Maltese pups are the quintessential lap dog. Take one look at these beauties, and it's not hard to see why dog owners love them so much.
Youngsters look like miniature teddy bears, while coifed and groomed adults look like they came straight out of a textbook about royal antiquity! Maltese are some of the most spoiled of all the pint-sized toy breeds.
But don't let their somewhat posh looks fool you. Maltese dogs are wonderful companions. They're full of life and spunk, wanting nothing more than play and show you affection.
The dogs are docile around the people they love, fiercely loyal, and always ready to get active!
For a beloved breed like this, most dog owners want to provide nothing but the best. That mentality should also extend to your pup's food.
The quality of food you offer any dog is essential. But for a tiny breed like the Maltese, it's paramount. Everything your pooch eats has a direct impact on their overall health. Every morsel matters, so cheap foods with inferior ingredients won't cut it.
Need help finding the best dog foods for your Maltese? Check out our top picks below!
11 of the Best Dog Food For Maltese
1. Blue Buffalo Freedom Small Breed Adult Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food - Best for Adults
The small-breed grain-free formula from Blue Buffalo is a fantastic all-around choice for Maltese dogs. It checks off all the boxes: You have a good amount of protein, high-quality ingredients, and plenty of extras to support your furry friend's health.
The protein comes primarily from chicken. There's also a healthy dose of complex carbohydrates, flaxseed for omega fatty acids, and tons of great plant-based ingredients for vitamins and minerals.
Like many of Blue Buffalo's other formulas, your dog gets the antioxidant-rich LifeSource bits!
Overal score for Adult Maltese
2. Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Chicken-Free Real Beef & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food - Best for Adults
If your pooch prefers the taste of red meat, this option from Merrick has you covered. It's another universally good choice for Maltese dogs. But this one uses deboned beef and lamb meal instead of the standard chicken as a primary protein.
It's a grain-free recipe that leans heavily on protein. In total, the formula is about 30 percent protein, which is more than enough for an active Maltese.
Pair all that with probiotics and joint-supporting minerals, and it fits the bill for your Maltese.
Overal score for Adult Maltese
3. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food - Best for Maltese Puppies
Give your Maltese puppy the fuel it needs to grow with this recipe from Wellness. Puppies need more protein, high caloric density, and just enough calcium and phosphorous.
This product covers those necessities. But that's not all. It also contains ingredients that help support the development process.
There are omega fatty acids for coat health, antioxidants for boosted immunity, and DHA for brain development. Overall, this product has the makings of a healthy Maltese puppy.
Overal score for Maltese puppies
4. Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food - Best for Maltese Puppies
The Now Fresh puppy food is packed with protein. It contains about 28 percent protein, most of which comes from the deboned chicken.
A healthy balance between protein and fat content gives your pup what it needs to grow up strong. Of course, there's also a good amount of calcium and phosphorous for strong bones.
This formula is specifically made for small breeds, so it's perfect for the Maltese. Additionally, the product contains omega fatty acids like DHA and EPA. There are also prebiotics and fiber to put your pup's gut in a good place.
Overal score for Maltese puppies
5. Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Recipe - Best Food for Sensitive Maltese
Feeding a Maltese with a sensitive stomach isn't easy. But this formula from Hills Science might be the solution your dog needs.
It's exclusively for small breeds and has all the hallmarks of a stomach-friendly product. The first giveaway is the relatively small ingredients list. It covers your pup's nutritional needs and nothing more.
With fewer risky ingredients, there's a lower chance your dog will have a bad reaction. The formula also contains prebiotic fiber. It supports gut health and keeps dogs regular.
Overal score for sensitive stomach Maltese
6. Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Chicken Small Breed Formula - Best Weight Management Food for Maltese
Don't let your Maltese's health suffer because of a bit of weight gain. The weight management formula from Purina Pro Plan can help get your pup back down to a healthier size.
It's a high-protein formula at about 30 percent. But, it has roughly 15 percent less fat than a standard recipe.
That lower fat content can make all the difference. There are also many metabolism-supporting ingredients. They make it easy for your dog to work off the excess fat without sacrificing muscle mass.
Overal score for weight management
7. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food - Best Premium Options
If spoiling your pooch is a top priority, this food from Wellness Core will get the job done. It's a premium recipe with many great ingredients Maltese dogs can't resist.
The protein content is significantly high at 36 percent. It contains flavorful ingredients like chicken, turkey, salmon oil, and more.
Of course, the product isn't about indulging. It has many great extras. For example, the omega fatty acids keep that luscious coat in good shape. Meanwhile, glucosamine and chondroitin can stave off joint pain.
Overal score for Adult Maltese
8. Hill's Science Diet Adult 11+ Small Paws Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe - Best for Senior Maltese
Support those aging bones and joints with the Small Paws formula from Hill's Science. Not only is it made for small breeds like the Maltese, but it has everything a dog 11 and older needs to age gracefully.
A blend of antioxidants keeps your dog's immune system in good shape. There are also healthy omega fatty acids, digestible proteins, and a host of joint-supporting extras.
The protein content is around 18 percent, but the digestible nature of the formula helps your dog stay lean as they age.
Overal score for Senior Maltese
9. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe - Best for Senior Maltese
Blue Buffalo's Life Protection formula for seniors is a fantastic choice for older Maltese dogs. It has all the usual high-quality ingredients you would expect from Blue Buffalo.
There are also digestible carbs, omega fatty acids, and immunity-supporting extras.
The formula contains the antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits. They ensure that your dog continues to get all the vitamins and nutrients they need. The dry kibble has a good amount of glucosamine and chondroitin, keeping those joints comfortable for better mobility.
Overal score for senior Maltese
Best Wet Canned Food For Maltese
10. Instinct Original Small Breed Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Wet Canned Dog Food - Best Wet Food
From Instinct is this tasty canned food. It's a recipe for small breeds, and the small can size makes it easy to portion for Maltese dogs. The food comes in a mashable loaf form. It's packed with flavor and uses chicken as the predominant protein source.
There's even some liver and organs thrown into the mix for vitamins.
Overall, the canned meal is free of all unwanted additives. There are no fillers, and every ingredient will support your dog's health.
Overal score for Adult Maltese
11. Blue Buffalo True Solutions Small & Mighty Small Breed Formula Adult Wet Dog Food - Best Wet Food
The Small & Mighty canned food from Blue Buffalo is a fantastic choice for the Maltese. Not only is it tasty enough to please picky eaters, but it has a top-notch formula that can meet your dog's needs.
It has a good amount of protein, delivering a healthy dose of energy. Probiotic fiber supports gut health, while the omega fatty acids keep that signature coat nice and shiny.
This recipe also contains Blue Buffalo's TruMune nutrient blend, ensuring your pooch gets all the necessary micronutrients.
Overal score for Adult Maltese
About the Maltese
Maltese dogs are the epitome of pampered, and that reputation is nothing new. Believe it or not, this dog's history dates back several thousand years. They are frequently referenced in ancient Greek and Roman literature, and early depictions of the dog appear on old Italian containers.
The modern Maltese likely has a lineage going back to ancient times, but experts believe the dogs we know today emerged sometime around the Victorian era.
The dog breed was prevalent among royalty and noble families. There are several examples of the posh dog's importance in centuries past. They appear in everything from family portraits to simple single-subject paintings.
It wasn't until 1888 that the American Kennel Club officially recognized the Maltese as a breed; the rest is history! These dogs are everywhere. Because they're so petite and easy to care for, families love them.
They do well with dog owners of any skill level. Thanks to their intelligence and trainability, you can often see them at dog shows dominating the toy breed category!
The dog's looks certainly set it apart. They have crisp white fur, resembling other popular small breeds like the Bichon Frise. But the Maltese coat is special because it's considered by many to be hypoallergenic.
While there's no such thing as an actual allergen-free dog, Maltese coats shed minimally. They don't produce a ton of dander that goes airborne, and their fur is easier to manage.
As a result, Maltese is a fantastic choice for allergy sufferers.
Now, that coat does require a lot of upkeep. But you have many options on how you can present your dog.
Most owners keep the fur relatively short, giving the dog a more teddy bear-like appearance. But if you want to show off what the Maltese breed is all about, let it grow long. A well-maintained Maltese is a thing of beauty and fits right in with the royal lineage they're known for!
How to Choose the Best Maltese Dog Food
Choosing the right food for your Maltese is paramount.
Most dogs will only weigh between two and eight pounds fully grown. They don't eat much, so every morsel they consume makes a difference.
High-quality food will fulfill their dietary needs, support their health moving forward, and give these active dogs all the energy they need to keep going.
Pay attention to the following factors when choosing the best Maltese dog food.
Premium Whole Proteins
Whole protein is an absolute necessity for any dog breed. Dogs rely on protein to build and maintain muscle mass. At the very least, your dog's food should have a crude protein analysis of 18 percent. A higher figure is always better.
A good dog food product will include whole meat sources that are easily identifiable. We're talking about ingredients like chicken, turkey, salmon, beef, and more.
Meat meals are fine, too, but the proteins should be at the top of the ingredient list to indicate their prevalence in the formula.
Dog food has no specific regulations about carbohydrates, but your furry friends need them for energy. Carbohydrates give your pup's body glucose to stay active and support every biological function.
Look for foods that contain complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, legumes, squash, oats, barley, and more.
Complex carbs absorb into the body slowly, providing a steady supply of energy throughout the day instead of a sudden spike and subsequent crash.
Dogs need diets with about 10 percent fat. But the quality of the fat source is crucial.
The most defining feature of the Maltese breed is that signature coat of fur. The best fats will support the skin to keep the fur soft and healthy.
Good examples include fish oil and flaxseed oil. They contain omega-3 fatty acids that keep the skin in good shape, improve cardiovascular health, and combat cell oxidation.
Nutritionally dense food is a must for Maltese.
Because of their small stature, these dogs don't eat much. The volume of food they consume is dramatically smaller than their larger canine counterparts. Foods packed with fillers will not provide the nutrients the dog needs to stay healthy.
Of course, vitamins and minerals are important to a Maltese's diet, too. Look for formulas that contain a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables, greens, and other plant-based ingredients.
Added supplements are a good choice as well.
What Food Ingredients to Avoid
Don't assume that every high-priced dog food product you see on the market is a good choice. Quality can vary dramatically, and price point isn't always indicative of what's good and what's not!
In addition to looking for the must-haves above, steer clear of these dog food no-nos.
Mystery Meats and Byproducts
Earlier, we said that identifiable wholesome protein sources are crucial. You might encounter some dog food products that contain mystery meats. That means that the animal it comes from is not well-defined. Avoid them at all costs!
They could come from questionable sources. The same goes for byproducts. You never know where that meat comes from, and you shouldn't take the risk with your dog.
Fillers like corn, wheat, and soy are widespread in the dog food industry. Those ingredients beef up the kibble, making dogs feel full quickly. But, they offer nothing in terms of nutritional content. Every component should contribute to your dog's health.
There's no need for artificial colors, preservatives, flavors, or additives. Natural alternatives are available, and high-quality foods use them. Ditch the fake stuff! It could contain chemicals that trigger allergies and cause health issues.
No one wants to think about their canine companion getting sick, but it's a reality you must face at some point. Maltese dogs are usually pretty healthy. But like any other breed, they can run into some problems.
These dogs have many genetic predispositions you must be wary of.
Fortunately, many problems are avoidable or alleviated with high-quality dog food.
It doesn't take much food to keep Maltese healthy, but that doesn't mean that these dogs don't have healthy appetites! Maltese pups are prone to weight gain and obesity.
Nutritionally dense food is always welcome, but avoid free-feeding. Portion meals out strategically and maintain a healthy exercise routine to keep your Maltese in tip-top physical shape.
Allergies and Sensitivities
Some dogs can eat the grossest stuff without missing a beat. But others will experience allergies and sensitivities. Maltese dogs can develop sensitivities to certain ingredients.
If you suspect they don't respond well to specific foods, consider doing an allergy test with your vet. You may find that your pup is allergic to principal protein sources. If that's the case, stick to limited ingredients formulas and those using novel ingredients.
In some cases, your dog might have a sensitive stomach. In that case, find a formula with probiotics. Probiotics help the gut bacteria flourish, making your dog's system better at processing foods without discomfort.
Unfortunately, some pups can develop joint issues. Arthritis is common in the Maltese breed, and its symptoms can appear as your dog ages.
Consider providing foods with glucosamine and chondroitin. The minerals support the joints and relieve pain.
Small breeds like the Maltese are notorious for getting periodontal disease and experiencing other dental issues. Oral care is paramount.
In addition to regular brushing and dental treats, you can use your dog's foods to scrub those teeth clean!
Dry kibble usually does a better job of cleaning teeth than wet food. That doesn't mean you can't provide canned meals. But if dental issues are a concern, you'll want to incorporate some crunch.
A Word About Pickiness
This issue isn't a medical problem. If anything, it's a significant source of frustration for Maltese owners!
These dogs live up to their posh looks when it comes to pickiness. The breed has a reputation for turning their noses up at foods they don't enjoy. Keep that in mind. You may want to keep a record of the ingredients your dog likes and what they don't.
If Maltese don't enjoy the smell or flavor of a product, they will not eat it!
You'll have to do some experimentation to find something palatable. That might include incorporating canned meals into the mix, using toppers, and more.
How Much Should a Maltese Eat?
Generally, healthy adult Maltese dogs need about 45 calories per pound of body weight. For an average five-pound pup, that's only 225 calories a day! It's not much, but it's all these dogs need.
Puppies usually need a little more, pushing the calorie count up to 55 per pound of body weight. Meanwhile, seniors might need less depending on their activity levels.
Consult your vet for more guidance if you're unsure how much food to provide.
All daily caloric requirements should be split into two or three meals. Because of the risk of weight gain, avoid free-feeding.
Choosing the perfect Maltese food can be a little tricky. These breeds can be picky and have some unique health risks to consider in your search.
Give one of our top picks a try. They're sure to keep your Maltese healthy and happy for years to come.