Dog Food

Top 5 Best Small Breed Dog Food

yorkshire eating best dog food for small breeds
Written by Eva Jones
Quick Picks
Best Grain-free Formula: Wellness CORE – This is a perfect nutrient-dense formula for dog owners with toy breeds with a sensitive stomach. Grain-free small breed dog food based on turkey and chicken proteins with added support for hips, joints, skin, and coat.

Best Quality Lamb: Hill’s Science Small Paws – Small Paws is a tasty recipe suitable for even the pickiest of dogs. A nourishing formula with a well-balanced lamb protein/fat/carb ratio. For a complete meal featuring antioxidants for the lifelong immune system support.

Best Health Benefits: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula – Blue Buffalo delivers powerful a formula rich with hand-picked ingredients to support the immune system at every life stage. Based on chicken and brown rice this recipe also contains Lifesource Bits – a blend of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for your dog’s well-being.

Best For Digestive Health: Wellness Small Breed – Small Breed is a complete formula featuring fibers and other nutrients to promote digestive health in toy breeds. All-natural turkey and oatmeal formula also features premium ingredients for complete and balanced every day nutrition of your small do.

Best Support For Teeth and Bones: Purina Pro Plan Toy Breed Formula – Purina Pro Plan Toy Breed features essential minerals needed for good teeth and bone health. A recipe with high chicken protein and fats makes a balanced meal to meet the needs of active small dogs with added prebiotic fiber to promote digestive health.

yorkshire eating best dog food for small breeds

It took some time for me and my little best friend to burn through a lot of them. Thanks to this experience, I’m able to share with you the top 5 best small breed dog foods and help you narrow down your search for the perfect meal for your pet no matter how picky it is. Small dog breeds are very popular and being the owner of a small breed myself, I know how hard it is to choose the best food for your little companion. There are hundreds of options out there, but only a few of them can be considered as good dog foods for small dogs.

What’s The Best Dog Food For Small Dogs?

If you want to find the best dog food for small dogs, you have to acknowledge the features of small dog breeds. First, and the most obvious feature is that these dogs are small, weighing below 20 pounds.

Their size reflects the size of their stomachs, teeth, and mouths. To feed toy breeds properly you have to acknowledge that they have very small mouths, teeth, and stomach capacity. But, on the other hand, thanks to their high rate of metabolism, they burn more calories than their larger friends.

When you take all these small dog features into account, you can get the idea of what makes the best food for toy breeds:

  • The kibble size has to be small so that small dogs can easily chew it and consume the entire meals
  • The best small breed recipes have to be optimized for small dogs’ higher rate of metabolism
  • The best dog food for toy breeds has to provide superior nutrition because small dogs eat less

Specific Dietary Requirements and Issues of Toy Breeds

When it comes to toy breeds and dog food it’s less about the food taste and more about their very specific nutritional concerns. As I’ve already mentioned, they have a high rate of metabolism, small stomach, teeth, and mouths. Specific dietary requirements apply to both when they are puppies and adults which is why every meal has to be very well balanced.

According to the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, small dogs have significantly higher organic matter and protein digestibility than medium and large dogs.

Small breed puppies have to be on a proper diet to prevent a condition called hypoglycemia. If you keep a small breed in the puppy stage with a low-carb diet, their fast metabolism will quickly burn the low concentration of sugars.

Given the fact that a puppy doesn’t have body fat reserves, the chances are that it will become hypoglycemic. That’s why the best food options for small breed puppies are calorie-dense.

When it comes to small breed seniors and their diet, their owners tend to make a common mistake driven by the fact that small breeds require significantly more calories than medium and large breeds. If you give your toy breed adult dog bigger meals than it needs, your furry little friend will have bodyweight problems.

There are several diseases associated with obesity in small breed dogs, including osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart, and respiratory disease, cancer, kidney disease, and cranial cruciate ligament injury.

You also have to take into account that small breeds have a long lifespan, averaging around 15 years. During this time, small dogs can develop several health problems, which is why every meal has to be rich in antioxidants and multivitamins.

Some small, medium and large dog breeds are sensitive to grain which is why you should consider feeding your dog with grain-free dog food.

Some owners also make a horrible mistake by feeding fruits to their small dogs. According to AKC, some fresh fruits do make healthy snack options, such as bananas, cantaloupe, and apples. There are also fruits that are unhealthy for small dogs including avocado, cherries, and grapes.

The same applies to vegetables. Healthy vegetables include fresh or boiled broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and carrots. The list of harmful vegetables includes asparagus, mushrooms, and onions.

Wellness CORE Turkey and Chicken Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food

Description: This dry, perfectly balanced grain-free small breed dog food recipe comes from Wellness. CORE meals will help you maintain a healthy weight and diet in your dog.

Enriched with protein from deboned chicken and turkey, this dog food will help your companion build and maintain lean mass. It’s a perfect choice for dog owners who don’t want to feed their dogs grain and filler-rich dog foods. 

AAFCO: Maintenance
Type: Dry Food
Flavor: Chicken and turkey 

Key Benefits:

  • The high concentration of deboned chicken and turkey meat protein
  • Chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy joints
  • Wild salmon and flaxseed oil promotes a healthy coat and skin
  • Grain-free to alleviate digestion and allergy problems


  • No cereal grains, by-products, fillers, and artificial flavors and preservatives
  • High in protein, at least 36% in every serving
  • Nutrient-dense food with 15% fat and 5% fiber for dog energy
  • Great for joints and bones


  • The kibble might be too large and hard for older dogs
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Hill’s Science Small Paws for Small Breed Dogs

Description: Delicious Lamb Rich With Antioxidants for Long Life. Hill’s Science delivers an excellent food recipe for small breed dogs. Small Paws for Small Breed Dogs is a tasty dry recipe rich with antioxidants to support long life in small dogs. The high concentration of lamb meat protein will help your adult furry friend maintain lean muscle and weight. 

AAFCO: Maintenance
Type: Dry Food
Flavor: Lamb and Brown Rice

Key Benefits:

  • A well-balanced formula for healthy skin, coat, and stool
  • Contains only clinically-proven antioxidants
  • Made of natural ingredients
  • A great-tasting recipe even the pickier of dogs will love


  • Developed by food scientists, technicians, veterinarians, and Ph.D. nutritionists
  • Meals contain all the essential nutrients small dogs need to thrive
  • High-quality lamb protein for great taste
  • Contains clinically-proven antioxidants


  • Some small dogs are allergic to brown rice
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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula: Chicken and Brown Rice

Description: Real Meat Recipe With a Mouthful Chicken Flavor. Blue Buffalo is a renowned brand among small dog breed owners. This dog food is carefully developed for small dog breeds throughout all life stages. Based on the chicken flavor, this small dog breed dry food is rich with all the essential nutrients.

AAFCO: Maintenance
Type: Dry Food
Flavor: Chicken and Brown Rice

 Key Benefits:

  • Well-balanced 26% protein, 15% fat and 4% fiber formula
  • Promotes healthy coat and skin
  • Essential minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants for superb dog health
  • Created to boost immune system health at every life stage


  • Increased levels of carbohydrates and protein
  • Only the finest and fresh natural ingredients
  • Comes in 6 lb and 15 lb bags
  • Meals contain no meat by-product


  • You might have to let some air in after you feed your pup because of the lingering smell
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Wellness Complete Health Turkey & Oatmeal

Description: Wellness delivers a complete and perfectly-balanced meal for your dog’s everyday nutrition and weight. Rich with high-quality protein from deboned turkey, minerals, and vitamins, this dry dog food will allow your furry friend to live a healthy and joyful life. 

AAFCO: Maintenance
Type: Dry Food
Flavor: Turkey and Oatmeal

Key Benefits:

  • Not less than 28% protein, 16% fat, and 4% fiber
  • Minerals and vitamins for improved immunity and a healthy life
  • Support for healthy gums and eyes
  • Promotes digestive health


  • High protein and fat to maintain high dog energy levels
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Perfectly balanced meal for small dogs


  • Comes only in 4-pound and 12-pound bags
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Purina Pro Plan Small & Toy Breed Formula Adult Dry Dog Food

Description: Purina Pro Plan is a recipe specifically developed for dogs under 20 pounds. This food is packed with calories and based on chicken protein, essential minerals, and natural prebiotic fiber. Basically everything a small dog breed needs. The support for healthy bones and strong teeth is also included. 

AAFCO: Maintenance
Type: Dry Food
Flavor: Chicken

Key Benefits:

  • Chicken meal with protein/fat/fiber ratio that meets small dog breeds’ dietary requirements
  • Fatty acids for healthy coat and skin
  • Meals contain natural prebiotic fibers to promote digestive health
  • Comes with minerals beneficial for your dog’s teeth and bone health 


  • Comes in 6-lb, 18 lb, and 34 lb bags
  • Kibble size suitable for small dog breeds
  • Formulated to meet the needs of small dog breeds
  • Fibers help support your dog total well-being 


  • Can cause an allergic reaction in dogs intolerant to grains

Hill’s Science Small Paws Small Breed Adult is recommended by 84% of people that actually bought it on, and fed it to their little companions and makes it the best food for small breed dogs.

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Which breeds qualify as small?

Compared to their wild ancestors’ small dog breeds have a reduced body size as their common feature. Any breed that’s under 20 pounds in weight and less than a foot tall when fully grown qualifies as a small dog breed. The most common small dog breeds include Chihuahua, Jack Russell Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier, Dachshund, Toy Poodles, Shih Tzu, Pug, Pomeranian, Boston Terrier, and Maltese.

Do small breed dogs need special foods?

Small breed dogs have smaller mouths, teeth, stomach, and weight than large ones. On the other hand, they have a significantly higher metabolism rate. The best small breed dog food features smaller kibbles and packs a lot of energy to meet these specific feeding requirements.

What is the difference in small breed dog foods?

If you compare any small breed dog meal with regular kibble, you can notice several differences. It not only comes in smaller kibble sizes, but is also higher in fat, as small breeds burn through calories faster, and they need calorie-dense food to be healthy and energetic.

What to look for in small breed dog food?

When considering small dog food options, always look for the AAFCO stamp of approval on a small breed dog food. It is proof that the manufacturer did everything in compliance with AAFCO regulations.

According to AAFCO, the minimum concentration of protein for growth and reproduction is 22.5% and 18% for adult maintenance. The minimum recommended amount for total fat is 0.5% to 8.5% for growth and reproduction and 5.5% for adult maintenance.

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