The 13 Best Small Breed Puppy Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

This (updated) guide lists all of the best puppy foods for small breeds this year.

The nutritional needs of small breed puppies can be significantly different from medium or large breed pups. Typically, small breed pups require a whole lot more calories. Their small size does not matter because of their higher metabolic rate, which requires them to consume more calories for optimal growth.

And just because their caloric requirement is higher does not mean you can feed them anything. You need to provide your small breed puppy with the best, high-quality food to support its growth and overall well-being.

Additionally, small breed puppies require a whole range of nutrients. And since they’re omnivores, dogs can digest many kinds of meat, grains, fruits, and vegetables.

I spent several weeks researching the products recommended in this guide (here is my 40-point inspection list.)

Let’s dive right in.

The Best Small Breed Puppy Foods

Top PicksRatingsTop Ingredients
1. Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Development Puppy Food
(Best Dry Food)
4.8Chicken Meal, Whole Wheat, Cracked Barley, Whole Sorghum, Whole Corn
2. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Dog Food Trays
(Best Wet Food)
4.4Chicken Broth, Chicken, Pork Liver, Brown Rice, Potatoes 
3. The Farmer’s Dog
(Best Fresh Food)
5Chicken, Brussels sprouts, chicken liver, bok‐choy cabbage, broccoli
4. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Dog Food
(Best For Toy Breeds)
4.8Chicken Meal, Whole Wheat, Chicken Fat, Cracked Barley, Flaxseed
5. Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Puppy Food
(Best For Allergies)
4.6Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Oatmeal, Peas, Brown Rice

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Dog Food

Best Overall

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Whole Grain Wheat, 3. Cracked Pearled Barley, 4. Whole Grain Sorghum, 5. Whole Grain Corn

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 374 kcal
  • Form: Dry

This specialized Hill’s Science Diet meal offers what it promises: developmental nutrition in small bites. The kibble is for small breeds and combines ingredients to promote a healthy immune system and fuel the growing needs of small breed puppies.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 25%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 3%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Dog Food Trays

Best Wet Meal

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken Broth, 2. Chicken, 3. Pork Liver, 4. Brown Rice, 5. Potatoes 

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per tray): 88 kcal
  • Form: Wet

Packing tons of nutrition and a mouth-watering aroma — Hill’s Science Diet is an easy recommendation for owner of small breed puppies that are picky with their food. Its main ingredients are chicken meat and brown rice, both of which encourage muscle development and high energy levels in growing puppies.

Veggies like carrots, spinach, and green beans deliver a variety of micronutrients and make sure your puppy becomes smarter and sharper. All of the content is packaged in an easy-to-open tray that can be served within minutes.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 5%, Fat (min.) 3%, Fiber (max.) 1.5%, Moisture (max.) 82%


The Farmer’s Dog

Best Fresh Option

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. brussels sprouts, 3. chicken liver, 4. bok‐choy cabbage, 5. broccoli

  • Life Stage: All
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per lb): 721 kcal
  • Form: Fresh

Design the perfect meal plan for your small and toy puppies with The Farmer’s Dog. You can start by selecting a base recipe; turkey, beef, and pork are the main protein choices. Each recipe contains whole foods like deboned meat, sweet potatoes, lentils, carrots, fish oil etc. and is perfect for puppies to grow strong muscle and bones.

But that’s not all. The Farmer’s Dog designs every meal plan with the help of expert veterinarians according to the breed type, age, current weight, and activity levels of your pooch. This guarantees optimal growth for your puppy and diminishes the risk of allergies. Although the subscription fee costs more than dry food, the benefits of this diet are worth it in the long term.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 11%, Fat (min.) 8%, Fiber (max.) 1.5%, Moisture (max.) 72%


Merrick Lil’ Plates Chicken & Sweet Potato Puppy Dog Food

Best Grain-Free Option

Rating:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Potatoes, 4. Peas, 5. Sweet Potatoes

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,621 kcal
  • Form: Dry

This natural grain-free recipe fulfills small puppies’ nutritional requirements and appetites, with deboned chicken and various healthy veggies and fruits as primary ingredients. Keep your little guy active and sharp by supporting the growth of their brain, body, and bones with the most delicious meal packed with nutrients.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 28%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 4.5%, Moisture (max.) 11%


Instinct Raw Boost Puppy Grain-Free Real Chicken Dog Food

Best Raw Option

Rating:

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

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,399 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Maximize your small pup’s growth potential with Instinct Raw Boost. The formula is designed with kibbles + raw bites, both of which are made from boneless chicken to build muscle and ligament. Instead of grains, the recipe uses easy-to-digest carbs like peas and tapioca to fuel your puppy’s daily activities.

Additionally, you will find DHA in the food due to its importance for vision and brain development in puppies. The freeze-dried chicken pieces give the food a meaty and succulent taste, making it irresistible for the pickiest small breeds. Instinct Raw Boost is also suitable for allergic and sensitive pups as it contains zero grains, potatoes, corn, wheat, soy, or even gluten.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 36%, Fat (min.) 21.5%, Fiber (max.) 3.5%, Moisture (max.) 9%


Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Chicken & Brown Rice Dog Food

Best For Toy Breeds

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Whole Grain Wheat, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Cracked Pearled Barley, 5. Flaxseed

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per cup): 397 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws is a nutritious and easy-to-eat meal for small, extra small, and toy-sized puppies. Made exclusively in the USA, the formula consists of chicken meal, barley, and brown rice to fulfill your puppy’s protein and carb needs. It also features fish oil, which contains DHA and promotes brain and vision development.

Vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidants are also present in the formula, so your puppy’s immune system becomes stronger. The brand eliminates artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors to prevent triggering allergies. Each ingredient in the food is high quality, and the formula fully supports the nutritional needs of growing puppies.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 24.5%, Fat (min.) 15.5%, Fiber (max.) 3%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food

Best Premium Option

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Brewers Rice, 2. Chicken By-Product Meal, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Dried Plain Beet Pulp, 5. Vegetable Oil

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,891 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Royal Canin X-Small Dog Food packs every nutrient your puppy needs to grow steadily in tiny, easily-chewable kibbles. The recipe uses chicken by-product and brewers rice, which might not be the most nutritious ingredients, but are good enough to satisfy your pup’s basic protein and carbohydrate requirements.

However, the food does include prebiotics, so your puppy can digest food and absorb nutrients more effectively. Similarly, it provides antioxidants to strengthen their immune system. The kibbles are specifically designed considering the jaw and mouth size of tiny puppies, making them easier to chew and allowing your puppy to eat comfortably.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 29%, Fat (min.) 18%, Fiber (max.) 3.3%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dog Food

Best Low-Budget Option

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

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,648 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Diamond Naturals exceeds all other foods when it comes to offering premium-quality nutrition on a budget. It’s crafted with a range of superfoods and features loads of micronutrients to keep your small breed healthy and boost growth. Farm-raised chicken is one of those ingredients that promote muscle nourishment, along with white rice and barley to fuel your puppy’s body.

Omega fatty acids and DHA are also a part of the formula to support brain development and good coat health. The recipe also contains probiotics that improve gut health and antioxidants for immunity strengthening. These micronutrients come from wholesome fruits and vegetables like pumpkin, blueberries, kale, and oranges.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 26%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Eukanuba Puppy Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Best For Weight Gain

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken, 2. Corn, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Wheat, 5. Ground Grain Sorghum

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,076 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Bulk up your small breed pups with the delicious, high-calorie Eukanuba Puppy Small Breed Formula. Each cup of the food contains 465 kcal to put the most active small breeds in a surplus. Almost 32% of this is protein from deboned chicken to amplify muscle gain. It also features a combination of easily-digestible grains and fat to fuel your puppy’s growth cycles.

Apart from that, DHA is added to sharpen their vision and cognitive skills. Prebiotic fibers are also included so your puppy develops a strong and robust digestive system. Your dog will also grow strong bones and teeth, thanks to the calcium and phosphorus in the formula. All-in-all, it’s a complete solution for underweight small puppies that want to grow into big and healthy adults.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 32%, Fat (min.) 21%, Fiber (max.) 3.2%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Solid Gold Mighty Mini Gut Health Small Breed Chicken Dog Food

Best For Sensitive Stomach

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Peas, 5. Chicken Fat 

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,825 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Take care of your puppy’s gut health from a young age with the Solid Gold Mighty Mini. The recipe is designed with sensitive pups in mind; chicken, chickpeas, and pumpkin are used primarily due to their high-digestibility. Protein is also plentiful at 30% content, which is crucial for building muscle and powering your puppy through intense activities.

Above all, the formula has probiotics support to improve your dog’s gut health and digestive efficiency. It also contains pumpkin, which naturally soothes the stomach of canines. Carrots, blueberries, and broccoli are also added to strengthen your puppy’s vision and immune health. Besides having a single protein source, the food is also 100% grain and gluten-free.

Analysis: Protein min. 30% | Fat min. 18%, | Fiber max. 4% | Moisture max. 10%


Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Puppy Dog Food

Best For Allergies

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Oatmeal, 4. Peas, 5. Brown Rice

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,649 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Allow your puppy to grow without rashes and wheezing with the non-allergenic Blue Buffalo Basics Dog Food. This formula is made from a single-source protein — turkey meat — to maximize muscle development without causing allergies. It’s also full of light ingredients like potatoes, peas, and pumpkin that provide fuel for playtime and soothe the stomach.

You will also find DHA and ARA in the formula — two nutrients that are crucial for sharp vision and brain development. It’s also free from common allergens like corn, wheat, soy, and preservatives, as well as some rare ones like red meat, dairy, and poultry. At last, the food’s LifeSource Bits deliver essential micros like antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to strengthen your puppy’s bones, immune system, and overall resistance to diseases.

Analysis: Protein min. 26% | Fat min. 15%, | Fiber max. 5% | Moisture max. 10%


Bil-Jac Small Breed Puppy Chicken, Oatmeal & Yam Dog Food

Best For Picky Eaters

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken By-Products (organs only, source of arginine), 3. Corn Meal, 4. Chicken By-Product Meal, 5. Dried Beet Pulp

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,998 kcal
  • Form: Dry

This premium food choice for your little hound uses the best quality ingredients. The wholesome and natural ingredients are slow-cooked to perfection to make the critical first year of your dog’s development seamless and smooth.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 27%, Fat (min.) 16%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%


Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Small Breed Dog Food

Best For Active Puppies

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Corn Gluten Meal, 3. Rice, 4. Beef Fat, 5. Fish Oil

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small, Small Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,311 kcal
  • Form: Dry

The specialized small breed formula is suitable for both little pups and adult dogs as it provides the essential nutrients that work as building blocks for your little one’s body. The bite-sized crunchy kibble is delicious and will instantly make your pup fall in love.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 33%, Fat (min.) 20%, Fiber (max.) 3%, Moisture (max.) 12%


FAQs

1. Is wet food better for my small breed puppy or dry food?

While kibble is highly recommended as a complete source of nutrition and great for dental health, wet food can be superior to kibble in terms of a higher meat protein content. Sticking to one type of food may not be sufficient for your puppy’s health and growth. You can always offer them a combination of both for the best results.

2. How much food is sufficient for my small breed puppy?

Small breed puppies require more calories per pound as compared to larger breed dogs. At the same time, they also need smaller kibble to make consumption easier. Therefore, it is important to feed your small breed pup a diet specially formulated for them. And even though their calorie per pound requirement is higher, overfeeding is not an option.

3. How much should I feed my small breed puppy?

Here’s a breakup of how much is enough to feed your small breed puppy:

  • 5 lbs. puppy – ½ cup to 5/8 cup food
  • 10 lbs. puppy – ¾ cup to 1 cup
  • 20 lbs. puppy – 1 ¼ cups to 1 ¾ cups
  • 40 lbs. puppy – 2 ¼ cups to 3 cups
  • 60 lbs. puppy – 3 cups to 4 cups
  • 80 lbs. puppy – 3 2/3 cups to 5 cups
  • 100 lbs. or above – 4 ¼ cups to 6 cups

4. Can I feed adult dog food to my small breed puppy?

The nutritional needs of puppies and adult dogs are different. It is important to feed your puppy enough protein, carbs, and micronutrients to help their growth and wellbeing. Puppies – regardless of the breed – also require more calories for proper growth. Food designed for small breed puppies has a smaller kibble size appropriate for their small mouths. In simple words, no, it is not the best idea to feed adult dog food to your small breed puppy.

5. How often should I feed my small breed puppy?

Puppies usually require 3-5 feedings in a day. You can use the calorie guide on your dog’s food packaging and divide that into several meals to ensure you are feeding just the appropriate amount of food. A typical feeding schedule is 6 am, noon, 6 pm. However, it is important to adjust this pattern for your small breed puppy and ideally feed them 4-6 times a day.

6. Can I mix wet and dry food to feed my pup?

Of course, you can! Canned food can boost the flavor and nutritional value of your pup’s regular kibble meal. However, it is important to consider your pet’s dietary needs, calorie requirements, preferences, and most importantly, their health before you take the initiative.  

7. What kibble size is appropriate for my small breed puppy?

As mentioned earlier, small breed puppies require a special nutrient-dense diet that’s easy for them to eat. If your pups prefer dry food, it is important to choose something specifically designed for their small mouths and jaws. The size appropriate for a small breed puppy is usually half the size of the regular kibble.

8. What’s the difference between a small breed pup’s and a large breed pup’s nutritional requirement?

Since large breed puppies have better nutrient digestion capacity than smaller breeds, foods formulated for small breed puppies limit fat content and calories accordingly.

9. What human foods can I give as a treat to my small breed puppy?

There are many healthy human foods that you can treat your small breed to. These include:

  • Carrots
  • White rice
  • Apples
  • Different types of berries
  • Fish
  • Certain dairy products (if your pup isn’t lactose intolerant)
  • Chicken
  • Bananas
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • And other leafy green vegetables

10. How to encourage a stubborn puppy to eat well?

Treating them with flavorful, healthy food options other than their regular food can encourage a stubborn one to eat for optimal growth and development. Offer your little pooch foods like eggs, yogurt, vegetables, fruits, and sardines as treats for eating well.


The Best Small Breed Puppy Foods Buyer’s Guide

So, what do you think you know about feeding that cute toy pup you’ve got there? Probably you think you can provide him the best nutrition with homemade food,

…but hey! It’s not that easy.

Small breed puppies are highly sensitive. Also, their food choices can vastly affect their moods, growth, and, most importantly, their health. Unless you are 100% sure about the nutritional value of the food you prepare at home, giving them a diet that’s not sufficient for their growth and development can cause long-term health problems. You have to be careful if you want your small breed pup to be healthy and fit as they grow into beautiful adults.

Here’s all the information that you’re looking for about the nutritional requirement of your small breed pup. Let’s dive in!

Small Breed Puppy Nutrition 101

So how do you decide what type of food is best for your small breed pup? Thankfully, relying on your nutritional calculations isn’t the only choice now. You can find a wide variety of dog foods available in the market today, prepared under expert supervision, keeping the specific requirements of your dogs in mind. They’re easier to find, affordable, and provide complete nutrition to your precious dogs. Keep reading to learn more about small breed puppy nutrition.

Preventing Hypoglycemia in Small Breed Dogs

Let’s also talk about the most common health condition in small breed dogs associated with the wrong diet.

Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the blood sugar levels of small breed dogs fall. These dogs are highly susceptible to hypoglycemia because of their high metabolic rates. Another factor contributing to this is their low sugar and fat body reserves. You must be very careful and observant while feeding your little pooch. Firstly, its diet should be calorie-dense, and secondly, provide it four to six evenly spaced meals per day to ensure your dog gets enough time between the meals for proper digestion.

Here are some of the symptoms of hypoglycemia to watch out for:

  1. Lethargy
  2. Weakness
  3. Muscle tremors
  4. Seizures

Specialty Diet for a Small Breed Puppy

It is very common for dog owners to follow new trends in their pup’s diet. And with so much going around right now, such as grain-free diets, raw diets, and home-cooked meals, picking the best small breed puppy food can be difficult.

While it’s okay to feed a non-traditional diet to your precious puppy, you must be thoroughly aware of what’s inside of it. If you are not sure about the best available diets, feel free to seek assistance from your veterinarian. Just because certain things are in trend doesn’t necessarily mean they’re great for your dog. As a small breed puppy owner, you must be aware of your dog’s personal preferences and health conditions to keep them safe and healthy.

Some dogs – especially the small breed puppies – can be allergic to certain ingredients. Just because a certain food suits your neighbor’s dog doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for your puppy too. So make sure you check out the ingredients before you transition your puppy to any special diet.

Small Breed Puppy – Feeding Secrets

Compared to their larger counterparts, small breed dogs have a higher metabolism rate, which means that you must feed a diet designed to meet their specific nutritional requirements.

Here are all the secrets you should know about feeding your small breed puppy.  

Real, wholesome proteins

Being a canine, most of a puppy’s nutrition should come from protein, and the best source for that is real meat. Most manufacturers use one of these four animals for meat: chicken, turkey, beef, and salmon. These proteins are equally nutritious, but salmon is better for puppies with allergies and sensitive stomachs because of its easy digestibility.

Essential fats and fatty acids

After protein, fat is the most important nutrient for puppies. It is the most caloric-dense of all groups, digests easily, and makes their food taste a lot better. Animal-based fats like chicken fat, beef fat, and salmon oil are rich in nutrients and easy to digest. Similarly, vegetable-based oils like flaxseed oil and sunflower oil are also used frequently as a source of essential fatty acids.

Whole grains and carbs

Carbohydrates are a highly understood nutrient group in the dog food world. Even though they aren’t a natural part of their diet, carbs are great at giving pups an energy boost and improving digestion. Whole grains like oatmeal, barley, and brown rice are examples that are full of digestive fibers. However, if your puppy is allergic to grains, you could choose a grain-free diet that uses sweet potatoes, lentils, and peas as an alternative.

Enough Calories

Feeding your small breed puppy enough calories is highly crucial. Since they’re prone to hypoglycemia, their blood sugar can drop very fast if not fed adequately. Therefore you must provide them frequently and keep an observant eye on the number of calories.

Customize

Fundamentally, the guidelines mentioned on the small breed dog food package are sufficient to start with. But, your dog’s activity level decides how much food it requires. Two similar dogs may have different calorie requirements because of their different activity level and their digestibility. Therefore, it is important to customize the food based on the specific needs of your small breed pup.

Frequency Monitoring

Small breed puppies do grow rapidly! It is essential to feed them the ‘lot’ of calories they require. You will also have to provide them more frequently (most ideally 4 to 6 times). But once they grow up and move on to the adult dog food formula, they will require two meals per day, so it is important to readjust the feeding pattern. The protein-rich recipe also takes time to break down in their tummies; therefore, frequency monitoring is essential.   

Choosing the Right Bite

You should always opt for a small kibble size for your small breed pup. Larger pieces can choke them because of their small mouth and small teeth.

Mealtime Pattern

Establishing a good mealtime pattern is crucial to avoid overfeeding. Be sure to pick up the leftover food in the pot. If food is available all day, she may eat out of boredom.

What to Avoid

Your puppy is consuming a whole and balanced diet if he’s on a formulated dog food. Feeding human food to your small breed pup or any dog for that matter can instantly throw off that balance. It’s okay to treat your pup with occasional flavors of eggs, chicken, veggies, or fruits, but making it a habit can wean your dog off from his regular, balanced dog food.


I recommend you also check out these related guides as well:


Still have questions? Check out these Frequently Asked Questions.

Conclusion

A well-balanced diet for your precious pup speaks for itself! Your small breed dog should get everything this super cute pup deserves, i.e., a special formula for small breed dogs. Additionally, as a dog owner, it is your responsibility to watch the portion to avoid overfeeding. It is also important to ensure that you only offer occasional food from the table, emphasizing the frequency of meals and not forgetting the size of each bite.

So that’s about all the details you’ve got up there. You can take care of all of these things and make sure your small breed doggy is healthy and growing at the right rate. Have a fit and well-maintained pup.

Good luck!

Further reading:

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