The 13 Best Small Breed Dog Foods in 2023

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

This updated guide lists all the best small-breed dog foods this year.

A small breed dog is energetic enough to give any large breed dog a run for his bone, but their nutritional needs are specific to them.

Due to their faster metabolism, small-breed dogs need more calories per pound than larger breeds. However, they eat less in one go, so their food must be densely packed with necessary nutrients. To ensure their health and happiness, it’s important to choose high-quality food tailored for small breeds.

In this guide, we’ve reviewed the best dog foods for small breeds, considering ingredients, customer reviews, and more using our 40-Point Inspection list.

Let’s dive in!

The Best Small Breed Dog Foods

Top PicksRatingTop Ingredients
#1. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Dog Food
(Editor’s Choice)
4.9Venison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Lentils
#2. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey Dog Food4.9Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Salmon Meal, Barley
#3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Senior Dog Food4.8Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal
#4. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Small Breed Grain-Free Wet Canned Dog Food4.8Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Cod, Peas
#5. Merrick Classic Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food4.7Chicken, Chicken Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice, Grain Sorghum
#6. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Dog Food4.7Chicken, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice, Chicken Fat, Dried Beet Pulp
#7. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Dog Food4.7Deboned Turkey, Lentils, Peas, Ground Flaxseed, Salmon Oil
#8. Purina ONE +Plus Small Breed Lamb & Rice Dog Food4.6Lamb, Chicken Meal, Rice Flour, Whole Grain Wheat, Oatmeal

#1. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Venison, 2. Lamb meal, 3. Garbanzo meals, 4. Peas, 5. Duck meal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,719 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 32% | Fat (min.) 18% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry Food

If you want to stop feeding your meat-loving dog hidden fillers and refined grains, this Taste Of The Wild offering is an excellent choice. Venison, along with lamb meal, garbanzo meal, duck meal, and peas, comes in small kibble form, making them easier to eat and digest for small-breed dogs.

Free from artificial flavoring and packed with high-quality ingredients, this specifically for small-breed food provides well-rounded nutrition for your mighty mite. It includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and probiotics for skin, coat, and gut health.

#2. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Oatmeal, 3. Oats, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Salmon Oil

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,881 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 28% | Fat (min.) 19% | Fiber (max.) 4.25% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry Food

This bowl of goodness from the magic creators at Wellness includes ground barley, salmon, turkey, and oatmeal at its core. 

It caters to the high nutritional demands of small breed dogs using small kibble to provide proteins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids for complete care. This recipe is a popular choice among dog owners due to its excellent combination of value and taste. If your tiny toy breed enjoys it, you’ll appreciate it even more!

#3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Senior Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Barley, and 5. Oatmeal

  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,552 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 23% | Fat (min.) 13% | Fiber (max.) 6% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry Food

This well-rounded recipe for small-breed senior dogs’ unique needs features deboned chicken and antioxidant-rich ingredients for aging digestive systems. The carbs and proteins are well-balanced and provide essential nutrients for small dogs’ optimum health and activity levels.

Free of by-products or fillers, the small-sized kibble makes for an easy-to-eat meal, while calcium and phosphorus promote strong bones and healthy teeth. Blue Buffalo has made a name for itself by providing well-designed products for specific needs, and this one for your smaller seniors is a great example.

#4. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Small Breed Grain-Free Wet Canned Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chickpeas, 3. Tapioca, 4. Turkey, 5. Chickpeas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,033 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 8.5% | Fat (min.) 4.5% | Fiber (max.) 3% | Moisture (max.) 78%
  • Form: Wet Food

Is your dog sick and tired of small dry kibble? This saucy little recipe contains chicken broth, egg whites, and real chicken to satisfy your petite little pup’s taste buds and provide the required caloric content with essential proteins and nutrients. 

The inclusion of omega fatty acids makes it an ideal formula for supporting your small breed dog’s coat and skin health. The recipe is free from potatoes, soy, and grains. It uses proteins from natural sources that your dog will love.

#5. Merrick Classic Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Barley, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Sunflower Oil

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,711 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 27% | Fat (min.) 16% | Fiber (max.) 3.5% | Moisture (max.) 11%
  • Form: Dry Food

Meat, quinoa, fruits, and vegetables. What more could you want from a recipe for small-breed dogs? Small portions pack all the goodness your little canine friend needs in this high-protein recipe. 

It is unique because of the high value of nutrients and proteins present in the recipe without being too high on the glycemic index. So you can cater to your little pup’s nutrition without worrying about increased levels of carbs or fats. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids support healthy skin and coat, while small kibble makes it easy on the tongue and tummy.

#6. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Cracked Pearled Barley, 3. Ground White Rice, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Dried Beet Pulp

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,683 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 27% | Fat (min.) 16% | Fiber (max.) 3% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry Food

Formulated with a range of wholesome superfoods, Diamond Naturals provides loads of nutritional goodness for small and toy breeds from real chicken. This recipe provides essential amino acids for muscle maintenance, as well as barley and white rice to fuel your dog’s body throughout the day.

This dog food also sources omega fatty acids, probiotics, and minerals from whole foods. Chicory root, kelp, and pumpkin help strengthen your dog’s digestive system, while chia seeds and flaxseed improve their skin and coat health. Each batch of Diamond Naturals is exclusively manufactured in the US to ensure your dog receives the highest quality nutrition.

#7. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Lentils, 3. Peas, 4. Ground Flaxseed, 5. Salmon Oil

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,746 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 36% | Fat (min.) 16% | Fiber (max.) 5% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry Food

This turkey and chicken recipe stands out for its emphasis on fulfilling dogs’ primal requirements. Packed with abundant proteins and enriched with Omega Fatty acids from nourishing salmon oil, it promotes both elevated energy levels and the well-being of their coat and skin. Crafted from premium, all-natural ingredients, this formula guarantees that only the highest quality nutrition finds its way into your cherished companion’s bowl.

This recipe is so desirable because there are no fillers or refined grains to compromise core health and protein intake. Along with meaty goodness, it includes antioxidants and probiotics to support digestion. Wellness is a highly regarded brand among pet parents because their focus on high-quality ingredients and well-rounded recipes make them reliable makers of nutritious and healthy foods.

#8. Purina ONE +Plus Small Breed Lamb & Rice Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Lamb, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Rice Flour, 4. Whole Grain Wheat, 5. Oat Meal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,093 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 28% | Fat (min.) 17% | Fiber (max.) 3% | Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry Food

Help your underweight pup gain weight with Purina One+ Small Breed Dog Food. The recipe bursts with lamb meat and beef fat, which boost muscle growth and provide a surplus of healthy calories to trigger weight gain.

Apart from that, the food also contains a variety of grains, including wheat, oatmeal, and corn, to supply carbs and fiber for effective digestion. Your small breed dog will also develop softer fur and stronger immunity from the food’s antioxidant and omega fatty acid content. And since the food has a delicious crunchy texture, your dog will automatically munch down their food without effort.

#9. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small & Mini Perfect Weight Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Cracked Pearled Barley, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Oat Fiber, 5. Flaxseed

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per cup): 291 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 24% | Fat (min.) 9% | Fiber (max.) 13% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry Food

If there’s one weight loss formula we recommend for all small and toy breeds, it would be Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight Dog Food. The high-fiber recipe is designed with fewer calories to trigger weight loss while ensuring a full stomach after each meal.

At the same time, the food promotes muscle mass with real chicken meat and keeps your dog energized with coconut oil. Your dog will also receive a range of micronutrients, including amino acids and minerals, crucial for bone, vision, and digestive health.

#10. Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Whole Grain Barley, 3. Whole Grain Brown Rice, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Whole Grain Oatmeal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,752 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 24% | Fat (min.) 16% | Fiber (max.) 3.5% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry Food

As the name suggests, Nutro Wholesome aims to deliver quality nutrition to small breeds with natural, premium-grade ingredients. That’s why it includes real chicken as the first ingredient, brown rice, whole barley, and dried beet pulp to help your dog build muscle and stay energetic with each meal.

The formula also contains micronutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin to aid joint and bone health. It is also full of antioxidants and has a crunchy texture that helps remove plaque from your dog’s teeth. Each ingredient is carefully selected and approved to provide the highest-quality nutrition. It is free of corn, wheat, and grains.

#11. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Petite Lamb Small Breed LID Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Lamb Meal, 2. Canola Oil, 3. Garbanzo beans, 4. Freeze-Dried lamb, 5. vitamins and Probiotics mix

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,500 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 23% | Fat (min.) 14% | Fiber (max.) 4.5% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry Food

Tailored for small-breed adult dogs, this meaty recipe features lamb meal, canola oil, and probiotics to address their unique needs. It offers a balanced mix of vital nutrients and antioxidants to support their overall health.

What makes this recipe so irresistible is that covering all that nutrition is raw-coated, freeze-dried lamb for that added meaty crunchiness. So if your little one is big on flavorful meals, this may be the product for you and your dog.

#12. Solid Gold Wee Bit Bison & Brown Rice Recipe Small Breed Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Bison, 2. Ocean Fish meal, 3. Pearled barley, 4. Brown rice, 5. Salmon meal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,745 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 28% | Fat (min.) 18% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry Food

Bursting with the nutritional benefits of salmon, bison, ocean fish meal, and pearled barley, it offers a nourishing blend of protein and carbohydrates to sustain their well-being.

It is free of common allergens like corn, soy, or wheat while including superfoods like cranberries, pumpkin, blueberries and carrots, almond oil, and broccoli, making it an excellent choice for your small dog’s optimum gut health, shiny coat, and healthy skin.

#13. Purina Pro Plan Adult Small Breed Chicken & Rice Dog Food


Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Rice, 3. Beef Fat, 4. Whole Grain Wheat, 5. Dried Egg Product

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,824 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 29% | Fat (min.) 17% | Fiber (max.) 3% | Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry Food

Purina Pro Plan stands as the ideal dog food for hyper-active small and toy breeds. Boasting an impressive 448 calories per cup, it dedicates nearly 29% of this to pure protein, fortifying muscles and providing the necessary fuel for your dog’s rigorous physical endeavors.

Active dogs also stress their bones and joints, which is why the food is formulated with calcium and phosphorus to promote skeletal strength. Each kibble contains live probiotics that help your dog easily digest and absorb all its food’s nutrients.

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


Small Breed Dog Food – A Buyer’s Guide

In the world of canine companions, small breed dogs possess a captivating charm all their own. From their adorable antics to their boundless energy, these pint-sized pals bring immeasurable joy to our lives. Just as their personalities are unique, so too are their nutritional needs. Ensuring that these petite powerhouses receive the right balance of nutrients is essential for their overall health and happiness.

In this guide, we discover the best dog food options meticulously crafted to cater to the specific requirements of small breed dogs, unlocking the door to a world of tailored nourishment that supports their wholesome lives.

Meet Their Dietary Requirements

Discovering the optimal small-breed dog food might seem like a challenge, yet it’s crucial. These compact canines demand more calories per pound than their larger counterparts, owing to their active metabolism and energy levels. Failing to meet these requirements could lead to digestive issues during puppyhood and compromised immunity in later stages.

While dogs are primarily omnivores, not strict carnivores, their dietary needs encompass a spectrum of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. A balanced diet for them includes both protein-rich meats and the wholesome addition of vegetables and fruits.

What Makes a Small-Breed Dog’s Diet Different? Find Out!

Here are all the reasons why you must cater to your small-breed dog’s specific diet:

1. More calories per pound

Because smaller breeds convert food into energy quicker, they need more calories per pound than larger dogs. Toy-sized dogs are particularly at risk of hypoglycemia, which is why they need more calories. You must feed them food that’s filled with good-quality calories.

Implementing this approach will not only keep your dog’s body consistently fueled but also enhance their activity levels and overall alertness.

2. Smaller kibble size

Small dogs find it challenging to chew large kibbles. To ensure their comfort during meals, opt for dog food that’s specifically designed for small or toy breeds. These options have a smaller kibble tailored to fit your dog’s mouth.

3. More frequent meals

Small and toy breeds need more calories, but their tiny stomach can only fit in so much food. The solution is to feed them several smaller meals throughout the day. A rule of thumb is to feed smaller breeds 3-4 meals a day, but discuss this routine with your vet beforehand. 

Finding the Best Commercial Small Breed Dog Food

Commercial foods designed for smaller breeds consider their calorie and protein requirements. Enriched with essential minerals and nutrients, these formulas present a practical and cost-effective alternative to crafting a homemade diet from scratch.

Irrespective of your chosen brand or food type, it’s crucial to peruse the label to ensure it aligns with the precise nutrition and value your furry companion demands.

Choose the Best Small-Breed Dog Food – Everything You Need to Know

When making the choice of brand or food type for your furry friend, remember to inspect the label to ensure it provides the exact nutrition and value they need. Here are key factors to consider when selecting dog food for your small pooch:

1. High-quality natural ingredients

Dog food is only as good as the ingredients it’s made from. The best small-breed dog foods are made with natural, whole foods like meat, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, animal fats, and oils. The easier the ingredients are to read, and the higher their quantity, the better the quality of the dog food.

2. Small kibbles

Make sure the dog food you’re choosing has smaller kibbles, particularly if you have a toy breed. This will make it easier for your dog to chew their food and will ultimately benefit their health when they eat their fill completely.

3. Animal protein and easily digestible carbs

Given the calorie-dense nature of small-breed dog food, certain manufacturers may compromise by incorporating lower-quality proteins and carbohydrates into the formula. Optimal protein sources primarily stem from animal meat, with plant-based proteins serving as potential supplements. Additionally, prioritize whole grains or vegetable-derived carbs, such as peas and sweet potatoes, over less nutritious fillers like wheat hulls or corn cobs.

Fear of Hypoglycemia

Toy breed and small breed dogs are at a higher risk of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Since their metabolic rates are so high, they digest their food pretty fast, and when those boy fat reserves run low, their sugar levels begin to drop too.

Due to this, their diet must be high in calories, necessitating feeding them approximately four to six times a day. It’s essential to be vigilant in observing for any signs of low blood sugar levels, including lethargy, weakness, muscle tremors, and potentially seizures.

The perfect dog food should deliver high calories in a compact serving, featuring smaller kibbles for effortless consumption and digestion.

Amidst the plethora of products boasting natural, filler-free ingredients, how does one make the right choice?

First and foremost, consult your veterinarian for personalized guidance, especially if your petite companion is susceptible to hypoglycemia. Additionally, prioritize dog food explicitly crafted for small breed dogs to ensure optimal nutrition.

Generic options often feature larger kibbles and lack the concentrated nutrition and calories necessary in a single serving. Consequently, while your beloved small canine companion may feel satisfied in terms of fullness, they might not be obtaining the essential nutrients they truly require.

Typically small breed dogs have a higher life span than their large breed counterparts. You need a diet enriched with antioxidants to prevent damage from free radicals that could have negative impacts on their quality of life.

Reading the Labels

Now that you know what your dog needs, let’s see how you can find the right product. You must be able to read product labels and assess whether a product meets a small breed dog’s specific dietary requirements. Following are a few things to remember:

  • Always check for caloric value per portion.
  • Look for keywords like ‘complete’ and ‘balanced.’ A recipe might provide optimum omega fatty acids to support coat and skin health but might be low on proteins. You want the best of these two.
  • Check the ingredients list carefully. You should opt for products that don’t use a lot of fillers, like dog bones, hulls off of grains, etc.
  • Also, check for any ingredients that your pet may be allergic to.
  • Purchase products appropriate for the right stage of your pups’ life.

We have carefully curated this list by understanding the needs of small-breed dogs and assessing the plethora of options out there. These recipes and products focus more on nutritional value than simple caloric intake.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best dog food for small-breed dogs?

Smaller dogs burn more calories per pound but have smaller stomach capacity. Their ideal food will pack high levels of protein and carbohydrates in smaller portions.

Why do small breed dogs require different food?

Different breeds, life stages, body sizes, and body types all have different nutritional requirements; and small breeds are no different. Smaller stomachs and higher metabolism rates mean you have to pack more nutrition into smaller portions.

How many times should we feed our small breed dog during the day?

If not fed properly, small-breed dogs can develop a condition called hypoglycemia or low sugar levels. Due to their high metabolism, they burn their calories faster than their larger cousins. Ideally, they should be fed every 4 to 5 hours or at least four times during the day.

Can small-breed dogs eat regular dog food?

Eating regular food could result in gastrointestinal problems. It can also affect their bone health. Feeding them diet-specific foods makes your smaller dog less likely to encounter these problems. Also, regular dog food may not contain enough caloric content in a small serving to meet their dietary needs and could result in low blood sugar levels.

What is the difference between large and small-breed dog food?

Large dogs need 22.5 calories/pound, while small breeds need 40 calories/pound. Large dogs eat more due to their larger stomachs, while small breeds eat less. Using large breed food for small dogs means less energy and nutrients for them.

How much food should a small breed puppy eat per day?

Feeding Chart for Small Breed Dogs:

Weight of Dog->Daily Food Intake

5 pounds->1/2 Cup to 5/7 cup

10 pounds-> 3/4 cup to 1 cup

20 pounds->1 1/4 cups to 1 3/4 cups

Which dog food has the smallest kibble?

Most dog foods designed for small breed dogs have small kibbles. All the best dog food options we’ve reviewed in this guide offer smaller kibbles so your dog can easily chew.

Can small-breed dogs eat bigger kibbles?

Large kibble can pose a choking hazard for small dogs. Because the kibble may be too large for them to chew, they may swallow the kibble whole resulting in, at least, harder-to-digest food, and, at worst, choking.

What foods should small-breed dogs avoid? 

It’s natural for us to want to offer the foods we like to our dogs, but food designed for humans is often not good for our dogs, and feeding it to them can have dire consequences. The following are just a few of the foods that we should avoid giving them:

  • Chocolate
  • Raw meat, raw fish, and raw eggs
  • Salty foods
  • Gum, peanut butter, candy
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Milk, ice cream, and other dairy products
  • Onions and garlic

Can small-breed dogs eat eggs?

Eggs contain essential amino acids, fatty acids and are high in protein; hence, they are healthy and beneficial small breed dogs. They are great for upset stomachs. However, they should not be served raw. Cook them before offering it to your dog.

Why is my small-breed puppy always hungry?

Just like humans, dogs’ appetites vary. Smaller dogs and puppies eat more often due to their smaller stomachs. Be alert for sudden appetite changes, which might signal a health issue needing a vet’s attention.

How many types of small-breed dog foods are there?

Small breed dog foods are divided into two main categories, dry foods, and wet or canned foods. These are further subdivided into different varieties of food. For instance, wet or canned food is further divided into wet food, meal toppers, semi-moist, and pouches, among others. Similarly, dry food is further divided into freeze-dried, baked, and dehydrated.

Make the Wise Decision!

I hope this guide has given you all the information you need to make a wise decision for the health and well-being of your small dog. Keep their needs and tastes in mind, read the labels, and give them the best possible food for their best possible life.