in your Maltese, he may be a picky eater:

  • Disinterest in food
  • Insistence on certain foods or brands
  • Unmotivated nibbling at food
  • Abnormal eating behavior
  • Weight issues

However, if you notice any of these signs in your Maltese, it is not yet a reason to panic. There are several reasons why he may behave this way, and for many of these reasons, you can easily do something about it.

It is also important to understand that Maltese does not need as much food as other, larger dogs. If you have perhaps had a German Shepherd or a Rottweiler before, you will find that Maltese need significantly less food.

This is simply because Maltese are significantly smaller. They don’t need as much energy as larger dogs. With a Maltese of 7 lbs. Weight, as little as 1/2 to 2/3 cup of food per day will suffice.

This is really not much and can lead an inexperienced Maltese owner to think their Maltese is picky or refusing food. In fact, he eats exactly the amount he needs.

How to Tell If My Maltese Is a Picky Eater?

Recognizing a picky Maltese is not very difficult. You just have to keep an eye on his eating behavior.

We have already listed above 5 signs that a Maltese is a picky eater. Now let’s go into more detail about these 5 signs.

  • Disinterest in food: Your Maltese disdains his food and will not deign to even touch it. He also shows no interest in treats.
  • Insistence on certain foods or brands: Your Maltese will only eat very specific types of food or only very specific food brands. He refuses other food and will not touch it.
  • Unmotivated nibbling of food: Your Maltese is devoted to his food, but does not show much interest in it and does not seem to want to eat it. He only nibbles on it lightly instead of eating neatly.
  • Abnormal Eating Behavior: Your Maltese will only eat in certain situations or under certain conditions. You will need to hand feed him or at least be present. He may also only eat while you are also eating a meal.
  • Weight issues: A Maltese puppy should gain weight consistently during the first 9 months of his life. if his weight stagnates or he even gets lighter, this is not normal. Adult Maltese should also be able to maintain their weight. If he noticeably loses weight, it could be due to his eating habits.

Reasons Why a Maltese Can Be a Picky Eater

The reasons why a Maltese is picky about food are many. It can be due to the food itself, but also due to changes in the environment, psychological causes, and some other reasons.

Let’s look at the different reasons.

Wrong Food

Surely you yourself have a favorite food and other food that you do not like at all. It is no different with Maltese.

So it may be that your Maltese is picky only in the sense that he does not like certain things. This is then really not a cause for concern.

There are a few things to keep in mind when feeding. If any of these things are not right, it may prevent your Maltese from liking his food, so he simply refuses to eat it.

  • Taste and flavor: Dogs generally dislike food that is salty, bitter or sour. Even though dogs do not have as well-developed a sense of taste as humans, they still have their preferences. And these tastes are just not one of them. Or maybe the food just doesn’t smell good to your Maltese and that’s why he rejects it.
  • Temperature: It may also be that the food is too cold or too warm. Maltese usually like warm or lukewarm food better than cold food. But it must not be too hot either, something like hot soup in winter is not interesting for Maltese.
  • Texture: The texture of the food can also be a problem. Stale and crumbly food is not one of your Maltese’s favorite meals. And although dry food is often the healthier option, they usually prefer a tasty and palatable canned wet food.
  • Portion size: As mentioned above, 1/2 to 2/3 cup of food per day is usually enough for a Maltese. That’s less than 1/4 cup per meal for 3 meals. You may have been too good with him and just given him too much food.
  • Discomfort: Maybe a certain food doesn’t sit well with your Maltese. He is quite capable of making a connection between his food and a possible discomfort afterwards. So if he has learned that he has digestive problems after eating, this may keep him from eating.

New Food

If you are trying a new food for your Maltese, this may also be a reason why he is acting woolly. It does not even matter if he has already tried it or not. maybe he is unsure because he does not know the new smell yet.

Maybe he has already tested it and it didn’t agree with him. New food can always lead to cautious behavior in the Maltese. Also, watch out if he gets diarrhea after eating the new food.

Too Many Treats

If you treat your Maltese to treats more often, this can also bring about a change in his eating behavior. It can happen that he prefers the treats and no longer accepts his regular food.

He will try to get you to give him his beloved treats by not touching the regular food. In that case, you will have to train him away from the treats and bring him back to the regular food.


Maltese eat best when they have fixed and regular meal times. Variations in mealtimes can also lead to behavior that looks like picky eating.

A fixed feeding schedule will help resolve eating problems in Maltese in many cases. Establish a routine in eating to help your Maltese get used to eating regularly.

He will learn to understand when meal times are, and eventually may even be waiting by his food bowl when the time comes.

New Environment

If you have just brought your Maltese puppy or even an older Maltese home, it may take time for him to get used to his new surroundings. Maybe he is scared or cautious by the new environment so only hunger drives him to eat.

Be patient with him and try to make his acclimation as easy as possible. Give him affection and care so that he quickly feels at home with you. Then he will also take the food with more enthusiasm.

Maltese are very affectionate dogs, so it should be easy for you to bond with your Maltese. And when the time comes, he will not be afraid anymore.

Dominance Behavior

Another possibility is that your Maltese is testing his limits and trying to be dominant. It is not a given that you are the pack leader, your Maltese may well claim this role for himself.

One way he might try to increase his role toward you is by refusing the food you give him. Therefore, it is important to make it clear to him from the beginning that you are the boss.

If your Maltese tries to show his dominance in this way, do not go for it. Insist on your point of view, otherwise, he will feel that he has won. And that means he sees himself above you in the hierarchy.

If it gets to that point, it is difficult to correct it. So stay persistent, don’t change the food, don’t let him have a sense of accomplishment.

Of course, you have to be sure that it is really about dominant behavior and not about food that does not agree with his health.


Your Maltese also likes variety in his food. If you ate only pizza every day, you would not be able to stand pizza after a week. Your Maltese may feel the same way.

Even if he certainly less quickly no longer has a desire for a particular food, it can still happen if he eventually overeats on it.

Then it is time to vary his menu a bit. Incorporate a different food, maybe try a different brand, or vary dry food and wet food.

Of course, when introducing a new food, you also need to make sure that your Maltese can tolerate it and that he likes it. You may have to test through different varieties until you find the right one. However, you can still keep the previous food, only vary his menu occasionally.


If your Maltese has recently or temporarily lost his appetite, it may be due to a recent vaccination.

As with humans, vaccination can have side effects in dogs, and one possible side effect is loss of appetite. Perhaps the vaccination also weakens him for a while, so he can’t bring himself to eat.

But in any case, this should only be a short-term effect. After a few days, the effect should be over and your Maltese should return to his usual eating behavior on his own.


The most unfavorable cause of picky eating behavior in Maltese is that they are ill. There are several diseases in which such behavior can occur.

Maltese are generally quite healthy dogs, but of course, this does not mean that they cannot become sick.

If you suspect such a disease, it is important that you consult a vet to have your Maltese examined more closely and treated if necessary.

Let’s take a closer look at some possible diseases that can trigger disturbed eating behavior.

  • Dental issues: One of the issues that is more common in Maltese is dental issues. If he is currently suffering from toothache, this is not helpful for relaxed eating. It may even cause him to refuse to eat. In this case, you should have him examined quickly by a veterinarian.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: If your dog is currently suffering from stomach or intestinal problems, this can also keep him from eating. If your Maltese has stomach pain, he may not feel like eating because the pain is bothering him. Occasionally, such gastrointestinal problems are also accompanied by external signs such as vomiting or diarrhea. Again, you should consult a veterinarian.
  • General sickness: If your Maltese has just gotten over an illness or is currently sick, this can cause loss of appetite. You know this from yourself, when you are sick, your appetite is often very limited. However, medications that he is currently taking could also be the trigger for the loss of appetite.

How to Determine Why Your Maltese is a Picky Eater

We have seen that there are many reasons why Maltese can be picky about food. It is not easy to determine the exact reason in your Maltese.

However, it is necessary, as this is the only way you can do something about it. Only if you know why your Maltese is behaving this way, you can take the right measures.

With a few simple steps, you may be able to get to the bottom of the cause.

The first step is to look at your Maltese himself, his environment, and his behavior. Has he perhaps nibbled from the garbage can and spoiled his stomach? Or has he found an inedible mushroom in the garden and bitten off it?

Also ask your family members, friend, and neighbors. Did any of them perhaps give him something to eat that didn’t sit well with him? Did they perhaps notice something about him, a change in behavior, or something like that?

Then, take a look at the Maltese himself. Can you notice any external changes, any wounds, a dull coat, or anything like that?

If you find a clue in this, it could lead you to the cause of the picky eating.

If the first step did not bring you closer to the cause, examine your Maltese more closely. Look through his coat to see if you notice any parasites, wounds, or abrasions.

Also, examine the oral cavity very closely, determine if you find anything on the teeth that is not as it should be. Do you perhaps notice an unusual odor coming from the mouth that may indicate inflammation?

Finally, feel his abdomen as well. Is it particularly firm or soft? Go ahead and palpate him extensively, and try to get a little deeper, too. But it should not cause him any pain.

If he has a firm abdomen or reacts with discomfort to your examination, this could indicate gastrointestinal problems. If so, a visit to the vet is in order.

But even if you don’t find anything abnormal at all, a visit to the vet might be useful. However, you can also try the tips in the next chapter first if you don’t see any danger to your Maltese.

How to Help a Maltese Who Is a Picky Eater?

We have seen above that a disturbed relationship with food in Maltese is often triggered by external factors. You can try to bring your Maltese to a healthier eating behavior by switching off these external factors.

Try the following steps to bring back the joy of eating in your Maltese:

  • Choose a high-quality dog food. Not only will this be healthier for your Maltese, it may also help him eat with more enthusiasm. Also, try different brands until you find one that he likes. However, only try really high quality dog food. The food should be a mix of quality and good taste.
  • Try out if your Maltese likes and gets different types of food. You can then vary the food within a day if it is certain that both types of food will get your Maltese. This will help you avoid food boredom.
  • Try to maintain a strict feeding schedule. Set meal times and stick to them. If you can, eat at the same time as your Maltese.
  • Do not give your Maltese leftover food from you. He should get used to eating only his own food. Also, make sure that your family members and guests who come to eat do not feed him from the table.
  • Take his food away if your Maltese does not eat or stops eating. He will learn from this that food is not available at all times, and it may motivate him to eat right away when he gets his food.
  • Try to combine feeding and fun. Have your Maltese perform a trick before eating so that he understands the meal as a reward.
  • Find healthy snacks that you can use to spice up his meal. Foods like chopped carrots and peas are a great way to get a Maltese excited about food without compromising his health.
  • Try a toy that dispenses treats. This type of toy has two effects for dogs. It stimulates their mind and usually gets them to eat.

Of course, it is not certain that you can motivate him to eat with these tips. However, it’s worth a try, and switching to high-quality foods is basically a good idea to keep your Maltese healthy.

However, if both these tips and the research from the previous chapter do not bring results, it is really advisable to have his eating problem examined by a veterinarian. Maybe there really is an undetected disease behind it.

Conclusion: Are Maltese Picky Eaters?

Maltese can be picky eaters. It is not as rare as it is with other dog breeds. But not every Maltese has this problem.

The reasons for this behavior can be many. But mostly it is due to the food itself, psychological reasons, or environmental influences. But also diseases are not excluded.

Try the tips from this article to get your Maltese excited about food again. Also, try to find out the reason for his eating behavior. This is the only way to tackle the underlying problem.

However, if you don’t get the problem solved, you should definitely consult a vet.

Eating should be fun, and hopefully, your Maltese will soon enjoy his meals more again.