10 Best Puppy Foods for Small Breeds in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks


Small dogs may think they’re big and intimidating, but their nutritional needs are unique. Small breeds have smaller stomachs and higher metabolisms, so they need nutrient-dense formulas that ensure they get adequate nutrition without weight gain.

When you have a small breed puppy, finding the appropriate food can be even more challenging. Puppies have unique nutritional needs, so it’s best to choose a nutrient-dense puppy food formulated for small or toy breeds.

Here are the 10 best puppy food for small breeds, based on reviews from real pet owners.

A Look at Our Top Picks (2022 Update)

The 10 Best Puppy Foods for Small Breeds

1. Hill’s Science Diet Small Bites Puppy Food – Best Overall

Hill's Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites Dry Dog Food

Lifestage: Puppy
Breed Size: Small, toy
Form: Dry
Special Diet: High-protein

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites Dry Dog Food is the best overall puppy food for small breeds. The formula includes wholesome ingredients like chicken meal and barely to support healthy brain, eye, and skeletal development. In addition to meat and high-quality grains, the food has natural DHA from fish oil and vitamins as well as antioxidants for well-rounded nutrition.

Designed for small breed puppies, the food is easy to digest for growing puppies that need a small kibble size. All food is manufactured in the USA with attention to purity and nutritional standards. This formula is recommended for puppies up to one year old. Some reviewers noted that their puppies didn’t like the food, and others suggested that the bag size is too big and may become stale by the time their dogs finished it.

  • Real chicken meal and barley as first ingredients
  • Well-rounded nutrition
  • Manufactured in the USA
  • Some dogs don’t like it
  • Bag may be too big

2. Pedigree’s Puppy Growth & Protection Dog Food – Best Value

Pedigree Puppy Growth & Protection Grilled Steak & Vegetable Flavor Dry Dog Food

Lifestage: Puppy
Breed Size: Small, toy
Form: Dry
Special Diet: Sensitive digestion

Pedigree’s Puppy Growth & Protection Dry Dog Food is the best puppy food for small breeds for the money. The wholesome recipe has complete and balanced nutrition with grilled steak and vegetable flavors. Designed to support puppy development, the formula contains vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Free from high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, or added sugars, the food is nutrient-dense to ensure your pup gets adequate nutrition without empty calories. The kibble is small for easy-to-digest bites for small breeds. Some reviewers said that their puppy wouldn’t touch the food, however.

  • Appetizing steak and vegetable flavor
  • No high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors
  • Some dogs don’t like it

3. Orijen Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food – Premium Choice

Orijen Puppy Grain-Free Puppy Food

Lifestage: Puppy
Breed Size: Small, toy
Form: Dry
Special Diet: Grain-free, high-protein, gluten-free, natural, raw

Orijen Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food is the premium choice for small-breed puppy food. This biologically appropriate diet is packed with animal protein and fat for well-rounded nutrition. Fresh or raw chicken and turkey, sustainably farmed or wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs form the foundation of the protein, perfect for dogs’ unique nutritional needs. The food contains animal organs and bones for vitamins and minerals.

All food is manufactured in the USA and adheres to industry nutritional and purity standards. Because of raw ingredients, kibble is freeze-dried and coated for a burst of flavor. Some reviewers noted that their dogs didn’t like the food unless it was mixed with other food, and there’s concern over the effect of grain-free diets. Kibble may be too large for extra-small or toy breed puppies.

  • Animal protein as first ingredients
  • Grain-free and natural
  • Freeze-dried raw
  • Some dogs don’t like it
  • Concern over grain-free diets
  • Kibble may be too big for toy puppies

4. Nulo FreeStyle Limited+ Alaska Pollock & Lentils Recipe

Nulo Freestyle Limited+ Alaska Pollock & Lentils Recipe Puppy & Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Lifestage: Puppy
Breed Size: Small, toy
Form: Dry
Special Diet: Grain-free, low glycemic, limited ingredient

Nulo FreeStyle Limited+ Alaska Pollock & Lentils Recipe is an excellent choice for pups with sensitive stomachs. The limited-ingredient food has protein-rich ingredients from Alaska Pollock with patented probiotic GanedenBC30. All ingredients are designed to support proper digestion and digestive health.

Puppies need nutrient-dense food formulas, and this food is formulated with a single source of animal protein and low-carbohydrate and low-glycemic ingredients for no empty calories. The food also has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health. It is an expensive recipe for puppies, however.

  • Limited-ingredient formula
  • Real animal protein
  • High-quality nutritional sources

5. Blue Buffalo Carnivora Grain-Free Puppy Wet Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Carnivora Woodland Blend Grain-Free Puppy Wet Dog Food

Lifestage: Puppy
Breed Size: Small, toy
Form: Pate
Special Diet: High-protein, grain-free

Blue Buffalo Carnivora Woodland Blend Grain-Free Puppy Wet Dog Food is a nutrient-dense formula with 95% of protein coming from chicken, turkey, duck, and mackerel. As a pate formula, the food is suitable for all breed sizes and easy to eat and digest. In addition to meat, the food contains organs and cartilage to mimic the natural diet.

The food is free from grains and potatoes, so puppies get more nutrition and fewer empty calories. For healthy development, the formula is enhanced with vitamins and minerals. This wet food can be added to mixed with dry formulas as well. Some dogs don’t like the food, however.

  • 95% animal protein
  • Organs and cartilage
  • Grain-free formula
  • Some dogs don’t like it

6. Merrick Healthy Grains Raw-Coated Kibble Puppy Food

Merrick Healthy Grains Raw-Coated Kibble Puppy Recipe Freeze-Dried Dry Dog Food

Lifestage: Puppy
Breed Size: Small, toy
Form: Dry
Special Diet: High-protein, sensitive digestion

Merrick Healthy Grains Raw-Coated Kibble Puppy Recipe Freeze-Dried Dry Dog Food is a freeze-dried raw food with real chicken as the first ingredient and plenty of DHA for healthy brain development. Vitamins and minerals are supplied by hearty whole grains with no lentils, peas, or potatoes. For healthy skin and coat, the formula has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are added to support healthy joint development and support growing and rambunctious puppies. Kibble is small and easy to digest for small and toy breeds. Plenty of reviewers received the food in exchange for a review, and many said that the kibble is too small for large breeds and their dogs were too picky to eat it.

  • Animal protein as first ingredients
  • Rich in nutrients
  • Free from peas, lentils, and potatoes
  • Some dogs won’t eat it
  • Kibble is too small for large breeds

7. Royal Canin Puppy Gastrointestinal Ultra Soft Dog Food

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Puppy Gastrointestinal Ultra Soft Mousse in Sauce Canned Dog Food

Lifestage: Puppy
Breed Size: Small, toy
Form: Pate
Special Diet: Veterinary diet, sensitive formula

Royal Canin’s Gastrointestinal Puppy Ultra Soft Mousse is a high-energy food for puppies with sensitive stomachs. The food is packed with nutrition for healthy development and optimal digestion. The food contains probiotics, dietary fiber, and electrolytes to ensure your puppy absorbs all the nutrients without upsetting its stomach.

This food can be offered long-term or short-term and has an easy-to-digest mousse texture. Small and toy breeds can eat smaller portions and still get adequate nutrition. This is a veterinary-prescribed food, however, and requires a prescription from a veterinarian to order. Several reviewers had positive results with this formula for their sensitive pups, but others had puppies that wouldn’t eat it or had digestive upset.

  • Special digestive formula
  • High-quality nutrition
  • Veterinary authorization required
  • Some dogs don’t like it

8. Honest Kitchen Chicken Recipe Puppy Blend Dog Food

The Honest Kitchen Whole Food Clusters Chicken Recipe Puppy Blend Grain-Free Dog Food

Lifestage: Puppy
Breed Size: Small, toy
Form: Dry, dehydrated
Special Diet: Grain-free, natural

The Honest Kitchen Food Clusters Chicken Recipe Puppy Blend Grain-Free Dehydrated Dog Food contains cage-free chicken that’s cold-pressed and dehydrated. All of the ingredients are human-grade and ensure that your pup gets optimal nutrition. The food is free from artificial flavors, GMOs, preservatives, meat meals, gums, or carrageenan.

Though the food has complete and balanced nutrition, it can be used as an add-on to other food formulas. The kibble is small enough for small or toy breeds. The food may be combined with boosters like The Honest Kitchen goat’s milk or beef broth for added nutrition and flavor. Some reviewers noted quality-control issues with the bags or that their pup didn’t like the food. Others complained about how expensive the food is.

  • Grain-free
  • Human-grade ingredients
  • Expensive
  • Quality-control issues
  • Some dogs don’t like it

9. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Recipe

Lifestage: Puppy
Breed Size: Small, toy
Form: Dry
Special Diet: Grain-free, chicken-free

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is formulated with novel proteins like salmon for puppies with poultry sensitivities. Peas and sweet potatoes are added for easy-to-digest energy sources, while real fruits and vegetables and dry chicory root offer antioxidants and prebiotic support. All minerals are chelated for optimal absorption

The food contains K9 Strain Proprietary Probiotics for healthy digestion and optimal immune function. Made in the USA, the food is formulated with only quality ingredients from sustainable domestic and international sources. No grains, corn, wheat, or artificial flavors are added, ensuring your pup gets nutrient-dense food. Some reviewers said their pup didn’t like the food.

  • Real animal protein
  • Grain-free formula
  • Made in the USA
  • Some dogs don’t like it

10. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Lifestage: Puppy
Breed Size: Small, toy
Form: Dry
Special Diet: High-protein

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food is formulated specifically for small breeds and features superfoods and probiotics for healthy growth and development. Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient for high protein, while kale, pumpkin, blueberries, and oranges offer vitamins and minerals. The food also has omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.

All food is made in the USA by a family-owned company and ingredients are sourced from trusted domestic and international sources. The small kibble size is ideal for even the smallest of puppies. Each serving contains K9 Strain Proprietary Probiotics for better digestion. Several reviewers said their puppies wouldn’t touch the food, however.

  • Cage-free chicken as first ingredient
  • Well-balanced nutrition
  • Made in the USA
  • Some dogs aren’t drawn to the taste

divider-pawBuyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best Puppy Foods for Small Breeds

Small breeds are different from medium or large breeds in many ways, including their nutritional needs. These dogs have higher metabolisms and require more calories per pound, which can be challenging to achieve with a small stomach. In addition, an extra pound or two could be detrimental to a small dog that weighs less than 10 pounds.

As puppies, these breeds also need extra nutrition to support their growth and development. This can make it more challenging to find the best food to support puppy nutrition and satisfy the high metabolism of a small or toy breed.

Here’s what to look for in small-breed dog food for puppies:

Nutrient-Dense Formula

Small dogs have high metabolisms and they’re prone to hypoglycemia. When this happens, they can suffer weakness, lethargy, muscle tremors, or seizures. Complete and balanced small breed foods have the right amount of nutrients to support the energy and caloric needs of small breeds.

Small Kibble Size

Puppies may inhale their food without chewing, which can be a choking hazard. Small kibble reduces this risk and is easier for small puppies to chew properly. Another option is rehydrated food or wet food, which dogs need to take their time eating.

Empty Calories

Small dogs may need more calories per pound, but they are prone to obesity. Nutrient-dense formulas will have higher quality nutrition and fewer empty calories, which can contribute to obesity. Avoid formulas with a lot of fillers, byproducts, or low-quality carbohydrate sources, and avoid overfeeding your pup. Long-term obesity in dogs is linked to devastating illnesses like kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and joint injuries.

divider-dog

Conclusion

Toy and small breeds have unique nutritional needs, especially as puppies. The top overall choice for a small-breed puppy food is Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites Dry Dog Food, which has well-rounded nutrition for developing puppies. For the best value, choose Pedigree’s Puppy Growth & Protection Dry Dog Food, a wholesome dog food free from empty calories and fillers. The premium choice is Orijen Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food, which features real poultry as the first ingredient.


Featured Image Credit: Gladskikh Tatiana, Shutterstock



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