10 Best Small Breed Dog Food in 2018

Choosing the right dog food is incredibly important if you want your dog to live a long and healthy life. Small-breed dogs are naturally predisposed to having longer lifespans than larger breeds, but you still need to make sure your dog’s nutritional needs are being met in the healthiest way possible. It is important to realize that small-breed dogs have unique nutritional needs and it is your job as a dog owner to make sure that those needs are being met.

But what’s the difference between regular and small-breed dog food?

Small-breed dog food products are specially formulated to meet the energy and nutrient requirements of toy and small breeds. If you think about it, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that a Miniature Poodle needs a different diet than a Great Dane. But how are the nutritional needs of a small-breed dog different, and what should you look for in a small-breed dog food? Keep reading to find out.

Top 10 Best Food for Small Dog Breeds – Reviews


#10 Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food

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Made with fresh chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients, this Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food recipe is highly concentrated with animal protein. In fact, it provides 25% crude protein with 15% healthy fats that provide a blend of essential fatty acids to support your dog’s healthy skin and coat. This recipe is also grain-free, relying on garbanzo beans and peas for carbohydrates.

In addition to being rich in protein and healthy fats, this Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food recipe is supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients. It also contains chelated minerals for improved nutrient absorption as well as complete and balanced nutrition specialized for small-breed dogs.

Pros: real animal proteins as top two ingredients, grain-free carbohydrates, rich in protein and healthy fat, supplemented with chelated minerals, fresh fruits and veggies for natural sources of key nutrients

Cons: some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, contains some plant protein, no probiotics


#9 Dogswell Grain-Free Small Breed Chicken Recipe Dog Food

DogsWell Chicken Small Breed 11 lb, 1 Count

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Though Dogswell may not be one of the most familiar brands on the market, they are making a name for themselves in the premium pet food industry. This Dogswell Grain-Free Small Breed Chicken Recipe Dog Food is a great example of a formula specially designed to meet the nutritional needs of small-breed dogs. It features real chicken as the first ingredient with grain-free carbohydrates like chickpeas and dried fruits and vegetables.

This Dogswell Grain-Free Small Breed Chicken Recipe Dog Food contains 31% protein and 17% healthy fats, so you can rest assured that it will support your small dog’s lean muscle mass while also meeting his high needs for energy. You’ll also be glad to know that the formula is supplemented with chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption.

Pros: real chicken as the first ingredient, grain-free carbohydrates, no artificial additives, supplemented with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, high levels of protein and healthy fats, chelated minerals for optimal absorption

Cons: some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, contains some plant protein, no probiotics


#8 Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food

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Taste of the Wild is known for using novel proteins in their recipes and this Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Dog Food is a great example. This recipe features venison and lamb meal as the primary proteins with duck meal for additional protein. The formula is completely grain-free, relying on garbanzo beans, peas, and lentils as the main carbohydrates. There is also plenty of healthy fat for energy as well as healthy skin and coat.

This Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Dog Food contains plenty of healthful supplements including dried fermentation products for probiotic support. It also contains chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption. Overall, it is a complete and balanced recipe any dog would be lucky to have.

Pros: novel protein sources, grain-free carbohydrates, 32% crude protein and 18% crude fat, supplemented with probiotics and chelated minerals, small kibble size for small dogs

Cons: fairly expensive, contains some plant protein


#7 Earthborn Holistic Small Breed Natural Dog Food

Earthborn Holistic Small Breed Natural Dog Food

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The Earthborn Holistic brand of dog food believes in providing high-quality, balanced nutrition as a means of nourishing a dog’s whole body from the inside out. This Earthborn Holistic Small Breed Natural Dog Food recipe is a great example of that commitment to quality. It features chicken meal and whitefish meal as the top two ingredients with digestible carbohydrates like oatmeal, ground barley, and brown rice to follow.

In addition to being loaded with 28% crude protein, most of which comes from animal sources, this Earthborn Holistic Small Breed Natural Dog Food recipe also contains 17% crude fat. Chicken fat is the primary source and it is a highly nutritious one at that. This recipe also contains fresh fruits and veggies as natural sources for key nutrients as well as chelated minerals to ensure nutritional balance. There are also dried fermentation products for probiotic support.

Pros: concentrated meat meals as first ingredients, digestible carbohydrates, healthy animal-based sources of fat, supplemented with chelated minerals and probiotics, fresh fruits and veggies as natural sources for key nutrients

Cons: some dogs are sensitive to grains, not gluten-free


#6 Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Dog Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Dog Food

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The Nutro brand of dog food offers several product lines and the Wholesome Essentials line is designed to provide complete and balanced nutrition through whole, natural ingredients. This Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Dog Food recipe features farm-raised chicken as the main ingredient with brown rice and sweet potatoes for carbohydrates. So, while it may not be grain-free, it is still highly digestible for most dogs.

This Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Dog Food recipe is loaded with healthy fats like chicken fat for energy and to support your dog’s healthy skin and coat. Dried fruits and vegetables act as natural sources for key nutrients and both vitamin and mineral supplements ensure balanced nutrition. It is also loaded with fiber for healthy digestion and free from all artificial additives.

Pros: real chicken is the number-1 ingredient, digestible carbohydrates, rich in healthy fats, plenty of protein to support lean muscle mass, rich in fiber for healthy digestion, dried fruits and veggies as natural sources for key nutrients, free from artificial additives

Cons: some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, not grain-free, no chelated minerals


#5 Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food

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The Wellness brand has several lines of products and the Complete Health line features all-natural ingredients to ensure complete and balanced nutrition for all dogs. This Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Dog Food recipe is particularly designed for small breed dogs. In addition to being rich in protein to support lean muscle mass, it also has healthy fats for energy as well as healthy skin and coat.

This Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Dog Food features deboned chicken and turkey meal as the top two ingredients, followed by digestible carbohydrates like brown rice, peas, and oats. The formula is supplemented with chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption as well as dried fermentation products for digestive health. This recipe is also formulated to support immunity, healthy teeth, regular digestion, and sustained energy.

Pros: real animal protein as top two ingredients, digestible carbohydrates, healthy fats for skin and coat, supports dental health and immunity, supplemented with probiotics for digestion

Cons: some dogs are sensitive to poultry ingredients, not grain-free, could be higher in fat


#4 Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Small Breed Bites

Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Dry Dog Food

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The Natural Balance pet food company provides a variety of specialized recipes including this Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Small Breed Bites formula. This recipe is made with chicken, chicken meal, and duck meal to support your small-breed dog’s lean muscle mass. It also contains plenty of healthy fats from chicken fat and menhaden oil to ensure a balance of omega fatty acids.

This Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Small Breed Bites recipe contains 23% crude protein and 13% fat, so you can rest assured that it will provide for your dog’s nutritional needs. It is also supplemented with essential vitamins and chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption. Overall, it is also designed to support dental health, immunity, digestion, vision, muscle development, and healthy skin and coat.

Pros: chicken and chicken meal as top two ingredients, digestible carbohydrates, healthy animal-based fats, rich in protein and fat, supplemented with chelated minerals

Cons: some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, not grain-free, no probiotics


#3 Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small-Breed Adult Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small-Breed Adult Dog Food

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Blue Buffalo is one of the biggest names in pet food, and for good reason. This Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small-Breed Adult Dog Food recipe is an excellent example of the quality of their products. It features fresh deboned chicken and concentrated chicken meal as the top two ingredients, followed by digestible carbohydrates like brown rice and oatmeal.

This Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small-Breed Adult Dog Food formula features plenty of healthy fats that provide a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It also contains flaxseed and other sources of supplemental fiber for healthy digestion. This recipe contains chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption and dried fermentation products for probiotic support.

Pros: fresh meat and meat meal as top two ingredients, digestible carbohydrate sources, healthy animal-based fats, supplemental fiber for digestion, chelated minerals for optimal absorption, probiotics for healthy digestion

Cons: some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, not grain-free, contains some plant protein


#2 Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food

Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food

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The Wellness CORE line of products is entirely grain-free and designed to provide high levels of quality animal protein. This Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food recipe features deboned turkey and turkey meal as the top two ingredients with digestible grain-free carbohydrates like potatoes and peas. The primary source of fat is chicken fat which is a highly nutritious and energy-rich ingredient.

This Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food recipe contains fresh fruits and vegetables which act as natural sources for key nutrients. It also contains nutritional supplements such as chelated minerals which have been bound to protein molecules to increase absorption. This recipe also contains dried fermentation products for probiotic support.

Pros: real meat and meat meal as top two ingredients, grain-free digestible carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables provide natural sources for key nutrients, plenty of healthy fat, contains probiotics

Cons: some dogs are sensitive to poultry ingredients, somewhat expensive


#1 Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Dog Food

Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe Natural Dry Dog Food

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The Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Dog Food recipe is an excellent example of quality nutrition for small-breed dogs. Not only does it contain fresh chicken as the main ingredient, but it also contains concentrated chicken meal, turkey meal, and herring meal. Chicken fat is a nutritious source of energy in this recipe and helps to support healthy skin and coat as well.

In addition to being loaded with protein and fat, this Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Dog Food recipe contains digestible grain-free carbohydrates as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. The kibbles are small enough for small mouths and they are blended with freeze-dried raw pieces for optimal nutrition. Beneficial supplements include vitamins, chelated minerals, and probiotics.

Pros: real meat as the first ingredient, grain-free carbohydrates, loaded with healthy animal fats, chelated minerals and probiotics, mixed with freeze-dried raw pieces for nutritional boost

Cons: some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients, very expensive


Understanding and Meeting the Nutritional Needs of Small-Breed Dogs

Following a healthy diet can be a challenge, especially because there are so many food choices out there. When it comes to your dog, however, you are the one making the choices, so you need to be smart about it.

Your dog’s kibble is his primary source of calories and nutrients, so choosing the right dog food is extremely important. Dogs require a balance of protein, carbohydrate, and fat in their diet just like humans, and those nutrients need to come from high-quality ingredients.

Choosing a dog food may seem as simple as walking into the pet store and picking a bag off the shelf, but you need to realize that your dog has unique nutritional needs and you should take your time choosing the product to best fulfill them. Keep reading to learn more about choosing a small-breed dog food for your dog.

How Many Calories Do Small-Breed Dogs Need

Generally speaking, dogs require about 30 calories per pound of body weight to meet their daily energy requirements. This isn’t just the energy they use running around in the backyard – it’s also energy to keep their bodies working properly for digestion, breathing, and more.

Though 30 calories per pound of body weight is a good average, every dog is unique in terms of his exact calorie needs. Dogs require more energy the more active they are, and puppies need more calories than senior dogs. Your dog may also require more calories if he is an active or working breed versus a breed that spends most of the day curled up on the couch.

Another factor to consider is your dog’s size.

It only makes sense that a 110-pound Mastiff would need more calories than a 10-pound Dachshund. What you may not realize, however, is that the Dachshund actually needs up to 40 calories per pound of body weight while the Mastiff needs closer to 20.

Small-breed dogs have very fast metabolisms which means that they need a higher number of calories proportionate to their body weight than larger dogs. This also means that small dogs burn through calories more quickly, so they may fare better with three smaller meals per day than two large ones.

What to Look for in a Small-Breed Dog Food

Before you can learn what to look for in a small-breed dog food, you need to understand the basics about your dog’s nutritional needs. First and foremost, dogs require a protein-rich diet to support lean muscle mass with healthy fat for energy. They also require certain vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fiber.

In terms of specific needs, adult dogs need a diet that contains 22% crude protein and 18% crude fat. When it comes to protein, more is usually better but the higher you go in fat, the higher you go in calories. You need to make sure your dog’s energy requirements are met without going too far overboard that he starts to gain weight.

To meet your dog’s needs for protein, look for a dog food formula that lists some kind of meat, poultry, or fish as the first ingredient. Dog food ingredients lists are arranged in descending order by volume, so the ingredients at the top of the list are used in the highest volume. If the recipe contains more than one animal protein, all the better!

Next, look for a source of digestible carbohydrate to provide fiber as well as essential vitamins and minerals. Some dogs are able to digest whole grains but for those who are sensitive or allergic, alternatives include sweet potatoes, beans, legumes, and oats. It also doesn’t hurt if the formula contains fresh fruits and vegetables as added sources of fiber and natural sources of key nutrients.

Fat provides a concentrated source of energy for dogs as well as essential fatty acids for skin and coat health. Animal sources like chicken fat and salmon oil are the most nutritious, but plant fats like canola oil and flaxseed are acceptable as well.

In addition to protein, carbohydrate, and fat, your dog’s food should be supplemented with vitamins and minerals for nutritional balance. Chelated minerals are minerals that have been chemically bound to protein molecules, increasing their absorption by your dog’s body. Dried fermentation products are probiotics and they too are an excellent addition.

As you start shopping around for a small-breed dog food, look for a product that meets all of these requirements. If the product is a small-breed specific dog food, it will probably have a higher fat content to meet your dog’s higher energy needs. You should also make sure that it comes in a smaller kibble size for your dog’s small mouth, there are plenty of great choices for affordable dog food, just make sure you pick the right one for your pet.

Tips for Feeding Small-Breed Dogs

Dogs love to eat, so your dog is likely to scarf down just about anything you put in front of him. While some dogs are good at regulating their own consumption, others are not. If your dog tends to overeat, you may need to portion out his meals to make sure he’s getting the calories he needs to sustain his metabolism without going overboard.

Why is it so important to watch how much your dog eats

Obesity is a very real concern for dogs, and especially for smaller breeds where an excess pound or two could be a significant percentage of the dog’s total body weight. Putting on weight is much easier than taking it off, so it’s better to maintain a healthy bodyweight and composition than to overfeed your dog and try to correct the mistake later.

When it comes to feeding small-breed dogs, it’s a good idea to calculate how much food he needs in a day and then divide it over three meals. To do so, simply take a look at the feeding recommendations on the bag of dog food and find the right amount based on your dog’s age and weight.

Follow those recommendations for a couple of weeks and keep an eye on your dog’s body weight and composition. If he starts to gain too much weight, scale it back a little. If he loses weight or appears to be low in energy, you may need to feed him a little more. When in doubt, your veterinarian can help you determine whether your dog is at a healthy weight.

Now that you understand your small-breed dog’s unique nutritional needs, you are equipped to go out and find a product to meet them. If you still need some help getting started, take a look at our top 10 picks – you might just find the perfect product!

When changing your dog’s food, monitor it regularly for at least a week until it gets used to it. You don’t want it to suffer from stomach pain, if that happens you should contact a vet immediately – he will most likely recommend you new food for your dog’s sensitive stomach.

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