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One of the smallest terrier breeds, the Yorkshire Terrier weighs just 4 to 7 pounds at maturity. If you have the patience to care for a Yorkie’s long, silky coat, you’ll enjoy all the energy and love this tiny toy breed has to give. Small as they may be, these little dogs are full of spunk and energy. In fact, many Yorkies have no trouble holding their ground against much larger dogs. Finding the best food for Yorkies will help your pup stand tall—and keep him or her strong, healthy, and full of that Yorkie spirit too.
So what exactly does the best food for Yorkies look like?
We’ve done the research to bring you a shortlist of the best food for Yorkies so you can provide your spunky pup with the high-quality, nutritious diet they deserve. Keep reading to find in-depth information about your Yorkie’s nutritional needs.
The Basics of Canine Nutrition
Protein is the foundation of a healthy diet, and your dog needs about 1 gram per pound of their ideal body weight daily. Adequate protein intake supports growth and development in puppies and helps adult dogs maintain lean muscle mass. Fat provides a concentrated source of calories, and it helps your dog absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
While cats are obligate carnivores and have a biological need for a meat-based diet, dogs have the ability to derive some of their nutrition from plant-based sources. That said, your Yorkshire Terrier has no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates (though healthy sources can provide essential nutrients). The best food for Yorkies will include a collection of vitamins and minerals as well.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has determined the minimum requirements for key nutrients in dogs. AAFCO recommends a minimum of 22% protein for canine growth and reproduction (puppies and lactating females) and an 18% minimum for adult dogs. For fat, these numbers are 8% and 5%, respectively.
To meet these requirements, the best food for Yorkies is a high-quality dog food made with real, whole-food sources. Animal protein like meat or poultry should be the focus. The food should also have higher-than-average fat and limited carbohydrate content. Not all dog foods have the same calorie content, so it’s a good idea to compare the calories per cup to the feeding recommendations for your dog’s age and weight.
AAFCO standards exist to encourage commercial pet food products to adhere to minimum nutritional requirements. You’ll probably agree, however, that your dog deserves more than the bare minimum. Checking for an AAFCO statement of nutritional adequacy on the label is a good way to weed out the really bad dog foods, but the statement itself isn’t a wholesale guarantee of quality. That’s why it’s worth putting in the time and research to better understand the world of canine nutrition. Once you understand the basics, you can make an educated decision in picking the best food for your Yorkie.
Some great resources include:
- Our in-depth guide, “Decoding Dog Food: Your Guide to What You’re Really Feeding Your Pet”
- “How to Read a Dog Food Label,” by the American Kennel Club (AKC)
- The Dog Food Project, an online reference with exhaustive information about everything from dog nutrition to common dog food ingredients to avoid
What Does Your Yorkie Need?
There are hundreds of dog breeds, and all are unique in their own way. However, the best food for Yorkies won’t look that different from the best food for Great Danes. According to Dr. Gary Richter, Rover’s resident veterinarian on The Dog People Panel, “All dogs are of the same species Canis familiaris and, as such, have very similar nutritional needs, including protein requirements.”
Still, while your Yorkie’s basic need for protein, fat, and essential nutrients won’t change due to breed, size is a factor worth considering. As you might expect, Yorkies don’t eat nearly as much as larger dogs. You may be surprised to learn, however, that they actually burn through calories at a faster rate.
The average dog needs about 30 calories per pound of body weight. Toy and small breeds have fast metabolisms and may require more calories per pound than larger dogs. Weighing an average of 4 to 7 pounds, an adult Yorkie typically needs anywhere from 150 and 250 calories per day. Puppies may also need significantly more.
Toy breeds like the Yorkie (especially toy breed puppies) also require a steady influx of energy throughout the day. Though the average dog may be just fine with two meals, your Yorkie could need three or four small meals to sustain their metabolism and prevent hypoglycemia throughout the day.
Considerations for Puppies and Seniors
Toy breeds like the Yorkie require a diet that’s high in calories and nutrient-dense. This gives them the energy they need without requiring them to eat a large volume of food.
A dog food specially formulated for toy breeds is the simplest way to give your Yorkie what he needs. Not only are these dense in calories, fat, and nutrition, but the kibble is usually smaller too.
Hypoglycemia is a serious concern for Yorkie puppies, so you should also make sure your puppy has constant access to food. As they approach adulthood, you can start transitioning them to three or four small meals per day to help maintain a healthy body weight.
When your Yorkie approaches senior status (around 8 to 10 years), their activity and appetite may slow down. You don’t necessarily need to switch to a senior recipe dog food, however. Just keep an eye on his or her weight, and talk to your veterinarian about supplements to support your dog’s bone and joint health.
How to Shop for the Best Food for Yorkies
Even if you choose a toy breed recipe for your dog’s size-specific needs, you’ll still need to judge the quality of the food for yourself. Take a look at the guaranteed analysis to check the protein and fat content, then scan the list of ingredients to see what’s making up those nutrients.
Here are some things to look for on a dog food label:
- Real meat, poultry, or fish as the first ingredient (ideally two of the first three)
- Plenty of animal-based fat for energy (ideally 18% to 22% crude fat)
- Limited content of digestible carbohydrates (whole grains and low-starch veggies)
- Natural sources for key vitamins and minerals (fresh fruits and veggies)
- No artificial additives like colors, flavors, or preservatives
Be sure to check the feeding recommendations as well. Toy breed dog foods tend to be very calorie-dense anyway, but you want to make sure you don’t have to feed your Yorkie an unreasonably large portion to meet his nutritional needs.
The Best Food for Yorkies
While your Yorkie may not take up much space in your home, they do take up a huge space in your heart. Because of this, they deserve the best nutrition you can provide. To help you make a smart choice for your Yorkshire Terrier’s diet, we’ve assembled a list of the best food for Yorkies, based on the recommendations above.
The Best Food for Yorkie Puppies
With deboned chicken as the main ingredient, this protein-rich wet food is uniquely formulated to meet the nutritional needs of small-breed puppies like your Yorkie.
Made with 85% premium animal ingredients including meat, organs, and bone, this dry puppy food delivers biologically appropriate nutrition to nourish your puppy’s growth and development. In other words, it offers a diet similar to what your dog’s canine ancestors ate in the wild.
The Best Food for Yorkies: General Feeding
When it comes to the best food for Yorkies, this small-breed wet food is a strong contender. Conveniently packaged in small cans, this flavorful stew features organic-fed, free-range chicken in a recipe formulated specifically for small breeds.
Packed with natural ingredients and flavors, this kibble is a grain-free food for your Yorkie who gets only the best. It features real venison as the number one ingredient. Supplemental protein comes from lamb, duck, and fish for a total of 32% protein.Shop on Chewy Shop on Petco
Nourish your Yorkie’s health and wellness with this holistic, natural wet food. Grain- and gluten-free, it features lamb, sweet potato, and cranberry in a moist and flavorful gravy.Shop on Chewy Shop on Petco
This toy breed food was developed to support small dogs’ energy, skin and coat health, and hip and joint health. It’s a complete and balanced dry food—just what your Yorkshire Terrier needs for well-rounded nutrition.Shop on Chewy Shop on Petco
Featuring cage-free chicken with fresh fruits and vegetables, this high-protein canned food for small breeds is packed with real, wholesome ingredients. Plus, you won’t find any fillers or artificial additives in the recipe, making it a healthy, natural option.Shop on Chewy Shop on Petco
Fresh chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients in this protein-rich dry food that ranks among the best food for Yorkies. It’s loaded with healthy nutrients from natural sources and specially formulated for small breed adults like your Yorkshire Terrier.
High-protein kibble is blended with freeze-dried pieces of raw meat in this small breed formula. Full of flavor, this option is chock-full of premium nutrition that caters to your Yorkie’s dietary requirements.Shop on Chewy Shop on Petco
If your veterinarian recommends a senior recipe to support your Yorkie’s joint health, this Blue Buffalo Life Protection small-breed formula is a great option. One of the best foods for Yorkies of a certain age, it’s protein-rich and supplemented with all the essential nutrients your dog needs for optimal health throughout their golden years.Shop on Chewy Shop on Petco
Consult Your Vet Before Introducing New Dog Food to Your Yorkie
There are some great dog foods for Yorkies on this list. However, before you introduce any new dog food to your pet, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. Every dog is different and has different nutritional needs. Make sure you talk to your vet about what’s best for your special, one-of-a-kind pet!
With a healthy diet and plenty of love, your Yorkshire Terrier can live for 12 to 15 years or more. To ensure that your Yorkie gets the best possible start to life, check out our guide to Yorkshire Terrier puppies and take what you’ve learned here to choose the best food for them.
For more about this delightful breed, check out the links below.