Best Dog Foods for Maltese Dogs – Diet & Nutrition Guide

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If you want to ensure that your Maltese lives a long and happy life, your best bet is to feed him a high-quality diet made from quality ingredients. A nutritious diet is essential for keeping your Maltese in good health and it can contribute to his general wellbeing too.
The Maltese is known for its long, silky coat of pure white fur but they are also known for their friendly personalities. These little dogs are small but spunky and you will always be surprised by what your Maltese does next. Unlike other breeds, the Maltese was developed specifically as a companion pet so he will be content to spend the whole day lounging on the couch with you. This isn’t to say, however, that these dogs don’t need exercise – they still need a daily walk and consistent training to ensure that they are healthy and obedient. Fortunately, because Maltese dogs are very intelligent, they respond well to training and they love learning new tricks.

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Though the Maltese breed has a big personality and plenty of life, these dogs are still very small. On average, the Maltese stands about 8 to 10 inches tall and weighs 4 to 7 pounds at maturity. This dog is the ultimate purse-dog and he will love accompanying you as you run your errands. The average lifespan for the Maltese breed is 15 to 18 years which is on-par for other breeds of its size but is fairly long for dogs in general. Unfortunately, the breed’s small size does sometimes lead to health problems such as dental issues, fragile bones, breathing difficulties, and eye problems. Responsible breeding practices including DNA testing can help reduce the risk for congenital conditions but some diseases cannot be prevented or cured, only managed.

When it comes to selecting a diet for your Maltese, you should look for a toy– or small-breed specific recipe that will be catered to his unique nutritional needs. These formulas are designed to meet the high energy needs of smaller dogs while also providing balanced nutrition. Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional requirements for Maltese dogs and to receive recommendations for quality dog food brands for this beautiful breed.

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General Nutritional Recommendations

When it comes to the general nutritional requirements for dogs, there are three main nutrients to consider – protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Dogs are primarily carnivorous animals (though they have a limited ability to digest plant materials) which means that animal products should make up the majority of their diet. Protein is the most important nutritional consideration for dogs and it should come from quality, named sources like meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Proteins are made up of amino acids (there are 23 of them) and your dog’s body is able to synthesize all but 10 of them. These remaining amino acids are called essential amino acids and they must come from your dog’s diet. Fortunately, animal proteins contain all 10 essential amino acids – they are called complete proteins for this reason. A quality source of animal protein should be the first ingredient in any dog food product you consider for your Maltese.

The second most important nutrient in your dog’s diet is fat. While you may have been conditioned to think that fats are bad, they are actually very important in your dog’s diet. Fats are a highly concentrated source of energy for dogs which is especially important for small-breed dogs since their fast metabolisms require a frequent influx of energy. Like protein, fats in your dog’s diet should come from high-quality animal-based sources like chicken fat or salmon oil. Plant based fats like canola oil or flaxseed can help to balance out the products omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content, but plant-based fats will always be less biologically valuable for your dog than animal-based fats. In terms of fat content, it is recommended that at least 5% of an adult dog’s diet come from fats and 8% for a puppy. For protein, a minimum of 18% is required for adult dogs and 22% for puppies.

Though protein and fat are the most important nutrients in your Maltese’s diet, there is still a place for carbohydrates. Dogs do not have a minimum requirement for carbohydrate in their diet, but digestible carbohydrates can help to provide vital nutrients as well as dietary fiber. It is important, however, that all carbohydrates be digestible – this includes things like whole grains, starchy vegetables, beans, and legumes. It is also important that the crude fiber content of the product not be more than 5%. As for other ingredients, look for a product that contains fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources for key vitamins and minerals as well as other beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and dried fermentation products. Chelated minerals are simply mineral supplements that have been chemically bound to protein molecules, making them easier for your dog’s body to digest and absorb. Dried fermentation products act as probiotics to support your dog’s healthy and regular digestion.

What is the Best Dog Food for My Maltese?

Small-breed dogs like the Maltese have very fast metabolisms so they generally require a diet higher in fat than most traditional kibbles but they still need plenty of protein to maintain lean muscle mass and a healthy bodyweight. The best way to ensure that both of these needs are met – in addition to your dog’s general nutritional requirements – is to feed your Maltese a toy- or small-breed specific recipe. While feeding your Maltese this type of diet, keep an eye on his bodyweight and energy level to determine whether any adjustments need to be made. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice for your Maltese:

American Journey Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Peas, Rice Bran
Key Features :

  • High quality ingredients
  • Grain free recipe
  • Vitamins from real vegetables
  • Affordable price
Why You Should Buy

American Journey Dry Dog Food

American Journey Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food comes at an affordable price without compromising nutrition. It is made with the highest quality foods and has real fruits and vegetables to create a well-balanced meal.

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American Journey is one of the best dog food brands for the price and we’ve found that pet owners really agree. American Journey is well known for providing some of the highest quality foods on the market (without a high price tag). The main protein source in this food comes from deboned chicken and it’s a grain free recipe which means you’re not going to be dealing with low-quality carbohydrates or the related allergy issues. Along with a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals (sourced from real vegetables) and a few antioxidants, you’ve got a well-balanced food at a great price point.

Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Fresh Dog Food

Healthy Ingredients : Turkey breast, turkey liver, kale, carrots
Key Features :

  • Human-Grade
  • Only fresh ingredients, slow cooked
  • Portioned Individually for your dog
  • Auto-ships direct to your door
Why You Should Buy

Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Fresh Dog Food

Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast Fresh Dog Food is a human-grade option that is made with all fresh ingredients and slow cooked to preserve its nutritional integrity. It is based on a subscription and delivered right to your door.

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If you are looking for a high quality food for your pet, you might want to consider a fresh food option. Ollie dog food is human-grade and delivered fresh to your doorstep based on a delivery schedule you can customize. Although it can be pricier compared to regular dog food, it has a lot of great benefits for keeping your dog healthy and active. They have a few different recipes to choose from. The particular recipe shown in the table above includes carrots (which are full of phytonutrients for eye health), blueberries (which are high in antioxidants), and chia seeds which are a source of copper, zinc, and manganese. The foods are cooked slowly to preserve nutrients and they don’t use any preservatives or fillers. They also include super foods such as chia to help support your pet’s active lifestyle. You can rest-assured, when feeding your dog Ollie, that you are choosing a premium food.

UnKibble by Spot and Tango Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe

Healthy Ingredients : Chicken Brown Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Apples
Key Features :

  • Slowly dried at low temps
  • Human grade ingredients
  • Comes with custom portion scoop
  • Convenient delivery service
Why You Should Buy

UnKibble by Spot and Tango Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe

UnKibble by Spot and Tango Chicken and Brown Rice recipe is a fresh, healthy dry food option, that is made with 100% human-grade ingredients. It has never been recalled. It comes with a special scoop sized just for your dog and it is dried slowly at low temperatures to retain it’s nutritional integrity.

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UnKibble by Spot and Tango is a dry dog food that is made with fresh, human-grade ingredients. UnKibble is made with no artificial flavors or preservatives. All 3 recipes are developed by veterinarians. The three recipes include the beef and barley, chicken and brown rice (featured here), and duck and salmon. If you like the idea of fresh food, but would like a lower price point, or your dog prefers dry food, this might be for you. When you sign up, you create a unique profile that will include the correct portion size, just for your dog. You won’t have to guess or measure, just follow your pet’s personalized plan, and use the scoop sized just for your dog. Spot and Tango has never been recalled, either.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry

Healthy Ingredients : Venison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Lentils
Key Features :

  • Small kibble pieces
  • Grain-free
  • Not suitable for growing puppies
  • Protein-rich
Why You Should Buy

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry is a popular dog food choice that is grain free and has small kibble pieces, perfect for your Maltese.

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Taste of the Wild – always a popular brand – has recently added new formulas, including a small breed formula. Appalachian Valley Small Breed Canine Formula with Venison & Garbanzo Beans is grain free with 32 percent crude protein and 18 percent crude fat. It has 370 kcal/cup so it should provide good energy for small breeds. The first five ingredients are: venison, lamb meal, garbanzo beans, peas, and lentils. And the kibble pieces are small so they’re easy for small dogs to eat. This is a maintenance formula so it’s not suitable for growing puppies, but it’s already very popular. TOTW has lots of other great formulas in both dry and canned recipes if your dog likes something different.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Healthy Ingredients : Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Brown Rice, Lentils, Rice Bran
Key Features :

  • No gluten or grain
  • Made for small breeds
  • Rich in protein and healthy fats
  • Promotes healthy digestion and weight
Why You Should Buy

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Farm Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food is made for small breeds like your Maltese. It has no gluten or grains and is full of natural ingredients like chicken and lentils.

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For a quality diet made specifically to meet the unique nutritional needs of small-breed dogs, give this Nutro Grain-Free Recipe a try. This formula is completely free from gluten and grains, full of the fresh and natural flavors of chicken and lentils. Made without any artificial additives, this grain-free formula is made in U.S.-based facilities with premium natural ingredients guaranteed to provide quality and balanced nutrition. Not only is this formula rich in protein and healthy fats, but it helps to promote both healthy digestion and weight management in smaller dogs. This recipe contains a whopping 26% protein and 15% fat which is a great ratio for small-breed dogs like the Maltese who have high needs for energy. All of the ingredients in this grain-free recipe work together to keep your small-breed dog looking and feeling healthy – this recipe even comes with a 100% complete satisfaction guarantee.

Wellness Complete Health Toy Breed Chicken, Brown Rice & Peas Recipe

Healthy Ingredients : Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Ground Rice
Key Features :

  • Small kibbles
  • Protein rich
  • Good for joints
  • Good source of dietary fiber
Why You Should Buy

Wellness Complete Health Toy Breed Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Toy Breed Chicken, Brown Rice & Peas Recipe is protein-rich and a good source of dietary fiber. The small kibbles are easy for your Maltese to eat, too.

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The Wellness company follows a holistic approach to pet nutrition, so you can rest assured that this Wellness Complete Health Toy Breed Chicken, Brown Rice & Peas Recipe will provide your Maltese with all the nutrients he needs and nothing he doesn’t. This formula is protein-rich, made with deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal as the primary sources of protein with digestible carbohydrates like ground brown rice, oatmeal, and green peas for dietary fiber. To keep your Maltese’s coat smooth and shiny, this recipe is supplemented with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, plus its small kibbles are uniquely shaped to help keep your dog’s teeth clean. As an added bonus, this formula is also supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin to support your toy-breed dog’s bones and joints.

Earthborn Holistic Small Breed Natural Dry Food Recipe

Healthy Ingredients : Chicken Meal, Whitefish Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Barley, Ground Brown Rice
Key Features :

  • Concentrated energy
  • Skin and coat health
  • Helps dog maintain lean muscle
  • Highly digestible
Why You Should Buy

Earthborn Holistic Small Breed Natural Dry Dog Food

Earthborn Holistic Small Breed Natural Dry Food Recipe is specially created for dogs who will weight less than 20 pounds at maturity. It helps your dog to maintain lean muscle and provides concentrated energy and support for healthy skin and coat.

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This Earthborn Holistic Small Breed Natural Dry Food Recipe is specially formulated to meet the unique nutritional needs of dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds at maturity. It features premium proteins like chicken meal and white fish meal to help maintain your dog’s lean muscle mass while omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids provide concentrated energy and support for your dog’s healthy skin and coat. In terms of carbohydrate, this recipe relies on digestible sources such as brown rice, oatmeal and barley and dried fermentation products act as probiotics to support your dog’s healthy digestion. In addition to whole grain carbohydrates, this formula is supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables which, in addition to being antioxidant-rich, help to provide natural sources for key vitamins and minerals – natural sources are more biologically valuable than synthetic nutritional supplements.

What is the Best Dog Food for Maltese Puppies?

Because the Maltese grows to a maximum size around 7 pounds, puppies reach their adult size fairly quickly. To make sure that your Maltese puppy gets the energy he needs to fuel this type of growth, consider starting him off with a small-breed puppy formula. These recipes are rich in protein with higher levels of fat to provide a concentrated source of energy to fuel your puppy’s growth. Once he reaches 80% of his maximum size, you can switch your puppy over to a small-breed adult recipe. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice to consider for your Maltese puppy:

Nutro Ultra Small-Breed Puppy Recipe

Healthy Ingredients : Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Pea Protein
Key Features :

  • Good source of healthy fat
  • Highly digestible
  • Supports healthy immune system
  • Supports strong bones and teeth
Why You Should Buy

Nutro Ultra Small-Breed Puppy Recipe Dog Food

Nutro Ultra Small-Breed Puppy Recipe is created for small dogs like your Maltese. It has a blend of three proteins to help with growth and development combined with healthy fats and digestible carbs for a well-balanced meal.

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For a nutrient-dense formula specially designed for small-breed puppies, this Nutro Ultra Small-Breed Puppy Recipe is a great option to consider. It contains a blend of three animal proteins like farm-raised chicken to support your puppy’s growth and development as well as healthy fats to promote skin and coat health. This formula has plenty of digestible carbohydrates like whole brown rice, rolled oats, and flaxseed which provide vital nutrients as well as dietary fiber. With a blend of essential fatty acids, this recipe promotes healthy brain development and supports your dog’s immune system as well. It also comes in a small, bite-sized kibble with a unique blend of nutrients to help your small-breed puppy develop strong bones and teeth. Overall, this recipe is a great choice for small-breed dogs like the Maltese – your dog will love it as much as you do!

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Special Dietary and Nutritional Considerations

In addition to making sure that the diet you choose for your Maltese meets his basic nutritional needs, you also have to think about his energy requirements. On average, dogs need about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight to meet their daily needs for energy. For smaller dogs, however, that number is usually closer to 40 calories per pound because these dogs have very fast metabolisms. Because the Maltese weighs between 4 and 7 pounds on average, you can estimate a daily calorie requirement somewhere between 160 and 280 calories. To make sure that your Maltese gets enough calories, refer to the feeding recommendations on the package and calculate how much your dog needs to eat. Follow the feeding recommendations for a few weeks while keeping an eye on your Maltese’s body weight and condition to see if any modifications might be necessary.

To make sure that your Maltese gets a steady flow of energy throughout the day to keep his metabolism working hard, you should consider dividing his daily portion into three small meals instead of one or two larger meals. For Maltese puppies, you may be able to let them feed freely – your puppy will eat as much as he needs to provide his body with the necessary amount of energy. This can also work for adult dogs but you do need to keep an eye on your Maltese to make sure that he isn’t overeating. If your Maltese starts to gain too much weight, you’ll need to start portioning out his meals. Obesity can be very dangerous in dogs, especially for smaller dogs, because it can contribute to the development of other serious health problems.

Another concern that is common among small-breed dog is dental problems. Small dogs tend to have very small mouths which frequently leads to overcrowding with their teeth. This, in turn, can contribute to a higher risk for periodontal disease – especially if you don’t brush your Maltese’s teeth on a regular basis. In addition to giving your Maltese dental chews and rubber bones to chew on, you should consider looking for a dog food that is designed to promote dental health. Many small-breed specific dog foods are made with smaller kibbles to accommodate for your dog’s small mouth and they are also shaped to help scrape plaque and tartar off of your dog’s teeth.




Quality nutrition is important for all dogs, no matter what their size or breed. Any high-quality dog food product will have a foundation of nutritious animal proteins with plenty of healthy fats and digestible carbohydrates. Though these are the general nutritional needs for dogs, smaller dogs like the Maltese have higher needs for energy due to their fast metabolisms which may necessitate a specialized diet such as a small-breed specific recipe. These formulas are designed to meet the unique energy needs of smaller puppies and adult dogs. If you need help getting started with your search, consider one of the top recommended brands of large-breed puppy or adult dog food that are reviewed above.

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Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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