The 12 Best Small Breed Dog Foods

By Kevin Myers | 2022 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

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

A small breed dog has the energy to give any large breed dog a run for his bone, but their nutritional needs are specific to them.

They have higher metabolic rates and require higher calories per pound compared to larger breeds, but they have smaller appetites, which means all that nutrition needs to be packed in a smaller portion.

Hence, for optimal health and well-being, you need to find the best small breed dog foods out there.

In this ultimate guide, I’ve reviewed the best dog foods for small breeds considering things like ingredients, customer reviews, and more…Here’s my 40-Point Inspection list.

Let’s dive in…

The Best Small Breed Dog Foods

Top PicksRatingTop Ingredients
1. Instinct By Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe4.9Chicken, Chickpeas, Tapioca…
2. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
(Editor’s Choice)
4.9Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal..
3. Taste of the Wild Appalachian4.8Venison, Lamb meal, Garbanzo meals..
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed 4.8Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice…
5. Solid Gold Wee Bit Bison & Brown Rice Recipe4.8Bison, Ocean Fish meal, Pearled barley…

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick

1. Instinct By Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe With Real Chicken

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

This recipe takes top place for small breed foods because of its perfect combination of proteins, fats, and calories.

  • Its main ingredient is cage-free chicken that ensures high levels of proteins for leaner muscles and optimum strength. 
  • It is a well-rounded formula that contains noticeable levels of phosphorous and calcium for bone and teeth.
  • All in all this recipe is designed keeping in mind the high caloric needs of small breeds and is ideal for all stages of life.
  • It’s specifically designed to provide complete nutritional value packed in a small serving- ideal for meeting their high metabolic needs.
  • The small kibble size helps avoid choking hazards and make it easier for a small dog’s consumption and digestion.

So if you are looking for an all-around, pocket-friendly recipe to keep your little mate’s energy levels high and gut health optimum, then you may not need to look further than this savory delight!

2. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food

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

This turkey and chicken recipe comes a very close second because of its focus on the primal needs of canines. Enriched with high proteins and Omega Fatty acids sourced from salmon oil, it supports high energy levels as well as coat and skin health. This formula is made from supreme quality natural ingredients to ensure only the best quality nutrition makes it to your little one’s bowl.

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

3. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

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

If you want to stop feeding hidden fillers and refined grains to your meat-loving dog, if your dog’s energy levels are one the wane, or if your little one is less than thrilled when mealtime comes around, the venison in this offering from Taste Of The Wild might just be what you and your pooch are looking for. The venison is enriched with other high-quality proteins are presented in small kibble form for easier digestion in 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 as well as probiotics for skin, coat, and gut health.

4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

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

This one is a well-rounded recipe designed for the special needs of small breed senior dogs. Deboned chicken and anti-oxidant rich ingredients make it suitable for their aging digestive system. The carbs and proteins are well-balanced and provide essential nutrients for optimum health and activity levels of small dogs.

Free of by-products or fillers of any kind the small-sized kibble makes for an easy-to-eat meal while the inclusion of calcium and phosphorus promotes 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..

5. Solid Gold Wee Bit Bison & Brown Rice Recipe with Pearled Barley Small Breed Dry Dog Food

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

A power-packed recipe that keepsin mind the mighty nature of small breed dogs. Packed with the goodness of salmon, bison, ocean fish meal and pearled barley, this recipe provides a healthy source of protein and carbohydrates. It contains none of the common allergens like corn, soy or wheat. It is also packed with superfoods like cranberries, pumpkin, blueberries and carrots, almond oil and broccoli, the inclusion of which make it a great choice for your small dog’s optimum gut health, shiny coat, and healthy skin.

6. CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Petite Lamb Formula Small Breed Limited Ingredient Diet Freeze-Dried Raw Coated Dry Dog Food

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

This is a meaty recipe designed for small breed adult dogs. Enriched with lamb meal, canola oil, and probiotics, this recipe takes into consideration the specific requirements of small breed adult dogs and provides a well-rounded blend of essential nutrients and antioxidants. What makes this recipe so irresistible is that covering all that nutrition is raw-coated, a freeze-dried lamb for that added meaty crunchiness. So if your little one is big on flavorful meals, this may just be the product you’ve been looking for.

7. Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Grain-Free Natural Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Herring Meal, 2. Tapioca, 3. Salmon meal, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Canola Oil

This recipe is designed keeping in mind the high energy levels of small breed dogs. With most of its proteins being sourced from seafood, it is a great choice  for providing sustained energy levels in small breed dogs. It also comes with a healthy mix of fibers and vitamins sourced from fruits and vegetables like peas, blueberries, and apples. The recipe is free from grains and gluten and comes with the perfect blend of Vitamins E and C to support the immune system and provide optimum health. So if your canine loves his seafood and has high-energy levels, then this recipe may just be the blend for you.

8. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

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

Formulated with a range of wholesome superfoods, Diamond Naturals provides loads of nutritional goodness for small and toy breeds. Some of those amazing foods include real chicken, which provides essential amino acids for muscle maintenance, as well as barley and white rice that fuel your dog’s body throughout the day.

The 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 improves their skin and coat health. Each batch of Diamond Naturals is exclusively manufactured in the US to ensure that your dog receives the highest quality nutrition.

9. Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

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

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, along with brown rice, whole barley, and dried beet pulp. All of these foods help your pooch build muscle, stay energetic, and remain fulfilled with each meal.

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

10. Merrick Classic Small Breed Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food, 4-lb bag

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

What makes this recipe unique is that it gives a high value of nutrients and proteins without rating too high on the glycemic index. So you can cater to your little pup’s nutrient needs without having to worry about increased levels of carbs or fats.

Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids support healthy skin and coat while small kibbles make it easy on the tongue and tummy.

11. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food, 4-lb bag

This is yet another bowl of goodness from the magic creators down at Wellness. This recipe has ground barley, salmon, turkey, and oatmeal at its core..

It keeps in mind the high nutritional demands of small breed dogs. The small kibble provides proteins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids for complete care. This recipe is a favorite among dog owners for being high on value as well as on taste. So if your little toy breed loves it, you love it more!

12. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Small Breed Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food

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 as well as provide high 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 and is enriched with proteins from natural sources that your dog will love and benefit from.



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 metabolisms mean you have to pack more nutrition into smaller portions.

What should we look for in small breed dog foods?

Foods for small breed dogs should have higher energy content and should be nutrient-dense with essential proteins, carbohydrates, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and more. It should also include:

  • High-fat content from natural sources for metabolic support.
  • More calories per serving to support their higher energy levels.
  • Antioxidants and probiotics for easier digestion.
  • Smaller sized kibble for easier consumption.

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. 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 as well as 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.

How is small breed dog food different?

Small breed dog food is dense in nutrients and rich in energy. The kibble is also smaller for easier digestion.

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

Large dogs require 22.5 calories/pound while small breed dogs require 40 calories/pound. With their larger stomachs, large breed dogs require a larger portion while small breed dogs, having smaller stomachs, require smaller portions. Put simply, a smaller dog sized portion of large breed dog food lacks the energy content needed by your mighty mites and may lack other nutrients and minerals needed by the smaller dog.

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

How to select the best dog food for small breeds?

Small breed dogs can be prone to obesity.  With their smaller frames, even a few extra pounds may put them at a higher risk of health concerns. Extra pounds can lead to added stress on the organs and the bones. So when selecting dog foods, make sure you read the labels. The food should be energy-dense, but it shouldn’t contain a lot of fat. All of the energy should be coming from natural sources rather than artificial ones. Also, look for nutrients like Vitamin A, and omega fatty acids for healthy coat and skin.

Which dog food has the smallest kibble?

Most dog foods designed for small breed dogs have small kibbles. Alpha dog foods offer smaller kibbles for puppy small breeds and senior dogs missing teeth.

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 meant for us 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

What are small breed dog foods recommended by vets?

Following are some brands commonly recommended by vets for small breed dogs:

  • Hill’s Science Diet
  • Wellness Natural Food for Dogs
  • Nutra Ultra
  • Castor and Pollux

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 as in humans, dogs’ appetites can vary greatly. Some are chowhounds and some aren’t. Remember that smaller dogs and puppies have smaller stomaches so they may feel the urge to eat more often than their large breed counterparts. What you want to watch out for is a sudden increase or decrease in appetite. This can be a sign of an underlying medical condition for which you should contact your veterinarian.

What are the best foods for the skin and coat of small breed dogs?

Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are great for your little dog’s skin and coat. Fish like sardines and salmon are a great source of these. . Flaxseed oil and fish oil are also great sources for omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

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 two main categories are further sub-divided 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.

Can I feed my small breed dog table scraps?

Because small breed dogs have such specific dietary needs, vets and experts recommend against feeding small breed dogs scraps off the table. If you want, you could feed some healthy scraps but no more than 10% of their daily dietary requirements.

Small Breed Dog Food Buyer’s Guide

Small breeds can be the equal of their larger brothers when it comes to energy and activity levels. Their sense of enthusiasm for chasing after a ball or catching a frisbee can belie their size. But even with their outsized personalities, their nutritional needs are specific to their smaller size. Feeding your small breed dog food that isn’t designed specifically for them just isn’t a good idea.

Meet their Dietary Requirements

Finding the best small breed dog food can be a bit of a task. The fact is, these petite canines require higher calories per pound, compared to their larger-sized mates, due to their higher metabolic rates and energy levels. If these needs are not properly met, they could lead to gut problems in puppyhood as well as immunity problems as they grow older.

Dogs generally require a variety of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. They are actually considered omnivores rather than obligate carnivores. Domestic dogs can thrive on vegetables and fruits along with meaty proteins to provide a well-rounded diet.

How is a small breed dog’s diet different?

Finding the best small breed dog food can be a bit of a task. The fact is, these petite canines require higher calories per pound, compared to their larger sized mates, due to their higher metabolic rates and energy levels. If these needs are not properly met, they could lead to gut problems in puppyhood as well as immunity problems as they grow older. Aside from that, here are some more ways a smaller dog’s diet differs from a larger one:

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 a risk of hypoglycemia, which is why they need more calories. You need to feed them a dog food that’s filled with good-quality calories. This will allow your dog’s body to stay fuelled and will make them more active and alert.

2. Smaller kibble size

Just like babies can’t eat a whole apple, small dogs also have difficulty chewing large kibbles. To help them eat comfortably, choose a small breed-specific dog food as their kibble size is reduced to the size of 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 to this is to feed them smaller meals more frequently 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 take into account the specific calorie and protein needs of these mighty mites. These formulas are supplemented with the proper minerals and nutrients so that they provide a convenient and affordable alternative to trying to formulate a homemade diet on your own.

No matter the brand or type of food you decide to feed your little one, read the label to make sure it delivers the specific nutrition and value they require.

What to look for in small breed dog food?

Commercial foods designed for smaller breeds take into account the specific calorie and protein needs of these mighty mites. These formulas are supplemented with the proper minerals and nutrients so that they provide a convenient and affordable alternative to trying to formulate a homemade diet on your own.

No matter the brand or type of food you decide to feed your little one, read the label to make sure it delivers the specific nutrition and value they require. Here are a few important points you should check when purchasing a dog food for your small pooch:

1. High-quality natural ingredients

A 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 that 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

Since small breed dog foods are packed with calories, some manufacturers get poor-quality proteins and carbs through to the formula. The best protein source is always animal meat, although plant-based proteins can also supplement it. Also, look for whole grains or vegetable source carbs like peas and sweet potatoes instead of fillers like wheat hulls and 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.

For this reason, their diet needs to be calorie-dense and they need to be fed around four to six times during the day. You also need to watch closely to assess if they are showing any symptoms of low blood sugar levels. Some common symptoms include lethargy, weakness, muscle tremors, and even seizures!

The ideal dog food should contain a high caloric rate in a small portion. It should also have smaller kibbles so as to make it easier for consumption and digestion. So how do you choose when every product claims to have ‘natural, filler-free’ ingredients? Primarily, you should ask your vet for a recommendation, especially if your little chub is at risk of hypoglycemia. Secondary, always opt for dog food designed especially for small breed dogs.

The basic problem with feeding your small breed dog generic dog food is that it would have larger kibbles and that it wouldn’t pack as much nutrition and calories in one portion. So while the little canine friend of yours may fill up on tummy, he may not necessarily fill up on essential nutrients.

Just as not feeding enough is a problem, overfeeding too can lead to obesity and health concerns. Hence, it is imperative that the fats and carbohydrates come from healthy and natural sources. Obesity can take away two years off of your dog’s life; and with their health and well being  depending on your decision, it is imperative that you make the right ones.

Typically small breed dogs have 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 need to 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 keep in mind:

  • 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.

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.


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