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What you feed your dog as a puppy will determine the course of his life. But finding the absolute best dry puppy food is not as easy as it seems.

To make it a little easier, we reviewed dozens of products and brought you the top-rated puppy kibble in 2020. 

We based our evaluation on:

  • Protein and calorie count 
  • Safety and quality of the ingredients 
  • Flavor 
  • Price + Availability 
  • User + Expert reviews 

Let’s dive right in!

Image Source: What you feed your dog as a puppy will determine the course of his life. But finding…

Image Source:

What you feed your dog as a puppy will determine the course of his life. But finding the absolute best dry puppy food is not as easy as it seems.

To make it a little easier, we reviewed dozens of products and brought you the top-rated puppy kibble in 2020. 

We based our evaluation on:

  • Protein and calorie count 
  • Safety and quality of the ingredients 
  • Flavor 
  • Price + Availability 
  • User + Expert reviews 

Let’s dive right in!

show more show less

A Quick Look at the Top Dry Puppy Food Products

Best for sensitive stomachs
Salmon-sourced high protein recipe
Over 80 million probiotics per pound
Egg and grain-free formula
Best for pitbull puppies
High-protein, grain-free formula
Real meat only, no by-products
LifeSource Bits nutrient blend
Best for overall health
Locally-sourced whole foods
Small-batch production
Suitable for all breeds and sizes
FROM $19.99
Best dry food for large puppies
Real meat from pasture-raised lambs
L-Carnitine for energy conversion
Great value for money
Best for German Shepherd puppy
Size and breed-specific tailored diet
Small, 1 cm-sized bites
Transparent and reputable company
FROM $78.29
Suitable for all breeds
High-quality animal proteins
Innovation-focused company
Complete nutrition for body and mind
Pea-sized kibble
FROM $13.49
Best value for money
High-quality animal protein
22 nutrients found in mother’s milk
Beetroot + prebiotics for digestion
Best puppy dry food for dental health
Has real meat
Small bag available
Natural prebiotic fiber for digestion
FROM $2.99
Best tasting dry food for puppies
Has chicken, lamb, salmon
Unique blend of 15 superfoods
Non-GMO (from trusted sources)
Best dry puppy food for growth
Two dog-friendly flavors
DHA-rich for cognitive development
Affordable price + reputable brand
FROM $5.99

This page may contain affiliate links. For more details, check out our affiliate disclosure.

Our Best-Rated Dry Puppy Food Reviews

Now that you’ve seen our top choice list, here is a more in-depth dive into each product to help you decide if it’s the ideal dry puppy food for your new family member.

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Review

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Review

Best Dry Puppy Food for Sensitive Stomachs

Rating: 10

  • 27% protein and 15% fat
  • 3,600 kcal/kg – 360 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Salmon
  • Quantity:  5lb – 30lb
  • Price From: $12.99

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Smoked salmon is the first ingredient in this tasty, healthy, and nutritious puppy kibble. 

Using a blend of wild-caught and farmed salmon, Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream puppy food gets all the animal protein from fish, so it’s incredibly rich in omega fatty acids. These provide nutritional benefits and give your dog healthy skin and a smooth and shiny coat.

The top-notch, healthy ingredients, including vegetables (sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes), fruits (tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries), legumes, vitamins, and minerals, are packed in small kibble — allowing your puppy to chew and digest it without any problems.

On top of that, Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream puppy formula dry dog food includes the brand’s proprietary K9 Strain Probiotics.

In other words, each pound of this highly-nutritious kibble provides over 80 million live probiotics to boost the digestive and immune system. Another plus for pups with food sensitivities: Taste of the Wild grain-free dry dog food for your puppy is egg-free.

Even though TOTW is ideal for puppies with allergies and food sensitivities, our Taste of the Wild puppy food review highly recommends this brand for all kinds of dogs — big and small, sensitive, and otherwise. 

This company makes another formula with roasted bison and roasted venison. 

It might be made of the same quality as the Pacific Stream puppy food, but when it comes to Taste of the Wild puppy food, reviews show many owners mentioning that their pet doesn’t really take to the meaty taste. 

So, it might be better to stick with the salmon-flavored puppy food.

Top 5 ingredients: salmon, ocean fish meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes


  • Egg-free and grain-free
  • Made with sustainable smoked salmon
  • Patented formula of more than 80 probiotics per pound
  • Improves coat
  • Affordable price


  • Contains canola oil (a bit of a controversy in the dog food industry)
  • Some puppies don’t love the taste long-term

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Puppy Food Review

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Puppy Food Review

Best Puppy Food for Pitbulls

Rating: 9.9

  • 36% protein and 16% fat
  • 3,662 kcal/kg – 423 Kcals/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Quantity: 11lb
  • Price From: $31.00

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Blue Buffalo dry puppy food is free of by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, and preservatives. It’s also 100% grain-free. 

It contains BLUE LifeSource Bits. This is a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals created by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support the immune system and oxidative balance throughout all life stages. 

This cold-formed formula is exposed to minimal heat during manufacturing to preserve the nutritional value of the ingredients.

The product covered in our Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy review is made of real deboned chicken and enriched with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, sweet potatoes, and carrots. It also has flaxseed and fish oil, a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

With 36% protein and 16% fat, plus chock full of complex carbohydrates and DHA (for vision and cognitive development), this puppy food has all the nutrients a muscular, energetic Pittie pup needs.

In addition to the Original Chicken formula, owners can choose from a large dog recipe. It has added DHA for more support. Another option is the BLUE Wilderness Red Meat Puppy Rocky Mountain Recipe.

The latter, Blue Buffalo Wilderness puppy reviews show, is as close to a back-to-the-wild diet as possible. There is no chicken, but this formula is packed with other types of meat, such as deboned beef, lamb and venison, and antioxidants like cranberries and blueberries. 

There are many positive Blue Buffalo Wilderness puppy food reviews on the original recipe alone, and many more combined for the other Blue Buffalo products. Each of their recipes are developed for quality, taste, and overall health of your pup. 

Most of the negative reviews are not about the quality or the taste of the product, but about the difference between the store and online purchased quality, with many pet owners complaining of a bad batch.

Top 5 ingredients: deboned chicken, chicken meal, pea protein, peas, tapioca starch


  • Made with LifeSource Bits – a nutrients & antioxidants blend
  • Recipes developed by veterinarians and PhD-level animal nutritionists
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • No wheat, corn, or soy
  • Real meat only


  • Only chicken-flavored option (in the original recipe)
  • May make puppy gassy
  • Lack of grains may cause dandruff and diarrhea

Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food Review

Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food Review

Best for Overall Health

Rating: 10

  • 28% protein and 15% fat
  • 3665 kcal/kg – 400 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Beef, Sweet Potato, Chicken
  • Quantity: 4lb, 10lb, 12lb, and 22lb.
  • Price From: $19.99

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Why are dogs and dog owners going nuts over Merrick dry puppy food? To start with, the first ingredient in this mouth-watering dog food, regardless if it’s Texas Beef or Chicken, is real deboned meat.

Merrick grain-free puppy recipe for dry dog food is enriched with omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, DHA for brain development, and glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health and muscle tissue. 

What’s more, it contains easily digestible carbs, like potatoes and sweet potatoes, pet-enticing fruit and veggies (peas, apples, and blueberries) and plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

All of these goodies are packed in one yummy kibble, made and baked in Texas kitchens where Merrick has been producing delicious dog food for more than 30 years.

Merrick Grain Free puppy food reviews from satisfied customers are particularly happy with the switch from chicken to beef, saying it has improved their puppies’ digestion and normalized their stool. 

With over 92% of Chewy reviewers recommending this product and a 4.5-star rating on ingredient quality and freshness from Amazon users, it’s no wonder this Merrick puppy food review puts it among the top ten best food brands. 

Top 5 ingredients: deboned beef, sweet potatoes, peas, lamb meal, potatoes


  • Food sourced from local farmers
  • Natural rich ingredients
  • No grain or artificial preservatives
  • Ideal for puppies of all sizes
  • Supports healthy digestion
  • No wheat, soy, or gluten


  • Bits may be big for some puppies
  • Complaints that it doesn’t smell good

Diamond Naturals Dry Puppy Food Review

Diamond Naturals Dry Puppy Food Review

Best Puppy Food for Large Dogs

Rating: 9.9

  • 27% protein and 15% fat
  • 3,650 kcal/kg – 342 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Lamb
  • Quantity: 20lb and 40lb 
  • Price From: $27.99

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Diamond Naturals dry puppy food provides all the nutrients a growing, large-breed puppy could want or need.

It contains DHA, calcium, and phosphorus, which is known for healthy joints, muscles, and bones. It also has a unique live probiotics blend for improved immunity and digestion. 

This K9 Strain formula is the same as the one used by Taste of the Wild, as the same company makes both brands.

There is no shortage of superfoods either, starting from vegetables (kale, spinach, carrots), fruits (pumpkin, blueberries, coconut, and papaya), and whole-grains (quinoa and chia seeds).

What’s more, Diamond Naturals dry food for a puppy of a bigger size incorporates L-Carnitine into its formula. This vitamin-like compound has recently been linked to weight reduction in overfed dogs. 

It converts fat into energy — perfect for lively, big-boned puppies, like Labs, Golden Retrievers, and Newfoundlands.

If these features aren’t enough to tempt your dog (and you), the Diamond puppy food in this review comes in a delicious lamb flavor, made from real, pasture-fed lamb, that no puppy can resist.

On the site, there are 40 Diamond Naturals puppy food reviews, which may not sound like a lot, but all of them are overly positive and accompanied by cute puppy pics, and plenty of individual real customer experiences.

Amazon and Chewy reviewers love it too — there are over 2,000 ratings on Amazon and more than 300 favorable Diamond puppy food reviews on Chewy.

But what about small breeds? This brand has it all.

Sold in a smaller-sized kibble (for smaller mouths and throats), more than one Diamond Naturals small breed puppy review confirms that this chicken-flavored variety is as good as the large-breed option.

Top 5 ingredients: lamb, lamb meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, grain sorghum


  • Meat from pasture-raised lambs
  • 80 million probiotics per pound of food
  • Rich in superfoods, DHA, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids
  • No corn, wheat, or soy
  • Complete, holistic nutrition


  • Some owners report cases of diarrhea
  • Puppies tire of the taste over time

Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Review

Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Review

Best Dry Dog Food for German Shepherd Puppy

Rating: 10

  • 28% protein and 14% fat
  • 3639 kcal/kg – 331 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken 
  • Quantity: 30 lb
  • Available at local and online retailers
  • Price From: $78.29

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Offering tailored nutrition for all breeds and sizes (separate products for almost all breeds), Royal Canin is one of the best, most recognizable, and most varied pet food brands in the world.

Although nutrient content, shape, and size are custom-made to each specific breed, when it comes to Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy food, our review has no doubts about its quality.

Enriched with antioxidants, such as Vitamin E for an immunity boost, and a nutrient blend for digestive health and performance, this kibble has all the goodies a muscular and sturdy pup like the German Shepherd needs.

Plus, it contains 1.26% calcium and 1% phosphorus for growing bones, and 30% protein.

In addition to its breed-specific, Royal Canin puppy dry dog food comes in varieties tailored to size.

Royal Canin Mini Puppy dry dog food has all the high-quality protein and nutrients a smaller-breed growing puppy’s immune system requires. 

The kibble is small and easy to chew and digest, and can improve the dogs dental hygiene, whereas the unique prebiotics blend supports digestive health.

Although marketed to large-breed dogs, our Royal Canin Maxi Puppy review found that this formula contains much of the same ingredients as the Mini dog recipe.

One significant difference is energy levels. While the Mini formula has intense energy content, this one has moderate energy levels to meet the requirements of bigger puppies that grow over a longer period of time. 

There’s one than one five-star Royal Canin puppy review online. 86% of Amazon and 92% of Chewy users gave the Mini dog formula a five-star rating. If you dig around other products from this brand, you’ll find similarly high marks for flavor, scent, and packaging.

Top 5 ingredients: dehydrated poultry protein, rice, vegetable protein isolate, wheat flour, maize flour


  • Nutrition tailored to size and breed
  • Rich in antioxidants and Vitamin E
  • Special prebiotics blend for digestive health
  • Great for dental health
  • Natural preservatives
  • Easy open-and-close zip system


  • Uses by-product meals
  • A bit expensive 
  • Contains gluten

Eukanuba Dry Puppy Food Review

NexGard Chewables Review

Best Dry Puppy Food for Small Dogs

Rating: 9.9

  • 32% protein and 21% fat
  • 4,076 kcal/kg – 465 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Quantity: 5lb, 15lb, and 40lb
  • Price From: $13.49

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Small dogs are lively, vivacious, and energetic. To live their best lives, they need all the nutrients they can get, and Eukanuba provides it.

Eukanuba puppy dry dog food contains clinically-proven DHA levels to ensure that your puppy’s cognitive skills develop to their full potential, making the puppy smarter and easier to train.

Besides this beneficial Omega fatty acid, Eukanuba puppy food has high-grade animal protein, which is derived from the chicken as the first ingredient and other components. It also contains all the fat and carbs a growing puppy needs in terms of energy.

Finally, there are optimal levels of calcium and phosphorus and minerals to support bone and joints development, Vitamin E for the immune system, and natural fiber and prebiotics for a healthy tummy. 

In short, Eukanuba dry puppy food has all the nutrients small-breed puppies that weigh under 23 lb as adults require to reach their full potential.

No Eukanuba puppy food review would be complete without mentioning other products in their puppy food line. The brand makes delicious chicken-flavored puppy food formulated for different sized dogs and breeds as well.

There is a very small number of negative online Eukanuba puppy food reviews. Most of the comments by users highly recommend this product. They say that their puppy loves the taste, smell, and the kibble is perfectly-sized for smaller breed puppies.

Top 5 ingredients: chicken, chicken by-product meal, corn, chicken fat, wheat


  • Great for picky eaters
  • Scientifically adjusted for optimal performance
  • Real chicken is the number one ingredient
  • Higher in protein for a faster metabolism


  • Contains by-product meal
  • Contains egg product

IAMS Proactive Health Smart Dry Puppy Food Review

IAMS Proactive Health Smart Dry Puppy Food Review

Most Affordable Puppy Dry Food

Rating: 10

  • 29.% protein and 17.50% fat
  • 3,790 kcal/kg – 399 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken
  • Quantity: 30lb
  • Price From: $44.59

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Formulated with real, farm-raised chicken as the number one ingredient, IAMS provides all the natural animal protein your little dog needs to thrive.

This premium protein is mixed with 22 other nutrients, such as carrots, Vitamin E supplements, and folic acid, all of which are found in mother’s milk.

IAMS dry puppy food is packed with antioxidants for a healthy immune system and shiny coat, minerals for strong bones, and fish oil-derived Omega 3 acid for improved cognitive skills.

With IAMS, your puppy will be more trainable and fitter, but it will also be the smartest, healthiest, and best-looking pup on the block.

This company manufactures two more varieties in this product line: one for small and toy breeds (possibly the best dry food for a Yorkie puppy) and the other specifically formulated for large dogs. You can’t go wrong with any option. 

However, our IAMS puppy food review highly recommends the original recipe, as it contains all the best components of the IAMS formula, and it is suited to all breeds and sizes. Plus, this is among the best value for money on the market.

Judging by online IAMS puppy food reviews, both owners and pups love this puppy kibble.

Pet parents around the world are recommending IAMS as one of the best dry foods for puppies with plenty of positive IAMS Smart puppy reviews to prove it. 

Owners seem to be particularly satisfied that their dogs grow up to be lean and strong, instead of chunky and overweight.

Top 5 ingredients: chicken, ground whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain sorghum, dried beet pulp


  • Real chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • No wheat, soy, or artificial preservatives
  • Contains beet pulp for digestion
  • Rich in fish-oil derived DHA for sharp cognitive skills
  • Vet-recommended


  • Contains egg, chicken by-product meal, and corn
  • Bag doesn’t have zip-lock to keep food fresh

Chicken Soup for the Soul Dry Puppy Food Review

Chicken Soup for the Soul Dry Puppy Food Review

Best Food for Dental Health

Rating: 9.8

  • 30% protein and 18% fat
  • 3,803 kcal/kg – 411 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken 
  • Quantity: 1.5lb, 4.5lb, 13.5lb and 28lb
  • Price From: $2.99

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Puppy dry food reviews recommend Chicken Soup for the Soul Puppy Food as one of the best options for many reasons.

One of those is protein-dense ingredients: chicken, turkey, chicken meal, turkey meal are the first four ingredients. This is real meat that doesn’t just support healthy growth, but it makes the food taste great too.

The recipe contains a blend of antioxidants and superfoods (apples, blueberries, spinach, kelp, carrots, tomatoes, and cranberries) for the immune system and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin.

Finally, our Chicken Soup for the Soul puppy dry dog food review found this kibble to be the perfect small size for any puppy. Its unique shape promotes chewing and tartar control, as well as plaque removal, thus ensuring optimal dental hygiene and health.

Besides this option, there is a unique formula for larger puppies that contains fewer calories and fat to promote healthy growth over a longer period of time.

Chicken Soup for the Soul puppy food reviews on Chewy by both owners and breeders testify to the quality and safety of this dog kibble. In fact, 94% of Chewy users recommend this product. 

Top 5 ingredients: chicken, turkey, chicken meal, turkey meal, cracked pearled barley


  • No by-product meals, wheat, corn, or soy
  • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for optimal nutrition
  • Prebiotic fiber from dried chicory root


  • Doesn’t sit well with all puppy stomachs
  • Not all puppies love the taste

Nutro Ultra Puppy Dry Dog Food Review

Nutro Ultra Puppy Dry Dog Food Review

Best Tasting Dry Puppy Food

Rating: 9.9

  • 28% protein and 15% fat
  • 3706 kcal/kg – 360 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken, Salmon, and Lamb
  • Quantity: 15lb and 30lb
  • Price $31.99

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Nutro Ultra puppy food combines quality and flavor in one delicious kibble to nourish your puppy and satisfy picky palates.

According to many online Nutro Ultra puppy dog food reviews, puppers highly approve of the taste and gobble up portions as soon as they are served. But there is more to Nutro Ultra than flavor.

This brand uses three proteins (chicken, lamb, and salmon) to support growth and lean muscle development, as well as a ton of antioxidants and DHA to make sure your puppy stays sharp and has a healthy heart.

These high antioxidant levels are further enhanced with a nutrient-dense blend of 15 incredible superfoods, including kale, coconut, blueberries, spinach, carrots, pumpkin, and chia seeds. 

The combination of vibrant superfoods is specifically designed to give your puppy’s immune system the boost it needs to grow healthy, happy, and strong. 

On top of that, this top rated dry puppy food, like other Nutro products, follows the company’s FEED CLEAN philosophy, meaning that all the ingredients are sourced from trusted farmers and suppliers.

In other words, Nutro, as one of the pioneers in dog nutrition and best puppy dry food brand, doesn’t use any GMO-ingredients, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

The Nutro Ultra product line includes dry food for large puppies, which follows the same recipe, but contains less protein and fat, according to Nutro Ultra puppy dog food reviews.

Top 5 ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran


  • Great for all sizes and breeds
  • Human grade, non-GMO ingredients
  • A trio of proteins 
  • Fantastic blend of 15 superfoods
  • No corn, wheat, gluten, soy, artificial preservatives, flavors, or coloring
  • Ingredients can be traced back to trusted sources


  • A little pricey
  • Contains egg product 
  • Packaging cannot be resealed

Pedigree Dry Puppy Food Review

Pedigree Dry Puppy Food Review

Best Puppy Dry Food for Growth

Rating: 9.8

  • 27% protein and 11% fat
  • 3448 kcal Me/KG – 287 kcal Me/Cup
  • Flavor: Grilled Steak and Vegetables
  • Quantity: 3.5lb and 16.3lb
  • Price From: $5.99

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This chemical-free all-natural flea and tick spray — also available in a 96-ounce bottle, is designed for furniture, bedding, carpets, flooring, and curtains. It can be used in and out of the house, and you can also spray your dog with it. 

Seeing how it’s made out of natural ingredients, it’s safe to use on dogs older than 12 weeks and around your family.

Most Vets Best flea and tick spray reviews indicate that the spray makes quick work of fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes directly on contact. It’s also an excellent preventive measure as it repels said pests from your furry companion (and your house) and keeps them at bay.

According to Vet’s Best reviews, the only downside is that the effects aren’t long-lasting, so you’ll have to spray your dog a couple of times a day.

Moreover, having an all-natural product doesn’t mean your pet won’t have an allergic reaction to it. Some Vets Best flea and tick spray reviews report reactions like rashes, redness, itchy and dry skin, lethargy, and vomiting. They’re not dangerous, but contact your vet if they do persist over time.

Active Ingredients: 0.30% peppermint oil, 0.70% eugenol, 2.70% sodium lauryl sulfate


  • Very affordable
  • US-made
  • Reputable brand
  • Complete and balanced diet
  • No artificial flavors or added sugars


  • Contains chicken by-product and corn gluten meal
  • Contains preservatives such as BHA and BHT

How We Selected the Top-Rated Puppy Food

With so many brands claiming that they provide the most nutritious and healthiest dry puppy food, finding the one that ticks all the boxes can be time-consuming. 

So, to save you hours of exhausting research, we evaluated dozens of dry puppy food products and ranked the very best.

Want to know how we did it? Check our ranking methodology.

All About Protein

The protein content is a deciding factor when choosing the best dry dog food for a puppy. Did you know that at least 22% of puppy food calories should come from protein? For that reason, we only included puppy kibble high in superior quality protein.

What About Other Ingredients?

Besides protein, pups need fat, vitamins, minerals, omega fatty acids (DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, in particular), fruit, and vegetables to thrive.

All of the products on our list of best dry puppy food in 2020 contain top-notch ingredients puppies need in order to grow up strong and healthy. That means that all the dry puppy food options listed in our reviews are safe, i.e., free of chemicals, artificial preservatives, flavoring, and coloring.

Is It Nutritious?

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has set nutrient guidelines for dog food. All the companies on our list adhere to these guidelines without exception.

Taste and Smell

Puppy food should be healthy and nutritious, but it should also smell and taste enticing to puppies. This may be an issue of preference, but it helps if the kibble is made of ingredients and flavors our little omnivores love.

Just for Puppies

Even though “all-life stages” dog food is suitable for puppies, in our ranking of the best rated puppy dry dog food, we chose to stick to kibble that is specially formulated for dogs under the age of one.

Money Matters

There is no need to pay through the roof for high-quality puppy food, but you shouldn’t cheap out either. Choosing a mid-priced brand might be the best compromise.

In truth, most reasonably priced, mid-level brands are just as good as the high-end ones. The same can’t be said for low-priced dog food, though, which is almost always of inferior quality.

When making our list of the best puppy dry dog food, we didn’t just look at the price. We checked out the quantity per bag and made sure we only included brands that offered excellent value for money or quantity-per-price ratio.

Where Can You Get It?

Convenience is not to be underestimated.

For that reason, all the puppy food brands in our ranking are available at major online retailers and pet shops nationwide. This way, you can get top-rated puppy food at delivery times, shipping rates, and discounts best suited to your budget and needs.

User Reviews

Last but not least, we took user reviews into account when choosing the cream of the crop.

Dry puppy food ratings on Amazon and recommendations on Chewy, as well as reviews by satisfied (and unsatisfied) customers — we looked at them all when compiling our ranking.

Needless to say, only the brands with overwhelmingly positive reviews made the cut.

Choosing the Best Dry Puppy Food
The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Puppies need the right kind of diet to grow up big, healthy, and strong. That’s why it’s crucial to know what to feed your pet.

Puppy Food and Adult Dog Food: What’s the Difference?

No matter how big your dog gets, canines are classified as puppies until they reach one year of age. During this time, they need to be fed with high-quality, nutritious food, specially formulated for this life stage.

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), puppies need a minimum of 22% protein and 8.5% of crude fat (adult dogs need 18% and 5.5%, respectively).

This means that the best dry puppy food should contain a lot more nutrients than the pet food intended for adult dogs, including:

  • Protein, an essential ingredient
  • Fat and carbs for energy and proper growth
  • Calcium for healthy and strong bones and teeth
  • Omega 3 (especially DHA) for boosting cognitive functions and vision as well as keeping the skin and coat healthy

It goes without saying that adult dog kibble might be too big or too hard for baby dogs to swallow or digest.

With this in mind, owners must differentiate between dry puppy and adult dog food and provide a suitable and balanced diet for their fur babies.

What is Better for Puppies, Wet or Dry Food?

There are pros and cons to both types of food. Still, in certain aspects, dry kibble is a better choice than canned food.

  • Dental health. The texture and consistency of dry food is excellent for maintaining dental hygiene. Some dry food brands even make specifically-formulated dog food to clean the teeth and remove any plaque as the puppy chews it.
  • More nutritious. Dry food has more protein and carbs than wet food, so it’s a much better option, energy-wise.
  • Easier to store. Good dry puppy food has a longer shelf-life than canned food, which means that you can leave it out for longer without worrying about it spoiling. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated either, making it less of a hassle to store.
  • More affordable. Dry food, especially when bought in bulk, is much cheaper than canned food. In fact, out of the three options for puppy food (dry, wet, and semi-moist), kibble is the most affordable. 

There are some downsides, though. Some lower-quality (or worst puppy food) can have artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, putting your puppy at risk.

Dry food doesn’t give as much moisture as wet food, which is very important for older dogs or those who live in dry and hot environments.

The best option: mixing both. The wet food combined with high-quality kibble will increase the meal’s nutritional value and improve the taste and smell (a bonus for picky puppies).

Setting Up Your Puppy’s Food Regime

Owners, first-timers, in particular, should be armed with all the basics of a baby dog’s feeding schedule.

Here are the most important questions to address:

At What Age Should a Puppy Eat Dry Food?

Even though most puppies are weaned by 6 weeks, you can introduce solid food to their diet as early as 4 weeks. This is around the time that puppies stop getting all the calories they need from their mother’s milk. 

Dry food might still be too hard for dogs younger than 8 weeks, so owners should moisten it with water until it starts to look spongy. When it’s all soft, dry puppy food won’t pose a problem for smaller puppies. 

In other words, both younger and small-sized puppies can swallow and digest it without any issues.

Feeding a puppy kibble from the very beginning will make the transition to harder adult food much smoother.

How Often Should You Feed Your Puppy Dry Food?

The feeding regimes of puppies will change as it grows, so you need to provide nutrition accordingly:

  • From 6 to 12 weeks, puppies should eat puppy food only (no adult dog food) at least 4 to 6 times a day. This is a critical development stage for your puppy, so make sure you provide top-rated dry puppy food to support its rapid growth.
  • 3 to 6-month-old dogs can be fed 3 to 4 times a day with food suitable to their breed and size.

If you’re not sure what breed your dog is — a common occurrence with rescues — you might want to consider a dog DNA test. Genetic testing is the surest way to determine the breed, allowing you to adjust your dog’s nutrition to that type.

  • 6-month to one-year-old puppies need to be fed 2 times a day with some of the best dry puppy dog food. This reduced feeding regime will ease the transition into future smaller meals and avoid overfeeding and obesity issues.

At What Time Should You Feed Your Pet?

Ideally, puppies should have their meals at the same time every day. It’s best if the first meal is served in the morning, then again at noon, followed by lunch and dinner in the evening.

Not all owners can stick to this regime, though, so feeding time can be rearranged.

Just make sure that enough time has passed between meals. You don’t want to overfeed your pup or cause digestion problems.

How Much Dry Food to Feed a Puppy?

Puppies grow up incredibly fast. In fact, they grow the fastest in the first five months. This means that they need twice as much food per pound as an adult dog from the same breed.

How to determine the right amount?

Here are a few helpful hints:

  • Observe your dog. Does it meet the recommended body size and shape for its age and breed? If you see it leaning towards the chubbier side, reduce the quantity (not the frequency).
  • Follow feeding charts on product labels. Lucky for pet owners, the serving suggestions on top dry puppy food labels are excellent guides to the perfect feeding routine. Follow the instructions, and you won’t have any problems.
  • Consult your vet. If you are still wondering how much dry puppy food to feed your puppy, contact a professional for advice on the best feeding schedule.

Is Your Puppy Eating Enough? Or Overeating?

Vets use a scale of 1 to 5 (one being emaciated and five being obese) to evaluate your dog’s body shape. A puppy should be around two on the scale.

In practical terms, this means that the ribs and the top of the backbone are visible. You should be able to see the waist or the abdominal tuck. 

That being said, this also depends on your dog’s breed and size, so if you want to know for sure, you can always consult your vet.

Switching from Puppy Food to Adult Canine Food

Even if they are only fed with the best-rated puppy dry dog food, dogs will have to stop eating it eventually. Canines can join the big boys and transition to adult food when they reach 90% of their expected adult weight.

For smaller breeds, this happens between 7 and 9 months, whereas, for large dogs, it’s between 12 to 14 months. Just keep in mind that it’s better to keep your dog on a puppy diet a bit longer than not long enough.

How to Find the Very Best Dry Puppy Food?

There is a wide range of dry puppy food on the market, which can make choosing the best one for your tiny baby a challenge.

Here are the most important things to look for in high-quality dry food for puppies:

Consider the Breed

Dogs might all be the same species, but there is a world of difference between canine breeds. They differ in appearance, behavior, health issues, and needs.

First and foremost, the best dry puppy food needs to be small. Mouth and jaw size don’t allow for smaller breed pups to tackle bigger pieces.

Smaller breeds also have a faster metabolism, so they need more calories. The best option is to feed them calorie-dense meals 4 to 6 times a day to avoid hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

Put simply, small-breed dog owners should look for a smaller-sized dog food rich in calories and quantity.

On the other hand, bigger dogs are prone to bone diseases such as osteochondrosis (OCD), developmental orthopedic disease (DOD), and hip dysplasia. 

Although some of the joint and skeletal problems with dogs are genetic, the wrong kind of food can worsen these conditions.

The sooner you start feeding your dog the best dry food, the better. Look for joint-supporting supplements, like chondroitin and glucosamine, as well as food containing calcium and phosphorus.

Overfeeding is another potential issue with large dogs. Like Labs or Golden Retrievers, some bigger dog breeds can be easily overfed, meaning that a lower-calorie diet is the way to go.

Consider the Ingredients

The best-rated dry puppy food should contain:

  • Whole meat (not meat by-products). There might be some confusion between poultry (the most common type of meat in kibble), poultry meal, and poultry by-product meal.

Whole chicken refers to the carcass and skin, whereas chicken meal is the same, only in dried form. Chicken by-product meal contains all the parts of the birds (feet, intestines, undeveloped eggs, and so on).

Even though some studies say there is no noticeable difference in the nutritional value and digestibility between poultry and poultry by-product, most owners prefer to feed their puppies according to the best dry puppy food reviews human-grade ingredients.

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Good fats (like omega fatty acids)

It shouldn’t have any:

  • Synthetic vitamins
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Harmful chemicals, like propylene glycol, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), or BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)
The Issue of Grains

Grain-free or not grain-free?

For one thing, dogs’ stomachs have a hard time processing grains. Many pet food companies also use them as inexpensive filler in dog food recipes.

But, grainfree dry puppy food is not 100% safe either (the FDA reported a possible connection between grain-free food and heart diseases in canines and felines). And, grains do have some nutritional value.

Considering this, whole grains might be the best option. Sure, they are basically carbs, but whole grains contain calcium, vitamins, iron, and potassium, too. So, unless your dog has grain allergies and sensitivities, whole-grain puppy food can be a great choice.

Look for a Trusted Brand

Read a couple of online dry puppy food reviews to find a brand of good standing among pet owners.

Finding a brand you can trust might be harder for first-time dog owners, but some online digging will make the task easier.

Before You Start Shopping for the Best Dry Puppy Dog Food

Some Helpful Advice

  • Watch the treats. If you are using treats to train your puppy, make sure they complement its feeding regime. Treats, especially organic CBD bites and chews, can be a great addition to your pet’s diet, as long as they are not overused. 
  • Don’t try to get cooking. Puppies aren’t best-suited for kitchen experiments. Getting the right nutrients for an adult dog is hard enough, but it’s even more challenging for a puppy because they are more prone to nutritional deficiency issues than grown-up canines. 

Get your furry friend commercially available food — the best dry puppy food brands are the experts, and they know your dogs needs. 

  • Don’t feed your puppy the minute you get home. Patting it or playing with it is a better idea. Otherwise, your dog might associate your homecoming with feeding time and start to develop separation anxiety as a result.
  • Avoid bones. Bones are not a chew toy. In fact, they can cause lacerations in the puppy’s internal organs and mouth, get caught in the throat or lead to constipation. Try vet-recommended puppy food and treats for dental hygiene instead.
  • Don’t be fooled. Yes, puppies are adorable, and they’re even cuter than when they beg. It can be hard to resist those big brown eyes, but remember that the more treats and table scraps you feed them, the more they will beg. 

After all, dogs have been man’s best friend for thousands of years, and they’ve picked up a few manipulation techniques along the way. Just make sure you don’t fall for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best dry puppy food?

The best dry food for young dogs provides all the nutrients for a healthy and balanced diet according to their breed, health, and lifestyle. Which brand you choose is entirely up to you. Just make sure that it’s safe, nutritious, and healthy.

Is dry food best for puppies?

This is another issue that depends on the owner’s preference. Both types of food have benefits and downsides, but generally speaking, dry food is healthier for teeth, has more energy value, and is more affordable.

What puppy food do vets recommend?

Although there are some vet-recommended food brands, most veterinarians don’t recommend a particular company. Instead, they advise against processed food and suggest opting for brands that offer AAFCO-standard meals, and food formulas created in consultation with experts.

The most important thing, vets say, is buying food suitable for your puppy’s breed and lifestyle.

What is the best puppy food for puppies?

The general opinion is that dry kibble is the best food for puppies. It’s the easiest to digest, the most economical and the longest-lasting. 

On the other hand, canned food doesn’t have the same amount of nutrients (almost 75% of water), while semi-moist food isn’t good for teeth and can lead to obesity (due to high salt, preservatives, and sugar content).

Should you mix wet and dry dog food?

Yes. Combining wet and dry food in one tasty meal will make your puppy happy and healthy and help the food go down more easily.

How to get a puppy to eat dry food?

Sometimes puppies may not like the taste of dry food, or it might be too hard for them. If that’s the case, we suggest adding a bit of wet food in the mix or chicken broth or water to soften up the texture.

If your puppy isn’t eating for a few days and is looking lethargic, a more severe issue might be involved, and you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

The best dry puppy food should provide complete and balanced nutrition in one delicious package at prices that won’t break your budget. More importantly, it should be suited to your puppy’s breed, lifestyle, and age. 

Keep this in mind when buying food for the youngest members of your family, and your puppy will grow up nourished, healthy, and energetic.

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