The best small breed dog food is Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food For Small Breed Dogs.
Small dog breeds are known for being fearless, highly energetic, and simply adorable. With their small stature, you might think they are fragile but the reality is they are tough little dogs.
Smaller dogs have higher metabolisms than larger ones, so they burn through food faster. This means that they need to eat more often, which makes it important to find the best dog food that will keep them healthy and strong.
When it comes to dog food, there are a lot of factors to consider, but small dogs need special care. Their bodies are different (they’re more prone to joint problems and heart disease), and the proper diet is different too. So how do you decide which small breed dog food will be best for your little four-legged friend?
Without further ado, let’s delve into the list of the best small breed dog foods!
#1 Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food For Small Breed Dogs
- An adult dog food made with highly digestible ingredients that are easy on your small dog's stomach
- Nourishing omega 6 fatty acids and vitamin E help promote healthy skin and a shiny coat
- Provides high quality protein to maintain lean muscle in small breed dogs
Right off the bat is the small breed dog food package that will appeal to the pickiest of pets and provide them with the needed ingredients and nutrients for healthy growth.
Hill’s Science small breed dog food contains – among others – chicken meal, pork meal, cracked pearled barley, whole grain corn, and whole-grain wheat, all of which contribute to a balanced mixture of both plant and animal protein, carbs, and fiber.
According to Hill’s Science researchers, their ingredients provide easy-to-digest nutrition for growing pups weighing up to 25 pounds when fully grown, along with nursing and pregnant small breed dogs. From vitamins, E and C, which enhance immunity, to DHA, which contributes to healthy brain development, and omega-3 fatty acids, which is essential for muscle and bone development and growth, your small breed dog will get everything he needs when growing.
Hill’s Science package for small breeds contains a plethora of other healthy ingredients, including pork fat, which is loaded with omega-6 fatty acids and has a sweet flavor that dogs love, fish oil, and flaxseed, both of which are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the skin and joints of your dog, and Oat fiber, which is a great source of dietary fiber.
An excellent source of protein, carbs, and fiber. This small kibble mixture is balanced and tailored for small breeds and puppies, and it’s well-researched to promote healthy growth. The flavor is also nice and seems to appeal to most dogs, even the pickiest among them.
- Contains 25% protein, 15% fats, and 53% carbs, and 2.2% fiber according to the dry matter basis method.
- Contains cracked pearled barley, chicken meal, whole grain wheat, and pork meal
- Offers 378 calories per cup
#2 Purina Bella Natural Bites For Small Dogs
- One (1) 12 lb. Bag - Purina Bella Natural Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Natural Bites With Real Turkey & Chicken
- Natural formula plus vitamins and minerals. Real turkey is the number 1 ingredient
- Nutritious blend includes real turkey and real chicken. Formulated to support the health of adult small breed dogs
We get it, the prices of dog food can be too high sometimes, which makes finding a quality brand that can give your dog everything he needs without breaking the bank seem like an impossible endeavor. Worry not, as we’ve already done the heavy lifting and found it for you; Purina Bella Natural Bites, our top value-oriented small breed dog food.
Despite its low price, this dog food brand contains a multitude of healthy ingredients, including chicken by-product meal, whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, soybean meal, and corn gluten meal, making it both delicious and nutritious.
Through its ingredients, Purina Bella’s Natural Bites can provide your small breed dogs with the required vitamins (B12, B1, A, and D3 just to name a few), fiber, protein, and fats for healthy growth. The meat concentrate included in this small breed dog food offers around 300% more protein than fresh chicken, the corn and wheat are (as cereal grains) an excellent source of energy, and the soybean meal is another protein-packed ingredient.
Other components, such as the corn gluten meal and canola meal, also contribute to the overall nutritional value of this dog food brand, thus making for a complete, healthy meal every time.
Granted, Purina Bella Natural Bites isn’t the fanciest of dry food for small dogs, but for the price, it definitely does the job perfectly and shines as an excellent mainly-plant-based dry dog food that promotes growth and development through a handful of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients. Good nutrients, sweet flavors, and reasonable price. What else could you ask for in dog food?
- Contains 31% protein, 18% fats, 43% carbs, and 4.5% fiber according to the dry matter basis method.
- Includes Chicken by-product meal, whole grain corn, and whole grain wheat among others.
- Contains vitamin supplements
#3 Purina Pro Plan Small & Toy Breed Formula Adult Dry Dog Food
- One (1) 5 lb. Bag - Purina Pro Plan Toy Breed Dog Food With Probiotics for Dogs, Chicken & Rice Formula
- High in protein to meet the needs of highly active toy breed dogs. Real chicken is the first ingredient
- Natural prebiotic fiber nourishes specific intestinal bacteria for digestive health. Used to be known as FOCUS Toy Breed...
Purina Pro Plan is another affordable dog food manufacturer that has been providing pets with healthy nutrition for years. The formula isn’t revolutionary—with both animal- and plant-based ingredients —but the result is pure nutritional quality.
Among the notable ingredients in this dog food, there’s chicken, which is the primary protein source, barley, which provides decent caloric energy and supports stable blood pressure levels, and animal fat. Quite the complete food, isn’t it?
There’s a catch though. The Purina Pro Plan small breed dog food product contains a lot of by-products, such as the poultry by-product meal and brewers rice, which is a cereal grain by-product, making the mixture a bit controversial as by-products offer a slightly lower quality compared to single-species ingredients.
Nevertheless, they still provide plenty of benefits. The poultry by-product meal, for instance, is a natural source of glucosamine.
Although the mixture may seem of lower quality compared to premium brands, Purina Pro Plan small breed dog food comes at a really affordable price and offers great nutritional value that can support and maintain the growth and development of your little pooch.
- Contains 30% protein, 14% fats, 49% carbs, and 5.1% fiber according to the dry matter basis method.
- Includes Chicken, whole grain wheat, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, and poultry by-product meal among others.
- Contains vitamin B12 and D3 supplements, along with several natural vitamin sources.
#4 Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food
- PROTEIN RICH SMALL BREED ADULT DRY DOG FOOD: Nutritionally dense crunchy kibble with ingredients such as turkey and...
- ALL NATURAL: Created by nutritionists, veterinarians and animal lovers, our recipes provide an ideal balance of nature's...
- SUPPORTS DIGESTIVE HEALTH & HEALTHY BODY WEIGHT: Supported by antioxidants for strong immune systems, vitamins for...
If your chihuahua prefers natural, premium ingredients over wheat or meat by-products, Wellness’ dog food for small dogs might just be what he needs, especially that it comes in a kibble size that’s just right for a tiny dog’s mouth
Just like other products in the wellness complete health line, this dog food for small breeds contains deboned chicken, chicken meal, ground brown rice, tomato pomace, turkey, and garlic powder, along with many other natural ingredients.
These ingredients not only make for a delicious taste but also contribute to a healthy, balanced mixture that’s good for the growth, immunity, digestive wellness, and high energy of your little pooch.
The Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food lies just in the middle ground. It’s not too expensive, nor is it the cheapest. In playing for both crowds, it does come with a few compromises, but for the price, there’s nothing to complain about, especially that all the ingredients are natural and premium.
- Contains 28% protein, 12% fats, 52% carbs, and 5.6% fiber according to the dry matter basis method.
- Made in the US using premium ingredients such as turkey, chicken, oatmeal, and Salmon.
- Doesn’t contain any wheat, corn, soy, or meat by-products.
#5 Royal Canin Health Nutrition Small Adult Dry Dog Food
- SMALL BREED DOG FOOD: Royal Canin Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food is precise nutrition specifically made for small dogs...
- WEIGHT MAINTENANCE: L-carnitine helps maintain a healthy weight, while helping to meet the high energy needs of small...
- SKIN AND COAT HEALTH: Optimal levels of fatty acids like EPA and DHA support skin and a healthy dog coat
Royal Canin is a dog food brand that is known for its nutritious packages that appealed to big dog-breed owners, but, more impressively, they really hit a chord with the small breed dog owner with the Health Nutrition Small Adult Dry Dog Food.
Among the ingredients, this small breed dog food contains a chicken meal, which, although is controversial as is the case with any meat meal, is a concentrate, which means that it contains 300% more protein than fresh chicken. For carbs and energy, Royal Canin’s small breed dog package includes brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that’s easy to digest.
Other healthy ingredients include corn, a plant-based protein booster, chicken fat, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids, wheat gluten, another plant-based protein source, and fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Although this dog isn’t the cheapest, it definitely lives up to both the price point and brand name and can be the best dog food for small dogs depending on your dog’s needs, though keep in mind that many of its ingredients are controversial in the dog food world.
- Contains 28% protein, 16% fats, 49% carbs, and 3.8% fiber according to the dry matter basis method.
- Contains Corn, chicken by-product meal, fish oil, brown rice, wheat gluten, and chicken fat.
- Uses natural flavors.
#6 Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Small Breed Dog Food
- MORE CHICKEN IS COMING: An evolution of your dog’s formula with more chicken than ever, plus wholesome grains
- PACKED WITH REAL CHICKEN: A recipe made to satisfy your dog’s natural love for meat, this high protein dog food...
- HEALTHY INGREDIENTS: BLUE Wilderness grain free dog food for adult small breed dogs is made with the ingredients to help...
A few years ago, Blue Buffalo shook up the dog food market with their nutritious large breed packages, and they’ve recently expanded the line to the world of small breed dogs.
Blue Buffalo’s dog food for small breeds includes a plethora of protein sources, both animal- and plant-based ones, including chicken meal, deboned salmon, and pea protein, all of which can promote healthy growth for your pup. This dog food is also an excellent carb source, with energy-inducing ingredients such as tapioca starch and pea starch, both of which are gluten-free and full of calories.
Even though Blue Buffalo claims that the main ingredient in this dog food is meat, it’s worth noting that it actually contains different types of pea products, including Pea protein, Peas, Pea fiber, and Pea starch.
If we were to consider all of these individual items as one ingredient, peas become the predominant ingredient in this recipe, so the “first component is natural meat” claim might just be a marketing ploy.
Protein is essential for healthy development, and when it comes to protein-packed dog foods, Blue Buffalo offers the best recipe with both plant and animal sources that contribute to a balanced mixture.
- Contains 36% protein, 16% fats, 41% carbs, and 6.7% fiber according to the dry matter basis method.
- Contains salmon, peas, chicken, and tomato pomace among other healthy ingredients.
- Meat is the main ingredient in this dog food.
#7 Merrick Lil Plates Grain Free Small Breed Recipe
- One (1) 4 lb Bag - Merrick Lil' Plates Small Breed Dog Food, Grain Free Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato Recipe, Small...
- Real deboned Texas beef is always the first ingredient in this small breed dry dog food, which offers the ideal...
- Natural dog food grain free recipe crafted with probiotics and prebiotic fiber for healthy digestion
Back to the affordable side of the spectrum with Merrick, another well-known pet food brand, and its small dog food that’s delivered in a beautiful package.
There’s more to it than meets the eye though, as Merrick’s dog food for small breeds offers a well-balanced, grain-free recipe that contains deboned salmon, an excellent omega-3 source, salmon meal for protein, and sweet potato for energy through a gluten-free carbohydrate source.
What’s notable about this dog food brand is that it uses coconut oil as a natural flavor, which, being a medium-chain triglyceride, is also known for its excellent health benefits as it can help in the treatment of chronic skin disorders and canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome.
Through its grain-free formula, the Merrick small breed dog food provides great nutritional value for your dog without blowing a hole in your wallet, thus making for a great combo of quality and affordability.
- Contains 38% protein, 16% fats, 38% carbs, and 5.1% fiber according to the dry matter basis method.
- Contains salmon, sweet potatoes, peas, and whitefish meal among other healthy ingredients.
- The recipe is grain-free
#8 Purina Beyond Small Breed Dog Food
- One (1) 14.5 lb. Bag - Purina Beyond Natural, High Protein Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Simply Chicken, Barley & Egg Recipe
- Limited ingredient dog food formula with real white meat chicken raised without steroids* as the number 1 ingredient....
- Bite-sized kibble and high protein dry dog food appropriately balanced with fat to help support the unique energy needs...
The Purina Beyond Small Breed Dog Food is a solid mid-range dog food recipe. It contains chicken, which is the first source of protein, barley, which is a starchy carb that supplies several healthy nutrients like fiber, and beef fat, which, although does sound appetizing, is a quality ingredient and a great fat source.
Truth be told, we’re a little conflicted about Purina Beyond adding brewers rice and canola meal to its recipe, as both are controversial, but they’re also found in premium brands and can yield significant health benefits, especially when mixed with the other ingredients, so nothing to complain about here.
In a nutshell, Purina One Beyond is an above-average dry product that contains both healthy ingredients and controversial components that may seem appetizing to some people.
- Contains 30% protein, 18% fats, 44% carbs, and 4.5% fiber according to the dry matter basis method.
- Contains chicken, whole barley, and beef fat among other healthy ingredients.
- The recipe includes vitamin D3 and B12 supplements.
#9 Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe
- Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb and Rice dry dog food; REAL PASTURE-RAISED LAMB is the #1 ingredient; small...
- Nutrient-rich and provides the energy to thrive; vitamins and minerals from SUPERFOODS, including fruits like...
- Each serving includes species-specific K9 Strain PROPRIETARY PROBIOTICS — plus antioxidants and prebiotics — to help...
Diamond Naturals gets the last spot on our list of the best dog food for small dogs. The ingredients include beef meal – which is a meal concentrate – for protein, peas as a source of fiber, and rice flour or ground white rice, which is a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.
This dog food includes a lot of seeds, including flaxseed as an omega-3 fatty acid source, chia seed, which is pretty similar to flax, and quinoa, which is known for its gluten-free grains.
With a long track record and plenty of happy customers, the Diamond Naturals Real Meat Recipe is a good option to consider, especially if you’re on a budget.
- Contains 28% protein, 17% fats, 48% carbs, and 5% fiber according to the dry matter basis method.
- Contains chicken, whole barley, and beef fat among other healthy ingredients.
- The recipe includes vitamin B12 and D supplements.
Dog Food For Small Dogs Buyer’s Guide
Although big and small dog breeds are pretty similar in different physical and behavioral features; they’re quite different when it comes to nutritional needs. For that very reason, choosing the best dog food for small dogs can be overwhelming, especially considering the vast number of brands available today, each of which claims to offer the best ingredients and highest nutritional value.
No need to break into a cold sweat though, as we’ve already done the heavy lifting for you, but you still need to pick the ideal product for your pup. For that, we went through all of the resources available online and offline and researched the subject thoroughly to clear up any confusion you might have in your mind. So, for all the Yorkies and Chihuahuas out there, here goes our guide:
What Are The Nutritional Needs Of Small Dog Breeds?
Food, in essence, exists to provide us with enough energy to go with our days with ease. The same goes for small mutts. As you know, energy is measured in calories, which come from macronutrients; proteins, carbs, and fats. While a healthy, sedentary adult needs around 15 calories per pound of bodyweight for a total of around 2,500 calories every day, a small adult Yorkshire Terrier, for example, needs 40 calories per pound, which add to approximately 500 calories in total. Such a measly number, huh? I mean, compared to the 2,250 calories per day that a 100-pound German Shepherd – the very same breed the 46th POTUS has – needs, Yorkies aren’t that big of eaters.
The devil’s in the detail though. A small pup needs 40 calories per pound of body weight, while a big dog typically needs 22.5 calories per pound. In other words, the smaller the dog, the more energy-rich the food should be, as their metabolism is much faster.
It’s not only about the quantity though, as the quality of the dog food is equally important. Each dog has specific nutritional requirements depending on the age, breed, and health state. Generally, proteins and fats are essential nutrients for small dogs, as they can ensure proper development, growth, and metabolism throughout the years. For optimal bioavailability, look for dog food brands that offer both of these nutrients from animal sources. Carbs come in next when it comes to importance, but there’s nothing special about them for small breed dogs. Just make sure that they come from easy-to-digest sources.
Other than protein, fat, and carbs, your dog also needs minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, all of which can protect your dog against free radical damage, which can yield severe results in the long run.
Your dog’s nutritional needs greatly depend on his age. Puppies, adults, and senior small breed dogs require different amounts of calories and proteins to accommodate their growth and energy needs.
Puppies need the highest calories and protein content to support their growth and development, so keep that in mind when choosing your dog food brand. They also need more vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and water to grow up healthy and in good shape. As a general rule of thumb, you should feed your puppy sold food during his first three to eight weeks.
Upon reaching adulthood, your dog, especially a small one, will need fewer calories as they can quickly lead to obesity. On the other hand, they need vitamins, calcium, minerals, proteins, and fatty acids for a solid immune system that can resist illnesses and diseases.
Finally, senior small breed dogs require special care as they go through several physiological changes that can make the feeding process a bit tricky. When your small dog reaches an older age, look for dog food brands that are rich in fiber with fewer calories and fatty acids to ensure proper metabolism.
Which Ingredients Should You Look For?
When looking for the best dog food for your tiny beagle, there are some ingredients that you should look for, which can make for the healthiest experience. Those components include:
Just like humans, small breed dogs need vegetables (fruits as well) to get the necessary minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that ensure proper bodily functions and prevent illnesses and diseases, so make sure the product you choose contains fruits and vegetables.
Human grade whole meat, which is approved for human consumption, is healthier than other types of meat, as it goes through a more thorough inspection before hitting the market, which means that it offers the highest nutritional quality.
Whole grains are an integral part of any pup’s diet, as they provide dogs with both energy and easily digestible fiber capable of ensuring good digestive health.
While it’s best to get a dog food brand that doesn’t contain any preservatives whatsoever, if these components are a necessity, look for a product that contains natural ones, such as Vitamin E and C.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. To ensure the healthiest muscle development for your little pooch, make sure to look for the right amino acids in the dog food label, which include arginine, histidine, and leucine among others.
Which Ingredients Should You Avoid?
We hear you. “Do this, don’t do that,” we’re starting to sound like your mother, right? Believe us; it’s going to be worth it in the end, as the last thing you want is to fill your pup’s little stomach with dangerous ingredients, such as:
Food dyes, besides being useless as dogs don’t care about their food’s color, can be hazardous for your little mutt’s health, as they’re basically chemical additives that provide zero nutritional values and can result in severe illnesses and diseases (even cancer sometimes).
Rendered fat, or generic animal fat, comes from roadkill, dying, or diseased livestock, along with expired grocery meats. Yep, it is as scary as it sounds.
Ethoxyquin (we know that it’s hard to pronounce) is a preservative that’s often found in dog food. Ethoxyquin was initially developed as a herbicide, aka a substance that’s toxic to plants, and it has been associated with severe side effects, such as leukemia (blood cancer), blindness, and kidney damage. Should we say more?
Propylene glycol is used by some manufacturers to prevent bacterial growth. As you probably already know, not all bacteria are harmful. Unfortunately, Propylene Glycol cannot tell the difference, so it inhibits the growth of both bad and good bacteria, which is necessary for proper food digestion and absorption.
Hydrochloric acid is a corrosive agent that has many applications and enters in several processes, such as modifying gelatin and corn starch and converting corn starch to syrup. Since it’s not a natural agent, it’s only reasonable to try to avoid it when looking for the best dog food for small dogs.
These brands usually contain cheap ingredients and sweetening fillers, both of which can make the digestion process laborious for your tiny Dachshund or Pembroke Welsh Corgi. It’s worth noting that some of these brands do offer premium ingredients while still being super cheap, such as Purina Natural, which is reviewed above.
Premium dry dog food brands offer superior quality compared to generic brands, but not as good as super-premium brands. A good example in this category is Pedigree.
Super Premium Brands
Super-premium brands are super expensive, but they also offer superior quality when it comes to the balance and nutritional value of the ingredients, making them the ideal choice for those looking for the best growth, development, and energy level for their small companions. Wellness is an excellent example of this category.
Related: Best Healthiest Dog Food
The day you chose to adopt a dog, you stepped into a minefield. We’re not trying to scare you, but it’s a real responsibility, especially when it comes to feeding, as your little pooch’s health is directly related to what enters his stomach.
Out of the reviewed batch, Hill’s Science Diet Small & Toy Breed Dry Dog Food outshines the rest with a great balance, premium ingredients, and an exceptional nutritional value. If you understand that quality comes at a price, that’s the best dog food for small dogs that you can get.