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One of the smallest terrier breeds, the Yorkshire terrier weighs just 4 to 7 pounds. Small as he may be, this little dog is full of spunk and energy. In fact, many Yorkies have no trouble holding their ground against much larger dogs.
If you have the patience to care for a Yorkie’s long, silky coat, you’ll enjoy all the love this tiny toy breed has to give. In addition to meeting his grooming needs, however, you’ll also need to read up on his nutritional requirements to make sure you’re feeding him the best food for Yorkies to provide the high-quality, nutritious diet he deserves.
The Basics of Canine Nutrition
Protein is the foundation of a healthy diet for dogs. It supports growth and development in puppies and helps adult dogs maintain lean muscle mass. Fat is a concentrated source of calories and helps your dog absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Your dog has no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates (though healthy sources can provide essential nutrients) and he needs a collection of vitamins and minerals as well.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has determined the minimal requirements for key nutrients in dogs. AAFCO recommendations state 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, feed your dog a high-quality food made with real, whole-food sources of these nutrients. Animal protein like meat or poultry should be the focus with higher than average fat and limited carbohydrate content. Keep in mind as well that not all dog foods have the same calorie content, so compare the calories per cup to the feeding recommendations according to your dog’s age and weight.
Remember that 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.
It’s worth putting in the time and research to better understand the world of dog food. Some great educational resources on the topic are:
- 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, all unique in their own way. That being said, they all come from the same species and have the same foundational nutrient requirements.
Though your Yorkie’s basic needs for protein, fat, and essential nutrients don’t change due to his breed, his size is a factor worth considering. As you might expect, Yorkies don’t eat nearly as much as larger dogs, but you may be surprised to learn 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, however, and may require as much as 10 calories per pound of body weight more than a bigger dog. The Yorkie weighs an average of 4 to 7 pounds, so an adult Yorkie may need anywhere from 150 and 250 calories per day. Puppies may need significantly more.
Toy breeds like the Yorkie (especially toy breed puppies) require a steady influx of energy as well to prevent hypoglycemia. Though the average dog may be just fine with two meals per day, your Yorkie may need three or four small meals throughout the day to sustain his metabolism.
Considerations for Puppies and Seniors
Because Yorkies have fast metabolisms, they require a diet concentrated in both calories and nutrients. The best food for Yorkies is a high-calorie, nutrient-dense diet that gives them the energy and nutrients they need without requiring them to eat a large volume of food.
The simplest way to provide for your dog the best dog food for Yorkies is to feed him a toy breed dog food. Not only are these recipes dense in calories, fat, and nutrition, but they come in smaller kibble sizes as well.
A toy breed puppy food is the best option for your Yorkie puppy. Hypoglycemia is a serious concern for Yorkie puppies, so you should also make sure your puppy has constant access to food. As he approaches his adult weight, you can start transitioning him onto a routine of three or four small meals per day to help him maintain a healthy body weight.
When your Yorkie approaches senior status around 8 to 10 years, his activity and his appetite may slow down. You don’t necessarily need to switch to a senior recipe dog food, however. Just keep an eye on his weight and talk to your veterinarian about supplements to support your dog’s bone and joint health.
How to Shop for Yorkie Food
Choosing a toy breed recipe is a great way to ensure that your Yorkie’s diet will be catered to his size-specific needs, but you still need to judge the quality of the recipe for yourself. Take a look at the guaranteed analysis to check the protein and fat content then scan the list of ingredients to see where those nutrients come from.
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. Make sure the kibble size is small as well.
The Best Food for Yorkies
Yorkshire terriers are one of the smallest dog breeds around. Though your dog may not take up much space in your home, he takes up a lot of space in your heart and he deserves the best nutrition you can give him. To help you make a smart choice, we’ve assembled a list of the best foods for Yorkies based on the recommendations we’ve made above.
Here are our top picks for the best food for Yorkies.
The Best Food for Yorkie Puppies
Featuring 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.Shop on Amazon
Made with 85% premium animal ingredients including meat, organs, and bone, this dry puppy food delivers biologically appropriate nutrition (in other words, a diet similar to what your dog’s canine ancestors ate in the wild) to nourish your puppy’s growth and development.Shop on Amazon
The Best Food for Yorkies—General Feeding
Conveniently packaged in small cans, this flavorful stew features organic-fed, free-range chicken in a recipe formulated specifically for small breeds.Find on Chewy
Packed with protein and natural flavor, this grain-free dry food features real venison as the #1 ingredient with supplemental protein from lamb, duck, and fish.Shop on Chewy
Nourish your Yorkie’s health and wellness with this holistic, natural wet food featuring chicken, chickpeas, and pumpkin in a moist and flavorful gravy.Shop on Amazon
Formulated to support toy breed energy, skin and coat health, and hip and joint health, this complete and balanced dry food is just what your Yorkshire Terrier needs.Shop on Chewy
Featuring cage-free chicken with fresh fruits and vegetables, this high-protein canned food is packed with real, wholesome ingredients with no fillers or artificial additives.Shop on Amazon
With farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient, this protein-rich dry food is loaded with healthy nutrients from natural sources and formulated for toy breed adults like your Yorkie.Shop on Chewy
High-protein kibble is blended with freeze-dried pieces of raw meat in this toy breed formula that’s full of flavor and premium nutrition catered to your Yorkie’s dietary requirements.Shop on Amazon
If your veterinarian recommends a senior recipe to support your Yorkie’s joint health, this Nutro small breed formula features a trio of premium animal proteins with nutrient-rich superfoods.Shop on Amazon
Consult With Your Vet Before Introducing New Food to Your Dog
There are some great dog foods for Yorkies on this list, but before you introduce any new dog food to your pet, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. Every dog is different and every dog 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 live, check out our guide to Yorkshire Terrier puppies and take what you’ve learned here to choose the highest quality diet possible for your pet.
For more about this delightful breed, check out one of the links below.