Small Dog Food

The Best Small Dog Foods For Small Breeds: Our Top Picks and Reviews

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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What is the Best Small Dog Food?

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Clusters for Small Breeds
  • TINY BITES, BIG NUTRITION FOR SMALL BREEDS: This complete and balanced dry dog food was specially created for small breed dogs of all life stages. It includes an extra boost of L-carnitine to help support a healthy metabolism as well as an extra boost of Omega fatty acids from salmon oil for skin and coat health.
  • MINIMALLY PROCESSED: Clusters are made by mixing small batches of fresh ingredients, cold pressing them into bite-sized clusters, and then gently slow roasting and dehydrating them to maintain the nutrients, aroma, and taste of whole foods.
  • WE SAY NO TO: This recipe contains no feed-grade ingredients, meat meals, fillers, GMO ingredients, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives.

Why do Small Dogs Need Different Food?

Small dogs need different food because their dietary needs are not the same as medium and large-breed dogs. The best dog food brands make unique recipes for small and toy breeds. Here are the reasons small dogs need different food:

  • Kibble Size & Shape. Because of the anatomy of small and toy breed dogs, their mouths and teeth need specific kibble. Smaller kibble pet food supports easier chewing, better digestion, and nutrient absorption and can even help prevent plaque build-up on teeth.
  • Palatability. Small breed adult dogs are known to be picky eaters and live longer than large breeds, meaning they will likely eat the same food for many years. Therefore, a smaller dog needs foods that are very palatable – full of flavor, and nicely textured.
  • Higher Caloric Value. Smaller dogs and toy breeds need more calories than large breeds to fuel their active lives. Quality protein sources help boost calories without adding much fat. Grain-free dog food is especially good for active small dogs.
  • Balanced Formulas. Dog food brands for small dogs are mindful of weight management when blending high-calorie recipes. Adding antioxidants and vitamin supplements supports healthy metabolisms in energetic dogs while meeting every nutritional need.

Can Small Dogs Eat Regular Dog Food?

No, it is not recommended to let small dogs eat regular dog food. The large kibble size may be more challenging to digest, leading to problems with digestion and other dietary issues. Grain-free recipes can help with many common digestive issues.

The Best Small Dog Foods Reviewed

Finding the best dog food for small dogs can be tricky – after all, the modern pet market offers dozens of choices. To help owners, we have selected and reviewed the best formulas.

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Clusters for Small Breeds

The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Clusters for Small Breeds

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Summary: The Small Breed Blend with Chicken and Oats is a delicious, human-grade, and grain-inclusive recipe specifically formulated for small-sized dogs. The ingredients are minimally processed to ensure maximum nutrient density and preserve the natural taste. The formula features superfoods and probiotics for overall health and proper digestion. The recipe is suitable for dogs of all life stages and available in a grain-free and grain-inclusive version. 

Type: Dry dog food 

Best for: Puppies and adult dogs 

Flavor Options: Chicken & Oats Recipe 

Price: $5.99 per pound 

Pros

  • Human-grade and minimally processed
  • With lean chicken and healthy oats
  • Probiotics for healthy gut and digestion 
  • With L-carnitine for a healthy fat metabolism 
  • Delicious, well-textured, and small clusters 

Cons

  • No significant cons 

Ingredient Analysis: The recipe is made with chicken as the first ingredient. The next few ingredients are oats, barley, chicken liver, and carrots, which round up the protein and carbohydrate profile. The food is enriched with healthy fruits and veggies such as broccoli, apples, kale, and pumpkin. It also contains salmon oil, turmeric, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. 

Review: Pet owners are raving about this food and give it 4.6 out of 5 stars. They describe the food as an excellent product and say it is pricey but definitely worth the human-grade quality. Customers are particularly happy with the small size of the clusters, which promote thorough chewing and better digestibility.  

Rachael Ray Nutrish Little Bites Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Rachael Ray Nutrish Little Bites Small Breed Dry Dog Food

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Summary: This high-quality kibble features carefully selected ingredients to meet every nutritional need of smaller dogs. With a real chicken and veggies recipe, the formula is delicious and enticing even for picky eaters. It also contains antioxidant-rich cranberries to combat increased stress levels in smaller dogs. The formula is free from by-product meal, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives, and the small and well-textured kibble helps support oral health and hygiene. The food comes in 6 and 14-pound bags.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Small breed adult dogs

Flavor Options: Real Chicken & Veggies

Price: $1.55 per pound

Pros

  • Natural ingredients with dense nutritional value
  • Quality protein helps small high-energy dogs
  • Includes antioxidants for immune system support
  • Smaller kibble supports healthy teeth and gums
  • No chicken meal by-products and preservatives

Cons

  • Contains soybean meal and corn

Ingredient Analysis: Quality ingredients are chosen for this pet food formula. Chicken Meal and chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols) pair with veggies like dried peas, carrots, and dried beet pulp. Brown rice and malted barley flour are whole grains added to improve fiber content. Vitamins and minerals like vitamin A and calcium combine with salt and other natural ingredients to create a nutritious and tasty kibble.

Review: Rachel Ray’s small breed dry dog food is rated 4.6 out of 5 stars by dog owners. Widely available through retailers like Amazon and Chewy, this cheap kibble is a tasty option with plenty of nutritional value. The mix of chicken, veggies, and other natural ingredients offers everything a small dog needs, which is why we think it’s the best dog food for small dogs.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Dry Dog Food

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Summary: Blue Buffalo Life Protection dry dog food is formulated with protein and carbohydrates to fuel smaller dogs and their energy needs. Featuring deboned chicken, whole grains, and healthy fruits & veggies, the recipe is flavorful and nutrient-dense. Like any other Blue Buffalo formula, it contains the trademark LifeSource Bits – a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is also made into small-sized kibble fit for small and toy breed dogs. The formula is available in two flavors and two different bag sizes – 5 and 15-pounds.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Small breed adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken & Brown Rice; Lamb & Brown Rice

Price: 2.60 per pound

Pros

  • The first ingredient is always real meat
  • Carefully crafted ingredient list
  • Includes complex and healthy carbohydrates
  • With antioxidant-rich bits alongside the kibble
  • No by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives

Cons

  • Can cause tummy issues in some dogs

Ingredient Analysis: High-quality protein sources are from real chicken meal, lamb, and dried egg products. Brown rice, oatmeal, barley, and flaxseed are complex carbohydrates that provide fiber. Omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals are added using fruits like blueberries and veggies like sweet potatoes.

Review: This dry dog food formula is highly rated by pet owners, earning an average score of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Toy breeds and smaller dogs enjoy the smaller kibble pieces, which deliver nutrients needed to build muscle, keep the skin and coat healthy, and maintain a robust immune system. Many dog owners also noted that digestion issues with their toy breed ended once they switched to Blue Buffalo. 

Purina Pro Plan High Protein Small Breed Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan High Protein Small Breed Dog Food

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Summary: The Purina Pro Plan dry dog food puts nutritional needs first. Made with all-natural ingredients, this formula supports a strong immune system and healthy digestion. The chicken and rice recipe is formulated to be high in protein so it can satisfy the high-energy needs of smaller dogs. The kibble is small and bite-sized, which makes chewing easier. Proper chewing also results in better nutrient absorption. The food is rich in vitamin A and omega fatty acids, thus supporting skin and coat health. It comes in two bag sizes – 6 and 18 pounds.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Small breed adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken; Grain-Free Chicken & Egg

Price: $2.78 per pound

Pros

  • Promotes good digestive health
  • Contains lots of protein for energy
  • Has no artificial flavors or colors
  • Bite-sized kibble that is easy to chew
  • Veterinarian recommended formula

Cons

  • Uses by-products and corn gluten meal

Ingredient Analysis: Chicken, rice, poultry by-product meal, and beef fat provide plenty of fats and proteins. Live probiotics promote digestive health and strong immune systems. Whole grain corn, fish meal, dried egg product, calcium carbonate, and other natural flavors from fruits and veggies help round up the formula.

Review: Rated 4.7 out of 5 stars, this dog food formula is perfect for very active small-breed adult dogs. The high protein and balanced carbs give plenty of energy without causing weight-related health issues. Calcium, probiotics, and other nutrients take care of every dietary need throughout different life stages.

Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws for Small Breeds Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Small Paws for Small Breeds Dry Dog Food

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Summary: Hill’s science diet is ideal for providing bite-sized kibble packed with quality protein sources, antioxidants, and other natural ingredients a dog needs. The formula is specifically made for adult dogs aged between one and six. It features a delicious chicken meal and rice recipe that offers 371 kcal per cup. The high-quality proteins help build strong and lean muscles while the vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids promote skin and coat health. This vet-recommended dog food comes in two bag sizes – 4.5 pounds and 15.5 pounds.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Small breed adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken Meal & Rice; Lamb Meal & Brown Rice; Lamb

Price: $4.33 per pound

Pros

  • Smaller kibble pieces for toy breeds
  • Uses highly digestible ingredients
  • Includes high-quality protein
  • Supports heart and immune system health
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Not suited for senior dogs (over six years of age)

Ingredient Analysis: Real chicken meal, whole grain wheat, brewers rice, pearled barley, pork fat, and chicken liver flavor make up the main part of the recipe and provide good amounts of protein and flavor. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other essential nutrients are added to balance all dietary needs.

Review: Pet owners have rated this kibble meal as 4.8 out of 5 stars, thanks to the high-quality nutrients. Customers with picky eaters especially note how their dogs love the flavors created by the natural ingredients. The tiny kibble pieces are perfect for smaller dogs and toy breeds, easily digestible, and help prevent health issues with balanced vitamins and minerals.

Hill’s Science Diet Small & Mini Breeds Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Small & Mini Breeds Dry Dog Food

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Summary: This recipe combines high-quality ingredients with specialized kibble pieces to ensure easily digestible food that prevents health issues using a balanced recipe. The food is formulated for small and toy-breed dogs with sensitive stomachs and skin issues. Made with chicken and barley, it is easily digestible and fortified with beet pulp for added prebiotics. The recipe is also rich in omega fatty acids and health-boosting antioxidants. The overall ingredient blend promotes heart health. The food comes in 4-pound and 15-pound bags.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Small breed adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $4.87 per pound

Pros

  • Uses prebiotic fiber for healthy digestion
  • Packed with vitamins and nutrients
  • Prioritizes sensitive stomachs
  • Smaller kibble perfect for small toy breeds
  • Made in the USA with quality ingredients

Cons

  • More expensive than other dry dog food brands

Ingredient Analysis: The protein source for this dry dog food is a blend of chicken and chicken meal. Fruits and veggies provide omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coats, strong immune systems, and an overall balanced meal. Nourishing fiber is added with brown rice, beet pulp, and barley, creating a highly digestible recipe ideal for gentle stomachs. Added nutrients like folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D3, calcium iodate, potassium chloride, and more support lasting health.

Review: With a 4.7 out of 5 stars rating, customers are very happy with this specialized dry dog food. Pet owners remark that picky eaters love the flavor, and smaller dogs with sensitive stomachs have an easier time both chewing and digesting this formula. Dog owners notice a big difference when they switch from other dog food brands to Hill Science Diet, and their dogs no longer have digestive health issues.

Royal Canin Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

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Summary: This Royal Canine formula is formulated to provide precise nutrition to small breed adult dogs. With an adapted energy formula and enhanced palatability, the recipe is excellent for dogs between one and eight years of age. It comes in the form of adapted kibble – with a unique kibble shape, specific size, satisfying texture, savory aroma, and desirable flavor. The chicken and veggies recipe is fortified with L-carnitine, thus helping small dogs maintain healthy body weight. The food is available in 2.5 and 14-pound bags.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Small breed adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $3.32 per pound

Pros

  • Star-shaped kibble with a satisfying texture
  • Helps maintain healthy skin & shiny coats
  • Specifically formulated for different adult life stages
  • Helps maintain a healthy body weight
  • Suitable for small & toy breed senior dogs

Cons

  • Contains meat by-products

Ingredient Analysis: L-carnitine helps maintain a healthy weight, while chicken by-product meal provides protein. Fatty acids like EPA and DHA support a healthy, shiny coat and skin. Fiber comes from various nutritious ingredients like beet pulp and brown rice. Other natural ingredients like fish oil add vitamins and minerals a dog needs.

Review: This dry dog food has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Pet owners say their small adult dogs love the flavor and have shiny coats. The blend of vitamins and minerals, along with a chicken meal, provides dogs with plenty of energy while meeting their dietary needs.

CESAR Small Breed Dry Dog Food

CESAR Small Breed Dry Dog Food

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Summary: Made with an engaging blend of crunchy and chewy kibble pieces, this classic Cesar formula covers smaller dogs’ nutritional needs through high-quality ingredients and ultra-premium protein sources. The formula is 100% complete and balanced for adult dogs and features real beef as the first ingredient. The same recipe is also available in the form of wet dog food which can be used alone or as a delicious dog food topper. Also, the formula comes in several different flavors and three bag sizes – 2.7, 5, and 12-pounds.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Small breed adult dogs

Flavor Options: Filet Mignon; Chicken; Beef; Porterhouse Steak

Price: $1.22 per pound

Pros

  • Real meat is the first ingredient
  • Comes in a re-sealable zipper bag
  • Has a variety of kibble shapes
  • Meets smaller dog needs with 26 nutrients
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Can cause stomach upset in some dogs

Ingredient Analysis: The main ingredient in the formula is real beef which brings protein and amino acids. Other ingredients like ground wheat, whole grain corn, and brewer rice add healthy and easily digestible carbs and dietary fiber. The formula is fortified with dried carrots and added vitamins and minerals. To ensure a longer shelf-life, the recipe includes natural preservatives.

Review: The classic Cesar dry dog food is rated by dog owners as 4.7 out of 5 stars. The variety of crunchy kibble shapes and chewy, meaty bits help dogs digest their food while providing plenty of flavors. This high-quality formula is ideal for adult dogs that are toy breeds or simply smaller dogs. The nutritional needs of small breed adult dogs are met by combining high-quality protein and 26 essential nutrients.

Wag Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Wag Small Breed Dry Dog Food

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Summary: Amazon’s Wag dog food brand has developed a wholesome recipe that supports good health across all life stages. Small breed adults and small breed puppies love the taste of the all-natural ingredients. The formula is made with cage-free American chicken as first ingredient. The recipe features added probiotics and prebiotics for easy digestibility and overall gut health. It is free from added chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy, thus being suitable for small breed dogs with sensitive stomachs. It comes in 5-pound and 15-pound bags.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Small breed adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $2.34 per pound

Pros

  • Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient
  • Quality protein sources for optimal energy levels
  • No added chicken meal by-products
  • Formulated by veterinarians and nutritionists
  • Probiotics & prebiotics for healthy gut and digestion


Cons

  • Tiny kibble is not suitable for non-toy breeds

Ingredient Analysis: The protein sources in this recipe come from limited ingredients – cage-free chicken and chicken meal with a guaranteed amount of glucosamine and chondroitin. Fiber comes from brown rice, oatmeal, and barley. Other natural ingredients include dried beet pulp, flaxseed, salmon oil, blueberries, raspberries, and tomatoes. The food is enriched with several dried probiotic strains.

Review: Amazon’s Wag dog food brand is highly rated by customers, with a 4.5 out of 5 stars. The smaller kibble is perfect for toy breeds and as puppy food for small breed puppies transitioning to adult dog food. Probiotics, omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and other vitamins and minerals help regulate metabolisms, strengthen immune systems, and improve the overall health of toy breeds.

IAMS Proactive Health Adult Minichunks Small Kibble Dry Dog Food

IAMS Proactive Health Adult Minichunks Small Kibble Dry Dog Food

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Summary: The IAMS Proactive Health dry dog food is specially formulated by veterinarians and nutritionists to provide energy from quality protein sources and whole-grain carbs. Crafted with essential nutrients and antioxidants, the food supports overall health and wellness. The formula offers 100% complete and balanced nutrition while containing 0% fillers. It is also free from added artificial colors and preservatives. The food is available in one flavor and three different bag sizes – 7-pounds, 15-pounds, and 30-pounds.

Type: Dry dog food

Best for: Small breed adult dogs

Flavor Options: Chicken

Price: $1.20 per pound

Pros

  • Balanced nutrition approved by veterinarians
  • Promotes solid bones & lean muscles
  • Whole grains used for fiber and healthy carbs
  • No artificial additives and preservatives
  • Very accessible with a budget-friendly price

Cons

  • Not a grain-free dog food

Ingredient Analysis: Chicken and chicken by-product meals are the main protein sources in this recipe. Fiber is included through ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, and dried beet pulp. Amino acids, biotin, calcium, and a balanced lineup of vitamins and minerals are an essential part of the recipe to ensure dogs get the nutrition they need.

Review: Iams is another classic, trusted brand with a high rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Dog owners can depend on this dry dog food formula to provide their toy breeds and smaller dogs with the nutrients their dog needs. The combination of quality protein sources, whole grains, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals is suitable for dogs of different life stages.

Blue Buffalo Delights Natural Adult Small Breed Wet Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Delights Natural Adult Small Breed Wet Dog Food

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Summary: This wet dog food formula offers flavorful recipes for picky eaters. Featuring plenty of high-quality protein and no wheat or corn, energetic dogs can get all the fuel they need with none of the potentially harmful fillers. The food is made of beef and diced carrots, peas, and potatoes. It is grain-free and rich in moisture, thus supporting hydration. It is perfectly portioned and packed in single-serve trays, which makes its everyday use simple. The formula comes in several flavors and 3.5 oz trays with 12 or 24 trays per pack.

Type: Wet dog food

Best for: Small breed dogs of all life stages

Flavor Options: Top Sirloin; Porterhouse; Filet Mignon; Roasted Turkey; Grilled Chicken

Price: $1.29 – $3.12 per can

Pros

  • Real beef is the first ingredient
  • Single servings make meal time easy
  • Free from chicken meal by-products
  • No corn, wheat, soy, or artificial preservatives
  • Delicious and fit for picky eaters

Cons

  • Not ideal for larger small breed dogs

Ingredient Analysis: This limited ingredient wet dog food has high-quality beef, chicken, or turkey as the first ingredient. Meat broth supports the protein source and enhances flavor alongside tasty veggies like potatoes, carrots, peas, and more.

Review: Most pet owners like this dog food brand for their toy breed dog and rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars. Small breed adult dogs love the taste, and even picky eaters enjoy meal times with this wet dog food. The single-serving containers are convenient for weight control. The quality ingredients make this wet dog food a winner for toy breeds and smaller dogs.

What Should I Look for in a Small Dog Food?

Here are the factors pet owners must consider when looking for the best dog food for small dogs:

  • Protein & Carb sources. Dog food brands with protein sources from high-quality meat and fat products identified by species are best.
  • Healthy Grains or Grain-Free Recipes. Grain-free dog food is good for energetic dogs, but whole grains such as barley and brown rice are healthy ways of adding carbohydrates to your dog’s diet.
  • First ingredient. The best dog food for small dogs must feature real meat placed first on the ingredient list and starches lower on the list. Real meat is packed with protein and amino acids.
  • Whole Fruits & Veggies. Produce listed high on the ingredient list helps add calories without using grains and can help naturally meet nutritional needs. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Organic or High-Quality Ingredients. Organic ingredients are natural ingredients grown free from pesticides. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) defines organic products according to USDA standards.

What Ingredients Should You Avoid in a Small Dog Food?

Dog owners should avoid recipes with certain ingredients. Here are the ingredients that should not be in the best dog food for small animals.

  • BHA. Butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, is a preservative for fats and oils. The CDC has identified this chemical as a carcinogen for humans. In dogs, it can cause health issues with the skin, kidneys, and liver.
  • Unidentified Meat Meals. Unspecified meat meal typically has little to no quality control and can contain harmful components such as low-quality, expired, or even infected meat. This meat meal is used just as filler and typically doesn’t offer any nutritional value.
  • Food Coloring. Food coloring is an additive that only serves pet owners. While it may make dog food look better to humans, dogs don’t notice it. Additionally, commonly used food dyes are linked to hyperacidity and allergic reactions in dogs.
  • Corn Syrup. Corn syrup is a tasty filler used in human-grade food and dog food. It is very addicting but isn’t a dietary necessity and can lead to diabetes or obesity if fed daily.
  • Vegetable Oils. Vegetable oils are made from corn and soybean oils. It contains omega fatty acids, which are healthy for dogs. However, vegetable oil contains too many omegas and may cause inflammation, increasing health issues related to arthritis or other joint pains.
  • Rendered Fat. Similar to unidentified meat meal, rendered fat is not quality controlled and is a fairly non-descript ingredient. The poor quality means that rendered fat can breed mold or harmful organisms like salmonella, and it sometimes even contains toxins such as heavy metals.

How Much Food Should a Small Dog Eat Per Day?

A small dog should eat between 3/4 cup and 1 1/2 cups of food per day. Smaller dogs, like toy breeds, should eat between 1/3 cup and 1/2 cup of food daily.

How Many Times a Day Should a Small Dog Eat?

Small dogs should eat at least twice per day and up to four times per day, according to nutritionists and vets.

Having a set feeding schedule helps dogs and small breed puppies regulate their potty breaks and maintain healthy metabolisms.