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What is the best dog food for a Yorkie?
Determining the best dog food for your Yorkie can be difficult. In fact, a 2015 survey found that nearly half of dog owners find this part of pet ownership the most challenging.15 To make this decision a bit easier for you, we’ve sifted through dozens of food brands to find the most nutritionally balanced recipes that cater to a Yorkshire Terrier’s small size and dietary requirements.
Hands down, we believe that fresh food, such as The Farmer’s Dog, is the best food to feed a Yorkie. But that might not always be possible. In this case, we’ve added other good options, including kibble, dry-food alternatives, and wet food. Keep reading to see our top picks.
In this review:
- Best food for Yorkies: At a glance
- Best dog food for Yorkies: Reviews
- What to look for when choosing Yorkie dog food
- FAQs about dog food for Yorkies
Best food for Yorkies: At a glance
Here’s a snapshot of several of our favorite picks. Check out the review section below if you want to see a few additional options, like one of our favorite fresh food subscriptions.
Best dog food for Yorkies: Reviews
With so many options available, it can be difficult to determine the best food for your Yorkie. To help you with this process, we’ve taken advice from several veterinary nutritionists to determine some of the best brands out there.
- Brands that use whole foods and limit or eliminate animal byproducts in exchange for high-quality ingredients.
- Brands that meet the minimum Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards to ensure that the food formula is well balanced.
- Companies that source their food within the USA and manufacture the food in their own facilities.
- Companies that have their contact information on their website and encourage consumer questions.
Best fresh dog food for Yorkies
- Fresh human-grade ingredients: no meat meals or nasty fillers
- Shipped to you on a regular basis, so you never have to worry about restocking
- The Dog Tale Readers get 60% off their first shipment
If you don’t want to worry about restocking your dog food supply every month, or if you only want to feed your pup the highest-quality, human-grade ingredients, check out The Farmer’s Dog. The Farmer’s Dog is great for those who want to commit to feeding their Yorkies real food you or I would eat, such as whole beef and carrots rather than the over-processed meat meals used in kibble. Healthy food can have a drastic effect on a dog’s health. Real meat, whole produce, and the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil could relieve a host of health issues and promote proper digestive health as well as a healthy coat and skin.
When you sign up, the brand takes you through a very brief questionnaire about your dog’s breed, age, appetite, and any health conditions. It then recommends recipes and portion amounts, so your pup can get a tailor-made meal each day. They’ll deliver freshly made meals to your door on a regular schedule you choose, so all you have to do is take the food out of the fridge and feed it to your pup.
To be clear, dog food subscriptions are a premium product, so you’ll pay extra for it. However, one of the reasons The Farmers Dog is great for Yorkshire Terriers is the fact that the company bases its pricing, in part, on the size of your dog and the amount of food they’ll need. This makes it much more affordable for Yorkie owners than those with large dog breeds.
The Dog Tale readers can get 60% off their first delivery by clicking the button below. Or you can learn more in our The Farmer’s Dog review.
>> Read more:
Best dry dog food for Yorkies
- Human-grade ingredients air-dried to preserve nutrition.
- First five ingredients are USDA Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Beef Bone, Quinoa
- Get 20% off your first order with code AFF20
Why we love it
Sundays For Dogs is perfect for those who want human-grade ingredients without the need for refrigeration. Sundays starts with natural ingredients like muscle meat and organ meat, then adds a variety of nutritionally-rich ingredients such as kale, cranberries, and sunflower oil, which provide all the essential nutrients for a complete and balanced meal. This explains why you won’t find any synthetic vitamins or minerals in the full ingredients list—just real, whole food.
Sundays food is air-dried “slow and low” to preserve the nutritional integrity and flavor of the ingredients. This is in contrast to the extremely high temperatures used to create kibble. However, serving the food is just as easy as kibble—just pour it into a bowl. The beef recipe is calorically dense for this pint-sized, excitable breed, which needs extra calories to stave off hypoglycemia. But the chicken recipe is great, too. Our only qualm with Sundays is that the pieces are a bit large for small Yorkies, but it’s easy to break them into smaller bits.
All ingredients are sourced from either local farms or human grocers in the Midwest. Plus, they have a cool comparison feature at the bottom of their home webpage where you can see how your current dog food stacks up against Sundays. You already know who will win (according to them), but it’s interesting nonetheless to learn about other health aspects of dog food you may not have thought about yet. You can learn more and see what our Yorkie thought in our Sundays Dog Food review.
- Human-grade ingredients gently dehydrated at low temperatures to preserve nutrition.
- First five ingredients are Real Chicken, Brown Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, and Apples
- The Dog Tale readers can get 50% off their first delivery with code DOGTALE50
Why we love it
Spot and Tango is our runner-up for the best dry dog food for Yorkies. The brand only uses whole, human-grade ingredients, which are gently dried at low temperatures to create a light, crunchy kibble alternative without destroying the nutritional value of the ingredients. Our dog was a fan, and we love that you can actually see whole veggies, like green beans, in the food. You can learn more in our full Spot and Tango Dog Food Review as well as our Spot and Tango vs Farmer’s Dog comparison. The Dog Tale readers can get 50% off their first delivery with code DOGTALE50
Best wet food for Yorkies
- Beef Broth
- Beef Liver
Technically, fresh food like The Farmer’s Dog (above) could be considered wet food. But if you’re looking for a cheaper canned option, Blue Buffalo makes a good option.
Why we love it
This beef-based recipe is for the Yorkshire terrier that likes real ingredients in a soft, wet formula. Most Yorkies should eat at least some dry dog food to help keep their teeth clean, but older Yorkies who have experienced dental deterioration may require a wet diet. Or, you may want to mix dry and wet food for a Yorkie that is picky about what they eat.
The beef in this recipe is supplemented by wholesome grains, garden fruits, and vegetables, including carrots, sweet potatoes, blueberries, and cranberries. You won’t find any animal byproducts, corn, soy, wheat, nor artificial flavors or preservatives in this food.
The food is formulated and tested by animal nutritionists and produced in their own manufacturing facilities—one in Joplin, MO, and one in Richmond, IN. This wet food is AAFCO nutrient compliant for an adult dog. The minimum crude protein is 8.5%, crude fat is 6.0% and the max moisture content is 78%.
NOTE: Protein levels will look different in wet food than dry food; percentages must be obtained on a dry-matter analysis. The FDA further explains, “If you simply looked at the crude protein level listed in the guaranteed analysis on the products’ labels without converting to a dry matter basis or taking into account each product’s moisture content, you would mistakenly think the dry food has the highest level of protein.”2
Best dog food for Yorkie puppies
- Fresh chicken meat
- Fresh turkey meat
- Whole Atlantic mackerel
Outside of a fresh food option made specifically for puppies, such as Raised Right Dog Food’s puppy growth recipe, we think Orijen is a good option.
Why we love it
We believe this formula is among the best puppy food for Yorkies because it is loaded with wholesome protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and nutrient-dense carbohydrates, like beans, carrots, and zucchini. Freeze-dried chicken and turkey livers are added to make even the pickiest puppies love their food.
Orijen pledges that their food does not contain any meat meals or rendered animals—just the fresh, raw, or dehydrated whole foods needed to make the best Yorkie puppy food. Also, this US company directly sources all their non-GMO food from local farmers in Kentucky and makes the food in their own facilities.
There is a guaranteed minimum of 30% crude protein and 20% fat content. This formula meets the nutritional requirement for all life stages through the FEDIAF—European Pet Food Industry, and an email response from the company stated that all of Orijen’s diets are formulated to meet AAFCO’s nutrient profiles.
In fact, when he was growing up, we fed one of our puppies a mixture of Orijen Puppy and fresh food.
>> Read more: Can Puppies Eat Adult Dog Food?
Best dog food for senior Yorkies
- Deboned Chicken
- Chicken Meal
- Sweet Potatoes
Why we love it
While this is a senior recipe, it’s not light on the protein like so many other senior varieties. It contains a minimum of 32% crude protein and 12% crude fat. Plus, they’ve added lots of Omega-6 fatty acids to support an old dog’s joint health.
If we had our druthers, we’d like to swap the chicken meal for additional whole meat, but we are happy with Merrick Dog Food’s quality control systems. Their food is produced in their own Texan kitchen, and it meets the AAFCO minimum adult nutritional requirements. Additionally, on their website, they list their contact information and also have a live chat option for questions.
NOTE: Before switching your Yorkie to a senior diet, consult with a vet. Several veterinary nutritionists advise against changing to a senior diet simply because a dog is aging.6, 13 Many senior formulas have lower amounts of protein, fat, and other vital nutrients, which may have negative consequences for your aging pet. If you have a healthy Yorkshire Terrier eating a good-quality, nutritionally balanced diet, there is no need to change foods.13
Best food for Yorkies with sensitive stomachs
- Turkey broth
- Chicken Liver
- Dried egg whites
Why we love it
If your Yorkie has a sensitive stomach, a limited-ingredient formula like this one may be a great option. This eight-ingredient recipe is formulated for small breeds and features turkey and chicken for protein, while green beans, carrots, and peas add other necessary nutrients and amino acids.
This particular wet food is grain-free and provides a soft, easily chewable texture which aids digestion for a sensitive tummy. (But don’t forget, if your dog eats only a wet-food diet, you should take other steps to help them clean their teeth, like a dental chew toy, in addition to regular brushing.)
CANIDAE cut out fillers, artificial flavors, colors, carrageenan, preservatives, wheat, corn, and soy from this recipe. This formula meets the AAFCO requirements and contains a minimum of 8.5% crude protein and 3.5% crude fat.
CANIDAE partners with US farmers to create their vet-formulated recipes. The food is then cooked at their own Brownwood, Texas facility. They also partner with green technology companies to bring new sustainable practices to farming.
>> Read more: Best Dog Food for IBD & IBS
Best dog food for Yorkies with allergies
- Dried Peas
- Pea Protein
- Brown Rice
- Potato Protein
Why we love it
If your pup is prone to allergic reactions, you may want to check out V-Dog. The most common canine food allergens are beef, dairy products, chicken, and wheat.14 V-Dog, a vegan formula, eliminates all of these (plus corn and corn syrup, soy, and artificial fillers) while still maintaining AAFCO requirements. This formula contains a minimum of 24% crude protein and 9% crude fat.
The “mini bites” small-sized kibble pieces are great for Yorkies with a food allergy. This recipe was developed with the help of a team of veterinarians and adds vegan-based taurine and L-carnitine that some meat and grain-free mixes lack.
This is a family-owned company that manufactures its food in California. It strives to make a smaller environmental “paw-print” and to be cruelty-free to other animals. A convenient subscription service is available if desired. While a vegan diet may not be best for all Yorkies, this mix is a great substitute for those whose vet determines meat and wheat are not an option.
>> Read more: Yorkie Allergies: What Are Yorkies Allergic To?
Other options we like
- Chicken liver
- Dried egg product
- Dried peas
- Oat groats
Why we love it
We chose Halo’s small breed formula for the best Yorkie food because of their commitment to the integrity of their ingredients. You won’t find any meat or fish meal, meat byproducts, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives in any of their food.
They are committed to using high-quality protein and whole, non-GMO fruits and veggies. Halo’s research suggests the use of whole meat improves digestibility by as much as 30% in some dogs. These qualities may also make this formula the best dog food for sensitive Teacup Yorkies as well.
Halo never uses factory-farmed animals. They work with farms that raise animals naturally with room to roam and without use of antibiotics to promote growth. All Halo meat, poultry, and fish proteins are sourced from verified responsible farmers in the US, Canada, or New Zealand and come from animals processed for human food in USDA- and FDA-inspected facilities.
Halo has received the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) Certification that verifies that the animals have been raised following comprehensive standards focused on their care and welfare.
As if that weren’t enough, you can try it out for 14 days, and if you aren’t completely happy with Halo, they will give you your money back.
This formula meets the nutritional requirement for adult maintenance through the AAFCO: 27% crude protein and 17% crude fat.
- Organic chicken
- Organic chicken meal
- Organic oatmeal
- Organic barley
- Organic chickpeas
Why we love it
We love the idea of non-GMO, USDA-organic-certified dog food without chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, artificial preservatives, added growth hormones, or antibiotics. The food is then prepared in a USA-based kitchen. A blend of superfoods-organic flaxseed, organic blueberries, and organic coconut oil tops off this recipe.
This recipe contains no corn, wheat, or soy, but it does contain probiotics and prebiotic fiber to help support healthy digestion. It is intended for all life stages and breeds and meets the minimum AAFCO requirements for adult dogs; 26% crude protein and 16% crude fat.
Another thing we like about Castor & Pollux is the fact that the company started the PetWorks Partners Program, which supports pet rescue groups across the country by donating pet meals. Currently, they’ve donated over 4 million meals to pets in need.
However, we don’t love that Castor & Polux includes chicken meal in their recipe. We prefer whole meat.
What to look for when choosing a Yorkie dog food
There are five main areas you need to look at when evaluating dog food. Protein, fat, and carbohydrates seem to be the three-legged foundation of dog nutrition.11 All three are vital, and the lack of one in a food often means an increase in the others, which may or may not be beneficial depending on the dog. Additionally, you need to consider any fillers or additives present in the food, as well as the bioavailability of the nutrients in the ingredients.
The clinical nutrition team at Tufts University warn about the misleading nature of pet food labels, saying nearly everything on a pet food label (including the ingredient list) is “primarily a marketing tool… and provides little useful information for the dog owner.”4 Instead, they advise that dog owners need to do their own research and look at the following:
- An “AAFCO statement” on the label, which will determine that the food contains all the essential nutrients that a pet needs. These nutritional values, when provided through a healthy diet, will help ensure your dog has a strong immune system and the energy sources they’ll require to grow.
- The manufacturer—find out where the food is manufactured, if they own the facility, and if they have employed at least one pet nutritionist.
These are a few of the suggestions. You can find more in-depth reading about this topic here.
Is it high in protein?
Good-quality protein is core to a healthy canine diet. Look for sources of whole protein in the first three ingredients, rather than a meat meal like “chicken meal”, which is often overly processed and tends to contain little muscle.7 According to Richard Pitcairn, DVM, meat meals “certainly boost the crude protein content, but they also provide relatively little nourishment.”3
The AAFCO has determined the minimum requirements for dog food nutrients. For a dog food to be approved by them, there must be a minimum of 22.5% crude protein for puppies and pregnant or nursing females.1 For adult maintenance, there must be a minimum of 18% crude protein in the food.
A few examples of good proteins Dr. Pitcairn suggests are lamb, turkey, venison, chicken, bison, and beef.3 Tufts University veterinary nutritionists advise against exotic meats such as kangaroo, alligator, venison, bison or wild boar as their lack of availability may affect their quality and price tag.
Additionally, there is little research done on the effects of these exotic meats in dog food.
Are healthy fats included?
Fat is a necessary component in a dog’s diet. The AAFCO’s minimum requirement for crude fat is 8.5% for puppies and reproducing females and 5.5% for adult maintenance.1
The minimum requirement is higher for puppies as they require more fat to meet their bodies’ growing needs. This additional fat helps combat low blood sugar and hypoglycemia that can occur easily in Yorkies. Plus it supports a healthy coat and healthy skin.
While fat is helpful and necessary for proper function, be aware that not all dogs should have high-fat diets due to additional calories or sensitive stomachs.5 High-fat diets are linked to obesity, diarrhea, and pancreatitis, another common Yorkie health problem.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are great healthy fats for dogs.8 Good examples of quality omega-3s are cold-water-ocean fish or fish oils, products made from algae, or krill oil. One of the best sources of omega-6’s linoleic acid is corn oil. Dr. Heinze suggests that dogs need a balance of both for optimal health.8
What carbs are used?
In his book, Dr. Pitcairn suggests some good carbohydrate options may be brown rice (not white rice), potato, quinoa, lentils or oats.3 He adds that while dogs are designed to eat meat, nearly half of their diet should contain mostly whole grains or starchy veggies with some steamed crucifers or greens, lettuce, fruits, healthy fats, and nut and seed butters.
The nutritionists at Tuft University agree that dogs can handle moderate levels of carbs just fine. In fact, they state by adding carbohydrates into a dog’s diet, we can add important compounds, like fiber, in addition to having a diet not too high in calories or fat.9
If you do find that your dog has sensitivities to corn, wheat, or soy, Dr. Pitcairn suggests substituting these ingredients with sweet potatoes, winter squash, and legumes, such as pintos, lentils, or kidney beans.
As a precautionary warning, in July 2018, the FDA released a warning about grain-free dog foods and their possible connection to the development of a serious heart disease—dilated cardiomyopathy—in dogs. You can read Dr. Jean Hofve’s thoughts on the matter here.
>> Read more: Hungry Bark Dog Food Review
Are there any fillers?
Stick to foods that avoid artificial colorings, additives, and preservatives. While preservatives are necessary in dry food as it is stored for long periods of time, some are better than others.6 Dr. Hofve advises avoiding preservatives like BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. Instead, look for dog foods that use a more natural preservative, such as rosemary.
Is it over-processed?
Most dog food is processed to some degree, but the less a food is processed, the more bioavailable its nutrients are for your dog. Ask your vet if freeze-dried foods or even freeze-dried pieces within the kibble are right for your Yorkie. Try to avoid meat-meals and animal byproducts as these tend to be overly-processed.
Vitamins and minerals need to be bioavailable for a dog’s normal body function,9 and these usually come in the form of whole foods. Food needs to contain minerals such as: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, iron, zinc, and magnesium—to name a few. Important vitamins include thiamine (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin, Vitamin B12, choline, and Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E.
>> Read more: Purina Dog Food Recalls
FAQs about dog food for Yorkies
How much should a Yorkie eat?
How much food your Yorkie needs will largely depend on his stage of life. Generally, the average dog needs about 30 calories per pound of body weight; more if they are small or active and less if big or inactive.3 The average-sized adult Yorkie, who weighs between 4–7 pounds, will require anywhere from 150 to 250 calories per day.
While the following guidelines are generally true, the specific needs of your Yorkshire Terrier may be different due to low or high energy levels and their rate of metabolism. Consult our guide to how much to feed a Yorkie puppy for more specific information.
- Puppies: approximately 200 calories per day as they are more active and are rapidly growing
- Adults: approximately 150 calories per day, depending on activity level
- Seniors: approximately 120 calories per day, depending on activity level and weight management requirements
Treats, table food, and rawhides count toward the daily calorie count. Pay close attention to the serving size on the back of treat labels and limit these to no more than 10% of your Yorkie’s total daily calorie intake.12
You can learn about the best dog treats for Yorkies, as well as some homemade ideas, in our guide to Yorkie treats.
What can Yorkies eat besides dog food?
Nutritious food for humans may be different than what is good for your Yorkie, so do your research before you give your pup human food. That said, there are plenty of human foods that Yorkies can eat.
In addition to good protein and fat found in foods like chicken, beef, and lamb, dogs also need carbs for a well-balanced diet, although an exact amount hasn’t yet been established. Quality carbs include: potato, green beans, peas, sweet potato, cantaloupe, apple, quinoa, brown rice, butternut squash and bananas.
Absolutely avoid foods like chocolate, alcohol, citrus (in excess), coconut milk and flesh (in excess), coffee, tea, dairy, grapes and raisins, xylitol, and onions.
Should I feed my Yorkie wet food or dry food?
Both wet and dry food can meet the standard for necessary nutrition requirements,10 so you may feed either to your Yorkie. Each does have its own advantages, however.
Wet food may be a good option for a picky eater, as many Yorkies are quite finicky. It also may be helpful for Yorkies missing teeth, since chewing dry food can be difficult. Additionally, many canned foods tend to be higher in protein and fat than dry foods, which is something to consider as Yorkies tend to not tolerate high fat-diets very well.
Dry food is likely to be more processed than wet food, but it may help in reducing the tartar build-up on teeth,10 which can aid in preventing some of the dental issues that would require wet food in the future. It’s also likely to have a lower price tag.
If you choose dry food, make sure you buy a formula specifically for toy breeds to ensure that the kibble size is small enough for this tiny breed.
My Yorkie won’t eat. What do I do?
There may be several reasons why your Yorkie isn’t eating.
If you recently transitioned to a new food, try to mix the two foods gradually until your Yorkie gets used to the idea of a new food. If you haven’t changed foods, it’s also possible your dog’s taste has changed and they don’t prefer the old kibble. In this case, consider changing to a new, higher-quality recipe, mixing their dry kibble with wet food to add flavor, or adding freeze-dried pieces to supplement the dry food.
You should also monitor the amount of table food your family feeds your Yorkie. I know my Yorkie, Max, will hold off eating his dry food in hopes of some delicious food being whipped up in the kitchen. If your Yorkie displays a flat-out refusal to eat anything and they’re growing thin, you should consult a vet right away.
Do I need to transition my Yorkie to a new diet slowly?
To avoid an upset stomach or diarrhea, transition to new food slowly. We recommend starting with a mixture of 75% old food, 25% new, and gradually increasing the proportion of new food over the course of at least one week. This will give your pet’s digestive system time to adjust to the new formula.
If you know your pet has digestive issues, take more time transitioning to a new diet.
>> Read more: IBS & IBD in dogs
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- The Association of American Feed Control Officials. 2016. “ AAFCO Methods for Substantiating Nutritional Adequacy of Dog
and Cat Foods”. 2016_Midyear_Committee_Reports_w_cover.pdf
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. February 28, 2020. “Complete and Balanced Pet Food”. https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/complete-and-balanced-pet-food
- Pitcairn, R. H., & Pitcairn, S. H. (2017). Dr. Pitcairn’s complete guide to natural health for dogs & cats. Emmaus, PA: Rodale.
- Clinical Nutrition Team. “Important Information You Could Be Misreading on the Pet Food Label.” January 2016. https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2016/01/important-information-you-could-be-misreading-on-the-pet-food-label/
- Linder, D. “Can I change my pet’s diet to improve skin and coat health?“ https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2019/09/can-i-change-my-pets-diet-to-improve-skin-and-coat-health/
- Hofve, J. “Selecting a Good Commercial Pet Food”. https://littlebigcat.com/selecting-a-good-commercial-pet-food/
- Thixton, S. “What Are ‘Meat’ Meal Ingredients?” https://truthaboutpetfood.com/what-are-meat-meal-ingredients/
- Heinze, C. “The Skinny on Fat: Part 2 – Essential Fatty Acids and Inflammation.” https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/04/essential-fatty-acids-and-inflammation/
- Clinical Nutrition Team. “Pet Nutrition Primer.” https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2016/02/pet-nutrition-primer/
- Clinical Nutrition Team. “Should I Feed Canned or Dry Food?” https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2016/03/should-i-feed-canned-or-dry-food/
- Heinze, C. “The Skinny on Fat: Part 1 – The Basics.” https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/03/the-skinny-on-fat-part-1/
- Freeman, L. “Feeding Frenzy: How Accurate Are Your Pet Food’s Feeding Directions?” https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2019/04/accuracy-of-feeding-directions/
- Clinical Nutrition Team. “When Should I Switch My Pet To A Senior Diet?” https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2016/03/when-should-i-switch-my-pet-to-a-senior-diet/
- Mueller, R. S., Olivry, T., & Prélaud, P. (2016). Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): Common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. BMC Veterinary Research, 12(1). doi:10.1186/s12917-016-0633-8
- PetFood News. “Dog owners have difficulty choosing pet food” (2015). Available at: http://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/5407-survey-dog-owners-have-difficulty-choosing-pet-food.