Have you recently welcomed a new puppy into your home? Small breed dogs like Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers, and Dachshunds can bring endless hours of joy to your home.
Having a new puppy means that there is lots to learn, including what to feed your dog.
With so many options, it can be challenging to pick the best. Here are some of our top choices of small breed puppy food:
Top 5 Picks for Best Dog Food for Small Breed Puppies
|Small Breed Puppy Food||Our Rating|
|Best Overall Small Breed Puppy Food||Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Puppy
|Best Budget Small Breed Puppy Food||Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy
|Best Dry Small Breed Puppy Food||Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy
|Best Wet Small Breed Puppy Food||Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Small Breed Duck Dinner
|Best Grain-FreeSmall Breed Puppy Food||Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Puppy
Best Small Breed Puppy Food Brands
Although small breed puppies can eat any brand of dog food crafted for puppies, food that is made specifically for their tiny bodies will be a better choice.
These foods provide your growing pup with a well-balanced diet that caters towards their specific nutritional needs, with a smaller kibble that is easier for them to eat.
Best Dry Foods for Small Breed Puppies
While there are so many brands to choose from when it comes to dry puppy food, including the likes of Hill’s Science Diet, Royal Canin, Taste of the Wild, and Purina.
Below are our favorites because of their high-quality ingredients and specific recipes that are formulated to be perfect for small breed puppies.
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Puppy
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal
Grain inclusive growth formula designed for puppies with 32% protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal.
This well-known reputable brand is known for packing its food full of whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.
The food also includes added LifeSource Bits which is a Super 7 package of antioxidant-rich ingredients.
- Includes calcium, phosphorus, and essential vitamins for healthy bones and teeth
- Has DHA and ARA for brain and eye development
- Some pet owners complained of a foul smell and that their dogs wouldn’t eat it
2. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground White Rice
An affordable dry dog food option for small breed puppies that contains 36% protein from fresh cage-free chicken and chicken meal.
Available in several sizes, this dog food includes superfoods and guaranteed probiotics to support overall health.
It is formulated from real fruits and veggies, including kale, blueberries, pumpkin, and oranges.
- Packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
- Nutrient-rich digestible puppy recipe with probiotics for digestive health and DHA for brain development
- Some pet owners complained that the kibble was too big for their small breed puppy
3. Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Puppy
Top Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal
All-natural dry dog food specially formulated for small breed puppies with a small kibble size.
This food is designed to provide your growing pup with full-body nutrition from premium proteins and wholesome grains.
It is also fortified with everything a growing pup needs, including Omega fatty acids, DHA, antioxidants, and probiotics.
- Free from meat by-products, unnecessary fillers, and artificial preservatives
- Made in the USA using wholesome ingredients primarily sourced from North America
- The kibble size may be too large for very young small breed puppies
4. Now Fresh Grain-Free Small Breed Puppy
Top Ingredients: De-Boned Turkey, Whole Dried Egg, Peas
Growth formula for small breed puppies with fresh turkey as the primary ingredient and salmon and duck as extra proteins.
The recipe includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from coconut and canola.
It is packed with wholesome fruit and veggies such as blackberries, peas, cranberries, spinach, pumpkin, kelp, lentils, and carrots.
- Contains no common allergens like grain, gluten, beef, soy, corn, meat by-products, or artificial preservatives
- Includes DHA and EPA for brain development
- Some dogs just would not touch this food
5. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Chicken Formula
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Barley
Dog food made with puppies under one year old in mind, including tasty chicken as the primary ingredient and featuring 30% protein.
Includes calcium for healthy bones and teeth, omega fatty acids for brain and eye development, and antioxidants for a healthy immune system.
- Free of any GMO ingredients, including corn, wheat, or soy.
- This dog food is only available in a 5 or 15-pound bag
- Some dog owners thought the kibble was too big for their small breed pup
6. Iams Proactive Health Smart Puppy Small Breed
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal
Grain-inclusive growth formula for small dogs featuring real farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient.
The recipe features 22 key components your new puppy would get from their mother’s milk, including DHA for brain development. This dog food features a fat to protein ratio of 60%.
- A high-quality recipe specifically formulated for the growing needs of small dogs with nutrient-rich ingredients like beet pulp, fish oil, and dried egg
- Some picky pups simply refused to eat this food
- One dog owner complained their dog was bloated and gassy on this food with diarrhea
Best Wet Foods for Small Breed Puppies
For those who prefer wet or canned dog food, there are numerous options available. These typically come in multipacks with smaller individual servings that are sized specifically for small breed dogs.
1. Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Lamb & Sweet Potato Small Breed & Puppy Canned Food
Top Ingredients: Lamb, Turkey, Lamb Broth
Canned dog food served in smaller portions for little breeds. This grain and the gluten-free low-glycemic recipe are perfect for balancing the sugar levels of high-energy breeds.
It’s made with high-quality ingredients such as lamb and turkey, which support lean muscle mass.
- Contains fiber for digestive health and L-carnitine for the metabolism of fats
- Features no corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors
- Some dogs just didn’t like the taste of this food
2. Solid Gold Mighty Mini Grain-Free Small & Toy Breed Wet Food
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Water Sufficient For Processing
Canned dog food made in the USA, with chicken being the primary protein.
Pumpkin, chickpeas, and carrots provide healthy nutrients in this gluten-free recipe free of any filler ingredients. This food is made for small dogs of all life stages.
- Packed with omega fatty acids from ocean fish meal and nutritious superfoods
- Caused a sensitive stomach and diarrhea in some dogs
- Some dogs just didn’t want to eat this food
3. Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Pint-Sized Puppy Plate
Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Broth, Turkey Broth
Grain and gluten-free wet dog food made for pint-sized pups with a healthy blend of fruits, vegetables, and deboned meat.
Offers growing puppies balanced nutrition with prebiotics, probiotics, and essential minerals.
- Features high levels of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
- Has a strong smell that seemed to put off some dogs
4. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Small Breed Duck Dinner
Top Ingredients: Duck, Chicken Broth, Chicken
Budget-friendly, quality wet dog food featuring duck as the main ingredient and other proteins, including chicken and salmon.
This wholesome recipe is grain-free and features no corn, wheat, soy, by-products, artificial colors, or preservatives.
- Natural recipe with plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Some pet owners said it helped their pets overcome digestive issues
- Gave some dogs diarrhea
The Best Small Breed Puppy Foods Buyer’s Guide
Always be sure to feed your puppy a high-quality diet made from wholesome, natural ingredients.
Small Breed Puppy Nutrient Needs: What kind of food does your small breed pup need?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) provides basic standards that food manufacturers need to follow when making dog food.
However, there are no specific canine nutrition standards specifically for small or medium-sized pups. That means every food manufacturer is free to create its own recipe.
The AAFCO nutrient profiles do, however, state-specific nutrient profiles for all life stages or growth.
The growth profiles suitable for puppies include above-average protein levels of 22%, good fat to protein levels, and moderate levels of carbs.
The protein and fat content is higher than adult dog food due to the increased caloric requirement of small puppies.
Also, small breed puppies have different nutritional needs than large breed dogs.
They reach maturation much quicker than larger breeds, and as a result, it isn’t as necessary to watch for too much calcium in their diet, which can lead to joint issues.
Small dog owners, however, do need to be mindful of the calorie expenditure of their puppy.
This is because these dogs have high energy levels and an increased metabolic rate.
If these dogs do not get sufficient calories throughout the day, this can cause their blood sugar levels to drop, leading to a condition known as hypoglycemia.
Things to look for when selecting a puppy food: What should small breed puppies eat?
Protein helps to support muscle growth and development, while fat provides a concentrated source of calories while allowing your dog to absorb vitamins.
Carbohydrates, on the other hand, can provide essential nutrients and provide fiber to your dog’s diet.
Protein should come from real meats like real chicken, duck, or turkey, while meat meals like a salmon meal or lamb meal.
Fats can also come from whole meat sources like fatty fish and chicken fat while other oily sources like coconut, flaxseed, or fish oil provide essential omega fatty acids and amino acids for building a healthy immune system.
You will want to look for a food that doesn’t have cancer-causing coloring agents, chemical preservatives, or generic meat by-product ingredients.
Wet, Semi-Moist, or Dry? Which food Is best for your small breed pup?
Wet food can be easier for small mouths to chew and swallow.
Also, many picky eaters tend to prefer wet dog food. Wet food also has higher water, fat, and protein content, which can be both a good and a bad thing, depending on your pet’s health requirements.
While dry kibble can be more difficult for small breed puppies to eat, it is less messy, more affordable, and has a longer shelf life than canned dog food.
Dry dog food can also help maintain your dog’s dental health as it helps build healthy teeth and removes the buildup of tartar.
To grain or not to grain: Do small breed puppies need grain-free food?
Some dog owners opt for grain-free dog food for their pup, saying it is closer to what their pet would eat in the wild. Also, some dogs are allergic to grain and gluten and so cannot eat grain-inclusive recipes.
That said, the FDA has linked grain-free diets to potential heart problems in dogs.
Many vets prefer a single grain or limited ingredient diet for dogs with allergies rather than avoiding grain altogether.
Whole grains, such as brown rice or barley, are a good option when looking at food for your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I know if my puppy is a small breed?
Small breed puppies will weigh less than 20 pounds (9 kg) when they are fully grown. On the other hand, medium breed puppies grow up to weigh between 20 pounds (9 kg) and 50 pounds (23 kg) as adults.
How much should you feed a small breed puppy?
Not all dog food is the same, with a different number of calories per cup, so it’s essential to consult the recommended feeding allowance on your dog food bag before setting a daily schedule.
Due to the tiny stomachs of small breeds, your puppy won’t be able to eat as much food in one go as a large breed puppy. That is why little breed food needs to be packed full of calories and protein.
Also, smaller dogs need to be fed more frequently than larger dogs. Your little breed puppy can eat between three or four meals a day, or possibly, even more, when they are very young.
When should I switch my puppy to adult dog food?
Be careful not to switch your puppy over too early to adult dog foods as they need the supplements and high protein and fat content of puppy formulas to support their developmental needs.
The best time to transition from puppy to adult food will significantly depend on your dog’s breed type.
However, with small breeds, this is typically around 9 and 12 months when they are making a move from puppyhood to their adult life stage. At this time, your dog reaches about 80% of its adult size.
Talk to your vet before choosing any new food for your dog
While you could simply opt for dog food that meets the bare minimum standard set out by AAFCO for puppies, doesn’t your dog deserve more than that?
While the AAFCO label will help you weed out the lousy dog foods from the good, it isn’t a stamp of high-quality ingredients or a mark of the best puppy food.
You will need to research your pet food’s a bit more before you make a final decision.
It’s always advisable to talk to your vet before making a final decision on your dog’s best food.
Your vet will be able to provide you with sound advice related to your dog’s breed, size, body weight, and potential health problems.
Do you have a favorite for small breed pups? Let us know in the comments below.