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
We’ve attempted to make this decision a bit easier for you by sifting through the many brands and choosing nutritionally balanced foods that cater to a Yorkshire Terrier’s small size and dietary needs. Keep reading to see our 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
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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.
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 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 dry dog food for Yorkies
- 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, whole meat 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.
Best wet food for Yorkies
- Beef Broth
- Beef Liver
Why we love it
This beef-based recipe is for the Yorkie owner who wants 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
Why we love it
We believe this formula is 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 to love their food.
Orijen pledges that their food does not contain any meat meals or rendered animals—just fresh, raw, or dehydrated whole foods. 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.
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.
Best dog food for Yorkies with allergies
V-Dog KindKibble Vegan Mini Bites
First 5 ingredients
- Dried Peas
- Pea Protein
- Brown Rice
- Potato Protein
Why we love it
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” kibble size is 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?
Best organic dog food for Yorkies
- 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.
Best Yorkie dog food subscription
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 Ollie Dog Food.
Ollie is great for those who want to commit to feeding their Yorkies real food you or I would eat, not over-processed kibble. This can do wonders for a dog’s health, and it’s convenient. Ollie will deliver freshly made meals to your door every two weeks, so all you have to do is take one out of the fridge and feed it to your pup.
To be clear, dog food subscriptions are a premium product, so you’ll pay a extra for it. However, one of the reasons Ollie is great for Yorkie owners 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 Ollie much more affordable for Yorkie owners than those with large dog breeds.
Get 50% off of your first order of Ollie by clicking the banner above, or learn more in our Ollie Dog Food review.
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.
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.
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.
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 Yorkie 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-grade 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 small 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 kibble with a 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.
What’s your favorite Yorkie dog food?
Have you tried one of these dog food options? Do you have another quality dog food you love and would recommend? If so, please comment below—we’d love to hear what you’ve found.
Lastly, if you would like to learn more about the pet food industry and steps you can take to ensure you are giving your Yorkie good quality dog food, we recommend you begin by reading this resource.
- 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.