The Best Dog Food for Small Breed Puppies in 2019

If you are an owner of a small breed puppy, you probably agree that finding the best dog food for small breed puppies is a heck of a challenge.
It is really so unless you have a decent feeding guide to help you.

Look no further, because you’ve already found one. In this article, we will give you some useful tips on the best food for small breeds so your four-legged fluffy friend stays happy, healthy, and well-nourished.

Ingredients to Look For

Natural preservatives or no preservatives at all
Healthy dog food for small dogs should only contain natural preservatives (or preferably none). Some artificial preservatives, such as Ethoxyquin, have been linked to bad health conditions in dogs such as allergic reactions, skin problems, cancer, and more. Even if it’s specifically puppy food for small breeds, avoid it if it has harmful preservatives.

Whole meat (“Human Grade”)
Puppy food labelled as “human-grade” is dog food manufactured according to the standards human food is manufactured. In other words, the ingredients used are safe for humans and the food was manufactured in a GMP-certified facility. While humans probably shouldn’t eat “human grade” dog food, having this stamp means it’s probably the best food for small dogs over food that doesn’t have it.

Whole grains
Dogs are omnivores who favor meat, but still need other food groups to balance out their diets. Carbohydrates are important for dogs for the same reason they are important for humans – carbs equal energy. Dogs’ bodies also metabolize carbs for a source of heat. Whole grains are the healthiest carbs so make sure your small puppy’s food consists of mostly whole grains, not refined grains.

The Best Dog Food for Small Breed Puppies

Identifiable Animal-based Proteins
Animal-based proteins are more valuable to a puppy’s health than plant-based proteins because they provide the correct amino acids puppies need to thrive. The healthiest small breed dog food has identifiable animal-protein sources such as chicken or beef as one of the first ingredients, even in dry puppy food. It canbe in the form of by-products which are perfectly acceptable.

Fats From a Clearly Labelled Source
Unlike humans, puppies need a diet high in fats. Fats provide puppies with almost twice the energy as carbohydrates. With small breed puppies, they need fats since their metabolic rate is higher than large breed dogs. The healthiest dog food for small dogs should have high-quality animal-fat or plant-fat sources listed in the ingredients list. Fats like lard or tallow, however, is not healthy for your puppy[5].

Fruits and vegetables
Your puppy can eat certain fruits and vegetables. While fruits and vegetables aren’t the most important ingredients in your puppy’s food, many dog food advisors recommend choosing a puppy food that has fruit and vegetables listed as an ingredient. Fruit and vegetables provide antioxidants for your puppy and are an extra source of water, especially in hot weather.

The Best Dog Food for Small Breed Puppies

Amino acids
Your small breed puppy will get his/her amino acids in the form of animal fats. Out of the 22 amino acids your puppy needs, ten of them have to come from food. If your puppy is missing even one amino acid, none of them will work properly since they all work in a chain-reaction process. Ensuring the primary ingredient in your puppy’s food is meat will ensure your puppy gets all the amino acids he/she needs. If you’re wondering how long to feed your dog puppy food so they benefit from amino acids, don’t worry, because even adult dog food provides the amino acids your dog needs.

Chelated Minerals
Chelated minerals are minerals that are attached to an organic substance to make it easy for your puppy to digest. You can recognize a chelated mineral by its name. It will be the mineral followed by an organic compound that ends in -ate or -ide (ex. Zinc proteinate). A best small breed puppy food will have chelated minerals.

Feeding Requirements of Dog Food for Small Dogs

The Best Dog Food for Small Breed Puppies

Nutritional Requirements
0-8 weeks
Newborn puppies need to feed on their mother’s milk for the first month of their life which is the most nutritious puppy food at that time. After that, begin weaning them, giving them extra snacks until they are fully weaned.
9 weeks-9 months
Here is where you will start using the best dog food for 3 month old puppies and up. The amount you feed your puppy may vary depending on the type and brand of food you feed him/her. In general, you should feed your small breed puppy 3 to 4 times per day.


Breakfast: 6am
Lunch: 11am
Midday Meal: 2pm
Dinner: 6pm
For some small breeds, you could offer a light snack around 10pm.
After 9 months
Small breed dogs often reach adult size by 9 to 10 months. At this time they can be slowly transitioned to adult dog food.

Breakfast: 8am
Lunch: 12pm
Dinner: 5pm

Whole Meat
(“Human Grade”)
Whole Grains Identifiable Animal-
based Proteins
Fats Amino Acids Minerals
Small Breed Puppy Turkey, Salmon & Oatmeal Turkey Barley/Oatmeal/Oats Chicken/Salmon 19% Unlisted Eight
Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Puppy Chicken Barley/Rice Chicken/Lamb 16% Four Two
Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken Oatmeal Chicken 17% Unlisted Nine
Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Buffalo/Venison None Beef/Lamb 17% One Eleven
Hill’s Science Diet Small None Sorghum/Wheat Chicken 16.4% Unlisted Six
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient – grain free Duck None Duck 10% One Ten
Iams Proactive Health Puppy Chicken Sorghum Chicken 18% Two Seven
Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Recipe for Dog Chicken None Chicken/Turkey 15% Three Seven
Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Mini Puppy None Rice Chicken 18% One Nine

Small breed puppy food reviews

It can be difficult as you try to compare various brands or formulas side-by-side, especially with manufacturers promoting so much packaging details. The question is, are they providing you solid data you’ll need for an educated purpose?

These reviews not only touch on key features listed in the table, but they also highlight the benefits and potential issues that can affect your purchase.

1. Small Breed Puppy Turkey, Salmon & Oatmeal – best small breed puppy food

This formula focuses on improving five areas of small-breed health.
Wellpet began distribution in 2008.
Owners looking to supply their small-breed puppy with balanced nutrition and increased energy levels.

dog food review

Key Features

  • Features Deboned Turkey.
  • Includes Barley, Oatmeal, and Oats.
  • Chicken and Salmon animal proteins.
  • 19-percent fats.
  • Amino Acids unlisted.
  • Minerals listing includes cooper and iron.


  • Provides high-energy
  • Calcium for bones/teeth
  • Pieces are small


  • Multiple fermentation products
  • Can upset some stomachs
  • Not best for hyper-active dogs

Verdict: A decently balanced kibble.

2. Nutro WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Puppy Dry Dog Food – good small breed puppy dog food

Free-ranging and non-GMO ingredients are highlighted.
Nutro has been expanding from local markets since 1976.
An option for those needing holistic nutrition.


Key Features

  • Chicken meat is used.
  • Grains include Barley and Rice.
  • Chicken and lamb proteins added.
  • 16-percent fats.
  • Amino-acids include chelated Manganese.
  • Iron for growing puppies.


  • Multiple fatty-acids
  • Calcium for and joint development
  • Non-GMO sourced ingredients


  • No probiotics for digestion
  • Beet pulp added
  • Formula changes often

Verdict: A good choice for owners demanding natural ingredients for their puppy.

3. Purina ONE SmartBlend – best dog food for small breed puppies

This is a standard puppy kibble.
Purina is part of the largest pet-food manufacturer in the world.
Those needing easily available food for their puppy may consider this.

premium dog food


Key Features

  • Chicken is main ingredient.
  • Whole oatmeal is used.
  • Additional chicken proteins included.
  • 17-percent fats.
  • Amino-acids aren’t listed.
  • Minerals include calcium and sulfur.


  • Phosphorus helps growing bones
  • promotes healthy coat and skin
  • Rice easier to digest


  • Uses whole grain corn
  • Contains synthetic vitamin K
  • Pea fiber filler

Verdict: An easy-to-find alternative to other brands.

4. Taste of the Wild Grain Free – best small breed puppy food

A non-whole grain formula option.
Diamond Pet Food has five U.S. manufacturing plants.
Good for those seeking easy to digest protein sources.

pet food advisor

Key Features

  • Uses roasted bison and venison.
  • No whole grains are used.
  • Beef/Lamb proteins are included.
  • 17-percent fats.
  • Contains DL-methionine Amino-acids.
  • Minerals include copper, iron, and zinc.


  • Buffalo easy to digest
  • Sweet Potatos great mineral source
  • Includes prebiotic fiber


  • Several fermentation additives
  • Roasted meats are minimal
  • Pea protein lower-quality

Verdict: An easily digestible kibble.

5. Hill’s Science Diet Small – vet recommended food for small breed puppies

A formula that veterinarians will recommend.
Hill’s offers big discounts to U.S. pet shelters.
Owners wanting to avoid artificial additives should appreciate this recipe.

best small breed dog food

Key Features

  • Contains no whole-meats.
  • Uses whole Sorghum and Wheat.
  • Makes use of chicken proteins.
  • 16.4-percent fats.
  • Amino-acids aren’t labeled.
  • Minerals include calcium and sodium.


  • Exceeds AAFCO standards
  • No preservatives
  • Lacks artificial colors/flavors


  • No whole meats
  • Whole grain corn
  • Uses soybean-oil

Verdict: This vet recommended brand would be good for puppies that are suffering beef food allergies.

6. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient – grain free food for small breed puppies

This formula intentionally avoids the use of grains throughout.
Natural balance was established in 1989 by a Hollywood actor.
Pet-lovers wanting more control over proteins ingested could find this to their liking.

top puppy food

Key Features

  • Duck meat is featured.
  • This is a no-grain recipe.
  • Duck meal proteins are added.
  • Only 10-percent fat.
  • Dl-Methionine amino-acids present.
  • Minerals iron and manganese.


  • Limits allergy exposure
  • Easily digested formula
  • Bits are small


  • Meat content limited
  • Has a strong odor
  • Past recall issues

Verdict: A low-ingredient list alternative.

7. Iams Proactive Health – dog food with quality protein

best dry dog food for puppies

Iams’s formulas are known for their animal-based proteins.
Paul Iams developed the first animal-protein dog kibble in 1950.
Cost-conscious owners would appreciate this brand.

Key Features

  • Chicken meat is main protein.
  • Features sorghum whole-grains.
  • Chicken by-product is added.
  • 18-percent fat.
  • Has DL-Methionine and L-Lysine Monohydrochloride amino-acids.
  • Minerals include copper and iron sources.


  • Uses farm-raised chickens.
  • Easy to find
  • Budget friendly


  • By-product content questionable
  • Whole corn and sorghum fillers
  • Minerals not chelated

Verdict: An option for pet owners who need a cheap selection.

8. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain – A Natural Dog Food Enhanced With Vitamins And Minerals

This formula showcases peas and potatoes over grains.
General Mills bought out Blue Buffalo in 2018.
Anyone searching for hi-fiber/hi-protein recipes should consider this.

recommended puppy food

Key Features

  • Features deboned chicken.
  • No grains listed.
  • Includes chicken and turkey meals.
  • 15-percent fat.
  • Iron/zinc amino-acids are chelated.
  • Minerals include calcium sources.


  • Deboned chicken is main ingredient
  • Provides high energy
  • Provides antioxidants


  • Tomato pomace is by-product
  • Pea skews protein level
  • Canola oil GMO source

Verdict: A non-grain chicken recipe.

9. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Mini – Supports Developing Immune Systems

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Mini Puppy Dry Dog Food

Made for easier digestion by your puppy.
Royal Canin was established by a French veterinarian in the late 1960s.
Sold as an easy to eat and absorb kibble.

Key Features

  • No whole meat used.
  • Brewers rice is featured.
  • Chicken by-product proteins present.
  • 18-percent fat.
  • DL-methionine amino-acid listed.
  • Minerals highlighted include calcium sources.


  • Kibble easy to grab and chew
  • Supports immune system
  • Includes probiotics


  • Multiple gluten sources
  • No whole meats
  • Fructooligosaccharides harder on stomach

Verdict: Great for small breed puppies.

Common Questions Customers Ask

When shopping for healthy dog food brands for small dogs, customers repeatedly ask two important concerning eating habits. This includes why special products are needed for small breeds or younger canines.

It’s important to make the proper selection in order to provide the nutrients these smaller pets need to grow as well as maintain proper health. Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t always cover why this is important. That’s why this article is written with actionable information.

1. Is it OK to give a puppy regular dog food?

The short answer is, no. There are specific benefits that can be acquired through specialized products:

  • Puppy formulas are designed to provide nutrients that are critical for healthy developmentAdult kibble often lacks nutrients younger canines use to grow normally.
  • Small dog formulas are beneficial to breeds that weigh less than 20-pounds when they’re adults. These products cater to smaller canines that will mature more quickly than their larger counterparts. Little dogs can grow to maturity in nine months, while large breeds can take more than twice as long.

Look for products combining both.

2. Do small breed dogs need small breed food?

So, what makes small breed formulas necessary for your four-legged family member? First off, such products come in sizes little dogs can grasp and chew. This helps to prevent potential choking hazards. Other benefits include:

  • Metabolism considerations – Smaller canines often have higher metabolisms that will require more energy-rich foods to meet their needs.
  • Weight issues – Smaller pets can potentially gain weight more quickly than larger animals. Recipes made for your little companion will pack more energy promoting nutrients within the kibble. That will allow them to get the most benefit from smaller portions.

3. What puppy food for small breed is the best?

After comparing these products, we feel that Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein is the best dog food for small breed puppies. This formula is easy to eat and digest while providing the nutrients that your puppy needs.

Others might meet your needs too: