Best Dog Food For Small Breeds: Reviews & Top Picks

How to choose the best food for small breed dogs? By knowing what they need.

Food for small breed dogs is carefully designed to provide balanced nutrition for dogs whose perfect weight is under 20 pounds.

Small dog breeds benefit from food designed for their higher rate of metabolism and food that is easy to chew and digest.

Small dog breeds require more calories per pound than large size dog needs, and they need smaller kibbles so they can digest easily and chew easily.

Although small size dogs need more calories, than large dogs do, that doesn’t mean that they should be overfed.

To avoid obesity in small size dogs and keep them healthy, choosing the right food matters.

Choosing the wrong food and continue feeding your dog food that won’t promote health is harmful and can lead to many health-related issues.

Poor nutrition can even speed up certain health issues which is something that every responsible dog owner wants to avoid.

To keep small dog breeds healthy and strong choose to feed them the best dog food from their puppyhood to their senior years.

To help you provide the best for your dog we have filtered the dog food market and selected the best brands for puppies, adults, and senior small size breeds. Check them below.

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.

Best Dog Food For Small Size Puppy Breeds

Small breed puppies need carefully crafted food to help them thrive.

Puppy food should meet the AAFCO nutrition recommendations and be formulated for small breed puppies.

Food that is rich in protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruit is suitable for puppies.

Vegetable oil is an ingredient that is always welcome in puppy food for small bred, while kibble should always be small in size and easy to chew. Check below for the best dry dog food for small puppy breeds.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Puppy

Top five ingredients in this formula: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, oatmeal, barley, menhaden fish 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 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

The first ingredient in this formula is deboned chicken for better taste and better nutrition, followed by a chicken meal, oatmeal, barley, and menhaden fish meal.

Deboned chicken is a great protein source and enables a fair amount of energy in dogs.

Not only that chicken a great energy source, but it is also a great source of Omega 6 fatty acids that are good for the skin and coat.

Menhaden fish meal is rich with EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids, that promote heart health in dogs.

Menhaden fish is often used as one of the top five ingredients in dog food due to its benefits.

This formula contains no corn, wheat, soy, or chicken, making this formula meat-based and packed with the high protein that enables muscle growth in puppies.

As a formula supported with real vegetables and fruits, the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Puppy formula offers enough vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can boost a dog’s immune system.

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Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy

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

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3,995 kcal/kg, 453 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Small And Medium Breed Pupy Dog Food
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 32.0% min
Crude Fat 22.0% min
Crude Fiber 3.5% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.5% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids3.4% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio6.8, healthy

The first ingredient in this formula is chicken for better nutrition and easier digestion and followed by a chicken meal, ground white rice, chicken fat, and cracked pearled barley.

Each ingredient is carefully sed and mixed to deliver the maximum for small puppy breeds.

For a richer taste and a better protein source next to chicken, this formula contains a chicken meal.

Chicken meal is rendered chicken meat that has been dried and ground up, as such only adds to the protein percentage in dry dog food formula. Cracked pearled barley is a source of healthy calories and other nutrients including dietary fiber, B vitamins, and various minerals.

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy formula contains dried beet pulp, salmon oil, and pumpkin making it more than suitable for digestion health and a strong gut.

Next to these superfoods, this formula contains real fruit including oranges, blueberries, coconut, spinach, and papaya.

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Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy

Top five ingredients in this formula: Deboned turkey, chicken meal, oatmeal, salmon meal, barley

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: This food contains 3,881 kcal/kg or 489 kcal/cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis.
  • AAFCO Profile: Small Breeds Pupy Dog Food
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 28.0% min
Crude Fat 19.0% min
Crude Fiber 4.25% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.60% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids4.20% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio7.0, healthy

Deboned turkey is the first ingredient in this formula added to serve as a great protein source and to help dogs build muscle, followed by a chicken meal, oatmeal, salmon meal, and barley.

For a richer taste, this formula contains oats, chicken fat, and tomato pomace, while tomatoes add to the soft texture and easy chewing.

Salmon oil and pea fiber support a puppy’s digestive health, next to real fruit. Apples are used in this formula to provide vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants.

Next to apples, the Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy formula contains blueberries, carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes of which each ingredient comes with certain benefits for small puppy breeds.

All in all, the Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy formula is designed to promote whole-body nutrition.

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Best Dog Food For Small Size Adult Breeds

Adult dog food offers adequate nutrients that help dogs maintain their weight and overall health.

Just like puppy food, adult dog food is made of certain ingredients that are considered to be healthy and beneficial for dog maintenance.

Since adult dog food contains different nutrients than puppy food, it is important to switch your puppy to adult food on time, depending on the dog’s breed type, not to switch it too soon. The best time to switch small puppy breeds to adult food (who weigh under 20 lbs) is between 9 and 12 months.

Even when adult, small size dogs still require calories per pound and they still need smaller kibbles, which is why you should check the dry food listed below.

Check the best dry food options on the market for small adult dogs to help them thrive and stay at optimal weight.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed

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

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3,719 kcal/kg, 422 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Small Adult Breed Dog Food
  • Grain-free: Yes
Crude Protein 32.0% min
Crude Fat 18.0% min
Crude Fiber 4.0% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.3% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.8% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio9.33, healthy

The first ingredient in this formula is venison for a great protein source and rich flavor, followed by lamb meal, garbanzo beans, peas, and lentils.

The top five ingredients are carefully mixed to provide a high protein base and enough fibers to support the dog’s digestive system.

Thanks to lentils, pea protein, canola oil, ocean fish meal, and dried chicory root, this formula enables enough fibers to keep the dog’s stomach strong.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed formula comes with real fruit and vegetable including raspberries which are a great source of dietary fiber and which at the same time improves a dog’s digestive system and fights obesity.

Raspberries are also great antioxidants and as such can reduce the possibility of heart disease.

As a formula that is high in meat (protein) this venison small kibble for small breed dogs is carefully blended to support bones, joints, and lean muscles.

Thanks to omega fatty acids this formula supports the health of the dog’s skin and coat.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed formula is grain-free which means that this food is high in protein, rich in omega fatty acids, and comes with less risk of food allergies and any kind of intolerances.

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Merrick Classic Small Breed Dog 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: Small Adult Breed Dog Food
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 27.0% min
Crude Fat 16.0% min
Crude Fiber 3.50% min
Moisture 11.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.50% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids3.0% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio6.0, healthy

Deboned chicken is the first ingredient in his formula for small adult breeds, followed by a chicken meal, brown rice, barley, and turkey meal.

Deboned chicken is often used in formulas that want to deliver a high protein percentage, great taste, and overall strong nutrition.

Chicken is not only a great source of protein but it also enables dogs with high energy amopunt.

Next to serving as a great energy source, chicken offers a sufficient amount of omega-6 fatty acids that are great for a dog’s skin and coat.

Merrick Classic Small Breed Dog Food formula includes vitamins, minerals, and high levels of omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin which helps in maintaining and repairing your dog’s joints.

Mixed in such a manner, this formula should relieve joint pain.

Merrick Classic Small Breed Dog Food formula contains an ingredient that is high in fiber, such as chia seeds that help dogs regulate the digestive system.

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Nulo Freestyle Small Breed Dog 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: Small Adult And Puppy Breed Dog Food
  • 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 ingredient in this formula is deboned salmon as a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, followed by turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, salmon meal, and red lentils.

This grain-free diet is carefully crafted to be also gluten-free while being high in protein, keeping any sort of allergies at its minimum.

With up to 84% of protein, Nulo Freestyle Small Breed Dog Food formula comes with extra small kibble for easier chewing and better digestion.

As the formula is low in carbohydrates it provides dogs with high energy level supporting their higher metabolism.

Not only that kibble come in small sizes, but it also delivers a softer texture that small size dogs love.

For a richer taste, this formula contains real fruit including raspberries, dried apples, and dried blueberries.

Dried carrots are also included in this formula offering fiber for easier digestion and enough beta-carotene for a dog’s vision.

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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Adult

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

The first ingredient in this formula is deboned salmon a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, followed by turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, salmon meal, and red lentils.

This grain-free diet is carefully crafted to be also gluten-free while being high in protein, keeping any sort of possible allergies in dogs at its minimum.

With up to 84% of protein, Nulo Freestyle Small Breed Dog Food formula comes with extra small kibble for easier chewing and better digestion.

As the formula is low in carbohydrates it provides dogs with high energy level supporting their higher metabolism.

Not only that kibble come in small sizes, but it also delivers a softer texture that small size dogs love.

For a richer taste, this formula contains real fruit including raspberries, dried apples, and dried blueberries.

Dried carrots are also included in this formula offering fiber for easier digestion and enough beta-carotene for a dog’s vision.

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Best Dog Food For Small Size Senior Breeds

Small dog breeds age slower than large dog breeds, and your small size dog can still be considered to be senior sooner than you think.

Small size dogs are considered to be seniors at seven years of age.

Before you switch your adult small dog to senior dog food, make sure that you talk with your veterinarian first.

In some cases, if a small size dog is over seven years and not overweight veterinarian might suggest that you hold on with the switch to senior dog food.

If your dog needs to switch to senior food now, there are some things to think about, like feeding small dogs food that contains risky ingredients such as BHA, menadione, and artificial dyes.

Small senior dogs will thrive on food that is packed with protein (to keep their muscles lean) and vegetables, especially carrots and apples.

Loss of muscles is a big problem in older dogs as they usually can no longer walk unassisted.

Very old senior dogs tend to be underweight which is why calories matter. At a certain point, senior dogs can lose their appetite which is why keeping their appetite on track should be your focus.

To achieve this you will need the right nutrition and delicious food that will provide them with what small senior dogs need.

Considering that, we have got you covered, with a list of top senior food for small dogs that every canine citizen will love and benefit from.

Check below the most effective senior dog food for small size dogs.

Nulo Freestyle Senior Grain-Free Trout & Sweet Potato

Top five ingredients in this formula: Deboned trout, turkey meal, salmon meal, yellow peas, sweet potato

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3,359 kcal/kg, 396 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Senior Dog Food
  • Grain-free: Yes
Crude Protein 30.0% min
Crude Fat 12.0% min
Crude Fiber 5.0% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.35% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids1.3% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio3.71, healthy

The first ingredient in this formula is deboned trout as a protein base, followed by turkey meal, salmon meal, yellow peas, and sweet potato.

Each ingredient is carefully mixed to provide the best for senior dogs.

Since senior dogs need protein to help them preserve their muscles and build new ones, this formula is grain-free and free from chicken and egg proteins.

To provide proper hip and joint health, this formula contains glucosamine and chondroitin, while L-Carnitine supports an older dog’s metabolism.

Nulo Freestyle Senior Grain-Free Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food formula is focused on delivering superior nutrition while supporting joint health to help senior dogs move.

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Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice

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

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: 3639 kcal/kg, 320 kcal/cup
  • AAFCO Profile: Senior Dog Food
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 26.0% min
Crude Fat 14.0% min
Crude Fiber 4.0% min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.20% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids2.0% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio10.0, healthy

Chicken is the first ingredient in this formula added for a protein source and better nutrition, followed by a chicken meal, whole grain barley, split peas, and brewers rice.

Each ingredient was carefully selected to support the senior dog’s overall health and well-being.

For richer flavor chicken fat is added, next to rice bran, and whole grain oatmeal.

To provide enough fiber Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food formula contains dried plain beet pulp, fish oil, and chia seed.

For a stronger protein source, there are dried egg products dried pumpkin, and spinach to support slow digestion and make food easy to digest.

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Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Deboned Turkey & Peas

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

  • Price: $$
  • Energy: This food contains 3,478 kcal/kg or 435 kcal/cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis.
  • AAFCO Profile: Senior Dog Food
  • Grain-free: No
Crude Protein 25.0% min
Crude Fat 12.0% min
Crude Fiber 5.0min
Moisture 10.0% max
Omega-3 Fatty Acids0.5% min
Omega-6 Fatty Acids3.0% min
Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio6.0, healthy

Deboned turkey is the first ingredient in this formula to help senior dogs maintain and build muscles, followed by a chicken meal, ground brown rice, peas, and rice.

For extra flavor, this formula is enriched with tomatoes, tomato pomace, and pea fiber.

The natural chicken flavor adds to easier chewing and better digestion, while apples and spinach provide needed fiber.

This formula is USA-made with the finest global ingredients and crafted into a smaller kibble size for smooth eating.

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Small Breed Dogs Dietary Needs

Small breed dogs need a diet that is calorie-dense and made of high-quality protein.

Small dog breeds are highly popular in last years, but people often welcome them into their homes without thinking about their dietary needs and possible health issues.

Just like in humans, great nutrition and even better health are tightly connected, and missing to provide the right nutrients might lead to health-related issues.

If cared for properly, small dog breeds can have a long life span.

To provide the best care possible of small size breeds, dog owners should implement the following steps:

  • Provide high-quality food
  • Implement regular exercise
  • Provide regular veterinarian check-ups

Small breed dogs may be small in size but that doesn’t mean that their nutrient needs are enough how more delicate than those in dogs of larger size.

Despite their size, small size breeds often need more calories per pound than large breed dogs, with special care for their dietary needs in their puppyhood.

In general, dogs of all sizes, including small breed dogs, need a diet that is rich in protein, different vitamins, and minerals.

Domestic dogs depend on grains, dry food, kibble of a specific size, fruit, vegetable, and meat to experience a complete and balanced diet.

This is why people prefer commercial food.

Now, choosing the best commercial food is something that may be tricky, considering how many different brands of food are available on the pet market.

Know that certain dog breeds have special dietary needs, so it is always best to talk with your veterinarian first.

Your veterinarian is the only one who can help you with feeding instructions and any concerns health and food-related.

Know that you should always thrive to feed dogs food that is specially designed for their age and activity levels.

What To Look For In Food For Small Breed Dogs?

Every dog needs six essential items in their diet to help them grow, or to just maintain or enhance their health:

  • Water
  • Protein
  • Fats
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

In order for dogs to remain healthy, they need food that is based on all of these six components. For small size dogs to grow and keep their joints strong they need proteins. Proteins are needed to grow all body tissues.

How Much Should I Feed My Small Breed Dog?

The best way to know this for sure is to learn how to read pet food labels and talk with your veterinarian properly.

Your veterinarian is the only one who can provide you with in-depth knowledge and information on proper dog nutrition, a balanced diet, and how to incorporate any new feeding style.

This is crucial when it comes to switching from a dry food diet to a raw diet, for example.

Never make these big changes without the right research and proper guidelines first.

To answer how much to feed a small breed dog, let’s assume that your dog has a typical activity level which means that you should serve 1 cup to 1 2/5 cup.

Know that senior dogs should be fed less than adult dogs.

Summing Up

Small breed dogs typically live longer than large breed dogs. This means that your small size dog might easily eat identical food from puppyhood to senior days – at least this would be dry dog food.

Could you spend up to 15 years eating an identical diet over and over again?

Probably not, so you can expect your dog to think about diet similarly. To avoid boredom and provide the best diet for your dog you should serve diverse food and food that is appropriate for a certain age.

Each life stage comes with certain dietary needs that should be followed and respected – as it is the best way to enable your dog a healthy life.