It is essential to get your puppy’s nutrition started right. Ensuring that your puppy has everything they need now to grow is essential to avoid health problems later on. Much of your puppy’s development occurs in the first few months. For that development to happen correctly, they need specific vitamins and minerals.
While smaller breeds don’t have some of the developmental problems that giant breeds have, they still need a very particular diet as a puppy. In this article, we’ll review the best puppy foods for smaller breeds so that you can pick the best for your pup.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food||
|Best Value||Purina Pro Plan Puppy Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula||
|Premium Choice||Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey||
|Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Dry Dog Food||
|Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food||
The 10 Best Small Breed Puppy Foods – Reviews 2021
1. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food – Best Overall
Diamond Naturals may not be as well-known as some other brands, but their Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food is perfect for small breed puppies. It includes probiotics in every bite to establish a healthy gut biome from the beginning. It is made with real cage-free chicken as the first ingredient and a variety of veggies and fruits. These veggies aren’t just fillers, either. Instead, highly nutritious veggies like kale, pumpkin, blueberries, and oranges are included to increase the food’s nutritional value.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are included throughout the formula to support a healthy coat and skin, which is especially important for smaller puppies with sensitive skin. It is made with no corn, wheat, filler, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. This formula is made in the USA using scientifically advanced food safety protocols, leading to fewer dangerous recalls.
This formula even includes things like natural DHA to support brain and vision health. Plus, it’s pretty inexpensive to boot! It was easy to pick this formula as the best option out there for small breed puppies.
2. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula – Best Value
You may want to consider Purina Pro Plan Puppy Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula for those on a budget. This formula includes chicken as the first ingredient, which is excellent considering its low price. Some of the other ingredients are less-than-stellar. For instance, the second ingredient is corn gluten meal, which is not particularly nutrient-rich. However, it is high in protein despite this.
The kibble is made tiny for the smaller puppies. Fish oil is included for extra omega fatty acids, with DHA for brain and vision development. Probiotics are also included to establish a suitable gut biome from a young age, which helps prevent stomach upset later on. Antioxidants are included in abundance and are essential for your puppy’s overall health. There are absolutely no artificial colors or flavors included.
Despite a few low-quality ingredients, this is easily the best small breed puppy food for the money.
3. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey – Best Premium
Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey is a bit more expensive than other options. However, it does include some higher-quality ingredients that may make the extra price worth it to some pet owners. It includes deboned turkey as the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal. Both of these ingredients are high-quality protein options. Salmon meal is included later in the ingredient list as well.
This formula is crafted carefully from the highest-quality ingredients available. It is made with smaller-sized kibbles, which you would expect from a small dog formula. Omega fatty acids are included, as well as an abundance of DHA. Antioxidants and probiotics are included as well to support your dog’s overall health. No meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives are included.
This food is made in the USA, but the ingredients are sourced from around the globe.
4. Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Dry Dog Food
Merrick is a high-quality dog food company overall. Their Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Dry Dog Food is a solid option as well. This recipe is crafted with various whole foods, including deboned chicken, chicken meal, and sweet potatoes as the first three ingredients. Despite this, it is somewhat lower in protein and fat than we would like, especially for a puppy. 76% of the protein is from animal sources, however, so the protein included is high-quality.
Glucosamine and chondroitin are included to help maintain healthy hips and joints. This is less important for smaller breeds. However, it is important to include if your puppy is from a breed prone to joint problems. Omega fatty acids are included, including DHA. This supports your puppy’s skin and coat. The DHA helps brain health and development, making it a good choice for growing puppies.
This food is also grain-free, which may help puppies with a sensitive stomach. However, grain-free foods have been potentially linked to the FDA’s specific heart issues, so don’t choose grain-free unless your dog is sensitive to grains.
5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food is a decent option for more miniature puppies. It includes deboned chicken as the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal. It has a decent protein percentage for this reason and is also relatively high in fat. Menhaden fish meal is also included, which increases its DHA and omega fatty acid content.
Calcium, phosphorus, and a range of other essential vitamins are included in higher amounts for stronger bones and teeth. The smaller kibble is the perfect size for smaller jaws. The minerals included are chelated, which improves their overall absorption. Your pet will be able to use these minerals better, in other words. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are both included from natural sources.
This Blue Buffalo food includes no corn, wheat, soy, or chicken by-product meals. The main problem with this food is that it is more expensive than other options, and you aren’t getting much for the extra cost. The value provided is low.
6. Eukanuba Small Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
While Eukanuba Small Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food is expensive, it does provide quite a few benefits. The first ingredient is chicken, with the second ingredient being chicken by-product meal. The rest of the food comprises grains and various veggies, and a few other animal products like eggs. The protein content in this food is relatively high. Much of the protein likely comes from animal sources based on the ingredient list.
This food is relatively high-calorie, so your puppy may need less than other products. Be sure to check the feeding guidelines when calculating the price, as it may not be as expensive as the purchase price suggests.
This food is designed for extra small and toy breeds. It is most fitting for dogs that have an expected adult weight of under 23 pounds. It supports muscle growth through added calcium, phosphorous, and animal protein. DHA is included in the form of fish oil to encourage brain growth.
7. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Dry Dog Food
Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Dry Dog Food isn’t designed for small breed dogs. However, based on the included benefits and ingredient list, it is suitable for smaller breed puppies. The only potential problem is that the kibble may be a bit too large for small, very tiny puppies. This food may be most suitable for small to medium puppies.
Chicken and chicken meals are included as the first two ingredients. The rest of the ingredient list is pretty much added vitamins and grains, including brewer’s rice, whole grain brown rice, and potato protein. While this food is decently high in protein, veggie protein’s inclusion means that most of the protein is likely not from animal sources. That’s something to keep in mind when interpreting the protein content.
Omega-3 fatty acids are included to support brain development, and essential antioxidants are added to support your dog’s immune system. All ingredients are non-GMO, which reduces the number of pesticides included.
8. Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Canned Dog Food
The Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Canned Dog Food is similar to the other Wellness brand dog food listed on this list. This food is quite expensive. Of course, it does depend on how much your puppy will be eating, though. Small puppies usually don’t eat very much, and these are full-sized, 12.5-ounce cans.
This food does include quite a few animal ingredients, including chicken broth, chicken, chicken liver, and salmon as the first few ingredients. However, lower quality ingredients like pea protein and potatoes are included as well. It is pretty high in protein, but much of this is likely due to the pea protein – not due to the animal products included.
This food also doesn’t include any added DHA or other nutrients commonly included in puppy dog food. This is a significant reason why it was rated so low in our reviews.
9. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites
Hill’s Science Diet is known to be an expensive, premium brand. However, Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites is surprisingly inexpensive if you purchase it from suitable sources. But it also isn’t as premium and high-quality as you might expect. Chicken meal is included as the first ingredient, which is a high-quality option. However, the rest of the food is grains. These grains are whole and high-quality, but they are still grains and fillers.
For this reason, this food is also relatively low in crude protein and fat, especially when compared to some cheaper options that we mentioned higher on this list. You aren’t paying for any extra benefits by choosing this brand.
DHA is included for eye and brain development, as well as a blend of antioxidants. There are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. It is made in the USA as well.
10. Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food
The Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food is specifically made for small breed puppies. It is made for the first ten months of life when the dog is between 9 and 22 pounds. The kibble size is exceptionally tiny, allowing small puppies to eat easier. While this dog food is well-known and often considered “premium,” it is not as high quality as it first appears.
The first ingredient is brewer’s rice, which is not precisely what our smaller puppies should be eating. Chicken by-product meal is included as the second ingredient and serves as the only animal-protein in the whole ingredient list. Chicken fat is included as the first ingredient, but the rest of the ingredient list is grains and low-quality veggies.
The protein content is not high, which is not very surprising considering the ingredient list. The fat content isn’t high either, which means that this food is high in carbohydrates.
While this food is designed for puppies, its nutritional profile leaves a lot to be desired.
At first glance, it can seem complicated and challenging to choose the right dog food for your canine. However, if you’re armed with a bit of background knowledge, it can be much easier to choose the best dog food for your canine. In this section, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to select the perfect food for your puppy.
When you look at any dog food, your first stop should be the ingredients list. Every dog food is required to list their ingredients. Ingredients are listed by weight from most to least. Generally, the ingredients at the beginning represent what the food is mainly made of. However, you need to take things like water weight of the ingredients into account. Just because whole chicken is included as the first ingredient doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the first ingredient after it has been cooked down and the moisture removed.
Preferably, high-quality meat should appear as the first option. This includes whole meat or a meat meal. Meat meal is simply meat that has been cooked down substantially. It has been turned into a stew, basically, and then cooked until much of the moisture has been removed. Simply put, it’s concentrated meat. Because the water weight has already been removed before adding it to the ingredients list, its position is more accurate than whole meat.
Avoid by-products if possible
Meat by-products are okay, but they are of lower quality. Do not purchase food that has an unnamed meat meal or by-product. In other words, “chicken by-products” is an okay choice. “Meat by-products” is not, since you have no idea what the meat included is. It’s mystery meat. If it were something good, the company would have listed the source.
The veggies in the food also matter, of course. Usually, there are plenty of veggies and other fruits included in any formula. These need to be high-quality, such as pumpkin and berries. Peas and potatoes are regularly included. These do have some nutritional value, but many companies overuse them to the point that they turn into fillers. Be aware of this common problem when you’re checking the ingredient list.
If peas or potatoes are included early in the ingredient list, it may be that the company is using them as a filler. This is especially a problem with grain-free foods, where many companies try to cut costs and simply replace the grains with an inexpensive vegetable.
Be aware of pea protein and similar veggie-based proteins. These are okay in a small amount, but they are not necessarily as complete as animal-based protein. For this reason, they should be avoided when possible.
The macronutrients included in the food should be your next stop. Dogs preferably need to consume a high amount of protein and fat. This is what they were naturally made to live off of, according to various studies.
Protein should preferably be above 30% for dry foods. Wet foods will naturally appear to have less protein since they include more water. Moisture takes up a higher percentage, so the protein will appear to be less. However, because wet foods don’t have to be shaped into kibble, they are often higher in protein in actuality. Anything over 6% to 7% is suitable for wet food.
Of course, higher is always better. Fat should preferably be higher than 15%. 17% or higher is better. However, this is difficult to find. It depends mainly on the type of meat used. If leaner meat is used as the basis for the food, it will naturally be lower in protein.
With small breed puppies, higher protein and fat are always better. Puppies naturally need more fat and protein than adults since they are still developing. For this reason, you should choose as much protein and fat as possible.
Remember, if a food is high in protein but includes a veggie-based fat, you need to interpret the protein amount accordingly.
All AAFCO dog foods will need to meet a specific nutrient content. This company cannot regulate dog foods directly, but it does provide a seal to dog foods that follow their standards. Check for their seal on any puppy food you purchase and ensure that their food follows their puppy standards specifically. Furthermore, there are a few extra ingredients that may be helpful to small breed puppies.
Added DHA is always a plus. This omega fatty acid is found in various foods, but it is most prevalent in fish. It is essential for brain and vision development, making it particularly suitable for puppies. It is usually added through the inclusion of fish oil or whole fish of some sort.
We reviewed many puppy foods designed for small breeds. Out of those we reviewed, Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food was the best. It includes a variety of high-quality proteins, including chicken as the first ingredient. It also isn’t expensive, which is a plus. The ingredients are a tier above most other dog foods on the market, including a high level of protein and fat.
If you need a budget option, Purina Pro Plan Puppy Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula is a suitable option. It includes chicken as the first ingredient and has a surprisingly high protein content. It is much cheaper than many competing puppy foods, but it does contain essential ingredients, like DHA.
We hope this article helped you choose the perfect food for your tiny puppy. We know that choosing the perfect dog food for your puppy can be difficult, but our reviews and buyer’s guide should make it a bit easier!
Featured Image Credit: aonip, Shutterstock
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Small Breed Puppy Foods – Reviews 2021
- 1. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food – Best Overall
- 2. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula – Best Value
- 3. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey – Best Premium
- 4. Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Dry Dog Food
- 5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
- 6. Eukanuba Small Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
- 7. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Dry Dog Food
- 8. Wellness Complete Health Just for Puppy Canned Dog Food
- 9. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Small Bites
- 10. Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food
- Buyer’s Guide