Best Puppy Food for Small Breeds

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small puppy eating

Your small breed pup may be a tiny package — but they need ample nutrients. These little pups need calories and wholesome ingredients to help them become a healthy adult dog.

In fact, they need more nutrition per pound than larger breeds. So, what’s the best puppy food for small breeds, and does your dog need a specific formula?

Our favorite option is Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy dry dog food

Not only does it meet the needs of small breed pups (like kibble size and extra vitamins), but it also doesn’t include unnecessary fillers. 

Have a pup with allergies, or want to buy a whole grain formula? We’ve got you covered there too. Our list of the ten best puppy foods for small breeds covers every option you can think of. 

Our Best Puppy Food for Small Breeds

  1. Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy Health Dry Dog Food (Best Dry Food)
  2. Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Canned Dog Food (Best Wet Food)
  3. Ollie Dog Food (Best Fresh Food)
  4. American Journey Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best Budget Food)
  5. ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food (Best Premium Food)
  6. The Honest Kitchen Food Clusters Whole Grain Puppy Blend Dog Food (Best Dehydrated Food)
  7. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food (Best Grain-Free Food)
  8. ACANA Wholesome Grains Puppy Recipe Gluten-Free Dry Dog Food (Best With Grain Food)
  9. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food (Best for Allergies)
  10. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Dry Dog Food (Best for Sensitive Stomachs) 

10 Best Puppy Food for Small Breeds Reviewed 

The formulas below follow the AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for puppies. Please consult with your veterinarian on the best food for your small dog. 

Best Dry Food

Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy Health Dry Dog Food

Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy Health Anchovy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Anchovy and Sardine Meal, Chicken Meal, Chickpeas, Peas, Chicken Fat
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 20% Crude Fat, 3.4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 481 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein dry puppy food made with omega fatty acids for small breed puppies 

Small breed puppies need a high-calorie food to keep up with their higher metabolisms and vibrant energy. And, they also need a smaller kibble size to keep their little jaws from overworking.

A small breed formula like Holistic Select Small and Mini Breed Puppy meets both of those needs and more. 

First, this kibble is grain-free but has added fiber and digestive enzymes for a happy tummy. Made with high-protein meat meals like anchovy and sardine meal and chicken meal, it’s also full of natural taurine and glucosamine. These aid in a healthy heart and joints. 

Salmon oil offers the essential omega-3 fatty acids that small pups need. It helps them achieve a healthy coat and helps boost cognitive function. 

This formula also provides yogurt cultures for healthy prebiotics and probiotics. This addition helps keep your puppy regular and soothe their digestive tract. 

Holistic Select is made in the US. It’s gluten-free and is perfect for pups who may have food intolerances. 

Petite pup parents say that this food gives their dog fishy breath. But, many noticed a difference in their dogs’ digestion and coat health after using this formula.

Best Wet Food

Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Canned Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Salmon, Ground Barley
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 9% Crude Protein, 6% Crude Fat, 1% Crude Fiber, 78% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 434 kcal/can
  • Key Feature: Wet food formulated by veterinarians for picky small pups

While dry food is usually recommended by your pup’s vet (for natural teeth cleaning), some can be picky eaters. If your small dog doesn’t prefer dry dog food, there is still hope. You can offer them a wholesome and nutrient-rich diet with wet food.

Wellness Complete Health Just For Puppy canned dog food is packed with protein and veggies. It starts with real chicken, chicken liver, and salmon. These ingredients provide a high-protein formula and chondroitin for muscle maintenance. 

This recipe isn’t grain-free, but it doesn’t include wheat, soy, or corn. Instead, they use ingredients like ground barley, sweet potatoes, and pea protein. They still offer prebiotic fiber for regularity and vitamins like beta-carotene for eyesight.

Chicken liver and canola oil provide essential fatty acids to boost energy. And chicken liver provides vitamins like glucosamine and iron for flexible joints and muscles. 

This formula is pate-style wet dog food, making it easy to serve small pups. It’s formulated by nutritionists and veterinarians. 

Small breed puppy parents love that this food helps their dogs giardia symptoms during treatment, and those who don’t drink enough water daily.   

Best Fresh Food

Ollie Turkey Dog Food

Ollie Turkey
  • First 5 Ingredients: Turkey Breast, Kale, Lentils, Carrots, Coconut Oil
  • Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 11% Crude Protein, 7% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 72% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 1390 kcal/kg
  • Key Feature: Fresh and customized puppy food made with human-grade ingredients

No two puppies are alike. Based on their breed, size, and activity level, your pup may need more or less protein, fats, and nutrients. That’s where customizable and high-quality food comes in. 

Ollie makes this easy. This US-crafted brand mixes human-grade ingredients to fit your dog’s needs. 

To get started, you’ll take Ollie’s 5-minute online quiz. They’ll ask questions about your dog’s weight, height, breed, and activity level. And, if your pup has allergies, you can include those as well. 

After completing the quiz, they will calculate the perfect formula and serving sizes for your pup. From there, you can choose one (or many) of their recipe options — including turkey, lamb, beef, and chicken. 

This food is fresh, but it’s measured on a wet matter basis. So when converted to a dry matter basis, it’s high in fat and protein. This is perfect for growing pups that need extra nutrition. 

Ollie ships your dog’s food fresh every two weeks to your door. And, to make serving easy, they include a feeding guide, storage container, and scoop. 

Tiny dog owners enjoy this food and that it’s made for their dogs. But, many admit that it can get a bit messy.

Best Budget Food

American Journey Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

American Journey Puppy Lamb Grain Free Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Lamb, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 380 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Grain-free dry dog food with real lamb for budget-conscious owners

You don’t have to overspend your dog’s food budget to offer them a high-quality formula. American Journey is full of the same nutritious ingredients that premium brands use. But, it’s at an economical cost. 

Their Lamb & Sweet Potato Grain-Free puppy food formula starts with real, deboned lamb and chicken meal. This offers protein and amino acids your puppy needs to keep their growing muscles lean.

Chicken meal and salmon oil offer plenty of omega fatty acids and DHA for the healthy development of the brain and eyes. And, they also help your pup have healthy skin and a shiny coat

This formula also has fiber-rich chickpeas and sweet potatoes for energy. And, these ingredients provide prebiotics for easy digestion. 

This recipe is free of corn, wheat, and soy. It’s also free of grains and artificial colors and flavors. This makes it an excellent choice for puppies prone to beef sensitivities and intolerances.

Pet parents love that this high-quality puppy food works well with sensitive stomachs, without the price of vet-prescribed food. And, many also appreciate the simple ingredients and chelated vitamins. 

Best Premium Food

ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food

ORIJEN Puppy Grain Free Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Flounder, Whole Mackerel
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Crude Protein, 20% Crude Fat, 6% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 475 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein “whole prey” premium dry puppy food made without grains

Premium ingredients can be an excellent choice for small breed dogs that need more energy. Try ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free dry food if you have a future working dog or want to spoil your pup. 

It starts with raw animal proteins. These include free-run chicken and turkey, and wild-caught whole mackerel and flounder.

And, they include the “whole-prey” as well — using the animals’ bones and organs for extra iron, protein, and ARA. These nutrients aid in cognitive function and give your pup a boost of energy. 

Whole red lentils and whole pinto beans provide both prebiotic fiber and vitamins. These help soothe sensitive tummies, and the vitamins — like vitamin A and manganese — aid in eye and joint health. 

Pumpkin, butternut squash, pears, and collard greens have many antioxidants. These help boost your pup’s immune system. And, they include extra vitamins for heart, joint, and muscle support. 

After cooking their dog food, ORIJEN coats it with freeze-dried liver. This offers extra flavor and includes added chelated vitamins. 

ORIJEN is a US-made formula. It’s free of grains, wheat, soy, and artificial preservatives. 

Small breed puppy owners love that they can pronounce every ingredient in this food. However, many wish to find bigger bags when they have multiple small dogs.

Best Dehydrated Food

The Honest Kitchen Food Clusters Whole Grain Puppy Blend Dog Food

The Honest Kitchen Food Clusters Whole Grain Chicken Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Oats, Barley, Chicken Liver, Carrots
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 467 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein and human-grade dehydrated puppy food

You always want to feed your puppy under 12 months old a pup-friendly formula. And many dry kibble and wet food formulas are made for puppies.

But, most dehydrated foods are made for adults and seniors. Except for The Honest Kitchen Food Clusters Whole-Grain Puppy Blend formula. 

This formula starts with raw and free-range chicken and chicken liver. This animal protein is first cold-pressed to extract all nutrients — and then dehydrated. They provide glucosamine and chondroitin for muscle recovery and healthy joints. 

Ground flaxseed, coconut oil, and salmon oil provide a plethora of omega fatty acids and DHA. These help keep your pup’s coat shiny, aid in brain function, and even keep their digestion healthy. 

This formula also includes whole grains like oats and barley. These provide vitamins like phosphorus and calcium for healthy bone growth. 

After preparation, the food is dehydrated and formed into small, easy-to-eat clusters. While you can rehydrate the food, it’s unnecessary and can be fed right out of the bag. 

This recipe is free of artificial flavors, preservatives, GMOs, and fillers. It’s made with human-grade food and processed in a human food facility. 

Pup moms and dads think that this food is the perfect solution for parents who want convenience but want to transition to raw or fresh food. 

Best Grain-Free Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Pea Protein
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein, 17% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 415 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: High-protein dog food without grains for sensitive pups 

There are many reasons why your dog could need a grain-free diet. This includes allergies and food intolerances. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice high-quality ingredients or your time to feed them.

Grain-free formulas have become popular in the past few years. But don’t buy any food. Instead, try Taste of the Wild

Their High Prairie Puppy formula starts with water buffalo, lamb meal, and roasted venison. These novel proteins offer B vitamins and vitamin D for a strong heart and bones. 

For healthy fats, chicken fat and salmon oil offer omega-3s and omega-6s. And, salmon oil is high in DHA, an excellent vitamin for growing pups because it aids in brain development. 

Instead of grains, Taste of the Wild uses sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes. These easy-to-digest carbs also provide prebiotic fiber. They aid in healthier digestion and have vitamins like vitamin C for immune support.

This recipe is from a family-owned brand that manufactures their food right in the US. It’s free of grains, corn, wheat, artificial flavors, or artificial colors.

Small pup owners admit that this food is bigger than some small breed formulas. However, many note that as long as your dog isn’t a tiny breed, they should be able to eat just fine. 

Best With Grain

ACANA Wholesome Grains Puppy Recipe Gluten-Free Dry Dog Food

ACANA Wholesome Grains Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oat Groats, Whole Sorghum, Whole Millet
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein, 19% Crude Fat, 6% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 425 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Gluten-free dry puppy food with probiotics and whole grains for brain development 

Not all dogs need to be on a grain-free diet. And, many pup owners want to feed them wholesome and nutritious grains that can offer vitamins and minerals. For high-quality nutrition, choose ACANA Puppy Wholesome Grains dry dog food. 

This formula starts with free-run deboned chicken, chicken meal, cage-free eggs, and free-run turkey to start. The chicken, chicken meal, and turkey contain chondroitin and taurine for healthy muscles and heart strength.

nd, the fresh proteins are preserved using refrigeration, while the raw poultry’s frozen at peak freshness.

Oats and millet are high in fiber and free from gluten. And, they offer vitamins like selenium and zinc to support healthy digestion — perfect for growing pups. 

ACANA’s ingredients come from a trusted group of farmers, ranchers, and fishers. And, every batch of the food cooks in their Kentucky kitchen. It doesn’t include any artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. And, it’s free of legumes, gluten, and potatoes.

Small breed puppy owners think this food is high in calories for their tiny pups. So they recommend measuring out the food to avoid overfeeding.

Best for Allergies

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Sensitive Skin & Stomach Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Rice, Barley, Fish Meal, Canola Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 428 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Chicken-free dry dog food with novel proteins for sensitive tummies

Some puppies have sensitive tummies. And usually, specific proteins and the lack of probiotics can cause stomach troubles.

This includes discomfort, loose stools, or bloat. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Sensitive Skin & Stomach is great for pet parents looking to help soothe their pups’ digestive system. 

Salmon is the first ingredient, along with fish meal and salmon meal. These novel ingredients offer 28% of Crude Protein for strong muscles and joints without sensitivity. And, they’re perfect for dogs with skin problems.  

This formula is chicken-free. It includes beef fat for extra iron, taurine, and omega fatty acids. These help coat the digestive tract and reduce inflammation. 

Guaranteed live probiotics are also added. These help support digestive and immune health. And, natural prebiotic fiber from rice and barley nourishes healthy intestinal bacteria for a happy tummy.

Purina Pro Plan also adds chelated calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D to help build strong bones and teeth. But, it doesn’t include any artificial flavors or colors.

Dog food reviews say that this formula stopped their pups from being super gassy. Many also noticed a difference in coat health and shine. 

Best for Sensitive Stomachs

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Basics LID Turkey Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Oatmeal, Peas, Brown Rice
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 4394 kcal/cup
  • Key Feature: Limited ingredient dry dog food with probiotics and antioxidants for sensitive dogs

Unlike tummy troubles and food intolerances, allergies can be lifelong. If your furry friend needs to avoid top allergens like chicken, beef, and wheat, Blue Buffalo can help.

Their Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy formula is a great dry food for any dog with mild or moderate allergies. And bonus points include less than 20 ingredients, not including vitamins and minerals.

This recipe starts with real deboned turkey, turkey meal, and pea protein — instead of chicken. While chicken is a common allergen, turkey is generally considered a safe poultry option. And, it has taurine and glucosamine, which aid in joint and heart health. 

Oatmeal and whole brown rice replace wheat, corn, and soy. These easy-to-digest carbohydrates offer natural prebiotics for digestive health and immune support. 

Fish oil, canola oil, and flaxseed provide healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These offer joint and muscle support but also offer probiotics for healthier digestion. 

Blue Buffalo includes their exclusive “LifeSource Bits” too. This is a combination of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. These offer a boost to the immune system and reduce inflammation caused by mild allergic reactions from the environment. 

Pet parents love that this food helps with digestive issues and keeps allergies at bay. And, many note that allergy symptoms like itchy skin and watery eyes stop almost immediately after switching. 

puppy eating

Small Breed Puppy Food Buying Guide 

How exactly should you be feeding your small breed? Let’s talk about it. 

What’s Considered a Small and Toy Breed

Toy dogs weigh 15 pounds or less when they are fully grown. Small breed dogs are between 16 and 30 pounds and usually range between 10 and 18 inches tall at the shoulder. 

Small Breed Puppy Nutrition

A small breed puppy has a higher metabolic rate and smaller stomach, so they need more nutrient-dense food. But, due to their small stature, they also can’t eat too many calories.

Small breed formulas help balance both needs, unlike “regular” puppy food for medium or large breeds

While they can eat regular dog food, small breeds won’t get the same nutrients from those types that small breed formulas would offer.

And, small breed recipes help prevent hypoglycemia by providing nutrients that keep your small pup going all day. 

What to Look For When Buying Puppy Food for Small Breeds

What should you look for when buying small breed puppy food? Here’s what to look out for. 

High-Quality Protein 

Your small dog still needs plenty of animal protein. This will help maintain muscle mass, protect their joints, and help with energy production. But, you’ll want to choose real animal proteins, preferably as the first ingredients. 

These include chicken, beef, fish, lamb, and pork, amongst others. And, if you’re on a budget, meat meals are a high-quality alternative. 

Essential Fats and Fatty Acids

Fats are vital for all growing puppies, especially small breeds. First, fats are the best source of energy production in dogs. And second, small dogs need joint support, which fats like omega-3s can help with.

The best fatty acids are in fish oil, coconut oil, and meat fats like chicken fat. But, sunflower oil, canola oil, and avocados (in moderation, only in dog food) can be beneficial as well. 

Complex Carbs 

All dogs need healthy carbohydrates. These incredible ingredients can help regulate digestion and aid in eye, joint, and immune support. 

But the source of carbs is essential. Focus on low-glycemic index and complex carbohydrates. This includes oats, quinoa, brown rice, barley, or vegetables like potatoes and peas.

Enough Calories 

When feeding your small pup, calories will be necessary. Too few, and your dog can lose weight or become hypoglycemic.

But too many, and your dog can gain weight and have joint problems. Small puppies will need around 28-30 calories per pound that they weigh. So an 8-pound puppy will need about 300 calories a day. 

Kibble Size 

If the small breed dog food you feed your small pup is too large, it can cause choking, breaking teeth, and even lacerations in their throat and mouth.

So remember to choose a smaller kibble or small breed friendly formulas to avoid these experiences. 

Ingredients to Avoid When Buying Puppy Food 

Of course, most formulas have nothing but high-quality ingredients. But there are a few that you should avoid or keep an eye on. Here’s what to keep away from your small pup. 

Meat By-Products

Unlike real animal proteins and meat meals, meat by-products are left at the end of the food extraction cycle.

While your dog can digest them, they don’t offer the same vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that real meat does. So focus on animal proteins like deboned meat, meat as the first ingredient, and meat meals. 

Artificial Colors and Flavors  

Artificial colors and flavors are unnecessary and can be dangerous. Some studies have shown that they can cause heart problems or gastrointestinal issues. Since they aren’t needed, simply avoid them. 

Unnecessary Fillers 

Fillers like wheat, corn, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, and soy are used to cut costs and make more food. But, many of these fillers can cause allergic reactions or intolerances.

While a bit here and there is okay, try finding formulas focusing on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. 

shih tzu puppy

Small Breed Puppy Feeding Guide 

Want to know more about feeding your pup small breed dog food? Here’s what you need to know. 

How Much to Feed a Small Breed Puppy?

This will depend on your dog’s needs and the brand and formula you’re feeding them. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions on the back of the food to see their feeding recommendation. 

How Often to Feed a Small Puppy?

You’ll want to feed your puppy at least three times a day. Some owners even provide 4-5 small meals to equal the dog’s daily calories. 

Because puppies are growing and need help with energy production and digestion, feeding more can be helpful.

When to Switch Your Dog From Puppy Food to Adult Food?

Small breeds reach adulthood quicker than medium or large breeds. Most small breeds reach adulthood by 12 months of age.

But, your vet can tell you if your dog needs less or more time on puppy food. And, if your dog has been fixed, they may need to switch to adult food earlier to avoid weight gain. 

Our Verdict

As you can see, puppy food made for small puppies is essential in helping your pooch grow up to be their best self. While you can offer them regular dog food, a small breed formula will provide better nutrition, without any hassle. 

We love and recommend Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy dry dog food. 

This is perfect for all dogs under 15 pounds. And, it offers plenty of protein, fat, and probiotics for healthy growth, joints, and muscles. 

But of course, the options on this list are excellent choices for small breeds. Even if your little guy needs a little extra tummy or immune support, you’ll find the best food for them. 


Want to know more about buying puppy food for your small breed? Here are two common questions and answers. 

Is wet or dry food better for my small breed puppy?

This will depend on your puppy and your vet’s recommendations. But usually, kibble is better for small pups. It helps scrape off plaque and tartar and is economical for owners, while still being high-quality. 

Can my small breed puppy eat regular puppy food?

Yes, you can feed your small breed puppy regular puppy food. But, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, if the kibble is too large, this can hurt your small dog’s jaw or teeth, and it can be a choking hazard.

Second, small dogs shouldn’t be overfed, which can be easy to do with regular puppy food. Small breed formulas usually have fewer calories but the same vitamins and minerals. 

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Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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