Best Dog Food For Small Adult Breeds: Reviews & Top Picks

Small size breeds should be on food that is specially designed to meet their needs.

Ideal adult weight for small size dogs should be under 20 pounds, and they need balanced nutrition to maintain that weight.

Small breeds need more calories per pound compared to larger breeds, as they have higher metabolic rates.

They also have smaller appetites, which means that food designed for them should have all nutrition in a smaller portion.

To keep small size breeds healthy, you need the best small breed dog food available.

Keep on scrolling to discover the best dog food for small size adult breeds that every dog will enjoy.

We have reviewed the best dog food available and selected the best overall, best budget, and best grain-free food that will help your dog maintain optimal weight and great health.

How we chose

Because choosing the right food for your dog can be confusing and overwhelming, we reviewed all dog foods.

Every product on our list has been vetted to ensure that it aligns with Barking Royalty’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. Each product in this article:

  • adheres to allowable health claims and labeling requirements
  • is manufactured in facilities that adhere to current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs)
  • is produced by a medically credible company that follows ethical, legal, and industry best standards
  • is made by a company that provides objective measures of trust

Additional factors we considered included:

  • Ingredients. We looked for supplements that are free of unnecessary ingredients such as fillers and artificial
  • sweeteners and colors.
  • AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile. We checked if the food meets the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO.
  • Price. We included products to suit a range of budgets.

Small Size Breeds Nutrition

Small size breeds have very specific nutrient needs. They may be small, but they often require more calories than large breeds.

Due to their metabolic rate, they require a lot of calories, especially in their puppyhood.

In their adulthood, they need food that is packed with proper nutrition, to maintain their health.

Dogs need food that comes with minerals, and vitamins, mixed with real fruit and vegetable.

Most commercial foods include these factors and we have gathered the best of the best. Check them below.

Best Overall

1. Merrick Classic Small Size Breed Adult Food

Top five ingredients in this formula: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, turkey meal

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3711 kcal/kg, 404 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Maintenance
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 27.0% min
Crude Fat 16.0% min
Crude Fiber 3.5% min
Moisture 11.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.5% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids3.0% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio6.0, healthy

Deboned chicken is the first ingredient in this formula for better taste and better-balanced nutrition, followed by a chicken meal, brown rice, barley, and turkey meal.

Chicken is in general considered to be lean meat perfect for blending in with other ingredients.

Since this formula comes with real deboned chicken as the first ingredient, it is protein-packed and enriched with high levels of omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin.

Fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%, makes it suitable for the maintenance of great bone density and weight balance.

Omega fatty acids are present to promote healthy coat and skin in dogs, while quinoa is there to aid in digestion.

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Best Budget

2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Size Breed Adult Food

Top five ingredients in this formula: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, barley

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3,665 kcal/kg, 396 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Maintenance
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 26.0% min
Crude Fat 15.0% min
Crude Fiber 4.0% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.5% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids3.0% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio6.0, healthy

Chicken is often used in dog dry food formulas due to its texture and protein percentage.

Plus, chicken is a great meat to be mixed with other ingredients and make a unique taste.

This is why the first ingredient in this formula is deboned chicken making it great for overall digestion, followed by a chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, and barley.

The top five ingredients are carefully mixed to provide a strong nutritional base.

Barley is a high soluble fiber and a great choice of dietary fiber for dogs. It can help regulate dogs’ blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and even reduce the risk of heart disease.

The fiber in general helps dogs regulate their digestive system and make the intestinal tract cleaner.

Dried chicory root is also present to enhance fiber content, while dried egg product provides an additional protein boost, next to sweet potatoes that promote healthy skin, coat, eyes, nerves, and muscles in dogs.

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Best Grain-Free

3. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Size Breed Adult Food

Top five ingredients in this formula: Venison, lamb meal, garbanzo beans, peas, lentils

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3,719 kcal/kg, 422 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Maintenance
  • Grain-free: Yes
Crude Protein 29.0% min
Crude Fat 17.0% min
Crude Fiber 5.0% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.75% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids3.25% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio4.33, healthy

Venison is the first ingredient in this formula and is a good source of vitamins and energy, followed by lamb meal, garbanzo beans, peas, and lentils.

The first ingredient (venison) is a real meat and as such very high in protein as it contains up to 32% protein percentage.

As an ingredient that is high in protein, venison supports bones, joints, and lean muscles.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Recipe is carefully crafted to deliver different vitamins and minerals from real fruits and superfoods and omega fatty acids that help dogs thrive.

Next to venison, lamb meat is the second ingredient that is a great source of high-quality protein and essential amino acids – nutrients that are vital for your dog.

To support the dog’s digestion and gut health, lentils is present to provide enough fiber and relieve constipation.

Since this formula is rich in proteins and fat its primary goal is to provide balanced nutrition and provide enough energy for small dogs.

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4. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Small Size Breed Adult Food

Top five ingredients in this formula: Deboned salmon, turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, salmon meal, red lentils

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3,572 kcal/kg, 422 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: All life stages
  • Grain-free: Yes
Crude Protein 31.0% min
Crude Fat 17.0% min
Crude Fiber 4.0% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.85% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.8% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio3.29, healthy

The first component in this formula is deboned salmon as a great protein source, followed by turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, salmon meal, and red lentils.

As a grain-free formula, this food is carefully crafted to focus on protein, which is why Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food offers up to 84% protein.

Extra small kibble is easy to chew and soft to digest. The texture is created in such a manner that it directly influences the dog’s health and delivers extra flavor thanks to dried carrots and miscanthus grass.

Experienced dog owners know that dogs will often chew on grass when outside if they are dealing with any sort of stomach-related issues.

Plus, the grass is rich in fibers making it a great tool to keep the intestinal tract clean and healthy.

Miscanthus grass may not be so common in dog food but when included you can expect improved chick performance and feed energy utilization. Plus, it helps with weight management.

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5. Instinct Original Grain-Free Small Size Breed Adult Food

Top five ingredients in this formula: Chicken, chicken meal, chickpeas, tapioca, chicken fat

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 4,262 kcal/kg, 476 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: All life stages
  • Grain-free: Yes
Crude Protein 35.0% min
Crude Fat 19.5% min
Crude Fiber 3.5% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.2% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.0% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio10.0, healthy

Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient in this formula for better taste and a strong protein base, followed by a chicken meal, chickpeas, tapioca, and chicken fat.

Chicken fat is added to provide richer flavor and better nutrition. The top five ingredients are carefully added and mixed to provide an ideal balance of protein, fat and calories for a healthy and strong body.

Thanks to calcium and phosphorous this formula supports strong bones and teeth.

In an identical manner, glucosamine and chondroitin support joint health. This formula is carefully crafted in the USA with the world’s finest ingredients.

As a grain-free food, it is free from grain, potato, corn, wheat, and soy. It is also free of any sort of artificial colors or preservatives.

Thanks to real chicken and real vegetables every bite is a great experience for adult dogs.

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6. Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Size Breed Adult Food

Top five ingredients in this formula: Deboned turkey, whole dried egg, peas, potatoes, potato flour

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3,711 kcal/kg, 408 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Maintenance
  • Grain-free: Yes
Crude Protein 27.0% min
Crude Fat 17.0% min
Crude Fiber 4.5% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids1.0% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.6% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio2.6, healthy

The first ingredient in this formula is deboned turkey to help dogs build muscle, followed by whole dried egg, peas, potatoes, and potato flour.

The top five ingredients are chosen to boost dogs’ health. Whole dried egg offers protein and immune-boosting properties, peas are a great source of essential vitamins and can boost energy levels in dogs, potatoes can enhance dogs’ immune and nervous systems, and potato flour improves the digestibility of dietary nutrients.

Plus, anything potato-related makes kibbles stronger in texture and richer in taste.

Thanks to omega fatty acids, this formula aims to make the dog’s coat shinier, and the dog’s skin healthier.

Balance in fat and protein should ensure a healthy weight, while fiber-rich pumpkin supports healthy digestion. Parsley and peppermint are added to make dogs breath fresher.

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7. Diamond Naturals Small Size Breed Adult Food

Top five ingredients in this formula: Chicken, chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, ground white rice, grain sorghum

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3,683 kcal/kg, 418 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Maintenance
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 27.0% min
Crude Fat 16.0% min
Crude Fiber 3.0% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.4% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.4% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio6.0, healthy

Chicken is the first ingredient in this formula for adult dogs, followed by a chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, ground white rice, and grain sorghum.

For richer flavor, this formula contains chicken fat, while egg product delivers more protein.

To support digestion and a strong gut, dried chicory root, kale, and chia seed are added to this formula.

In the same manner, fiber-rich pumpkin and dried kelp should help make the intestinal tract cleaner and healthier.

Real fruit and vegetable are present to enable a stronger taste and kibble easier to digest.

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8. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Size Breed Adult Food

Top five ingredients in this formula: Chicken, chicken meal, split peas, brewers rice, whole brown rice

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3752 kcal/kg, 352 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Maintenance
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 24.0% min
Crude Fat 16.0% min
Crude Fiber 3.5% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.2% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.0% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio10.0, healthy

The first ingredient here is chicken for better taste and rich nutrition, followed by a chicken meal, split peas, brewers rice, and whole brown rice.

This dry food is made to deliver high-quality protein and real chicken for better nutrition.

This formula is made with non-GMO ingredients and free of chicken by-product meal.

Specially designed with small breed dogs’ needs in mind, this formula contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints.

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9. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Size Breed Adult Food

Top five ingredients in this formula: Corn, chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, brown rice, corn gluten meal

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3744 kcal/kg, 359 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Maintenance
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 25.0% min
Crude Fat 14.0% min
Crude Fiber 3.4% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acidsnot disclosed
Omega-6 Fatty Acidsnot disclosed
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Rationot disclosed

Corn is the first ingredient in this formula to maintain a dog’s immune system, followed by chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, brown rice, and corn gluten meal.

Chicken fat is added to enrich the flavor, while fish oil and vegetable oil are added to make digestion easier.

This formula is specifically made for small dogs 10 months to 8 years old weighing 9–22 lbs.

L-carnitine found in this formula helps maintain a healthy weight, while optimal levels of fatty acids like EPA and DHA make skin and coat healthy in dogs.

Specialized kibble design has been adapted for miniature jaws, making every bite easy and desirable for even picky eaters.

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10. Purina Pro Plan Small Size Breed Adult Food

Top five ingredients in this formula: Chicken, rice, poultry by-product meal, beef fat, corn gluten meal

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3,733 kcal/kg, 417 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Small Breed Puppies Food
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 29.0% min
Crude Fat 17.0% min
Crude Fiber 3.0% min
Moisture 12.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acidsnot disclosed
Omega-6 Fatty Acids1.7% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Rationot disclosed

Chicken is a great ingredient in dog food to support protein in dog food and support the dog’s muscle build, which is why chicken is the first ingredient in this formula.

Next to chicken, this formula contains rice, poultry by-product meal, beef fat, and corn gluten meal as the top five ingredients.

These ingredients are carefully mixed to provide a nutrient-dense bite-sized kibble and richer flavor.

To support digestive and immune health this formula contains guaranteed live probiotics and a high protein percentage to support the needs of highly active small dogs.

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Key Points

Small size dogs need appropriate food, othrwise they won’t be able to thrive, or maintain a healthy weight.

Compared to large dog breeds, small size dogs have a faster metabolism and special nutrition need that should be met.

The energy that’s mall size dogs get from their food is absorbed and used quickly which is why they need to eat more often. Plus, their stomach is small and they need more frequent meals but smaller in size.

When it comes to choosing the best food for small size dogs you should focus on the following food features:

  • Make sure that the food is specially created for small size adult breeds
  • Make sure that kibble is extra small
  • Know how much your dog should eat per day
  • Know how often your dog should eat on a daily level
  • If possible focus on getting food that offers a perfect mix between meat, fruit, and vegetable

Are you thinking about switching from dry dog food to aw food? Before you make any big food-related choices make sure that you talk with your veterinarian first.

Know which human foods are dangerous to dogs in general and which food is safe to share with your dog from time to time.

Know that human foods and even dog treats should be served to dogs only as an occasional reward and in small quantities.

In the meantime, serve the food listed above by following the listed feeding guidelines.