10 Best Dog Foods for Havanese in 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks!


While Havanese are not the most popular small dogs in the United States, there are still quite a few of them out there. If you’re the proud owner of one of these tiny dogs, then feeding them the correct food is a large part of your responsibility as a dog owner.

There are countless dog foods out there that are advertised for Havanese. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that any of these are ideal for your pooch.

In this article, we’ll review some of the best foods for Havanese out there. This article will help you determine which food is best for your canine, which will vary depending on their specific needs.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022

The 10 Best Dog Foods for Havanese

1. Merrick Lil’ Plates Chicken & Sweet Potato – Best Overall

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe

First Five Ingredients Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes
Protein 38%
Fat 17%

Based on all the metrics we looked at, Merrick Lil’ Plates Chicken & Sweet Potato is the best overall dog food for Havanese for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, the ingredient list is quite good. It includes chicken as the first ingredient, followed by various types of meat that help round the food out. It’s also very high in protein because of the high meat content.

We also liked that there were real freeze-dried pieces of food inside this kibble. Some Havanese are picky eaters, and this dog food really helps ensure that they are encouraged to eat. While there are no proven benefits to feeding your dog raw food, it is a nice addition that most dogs will appreciate.

Furthermore, this food also includes omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin. These ingredients help support your dog’s joints, as well as their fur and skin. With fur like a Havanese, it is vital that you protect and nourish it.

  • High in protein
  • Contains a lot of meat
  • Freeze-dried pieces
  • Omega fatty acids and various other supplements included
  • Made in the USA

2. Purina Pro Plan Shredded Blend Small Breed – Best Budget Option

Purina Pro Plan Shredded

First Five Ingredients Chicken, Rice, Poultry by-product Meal, Beef Fat, Corn Gluten Meal
Protein 29%
Fat 17%

Not everyone has tons of money to spend on dog food. Therefore, if you’re on a budget, we particularly liked Purina Pro Plan Shredded Blend Small Breed as the best food for Havanese for the money. This food is much cheaper than most other options out there, but you will be paying for the lower price in some ways.

For instance, the ingredient list is so-so. Chicken is included as the first ingredient, which is better than some other foods on the market. However, corn gluten meal and by-products are included pretty high on the list. This isn’t necessarily a problem since most dogs will digest this stuff just fine. However, it is not as high-quality as some of the other options on the market.

This formula is fortified with probiotics to ensure that your canine’s digestive system is properly supported. Because so much of your dog’s immune system is in their gut, this can go a long way to keeping them healthy.

This formula is also pretty high in protein, though not all of that protein comes from a high-quality source. For instance, much of it comes from ingredients like corn gluten meal.

  • Chicken is the first ingredient
  • High-protein formula
  • Probiotics included
  • Inexpensive
  • Some low-quality ingredients

3. CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed – Premium Choice

CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed Grain-Free

First Five Ingredients Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Lentils, Tapioca
Protein 24%
Fat 12%

Compared to other recipes, CANIDAE PURE Petite Adult Small Breed has very few ingredients. In total, it has about eight ingredients besides the added vitamins and minerals. This shortlist starts with chicken and includes many other whole ingredients, like lentils. However, peas are included as well, which is absolutely something to keep in mind.

This kibble is completely grain-free. However, that doesn’t mean that it includes higher levels of meat. Instead of grains, peas and lentils are added to the food.

This recipe does include added omega fatty acids, which should help support your canine’s coat and skin. Havanese need all the coat support that they can get, so this is an essential feature to consider.

With that said, this formula is quite expensive—much more so than the other foods on this list.

  • Only eight ingredients
  • Chicken as the first ingredient
  • Grain-free
  • Omega fatty acids included

4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed – Best for Puppies

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

First Five Ingredients Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley
Protein 26%
Fat 15%

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed starts with real deboned chicken as the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal, and is our top choice for Havanese puppies. It also includes a variety of helpful grains, such as brown rice and barley. Compared to other options, these carbohydrate sources are considered high-quality.

Furthermore, this formula also includes a variety of different nutrients to help support your dog’s overall wellbeing. For instance, glucosamine is included to support healthy joint mobility long into your dog’s senior years. Omega fatty acids of all kinds are also included to help support your dog’s skin and fur.

All the minerals are chelated to improve their absorption. Antioxidants are also added to oxidative stress, which is the cause of many health conditions.

Plus, this formula also doesn’t include any corn, wheat, or soy. If your dog is sensitive to these ingredients, this food is completely safe.

  • Chicken as the first ingredient
  • Small breed kibble
  • Glucosamine included
  • Chelated minerals
  • Expensive
  • The brand is known for recalls

5. Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe With Real Chicken

First Five Ingredients Chicken, Chicken Meal, Chickpeas, Tapioca, Chicken Fat
Protein 35%
Fat 20%

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed is made up of both kibble and raw pieces. Not only does this make the food tastier, but it also increases the amount of protein in the food. After all, the freeze-dried pieces are pure meat. However, there are no known benefits from raw beyond this.

You are going to be paying for the raw bits, though. This brand is quite expensive compared to others, especially this formula with raw pieces. However, if your dog is a picky eater, the extra cost may be worth it.

Chicken is the first ingredient in this dog food, which provides the protein that your dog needs to thrive. Chicken meal is included, too, which is basically a concentrated form of chicken.

As you’d expect, this food includes a variety of added ingredients to support your dog’s health. Antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and glucosamine are all added to provide your dog with as much support as possible.

  • Chicken as the first ingredient
  • Many added nutrients included
  • Raw bits included
  • Chicken as the first ingredient

6. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Deboned Turkey & Peas Recipe

First Five Ingredients Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Peas, Rice
Protein 25%
Fat 12%

As the name suggests, Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior is designed specifically for small, older dogs. While there is not an exact age when your dog needs to switch to senior dog food, you may want to consider this food whenever they start showing symptoms of old age.

This food is designed specifically to be easy to eat. Havanese already have a hard time eating because they are so small and dental problems and old age can make the problem even worse. This formula is also packed with quality proteins that can support your dog into their twilight years.

There are many added nutrients in this food that make it a solid choice for just about any canine out there. For example, it includes antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, and taurine. All of these ingredients play their part in keeping your pooch healthy.

However, there are some lower-quality ingredients in this formula, such as white rice and peas. These carbohydrates are not the perfect choice for older, smaller dogs.

  • Deboned turkey is the first ingredient
  • Antioxidants included
  • Varied joint-supporting nutrients included
  • Rice included
  • Peas included

7. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Formula

Diamond Naturals Small

First Five Ingredients Chicken, Chicken Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice, Grain Sorghum
Protein 27%
Fat 16%

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Chicken & Rice Formula is a pretty good option for most Havanese. This formula is specifically designed for smaller breeds and includes very small kibble, which allows them to eat easier.

Chicken and chicken meals are included as the first two ingredients, as is common with small breed dog foods. However, this is a great protein as long as your dog isn’t allergic to it, which is more common than you’d think.

Omega fatty acids are included in this formula, which helps support your dog’s coat, joints, and skin. These nutrients are extremely important for just about any Havanese out there.

We also liked that this food includes probiotics, which are surprisingly difficult to find in kibble. Probiotics help support your dog’s gut, which is essential to their wellbeing. Not only does this improve digestion, but it can also support immune health.

The only problem we have with this food is that it includes white rice, which has barely any nutrition. We would have rather seen a whole grain of some sort.

  • Chicken as the first ingredient
  • Probiotics included
  • Omega fatty acids included
  • White rice included
  • Expensive

8. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Wellness Core Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog food

First Five Ingredients Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Lentils, Peas
Protein 36%
Fat 16%

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food is often considered one of the top dog foods on the market—and it is priced accordingly. While it isn’t a poor dog food by any means, we just don’t think that the value is there for it to be considered one of the top foods. You’re paying a lot extra without actually receiving much extra in return.

This food does include a lot of meat, including turkey and chicken. However, it also includes high amounts of lentils and peas, which have been associated with heart conditions. It may be grain-free, but it includes these inexpensive veggies instead.

On the bright side, this formula does include salmon oil, which is high in DHA and omega fatty acids. Both of these additives are helpful to dogs, though for different reasons. Plus, this food also includes a variety of other additives, including taurine, chondroitin, glucosamine, and probiotics.

  • High in meat
  • Glucosamine added
  • Grain-free
  • Peas and lentils included
  • Expensive

9. Hill’s Science Diet Small Bites Dry Dog Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult Small Bites

First Five Ingredients Chicken, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn, Whole Grain
Protein 20%
Fat 5%

Hill’s Science Diet Small Bites Dry Dog Food is one of the most expensive brands on the market. As the name suggests, it is advertised as being backed by science. However, the ingredient list is sub-par, and you’re paying a lot for what you’re getting.

Chicken is the first ingredient, but this is the only mention of meat anywhere on the ingredient list. Protein and fat are both quite low, likely because of the low amount of included meat. Instead, grains are included en masse, though they are whole grains.

With that said, this formula does include a variety of omega fatty acids and vitamin E, which are both essential for nourishing a dog’s coat. Vitamin C is included as well to support a healthy immune system. Plus, this food includes no added colors, flavors, or preservatives. Antioxidants are also included to reduce oxidative damage.

  • Antioxidants included
  • Chicken as the first ingredient
  • Whole grains
  • Expensive
  • Includes high amounts of grains

10. Royal Canin Small Digestive Care Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Small Digestive Care Dry Dog Food

First Five Ingredients Chicken By-product Meal, Corn, Chicken Fat, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal
Protein 28%
Fat 20%

While Royal Canin Small Digestive Care Dry Dog Food is often considered to be quite high-quality, a quick glance at the ingredient list will prove otherwise. The first ingredient is chicken by-product meal. While by-products aren’t necessarily bad, you simply can’t tell what they are, which brings up some questions.

Furthermore, this is the only sign of meat anywhere on this food’s ingredient list.

The other ingredients aren’t all low-quality. For instance, chicken fat is listed as the third ingredient and is an easy way for companies to add flavor to the food. However, corn gluten meal and regular corn are also included. When you consider both of these ingredients are in the top five, there is a large chance that this food is mostly made up of corn.

With that said, this food is specifically designed for digestive health, which may be useful if your dog has an extremely sensitive stomach. However, you’re going to be paying big bucks for it since this is one of the most expensive foods on the market.

  • Designed for sensitive stomachs
  • Expensive
  • Low-quality ingredients

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Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Dog Foods for Havanese

There is a lot that goes into choosing the right dog food for your Havanese. Because these dogs are so small, every bite they take needs to be packed with nutrition to ensure that they are getting everything they need.

Plus, their tiny mouths mean that they simply must have food that is designed specifically for small breeds. Otherwise, the kibble may be much too large for their mouth.

Of course, not every Havanese is the same. Some may benefit from certain foods more than others. In this section, we’ll help you choose the best dog food for your specific canine.

Meat and Protein

No matter how active your dog is, they need mostly protein and fats to thrive. While dogs can consume veggies, fruits, and whole grains, they do best when they eat a diet that is comprised mostly of meat. Therefore, we recommend choosing food that contains meat as one or more of the first few ingredients.

Of course, not all meat is made the same. Meat meal or whole meat is generally preferred to other kinds of meat. Meat meal is simply whole meat that has been dehydrated, which is often necessary for creating dry food. This leaves a very concentrated form of meat behind, which is more nutritious than whole meat.

By-products aren’t necessarily bad, but we still recommend avoiding them where possible simply because it’s impossible to tell what they are exactly. By-products are anything left over from the manufacturing process. This can be nutritious stuff like organ meats or filler like chicken feathers. There is simply no way to tell.

Dog food in a container with scoop
Image Credit: APN Photography, Shutterstock

What about Peas?

You might have noticed that we included peas as a con on every dog food that included them. Peas may be perfectly healthy for humans, but this doesn’t seem to be the case with dogs. Peas are commonly used as a filler in grain-free dog foods. Instead of including more meat, the dog food company simply switches out the grain in their formula for peas, markets it as grain-free, and then charges more.

However, peas have been associated with heart problems in a variety of different studies. While there is no absolute answer yet, it is becoming more and more obvious that peas should be avoided when possible. (And in most cases, they absolutely can be.)

Ingredients to Look For

There are many additives that companies put in food to make it healthier for dogs—and encourage pet owners to purchase it. Some of these are particularly important for your dog’s health and should therefore be looked for closely:

Can dogs eat dog food
Image Credit: 279photo Studio, Shutterstock
  • Antioxidants – This additive helps fight against oxidative stress, which is linked to a wide variety of different diseases. Usually, berries and fresh fruits include antioxidants.
  • Glucosamine – Glucosamine is often used alongside a variety of other joint-supporting additives to help your pet’s joints stay young and healthy. While this isn’t a huge deal for most small dogs, there is little risk to including it in their diet, so many dog food formulas do.
  • Omega Fatty Acids – Omega fatty acids are a particular kind of fat that is known for having a role in many different functions. For instance, they can help with joint health, as well as help keep your dog’s coat shiny. Furthermore, low levels of omega fatty acids have even been associated with aggression in dogs. They are often added through the use of salmon oil or some kind of plant oil.

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Conclusion

Choosing a dog food for your Havanese may seem complicated, but with our guide, it doesn’t have to be. Any of the amazing foods in our reviews would be a great choice for a Havanese (though some of them are arguably better than others).

Out of all the foods we reviewed, we did prefer the Merrick Lil’ Plates Chicken & Sweet Potato. This food is full of quality ingredients, including chicken. It is also full of raw pieces, which can help encourage picky eaters to finish their bowls.

However, we also liked Purina Pro Plan Shredded Blend Small Breed as a budget option. While it includes some lower-quality ingredients, it is a high-protein formula and includes probiotics.

We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide helped you decide on the best dog food for your Havanese puppy.


Featured Image Credit: Boryana Manzurova, Shutterstock

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