Also known as the Yorkie, the Yorkshire Terrier is a toy breed known for its long, silky fur and its spunky personality. These little dogs are full of energy and life – in fact, many owners say that their Yorkie is a large dog packaged in a small body. Despite their diminutive size, Yorkies have the capacity to rule their territory with an iron paw – they have even been known to establish dominance over much larger dogs by sheer force of will. This breed is always entertaining, eager to learn new things and constantly ready to play. They even get along with cats! The truth of the matter is that you never really know what your Yorkie will be up to next.

The Yorkie was originally bred to hunt rats in clothing mills in the county Yorkshire in England. Eventually, however, these dogs came to be used primarily as companion pets, kept by the wealthy aristocracy. As a toy breed, the Yorkshire Terrier stands just 8 to 9 inches tall at maturity and weighs a maximum of 4 to 7 pounds. Although they may be small, these dogs are absolutely bursting with energy so they need an owner who can keep up with their active lifestyle and a diet that can support their high energy needs. The best way to ensure that your Yorkie’s specific nutritional needs are met is to select a toy-breed formula. Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional requirements for Yorkies and to receive recommendations for quality dog food brands for this wonderful breed.

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General Nutritional Recommendations for Yorkies

As small as the Yorkie is, you cannot expect your dog to eat large quantities of food. Because your dog can only eat a little bit at a time, however, it becomes even more important that the food you offer him is complete and balanced to meet his nutritional needs. You may already know that the three main nutrients all living things need are protein, fat, and carbohydrate – these are called macronutrients. There are also micronutrients which include vitamins and minerals. Because dogs are primarily carnivorous animals, most of their nutrient needs to come from animal-based sources with a focus on protein and fat. Dogs have a limited ability to digest plant products, so the carbohydrate content of their diet should be limited. A dog is better able to digest plants than cats, but too much fiber and carbohydrate in a dog’s diet can still be problematic.

When it comes to your dog’s nutrition, protein is the most important consideration. Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids and they support your dog’s lean muscle mass, the amount of muscle and tissue he has compared to fat. Because protein is so important for your dog, it should be the number-1 ingredient in his food and it should come from a high-quality, animal-based source. The best proteins for dogs include things like meat, poultry, fish and eggs – these are known as complete proteins because they contain all 10 amino acids that your dog’s body is incapable of synthesizing on its own. Named proteins like chicken meal or salmon are preferable to unnamed sources like poultry meal because it is difficult to judge the quality of an unnamed source. Adult dogs need a minimum of 18% protein and puppies need at least 22% protein in their diets.

After protein, fat is the next most important nutrient because it provides your dog with a highly concentrated source of energy. This is especially important for small breeds like the Shih Tzu who have very fast metabolisms and need extra energy to support it. Fats also help to keep your dog’s coat and skin in good condition while also supporting his immune system. The Merck Veterinary Manual recommends a minimum of 5% fat for adult dogs and 8% for puppies. Like protein, fats should come from high-quality animal sources, though plant fats can be used as supplementary fat sources to balance out the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content. Some quality fats to look for include things like chicken fat and salmon oil. Again, unnamed sources should be avoided because you cannot judge their quality as easily.

In addition to protein and fat, your dog has a limited but not specific need for carbohydrate. The carbohydrates your dog’s diet should come from digestible sources like whole grains, starchy vegetables, beans, or legumes. If your dog has a sensitivity or allergy to grains, there are plenty of grain-free dog foods out there. Just make sure that the carbohydrates on the pet food label do not appear before the primary protein and avoid any products that have a high number of carbohydrates. The maximum fiber content in your dog’s food should be 5% – anything too much higher could cause digestive upset for your dog.

The remaining components in your dog’s diet include helpful supplements. Your dog needs certain vitamins and minerals to balance out his nutrition and, in many dog food products, those nutrients come from synthetic supplements. This is not necessarily bad, but natural sources for vitamins (like fresh fruits and vegetables) are always more biologically valuable. Chelated minerals, however, are a great addition to dog food because they have been chemically bound to protein molecules, making them easier for your dog’s body to digest and absorb. Probiotics like dried fermentation products are also a valuable addition because they help to support your dog’s healthy digestion. Avoid any dog foods made with corn, wheat, or soy ingredients as well as artificial additives.

Special Dietary and Nutritional Concerns

Because the Yorkie has such a long, silky coat it is definitely not a low-maintenance breed. These dogs are also very lively, though their needs for exercise are fairly low. In order to keep your Yorkie’s coat in good condition you need to be careful about choosing the right commercial pet food product. Look for a product that contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, ideally from animal sources like meat and fish. Not only do fats play a key role in maintaining your Yorkie’s skin and coat health, but they also help to fuel his fast metabolism as well. Fats contain 9 calories of energy per gram compared to just 4 calories for protein and carbohydrate.

It is not enough to know that your Yorkie has high needs for fat in his diet – you should take the time to determine just how much fat and calories your Yorkie needs. What many small-breed dog owners do not realize is that smaller dogs have faster metabolisms than larger dogs. This means that while a large breed like the Golden Retriever may need more calories on a daily basis, small breeds like the Yorkie need more calories per pound of bodyweight. The average adult dog needs about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight (more if he is particularly active) but small-breed dogs need an average of 40, sometimes as much as 50, calories per pound of bodyweight.

What is the Best Dog Food for my Yorkie?

The best way to make sure that your Yorkie’s needs for energy are met is to feed him a high-quality toy- or small-breed specific recipe. These formulas are usually made with generous amounts of protein as well as moderate to high levels of fat. Protein is always important because it will help your dog maintain his lean muscle mass while fat provides concentrated energy. To determine how much to feed your Yorkie, follow the feeding recommendations on the package and keep an eye on your dog’s weight and condition for several weeks. If he gains too much weight, scale back his daily portion – if he loses weight or becomes lethargic, increase it a little. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice for your Yorkie:

Nutro Toy Breed Adult Chicken, Whole Brown Rice & Oatmeal Recipe: As a toy breed, Yorkies do not eat large quantities of food at once so they need to be fed a diet that is rich in nutrients like this Nutro Toy Breed Adult Chicken, Whole Brown Rice & Oatmeal Recipe. This recipe is specially designed for toy-breed dogs who will live up to 20 years, offering then the quality nutrition they need to remain in good health for as long as possible. This formula features fresh chicken and chicken meal as the top two ingredients with digestible carbohydrates such as whole brown rice and whole grain oatmeal. It offers targeted levels of protein and fat for small breed dogs, and includes a number of healthy supplements like chelated minerals and vitamin supplements. Most importantly, however, it comes in a small kibble shape for easy chewing and it is loaded with natural flavor your dog is sure to love. Plus, because this recipe comes from the Nutro company, you can rest assured that it is made with the highest quality ingredients available.

AvoDerm Natural Revolving Menu Small Breed Turkey Dry Food:The AvoDerm company is known for producing natural pet food products that harness the nutritional power of fresh avocado. Not only is Avocado loaded with healthy fats to support your Yorkie’s skin and coat health, but they are also packed with other healthy nutrients. This AvoDerm Natural Revolving Menu Small Breed Turkey Dry Food recipe features turkey and turkey meal as the primary proteins, with digestible carbohydrates such as garbanzo beans and flaxseed with dried beet pulp for additional dietary fiber. The fresh avocado pairs nicely with other healthy fats like chicken fat and flaxseed to provide support for your dog’s immune system and to keep his coat looking shiny and smooth. This recipe is naturally gluten-free and grain-free, plus it comes in bite size kibbles for smaller mouths. What really makes this recipe unique, however, is the fact that it belongs to a revolving menu – you can feed your dog these products in combination to avoid triggering food allergies.

Wellness CORE Small Breed Original Dry Food: The Yorkshire Terrier is prone to food allergies and sensitivities a little more than other breeds which is why this Wellness CORE Small Breed Original Dry Food is a great option. Made with gluten-free and grain-free carbohydrates like potatoes, peas, and flaxseed, this formula meets your dog’s needs for carbohydrates and fiber without triggering his food allergies. This recipe features deboned turkey, chicken meal, and turkey meal as the top three ingredients which speaks to the high protein content of the recipe. Plus, with healthy fats like chicken fat and salmon oil, this recipe provides for your Yorkie’s high energy needs as well. Overall, this recipe is made with high-quality ingredients your dog needs to thrive with no artificial additives or non-nutritive fillers.

What is the Best Dog Food for Yorkie Puppies?

Because Yorkies only grow to a maximum size of 4 to 7 pounds, it doesn’t take puppies long to reach their adult size. This being the case, you need to provide your Yorkie puppy with an energy- and nutrient-dense formula to support his rapid growth and development. The easiest way to do so is to feed him a toy- or small-breed specific puppy formula until he reaches his full size and then switch him over to a toy-breed adult formula. Below you will find reviews for several high-quality dog food formulas that could be a good choice to consider for your Yorkie puppy:

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Small Breed Puppy Food: The Whole Earth Farms brand is dedicated to offering holistic pet food products at affordable prices and this Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Small Breed Puppy Food is a great example of that commitment. This recipe is specially formulated to meet the unique nutritional needs of small-breed puppies offering premium proteins and plenty of healthy fats. This recipe features protein-rich chicken meal as the primary ingredient with dried potatoes, peas, and chicken fat to follow. Not only is this recipe loaded with protein and fat, but it is also made with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, botanicals, and healthy supplements. This recipe will give your puppy the protein he needs for healthy growth and development with enough energy to support his fast metabolism. Plus, it is loaded with plenty of natural flavor that he won’t be able to resist!

Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy Anchovy, Sardine & Chicken Recipe: The Holistic Select company follows a holistic approach to pet nutrition which involves using only the freshest natural ingredients to provide your puppy with all the nutrients he needs and nothing he doesn’t. The Holistic Select Small & Mini Breed Puppy Anchovy, Sardine & Chicken Recipe is a great example of how this company achieves the perfect blend of protein and fat to support your Yorkie puppy as he grows and develops. This recipe features anchovy and sardine meal as the primary source of protein with digestible carbohydrates like ground brown and white rice. There are also plenty of healthy fats like chicken fat, flaxseed, and pork meal to support your puppy’s healthy skin and coat as well as his immune system. Plus, it comes in a smaller kibble size for your Yorkie puppy’s tiny mouth.

Precise Holistic Complete Small and Medium Breed Puppy Recipe Dry Food: Made with fresh, natural ingredients, this Precise Holistic Complete Small and Medium Breed Puppy Recipe Dry Food is a great choice for your Yorkie puppy. This recipe offers 32% protein and 20.5% fat which is a great ratio for smaller breeds who have high needs for both of these nutrients. This formula features chicken and chicken meal as the primary sources of protein with digestible carbohydrates like ground brown rice and oatmeal. For healthy fats, this recipe relies on chicken fat and menhaden fish oil to give your puppy the energy he needs while also supporting his immune system and improving the condition of his skin and coat. This recipe is supplemented with chelated minerals for maximum nutrient absorption and there are plenty of dried fruits and vegetables which serve as natural sources for key vitamins and minerals. Overall, this recipe offers complete and balanced nutrition for small-breed puppies like your Yorkie while also being rich in natural flavor that your puppy will love.

As a toy breed, the Yorkshire Terrier has the potential to live up to 20 years. In order to maximize your dog’s lifespan, however, you need to make sure that he gets the nutrients he needs in the right ratios for optimal health. All dogs require a diet rich in protein with low levels of carbohydrate for dietary fiber, but fat plays an especially important role in the diet for toy breeds like the Yorkie. The best way to ensure that your dog’s nutritional and energy needs are met is to feed him a high-quality, size-specific dog food formula. If you need help knowing where to start shopping, consider one of the top-rated brands of dog food reviewed above.

Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.

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