12 Dog Breeds That Are Picky Eaters (With Videos)

Dog Breeds That Are Picky Eaters

There seem to be two different kinds of dogs out there: the greedy ones that eat anything and everything in sight and those that will turn up their noses to every gourmet morsel their owner tries to tempt them with.

But what breeds are the pickiest eaters?

Picky eaters come in all shapes and sizes and have different reasons for fussiness about food. Some small lap dogs seem manipulative about food while other breeds are more prone to food allergies and sensitive stomachs. Meanwhile, the high drive and intense work ethic of working dogs make eating too stressful or distracting. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most notorious picky eaters and what makes them fussy about food. We will also talk about when a picky eater becomes a problem and a few things you can change about their diet and routine that can help them eat better.

12 Dog Breeds That Are Fussy Eaters

A heads-up to our readers, I am generalizing these breeds of dogs. Food personalities vary from individual dog to dog, and variables like age, sex, or spaying and neutering can make a difference in whether your dog is a picky eater or eats everything in sight.

I can speak from experience with my rescue border collie, who was a fussy eater that would rather bury her food than eat it until she was spayed at 13 months old. Was it getting spayed, her age, or a coincidence, or was she a scared rescue who was finally comfortable enough to eat?

A lot of factors might have been at play. I do still maintain that she is a picky eater because if we are training, she will always pick a toy or ball as a reward over food!

I only mention this personal story to emphasize that every dog is unique, but these 12 breeds are the most notorious for being picky or fussy eaters!

1. Pug

Known for their sweet flat faces, wrinkly eyebrows, snorts, and rolly-poly appearance, it might be surprising to learn that Pugs, bred from royal Chinese lap dogs, are known as fussy eaters. Because of their iconic flat faces and general low energy, pugs are infamously known for a litany of health problems, including obesity.

However, pugs are very smart and learn quickly that if they turn their nose up at something, there is a chance they will get a second, better meal. A Pug’s meals should be carefully measured based on their size and exercise level, and treats should be given out smartly since they so easily put on weight.

Pugs are a brachycephalic breed, which means their snouts are much shorter than most other dogs. As cute as it is, it can often mean health issues like trouble breathing and trouble eating, making them seem like fussy eaters. If you have a Pug with an extra short snout, you might want to consider an elevated dish. 

2. Pekingese

Like the Pug, the Pekingese is an ancient Chinese brachycephalic breed descended from royal companion dogs. With their long silky hair, they often resemble mini lions, or little ottomans when they have a full show cut like this Pekingese winning the Toy Group at a conformation show.

Bred as palace lapdogs, Pekingese are independent and loyal, but also opinionated! Pekingese will bark to let you know their opinion about children being loud or the big dogs in the house playing too rough, and their opinions extend to food.

Pekingese are known for being picky about their food and will turn their nose up at what they previously gobbled up. It is their way of manipulating you into giving them different, and in their opinion, better food.

Be consistent with their meals, and also make sure they do not trick you into giving them too many table scraps.

3. French Bulldog

Another popular brachycephalic breed, the French Bulldog is a toy bulldog hailing from France. They were developed from English bulldog lines that had been rejected for being too small or having prick ears, eventually becoming the sweet and goofy companion dogs that are internationally so popular.

While French Bulldogs might not be as lazy or low energy as their English Bulldog cousins, they are still prone to weight gain.

However, French Bulldogs are still bred from bold bullfighters and do not like being forced to do anything. This includes eating!

Anyone who has owned one of the tiny but mighty dogs knows how hard it is to force them to do anything, and how easily they figure out if you are trying to force them to eat. This has earned them the reputation of being fussy eaters with their meals and treats.

4. Maltese

Weighing less this 7 lbs with flowing white hair, the Maltese is a good-natured toy breed that comes from the Mediterranean island of Malta. They have a long history, from ancient Greece to being lapdogs of the Roman aristocracy, and were saved from extinction by the Chinese during the Dark Ages.

It is no wonder they have been such popular dogs for thousands of years; just look at all that beautiful hair!

Unlike the previous toy breeds we have discussed who were picky eaters because of their desire to control their owners, tiny Malteses struggle to eat because of their size, and are very picky about the texture of their food.

They need a specific diet that not only smells good but also is not too big for their mouths or too crunchy. Maltese owners might find themselves feeding their fussy dogs wet food or soaking their kibble in bone broth to make it more appetizing and easier for them to eat.

5. Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a lovely little companion dog with a white, fluffy, hypoallergenic coat. They usually have a happy-go-lucky personality and their small size and easy-going temperament make them ideal apartment dogs, and they love to affectionately lick their owners.

Ironically, despite being such a great choice for people with dog allergies, Bichon Frise themselves often have food allergies. If your Bichon Frise is allergic to a certain protein, you might want the help of a veterinarian to develop an elimination diet to figure out what makes their skin itchy or upsets their sensitive stomach.

Because of their proneness to allergies and delicate appetite, owners of Bichon Frises find that their little dogs need to be coaxed to eat and will turn their noses up to many foods that are offered.

6. Dachshund

A German dog bred to hunt dangerous prey, the independent and stubborn Dachshund translates to “badger dog.” They come in two sizes, miniature (under 11lbs) and standard (up to 32lbs), and a range of colors and coat types.

Because of their stubborn and independent nature, Dachshunds often will get tired of their food and turn their noses up to what they might have normally gobbled up.

Seasoned Dachshund owners recommend you keep feeding them their normal meals so they do not start habitually stop eating their food to get something new. Dogs are very good at picking up patterns and figuring out how to get you to change their food is no exception.

Do not worry about letting your Dachshund miss a meal or two. With their long back and short legs, Dachshunds are prone to Intervertebral Disc Disease and other spinal problems. One of the best ways to prevent back issues is to keep the weight off!

7. Caviler King Charles Spaniel

Caviler Kings Charles Spaniels are a toy spaniel from England that make great companions for an active family but will also be happy sleeping on your lap all day. They come in several different colors and have long silky coats, big brown eyes, and slightly flattened snouts.

Despite being bred to be the lapdogs of aristocrats, they are very trainable and make excellent athletes. You can check out the video where the cute Cavalier smoke is going through an agility course!

While Cavaliers do love food, they enjoy variety and can easily become picky and try to get better treats. They also like a little extra encouragement to eat.

8. English Cocker Spaniel

These medium size spaniels were bred to as gundogs that flushed out woodcocks, hence the name “Cocker Spaniel.” They are athletic, trainable, and usually make good family dogs.

English Cocker Spaniels tend to like variety in their food, which makes them picky eaters. They might turn their nose up at something they have been eating for months, and it can be frustrating for owners of Cocker Spaniels to deal with such a fussy dog. They are also prone to allergies which can make it hard to find suitable food.

However, because they are so trainable and love working with their owners, you can give them a great variety of treats to help round out their diet!

9. Poodle

Ranging from tiny toy dogs that can weigh under 10 lbs to the flashy 70 lb standard poodles, this dog breed is known for its curly coat and flashy show-cut that has earned it so many best-in-shows at major dog conformation shows like the Westminster. 

Originally bred as waterfowl hunting dogs, Poodles are a very active breed and need lots of exercise. If they are not getting enough exercise, they are known for eating less and becoming fussy about their food.

Poodles are good at self-regulating their calorie intake and like variety. If they get too many treats or too little exercise, they might ignore their bowl of kibble at normal mealtimes, making them one of the pickiest eaters in the dog world. 

10. Greyhound

Have you ever seen an overweight Greyhound? Probably not! These racing dogs are shaped like torpedos, with a barrel chest that forms into their signature S-curved body. They never seem to have an ounce of fat on them and you can always see all their ribs.

Bred in England to hunt and chase down game, these popular sighthounds are the fastest dogs in the world and can run up to 45mph! A racing Greyhound rarely has trouble eating as they need the calories to maintain energy.

As many owners of “off-the-track” Greyhounds (or rescue dogs in general) observe, these dogs are very sensitive and easily get stressed, especially recently rescued Greyhounds. This stress, along with less exercise, might produce a picky eater. Their anxiety upsets their stomachs, and owners of these dogs find they have to feed their dogs a variety of smaller meals throughout the day.

11. Border Collie

Known for their intelligence, drive, and athleticism, Border Collies are great dogs for active owners and make great competitors in a variety of dog sports including agility, flyball, frisbee rally obedience, freestyle, and, of course, what they were born to do, herding!

Because of the Border Collie’s playful nature and high drive, they often prefer toys over food for training. They might be picky about the treats that are offered to them or simply want to play all the time. 

Therefore, be careful about letting your dog become obsessive and allow your Border Collie the opportunity to learn how to relax. Border Collies can have such an intense work ethic that they might forget to eat while focusing on playing or working.

They should be trained with a variety of treats and toys since their energy and intelligence might lead to Obsessive Compulsion Disorder if they do not have a proper outlet.

Common OCD symptoms in Border Collies include obsession with balls (will play fetch till they pass out from exhaustion), chasing shadows, or constant spinning. Sometimes they can become so obsessive about something they will have trouble focusing at mealtimes resulting in fussy or picky eaters.

12. Siberian Husky

Since Huskies were bred to run all day and survive in the harsh conditions of the Arctic, they can survive on a minimal amount of food and water. According to the American Kennel Club, a working Husky needs a much higher level of protein, especially when they are pulling sleds in the wintertime.

Traditionally when working and pulling supplies in the snowy Alaska tundra, they get whole fish rather than traditional kibble.

With their thick double coats, (husky owners understand how much they can shed!), and adaptability for intense running in a harsh environment, huskies are known for being picky eaters. They might only eat part of their meals or skip meals.

Unlike many dogs, many huskies will not eat if they are not hungry. This can drive husky owners crazy and for good reason. Huskies are high-energy dogs who like to run all day every day and need to eat a lot of protein and calories so they do not get too skinny.

However, most huskies will eventually eat, even if it means you have to tempt them with a variety of foods or free-feed.

Should You Be Worried About Your Dog Being A Picky Eater?

If your picky eater is getting all their nutritional needs, even if you have to try several different foods to get them to eat, you usually do not need to worry about them. Several reasons besides genetics produce a picky eater including stress, an owner away from home, or time of day.

Some dogs will only eat one meal a day, others might only eat in front of their owner, or some might go on a hunger strike after a big move. Usually, these dogs will fall back into their eating routine with the right food and proper encouragement.

However, sometimes picky eating is not a cute quirk but a symptom of a health issue. From food allergies to a painful broken tooth, many medical reasons can suddenly make a dog fussy about their food.

The American Kennel Club recommends that you see a veterinarian immediately if your dog is showing any of these other symptoms:

  • Signs of food allergies or sensitivities like itchy skin or hot-spots
  • Other gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea
  • If your dog has diabetes
  • Your dog is under the age of 6 months old
  • Your senior dog suddenly stops eating or will only eat soft food

How To Feed A Picky Eater

Once you have ruled out any underlying medical issues with your picky eater, it might be time to try an elimination diet. If you think your dog has food sensitivities, you can start eliminating certain proteins, starting with chicken, since it is one of the biggest dog allergens.

You can continue making your way down the list of proteins (Beef, turkey, lamb, rabbit, etc.) until you find a good fit for your dog. There are also professional veterinarian nutritionists who can help you find the perfect meal plan for your dog.

However, if your dog does not have any allergies, food, or sensitivities, and simply is stubborn by turning their nose up to what you are offering them, veterinarians Dr. Krista Wiliams and Dr. Robin Downing have some advice:

  • Offer meals for only 15-30 minutes at a time twice a day. Remove what is not eaten and save kibble for the next meal (if you feed wet food, discard it to prevent illnesses).
  • Give smaller portions until your dog starts eating regularly
  • Once you find a food your dog likes, stick with it for consistency
  • Do not offer too much variety as that can create a picky eater

They also remind us that while you should resist the urge to give your dog lots of human food, some add-ons might tempt the pickiest eaters to enjoy their food:

  • Unseasoned vegetables (green beans and sweet potatoes are a popular choice!)
  • Unsalted bone broth 
  • Unsalted popcorn
  • Unseasoned cooked eggs

A Note About Free Feeding

Free feeding simply means that you leave your dog’s food (usually dry food since wet or soft food can grow bacteria) out and your dog can eat whenever they want and however much they wish. People with a one-dog household sometimes feed their dog this way if they are a picky eater.

While free feeding might be a good solution for a picky eater if they are the only dog in the home, here are three major reasons to rethink having food available for your dog all the time, even if they are a picky eater.

  1. It makes it harder to notice changes in your dog’s appetite that are caused by a health problem.
  2. It can invite unwanted pests into your home like insects and mice.
  3. An abnormal feeding schedule can create an abnormal potty routine; your dog might have to use the bathroom at irregular times including in the middle of the night!

Final Thoughts

There are a variety of reasons that can turn a dog into a picky eater, and as we have seen in this article that genetics can play a huge role.

Some breeds, like pugs, absolutely love food, but also know how to manipulate their owners to get more tasty treats and will ignore their regular meals. Perhaps this is why they are known for becoming overweight.

Whether your picky eater is trying to trick you to get more delicious food, has a sensitive stomach, does not feel like eating, or forgets to eat, all dogs need a well-rounded diet for their health and energy.

It might be more work with a fussy eater, but as dog owners, it is our responsibility to figure out a healthy meal plan so our canine best friends can have the most fulfilling life. 

Once you have figured out a diet that meets your dog’s nutritional needs and that they enjoy, be consistent about meal times and be careful about how many extra treats you give them. This will help condition even the pickiest eater to learn to enjoy their food!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *