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10 Best Dog Foods for Toy Breeds in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

close up Chihuahua eating

When it comes to dog food, one size does not fit all, and if you have a toy breed, you know what we mean. Kibble size is important because if it’s too big for small doggies, they will have a tough time eating. Not only that, but we want our little doggies to have the most beneficial nutrition available, and that takes weeding through the vast choices you have today.

With so many options, how do you go about finding the right dog food? What should you look for? If you’re in this dilemma, you’ve come to the right spot. In this guide, we’ll compile 10 products that we feel are excellent options for your toy breed dog, and we’ve ranked them based on consumer reviews. Our list comes complete with pros and cons, as well as nutritional information about each one. If you’re ready, let’s dive into the products.

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A Quick Look at Our Favorites of 2023

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food Subscription The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food Subscription
  • Fresh, human-grade ingredients
  • Recipes made in USDA-certified kitchens
  • Vet-formulated
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Nutro Ultra Small Breed Nutro Ultra Small Breed
  • Excellent protein sources
  • Contains a good blend of superfoods
  • No GMO’s
  • Third place
    Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe
  • Cage-free chicken is first ingredient
  • Contains probiotics for healthy digestion
  • Contains chicken meal
  • Best for Puppies
    Hill's Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development Hill's Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development
  • Vet approved
  • Kibble is small for easy digestion
  • Complete and balanced
  • Vet’s Choice
    Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Merrick Classic Healthy Grains
  • Deboned chicken is first ingredient
  • Contains ancient grains, vitamins, and minerals
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
  • The 10 Best Dog Foods for Toy Breeds

    1. The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food Subscription – Best Overall

    white dog eating The Farmer's Dog turkey recipe fresh food

    Main ingredients: Chicken, turkey, beef, pork
    Crude protein content: Chicken: 11.5%, turkey: 8%, beef: 11%, and pork: 9%
    Crude fat content: Chicken: 8.5%, turkey: 4.5%, beef: 8%, and pork: 7%
    Calories: Chicken: 295 kcal/per ½ pound, turkey: 282 kcal/per ½ pound, beef: 361 kcal/per ½ pound, and pork: 311 kcal/per ½ pound

    The Farmer’s Dog offers fresh, human-grade food without the hassle of making it at home. With fresh dog food delivery services comes a high price, but it’s not as much out of reach for toy breeds because of their size. For instance, a Labrador Retriever eats more daily than a toy breed. The cost to feed this food averages about $2 per day, but of course, that will go up the bigger the breed.

    All of The Farmer’s Dog food is made fresh in USDA-certified kitchens. They only use fresh proteins and veggies in their recipes, consisting of chicken, beef, turkey, pork, sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and other healthy veggies depending on the recipe. On the website, you’ll put in your doggo’s information, and their veterinary nutritionists will formulate a meal plan based on the information you provide (breed, activity level, age, etc.).

    The turkey recipe has legumes, and the beef recipe has lentils. We mention this because of the FDA’s1 ongoing investigation that these ingredients may cause heart disease in dogs, although it has yet to be determined. Nonetheless, these recipes are free from harmful preservatives and artificial colors or flavors, and we feel it’s the overall best dog food for toy breeds.

    Pros
    • Fresh, human-grade ingredients
    • Recipes made in USDA-certified kitchens
    • Vet-formulated
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Turkey and beef recipes contain lentils and legumes

    2. Nutro Ultra Small Breed – Best Value

    Nutro Ultra Small Breed

    Main ingredients: Chicken
    Crude protein content: 28%
    Crude fat content: 19%
    Calories: 371 kcal/cup

    Nutro Ultra Small Breed offers excellent protein with real chicken, lamb meal, and salmon meal2. This particular formula was created specifically for small dogs with a blend of superfoods that offer all the necessary vitamins and minerals your small dog needs to be healthy. It’s free from by-products, soy, and wheat. The ingredients are also non-GMO3 (genetically modified organisms).

    This formula contains plenty of high-quality fruits and veggies, such as coconut, chia, blueberries, pumpkin, apples, carrots, spinach, and kale. It also contains brown rice and whole-grain oats for a complete and balanced meal. The kibble is of small size, which is perfect for small doggies, and it comes in an affordable 4-pound bag.

    Some dogs may not do well on this food, as some consumers report it made their dogs sick with vomiting and diarrhea4. These incidents mainly happened after the manufacturer changed the formula.

    Overall, with the blend of superfoods, protein sources, and price, Nutro Ultra Small Breed food is the best dog food for toy breeds for the money.

    Pros
    • Excellent protein sources
    • Contains a good blend of superfoods
    • No GMO’s
    • Good value for the money
    • Small kibble size for toy breeds
    Cons
    • New formula may make some dogs sick

    3. Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe

    Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe

    Main ingredients: Chicken
    Crude protein content: 37%
    Crude fat content: 20.5%
    Calories: 508 kcal/cup

    Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe is a good option if you need a grain-free option. This nutrient-rich food is packed with protein, with cage-free chicken listed as the first ingredient. It also has a probiotic boost for digestive health, high levels of antioxidants for healthy skin and coat, and it’s free from by-products, artificial preservatives, and coloring.

    This minimally-processed food contains freeze-dried5 raw meat blended in with kibble and real chicken that dogs love. It also has chicken meal listed as the second ingredient, which is an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin6. The added calcium and phosphorus aid in strong bones and teeth, and the food itself is made in the US.

    This food only comes in one flavor, so if your pup has a chicken allergy, you’ll have to skip this one. Also, it’s available in a 4-pound bag or a 21-pound but at a steep price. Some consumers claim this food made their dog have loose stool, and it contains few chicken bits.

    Disclaimer: Check with your veterinarian to ensure a grain-free diet is right for your pooch, as the inclusion of grains is beneficial to dogs unless they have a grain allergy.

    Pros
    • Cage-free chicken is first ingredient
    • Contains probiotics for healthy digestion
    • Contains chicken meal for glucosamine and chondroitin
    • Made in the U.S.A.
    • No by-products, artificial flavors, or coloring
    Cons
    • Comes in only one flavor
    • May cause loose stools
    • Expensive

    4. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development – Best for Puppies

    Hill's Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development

    Main ingredients: Chicken meal
    Crude protein content: 25%
    Crude fat content: 15%
    Calories: 374 kcal/cup

    Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Healthy Development is specially formulated for puppies and provides all the nutrients your pup needs to grow strong and healthy. Hill’s is the number-one vet-recommended dog food, and this puppy formula is no exception.

    The kibble is small for easy and smooth digestion, and it provides DHA from fish oil for healthy brain and eye development. It has antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin C for immune health, and it’s made from high-quality ingredients with no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors. This food is also made in the U.S.A.

    Even though this formula is for puppies, it’s only recommended for puppies 1 year of age and up. Some puppies do not like the smell of the food, and for some pups, it may make their stool runny. It comes in a 4.5-pound bag and a 15.5-pound bag for a reasonable price.

    Pros
    • Vet approved
    • Kibble is small for easy digestion
    • Complete and balanced
    • Made in the U.S.A.
    Cons
    • Not for puppies under 1 year of age
    • Has pungent smell that some pups don’t like
    • Causes runny stool in some puppies

    5. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains – Vet’s Choice

    Merrick Classic Healthy Grains

    Main ingredients: Deboned chicken
    Crude protein content: 27%
    Crude fat content: 16%
    Calories: 404 kcal/cup

    Merrick Classic Healthy Grains is a small breed recipe that lists deboned chicken as the first ingredient. It contains healthy, ancient grains, omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to make it complete and balanced. The kibble size is small, making it perfect for toy and small breeds.

    It contains glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints and is free of wheat, soy, and corn for pups with food allergies. This fiber-rich recipe includes brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal for healthy digestion, and most dogs love the taste, according to reviews.

    The bag is not resealable, so you’ll want to transfer it to an airtight container to retain freshness, and picky eaters may not take to this food very well. It also may cause excessive gas in some dogs.

    Pros
    • Deboned chicken is first ingredient
    • Contains ancient grains, vitamins, and minerals
    • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints
    Cons
    • Bag is not resealable
    • Picky eaters do not like the taste
    • May cause excessive gas in some dogs

    6. Purina Pro Plan Adult Toy Breed

    Purina Pro Plan Adult Toy Breed Chicken & Rice Formula

    Main ingredients: Chicken and rice
    Crude protein content: 30%
    Crude fat content: 17%
    Calories: 488 kcal/cup

    Purina Pro Plan Adult Toy Breed Chicken & Rice added a natural prebiotic and probiotic fiber for digestive health to this formula, and real chicken is the first ingredient. It has plenty of protein for the active doggies, and it also has calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth. This food works well for dogs with digestive issues, too.

    This food is formulated for dogs 10 pounds and under. Also, this formula used to have chunks of chicken, but the new formula omitted that, which is causing some not-so-happy consumers, so beware. It comes in a 5-pound bag at a reasonable price.

    Pros
    • Contains prebiotics and probiotics for smooth digestion
    • Real chicken is first ingredient
    • High in protein
    • Perfect for active dogs
    Cons
    • Not for dogs under 10 pounds
    • Only comes in a 5-pound bag
    • New formula no longer has shreds of chicken

    7. Wellness Toy Breed Complete Health Adult

    Wellness Toy Breed Complete Health Adult

    Main ingredients: Deboned chicken
    Crude protein content: 30%
    Crude fat content: 17%
    Calories: 462 kcal/cup

    Wellness Toy Breed Complete Health Adult contains premium whole grains and protein for optimal nutrition. This food has antioxidants, such as blueberries and spinach, omega fatty acids, such as flaxseed, glucosamine, probiotics, carrots for fiber, and taurine7. It does not contain by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives, and it gives dogs energy, keeps up a healthy and shiny coat, and supports hip and joint health. The kibble size is small for the toy and small dog breed, and it’s made in the U.S.A.

    This food is only available in a 4-pound bag, and it may not work for picky eaters.

    Pros
    • Rich with protein and whole grains
    • No by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives
    • Small kibble size for toy and small breeds
    • Complete and balanced with high-quality fruits and veggies
    Cons
    • Only comes in a 4-pound bag
    • May not work for picky eaters

    8. Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain

    Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain

    Main ingredients: Lamb
    Crude protein content: 28%
    Crude fat content: 18%
    Calories: 395 kcal/cup

    Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain uses lamb as its first ingredient as a protein source, and it has a limited amount of carbs. All ingredients are non-GMO and consist of 60% protein, 20% organic oats and spelt (ancient grains), and 20% fruits and veggies with vitamins and minerals. This food is perfect for diabetic doggies due to its low glycemic levels that keep blood sugar stabilized.

    All ingredients are fresh and never frozen, and the omega-fatty acids will keep the skin and coat healthy. If you worry about ash content8 in pet food, this formula has low ash levels. This food also has 900 milligrams of glucosamine and 600 milligrams of chondroitin.

    This food is available in a 5.5-pound bag and a 15.4-pound bag, and it’s expensive. Some consumers complain that the content of the kibble inside is only half full, which would be hugely disappointing given the cost. The bags are also not resealable.

    Pros
    • Consists of fresh ingredients
    • Non-GMO
    • Contains low glycemic levels for blood sugar stabilization
    • Includes glucosamine and chondroitin
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Bag may come half full
    • Non-resealable bags

    9. Solid Gold Mighty Mini Small & Toy Breed Grain-Free

    Solid Gold Mighty Mini Small & Toy Breed Grain-Free

    Main ingredients: Beef, ocean fish meal
    Crude protein content: 30%
    Crude fat content: 18%
    Calories: 440 kcal/cup

    Solid Gold Mighty Mini Small & Toy Breed Grain-Free is nutrient-rich, with beef as the first ingredient, followed by ocean fish meal. The holistic kibble is designed for toy and small breeds, and it’s chock full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for optimal daily nutrition. This food contains high-quality fruits and veggies, such as peas, sweet potatoes, flaxseed, carrots, apples, pumpkin, blueberries, and cranberries. It also contains probiotics for gut health.

    Solid Gold has been around since 1974 with a vision of providing holistic food to our pets. They also have formulas with grains if preferred.

    We’ve seen a big complaint that some dogs won’t eat the food, and the kibble may be too hard for seniors to chew.

    Disclaimer: Check with your veterinarian to ensure a grain-free diet is right for your pooch, as the inclusion of grains is beneficial to dogs unless they have a grain allergy.

    Pros
    • Real beef is first ingredient
    • Contains probiotics for gut health
    • Holistic formula
    Cons
    • Some dogs won’t eat the food
    • Kibble may be too large for senior dogs

    10. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

    Main ingredients: Deboned chicken
    Crude protein content: 26%
    Crude fat content: 15%
    Calories: 417 kcal/cup

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula contains deboned chicken as the first ingredient, which provides high-quality protein for lean muscles, and the food contains the right amount of carbs for energy. The kibble is designed for toy and small breeds, and it contains omega fatty acids for a shiny and healthy coat.

    It also has 400 milligrams of glucosamine for joint health, and the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, called LifeSource Bits, support a healthy immune system. It has no by-products, wheat, soy, or corn, which is great for dogs with allergies to these foods, and it has no artificial flavors or preservatives.

    It comes in a 4-pound bag, is a little pricey, and causes diarrhea in some dogs.

    Pros
    • High-quality protein for lean muscles
    • Small kibble for easy chewing
    • Uses LifeSource bits for optimal immune system function
    • No by-products, corn, wheat, or soy
    • No artificial flavors or preservatives
    Cons
    • Comes in only a 4-pound bag
    • May cause diarrhea in some dogs
    • Expensive

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    Buyer’s Guide: How to Select the Best Dog Food for Toy Breeds

    Now that we’ve listed our top ten products, you may be left with more questions. Toy breeds require different nutritional needs than large dogs and knowing what to look for makes a huge difference in your buying options and decisions. Let’s dive a little further to get a full understanding.

    Ingredients

    When you look on the back of a dog food label, you’ll see the list of ingredients. What you want to inspect is the first ingredient listed, as this ingredient is what the food has the most of. For example, if deboned chicken is listed first and brown rice second, the food has more deboned chicken than brown rice. The FDA requires manufacturers to label the ingredients in descending order by weight. This allows you to decipher how much of each ingredient the food contains.

    Other ingredients to look for are a healthy blend of fruits and vegetables, such as apples, pumpkin, kale, spinach, carrots, blueberries, and cranberries.

    Meat Meal vs. By-Products

    Most people are aware that by-products are something you want to avoid in your dog’s diet. By-products are the remnants of slaughtered animals that could contain brains, lungs, spleens, blood, bones, and intestines. Adding these contents increase the protein content, but it’s much better to find food with fresh and healthy proteins, such as chicken, beef, lamb, and duck. If you see dog food with by-products, it’s best to avoid them because they are not necessary, and you can find food that does not use them.

    Meat meals are confusing ingredients because some believe it’s bad for dogs, while others attest that meat meals are nutritious for our canine friends. So, which is right?

    According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), meat meals have nutritional value, unlike by-products. All that “meat meal” means is the protein source was added with the water and fat removed, whereas, say, “chicken” is unprocessed chicken without the water and fat removed. You will find that some of the products we listed have meat meals as the second ingredient, so you don’t need to shy away from the product, as meat meal is an excellent source of healthy proteins.

    Breed Size

    As we’ve mentioned, a small dog will have different nutritional requirements compared to a large dog breed. First, you’ll want to look for a recipe that is made specifically for toy breeds. These recipes will have small kibble sizes and are formulated for your dog’s daily nutritional needs. Toy breeds have tiny teeth and small jaws, making kibble size extremely important. Small dogs will also need more calories per day than a large dog, and small dogs have a different metabolism than large breeds.

     

    How to Transition Your Dog to a New Food

    If you’re looking to change your dog’s food, it’s vital to make the transition slowly to avoid any tummy issues. A good rule of thumb is to feed only 25% of the new food mixed in with 75% of the old food. Do this for a couple of days. On day three, mix 50% of the new food with 50% of the old food, and repeat this for a couple of days. By day five, you should be mixing 75% of the new food with 25% of the old food. Lastly, by day seven, you can exclusively feed the new food.

    Always monitor your dog throughout the transition phase, especially after you start feeding the new food exclusively. If tummy upset occurs and persists after one week, contact your veterinarian for an analysis. Some dogs may need more time to transition, but it’s always wise to consult your vet if your dog is having difficulty transitioning to the new food.

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    Conclusion

    For the best overall toy breed dog food, The Farmer’s Dog combines fresh, human-grade ingredients formulated by nutritionists that cater to your specific dog, its size, and nutritional requirements. For the best value, Nutro Ultra Small Breed combines excellent protein sources and superfoods for optimal health. For a premium choice, Instinct Raw Boost offers a grain-free option with high protein. For puppies, Hill’s Science Diet for Puppies offers prime nutrients for a growing puppy. Lastly, our Vet’s Choice is Merrick Classic Healthy Grains for the little ones.

    We hope our list and reviews guide you in the right direction!


    Featured Image Credit: Tanyastock, Shutterstock

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