5 Best Dog Food for Schnauzers in 2023 (Buying Guide & Reviews)

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miniature schnauzer in the green grass

I cannot believe there was a time when I didn’t read dog food labels. I would buy the latest kibble or cans I saw on a TV ad and dump the set amount of food into the dog bowl. If my dogs refused to eat it or broke out in a rash or threw up, I filed that brand away to never feed again.

Sound familiar?

The growing interest in holistic health and organic foods for humans is quickly changing how we view dog foods. Schnauzers are particularly fascinating because they have several conditions that can be drastically affected by diet. So, what is the best dog food for Schnauzers?

Quick Picks: The 5 Top-Rated Dog Food for Schnauzers

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In a hurry? Check our best pick above, or keep reading for product reviews and more details!

5 Best Dog Food for Schnauzers – Product Reviews

Natural Balance Original Ultra Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance was established in Burbanks, California by the actor, Dick Van Patten. Owned by the J.M.Smucker Company, it has the lofty goal of manufacturing the best pet food. It makes its Ultra Dry formula with chicken and duck.

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  • Natural Balance utilizes a panel of nutritional experts.
  • Supplemental Taurine
  • Formulate for all breeds and life stages
  • Extensive safety testing
  • Chicken is the first protein
  • Unique fiber layering
  • Signature antioxidant blend


  • A few customers reported palatability issues
  • Can make dogs gassy
  • The kibble is large

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Puppy, Small Paws for Small Breeds

Hill’s Science Diet first made its food line available to the public in 1968. Dr. Morris had already previously established a research facility in Topeka, Kansas, in 1939, based around a kidney diet. Colgate-Palmolive bought Hill’s Pet Food in 1976 and continues to manage the food through veterinarians.

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  • Chicken meal is the top ingredient
  • The primary source of natural DHA comes from fish oil
  • Kibble is small – 7.5mm by 4.5 mm
  • Diet is scientifically formulated by animal nutritionists and veterinarians
  • Easy-to-digest ingredients


  • Grain-based diet
  • Kibble may be too hard for tiny dogs

Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Dog Food Recipe

Ziwipeak Venison is a New Zealand food that is prey-based. Protein from high-quality organ meats and other animal sources is at 45 percent and fat content is at about 23 percent. Avoid feeding with other types of kibble or any carbohydrates other than vegetables and low-sugar fruits.

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  • Air-drying process preserves nutritional value of the food
  • Ingredients are almost wholly meat sources (98 percent)
  • Food is highly digestible
  • No grains, potatoes, sugars, or rendered meats
  • Contains green mussels – The flesh of green mussel is an excellent natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine


  • High-calorie food: This can be problematic if you feed your dog too much or do not exercise him enough.
  • Limited flavors – duck might be a great novelty protein alternative for dogs that do not like venison.
  • Product may be fragile and crumble easily.

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Miniature Schnauzer Adult Dry Dog Food

Branded in 1968 and based out of France, Royal Canin dog food was born from “Yellow Soup” created by Jean Cathary. The company bases its food on the science behind nutrition and health in animals.

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  • Exclusive breed-specific shape to kibble and small morsel size: This feature is always nice for small dogs who may have weak jaws, a small bite, or dental problems.
  • Amino acids are tailored to The Schnauzer’s unusual coat – This helps a Schnauzer’s signature salt-and-pepper coat shine when grays are typically dull.
  • Includes nutrients geared towards sensitive skin.
  • Calories calibrated to make maintaining an ideal body weight easier


  • Brewer’s rice is No. 1 ingredient – The problem with this ingredient is that many nutrients have been stripped from the rice.
  • Meat is not a significant source of protein in this dog food.

Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food Grain Free Adult & Puppy

Manufactured in Indiana and owned by WellPet, Holistic Select became a brand separate from Eagle Pack in 2000. Their focus is on the gut and the 70 percent of the dog’s immune system that is concentrated there. Their dog foods are considered super premium products.

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  • High-quality protein, salmon, is first ingredient
  • Wholesome all-natural ingredients
  • Strong dedication to digestive health – prebiotics, probiotics, live yogurt cultures,
  • Fish supports a sensitive stomach – easily digestible protein.
  • Good fatty acid balance and high-quality ingredients support sensitive skin.


  • Growing concerns about the sustainability of high salmon demand
  • Contains potatoes and peas – Potatoes may wreak havoc on blood sugar levels in diabetic dogs. Significant amounts of pea proteins in dog food has been linked to heart enlargement.

The History of the Schnauzer Affects How It Should Eat

There are three distinct types of Schnauzers: the Miniature or Mini, Standard, and Giant. Both the Giant Schnauzer and the Mini originated from the Standard, likely a type of German Pinscher. Giant Schnauzers came from possible infusions of German Shepherd, Bouvier, and Rottweiler bloodlines, while the Mini can thank the Affenpinscher and Miniature Poodle for its ancestry.

The breeds are so distinctive that we will focus mainly on the Mini in this article. It is the only one of the three classified as a toy breed, standing approximately 12 inches high and weighing about 15 pounds. It is also the most popular of the Schnauzers by far, reigning among the top 15 most sought-after dogs in America.

The poodle and Affenpinscher are both active small breeds, and the German Pinscher is a working dog bred for terrier-type duties. Whether you think of a Mini Schnauzer as a terrier or a pinscher, it is fairly active with the high metabolism typical of toy breeds and small vermin hunters.

A high metabolism does not translate to unlimited calories. Modern miniature Schnauzers are predominantly house pets. They do not have the innate drive or nervousness of some breeds and are perfectly content to adjust to a more sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, you must stay vigilant about how much exercise and calories you provide your Schnauzer. They have healthy appetites and are prone to overeat.

What Are Two Major Metabolic Diseases of Schnauzers With Dietary Factors?


Pancreatitis affects both Schnauzers and Poodles more than most other breeds. Although somewhat controversial, pancreatitis has long been associated with the consumption of too many dietary fats. Current research suggests the causes behind many cases are unknown, and age and heredity may be more to blame.

As a precaution, avoid premium high-performance diets geared towards large working breeds. However, your Schnauzer is not likely to do well on a low-fat diet either. Dogs rely more on dietary fats than humans. Try to ensure the fat content of your Schnauzer’s food is between 10 and 15 percent except if feeding a raw-based diet.

Finally, pancreatitis is commonly associated with obesity. Try to keep your Schnauzer’s weight within the appropriate range by feeding high-quality food, limiting calories, and providing plenty of exercises.

Signs of Pancreatitis

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain – dogs may hunch their backs as a protective gesture for their abdomens.
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy


Miniature Schnauzers are susceptible to developing diabetes.

Diabetes Mellitus is a complex endocrine disorder in dogs that affects multiple organ systems. Dogs are generally not affected by insulin resistance like people, so you cannot always prevent diabetes with diet. Moreover, there appears to be a strong correlation between genetics, other endocrine disorders (hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease), and diabetes in canines.

What you should do to lessen environmental factors as much as possible is to feed high-quality dog food, supply fresh fruits and vegetables, ensure good fiber content, and make sure your Miniature Schnauzer’s diet is fairly high in protein. Maintain your Schnauzer’s weight within the ideal parameters.

Repeated bouts of pancreatitis have been linked to the development of diabetes, although it may be difficult to determine which came first. Therefore, many of the diets you would use to prevent pancreatitis may also help with diabetes.

Signs of Diabetes

  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Increase in appetite followed eventually by lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sudden-onset cataracts

Dog Food for Schnauzers – What Criteria Should You Use?

There are specific standards every dog food should have in relation to Schnauzers. You can find what you need to know by reading the dog food label. You should use these criteria any time you are trying to feed your dog a new diet. We used these same criteria to select products for your convenience.

Schnauzer dog sitting by bowl full of food

How Do You Assess Ingredients?

Ingredients will be listed somewhere on the bag of kibble or can of moist dog food. Manufacturers list them in order from highest to lowest weights. That does not mean ingredients at the bottom of the list are insignificant or won’t affect your pet.

You and your dog benefit when you read the entire list of ingredients. Manufacturers list select vitamins or minerals at the bottom. They are vital but only required in trace amounts. Fillers may be hidden in the middle.

Another thing to keep in mind is any whole meat at the top of the list is mostly water. When a manufacturer boasts that chicken is the first ingredient, be wary. If corn gluten meal is the second ingredient, then that dog food supplies most of its protein in the form of corn. On the other hand, a meat-based meal like chicken meal removes the water and has a higher concentration of protein.

What Do the Percentages of Proteins, Water, and Fats Mean?

The Guaranteed Analysis tells you how much macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) you are feeding your dog. These numbers are also provided on the dog food label. Proteins and fats are especially important to evaluate for your Miniature Schnauzer.

About 20 to 30 percent of a Miniature Schnauzer’s diet should be composed of protein. For breed-specific health reasons, you should aim for the higher range, especially if the protein comes from a high-quality source. Fat should be around 12 to 17 percent for most dogs, aiming a little lower than this range for Schnauzers. In low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diets, dogs can eat much higher levels of proteins and fats.

The label will also list the percentage of water or moisture and fiber in the food. Schnauzers may benefit from fiber levels of five percent or higher to help them regulate their blood sugar.

What Does the Name of the Dog Food Say?

There is more information than you might think right in the name of the product. Small breed formulas actually cater to toy and small breed dogs both in kibble size and calories per portion. Premium small-breed diets take into account higher metabolisms of toy dogs.

A named dog food, such as chicken kibble, must be composed of 95 percent of the named ingredient. With multiple ingredients, such as chicken and potatoes, no named elements can be less than three percent, and they are named in order of weight. Usually, only specialty dog foods or treats fit this category.

Named dog food that has a descriptor such as “dinner” must have 25 percent of the named ingredient. Venison Dinner for Dogs must be composed of 25 percent deer meat.

If you buy dog food that says, “with an ingredient”, like Terry’s Dog Food with Salmon, it must have at least three percent of that element. Last, flavoring only needs to account for a trace of the ingredient. As an example, Chex Salmon Dog Food with Cheese Flavoring barely has any cheese in it.

What Do Schnauzer Breed Criteria Have to Do With Dog Food Labels?


Miniature Schnauzers, like numerous other breeds, can suffer from a sensitive stomach, food allergies, arthritis, and sensitive skin. Many dogs with these ailments benefit from dog foods with no grain. It helps in cases of wheat allergy and difficulties digesting corn. Dog food that contains minimal sugars and carbohydrates may help dogs with diabetes.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

Natural sources of antioxidants, as well as Glucosamine and its derivatives, can help prevent and manage arthritis pain.

Controversy of Raw Diets

Raw diets have garnered much interest from dog owners. With our growing focus on whole food sources of nutrients, we naturally look to raw diets to offer dogs a more natural means to obtain nourishment.

Many traditional medical professionals are skeptical of raw canine diets, concerned about excessive proteins and fats and vitamin and mineral imbalances. The main features of evolutionary diets that concern Miniature Schnauzers are proteins and fats.

A dog’s ancestral diet contained a whopping 44 percent fat and 50 percent protein. Pet nutritionists advise that if you want to feed a premium dog food that mimics a prey-based diet, it should contain close to 50 percent protein and 25 to 37 percent fat.

Some commercial dog food manufacturers have incorporated formulations based on the raw diet concept with the industrial capacity to offer balanced nutrition.

Final Thoughts

Of the five dog foods we researched and compiled as ideal to feed Schnauzers, we chose the Ziwipeak air-dried food. Compared to the others it had minimal processing and thus preserved the most naturally-occurring nutrients. Comparing it to the Royal Canin and Hill’s Science Diet, it is grain-free. It edged the excellent Holistic Select because it did not use potatoes or peas. Finally, we chose it over Natural Balance because of the smaller kibble and the gentler processing method.