Do Malteses Bite? How Can We Stop the Biting?

Do Malteses Bite?

It’s very uncomfortable and sometimes scary to live in a home with an aggressive pet. It disrupts the whole dynamic of having a pet in the first place.

Worse still, it’s not very uncommon to find a household with an aggressive pet. Some dogs are even bred and exploited for their aggressiveness, though in recent times, that type of breeding is on the decline.

So, do Malteses show aggressiveness and bite people?

Yes, Malteses can bite but it is not common in this breed. Maltese dogs are usually friendly and affectionate to their owners and even strangers, but there are few reported cases of biting behavior in Maltese. Maltese puppies are often the culprits here, but if unchecked, this behavior could spill into adulthood. Aggressive behavior can also be developed later in a Maltese life. 

You might wonder: what on earth could make a cutie like the Maltese dog aggressive? Well, I must point out that it’s not usual with the breed.

It happens as a result of inadequate training or no training at all, which is the case for Maltese puppies mostly. Other things could inspire aggressive behavior, though, let’s consider some of them.

Things That Trigger Their Aggressive Behavior

Maltese Puppies

  • Teething: Teething is the process of growing teeth, and it’s one of the significant reasons puppies bite. You may find that your Maltese puppy that is just a few weeks old is continuously trying to bite your feet or any part of your body it can reach, it’s quite a normal situation. 
  • Lack of socializing: Puppies can be shy or timid in the presence of strangers or other dogs. This behavior could be due to early separation from his parents and siblings or being raised in isolation by a single owner. The puppy will not know how to react in new situations and can become aggressive.
  • They simply don’t know better: Mouthing is simply the way puppies play. Just like babies, everything goes to their mouth first. In this process, your puppy could bite too hard without meaning any harm; to him, it’s all play. It usually takes some time and persistent training to get your puppy off this behavior.

Adult Malteses

  • Failure to nip it in the bud: If you fail to stop your puppy from always chewing on your fingers or chasing after your feet, he would grow up and become accustomed to the behavior. It’s easier to get rid of that behavior while your Maltese is still a puppy, but at this stage, a professional trainer and some persistent training will help.
  • Bad training: The most aggressive dogs are usually poorly trained or mostly untrained. Aggressive behavior is one of the byproducts of negative training approaches. Malteses have a notoriously higher energy level than their bodies portray, so they require proper training to channel all that energy positively. Otherwise, he’s likely to find unhealthy ways to blow off steam.
  • Trauma: If a Maltese has been through a traumatic experience or has a history of abuse, he’s prone to displaying aggressive behavior. This dog is likely to bite out of fear if he feels cornered or trapped, with his main intention to bite and run away. A Maltese that was abandoned in the past may bite if he feels his home, food, or family is threatened. 
  • Change in attention levels: Maltese is a particularly sensitive dog breed that can be affected by even a marginal shift in attention levels. They tend to interpret being left alone for long as abandonment and are predisposed to experiencing separation anxiety. A Maltese in this state of mind can become frustrated or restless and bite as a result. 
  • Territorial behavior: Maltese, due to their illustrious history of royalty, are prone to being a proud breed. As a result, some Maltese may be very territorial and possessive, which can lead to a show of aggressive behavior. He may show aggressive behavior over his items like toys, bone, beddings, or food, and sometimes over his owners. He may lash out and bite anyone who enters the house or appears to be threatening a member of the family. 
  • Overindulgence: Because of how cute most toy breeds are, it’s easy to overindulge them as puppies and end up having a spoiled adult dog. If you over pamper your Maltese, you give him the impression that he’s the leader of the pack, and all humans are his subjects. As a result, he’ll growl, bark and even bite anyone that he feels has challenged his pack status.

Types of Aggressive Behavior in Maltese

  • Biting: Biting is classified as aggressive behavior if it is done with the intention to cause harm. Most puppies and even some adult Maltese will play-bite, and sometimes bite too deep and draw blood without intending to cause damage. Although play-biting isn’t usually classified as aggressive behavior, measures should be taken to discourage it, or it may become a problem.
  • Barking: Prolonged barking can be a problem with the Maltese breed. They are notorious for yapping nonstop all night or maybe all day if they are left alone at home. That’s not necessarily aggressive behavior, but if he starts barking at visitors, neighbors, or strangers while you’re both on a stroll, then that’s aggressive behavior.
  • Growling: Growling is that deep sound a dog makes that seems to come from his gut. It’s usually intended as a warning before a possible attack. Growling is classified as an aggressive display.
  • Chewing on Household Items: Although this can be interpreted as him trying to play, your Maltese constantly attacking household items within his reach can be a display of aggression.

How to Deal With Your Maltese’s Aggressive Behavior

If your dog has already developed aggressive behavior, breaking it will require an effort, but it’s possible. Though it’s worth mentioning that a puppy is easier to fix than an adult Maltese, nothing stops you from giving it a try at any age the behavior comes up

Regular Exercise 

Having your Maltese exercised enough will help reduce the chances of her excess energy being channeled as frustration. You can increase the time spent on exercising your Maltese, extend the distance covered during every session, and you can also increase the activities performed during every exercise session.

Since the goal here is to tire him out so he has little energy left to engage in aggressive activities, you can also engage your Maltese in agility training, which consumes a lot of energy.

Let Him Know It Hurts

Whenever you’re playing with your pet, and he bites on you so hard, say ouch and withdraw. This allows your puppy to understand he has hurt you.

Your Maltese pup doesn’t want anything in the world to hurt you, so when you yelp out loud like he has done damage, after a few times, he completely abandons that behavior.

You can also withdraw and say, “No!” with a stern voice, try not to yell at him, though.

Give Him Toys to Chew On

Puppies need a lot of toys as they grow, most notably when they’re teething. Providing chewy toys can help reduce the rate at which they want to chew on you.

When he bites you, firmly tell him no and provide an alternative for him to chew on. When he accepts the toy and starts to chew on it, make sure you praise that behavior. Do this consistently, and you will no longer have a biting Maltese. 


A Maltese that has been through a traumatic experience will require therapy and lots of love to check the fear that provokes his aggressive behavior.

He would need to go through a rehabilitation process, and this can be time-consuming and requires patience. An adult Maltese with no negative history but had inadequate training may also require a good dog therapist to get back on track.


If your Maltese is well socialized to different people and situations, he won’t be shy or aggressive around strangers. It’s a great idea to start socializing your pet from a very early age.

You can enroll your Maltese puppy for puppy play classes or even training classes, so he can learn faster how to behave around other dogs and new people. An already aggressive puppy can be introduced slowly to this way of life.

Establish Pack Status Above Your Maltese

You and every member of your household need to assume a pack status above your Maltese. Every action you take with your Maltese should be intentional and pass the message that he’s not the leader of the pack.

Otherwise, you’re going to experience some kickback from time to time, which may include biting.

Certain rules must be followed by every member of your household:

  1. Do not carry your Maltese around all the time unnecessarily like he’s helpless. 
  2. Do not pick him up if he’s behaving negatively to get your attention, instead, ignore him. For example, if he’s barking or growling.
  3. Do not let him jump on you, members of your household, or visitors.
  4. Do not try to pet him or cuddle him if you’re on a stroll and he starts barking at strangers 
  5. If you’re carrying him, and he starts barking or growling at anyone for any reason, put him down. That’ll show him! 

Final Thoughts

Can a Maltese bite? Yes. Do they usually bite? Not necessarily. A Maltese’s behavior is usually determined by the owner. Proper care, training, and attention are the factors required to have a well behaved Maltese.


Diane February 25, 2022 - 7:52 am

I have a 1-year-old Maltese mix and he has just started biting. I never know when it’s going to happen. He can be sweet one minute and bite the next. I don’t know what causes him to turn that quick. I hate to give him away but if he doesn’t I am going to have to. Any answers?

Elias T April 22, 2022 - 7:30 pm

Amazing article!! 😊👍 Thank you!! It’s very helpful!! Have a wonderful day!

Katie August 17, 2022 - 3:34 am

I am taking care of my Maltese. She keeps growling and snapping at my Pitbull who just wants to smell her and play. Any idea on socializing besides trying walking and playing with them together?


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