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The epitome of a big dog in a small dog’s body, the Yorkshire Terrier is a tiny toy breed that only weighs an average of 4 to 7 pounds. These little dogs have long, silky coats and, though they’re very trainable, they can be a bit of a handful at times.
When it comes to taking care of a Yorkie, coat maintenance is a key concern, but there are also some health issues to be aware of. As a toy breed, Yorkies often suffer from dental issues, musculoskeletal problems, and hypoglycemia. Routine veterinary care, paired with a high-quality diet, will help you keep your Yorkie healthy and happy for years to come.
In this article, we’ll explore the nutritional needs of Yorkshire Terriers and how to choose the best dog food for your Yorkie. You’ll also see our top picks for the best Yorkie dog food.
Understanding Your Yorkie’s Nutritional Needs
Protein is the most important nutrient for any dog. It provides the building blocks for healthy muscle in puppies and, in adult dogs, supports lean muscle mass. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, an adult dog needs a minimum of 18% protein in his diet, and puppies need at least 22%.
Fat provides a concentrated source of calories as well as support for your Yorkie’s soft skin and silky coat. It should make up no less than 5% of his adult diet, but ideally upwards of 15%. Your dog has no specific requirements for carbohydrates, but digestible sources like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables provide supplemental energy as well as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Though all dogs have the same basic needs for essential nutrients, there are significant differences when it comes to their calorie requirements. Toy and small breeds have fast metabolisms that burn through energy very quickly, so they need a higher concentration of fat and calories in their diets than larger dogs. A toy breed like the Yorkie may need 30 to 40 calories per pound of body weight per day.
Now that you have a better understanding of your Yorkie’s nutritional needs let’s talk about how to make sure those needs are met with high-quality dog food.
What to Look for in Dog Food for Yorkshire Terriers
The simplest way to ensure that your Yorkie’s needs are met is to choose a high-quality dog food formulated for toy or small breeds. Here are some other things to look for when shopping for dog food for Yorkshire Terriers:
- Wholesome, natural ingredients with no by-products or artificial additives
- High in animal protein like poultry, meat, and fish
- Moderate-to-high fat and calorie content for sustained energy and coat support
- Digestible carbohydrates for fiber and essential nutrients
- Complete and balanced according to AAFCO nutrient profiles for small breeds
When your Yorkie is a puppy, a calorie-rich diet is even more important to sustain healthy growth and development. Yorkies are also prone to low blood sugar, so you may want to keep your puppy’s bowl full for the first few months before tapering him off onto scheduled feedings to make sure he gets the calories and nutrients he needs.
What About Grain-Free Dog Food?
Many dog owners mistakenly believe that grain-free dog food is inherently healthier than grain-inclusive dog food. The truth is that whole grains are a nutritious and digestible source of carbohydrate energy, fiber, and essential nutrients for dogs.
The problem occurs when a dog is allergic or sensitive to grains, in which case a grain-free diet may be recommended. According to the Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, however, food allergies are not as common as many pet food companies want you to think and most dogs are allergic to common animal proteins rather than grains.
Then what’s the argument against grain-free dog food?
Over the past year or so, the FDA has been investigating reports linking grain-free diets to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in pets. According to the report, 90% of cases of DCM were in pets following a grain-free diet. DCM is most common in large and giant breeds, though many of the cases reported were in breeds not genetically predisposed to the disease.
The Yorkshire Terrier is not predisposed to DCM and, as a small-breed dog, its risk is inherently lower. This, coupled with the fact that the FDA has yet to issue any formal statement, means that you have no need to go grain-free for your dog unless your vet confirms an allergy.
The Best Dog Food for Yorkshire Terriers
Feeding your Yorkie a high-quality and nutritious diet is the best way to ensure his long-term health and wellness. That means more Yorkie kisses and cuddles for you!
Here are our top picks for the best dog food for Yorkshire Terriers:
With fresh turkey as the main ingredient, this small-breed puppy formula provides plenty of protein for healthy growth and development with whole-grain carbohydrates and plenty of omega fatty acids.
If your Yorkie puppy already struggles with food allergies or sensitivities, this grain-free recipe made with a limited number of ingredients could be the way to go.
Packed with both high-quality animal protein and coat-supporting omega-3s, this recipe is formulated to nourish your puppy’s body with balanced nutrition for a smart start in life.
High-protein kibble meets freeze-dried bites of raw chicken in this nutritious and delicious recipe formulated uniquely for toy breeds like your Yorkshire Terrier.
Made with a trio of proteins from chicken, lamb, and salmon, this small-breed recipe also features a nutritious blend of superfoods for strong immunity, a healthy heart, and a sharp mind.
Made with all-natural ingredients and formulated for digestibility, this toy- and small-breed formula contains a full 30% protein with 20% fat for energy as well as skin and coat support.
Uniquely formulated for toy breeds like your Yorkie, this recipe is high in protein with digestible whole-grain carbohydrates and a rich blend of omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.
If you want to give your Yorkie a boost of premium-quality nutrition without springing for top-shelf dog food, try this freeze-dried meal mixer made with raw chicken and nutrient-rich superfoods.
If you’re looking for an affordable recipe that still offers high-quality, grain-free nutrition then consider this formula made with an ideal balance of protein and fat for small breeds like your Yorkie.
Featuring a blend of premium proteins and loaded with healthy fats for energy and coat support, this formula is all-natural and nutritionally balanced for small-breed dogs.
Specifically designed for small-breed seniors, this wholesome natural recipe is a balanced source of quality nutrition for your aging Yorkie and comes in special kibbles shaped for dental health.
Made with 55% protein and healthy fats with 45% produce, fiber, and essential nutrients, this small-breed senior recipe could be just what your Yorkie needs to stay healthy as he ages.
Your Yorkie needs a nutritious diet to sustain his health and wellness in all stages of life but choosing a high-quality puppy food is particularly important.
To learn more about caring for your Yorkie puppy, check out our guide for everything you need to know about Yorkshire Terrier puppies here.