Last updated: 02 Apr 2020

The Best Dog Food for Small Breeds (Review) in 2020

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed

Nature'S Variety Instinct Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Nature'S Variety Instinct Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Solid Gold Small & Toy Breed Dry Dog Food

Solid Gold Small & Toy Breed Dry Dog Food

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Dr Tracy Douglas
Published 13:34 pm

Small breed dogs are treasured by their adoring owners and soon become part of the family. However, they differ greatly from larger breeds in their diet and nutritional needs. To keep your little pooch healthy and happy they need a carefully formulated recipe that will support their metabolism.

Small dogs have small stomachs and need to take in a lot of calories to prevent issues such as hypoglycemia which can be life-threatening. They need a nutrient-dense food with a high protein and fat content. To get you started, here is our guide to the best dog food for small dogs.

The Best Dog Food for Small Breeds


Containing no less than 28 percent crude protein, this dry dog food is formulated specifically for the health needs of small dogs. Deboned turkey, salmon meal and chicken meal provide the high-quality protein content. The kibble is smaller than normal to suit small mouths and the calorie intake is optimized to help smaller dogs maintain a healthy body weight.

There are antioxidants provided by foods such as blueberries and spinach as well as vitamins and minerals to maintain cellular health. The flaxseed and salmon oil provide the Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils to keep their coat healthy and make cuddle time on your lap more pleasant. It will deliver all the energy they require in the small portions.

Related Posts: Best High Protein Dog Food and Wellness Core Dog Food

32 percent protein content

Protein from deboned turkey, salmon meal and chicken meal

Plenty of energy in small portions

Maintains coat health for petting

  • Brand: Wellness Natural Pet Food
  • Model: 89111
  • Weight: 12.2 pounds


This is just what your small breed dog needs for their health and energy requirements with tomatoes, blueberries, and raspberries. There is at least 32 percent crude protein and 18 percent fat. The protein content is highly digestible and provided by pasture-raised venison. Plenty of nutrition is packed into smaller portions thanks to the high protein and fat content are high. The reduced-size kibble is perfectly suited to make it easy for smaller jobs to chew.

There are probiotics such as Lactobacillus added to aid digestion. Further protein content is provided by garbanzo beans which also adds fiber and plenty of minerals. There are fatty acids and vitamins to promote a healthy coat and to help to prevent shedding.

Related Post: Taste of The Wild Dog Food

32 percent crude protein content

18 percent fat content

Venison provides highly digestible protein

Optimum protein/fat content for small breeds

  • Brand: Taste Of The Wild
  • Model: 418037
  • Weight: 14 pounds


The smaller portions that you need to serve your little dog will contain plenty of nutrients because this food contains a minimum of 22 percent crude protein and 14 percent fat. It will help them to build lean muscle mass. The high-quality protein is provided by deboned lamb to which is added other nutrient-rich ingredients such as wholemeal rice, peas, and chicory root.

The formulation contains antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals to help your little dog fight-off disease. There are Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to keep their lovely coat perfect for petting. The recipe contains no meat by-product meals and no corn, wheat or soy so that you can feed it to dogs with food sensitivities and allergies.

Related Post: Blue Buffalo Dog Food

No less than 22 percent protein content

High fat content – 14 percent fat

Deboned lamb provides high-quality protein

Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to keep their coat healthy

  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • Model: 368
  • Weight: 15 pounds


There is at least 24 percent fat and 15 percent fat in this nutrient-rich small kibble dog food. It is tailored specifically to meet the dietary needs of small and toy breed dogs and packs a lot of nutrition into small portion sizes. Farm-raised chicken and chicken-meal provide high-quality meat protein content.

There is natural fiber to help with their digestion and sweet potato, blueberries, and carrots to provide a range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. There are no genetically modified ingredients and no corn, wheat or soy that could trigger allergic reactions.  The Omega fatty acids will keep their coat healthy.

Related Post: Nutro Dog Foods Review

Minimum of 24 percent fat

Minimum 15 percent fat

Contains sweet potato, blueberries and carrots

Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids

  • Brand: Nutro
  • Model: 10157682
  • Weight: 15.3 pounds


This is one of the smallest sized kibbles that you can get to suit dainty mouths. The powerful protein content is provided by bison meat and ocean fish meal. Then there are whole grains and more than 20 superfoods to keep your little pooch in optimum condition. The 28 percent protein and 18 percent fat will give them all the energy and nutrition they need and the carbohydrates are provided by healthy ingredients such as carrots and pumpkin.

There are balanced levels of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids for a shiny, healthy coat and gentle fiber to protect their digestion. It’s perfect for weight management because there is no added sugar and it is suitable for dogs with allergies because there is no corn, wheat or soy.

28 percent protein from bison meat and fish meal

18 percent fat for energy

Omega oils for a shiny coat

Contains 20 superfoods

  • Brand: Solid Gold
  • Model: 15040
  • Weight: 3.6 pounds


This dry small dog food has a high (32 percent) protein content and a high (12 percent) fat content to suit the exact nutritional needs of a small dog. The healthy sources of the protein are a duck, turkey meal and salmon meal. The turkey meal is a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints. It has freeze-dried ingredients so that the nutritional content is not denatured by heat.

There are probiotics to support a small dog’s digestive system and Omega oils to keep their coat healthy. The antioxidants keep their immune system healthy. The kibble is reduced in size to suit a small mouth and make chewing easier.

Plenty of protein (32 percent) and fat (12 percent)

Meat protein from duck, turkey and salmon

Omega oils for a healthy coat

Small kibble for delicate mouths

  • Brand: Nature’s Variety
  • Model: 6175251
  • Weight: 4.1 pounds


Suitable for an adult, small breed dog, this food is a completely balanced formula to provide them with all the nutrition they need. It has a minimum of 27 percent crude protein provided by cage-free chicken and chicken meal. This provides the optimal amino acid profile for a small dog to produce lean muscle.

The carbohydrate content is easy to digest and is provided by cracked pearl barley and ground white rice. There are probiotics to support their digestion and superfoods such as kale, pumpkin, and blueberries to provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The chia seeds, coconut, and flaxseed provide the fatty acids for a healthy coat. The kibble is just the right size to scrape plaque off little teeth.

Small kibble for little mouths

Protein provided by cage-free chicken

27 percent protein

Superfoods provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

  • Brand: Diamond Naturals
  • Model: 1314_18_DSC
  • Weight: 18.3 pounds


Keeping up with your little dog’s metabolism is not a problem for this nutrient-dense food that is perfectly suited for small stomachs. 84% of the protein content is from animal sources which pack in more amino acids. This is further supplemented by miscanthus grass and L-Carnitine which is a natural fiber and will regulate their appetite and keep their weight to a healthy level. It also regulates their fast metabolism.

The carbohydrate content in this small breed dog food is low and there are plenty of low glycemic carbohydrates like lentils, sweet potato, and chickpeas to help prevent hypoglycemia. There are probiotics that are chosen to support the digestion in small dogs including lactic-acid producing bacteria to help control metabolism.

Related Post: Nulo Dog Food Review

84 per cent protein from animal sources

Miscanthus grass and L-Carnitine for digestion

Low glycemic carbohydrates like lentils

Probiotics tailored for small dogs

  • Brand: Nulo
  • Model: Small Breed Salmon
  • Weight: 11.2 pounds


This is a small breed dog food that has enough protein and fat to meet the energy needs of a small dog. It has no less than 35 percent crude protein and 16 percent fat. The protein is provided by anchovy and sardine meal and chicken meal.

The kibble is the perfect size for small mouths and the prebiotics and probiotics support a healthy digestion.

Related Post: Best Probiotics for Dogs

35 percent crude protein

16 percent fat

Protein content provided anchovy, sardine and chicken meal

Added probiotics and prebiotics

  • Brand: Holistic Select Natural Pet Food
  • Model: 31126
  • Weight: 4.2 pounds


This carefully balanced food is exceptionally easy on the stomach of small breed dogs. It provides them with plenty of protein (minimum 25 %) and fat (minimum 15 %) in the small portions that they eat. The primary source of high-quality protein is real chicken and to this is added sweet potato, pumpkins and plenty of other healthy fruit and vegetables.

There are optimum calcium and phosphorous levels to support strong bones and antioxidants to boost their immune system as well as glucosamine to support their joints. It is very easy to digest because it is free from corn, wheat, and poultry by-product meal.

25 percent minimum protein content

15 percent minimum fat content

Carbohydrates are sweet potato and pumpkins

Glucosamine to support healthy joints

  • Brand: Nature’s Recipe
  • Model: 799055
  • Weight: 12.2 pounds

Dog Food for Small Breeds Buying Guide & FAQ

How Are Small Breeds Different?

A small breed dog and a large breed dog differ in a lot more than size. Their metabolism works in very different ways and they have different health concerns. Therefore, their diets must take this into account. Here are some of the main ways in which small and large breeds differ.

  • Small breeds have a faster metabolism. A dog with a fast metabolism uses up carbohydrates very quickly, converts them into glucose and uses them to create energy. If the glucose blood level falls, they develop hypoglycemia which makes them weak, lethargic, suffer muscle tremors and seizures and can even lead to death. They need a regular intake of calorie-rich food.
  • Small breeds have small stomachs. Small dogs cannot eat huge quantities of food so their diet needs to be very high quality. There should be no fillers or unnecessary carbohydrates. They need plenty of protein and fat and plenty of calories.
  • Small breeds can become obese. Some small dog breeds are prone to obesity. It is important that their diet promotes the development of lean muscle and does not have any unnecessary sugars in it.
  • Small breeds have small mouths. A dainty mouth simply cannot cope with a giant, hard kibble. Foods developed for small breeds need to have a kibble that is the right size for their mouth. It needs to be able to scrape off plaque to prevent dental problems which can be a particular issue with small breed dogs.
  • Small breeds live a long time. Many small breed dogs live longer than larger breeds. This brings particular health issues. It is important that their diet is rich in antioxidants to prevent free-radical damage and some of the cancers associated with advanced age in dogs.
  • Small dogs get stomach upsets. Small breeds are especially prone to digestive issues. Diet can help with this. It needs to contain carbohydrates that are easy to digest. It also needs to contain probiotics and appropriate fiber to support a healthy digestive system.
  • Small dogs are lap dogs. Small dogs tend to spend a lot of time on their owner’s lap getting petted. They need healthy skin and a shiny coat so it is important that they have plenty of Omega oils and vitamins in their diet.

Related Post: Best Dog Food for Seizures

The smaller a dog is, the more these differences will be exaggerated. Some of the toy breeds, and the teacup varieties, in particular, have very fast metabolisms and are prone to very specific health problems. The best dog food for toy breeds, therefore, needs to be carefully formulated.

Small tan and white dog profile

What to Look for in a Small Breed Dog Food

A small breed dog food needs to have particular nutrients and characteristics to suit your little pooch. Here are some things to look for in the best dry dog food for small dogs.

  • Small size kibble. Little mouths need a small kibble so food designed for small breeds often has a reduced size kibble. It will be easier for your pooch to get into their mouth and chew. It will also scrape off plaque so they don’t develop dental disease. This is a particular problem in small dogs because the teeth are so crowded in a small mouth.
  • High protein content. Small breeds need a high protein content. They cannot take in a large volume of food because they have small stomachs. The food that they do eat needs to be nutrient-rich. Many small breed formulations have a protein content of around 30 percent or more. Protein is essential for their health.
  • High-fat content.Fat is essential for producing energy and for maintaining a healthy body. Little dogs need a food that has a high-fat content because their metabolism is so high and because they can’t eat very big meals.
  • Protein source. An animal or fish protein needs to be the source of protein for a small breed. It will have the amino acid profile that they need for tissue growth and repair. Free range chicken or venison are great options.
  • Low carbohydrates.Little dogs can get fat! They need to have a carefully controlled carbohydrate intake and they need low glycemic carbs. Look for ingredients such as pumpkin and sweet potatoes on the ingredients list.
  • Digestive allergens. Small breeds often get allergies to food ingredients so try to avoid things like corn, wheat, and soy.
  • Digestive issues in small breeds can often be tackled by the inclusion of probiotics in their diet. These are friendly bacteria that support the normal action of their intestines.
  • Because small dogs live for a long time, the free radicals in the environment have the time to attack cells in the body and cause diseases like cancer. Look for superfoods in the ingredients list such as blueberries and kale. These are packed with antioxidants which will combat the free radicals and keep your little dog healthy for many years.

Related Post: Best Dog Food for Maltese

Yorkie Playing

Diet and Nutrition for Small Breed Dogs

The correct diet can play an important role in keeping your small dog healthy. Here are a few things that you should know about their diet and nutrition.

  • They need small regular meals
  • They need a high-calorie food
  • They need a small kibble
  • They need high protein and fat content
  • They need a nutritionally rich recipe
  • They need low carbohydrate content

Tips for Feeding Small Breed Puppies and Dogs

Here are the top 7 tips for choosing the best one:

  1. Small breed pups have an extremely high metabolic rate. They burn off a meal in hours and need a regular intake of calories. The best dog food for small breed puppies has plenty of calories.
  2. Small breed adult dogs also have a high metabolic rate and need high-calorie food.
  3. Small breeds eat small portions so the food has to be densely packed with nutrients.
  4. Small breeds have small mouths and often have dental issues so they need small kibble.
  5. Small breeds need antioxidants to keep them healthy into old age.
  6. Small breeds need careful weight management to prevent obesity
  7. Their shiny coats will benefit from Omega oils and vitamins.

Our Top Pick

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food  – this best dog food for small dogs has a high protein (28 percent) content that delivers all the calories that a small dog needs through the turkey, salmon and chicken recipe. The kibble is smaller than average and packed with antioxidants thanks to the blueberries and spinach.

This healthy dog food for small dogs has flaxseed and salmon oil providing the Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils for a healthy coat.

Dr Tracy Douglas
Dr Tracy Douglas
General Practice Veterinarian, currently working at the Glenwood Veterinary Clinic, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Dr. Douglas began her veterinary career as a Veterinary Nurse in Highton Veterinary Clinic, Highton Victoria, and then as an Emergency Veterinarian in Uintah Pet Emergency, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tracy is particularly interested in surgery, neurology and internal medicine, which gives her a well-rounded knowledge on animal health and well-being. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Melbourne, while her undergraduate bachelor of science is from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
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