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The Best Small Breed Puppy Foods (Chosen By a Vet) (December 2022 Reviews)

Our veterinarians research and recommend the best products. Learn more about our process. We may receive a commission on purchases made from our links.

Small breed puppy food is important because it’s formulated with the specific nutrition needs of small breed puppies. It takes into account both their special dietary needs as a puppy and their needs as a small breed. While it isn’t necessarily unsafe to feed a small breed puppy a different type of dog food, a high-quality small breed puppy food will better suit your dog’s nutritional needs.

Our vet advisor, Dr. Jamie Whittenburg, chose Royal Canin Small Adult Dry Dog Food as her top pick. This food is formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists to specifically meet the higher energy needs of small dogs. It’s also feed trial tested and compliant with both the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).

Our Vet’s Top Pick

Royal Canin Small Adult Dry Dog Food

Our pick for the best overall small breed puppy food is Royal Canin Small Adult Dry Dog Food.

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And don’t forget that you need a bowl to feed your puppy with, too! Consider an automatic dog feeder to help make feeding your puppy healthy portions as easy as possible.

Our Vet’s Top 5 Small Breed Puppy Foods

Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different models.

Editor’s Picks Brand Rating Consistency Specifically for Puppies Specifically for Small Breeds
Our Vet’s Top Pick Royal Canin Small Adult Dry Dog Food 5.0 Dry
Best Budget Buy Purina Pro Plan Adult Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula 4.7 Dry
Best Fresh Just Food for Dogs 4.7 Soft
Best for Active Puppies Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe 4.9 Dry
Best for Puppies with Allergies Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Dog Food 4.9 Dry

*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers

Who Should Buy a Small Breed Puppy Food

  • Owners of small breed puppies – Obviously, if you have a small breed puppy, your dog may benefit from small breed puppy food! These foods are made of smaller pieces to make them easier to chew and digest, plus they are specially formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of small breed puppies.
  • Dogs with poor dentition – Since small breed puppy foods are made with smaller pieces than other dog foods, they are sometimes recommended for dogs that have difficulty chewing their food. The smaller pieces are easier for these dogs to eat, and they’re easier to successfully swallow and digest if not chewed as completely.

Who Should Not Buy a Small Breed Puppy Food

  • Owners of adult small breed dogs – If your small breed dog is an adult, you probably don’t need food formulated for puppies. However, several of the foods we recommend here are suitable for small breed dogs of different life stages, so you may still find helpful suggestions.
  • Owners of non-small breed puppies – Small breed puppy food is formulated specifically for the needs of small breed puppies. If you have a puppy that is a medium or larger breed, you should look for a general puppy food or a puppy food formulated specifically for your dog’s breed size.

Research Tips from a Veterinarian

As a veterinarian, I’m frequently asked about how to choose the right food to meet a dog’s nutritional needs, small breed puppies included. In addition to talking to friends and looking at online reviews, here are some tips and features to consider when selecting food for your small breed puppy.

  1. Talk to your vet – If you’re not sure what food your dog should be eating, one of the first things you should do is talk to your vet. While my recommendations here are based on the needs of small breed puppies in general, your vet will be able to make recommendations based on your dog as an individual.
  2. Make sure it’s formulated for puppies – Puppies have specific nutritional needs because they’re still growing. To make sure a dog food fits those needs, look for one labeled as being for puppies or “complete nutrition for all life stages.” Any food that makes the “complete nutrition for all life stages” is essentially a puppy food and therefore not appropriate for adult or senior dogs.
  3. Make sure it’s formulated for small breeds – Small breed dogs have different needs than larger dogs, and it’s good to have food that’s formulated with those needs in mind. For example, small breed dogs tend to have higher energy requirements than large breed dogs, even as puppies. In addition, food for small breeds tends to come in smaller pieces, which makes it easier for small dogs to chew and digest.
  4. Vets should be involved in the formulation – Unfortunately, many dog food companies aren’t enlisting the help of actual canine nutritional experts when formulating their foods. To make sure your dog’s food was formulated by actual experts, look for one formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists.

How Much Do They Cost?

$20-$90

A bag of high-quality small breed puppy food can cost anywhere from $20 to $90. That’s a wide range, but where a particular small breed puppy food falls within it depends on a few different factors. One of the simplest is the size of the container. Obviously, the larger the container, the more the food will cost. However, a larger container of the exact same food will generally have a lower cost per ounce than a smaller one, so buying in bulk is a good way to get long-term savings on the food. However, the formula also makes a difference. For example, Royal Canin Hydrolized Protein HP Dry Dog Food is a veterinary-grade food formulated for specific dietary needs, so it’s much costlier than other dog foods. A more generalized puppy food will typically cost less.

Our Methodology: Why Trust Pet News Daily

As a veterinarian, I have spoken with other veterinarians as well as canine nutritionists and pet owners about the unique dietary needs of small breed puppies. I’ve used those conversations, as well as my experience treating animals, to inform the recommendations I make here. In addition to that experience, I also chose these foods based on their ingredients and ability to provide for the dietary needs of small breed puppies. – Dr. Jamie Whittenburg

The Best Small Breed Puppy Foods: Full Reviews

Our Vet’s Top Pick

Royal Canin Small Adult Dry Dog Food

Our pick for the best overall small breed puppy food is Royal Canin Small Adult Dry Dog Food.

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Our vet’s overall top pick for the best small breed puppy food is Royal Canin Small Adult Dry Dog Food. This dog food is designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of small breed dogs. It is formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists and is also feed trial tested. In addition, it’s both AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) and WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) compliant.

One thing to note, however, is that this dog food is formulated for small dogs from 10 months to eight years old, so it’s best for older puppies. On the other hand, they can continue eating it well into adulthood. It comes in two package sizes, one with 14 pounds of food and the other with 2.5 pounds.

Pros
  • Formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists
  • AAFCO and WSAVA compliant
  • Can be eaten into adulthood
Cons
  • Best for older puppies and adult dogs
  • Picky dogs may not care for it
Best Budget Buy

Purina Pro Plan Adult Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula

Save money while still giving your dog healthy nutrition with Purina Pro Plan Adult Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula.

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Purina Pro Plan Adult Small Breed Chicken & Rice Formula is a great option for small breed puppy owners on a budget. It’s a high quality food that’s still reasonably priced. This food is WSAVA compliant and formulated to AAFCO standards. Most importantly, Purina Pro Plan is formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists and feed trial tested.

With chicken as the first ingredient, it’s high in protein to meet the high activity needs of small dog breeds. The formula is easy to digest, plus it’s formulated with probiotics and contains natural prebiotic fiber to further promote digestive health. It’s high in calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth, plus omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin A promote healthy skin and coat. Finally, this food has no artificial colors or flavors.

Pros
  • Formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists
  • AAFCO and WSAVA compliant
  • High in protein
  • No artificial colors or flavors
Cons
  • Best for older puppies and adult dogs
  • Some buyers report that the kibble is a little too large for their dogs
Best Fresh

Just Food for Dogs

When it comes to fresh pet food, it’s hard to beat Just Food for Dogs.

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Just Food for Dogs makes fresh food that is delivered to your home frozen for easy storage. Simply thaw, then serve the food. Since it’s frozen, there’s no need for preservatives. And, unique among fresh pet foods, Just Food For Dogs is feed trial tested and formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists. It even exceeds AAFCO standards.

Unlike typical dog food, this food uses high-quality, human-grade ingredients. Each food contains real meat, fruits, and vegetables for complete nutrition. The food comes in several different recipes, too, like Beef & Russet Potato, Fish & Sweet Potato, and Lamp & Brown Rice, so there’s sure to be a flavor that your dog will love. The different recipe options and short list of ingredients also make Just Food for Dogs great for dogs with allergies.

Pros
  • Made with human-grade ingredients
  • Multiple flavors to choose from
  • No preservatives
  • Feed trial tested and formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists
Cons
  • Costly
  • Not formulated specifically for puppies
Best for Active Puppies

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe

Give your active puppy the energy it needs with Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe.

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Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Chicken Meal, Barley & Brown Rice Recipe will get your puppy started off on the right foot for good health throughout their life. This food is specifically formulated for small breed puppies under a year old. It contains high-quality protein to support an active lifestyle and help build lean muscles. DHA promotes healthy eye and brain development, while other minerals promote healthy teeth and bones. This food also contains Hill’s Small & Mini antioxidant blend for a healthy immune system.

This food contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. It’s made in the United States from high-quality ingredients that exceed the industry standard and are sourced from Europe, New Zealand, and North America. It’s also both AAFCO and WSAVA compliant.

Pros
  • Formulated specifically for puppies
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • High-quality ingredients that exceed the industry standard
  • AAFCO and WSAVA compliant
Cons
  • More expensive than many other brands
  • Not recommended for obese or obese-prone dogs
Best for Puppies with Allergies

Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Dog Food is the best choice for puppies with allergies.

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For dogs with diagnosed food allergies, Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Dog Food is a highly palatable food that can be fed to both adult dogs and puppies. The food is non-allergenic because it’s formulated with hydrolyzed proteins. This is a process of using very low molecular weight proteins that can be absorbed in the digestive tract with a reduced risk of triggering an immune reaction.

On top of that, Royal Canin formulates this dog food with nutrients to support skin health, including by reinforcing the skin barrier, which helps prevent skin irritation and sensitivity that can occur as a result of allergens. Furthermore, this food also contains a blend of fibers and prebiotics that encourages healthy digestion.

Pros
  • Formulated to prevent allergic reactions
  • Encourage healthy digestion
  • Promotes skin health
Cons
  • Costly
  • Not formulated specifically for puppies or small breeds

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best dog food for a small breed puppy?

Our vet’s pick for the best dog food for a small breed puppy is Royal Canin Small Adult Dry Dog Food. It’s formulated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists specifically to meet the higher energy needs of small dogs. It’s also feed trial tested and both Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) compliant.
Is small breed dog food good for puppies?

Small breed dog food is specially formulated for the needs of small breed dogs, so it’s not the best choice for all puppies. While it’s not necessarily dangerous to feed a non-small breed puppy small breed dog food, a food designed for puppies of their size will better meet their nutritional needs.
What is the difference between small breed puppy food and regular puppy food?

One major difference between small breed puppy food and regular puppy food is simply the smaller size of the kibble. Small breed puppies are obviously even smaller than other puppies, so their little mouths and digestive systems do better with smaller kibble. In addition, small breeds typically have higher energy requirements than larger breeds, even as puppies, and small breed puppy foods are formulated to meet their special nutritional needs as both puppies and small breed dogs.
How often should you feed a puppy?

Puppies generally need to be fed more frequently than adult dogs, and small breeds need to be fed especially frequently. Until they’re about three months old, small breeds should be fed about four to six meals each day. However, there can also be great variation from breed to breed, even within the same size group, and even from dog to dog within the same breed. Talk to your vet about your dog’s nutritional needs to find the best feeding schedule, meal type, and food that works for your puppy.

If you have additional questions about the right dog food for your puppy, we’ve created a series of resources to help you get the information you need:

A series of deep dives on different categories of dog food, including: