Dogs are just like humans — no two are alike. With that, you may have gotten a dog that dislikes regular kibble.
Before getting frustrated, or resorting to expensive wet dog food, give soft dry dog food a try. It’s easier to eat and usually more flavorful for the finicky pups.
I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is the best soft dry dog food, in our opinion.
It fits all breeds and sizes and contains high-protein and moderate-fat levels for energy and lean muscle mass. And even though it’s softer, it’s still shelf-stable for busy families who don’t have time to defrost food.
And we have other great dog food options, too — including grain-free foods, dehydrated choices, and even an option for dogs with allergies.
70% raw protein ingredients
Gently air-dried protein
Good as a meaty meal or food topper
Farm-raised lamb #1 ingredient
All life stages formula
No fillers or by-product meals
Free-range meats & wild-caught fish
Whole-prey meat, organs, bones & green mussels
Our Soft Dry Dog Food Options
- Best Overall – I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free
- Best Budget Food – Wellness CORE Bowl Boosters Air Dried Grain-Free
- Best Premium Food – Ziwi Peak Beef Air-Dried
- Best for Puppies – Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural
- Best for Seniors – Sojos Complete Senior Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Dehydrated
- Best for Small Breeds – ORIJEN Tundra Grain-Free Freeze-Dried
- Best for Large Breeds – Tender & True Limited Ingredient Grain-Free
- Best Dehydrated Food – Canisource Grand Cru Grain-Free Dehydrated
- Best for Allergies – Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw
- Best for Sensitive Stomachs – Purina Pro Plan High Protein
10 Best Soft Dry Dog Foods Reviewed
The soft dry dog foods below follow AAFCO’s nutrient profile guidelines. Before switching your canine to new dog food, consult with your veterinarian.
- First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Ground Peas
- Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 4.5% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 361 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-protein and grain-free soft dry dog food for most adult dogs
No matter why your dog needs soft dry dog food, there are plenty of options that can benefit them.
But one of our favorites is I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free dry dog food. It’s the perfect diet for most adult dogs — from small to large breed, no matter their needs.
This grain-free kibble starts with real deboned lamb and chicken and turkey meals. These high-quality proteins are great for working and hunting dogs and energetic pups that need to keep their lean muscle mass.
Chicken fat and fish oil pack healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These aid in coat health and shine and boost cognitive function.
Lentils and dried sweet potatoes offer prebiotic fiber for healthy digestion and a clear digestive tract. And this recipe comes with supplemented probiotics, which can keep your dog’s gut health in check.
This dog food is made without corn, wheat, soy, rice, artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. It’s noted that it works well for puppies and senior dogs, too — but be sure to clear this with your vet before switching them to a new food.
Dog owners say their canines love this food, but it does make them sweep more because of the extra crumbs.
Made without artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors
Can feed dogs of all ages
Contains prebiotics and probiotics
Can make dogs gassy
Some picky dogs don’t like it
- First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Deboned Chicken, Chickpeas, Peas, Gelatin
- Guaranteed Analysis: 31% Crude Protein, 21% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 20% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 411 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-protein and grain-free semi-moist dog food for dog owners on a budget
Soft dry dog food — especially when dehydrated or air-dried — can add up over time. But even if you’re on a budget, there is still an option for your pup. Wellness CORE Bowl Boosters Tender Turkey & Chicken Recipe is perfect for dogs who like food toppers or as a balanced meal all on its own.
It’s made of 70% protein, starting with deboned turkey, deboned chicken, and high protein chickpeas. These are high in taurine for heart health and B vitamins for energy production. Because of the high protein content, be careful feeding it to a dog dealing with weight gain.
It’s important to note that this formula contains small traces of cultured skim milk. While it’s cultured to provide probiotics, it may be too rough on some dogs’ tummies. So if you notice that your dog has digestive issues after eating this food, they are most likely lactose intolerant and need to be switched.
This grain-free raw dog food for dogs is gently air-dried protein to create a perfectly chewy meal for your furry buddy. It’s crafted without wheat gluten, corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Canine owners say this food feels like jerky and is perfect for their picky pup who needs softer food. But many parents note that they hate the smell and that it makes their dogs burp after eating it.
U.S. sourced ingredients
Free of wheat, corn, and soy for sensitive dogs
Higher fiber content for healthy digestion
Dog owners hate the smell
Higher in sodium
Not good for dogs with lots of missing teeth
- First 5 Ingredients: Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Kidney, Beef Tripe, Beef Liver
- Guaranteed Analysis: 38% Crude Protein, 30% Crude Fat, 2% Fiber, 14% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 312 kcal/scoop
- Key Feature: Premium high-protein, high-fat, and grain-free semi-moist dog food
Got a dog that loves to be spoiled? For picky pups, a premium soft dry dog food like Ziwi Peak Beef Air-Dried is fantastic.
First, this formula mimics beef jerky, which dogs go crazy for. But, unlike human beef jerky, it’s free of preservatives, flavors, and colors.
And it’s easier to chew, so your dog won’t be swallowing their food whole. Plus, it’s low in sodium and doesn’t contain any extra ingredients besides real animal proteins, chicory, kelp, vitamins, and minerals.
Second, this recipe is high in protein and high in fat. So if you have a dog that struggles with weight gain, this may not be the best option. But if you have a dog with high nutritional needs (like a working or hunting pup), this food is perfect.
It starts with real USDA-grade beef, beef tripe, and New Zealand green mussels. These offer a whopping 38% Crude Protein for lean muscle mass. Plus, they contain chondroitin and glucosamine for flexible joints and nourished cartilage. And beef has natural sources of taurine, which is essential for heart health.
Dried kelp and chicory provide prebiotic fiber for digestion and metabolic support. Plus, kelp is high in manganese, zinc, and antioxidants, which boost immune and cardiovascular health.
Pet owners say this food is the only one their dog will eat, and they never plan on switching back to regular dry kibble again. But be careful; this food isn’t as shelf-stable as freeze-dried food and can mold faster than average kibble.
Doesn’t need to soak in water to serve
Contains 90% raw animal protein
High-protein for active dogs
Can get moldy fast
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Soybean Meal, Whole Corn
- Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 390 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-protein soft dry puppy food with DHA for cognitive growth
For many young dogs, brittle and dry kibble can be too harsh on their tiny jaws. And if your dog is picky, too, that’s a double whammy. But why not try soft dry dog food like Rachael Ray Bright Puppy dry dog food?
While it’s slightly drier than some options on this list, it’s got real pieces of tender shredded chicken mixed in for flavor and texture. So most puppies, even the picky dogs, will quickly gobble this food up.
Real deboned chicken is also the number one ingredient. This animal protein supports healthy organs and lean muscle mass with taurine and amino acids. And it contains glucosamine for flexible joints.
Fish meal and menhaden fish oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These support itch-free and nourished skin and DHA and EPA for brain development.
This formula is free of artificial flavors, preservatives, poultry by-product meal, added wheat, and wheat gluten ingredients.
Puppy parents appreciate that this food doesn’t contain any by-products, which many say their young pup is sensitive to. But some say their picky pup wouldn’t touch the food unless they mixed it with wet food.
Affordable dog food option for puppies
Contains DHA for puppy brain development
Doesn’t contain meat by-products
Pellets are small
Some picky pups don’t like it
- First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Sweet Potatoes, Cranberries, Flaxseed, Whole Egg
- Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 5% Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 284 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-protein senior-friendly dry soft dog food with antioxidants and real animal proteins
Older dogs fare better when they have softer food to eat. Many of them have dental problems, but some have even lost teeth.
And, since your senior’s metabolism and immune response slow, they also need a lower-calorie diet with antioxidants. Just keep in mind that if your dog switches, brush their teeth to avoid plaque buildup.
Sojos Complete Senior Raw Dog Food is a great option. It’s high in protein to maintain lean muscle mass and mobility but lower in fat and calories to avoid weight gain. And it’s packed with real animal proteins that provide flavor and texture.
It is made for dogs six years and older and starts with real deboned turkey. This protein source contains both glucosamine and chondroitin for flexible joints and ligaments. Whole eggs also add extra protein and potassium for strong bones.
While this dog food is lower in fat, it still contains deboned salmon, flaxseeds, and turkey liver for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These aid in brain function, reduce inflammation in the joints, and boost heart health.
Last but not least, cranberries, apples, coconut, and pumpkin aid in prebiotic fiber for regularity. And they’re packed with vitamin C and antioxidants for immune system support.
This formula isn’t dry but dehydrated. It softens once you add water to it. Please keep in mind that it contains raw meat that has been freeze-dried to reduce bacteria. However, you should still take the necessary precautions to avoid cross-contamination.
Senior dog owners say their picky old dog loves this food, and it’s easy to eat and clean out of their bowl. But some note that the food has to soak upward of 30 minutes to absorb all the water you have to add.
Doesn’t contain artificial ingredients or fillers
Contains high-quality meat proteins
Doesn’t absorb water well
More veggies than meat in some bags
- First 5 Ingredients: Venison, Duck (Ground With Bone), Flounder, Lamb Meat, Duck Liver
- Guaranteed Analysis: 37% Crude Protein, 34% Crude Fat, 5% Fiber, 4% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 75 kcal/medallion
- Key Feature: High-calorie, grain-free, and high-protein soft dog food for small breeds
Small dogs need concentrated nutrition in easy-to-eat kibble. Many pet parents feed their tiny breeds wet food, especially when they have smaller jaws. But, there are other options, especially if you’re looking for a shelf-stable choice!
Orijen Tundra Grain-Free freeze-dried dog food is an excellent option. Unlike other dehydrated or soft foods, it’s flash-frozen for long periods, so it can last upwards of three years on a shelf and expands four times its size.
It starts with whole-prey animal proteins — including ranch-raised venison, duck, wild-caught flounder, and grass-fed lamb.
These ingredients are raw when added to the food, so your dog gets all of the nutrients vs. them being cooked out. And they’re high in fat, which helps aid tiny joints and keeps your dog’s cognitive function sharp.
There are no grains in this recipe. Instead, whole pumpkin and collard greens provide prebiotic fiber for your dog’s digestive system and vitamins like vitamin C and A for a strong immune system and sharp eyes.
One of the most remarkable features of this meaty dog food is that it comes in medallions, so it’s already pre-measured. Follow the package instruction on how many medallions your dog needs for balanced and complete nutrition each day.
Small breed parents love the size of this bag of food and say they can stretch it for 8-10 weeks, which is a steal for freeze-dried food. But as with most meat-heavy formulas, pet owners say this one stinks and smells like fish.
Contains human-grade proteins
Easy to portion food discs
Smells like fish
Lower calorie, so not suitable for large breeds
- First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Whiting Meal, Dried Sweet Potato, Tapioca Starch, Dried Potato
- Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 3.75% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 470 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-protein and high-calorie soft dry dog food for large breeds
Luckily for most large breed dogs, they can easily handle dry kibble. With their larger jaws (and stomachs!), they need plenty of food, which dry dog food can help with.
But, no worries if your pup needs softer food due to texture, taste, or dental problems. Tender & True Limited Ingredient Grain-Free dry dog food is a perfect choice.
First, this formula only contains sustainable seafood, certified by The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
It features wild-caught salmon as the first ingredient and whiting meal. These novel proteins are perfect for dogs with food allergies to animal products like chicken and beef. And they contain taurine and omega fatty acids for heart health and healthy skin.
Instead of grains, dried sweet potato, pea flour, and dried peas make up the bulk of the carbohydrates in this food. They provide fiber to keep your dog regular and contain vitamins like vitamin A, C, and iron for immune function and vision.
This formula is free of poultry, grain, corn, wheat, and soy. It doesn’t contain any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Large breed owners love that this food has coconut oil for a healthy coat, and many notice that their dog loves this flavor more than other options.
Can feed puppies, adults, and seniors
Free of grains for sensitive pups
Starts with wild-caught salmon
Smells like fish
Kibble is a bit small for giant breeds
- First 5 Ingredients: Turkey, Turkey Liver, Green Peas, Green Lentils, Lupine
- Guaranteed Analysis: 31% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 8% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 480 kcal/can
- Key Feature: High-protein and high-calorie dehydrated dog food made with raw proteins
Canisource’s Grand Cru Grain Free Turkey Dehydrated dog food is high in calories, protein, and fat, perfect for active or working dogs. And it contains raw animal proteins for pet parents who prefer feeding their dogs a raw diet.
This formula starts with real turkey and turkey liver. Turkey is the only protein in this food, making it a mono-protein food for dogs with sensitivities. And turkey liver contains high concentrations of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health and mobility.
An exciting addition to this food is lupine — a plant protein and grain similar to quinoa. But it contains three times the amount of fiber and antioxidants. This is an excellent boost to your dog’s food, aiding immune system support and easier digestion.
100% of the ingredients in this dog food are also approved for human consumption so that you could eat it too (although we don’t advise it!).
Because this formula is dehydrated, you’ll want to add water or broth to soften it for dogs who need softer food. This recipe doesn’t contain any by-products, artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors.
Dog moms and dads love that this food is shelf-stable and that their dogs can eat it without soaking it first. But it is higher in calories, so it may not be the best choice for overweight dogs.
Limited ingredient diet for sensitive dogs
Free of chicken and meat by-products
Pellets are larger
Bag isn’t resealable
- First 5 Ingredients: Duck, Duck Necks, Duck Heart, Duck Wings, Duck Liver
- Guaranteed Analysis: 43% Crude Protein, 27% Crude Fat, 3% Fiber, 5% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 184 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Low-calorie and high-protein dog food with novel proteins for dogs with allergies
Finding kibble options that fit your dog’s nutritional needs — plus don’t affect their allergies — can be difficult when looking for soft dry dog food. But with Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food, your pup no longer has to choose between their teeth, gums, and health.
Nulo’s Freestyle Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Duck dog food is perfect for pups who need to avoid specific proteins and grains. It’s free of poultry, beef, eggs, wheat, oats, and rice. So if your dog needs to steer clear of multiple ingredients, this is an excellent choice.
It starts with raw duck, neck, heart, liver, and bone. This food follows the whole-prey approach, too, adding the whole animal, not just bits and pieces. This helps your dog get all its nutrients — including iron, B vitamins, and calcium for strong bones and energy.
While there are no grains, this recipe does have natural ingredients like pears, butternut squash, blueberries, and kale. These add extra flavor to the food and fiber content for easier digestion. Plus, kale and blueberries are superfoods that come packed with antioxidants. These help support your dog’s immune system.
Nulo Freestyle is also free of corn, soy, artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors.
Pet parents love that their dog’s digestion and regularity went back to normal after switching to this food. If your dog has issues digesting fat, though, steer clear. This is high-fat dog food.
Made in a USDA-inspected facility
Contains probiotics for sensitive pups
Includes human-grade ingredients
Some bags are full of food dust — not pellets
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Poultry By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal
- Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 387 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Soft dry dog food with probiotics for sensitive tummies
If your dog doesn’t have allergies but tends to have a sensitive tummy? Does your pup deal with gassiness, stinky burps, loose stool, or constipation? If so, Purina Pro Plan Chicken & Rice dry dog food can alleviate those issues.
It’s simple in ingredients and only contains what your dog really needs for easy digestion. It starts with real chicken as the first ingredient. Chicken contains l-lysine and glucosamine for healthy joints and strong muscles.
Beef fat and fish oil make this a higher-fat food, perfect for dogs struggling with energy levels. And they contain linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, to promote healthy skin and a shiny coat. Plus, fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties to aid in a healthy digestive tract.
For sensitive stomachs, this food is also fortified with guaranteed live probiotics. These flush your dog’s gut with good bacteria and can aid in a robust immune system.
While it is considered a dry kibble, it has more moisture content than the average 10%. Also, it includes tender shredded pieces of chicken for texture.
Many dog owners exclaimed that this food is suitable for both big and small dogs, and many love how it helps keep their pups regular. But some note that their dog has to eat more to keep up with their activity levels, and they don’t seem to get full like before.
Contains shredded pieces of chicken
Kibble is small
Some picky pups won’t eat it
Contains cheaper grains
How to Choose the Best Soft Dry Dog Food
Are you looking for soft dry dog food that your pup will love, so they don’t struggle to eat? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Soft Dry Dog Food
Semi-moist dog food is the perfect mix of wet and dry dog food.
It has more moisture content than dry dog food but isn’t messy or hard to feed like wet dog food.
It makes eating easier, helps keep stool firm, and helps clean teeth without the extra “crunch.”
Benefits of Soft Dry Food
There are quite a few benefits to soft dry food. Let’s talk about them.
Dog’s come from wolf ancestors. In other words, they can and do eat meat and love it! But sometimes kibble can be bland because all flavors disappear during a high heat cooking process.
With soft dry dog food, your dog still gets the real taste of their favorite proteins like fish, chicken, beef, and lamb. And in some of the foods, they even get bites of real shreds of the chosen protein.
Just like dry dog food, soft food has a long shelf-life. This is because many soft choices are air-dried or even dehydrated just enough to make them shelf-stable — without losing their moisture content. Usually, soft dry dog foods can sit in your pantry for 18 to 24 months.
Texture & Taste
Just like with flavor, dogs love exciting textures in their food. Think about it this way — would you want to eat the same dry, dull, bland kibble day in and day out?
With soft dry dog food, they get jerky or real meat-type chew and a slightly soft bite that feels like they’re eating a fresh meal.
While semi-moist dog food can be more expensive than dry dog food, it’s usually less costly than wet dog food. And, for many of the options on this list, you can also add water to stretch it even further.
Drawbacks of Soft Dry Dog Food
Soft dry dog food has very few drawbacks, making it a great alternative to dry dog food. But, it is essential to note that some of these foods need extra preservatives to keep them shelf-stable for extended periods.
So if you want to choose soft dry dog food, try to focus on those that are freeze-dried, air-dried, or dehydrated. At the very least, choose those with natural preservatives, like rosemary oil and vitamin E extract.
Soft Dry Dog Food vs. Regular Dry Dog Food
Should you choose soft dry dog food or regular dry food? That depends on you and your pup! Both options are great for their reasons.
But typically, pet moms and dads love soft dry dog foods for their older (or younger) dogs, picky puppies, and dogs without teeth because it’s easier to eat.
Whatever you do, choose a food that meets your dog’s nutritional needs and contains the vitamins and minerals that your vet recommends.
When to Consider Feeding Soft Dry Dog Food
You can feed your pup semi-moist dog food any time, no matter the reason. However, some dogs can do exceptionally well on this diet.
Because senior dogs may lose teeth or have difficulty chewing and swallowing, they are perfect candidates for soft dry dog food.
They won’t damage their gums or teeth, but they can also get plenty of protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants for gut and immune health.
Like older dogs, puppies are excellent soft dry food contenders. But their reasoning is slightly different.
Some pups can be incredibly picky or have difficulty chewing and swallowing crunchy kibble. Some just gulp it down or pick at it all together.
You can that soft, dry food entices them and makes it easier to chew more significant bits to prevent choking.
Dogs with Dental Problems
Your dog doesn’t have to be in their senior years to struggle with dental problems. If this is the case for your dog, switching to a soft dry dog can be helpful.
The food can still help scrape off plaque and tartar but will have more moisture to keep your dog’s teeth safe and taken care of.
Got a picky eater on your hands? Don’t fret and switch to wet food — which can cost a small fortune if you have a lot of dogs or a bigger pup — try soft dry dog food first.
It tends to have more flavor than dry kibble and is softer to mimic your dog eating real meat.
What to Look For When Buying Soft Dry Dog Food
When choosing soft dry dog food, there are a few things to keep in mind and look out for.
First, be sure that the food contains high-quality ingredients. This includes fruits and vegetables, top-quality carbs like barley, oats, legumes, and real meat proteins.
Also, probiotics, antioxidants, and healthy fats can go a long way. These make it easier for your dog to absorb the nutrients they need.
Second, protein sources in your pup’s food are essential. Look for real animal proteins — and they should be the first ingredient. This includes deboned meats, fish, and meat meals. Try to avoid by-products unless you know where they come from.
Next, even with soft dog food, your dog still needs plenty of vitamins and minerals to live a long and healthy life. So make sure the food you choose has essential fatty acids, potassium, vitamins (like vitamin D, A, and C), and calcium.
Last but not least, you should avoid fillers when you can. Artificial preservatives, flavors, and colors don’t add anything to dog food; some dogs are allergic to them. So it’s best to steer clear of them altogether.
Your dog doesn’t have to eat the same boring kibble every day, and you don’t have to worry about them missing out on nutrients with soft dry dog food.
Our favorite option is I and Love and You Naked Essentials Grain-Free Dry Dog Food.
It’s flavorful and perfect for most adult dogs (and even puppies — but check with your vet first!). And with all the wholesome ingredients, your dog won’t miss out on taste, texture, or health.
But other choices also work — it all depends on your dog’s specific needs and preferences.
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