What is the best dry food for puppies?

Raising a puppy is a lot of fun but also hard work. Puppies need lots of love and care. Part of that includes choosing the right diet for your pet.

Dry kibble is one of the most popular and convenient options, but it can be tricky to find the right one with so many brands to choose between. 

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy lean on bowl full of food

Here are some of the best dry dog foods for your puppy:

Top 5 Picks for Best Dry Dog Food for Puppies in 2021

  Dry Puppy Food Recipes Our Rating
Best Overall Dry Puppy Food (All Sizes) Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy

  • Grain-inclusive formula for superior growth of puppies of all sizes
  • Features real meat
  • Includes a precise blend of nutrients and antioxidant-rich ingredients
4.5
Best Budget Dry Puppy Food Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

  • Packed with DHA, calcium, and phosphorus,
  • Features plenty of protein from real chicken
  • Full of antioxidants and live probiotics 
4.5
Best Dry Puppy Foods for Small and Medium-Sized Breed Wellness Complete Health Dry Small Breed Puppy Food

  • Supreme dog food made from all-natural ingredients
  • Fortified with omega acids and antioxidants
  • Has no soy, wheat, or corn
4.5
Best Dry Puppy Foods for Large-Sized Breed Solid Gold Wolf Cub Dry Puppy

  • Made of high-quality protein from bison and fish meal
  • Has controlled levels of calcium for bone development 
  • Includes 20 superfoods for healthy nutrition
4.5
Best Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food Instinct Raw Boost Dry Puppy Food

  • High protein nutrition with freeze-dried pieces of raw food 
  • Features DHA for brain and eye development
  • Free from grains, potato, corn, wheat, and soy
4.5

15 Best Dry Dog Food Brands for Puppies by Sizes

While it’s always best to dry and choose a dog food that is specifically crafted for your puppy and their size, sometimes this simply isn’t possible due to restrictions on budget or availability.

Some foods are suitable for all life stages or pups of all sizes; just check the nutritional information before making a final decision. 

Best Dry Foods for Puppies (All sizes)

A Corgi puppy drinking water on bowl beside the food
A Corgi puppy drinking water on a bowl beside the food

Some puppy food has been formulated to work for dogs of all breed sizes.

These food options contain a well-balanced diet of protein, fat, and carbs, some of which are grain inclusive while others are grain-free.

1. Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Dry Puppy Formula 

Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Dry Puppy Formula

Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Dehydrated Chicken, Whole Spelt
Type: Dry

Natural and delicious dry dog food suitable for puppies of all sizes with the bulk of its protein from real chicken.

Contains 60% animal ingredients, 20% grains, and 20% fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. Also suitable for adult working, hunting, and herding dogs that require extra nutrition.

Pros:

  • GMO-free with no fillers or meat by-products

Cons:

  • Some dogs got a runny stool on this food
  • Some owners complained of a rancid smell

CHECK PRICE HERE

2. Go! Carnivore Dry Puppy Food

Go! Carnivore Dry Puppy Food

Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal
Type: Dry

A grain-free protein-packed diet featuring fresh chicken, turkey, trout, duck, and salmon. Full of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies to support a healthy immune system.

Features no meat by-products, artificial colors or preservatives, corn, wheat or soy.

Pros:

  • Contains DHA and EPA for brain and eye development

Cons:

  • Some pet owners said this food was too expensive compared to other similar products
  • Individual dogs refused to eat this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice
Type: Dry

Grain-inclusive formula for superior growth of puppies of all sizes. Ingredients feature real meat, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits offers growing puppies a precise blend of nutrients from a carefully selected package of antioxidant-rich ingredients.

Pros:

  • Fortified with calcium, phosphorus, and essential vitamins for healthy bones and teeth
  • Contains DHA and ARA for eye and brain development

Cons:

  • Some dogs had a loose stool and upset stomach on this diet

CHECK PRICE HERE

4. Orijen Puppy

ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Flounder
Type: Dry

Quality fat and protein-filled grain-free diet featuring 85% animal ingredients with free-range chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish and cage-free eggs.

Added flavor is provided by coating the kibble in freeze-dried liver. 

Pros:

  • First five ingredients are raw or fresh
  • Made in the USA using the most succulent ingredients for added nutrients

Cons:

  • Some dog owners complained of mold on the food
  • Some pet owners complained of an oily, fishy smell to this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

5. Chicken Soup for the Soul Puppy Food

Chicken Soup for the Soul Puppy Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Meal
Type: Dry

A quality growth recipe explicitly formulated for puppies with superfoods like apples, blueberries, and spinach which build immune health.

Made in the USA from real protein with no by-product meals, corn, wheat, or soy.

Pros:

  • Includes Omega 3 fatty acids and DHA for brain and eye development

Cons:

  • Some dog owners complained that the pieces were too small
  • Some dogs had diarrhea on this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

Best Dry Puppy Foods for Small and Medium-Sized Breed Puppies

A Siberian Husky puppy eating food on a ceramic bowl
A Siberian Husky puppy eating food on a ceramic bowl

Small breed owners are lucky because they have a greater variety of dog foods to choose from, as they don’t need to worry too much about calcium or calorie content.

As small dogs tend to have higher metabolisms, food with a high protein and fat content does well with these puppies.

6. Wellness Complete Health Dry Small Breed Puppy Food 

Wellness Complete Health Dry Small Breed Puppy Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal
Type: Dry

Supreme dry puppy food for small breeds offering well-balanced nutrition for controlled growth.

Features carefully chosen all-natural ingredients, including premium proteins and wholesome grains. Fortified with omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and probiotics.

Pros:

  • Crafted with a small kibble size for easy eating
  • Made in the USA using high-quality ingredients

Cons:

  • Unfortunately, some dogs just refused to eat this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

7. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Poultry By-product Meal
Type: Dry

Dry dog food packed with all the ingredients your dog needs to grow, including DHA, calcium, phosphorus, and plenty of protein.

This food also is full of antioxidants and live probiotics for developing a healthy digestive and immune system.

Pros:

  • Nutrient-dense size appropriate kibble for dogs under one-year-old

Cons:

  • Features poultry by-product meal as the third ingredient
  • Some pet owners complained the product was not consistent between bags

CHECK PRICE HERE

8. Nutro Ultra Dry Puppy Food

Nutro Ultra Dry Puppy Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Brown Rice
Type: Dry

An excellent grain-inclusive growth formula for small and medium-sized puppies up to the age of 12 months.

A well-thought-out mix of quality proteins, wholesome grains, healthy oils, and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. 

Pros:

  • Contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Holistic ingredients with optimal amino acid levels for building a healthy immune system

Cons:

  • Some dogs developed skin problems like dull coat and allergies

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9. Adirondack 30% Protein High Fat Recipe Dry Dog Food

Adirondack 30% Protein High Fat Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat
Type: Dry

Dry dog food that contains 30% protein and 20% fat to sustain the stamina, energy, and immunity of growing puppies.

Made in the USA in small batches using only the finest ingredients. This food is also slow-cooked to maintain all nutrients and flavor.

Pros:

  • Contains no artificial flavors, fillers, corn, wheat, soy, or potatoes
  • Full of omega three and six fatty acids from fish oil and flaxseed for healthy skin and coat

Cons:

  • One dog wouldn’t eat for a few days after trying this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

10. Instinct Raw Boost Dry Puppy Food

Instinct Raw Boost Dry Puppy Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas
Type: Dry

High protein nutrition which features freeze-dried pieces of raw food throughout that lets little puppies thrive.

Features cage-free chicken as the first ingredient for muscle growth and DHA for brain and eye development.

Pros:

  • Free from grains, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, and artificial colors and preservatives

Cons:

  • Costly product compared to other brands
  • Some pet owners complained the food was too mashed up

CHECK PRICE HERE

Best Dry Puppy Foods for Large-Sized Puppies

Young boxer dog chewing a bone dog food
A young boxer dog chewing an artificial bone food

Best Dry Puppy Foods for Large-Sized Puppies

Large breed puppies grow to dogs that weigh 50 pounds (23 kg) or more. Large breeds need carefully balanced nutrition that ensures they don’t grow too quickly in the first two years of their lives.

11. Solid Gold Wolf Cub Dry Puppy 

Solid Gold Wolf Cub Dry Puppy

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Bison, Ocean Fish Meal, Brown Rice
Type: Dry

All-life stages food made of high-quality protein from bison and fish meal. Has controlled levels of calcium for bone development and 20 superfoods for healthy nutrition.

Includes probiotic support for a healthy gut and nutritious whole grains.

Pros:

  • No corn, wheat, soy, or other common allergies
  • America’s first holistic pet food from a trusted brand

Cons:

  • Some pet owners complained the kibble size was too small for large breeds

CHECK PRICE HERE

12. Chicken Soup for the Soul Large Breed Puppy Dry Food 

Chicken Soup for the Soul Large Breed Dry Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Meal
Type: Dry

Featuring real chicken and turkey, and whole grains, this puppy food is formulated with safe calcium levels for growing large breed puppies.

Packed full of omega acids and DHA to support the healthy development of your dog. This food is also made in the USA.

Pros:

  • Free of by-products, corn, soy, or wheat
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health

Cons:

  • Some puppies simply refused to eat this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

13. Purina Pro Plan — Puppy Large Breed Chicken & Rice Formula with Probiotics Dry Dog Food 

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice with Probiotics

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal
Type: Dry

High-quality nourishment designed to build strong bones and muscle. Carefully designed for puppies that will reach over 50 pounds (23 kg) at adulthood.

Delivers plenty of lean protein in addition to DHA, omega-rich fish oils, and live probiotics.

Pros:

  • Provides essential building blocks needed by growing pups

Cons:

  • Some pet owners complained the formula has changed, and now their dogs won’t eat this food
  • Some dogs developed soft stools on this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

14. Purina ONE — SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina ONE SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy Formula

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Rice Flour, Soybean Meal
Type: Dry

Large and giant breed puppy food with wholesome ingredients, zero fillers, and real chicken as the first ingredient.

Made to be delicate on the stomach with highly digestible ingredients and antioxidants for a robust immune system. This food is recommended by vets.

Pros:

  • Includes natural sources of glucosamine for healthy joints, omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, and DHA for brain and vision
  • Crafted without artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Cons:

  • Some pet owners complained of mold on this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

15. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken Meal & Oat Recipe Dry Dog Food 

Hill's Science Diet Puppy Chicken Meal & Oat Recipe

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Oats
Type: Dry

Precise nutrition formulated for large breed puppies under the age of one. Includes wholesome ingredients such as whole grains and chicken for a well-balanced diet.

Contains controlled levels of calcium for optimal growth of larger breeds.

Pros:

  • Includes glucosamine and chondroitin for strong muscles and joint health
  • It contains immune system boosting antioxidants, as well as vitamin E and C

Cons:

  • Some pet owners complained their pets lost a lot of weight on this food

CHECK PRICE HERE

Complete Puppy Food Guide: How to choose the right dry food that’s right for your pup

A Cocker Spaniel puppy eating his favourite treat
A Cocker Spaniel puppy eating his favourite treat – Image source

Always look for high-quality dog food made from real, whole-foods, including lean animal protein, whole grain, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

The right food will ensure your pup leads a long, happy, healthy life.

Puppy Nutrition 101: What kind of dry food does your pup need?

No matter the type of dog, protein is the crucial thing you need to look for when choosing your dog’s food.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that puppies and lactating females consume a diet that contains at least 22% protein and 8% fat. 

This protein and fat content is higher than what you find in adult dog foods due to small pups’ growing needs. The developing bodies of puppies also require more calories than adult dogs. 

How’s the nutritional requirement of large breed pups different from small breed pups?

Small breed puppies have different nutritional needs than their large breed counterparts. This is because small breeds tend to reach adulthood and full maturation quicker than large breed dogs. 

Small breed puppies need plenty of calories to sustain their high energy levels and increased metabolic rate.

However, these dogs can’t eat that much in one go due to their small bodies and so need densely packed food with high levels of protein, calories, and fat.

Without this, small breeds can suffer from hypothermia as well as hypoglycemia.

On the other hand, dog food with too many calories and calcium can cause long-term damage in large breed puppies.

This is because dogs whose bones grow too quickly are at an increased risk of hip dysplasia.

Thus large breed puppy food will be formulated explicitly without excess calories, calcium, or Vitamin D to prevent your dog from growing too quickly. 

Is dry food a better option than wet food?

Dry food is often the go-to for pet owners because it’s more convenient, affordable, less messy, and has longer shelf life than wet food.

Dry food can also help maintain your dog’s dental health as the kibble helps clean your dog’s teeth.

That said, some kibbles can be difficult for small puppies to chew and it typically has higher carbohydrate content than wet food.

On the other hand, wet food contains more protein, fat, and water content.

It can be added as a topper to dry food to make it more flavorful, up the protein content, and make it easier for your dog to eat.

Mixing dry kibble with wet food can improve the nutritional value of your food and enhance the flavor and smell of your pet’s food.

Do puppies need grain-free dry puppy food?

Owners who prefer a grain-free diet say it’s more similar to what wolves or wild dogs would eat.

Grain-free diets can also be gentler on dogs with a sensitive stomach as some can develop allergies to grains.

That said, the FDA has linked grain-free diets to heart disease, and thus many vets prefer to recommend a limited-ingredient, single, whole-grain diet to pet owners rather than going completely grain-free.

Good examples of whole grains include lentils, brown rice, oats, and barley.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Adorable Maltipoo puppy looking at the delicious treat
An adorable Maltipoo puppy looking at the delicious treat – Image source

Do you still have some questions when it comes to finding the best puppy food? Have a look at our frequently asked questions section below to get some of your concerns answered.

How much dry food should you feed your puppy?

Feed your puppy according to a set feeding schedule.

Every dog breed comes in various shapes and sizes, so check the packaging’s feeding guide to determine precisely how much you should be giving your dog. 

The recommended daily amount should be broken down into equal portions of food at frequent intervals throughout the day.

When and how often should you feed dry food to your puppy?

Dietary requirements will depend on the breed and size of your dog. According to an ideal meal pattern, feeding dry food to your puppy in the first year should look like this:

  • 6 to 12 weeks old – Puppy food 4 to 6 times a day
  • 3 to 6 months old – Feed 3 to 4 times a day with puppy food
  • 6 to 12 months old – Decrease feeding to just twice daily and start introducing adult food for small and medium-sized breeds
  • 12 to 16 months – Feed twice a day and introduce adult food for all breeds

Try and serve your puppy’s meals at the same time every day – morning, noon, and evening.

Ensure there is enough time between meals to allow for adequate digestion but not too long that your puppy can’t sustain its energy levels.

When should you switch your puppy to adult dry dog food?

As your pup grows, not only will you reduce the feeding frequency, but you’ll also need to transition your dog from puppy food to adult food.

Puppies can be switched to adult dog food when they have reached 80% of their adult size.

For small breed puppies, this happens around the age of 9 to 10 months. However, this is much later, at around 12 to 16 months for large breeds.

Can you use dry homemade puppy food for your new pet? 

Puppies have particular dietary requirements, so making homemade food can be tricky.

Dog food has been specifically designed to develop well-balanced nutrition for your dog, so getting these ratios right with your own puppy recipe can be difficult, if not impossible.

That said, leftovers like unspiced minced meat, lean chicken, and deboned fish can add a tasty protein-rich treat to your dog’s diet. Boiled eggs are also a super healthy addition.

What about puppy treats?

Treats are essential during training. But you should choose healthy snacks for your pup.

Certain fruits and vegetables can make delicious treats for your dogs, such as blueberries, carrots, sweet potato, and even bananas.

A good ratio of food to treats is 90% dog food to 10% treats, considering any treats when calculating your dog’s daily caloric intake.

Several well-known dog food brands, such as Pedigree, Royal Canin, and Merrick, also make dog treats.

Giving your dogs these are a much better idea than opting for table scraps, which can lead to the development of bad behavior.

What puppy dry food do most vets recommend? 

A Pug puppy excited to his mango snacks
A Pug puppy excited to his mango snacks – Image source

What puppy dry food do most vets recommend? 

Before introducing any new food to your dog, it’s always a good idea to first talk to your vet to determine the best dog food for your puppy’s breed, health problems, weight, and lifestyle. 

It’s your job to figure out your puppy’s specific requirements and select the right dog food for him.

Whether that’s one of our top choices from Blue Buffalo, Wellness or Instinct, or another brand entirely like Iams, Taste of the Wild, or Pacific Stream. 

Have a dry puppy food that you absolutely love? Please let us know in the comments below.

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