You love your dog. They are part of your family. The way your cute little Shih Tzu bounces around with excitement every time they see you is the best feeling in the world.
And, you want to take the very best care of them. So, you might be wondering, what is the best dog food for Shih Tzu breeds in particular?
Important to know when caring for a Shih Tzu
If you want to take excellent care of your dog, it is important to know the best options for the particular breed of dog that you have. Breed-specific advice is better than guidelines only about dogs in general.
In this case, you have an adorable Shih Tzu. This small breed definitely has some unique attributes that can affect the type of dog food you choose to feed them.
We will discuss some background information about your dog’s common health conditions, as well as diving into the nutrition needed for them to keep healthy.
Product Review – 5 Dry Dog Food Options for your Shih Tzu
Now we have gotten to know all about your Shih Tzu and what it needs, it makes sense to look at some dry food options.
You are surely wondering what is the best dog food for your Shih Tzu, whether they are an adult dog or a puppy.
Below is a mini-review of 5 different dry dog food options that your pet might enjoy. We will briefly look at the pros and cons of each product as a Shih Tzu friendly choice.
In the end, we will declare our winner of this mini-review!
Let’s get into it:
1. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Dry Dog Food
- Made for puppies
- Specifically for small breeds with smaller kibble
- Crude Protein 28% and Crude Fat 19%
- No meat by-products – which means quality meat parts only
- No fillers or artificial preservatives
- Contains blueberries and spinach for antioxidants
- Contains flaxseed which provides needed Omegas
- Main ingredients are turkey (protein), oatmeal (tummy health and fibre) and salmon (protein and bonus source of Omega 3)
- Contains other fruits and vegetables such as apples and tomato
- Not all dogs like the taste
- The kibble pieces might be too big for very little puppies
- Several ingredients which could mean a greater chance of allergies or reactions.
Summary – this high protein puppy food certainly sounds like quality pet food. The best puppy food should have a high protein content for their growing bodies which this one does!
For puppy food – this one is probably the best choice for your Shih Tzu pup. To be fair the others in the review are foods for a grown Shih Tzu dog, not a pup.
This higher protein ingredient formula may mean your adult Shih Tzu would gain weight, so it is not completely comparable.
2. The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food
- Adult dog food
- Made from dehydrated whole-foods for extra vitamins and minerals
- Made with free-range chicken
- Soy, wheat and corn free
- 100% human-grade ingredients – high quality
- 24% crude protein
- Contains sweet potato
- Several fruits and vegetables for immune system health
- Made for all dog breeds and sizes – not specifically small dogs
- Different smells and texture of food which dogs may not like
- Not crunchy so does not help with dental health
- Messy to eat – you add water so it becomes mush. Could be messy for a little Shih Tzu face.
Summary – Now this is a bit different. It is natural, grain-free dog food, however, dehydrated which makes it richer in vitamins and minerals. It also has organic flaxseed for omega fatty acids. These are all winning components for the best dog food for Shih Tzu to meet their unique needs.
Yet, it makes a mushy substance when prepared which probably isn’t ideal for this toy breed. For these breed dogs, their short pup face isn’t made for this kind of dog food. Well, not without a lot of mess. It could easily get in their eyes too, creating a hazard for your Shih Tzu.
Also, not all dogs need a grain-free diet. Is your vet hasn’t specified that the best food for Shih Tzu health is grain-free then there is no need to focus on it.
3. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
- For adult dogs
- No fillers, artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
- Contains Probiotic for digestive health
- Protein source is pasture-raised bison and venison
- Contains vegetables, legumes and fruit
- High Crude protein at 32%
- Contains chicken meal, lamb meal and chicken fat
- Made for adult dogs but is not small dog or breed-specific
- Some dogs have had allergic or bad reactions (eg vomiting)
- Some vets would not recommend this grain-free version unless the dog specifically needs a grain-free diet
- Contain chicory which some dogs do not tolerate well
Summary – Although your Shih Tzu is cuddly and part of the lazy lap dogs classification, perhaps he would still like a taste of the wild – maybe even some bison and venison? Or not, several reviews seemed to suggest their dogs had a bad reaction, like food allergies from this unique product.
Given Shih Tzu are sensitive in general, this may not be the best dog food choice for them. The chicory in it might not affect their wellness core – the sensitive tummy of your pup!
The crude protein in this one in the highest on this dog food list. We know protein is good for every dog breed, including your Shih Tzu however your Shih Tzu is also likely somewhat inactive.
Extra protein may not be necessarily a bonus in foods for Shih Tzus who have a relaxed lifestyle.
4. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Dry Dog Food
- Made specifically for pure breed Shih Tzus over 10 months.
- Tailor-made kibble shape to suit a Shih Tzu – easier to pick up and chew
- Suggests it can help to reduce stool odor
- Promotes skin and coat health
- Contains fish oil which has omega fatty acids
- Added vitamins and minerals for immune system health (but not actual fruit and vegetables like some others)
- Contains chicken meal-by products- not a quality protein source
- Main ingredients are rice and chicken by-product meal – not as good as others
- Crude protein is a bit lower than others at 22%
Summary – from the name alone, you would be forgiven for assuming Royal Canin Shih Tzu food must be the winner of the best Shih Tzu dog food. Since it is literally labelled as dog food for Shih Tzus.
However, the first ingredient being a low-quality chicken protein means it is not the best dog food for your Shih Tzu, or perhaps any dog. Sorry Royal Canin, you dropped the ball on this one.
The first ingredient is brewers rice, followed by brown rice. Not that is a bad thing in dog foods, but it feels like the cheaper option and that the best dog foods would make quality protein the priority.
When it comes to actual fruit and vegetables, it seems to be a limited ingredient. This limited ingredient-aspect isn’t all bad as some times that could mean fewer food allergies, as there are fewer things to be allergic to!
Overall, to be called the best dog food for Shih Tzus, it really should start with the best kind of protein. This is like the wellness core of all beings, which helps everything function, including for a Shih Tzu puppy or dog!
5. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Dry Dog Food
- Made for small dogs and has small kibble
- Farm-raised chicken
- No chicken by-product meal
- Crude protein is 24%
- No corn, wheat, soy or soybean meal
- Contains sweet potato and grains
- Contains turkey meal
- Contains chicken fat
- Contains whole flaxseed for omega fatty acids
- Some report the recipe seems to have changed and their dogs will no longer eat it
- A few, limited mentions of the dog being sick after eating it
Summary – this dog food is made especially for small dogs which instantly make it a good dog food for Shih Tzu pup. Another highlight is that it uses farm-raised chicken as the main protein source.
Overall it seems to a simple, quality and a natural choice when it comes to dog foods. Most the ingredients seem to be from natural sources and there is a limited ingredient, that on first glance, cannot be pronounced or appear to be a natural food type.
Apart from a few reports that the flavour might have changed and some fussy puppies decided they wouldn’t eat it, it seems like it is fairly well received.
Why is nutrition important for Shih Tzu dogs?
Shih Tzu dogs require a unique diet to account for their gorgeous, double coats and to counter known common health issues.
They have been known to have sensitive tummies at times and even, be a little fussy when it comes to their food. Perhaps their fine tastes come from their royal Chinese history?
So the obvious hurdle when feeding your Shih Tzu food, might simply be to make sure they want to eat it, and that it doesn’t upset the stomach.
Your Shih Tzu will surely tell you if the food isn’t up to their standards.
However, perhaps more important is ensuring what you feed them going to nurture your dog’s health.
Your dog or puppy needs a diet which includes the right balance of vitamins, essential fatty acids, minerals and quality lean proteins to maintain coat and skin health, energy levels, their immune systems and for weight management.
What nutrition is important for Shih Tzu dogs?
- Good Fats
Fats, specifically essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6 oils, are very important for your dog’s health. These oils and fatty acids help give your pet healthy skin and coat. Some sources include canola oil and salmon oil.
Omega 3 is also important in brain development for puppies.
Puppies need special puppy food which is made to account for these extra needs. As long as you know it is a quality food source of puppy food, good fats should already be in there.
- Calcium magnesium, phosphorous
These are good for healthy, strong bones and teeth. These little dogs can experience dental issues so minerals to support bone health is vital.
Protein is the building block of pretty much everything in the body. This includes muscles, nails, and overall body functions like that of the immune system. Shih Tzus need a diet high in quality protein such as from chicken, beef, turkey, lamb or fish.
The best puppy food should have a good serving of protein as they are growing and developing a lot in the puppy stage!
Common health problems for Shih Tzu dogs
Your Shih Tzu, like all other dog breeds, has some inherited or common health problems which are important to know about. That means your Shih Tzu puppy will likely be born with these traits.
When considering the health of your Shih Tzu or Shih Tzu puppy, and what to feed them, it is also relevant to know what health issues they may face. This can sometimes lead to clues about what nutrition they need too.
Later, we will discuss food for Shih Tzu puppies and dogs which meet some of these extra needs.
Below we have listed a few, however, to learn more about your Shih Tzu or Shih Tzu puppy, including potential health concerns, try this extensive article here.
As these small dogs are not as active as other dog breeds, they can more easily become overweight. It is therefore important to not overfeed them, but instead feed your dog only a high-quality, high-nutrient and low-calorie diet
It is very tempting to feed them your food every time you eat, especially when they give you the look. Especially true for Shih Tzu puppies – they are too cute!
Nobody wants to say no to those cute little faces. However, it is much better for your dog’s health to say no, and only feed them a specific, Shih Tzu friendly diet. You could call it tough love.
Stick to food for Shih Tzu dogs, including Shih Tzu puppy food your vet may have recommended, and at the recommended amounts, to avoid weight gain.
Since Shih Tzu dogs have genetically short faces, it can make it harder for them to breathe. This is especially true when it is hot. Therefore, they are more susceptible to heat stroke so make sure to keep them cool and comfortable.
Sadly, this is something that is quite commonly found in Shih Tzus. It is a genetic disease that causes the irregular formation of the hip joints which leads to arthritis.
Another not-so-positive inherent trait of Shih Tzus is the increased susceptibility to dental issues.
Their little face and big, protruding eyes are part of what makes them so adorable. However, this trait can also lend itself some common injuries and infections.
What can’t my Shih Tzu eat?
Well, there are probably many things that are not healthy for your pooch to eat.
You must keep in mind that humans do not know every food which could be harmful to a Shih Tzu. There are too many foods to research the effects of all of them!
To stay on the safe side, stick to suggested Shih Tzu food and avoid the temptation to share food from your own plate with your dog.
Also remember, for Shih Tzu puppies, they will need special Shih Tzu puppy food. This might not even be for their breed in particular, but the best puppy food meets all their nutrition needs – so you don’t have to give them human snacks!
Rest assured though, there are some foods that we know to steer clear of for Shih Tzus. If you prefer to watch, rather than read, there is a quick video on foods for Shih Tzus to avoid here.
However, here are some foods that should be avoided:
Garlic ; Onions – These seem to be harmful to most dogs as it could affect the red blood cells and can cause anaemia.
Raisins ; Grapes – Can give your pup tummy pain, vomiting and can even damage their kidneys.
Macadamia nuts – May cause kidney stones
Sweets, lollies, candies – Dogs do not need these kinds of sugary treats (neither do humans, really – but they taste good). Some sweet treats also contain artificial sweetener that can increase insulin production in dogs.
Mushrooms – Any type of mushrooms may give your dog stomach pain. Also, with so many varieties of mushrooms, we have to be mindful that some are simply toxic – for humans and dogs alike!
Raw egg – Mostly because it can have bacteria which could make your dog sick.
Dairy Products and Cow’s milk – Most dogs can be sensitive to dairy and cows milk. It can be particularly true for sensitive Shih Tzus. Milk is hard for them to digest and can cause diarrhea.
Coffee, Tea ; Caffeine (includes energy drinks) – Too much caffeine could cause death, particularly in small breeds like the Shih Tzu. A tiny lick of your coffee before you notice might not be deadly, however too much certainly could be. So, keep the latte for yourself only.
Avocado – it can be toxic to dogs!
Grapefruit – Your dog may not want the bitter fruit anyways, but we thought its best to mention it – just in case. Shih Tzus should not eat grapefruit as it can diarrhea and vomiting.
Frequently Ask Questions:
What do Shih Tzus eat?
In a way, they eat a similar diet to what a healthy human should. They thrive on a balance of protein, carbohydrates, good fats, vitamins and minerals.
The main component of their daily food is often a meat-based protein source (such as chicken) and also carbohydrates such as brown rice, oatmeal or barley.
Additionally, they will have fruits and vegetables to meet their vitamin and mineral requirements.
Good fats can be obtained from sources like flaxseed, chia seed or oily fish.
The right combination of each of these needed ingredients is worked out for you in the specific, small breed dog food you purchase.
This saves you from doing it yourself and getting the balance off!
How much should Shih Tzu eat?
There isn’t really one simple answer for this.
First off, it is often easiest to check the feeding guidelines on the label of the dog food you have purchased. Make sure it is the current amount for the age and weight of your dog.
Remember, an overweight dog is not healthy so keep an eye that their weight stays in a healthy range.
How often should I feed my Shih Tzu puppy?
3 months old or younger – These little cuties need constant access to food. Make sure a small amount of fresh food (and water) is always available.
You might even want to periodically put your puppy near the food to remind him. They are just babies after all, and need a little help.
Shih Tzus can be prone to hyperglycemia when they are this little, so this regular feeding help keeps there blood sugar levels stable. If they spend too long without food, their blood sugar levels can drop.
3 to 12 months – These puppies no longer need access to food at all times however, they still need to be feed 3 times per day.
How often do I feed my adult Shih Tzu?
Similar to when they are 3 – 12 months old, adult Shih Tzus should be fed at least 2 times but 3 times is also good. Since they are a small breed, they need more regular meals than larger breed may be able to tolerate.
Should I feed my dog wet or dry food?
Although your Shih Tzu may be a fussy little eater and want some fancy gravy-looking dinner, it may not be the best choice. Actually, wet food can cause diarrhea and runny stools.
Dry food, on the other hand, provides a crunchy, safe option which is good for their dental health. Dogs need to chew, it is pretty much how they brush their teeth.
So dry food helps keep your dog’s teeth healthy while also being easier on their tummies.
Just be sure you are buying dry food which is made for small dogs so the biscuits are the right size for them to chew.
Can Shih Tzu eat human food, like bread?
In short, yes your dog can eat some human foods.
Let’s talk about Shih Tzus and eating bread to start with. Technically? Yes, they could eat it with no extreme side effects. Should they eat it though? Well, it isn’t the healthiest choice.
Bread is essentially a source of carbs (carbohydrates) which provide a quite source of energy for the body. Yet, sometimes Shih Tzus don’t exactly have active lifestyles or really need this kind of food.
In fact, weight gain is a problem for these dogs. They will also get sufficient carbs from their actual dog food. So a little bit occasionally might not hurt, but too often and they may put on weight.
Bread is also not overly nutritious for dogs so it is best to save their calorie intake for their dog food which contains the nutrients they need to thrive.
So, what about fruits and vegetables, even apples?
Well, a bit like for humans, fruit and vegetables are good for Shih Tzus too. Remember to keep in mind the list above of foods they shouldn’t eat though.
An apple, for example, provides a crunchy treat which can be great for your dog’s dental health. Additionally, it is packed with nutrients which are good for their health!
Other fruits that are not only good for you but your Shih Tzu as well, include peaches, pears, melons, berries and banana. Make sure your beloved pet does not each the pit from any fruit though. Remove any seeds or pits before feeding the fruit to your pet.
Avoid canned fruit as it is often swimming in sugary syrup and your Shih Tzu does not need that added sugar in their diets.
However, if you are buying quality dog food, it should have the right combination of food- even including fruits and vegetables, so you won’t have to feed them anything else.
It is not the easiest as all the dog foods listed have pros and cons, however, Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Dry Dog Food is the winner of the review roundup!
A major point when caring for your Shih Tzu, is being aware that they have unique needs for their breed. While Royal Canin may have made a kibble for Shih Tzus, they lost major marks for not using quality meat. All the other products had meat as the first ingredient, but not Royal Canin.
Nutro may not be marketing their products to Shih Tzu owners in particular, but they are certainly catering to small dogs needs. It is made to meet the needs of small dogs including calcium, zinc and B vitamins. It also contains vital Omega 3 and 6.
Overall, it seems to have the best reviews too with the least amount of complaints about dogs refusing to eat it.
The small kibble size is a big winner too, as we know Shih Tzu have a small face, making it harder for them to chew big pieces. The more they chew, the better their dental hygiene!
Additionally, Nutro is made with farm-raised chicken, which is the first ingredient. This provides a safe and quality source of essential protein as well as value for money.
You don’t want to pay for chicken by-products meal, especially if its a similar price as the quality meats.
While Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated food sounded promising, the mushy-ness is just asking for problems when you have a small Shih Tzu sticking his face in it. It also doesn’t help with dental health so unfortunately, it was not much competition.
Of course, this is not a complete list of the best Shih Tzu puppy or dog food. Actually, we didn’t get to look to close into the best dog foods for a Shih Tzu puppy much at all.
However, it is a quick guide on some good food for Shih Tzus which meet their special dietary needs.
There are also other popular brands not mentioned on this list such as Hill s science diet.