The Best Food for Yorkies – give your Yorkie a well balanced diet

Yorkies require a well-balanced diet that is filled with beneficial nutrients. The right ingredients will keep them healthy, thriving, and at a good weight. This post will focus on manufactured dry dog foods. These are foods that are made by a company, on a large scale, and are purchased in store or online by pet owners.

The best food for Yorkies would be a hard food that is packed with only ingredients that are specifically created to fulfill all the nutritional needs of your pet. I will be walking you through a guide of what types of ingredients need to be included in your Yorkies food, and I will talk about a few of my favorite food options that are on the market for a Yorkshire Terrier today.

Diet Requirements.

  • Proteins – Protein is a very important part of every dog’s diet. It plays the biggest part in the growth of your dog, and is the key ingredient for developing strong muscle. Protein also aids in the prevention of sicknesses. The foods that I recommend are around 30-45% protein. In my experience, the foods with a little higher protein percentages tend to not have the unhealthy fillers, and chemicals. Because Yorkies are small, and have tiny tummies, they do require a higher intake of protein for their body weight.
  • Fats – There needs to be an appropriate amount of healthy fats included in a dog’s diet. Fats are an excellent source of energy for your dog, and they provide your dog with essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs contribute to keeping the dog’s kidneys functioning well, and for healthy reproduction. They also keep a dog’s skin healthy, and they keep a Yorkie’s coat silky, shiny, and strong. Fats make your dog’s food taste extra yummy to them, but make sure you aren’t buying a food that is too high in fat content. Too much can definitely lead to an overweight Yorkie!
  • Vitamins and Minerals – Vitamins and Minerals are good for so many things. They aid in keeping the coat in good condition, they are good for the eyes, helps promote growth and strong bones, helps prevent diseases, and so much more. Rest assured that most dog foods that have the accurate amounts of healthy proteins, fats, and carbs, will also have the right vitamins and minerals as well!
  • Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are also good for energy, but again, be careful of dog foods that are made with high concentration of Carbs. Carbohydrates turn mostly into glucose in the digestive system, and can cause unwanted health conditions if its given in too large of quantities.

*There is actually some debate in the Canine world of whether Carbs are actually NEEDED in a dog’s diet. For this reason, I like to choose a food that uses fruits and vegetables as the majority of the Carbohydrates. This is the healthiest form of carbohydrates you can get, so finding a dog food that has some healthy “plant” material in it is the way to go.

What types of Protein are good for Yorkies?

There is not really a specific protein that is better for Yorkies than others. Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Fish, Pork, and Beef are all common and good options for your dog.

What you want to look out for is the first ingredient being a protein byproduct. This is a no no. Byproduct is “meat” made up of parts of the animal that is NOT muscle…. In my mind, that means it is NOT meat… Not that I would want to eat anyways, so I don’t feed it to my dog either. You want the first ingredient to be chicken, (or de-boned chicken), or beef, or turkey (or de-boned turkey), or whichever proteins the food is made out of, without the word “byproduct” next to that protein. Real meat derived from an animal’s muscle is much healthier for your pet.

It is OK if foods have protein-meal in them. (chicken meal, turkey meal, etc.) This simply means that the ground meat has been dried to a moisture level of around 10%. The drying process actually makes the protein levels much higher in the meat, and if done correctly it will still hold its nutritional value. I prefer to see this AFTER the first ingredient, but it is a great source of healthy protein for your dog.

Some dogs, including Yorkies, may have food allergies. In most cases a dog will either be allergic to the grains or the type of protein in a food. Chicken, Turkey, and Beef are some of the more common protein allergies for dogs. For the more sensitive pet, it is better to go with duck, lamb, or a type of fish. Meat that is more exotic is typically better for dogs that suffer with food allergies. There are also grain free foods, and foods made with whole grain which are great to try as well.

Having a dog with food allergies can be difficult. It a trial and error process figuring out what your dog is and isn’t allergic to. It can take months, to even a year or more, to go through the process of elimination. Stick with it though, your dog will thank you for it!

*We will get more into food allergies in another post. My Yorkie suffers with allergies, so I know how hard it can be.

Avoid “fillers” and anything artificial.

Dog Food should be brown in color. It shouldn’t have reds, or greens, or any other color.

Fillers are exactly what they sound like. They “fill” up the food with empty calories that offer zero health benefits for your dog. Yorkies are small and they only eat a small amount of food each day. Therefore, it is really important that the food you purchase for them does not contain fillers. Every part of their food should offer some kind of nutritional value to the dog or they can end up developing the rather yucky habit of Coprophagia. – (eating feces). Dogs tend to do this when they are not getting enough nutrients from their diet… yucky… so let’s keep our dogs eating ONLY dog food. Am I right? 🙂

Artificial colors, flavoring, and preservatives are all forms of chemicals that are added to dog foods. These should also be avoided as they can actually cause allergic reactions in Yorkies (and all dogs for that matter), and can upset their little tummies. This can make for a messy situation and an uncomfortable pet, so definitely say no to fake additives.

My Top 3 Recommendations.

  1. Wellness CORE (Turkey and Chicken recipe) – Wellness Core is a complete and balanced food that is made specifically for small breeds and their delicate digestive systems. It is protein rich with optimum calorie levels to support higher energy needs of little dogs. Other pros about this food are as follows:
  • GRAIN FREE: 100% grain free.
  • ALL NATURAL: No wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, or artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.
  • MADE IN USA: Which is definitely a good thing!
  • Dry Matter basis – Protein 37%, Fat 16%, Carbs 39%


2. Merrick Grain Free (Real Duck and Sweet Potato recipe) – This one is also grain free. Even if your dog does not suffer from grain sensitivities, he/she can still benefit from a grain free diet. It helps promote a well functioning digestive system, increases energy, and aids in healthier skin. A lot of dogs that are sensitive to specific proteins don’t do well with chicken recipes, so this is a good chicken free option. It is also very high in protein for a grain free food! Thumbs up to that!

  • Dry matter basis – Protein 43%, Fat 19%, Carbs 30%

*Note* If you’d like to try a Merrick grain free food that is specifically geared towards small breeds, try Merrick Lil’ Plates. I highly recommend the Real Salmon and Sweet Potato recipe, and the Lamb and sweet potato recipe. These are both just as good of options as the one above, and the food bits are smaller for those tiny Yorkie mouths. 🙂 


3. Pinnacle Grain Free (Salmon and Potato recipe) – This food also does not contain any chicken or grains. It has pumpkin which is great for the immune system, and quinoa seeds, which provide amino acids, to support muscle development

  • Dry matter basis – Protein 30%, Fat – 16%, Carbs – 45%

Do you see a trend here? 😉

*One con about this food – It contains canola oil. Because canola oil is sometimes derived from genetically modified rapeseed, this can be an iffy ingredient. It is not always derived this way however, so it is a controversial subject.


4. Acana Heritage Meats  (Beef, Pork, and Lamb recipe) – This food has a lot of great ingredients in it! It has a decent amount of protein from various sources, and it has pumpkin, lentils, fruits and veggies galore! This is a great food as well.

  • Dry matter basis – Protein 33%, Fat 19%, Carbs – 40%


So… Is it obvious that I think grain free is a good choice for a Yorkie??  🙂


How much and how often should a Yorkie be fed?

Yorkies need to eat more often when they are puppies, but as adults they are fine with eating twice per day. I like to do a morning meal and an evening meal.

The dog food you choose will likely give you a chart on the back of the recommended amount to feed your dog daily based on his or her weight. Most of the time Yorkies eat somewhere between 1/2 cup and 1 whole cup of dry food each day. My pup eats about 1/2 cup in the morning and 1/2 cup at night, and she is a relatively active dog. She lays around a lot now that she is five years old, but when she goes outside she still tears around the yard like a mad woman, thinking she can catch all the birds before they take off. 


Don’t Skimp on your Yorkies Nutrition.

A dog’s diet is essential for a healthy, happy, and long life. Yes, the better foods are more expensive, naturally. But, there is good reason for this. Foods that contain chemicals and fillers, and non-beneficial ingredients can do extensive damage over time. Diseases, allergies, cancer, and gastrointestinal discomfort are all issues that have happened because of poor doggy diets over a long period. Think of all the health problems humans can develop if we are nutrient deficient.

Animals are the same way!

Lucky for us Yorkie owners, they don’t eat a whole lot! So the expense doesn’t seem nearly as bad. Imagine buying a huge bag of expensive dog food for a 90lb lab that woofs (no pun intended ) it all down in one short month! Be thankful for your Yorkie’s teeny belly, and fill that belly with healthy nutritious dog food to support a long and wonderful life for your best friend!


Have you tried any of these foods for your Yorkie pup? Let me know if you have, and how you like them in the comment section below! My Yorkie, Willow, is on the Merrick Lil’ Plates real lamb and sweet potato to help with her food sensitivities, and she’s doing well on it so far.

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*Click here to read about the best food for Yorkie Puppies! – Puppies need a food that is specifically formulated with the proper amount of ingredients to promote growth, brain development, and to assist in the prevention of a hypoglycemic attack. They should be on puppy food for the first year of their life.

*Looking for a great harness for your small dog? Check out this post to see my dog Willow’s top choices and recommendations! 😉


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18 Replies to “The Best Food for Yorkies – give your Yorkie a well balanced diet

  1. Great article, well informed. I think more people need to realize feeding dogs or any pet is just as important to what goes in a human. If you want your fur friend to live a long and beautiful life, this post is a must-read. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Frank! Yes, healthy nutrition is definitely just as important for animals! Reading labels on foods can be just as confusing in the dog world as it is in the human world. So hopefully this post can help some pet lovers out. 🙂

  2. This is an awesome article for an awesome breed!! I have family members that are Yorkies. Basically all my parents pets have been Yorkies so it is super awesome to see your love and passion here for these sweet babies. I will surely pass on this article for their interest, it is really like you are talking straight to the passionate owners. Much gratitude for the future health of our family pets.

    1. Aw thank you so much!! I care a great deal for animals, and this breed has just totally captured my heart. Thank you for passing it along! Also, if they want to, tell your family members that they are welcome to send pictures of their Yorkies to my email so they can be featured somewhere on my website! Famous Yorkies!! haha 🙂

      I’d love to have kind of a “Yorkie fan page” featuring readers pets and their names and fun facts about them.

      Thanks again for reading!

  3. I don’t actually own a Yorkiesbut a toy poodle but as they are both small breeds I thought your post might help. Ralph is a really fussy eater, but doesn’t seem to have allergies thank goodness. He never eats just breakfast and dinner but grazes throughout the day but I still haven’t found a brand he actually likes that much… the cats eat more of it than he does and he steals their food!!
    Do you have any advice on getting him to eat twice a day or should I just let him graze and steal ? He’s perfectly healthy.

    1. Why are little dogs such picky eaters?? My first Yorkie was the same way. My current Yorkie used to graze as well, but then her potty schedule got messed up and she started having accidents in the house, so I put her back on a morning and evening feeding, but wouldn’t you know, the little stinker takes food out of her bowl and hides it behind pillows, under couch cushions, and in her bed so that she can still “snack” throughout the day!!! hahaha… Gotta love them.

      As long as Ralph is eating the right amount of dog food, and isn’t giving you any issues with potty schedules by grazing, then he is perfectly fine doing that. A little bit of cat food here and there shouldn’t hurt him either, just keep in mind that cats are carnivores, whereas dogs are omnivores, so cat food is largely meat based, whereas dog food has much more fiber than a cat needs in their diet. So as long as he is eating mostly his food, and just stealing a tid bit here and there, it shouldn’t affect his nutrition all that much. Whereas if he were eating too much it could cause a deficiency.

      Hope that helps answer your question, and I absolutely love the name Ralph for your poodle! So adorable. 🙂

  4. We are planning on getting a dog soon and Yorkies are one of the choices on the top of my kids’ list. I’ve been researching and re-researching everything I can lol.
    Funny enough it never occurred to me to consider how the size of the dog affects how much they eat and also how much I would have to spend on dog food. You have given me a different perspective on what we should also consider when getting a dog. I needed to know that. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh my goodness yes!! It is SOOOO much cheaper. I used to have one of those 90lb labs and holy moly… those food costs were insane. Totally worth it though for any breed.

      It also helps with vet bills too. My Yorkie has to be on allergy medication and its waaay cheaper for her than a large dog because the dosage is so small. Plus, smaller beds, don’t need as big of a fenced yard… it all adds up! haha. However, Yorkies can be pricey in the grooming department. So keep that in mind too. I am going to be doing a post very soon on how to groom a Yorkie at home, so that may be helpful for you as well. 🙂 I am taking pictures for that post tomorrow.

      Thank you for the comment!

  5. WOW, what an awesome post. i have a lot of friends with Yorkie, I will forward them this post right now. I really love your writing and the ideas of food you have mentioned, really useful and great. Looking forward for more great posts from you. Thank you.

  6. Thanks Sara for this very informative article. It can be used as a template on how to feed small dogs, not just Yorkies I believe.
    So glad you told the dog food producers off on “fillers and grains”.

    As you said à dog with a small tummy needs every bit of food to have benefit.

    1. Thank you! It’s sad how bad a lot of the foods out there are. Hoping this helps some doggy owners pick the right kind of food for their furry friends! 🙂

  7. Hi! Im a little late here but I thoroughly enjoyed your article. I have a yorkiepoo who looks like the toy poodle had nothing to do with it lol. She is 10 months old now and I’ve had her since she was 9wks.
    Her breeder had her on puppy chow or something like that and I quickly switched her to Focus toy puppy breed thinking it was good for her as this is what the rep of a petsmart suggested. I had no idea until after reading your article that it is in fact not the best thing she should be eating. Reading the ingredients and comparing them to what you have posted here as a no no is what she’s been eating all this time. Ugh! Im going to switch to the merrick lil plates.

    Thank you for writing such a great article. I am hoping the change will help as she has not been too interested in the pro plan lately. Likes to eat gtass too, she’s such a funny lil thing lol.

    1. Aw she sounds absolutely adorable!! I am glad that this article was helpful to you. I too was recommended Focus toy to my Yorkie when I first got her 5 years ago, but quickly learned that it wasn’t the best! The important part though is that we continue to learn what IS the very best we can give them. 🙂 Sounds like your little one has the perfect home with you!

      PS… sometimes when they eat grass it means that their belly is upset. Maybe a new food will do the trick for her! Just be sure to transition to it slowly. 🙂

      – Sarae

  8. I noticed that all of your choices are the grain free variety. Have you read the FDA warnings re: DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) with these foods. I had a Yorkie for many years, now have a Yorkiepoo, and my vet immediately took Teddy off of it because of that. I am a retired Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, so believe in these research findings. I just wanted to warn you about these food choices.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I have looked into this, and have read thoroughly on the subject. I can see that it is a cause for concern especially in some breeds that are genetically predisposed to developing the disease such as: golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, whippets, a Shih Tzu, bulldogs, miniature schnauzers, and mixed breeds. However, research is still being done in this area to determine if this is a true cause. My veterinarian put my Yorkie on grain free and limited ingredient diets because of her allergies, and my older Yorkie was also put on limited ingredient diets because of digestion and stomach issues (which can be common in yorkies) and I have had good luck with them, but I am also curious to learn more! I am no veterinarian and I am always trying to learn so I can recommend only the best!

      What food did your veterinarian recommend? I would be thrilled to include a non-grain free option within my post as well!

      Thank you for your input,

  9. Thank you for such an insightful article. I do have a question about feeding the right foods to my Yorkie, “Baby”. Are hardboiled eggs good or bad for her? She has been having diarrhea problems lately. I’ve been giving her a very expensive food..”Dr. Marty’s freeze dried raw meats” she’s stopped eating it. I don’t know why. She likes the Little Ceasars…Chicken and not the beef. She is a very picky eater..

    1. Hi Barbara! I tried putting my Yorkie on a raw type diet before and she had terrible diarrhea issues as well. It is possible that her little tummy just does not to well on that type of food. Be sure if you are ever switching food to do so gradually, by adding just a little new food to the old food at first and slowly transfer over to the new food within a weeks time. A good way to help clear up diarrhea is to feed just plain boiled chicken and plain white rice for a few days. This is very bland and can help her system return to normal! If the diarrhea is still persistent you will want to get her to the vet for medicine to be sure she doesn’t become dehydrated.

      My pup does best on a hard food diet, and occasionally I add wet food to it as well.

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