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10 Best (Healthiest) Dog Foods for Small Breed Dogs in 2020

Small breed dogs are a favorite for many, not only for their heartwarming appearance but also because they do not require the same amount of space as larger dogs, making them ideal for pet parents who live in smaller apartments and condominiums without a large yard. However, the size of a small breed dog does not mean its personality is tiny; in fact, some small dogs are well known for having a personality larger than life! Although these pups do not take up a lot of physical space, they sure will take up a lot of room in you heart. If you own a small breed dog, you already know how true this is.

Most Affordable

American Journey Salmon

  • Added vitamins and minerals
  • Protein-rich formula

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Best Overall

Ollie Healthy Turkey Feast

  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Added Fruits & Veggies

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Most Popular

Taste Of The Wild High Prairie

  • Recipe is grain-free
  • Added vitamins

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There are several small breed dogs, including Chihuahuas, Maltese, Miniature Pinschers, and Pugs to name a few. Each of these dogs has a specific temperament, grooming requirements, and activity levels. Their size and activity determines how much food they should be eating and you may find your pup has specific tastes for either wet or dry dog food. It is important to know what the special dietary considerations and key nutritional needs are for your small breed pup to make sure they are provided enough nutrients to thrive and live a long life alongside you.

This guide provides the information you need, including a feeding chart for puppies, our top recommendations for the best dog food for small breed dogs, and some answers to your frequently asked questions (FAQs). With all the options available on the market, it can get overwhelming very quickly. We have done the work for you by listing off the top products on the market – keep reading to discover the right option for your four-legged best friend!

6 Special Dietary and Nutritional Considerations of Small Breed Dogs

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  • Be Mindful of Blood Sugar – Your small breed dog, particularly if it is a toy breed, needs to be fed mindfully to prevent hypoglycemia, meaning low blood sugar. Since your pup does not have high body fat and their metabolism works very efficiently, it is possible for your pup to develop hypoglycemia if not fed adequately. Choose calorie-dense and nutrient-dense foods and provide your pup with multiple small meals per day to keep him active and healthy.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Your Vet – If you are trying different foods and your pup is not reacting well, give your vet a call. Explain what is going on and ask for a recommendation. Vets can access the most current information on dog nutrition and even pet food recalls, making them a great resource when you find yourself at a standstill while looking for the best food for small dogs.
  • Choose Foods Rich in Antioxidants – Small breed dogs are known for having long life spans, with many living to 15 years and beyond. Since these pups experience such a long life, to keep them healthy throughout their senior years, you should be providing a diet rich in antioxidants as a preventative measure to keep free radicals from damaging their bodies. Antioxidants will also assist with staving off doggy colds, leaving more time for your furry life companion to enjoy healthy days along with you!
  • Do Not Overfeed – Although your dog requires extra calories due to his metabolic rate, small dogs can become obese if they are overfed. Dogs that have gained excessive weight are more likely to develop other health issues, including osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, among others. According to the American Kennel Club, obesity has the potential of shortening your pup’s life by two years. To avoid overfeeding, maintain a standard feeding schedule instead of free feeding. Always provide your pup with fresh water and be sure to review feeding instructions and feed according to your little one’s weight and activity level.
  • Provide Dental Comfort with Small Kibbles – The size of your small breed pup means he has a small jaw. Larger kibbles may be uncomfortable for your pup to chew through and it is suggested small breed formulas be provided because their kibble size is meant for the dental comfort of pets with smaller jaws.
  • Understand Your Pups Metabolic Rate – Small breed dogs, despite what their size might have you believe, require more calories per pound of body weight than their larger breed counterparts. Their metabolic rate is a lot higher than large dogs, meaning they burn through their energetic fuel very quickly. Because of this, they should be enjoying foods high in protein and fats along with being nutrient dense to provide the sustained energy they need to power through their busy days.

5 Key Nutritional Needs of a Small Breed Dog Puppies

  • Animal-Based Protein – Protein derived from animals should always be the primary ingredient in any quality dog food. Small breeds have a high metabolism and will need a steady consumption of protein to keep up with their energy levels. Be sure to check the ingredient list of any dog food product and if animal protein is not listed first, try another product. Protein is vital because it delivers the amino acids your small breed dog requires to support lean muscle mass. Additional protein sources like vegetables are also a great addition to your pup’s diet; however, his primary source of protein should be real meat to promote optimal health.
  • Fiber – Fiber should be incorporated into your pup’s diet to promote healthy digestion. Fiber helps by preventing the growth of bad bacteria and it also has the potential to repair the colon following any injury. Fiber also helps to promote healthy stools, keeping your pup’s digestive system functioning optimally. High quality dog foods will have a balanced portion of fiber, along with other nutrients, to feed your pup daily. However, it is important to note that overconsumption of fiber could lead to stomach issues.
  • Essential Vitamins and Minerals – Essential vitamins and minerals are included in dog food formulas, delivered via fruits and vegetables. This as a critical component of a healthy diet because vitamins help to keep your pup’s coat and skin healthy, they promote strong bones and teeth, and provide energy to keep your pup active and mobile. Minerals also assist with maintaining bone and teeth health and serve as building blocks for tissue, helping your pup regenerate and stay healthy.
  • Fish Oils Rich in Vitamins – You will find that quality dog food products incorporate omega fatty acids in their recipes. These are an important aspect of your pup’s diet because they produce the hormones that help with inflammation reduction, which is a vital process that demonstrates ideal immune function. Fatty acids also help if your pup ever gets injured – they assist with blood clotting and the growth of cells.
  • Carbohydrates – Carbs, when included as a part of a balanced diet, can be great for providing your dog with a burst of readily available energy. Your small breed dog powers through his fuel and carbs can support the sustained energy delivered via protein and fats. The overconsumption of carbs can easily result in excessive weight gain; it is important to only provide as a part of a balanced diet. If you are sticking to commercially available foods, it will take the guesswork out of this process.

best small breed dog food

Small Breed Dog Puppy Feeding Chart 6 Week Old Small Breed Dog

  • 6 Week Old Small Breed Dog – At six weeks, your small breed dog should still be with his mama, feeding freely while spending time with littermates. These dogs are too young to be removed from their litter. Mother’s milk will provide all the required nutrients and being around littermates will provide the socialization required to set your pup up for a healthy life adjusting to human care. At this stage, your small breed pup will be extra tiny, weighing only a couple of pounds.
  • 10 Week Old Small Breed Dog – At the tenth week, your small breed pup should be weaned from mom’s milk. This process should have been completed carefully and gently, incorporating the new food slowly to avoid shocking your little dog’s system. Wet food is a great transition food because it is soft and will be easier for your pup to get used to. Alternatively, warm water or broth can create a soft consistency when added to puppy kibbles.
  • 12 Week Old Small Breed Dog – At this stage, your little buddy should be receiving three to four meals per day. These can be spread out evenly during his waking hours to keep him adequately fueled and satiated. Snacks can also be incorporated throughout the day, so long as daily caloric requirements are being met and not exceeded.
  • 3 Month Old Small Breed Dog – At three months, your small pup should still be eating his regular three to four meals per day. You will notice he is steadily growing and so long as his belly is round, he is being well fed. Depending on the breed of your pup, he will have gained some more weight. For example, a pug at this stage should be weighing somewhere between 4 to 7 pounds.
  • 5 Month Old Small Breed Dog – At the five-month mark, you may find that reducing mealtimes to two to three per day will be well received by your pup. You could stop giving snacks and maintain a revised feeding schedule, always being sure to provide enough calories based on the weight and activity of your small, four-legged buddy.
  • 1 Year Old Small Breed Dog – At this age, your dog has reached adulthood. Puppy formulas can be left behind. Feeding can be reduced to twice per day while maintaining the appropriate daily calorie intake. Check your specific breed’s adult weight chart to be sure your pup is weighing enough.

Overall Best Dog Foods for Small Breed Dogs in 2020

Ollie Fresh Pet Food

Key Features:

  • AAFCO standards exceeded
  • Crafted for all life stages
  • Real, whole food ingredients
  • Personalized meals for perfect portions

Overall Best Dog Food for Small Breed Dog – Ollie knows you want to feed your pup only the best. They have created several dog food recipes, including beef, turkey, chicken and lamb, or you can splurge and try their variety pack! These recipes are made with restaurant-quality ingredients that are prepared carefully and cooked fresh on a weekly basis.

Ollie portions each recipe carefully, adhering to the highest food safety standards to ensure your pet is receiving the best meal with balanced nutrition that tantalizes his taste buds. These meals are not only great for your pup, they are also ultra-convenient for you! They show up directly at your front door, are kept cool for freshness, and are vacuum sealed to make it easy for you to provide quality meals to your fluffy bestie.


  • High-quality ingredients
  • Prepared fresh and delivered to your door
  • Several recipes available, including a variety pack
  • Company offers 50% off on first order


  • This product is more expensive compared to other dog food options available on the market

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Recipe is made without grains
  • Protein-rich ingredients
  • K9 probiotic blend included for digestive support

Best Grain Free Food for Small Breed Dog – Taste of the Wild’s dry dog food incorporates yummy buffalo and bison to provide your little one with protein that will not only provide energy but assist with maintaining lean muscle mass for weight control. This recipe includes peas and sweet potatoes to provide fiber and energy that is easy to digest. Added fruits and veggies deliver the vitamins and minerals that will support your little one’s overall health, including antioxidant support to stave off those pesky seasonal colds.

The K9 probiotic blend that is included in this formula is a great addition because it promotes digestive health to keep nutrients moving and stools healthy. If your pup suffers from allergies, this is a fantastic option because Taste of Wild does not include any fillers like wheat, soy, or corn. This recipe is crafted to provide quality nutrition without the risk of tummy upset or allergy flare-ups.


  • Highly digestible formula
  • Omits artificial ingredients
  • No fillers to avoid allergies
  • Grain-free and gluten-free recipe


  • Not a certified organic product
  • This recipe may contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs)

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Recipe is made without grains
  • Protein-rich ingredients
  • No fillers included in this recipe

Most Inexpensive (Cheap) – American Journey’s dry dog food recipe is created with deboned salmon to provide protein and sweet potatoes to provide fiber. This formula provides a rich, aromatic flavor your pup will devour! The rich protein is supplied to encourage the maintenance of lean muscle mass that assist with keeping your pup fit and at a proper weight for his size.

This recipe adds salmon oil and flaxseed to provide your small pup with the omega fatty acids that will feed his skin and coat for optimal health. Added veggies and fruits provide the vitamins and minerals and even antioxidants that support overall health and specifically, immune support.


  • Rich with protein
  • Grain-free formula
  • Gluten-free


  • This recipe may contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs)

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Created for the puppy life stage
  • Smaller kibble size for tiny jaws
  • Formula is free of fillers and by-product meals

Best Small Breed Puppy Food – This chicken and brown rice recipe by Blue Buffalo was crafted with the overall wellness of puppies in mind. Real meat provides the protein, whole grains provide carbs and fiber, and garden vegetables and fruit deliver tons of vitamins and minerals to support the growth of your pup. Blue Buffalo also incorporates an exclusive blend of nutrients called LifeSource Bits that are boosted with extra antioxidants.

Deboned chicken is the main animal protein source in this formula and your little one can thoroughly enjoy the flavor with ease because the kibbles are made specially for small jaws. DHA and ARA support your growing puppy’s cognitive and eye development while Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids encourage a vibrant coat and healthy skin.


  • Added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support immune health
  • No fillers like corn, soy, or wheat
  • Small kibble size


  • Some dogs may not like the flavor of this recipe

Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Grain-free formula
  • Formula is free of fillers
  • Limited ingredients for allergy prevention
  • Great for pups with sensitive digestive systems

Best Sensitive Stomach Food for Small Breed Dog – This sweet potato and fish recipe by Natural Balance has only a few ingredients that deliver limited carbs and omit artificial additives and needless fillers. The primary animal protein source in this formula is salmon and fiber and is delivered via sweet potatoes to support a well-functioning digestive system.

The omega fatty acids in this dry dog food are great for helping your pup maintain good skin health and they also promote a healthy, shiny coat. This formula is an excellent choice if your dog suffers from common allergies or has a sensitive digestive system. A diet with limited ingredients does not have to skimp on flavor or balanced nutrition and Natural Balance proves that with this product.


  • No common allergens
  • Tasty, balanced nutrition for pups with sensitive tummies
  • Recipe is made without grains


  • This formula is not certified organic
  • Recipe may contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs)

5 More Top Rated Small Breed Dog Foods:

True Acre Foods Chicken & Vegetable Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

This chicken and vegetable formula by True Acre is made with chicken as the main animal protein source, providing your pup with a delicious flavor that delivers the protein he needs to maintain his lean muscle mass. Carrots and peas are just two of the yummy farm vegetables included in the recipe that provide vitamins and minerals required for optimal health. Antioxidants are also incorporated to fight free radicals and support your pup’s immune system, keeping canine colds away throughout the year. True Acre does not forget the important of digestive health and includes natural fibers to promote good digestion. Omega fatty acids are included to keep your pup’s coat shiny and his skin healthy and like any quality dog food product, this formula does not have artificial ingredients or fillers.

Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Veggies Recipe Dry Dog Food

This chicken and vegetable dry dog food recipe by Rachael Ray is crafted simply, with natural ingredients that include chicken farm-raised in the U.S., peas, carrots, and brown rice to provide a flavor that will satisfy your pup. This formula offers balanced nutrition without any fillers, artificial ingredients, or poultry by-product meal. The brown rice packs each meal with fiber and healthy carbohydrates and added beet pulp delivers prebiotics to support digestive health.

VICTOR Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food

This dry dog food by VICTOR is crafted with protein-rich ingredients, including animal sources like beef, chicken, fish, and pork meals. It is suitable for all life stages, whether you have a puppy, an adult pup, or even a pregnant pup. If your pup is highly active, this is a great dog food option because it is nutrient-dense and specially formulated for dogs who are very physically active. Added vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids provide balanced nutrition and promote skin and coat health.

Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Merrick’s Texas beef and sweet potato dry dog food offers a tasty meal for your pup that is packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The beef flavor is mouth-watering and sweet potatoes, peas, apples, and blueberries round out the nutrition and flavor of this recipe. Your pup will be getting all his required nutrients with every bite. This formula is a great option to support pups who are prone to arthritic issues because it incorporates extra amounts of glucosamine and chondroitin that support joint health.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro’s adult sensitive skin formula is made with salmon to provide dense nutrition and protein with a flavor your pup will drool over. The incorporation of prebiotic fiber makes this recipe an excellent choice for dogs that have sensitive digestive systems – it provides nourishment for the good bacteria in your pup’s intestines, helping to ease the digestion process. In addition, rice and oatmeal are incorporated to deliver carbs with easy to digest ingredients. There is a lot of fish oil in this formula, so your pup is getting omega fatty acids to encourage joint health and mobility along with support for skin and coat health. There are no fillers in this dry dog food, and it is even pea-free for pups allergic to this ingredient.

Our 2020 Small Breed Dog Feeding Guide

  • Puppy – This is an endearing time for pet parents – small breed dogs can be extra adorable during puppyhood. During this time, they should be provided with puppy recipes that have smaller kibbles. Feeding times should be provided three to four times per day.
  • Adult – During adulthood, your pup should be provided with an adult life stage formula. Feeding times should be reduced to twice per day.
  • Senior – During the senior life stage, you can provide adult life stage food or senior life stage food. As activity decreases, daily calories should be adjusted. Your pup should still be eating twice per day.


  • Should a Small Breed Dog eat dry or canned food? This question boils down to preference. Each option has pros and cons. For instance, wet food has a high water content so if your pup is not as diligent as he should be with his water intake, canned food could help with maintaining adequate hydration. Wet foods are also more aromatic, and their texture more closely mimics the texture of raw meat – you may find that your pup prefers wet food over dry dog food. Since wet food is soft, it is a great option for pups with dental issues or small jaws, as it is easier for them to enjoy their mealtimes and get their nutrients in. On the other hand, wet food has a short shelf life and will spoil quickly after opening. Due to the soft texture of wet food, your pup may also require additional dental care. Dry dog food can help with tartar removal with each crunch and has a significantly longer shelf life, making it a more convenient option. It is also usually more affordable than wet food options. Each type of food contains balanced nutrition and you may find that combining both options best suits your pup’s taste buds and your wallet.
  • Should my Small Breed Dog eat a grain-free diet?  This is dependent on how well your dog tolerates grains in his diet. Some pups will immediately develop an allergic reaction following consumption of grains, other pups may develop other symptoms that will eventually lead you back to eliminating ingredients to uncover the culprit. Grain-free diets are meant to mimic a canine’s natural diet as a carnivore. Grains can be difficult to digest for pups, causing digestive system issues over time. You will find that grain-free options are formulated with higher protein and fat than carbs, which helps your pup with weight control, avoids allergic reactions, promotes healthier skin and better breath, and will also relieve stomach upset, reducing flatulence.
  • How much food should I feed my Small Breed Dog? Small pups should be eating between 3/4 to 1 cup of food per day, according to feeding instructions. It is best to split meals into two per day so you pup doesn’t get overloaded with food in one sitting. If you will be mixing dry dog food with wet food, simply reduce the amount of dry dog food provided and add an equal amount of wet food. As your pup ages and becomes less active, you may need to switch to a senior or weight control formula to prevent weight gain. Puppies will require more feeding times per day to support their development.
  • How often should I feed my Small Breed Dog puppy? Small breed puppies burn through energy a lot faster than larger breeds and therefore will require frequent feedings. If your small breed pup is under five months, he should be enjoying mealtimes three to four time per day. Between six to twelve months, that can be reduced to two to three times per day. If your puppy is extra active, you will want to keep him adequately fueled throughout the day so just keep an eye on him and be sure he is getting enough nutrition to enjoy exercise and play time.
  • Do Small Breed Dog need special food? Small breed dogs need more calories per pound than larger dogs and do best with a small kibble size. Therefore, they should be provided with foods that are formulated for small breeds.
  • Do small dogs need different food? Small dogs do well with a balanced diet, as provided by most commercial dog foods. Whether wet or dry food is provided, so long as the ingredients are high-quality, your small pup will be provided with the nutrients he requires to thrive.


You are now equipped with tons of important info to provide the best dog food for your small breed dog. When you choose a high-quality dog food, your job is made easier because formulas incorporate all the nutrients your dog requires to live a long, healthy life. With proper nutrition, your pup will enjoy his days alongside you, offering playfulness and affection to show you how grateful he is for your care!


About The Author

2 thoughts on “10 Best (Healthiest) Dog Foods for Small Breed Dogs in 2020”

  1. It’s not true a dog is a dog. Small/toy dogs need almost double the calories per pound that large dogs do and may need 2-3 small meals per day because their stomachs cant hold a lot.

  2. my shitzu/chin, love puppy taste of the wild, have been on it for 2 years, never an issue, if I attempt to change they really refuse to eat, they have maintained their weight right along, self feed, with no issues, if it aint broke don’t fix it,

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