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Shih Tzus are a small breed that enjoys being pampered by their owners and as far as dogs go, they are fairly low maintenance in terms of their diet. However, as with any small breed dog, their diet should be high in protein.
The best dog food for Shih Tzus is the Royal Canin Breed Specific Dry Kibble, which has been specifically developed for the Shih Tzu breed and no others.
Unfortunately, the Shih Tzu breed is known to having a sensitive stomach towards certain dog foods that they eat. If this is the case, opt for grain-free dog food for Shih Tzu’s that have limited ingredients, which are easy to digest.
Table of Contents
Best Dog Food For Shih Tzus
|Shih Tzu Dog Food
|BLUE Life Protection
|The Honest Kitchen
|Taste of the Wild
Shih Tzus are one the most popular small breed dogs but they can easily turn overweight with the wrong diet. A combination of high-calorie food and lack of exercise can see rapid weight gain.
Another health issue seen by many Shih Tzus owners are allergies towards certain foods. This can result in excess shedding, itching, rashes, and further issues that will cause your dog to become upset. If this is the case, we highly recommend looking at the grain-free dog foods for Shih Tzus.
Avoiding all the normal health concerns that you would have with any dog, they are an excellent small breed. Below is a list of the best dog food for Shih Tzus that are high in protein to help maintain a healthy body weight.
Royal Canin Shih Tzu Dry Dog Food
This formula by Royal Canin is designed especially for pure breed Shih Tzu’s that are over ten months old. Shih Tzu’s are fairly recognizable with their abundant coat, long and dense undercoat, and their hair falling onto their eyes.
It’s important to feed them food that is specially designed for them as they suffer from osteoarthritis, heart issues, kidney problems, and cataracts as they age. This formula is enriched with Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids as well as biotin to help with hair softness and growth.
A brief overview of the pros and cons of the Royal Canin Formula includes:
- Reduces odor and stool
- Contains natural flavors
- Helps to reduce dental plaque
- Great for picky eaters
- Highly active ingredients
- Fairly pricey
As Shih Tzu’s have unique jaws with quite a shorter muzzle, Royal Canin has designed kibble that makes it easier for them to eat, which also encourages them to chew. The rice fiber promotes a healthier digestive system. It also helps to prevent any intestinal diseases from appearing.
Overall, it is the best dog food for Shih Tzu’s and it will ensure they have all the nutrients to retain a healthy diet throughout their lives.
BLUE Life Protection Formula
Blue Buffalo is a well-known and reputable brand in the dog food industry, providing holistic dog foods that are made with natural ingredients and are rich in protein. Within the kibble, they also mix in LifeSource Bits®, which are made of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, veggies, and fruits.
You can be sure that your Shih Tzu is getting the best food through their finest oats, barley, brown rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, pomegranate, cranberries, blueberries, apples, and deboned chicken.
Pros and Cons of the BLUE Life Protection include:
- Great for small breeds
- Helps to support dogs against diseases
- Great for dogs that are prone to have joint diseases
- No soy, wheat, or corn
- No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors.
- Some dogs might not like the flavor of the LifeSource Bits®
This formula does not contain any artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors, nor do they contain soy, wheat, corn, or by-products. It’s great for dogs with sensitive stomachs, as it is high in protein, which means that they can get filled up with small servings. It’s also quite easy to transition your dog to this formula from other brands.
Wellness CoreGrain Free Small Breed Food
This dry dog food from Wellness Core has premium ingredients, completely with grain-free, high protein recipe that is packed with vegetable and fruit minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. The fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins are great for your Shih Tzu’s fur and skin.
On top of that, this formula is great for their eyes, teeth, and immune system. The fibers and probiotics in this formula promote digestive health, while the high-quality carbohydrates and proteins give a boost to their energy.
The Pros and Cons of the Wellness Core Natural Food are:
- Full of meaty protein
- Safe and gentle
- Contains natural ingredients
- Excellent formulation
- Rich in proteins
- Some reports of causing upset stomachs
This formula does not contain any artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors, nor does it contain any meat by-products, soy, corn, or wheat. It contains the optimum levels of calories and fat that are specially formulated for smaller breeds.
They incorporate Omega-3 fatty acids from salmon oil and flaxseeds, which help to maintain their coat and skin health. The chondroitin sulfate, hydrochloride, and glucosamine help to support their joints and hips.
Overall, if you Shih Tzu has issues with their current food due to their sensitivities, this is the best dog food for Shih Tzu’s with sensitive stomachs. The mixture of grain-free kibble and natural ingredients ensure your dog is happy after eating.
The Honest Kitchen Human Grade
If you’re looking for dog food for your Shih Tzu that will help them with their tearing problems, skin issues, digestive problems, or maybe just to give them energy, maintain their ideal weight, or solve their pickiness.
This will be the closest that you can get to a homemade or raw food diet for Shih Tzu’s. The only difference will be the convenience of this form. It includes fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, cabbage, pumpkin, kelp, alfalfa, apples, and potatoes. On top of that, it also contains range-raised beef, cage-free turkey, free-range chicken, organic flaxseed, minerals, and vitamins.
The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Food has the following Pros and Cons:
- Easy to travel with
- Good for dogs that have sensitive stomachs
- Less odor stool
- Easy to make
- No Fillers
If your Shih Tzu is a picky eater or has problems with their weight, gluten, or grains, this moderate calorie recipe will be the best solution. It’s also great for those that have food sensitivities and/or allergies.
It comes in a dehydrated food powder form in which you simply need to add in a little bit of warm water to get it into a stew-like consistency. Thus, enabling you to have a product with more convenient packaging, and longer shelf life than raw foods.
Due to the price being much higher than the alternatives, it is further down the ranking in terms of value for money. However, if there is no budget and you want the closest dry food to a raw diet, the Honest Kitchen formula is ideal.
Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley
If you’re looking for Shih Tzu dog food that is a high protein, grain-free blend, this Taste of the Wild Natural Dry Dog Food is a great option. It mixes high proteins with vegetables, fruits, and sweet potatoes while being supplemented with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. All in all, to offer you Shih Tzu delicious tasting kibble.
The Taste of the Wild Formula’s Pros and Cons include:
- Natural ingredients
- Grain-free and gluten-free
- Great for dogs with food sensitivities
- Great value
- Some flavors might take a while for your dog to get used to.
If your dog has a gluten sensitivity or skin problems, this grain-free blend will be great for them. All of its flavors are great for dogs that have food allergies. There is no beet pulp in this product and it’s protein-rich to allow you to give them smaller servings. It’s also a great product to help maintain your Shih Tzu’s weight.
Shih Tzu Dog Food Buying Guide
Shih Tzu’s have been a popular breed for decades, especially known for their popular lap dogs. Feeding them can be complicated due to their smaller size, energy level needs, and common health problems. All of it needs to be considered when researching dog food for Shih Tzu’s.
How Much Food To Feed Shih Tzu?
You need to consider the quantity and quality of the food that you are giving to your Shih Tzu. It’s just as important to know how much to feed your dog, as it is to know what you are feeding them. The amount and frequency of their feedings depend on your convenience and their age. It can be different for a senior dog (10 years or more), an adult dog (1 year to 10 years), or a puppy (under 1 year).
The feeding amounts can vary due to a dog’s age, body weight, activity level, individual metabolism, build, environment, and overall health. The type of food can also make a difference, as those that are rich in protein can fill your dog up faster than those with less protein.
For an adult Shih Tzu, you should be looking at feeding them roughly half an ounce (14 – 15 grams), per 1 lb. of their weight per day. This would make it roughly 3% of their body weight. That would also convert to roughly 35 calories per 1 lb. of their weight.
For a senior Shih Tzu, you should be looking at 5 grams per 1 lb. of their weight, making it roughly 1% to 2% of their body weight. That would also convert to roughly 25 to 28 calories per 1 lb. of their weight.
To give you a general idea, we included a feeding chart below. Please note that the feeding charts do vary from brand to brand, so refer to your dog food packaging to find a feeding chart that is specific to that product.
|Shih Tzu Weight
|Medium Activity Dogs
(Feeding per day)
|High Activity Dogs
(Feeding per day)
|1 ⅛ cups
|1 ⅛ cups
|1 ¼ cups
|1 ¼ cups
|1 ½ cups
How Frequent To Feed Your Shih Tzu Puppy?
For adult Shih Tzu’s you need to feed them twice a day. Simply divide their daily feeding amount by half to give equal portions each time. If you’re transitioning from puppy food to adult food, start with a meal after eight hours.
So, if you feed at 9 am, the second feeding should be at around 5 pm. Try to work it up till you get to the feedings being twelve hours apart. It is recommended that you carefully monitor your dog during this process to ensure that they are being fed enough.
Each dog is different, so you need to customize feedings based on their individual needs. For senior dogs, you should only feed them once per day.
What Is The Ideal Weight Of A Shih Tzu?
On average, a Shih Tzu can weight from anywhere between 9 lbs. to 16 lbs. It’s recommended that you weight your dog frequently, whether that is at home or your vet. This just allows you to know whether you are feeding them with the right amount of food and if they are in good health. When they are a puppy, you should expect a steady increase in their weight.
Eating issues and disorders are quite common with this breed, with some being picky eaters and others eating tons of food. Picky eating can signal irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or the more serious, juvenile renal dysplasia. So, if you ever have any worries or doubts, just visit your local veterinarian, to be on the safe side.
Factors To Consider For Best Dog Food for Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu dogs generally stand between eight to eleven inches tall. They should be solid and compact, even with their smaller stature, and carry good weight. This breed tends to have a longer lifespan and be a healthy breed.
Their median life expectancy is around thirteen years and two months, which makes it longer than the average dog. In terms of weight, 9 lbs. Shih Tzu will need to intake 315 calories per day. While a 16 lbs. Shih Tzu will intake about 646 calories daily.
Some dogs might need more than that, while others might need less depending on their metabolism, health, and age. Protein and fat are very important ingredients for your Shih Tzu’s diet. According to the AAFCO, your adult Shih Tzu should eat food that has at least 18% protein and 5% fat.
Sadly, similar to other breeds, Shih Tzu’s are also prone to a few health problems, including obesity, nappy hair, and brittle bones.
It’s quite easy for Shih Tzu’s to gain weight, so owners need to keep an eye on the quantity that they’re eating. It is also recommended that you avoid giving them human food. Adding more vegetables and protein into their diet can help to curb their weight as they have fewer calories in comparison to carbohydrates. Some owners might choose to make their Shih Tzu’s food themselves, however, this is completely up to you.
This breed is known for their long hair. But, if that hair isn’t taken care of, it can get gross really fast. This is why the need fat in their diet, as Omega 3, Omega 6, and Vitamin A help to make their hair shiny and smooth. They should also be given regular baths and a fair bit of trips to the groomers.
Shih Tzu’s are known for their fragile bone structure, which becomes more prominent as they age. Keep a lookout for magnesium and calcium within the nutrition labels, the more there is, the better.
Similar to other smaller breeds, Hypoglycemia is quite common with Shih Tzu’s. They can be managed well with a diet that contains complex carbohydrates. These carbohydrates help to maintain their stable blood sugar levels.
Shih Tzu’s are more allergic to some foods or some ingredients. If they experience symptoms, such as rashes, excessive shedding, scratching, and itching, it could mean they are allergic to something.
This is a common health condition that affects a fair number of Shih Tzu’s, which causes them to eat their feces. It’s considered to show a nutrient deficiency. This might mean that they are not getting the right amount of calories to survive.
Ingredients To Look Out For the Best Dog Food for Shih Tzu
There are a few ingredients that should be present for the product to be considered as ‘high-quality’. On the other hand, some ingredients should be avoided. Keep on reading to find out, which ones are great and which ones are bad for your Shih Tzu.
The first one should be protein. Within this, you should ensure that it is whole meat rather than by-products, such as brains, fetuses, backs, feet, kidneys, and stomach; Nor should it be a meal, such as bones, tissues, and dried and rendered meat. Though these are generally fine for dogs to consume, they do tend to be more processed.
The most common meats are fish, turkey, lamb, beef, and chicken, but if your dog has food sensitivities or allergies, then novel proteins, such as venison and bison, will be the best option. If the ingredients list mentions ‘meat’ without any specifics, then it probably has by-products. Protein doesn’t always just come from meat though; it can also come from whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which dogs are unable to create themselves, so they need to get them through their food. The ten essential amino acids are vital for your dog’s energy and diet. They include valine, tryptophan, threonine, phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, leucine, isoleucine, histidine, and arginine. High-quality dog foods for Shih Tzu must contain at least 20% of protein.
The next ingredient is fat. For Shih Tzu’s, the ideal ratio would be for every 2 grams of protein you have 1 gram of fat. This allows you to give the same quantity of calories from both. This is because protein only has four calories per gram, while fat has nine calories per gram. Some sources might offer Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids. You should look for healthy oils and avoid the generic animal fats.
Fatty acids allow your dog to maintain a healthy coat and shiny fur. They also provide your dog with a strong source of energy.
It is ideal to go for gluten-free or grain-free dog foods, especially for any dogs with skin sensitivities. Additionally, fibrous carbs, such as vegetables and whole-grain, can be great for digestion. However, you should limit the number of carbohydrates to maintain your dog’s healthy weight and avoid obesity.
With Shih Tzu’s having higher energy requirements, they need their energy, which comes from carbohydrates.
Minerals and Vitamins
These are vital for your dog’s teeth, bones, and metabolic systems. Often found in vegetables and fruits, so ensure that your dog is getting them. There are a few necessary minerals and vitamins that your dog needs.
The minerals include:
- Chlorine – Phospholipid cell membrane component
- Folic Acid – assists protein synthesis
- B6 – supports with generating glucose, response to immunity, red blood cell functionality, hormone regulation, nervous system functions, and gene activation.
- Riboflavin, Niacin, and B12 – assist with enzyme functions
- B1 and Pantothenic Acid – assist metabolism
- K – activates bone protein
- Iron, Potassium, and Calcium – great as structural aids that help to maintain your dog’s teeth and bones.
The vitamins include:
- Vitamin A – promotes liver function, muscle growth, healthy fur, and healthy skin. Generally found in vegetables, liver, dairy products, and fish oil.
- Vitamin D – regulates phosphorus and calcium levels in the blood, as well as helping bone formation, the strength of muscles, and the control of nerves.
- Vitamin E – helps to function nerves, muscles, liver, and cells in the heart. Generally found in plant oils.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials warrants that accepted foods includes the correct ingredients, such as moisture, fiber, fat, and protein. So, look for their approval on any prospective dog food.
What Should You Avoid?
- Any food that is not approved by the AAFCO.
- Foods that contain: grapes, raisins, chocolate, onions, caffeinated drinks, coffee, tea, soda, excess amounts of salt, macadamia nuts, fruit seeds, and fruit pits. These ingredients are not healthy for your dog and are known to cause comas, seizures, kidney damage, and sometimes even death.
- Any food that contains preservatives BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin.
- Food that contain GMOs
Ian is an avid outdoorsman and dog lover. He lives in Central Florida with his wife Heather, and their 2 dogs – Panda (Purebread Rough Collie X English Golden Retriever) & Kuma (Blue Merl Purebread Rough Collie)