Small breed dog food is the latest spin manufacturers are putting on commercial pet foods… but do small dogs need a special diet? And why are these so formulas much more money than food for ‘full size’ dogs?  More about the industry’s latest scheme, ‘best food for small dogs.’

There are dozens of special foods on the market now specially made for toy dog breeds; they are the latest from manufacturers like Wellness, Nutro, Blue Wilderness and a host of others.

But are they actually unique? And does your Morkie need to be on one of these small breed dog foods?


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Today’s dogs are meant to eat MEAT. But plant material can’t hurt them, just fill them up. That’s something small dogs do not need; instead, every bite they eat should be maximum  nutrition.

All dogs need the same, good nutrition

Dogs are carnivores, not matter their size. Some experts say they are also omnivores – or eaters of just about anything. Their teeth are definitely for eating meat. But their intestines are longer than cats, who are true carnivores. So dogs CAN digest some amount of plant material.

A dog’s ancestor, the grey wolf, is primarily a carnivore. But dogs adapted over time to be scavengers, picking up the leftovers from humans, and generally eating whatever they could find. Meat was preferred, but not too many dogs will turn down a biscuit.


Commercial diets with plant filler

Any food with corn as its first ingredient, is not top quality nutrition. Corn is used for one reason only – it is an inexpensive filler.

Corn is a contentious subject in the world of dog food, Some experts claim dogs can get nutritional value from corn; others say, they can’t really digest corn, so it’s of little value.

Corn is a cheap filler, and small dogs like Morkies don’t need fillers. Every bite they eat should be nutritious since they’re so small.


What ARE the nutritional needs of a toy dog?

Toys need a quality diet of protein, fats and carbohydrates*. Carbs are starred, because they’re not technically NEEDED, but are usually the carriers of important vitamins, minerals and plant-based nutrients.

But guess what? Any size dog needs a quality diet of protein, fats and carbohydrates.

pet food treats in a dog bowl

Just some of the well-known commercial dog foods that have corn as their #1 ingredient:

Everpet Dog Food (Dry)
Gravy Train
Kal Kan Dog Food (Dry)
Kibbles ‘n Bits
Purina Dog Chow
Ol’ Roy Dog Food (Dry)
Pedigree Dog Food (Dry)

Hill’s Science Diet (Canned)

How important is small size kibble?

If you feed your Morkie a dry diet (kibble) how important is the SIZE of the kibble pieces?

Many Vets recommend that you add water – an equal amount as the kibble – to the meal before you give it to your dog. That’s because kibble diets can be very drying and can even result in dehydration.

So if you follow that advice, the size of the kibble doesn’t really matter, since it will soften right down.

Otherwise, the kibble size shouldn’t be an issue. Look at how a toy dog will grab onto a meaty raw bone and you’ll see there’s nothing too big for these guys!


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Your Best Bet for Toy Dog Diets

 If you feed your Morkie commercial dog food, look for:


  • good quality food, with a high levels of protein
  • without fillers like corn, soybeans or glutens (if they’re listed in the first 5 ingredients, try another brand)
  • add at least some fresh food to your dog’s diet, by hand; a little bit of beef or chicken (raw or cooked); veggies your dog might like and even fruit. 
  • keep training treats very small
  • no other snacks
  • food consistently available throughout the day, to stave off hypoglycaemia
  • don’t overfeed
  • balance feeding with 20 minutes a day of exercise (leashed walk) to help your toy dog build muscle tone

Here’s a quick guide to help you pick better quality food — 

Let's sum up: does your Morkie really need small breed dog food?

Being labelled for toy dogs, doesn’t mean the food is superior than regular dog food.

Always check the label carefully – especially the first 5 ingredients. They are what matters most. You want to see real meat products named, not “meat by-products” or “meat meal.” Instead look for beef, chicken, lamb, etc.  And avoid anything called a by-product.

If the food checks out, and there is a small dog version available (at the same price), then go for it. Otherwise, stick to a regular, quality food.

Download a list of quality dog foods to take shopping

If you feed your Morkie commercial food, you’ll want this list. Download it here free.