What is the Best Dog Food for Small Dog Breeds?

If you’re searching for dog food for small dogs, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve searched for the best dog foods in the U.S and written honest, practical reviews for each of them in this post. 

a Doxie licking its face while grazing at a full dog bowl
A hungry Dachshund ready to devour its food

We’ve reviewed recipes from the country’s top dog food brands, all for small breed dogs.

Small breed dogs are 12 to 17 inches (30.5 to 43 cm) tall and weigh 10 to 30 pounds (5 to 14 kg), like Chihuahuas and Dachshunds.

Top 5 picks for the best food for small breed adult dogs in 2021

If you’re in a hurry, you can take your pick from the best options in the respective categories below. These are the most popular and nutritious recipes on the market, including wet and dry options. 

  Dog Food for Small Breed Adult Dogs Our Rating
Best Overall Small Breed Adult Dog Food Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Recipe

  • Made of high-quality and essential proteins for healthy muscle development
  • Contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy coat and skin
  • Promotes mobility and joint health with its glucosamine
5
 

Best Budget Small Breed Adult Dog Food

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Adult Dog Food

  • Has no soy, wheat, corn, lentils, peas, or potatoes
  • High-fiber recipe to aid digestion
  • Made with chondroitin and glucosamine to support joint and hip function
 

4.5

 

Best Dry Food for Small Breed Adult Dogs

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Chicken & Rice Recipe

  • Includes wholesome essentials rich in fatty acids
  • Promotes digestive health from beneficial bacteria provided by K9 Strain probiotic blend
  • A balanced and complete holistic diet for tiny doggos
5
Best Wet Food for Small Breed Adult Dogs Instinct Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food

  • The first animal protein source is cage-free chicken for lean, strong muscles
  • Has no artificial preservatives or colors, by-product meal, soy, wheat, corn, potato, or any grains
  • Includes omega fatty acids for healthier coat and skin
 

4.5

 

Best Grain-Free Food for Small Breed Adult Dogs

Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Red Lentils Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

  • Contains essential amino acids, miscanthus grass, and L-Carnitine 
  • High-protein but with low carbohydrates
  • Small kibble sizes that are gluten-free and grain-free
4.6

If none of these options appeal to you, you can try the Wellness Core Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey Recipe or the Nutro Natural Choice Small Breed Adult Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe.

Best dog food for small breed adult dogs

Below, we’ll cover the best dog food for your small breed adult dog.

You’ll find options for the best overall dog food, as well as the best value-for-money recipe that takes care of your pup’s nutritional needs. We’ll also cover grain-free options, dry and wet dog foods. 

If you’re wondering how pet food is made, you can check out the video below: 

Best dry dog food for small adult dogs

Below are six fantastic recipes if you’re in the market for dry dog food. We’ve included some grain-free options for dogs with sensitive stomachs, too.

These recipes come from some of the most popular and reputable brands around. 

a fluffy Shih Tzu waiting to eat his food
Meet Simba, a lovable Shih Tzu with his food in a heart shape – Image source

1. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Recipe

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Venison, Lamb Meal, Garbanzo Beans
Type: Dry

Formulated for toy and small breeds, this recipe is made of ocean fish proteins, duck, egg, lamb, and venison for optimum nutrition.

It’s also grain-free and has prebiotic fiber and probiotics for healthier digestion.

Pros:

  • Includes antioxidants and essential fatty acids for coat health from superfoods like fruits and veggies
  • Help support lean muscles, as well as joint and bone health
  • Grain-free recipe that also has no corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

Cons:

  • Contains egg which some dogs are allergic to
  • A few owners said their pets didn’t like this formula, while one thought the kibble was too hard for their small dog

CHECK PRICE HERE

2. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Adult Dog Food

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

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

If your pup has no issues with poultry and grains, this dry kibble is an excellent choice.

Little dogs will get their balanced and complete diet, as well as a shiny coat and healthy skin from high levels of omega fatty acids. It also helps build lean muscles.

Pros:

  • Has no soy, wheat, corn, lentils, peas, or potatoes
  • High-fiber recipe to aid digestion
  • Made with chondroitin and glucosamine to support joint and hip function

Cons:

  • Picky eaters aren’t a fan of this dry dog food

CHECK PRICE HERE

3. Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Red Lentils Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Red Lentils Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal
Type: Dry

With 84% real meat protein sources like lamb, turkey, and salmon, this dog food is formulated to support small canine’s special nutritional needs and higher metabolism. 

Pros:

  • Contains essential amino acids, miscanthus grass, and L-Carnitine 
  • High-protein but with low carbohydrates
  • Small kibble sizes that are gluten-free and grain-free

Cons:

  • Some dogs prefer the wet dog food of Nulo, like lamb or beef

CHECK PRICE HERE

4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Recipe

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 5
Top ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice
Type: Dry

Blue Buffalo crafted this diet for small breed adult dogs with their famous LifeSource Bits – a blend of nutrients enhanced with ingredients that are rich in antioxidants or Super 7 package.

It’s formulated without any soy, corn, wheat, and poultry, or chicken by-product meals.

Pros:

  • Made of high-quality and essential proteins for healthy muscle development
  • Contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for healthy coat and skin
  • Promotes mobility and joint health with its glucosamine

Cons:

  • Some doggos don’t like this particular diet or flavor

CHECK PRICE HERE

5. Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Adult Dog Food

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Adult Turkey & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Salmon Meal
Type: Dry

Although it has a small kibble size, this dry dog food doesn’t skimp on nutrition.

It’s packed with taurine, probiotics, glucosamine, antioxidants, omega fatty acids, whole grains, and premium proteins.

It promotes whole-body health, healthy coat, and skin, optimizes energy levels, and encourages a strong immune system.

Pros:

  • Made without artificial preservatives, filler, meat by-products, or GMOs
  • Healthy and balanced dry kibbles for small and toy breeds
  • Supports healthy gums, teeth, and eyes with its calcium and vitamin A

Cons:

  • An owner said their dog developed rashes while on this diet, while another said it made their pet sick

CHECK PRICE HERE

6. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Chicken & Rice Recipe

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

Our rating: 5
Top ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley
Type: Dry

Popular with dog owners, this Diamond Naturals recipe has an abundance of healthy ingredients. Chia seeds, coconut, and flaxseed provide omega fatty acids for a healthy coat.

It also contains phytonutrients that will help boost your dog’s immune system. And while there are grains in the recipe, this dry dog food has no wheat, corn, or fillers.

Pros:

  • Includes wholesome essentials rich in fatty acids
  • Promotes digestive health from beneficial bacteria provided by K9 Strain probiotic blend
  • A balanced and complete holistic diet for tiny doggos

Cons:

  • Some fidos refuse to eat this formula

CHECK PRICE HERE

Best wet dog food for small adult dogs

a French Bulldog sitting with remnants of lunch
Meet Henry, a satisfied Frenchie showing his proud mess – Image source

If your furry friend prefers wet dog food, we’ve got you covered with six top-tier choices below. There are recipes with and without grain to give you plenty to choose from, all from trustworthy dog food brands.

1. Halo Grain-Free Small Breed Canned Dog Food

Halo Chicken & Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Small Breed Canned Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver
Type: Wet

Combining salmon and whole chicken, your small dog will love this tasty, meaty food that has no meat meals and artificial ingredients for easier digestion.

If your dog isn’t allergic to eggs, this is a great choice for a grain-free recipe.

Pros:

  • Non-GMO ingredients
  • Packed with protein and antioxidants to nourish small canines
  • Has healthy fats like salmon oil

Cons:

  • Only 9.5% of protein
  • There are dog owners who complained about how the wet food smelled

CHECK PRICE HERE

2. Purina Bella Small Breed Wet Dog Food Trays

Purina Bella Chicken & Smoked Bacon Flavors Small Breed Wet Dog Food Trays

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Meat By-products, Chicken, Water
Type: Wet – Pate

With smoked bacon flavors and real chicken, your pup will love this meaty wet food. The recipe is full of antioxidants for metabolic health, and it’s super juicy, making it a delicious meal for any canine.

Pros:

  • Supports strong muscles and higher metabolism
  • Easy-to-chew texture and easy-to-serve trays
  • High-protein and nutrient-dense recipe

Cons:

  • Not all picky eaters are pleased with this recipe
  • Contains by-products that some owners try to avoid

CHECK PRICE HERE

3. Solid Gold Leaping Waters Chicken & Salmon Recipe with Vegetable Recipe

Solid Gold Leaping Waters Chicken & Salmon Recipe with Vegetable Recipe Grain-Free Small & Medium Breed Canned

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Chickpeas
Type: Wet – Pate

For canines with sensitive stomachs, this wet dog food that’s gluten-free and grain-free might be worth the shot. It’s a holistic diet suitable for adult dogs and puppies from small- to medium-sized breeds.

Pros:

  • A highly palatable dish that most picky eaters enjoy
  • Crafted without any soy, wheat, corn, and by-product meal
  • Source of fiber are wholesome veggies to promote proper digestion

Cons:

  • As per the reviews, owners wished it was a pack of 12 cans and not 6

CHECK PRICE HERE

4. Instinct Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food

Instinct Original Grain-Free Real Chicken Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Chicken Broth
Type: Wet – Pate

Pet parents with a multiple-pet household, this option is for you. It’s dog food for breeds of all sizes that’s free of grains and gluten.

With this brand’s belief in raw, natural ingredients, they want to ensure that our pets get balanced nutrition.

Pros:

  • The first animal protein source is cage-free chicken for lean, strong muscles
  • Has no artificial preservatives or colors, by-product meal, soy, wheat, corn, potato, or any grains
  • Includes omega fatty acids for healthier coat and skin

Cons:

  • One owner said they prefer the old formula

CHECK PRICE HERE

5. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Lamb Dinner Small Breed Wet Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Small Breed Lamb Dinner Canned Dog Food

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Broth, Lamb Liver
Type: Wet – Pate

This Blue Buffalo recipe includes high-quality protein sources for healthy muscle mass. It’s loaded with veggies and fruits, which add a well-balanced blend of nutrients and antioxidants to their meals.

Pros:

  • Crafted with a careful balance of carbs and protein together with wholesome ingredients
  • No preservatives, artificial flavors, soy, corn, wheat, and by-product meals
  • Contains 24 cans

Cons:

  • An owner said their pet prefer a different flavor
  • Has grains that may not agree with your dog’s diet

CHECK PRICE HERE

6. Purina Bella with Beef & Smoked Bacon in Savory Juices Wet Dog Food Trays

Purina Bella with Beef & Smoked Bacon in Savory Juices Small Breed Wet Dog Food Trays

Our rating: 4.5
Top ingredients: Meat By-products, Water, Chicken
Type: Wet – Pate

The Purina Bella single-serving trays are a practical choice for portion control and easy feeding time.

The bacon flavors come from real smoked bacon, and this recipe is loaded with minerals, vitamins, muscle-nourishing protein, and immune-boosting antioxidants.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-open trays and can be used as a meal topper for kibbles
  • High-protein diet for active little doggos with higher metabolisms
  • Made in the USA

Cons:

  • Many picky eaters didn’t like this recipe

CHECK PRICE HERE

Buying and feeding guide: Best dog food for small breeds 

Pomeranian Spitz dog licking lips after a yummy meal
A Pomeranian Spitz enjoying its meal

A well-balanced diet will help prevent disease, increase your dog’s lifespan, and manage your dog’s weight and blood sugar.

Other benefits include a healthy and shiny coat, proper sleep, and good digestive health.

How to choose the best dog food for small breeds

Many dog owners opt for commercial dog food to take out the guesswork of providing their pets with the proper diet.

To find the best commercial food, you must read the labels. Look for the life stage indicated on the label. This will tell you if the recipe is ideal for puppy food or adult or senior dogs.

Look out for statements like “complete and balanced,” as well. Make sure you read the list of ingredients to check for allergens your dog is sensitive to.

Some dogs are picky eaters, so look out for grains, which many are sensitive to.

If your dog has digestive trouble, look out for foods that are high in fiber. Make sure you follow the exact serving size according to your dog’s weight, too.

Small breed dogs need quality ingredients and a small kibble size to suit their tiny jaws.

Some small and toy breeds are prone to hypoglycemia. If your dog suffers from this condition, consult your veterinarian about the proper diet.

To keep your dog from developing hypoglycemia and other health issues, stick to nutrient-dense foods and break up feeding into multiple meals throughout the day.

When it comes to commercial dog foods, don’t focus on the cheap stuff. Affordable options can be nutritious, but in general, you get what you pay for.

Nutrition 101: What kind of food do small breed adult dogs need?

Like humans, dogs need a range of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats. Smaller breeds need more calories per pound than larger breeds.

They have higher metabolic rates, which means they can handle more fat and protein content.

Small breed dog foods are formulated to their caloric needs, which is why it’s vital to stick to size-specific foods. Standard and large-breed dog foods will have different nutrient profiles.

What to look for in a small breed adult dog food: What should small breed adult dogs eat?

a Frenchie puppy munching carrots in a couch
Meet Mr. Wigglebutt, a Frenchie puppy loving his veggie – Image source

There is no catch-all rule to feeding canines. Every dog is different, but there are some ingredients out there that offer excellent sources of healthy nutrients.

Small dogs can eat eggs, which are a great source of protein, as long as they are not allergic. Sweet potatoes are also a digestible source of carbs. Look out for whole meat ingredients, too.

Avoid the following ingredients as these pose serious health risks to your pet:

  1. Propylene glycol 
  2. Generic “meat”
  3. BHA
  4. BHT
  5. TBHQ
  6. Ethoxyquin
  7. Menadione
  8. Artificial dyes 

Which type of dog food is best for your small breed adult dog?

Small breed dogs can eat wet, semi-moist, or dry dog foods. While wet foods often contain fewer preservatives, this isn’t always the case.

The best approach is to read dog food labels to determine if it’s the right fit.

On the other hand, dry kibbles are more available, affordable, and help remove plaque to promote good dental health.

You can consult your vet, but the main priority of most owners is that it’s suitable for their pet’s age, size or body weight, and energy levels.

With or without grains: Do small breed adult dogs need grain-free dog food?

Unless your dog has sensitivities and a vet recommends grain-free dog food, then diets with grains are okay. 

Grains can be difficult to digest if your dog has a fussy stomach.

One of the benefits of grain-free foods is that they often have higher fat and protein content, which can help manage your dog’s weight and prevent obesity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

a Chihuahua standing near pink bowl after finishing breakfast
Meet Tiffany, a fawn Chihuahua enjoying her breakfast – Image source

How much food should you feed your small breed adult dog?

Small breed dogs need one cup of dry dog food a day, in general. However, each dog is different.

A better approach is to stick to the portion sizes recommended by your dog food label and to consult your veterinarian about the appropriate diet.

Small dogs can suffer from obesity if overfed, leading to type 2 diabetes, cancer, blood sugar problems, and osteoarthritis.

So, make sure you stick to a regular feeding schedule and avoid free feeding. This will help manage the weight of your dog.

When and how often should you feed your small breed adult dog?

It’s best to feed your adult dog twice a day. You can take the portion size on the label and divide your fido’s meal into two. Most owners feed their dogs once in the morning and once in the evening.

Should small dogs eat only small-size kibble? 

As mentioned, smaller dogs do better with smaller kibble because they have smaller mouths and jaws, making chewing large kibble difficult.

What’s the healthiest dog food for small breed adult dogs?

If you’re looking for the right dog food for a specific circumstance, our recommendations will help. They all offer benefits for our dogs, but your choice should still depend on what your dog needs.

What’s the best food for small adult dogs with sensitive stomachs?

For picky eaters, we recommend the Solid Gold Mighty Mini Chicken Recipe.

The lack of grains and gluten makes it easy to digest, as well as limited-ingredient diets. Fussy eaters generally thrive better with fewer ingredients.

What are the best foods for the skin and coat of small breed adult dogs?

For a healthy coat and healthy skin, we recommend the Diamond Naturals Small Breed Chicken and Rice. It’s got 2.8% omega-6 fatty acids and 0.3% omega-3, perfect for promoting a shiny coat.

What’s the safest way to switch your small dog to different dog food?

Dogs have an acute sensitivity to diet changes. So, make sure you ease into new diets slowly over time.

You can mix 20% of the old food with 80% of the new food. Then, increase the amount of new food gradually for 10 to 14 days.

Generally, you can switch senior dog food when your dog is over seven, as long as he is not overweight.

Senior dog foods sometimes have higher protein levels, so make sure you consult with a vet before making the change.

Can you give homemade dog food for your small breed adult dog?

Homemade gourmet dog food in a plate
A portion of healthy homemade dog food – Image source

Dogs can eat homemade food, and small breed dogs are no exception.

However, it’s a huge undertaking to match your dog’s exact dietary requirements when making home-cooked meals. This is why many owners opt for commercial dog food instead. 

If you’re looking for homemade dog food ideas, we found a recipe you can try on your small breed. Take a look at the recipe below, and take note, this one includes grain and eggs. 

Ingredients:

3 quarter cups of grated sweet potato, broccoli, zucchini, and carrots
2 lbs of lean ground beef
1 1/2 cups of oatmeal
2 eggs
1/2 cup of cottage cheese
A handful of ground flax seeds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F°. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Lightly butter two meatloaf pans and place ingredients in the pans. Bake in the oven for 20 – 24 minutes.
  3. Once cool, section the loaf into 24 portions. Place wax paper in between each piece, put them in a zip lock bag, and store them in the freezer.

This meal should last a month in the freezer. You can take individual pieces out to thaw when needed.

Why is my small breed puppy always hungry? 

If you’re wondering why your small or toy dog seems hungry all the time, this is because of the higher metabolic rates of small breed dogs. They burn energy faster, which means they get hungry more often.

Can I feed my small breed adult dog table scraps?

Small breed dogs can eat table scraps as long as you avoid foods your dog is allergic to. Make sure you read up on which human foods dogs can and can’t eat as well. 

What’s the best dog food for small breeds? 

Kindly use the existing image owner-feeding-her-beagle-dog.jpg

This post covered the best dog foods out there for small breed dogs, including options with and without grain. As discussed, there’s a lot to consider before choosing dog food for our furry friends.

If you’re on a budget, try the Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Adult Dog Food.

It’s affordable and high in fiber to help with digestion. It’s also got high levels of chondroitin and glucosamine compared to other foods in this list.

We recommend Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Red Lentils Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food for canines with fussy tummies. It’s also one of the few foods on this list without gluten.

If you’ve got any questions about the right dog food, drop a comment below! We love hearing from fellow dog owners.

Talk to your vet before choosing any new food for your dog

Before choosing any new pet food, make sure you consult your veterinarian.

For small breed adult dogs, One of the brands that many vets recommend is the Hill’s Science Diet dog food to help with weight management.

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