The 8 Best Dog Foods For Shih Tzus

By Kevin Myers | 2022 Update

✓ Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM

This updated guide reviews all of the best dog foods for Shih Tzus this year.

Finding the right dog food can be overwhelming. (Thanks to the hundreds of dog food brands available)

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to find the best food available for your Shih Tzu.

WITH just a little knowledge about the Shih Tzu’s nutritional requirements (and pet foods in general), you can make an informed decision for your Shih Tzu.

Shih Tzus are a toy breed with a big attitude and are sometimes picky eaters.  

Generally, an adult Shih Tzu should consume about 50 calories per pound of body weight per day; seniors may need a little less, and puppies may need a little more.

But hey:

It’s not just about the number of calories, is it?

Feeding your dog the right food has a direct impact on its health. To help you make the best choice possible, we’ve written this list to educate and inform you.

Let’s get to it!

The Best Dog Foods For Shih Tzus

Top PicksCategory
1. Nutro Small Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken Dog FoodBest For Adult Shih Tzu
2. Blue Buffalo Freedom Small Breed Dog Food For PuppiesBest For Puppy Shih Tzu
3. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Dog FoodBest For Senior Shih Tzu
4. Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws Chicken & Barley Dog FoodBest Wet Food For Shih Tzu
5. Nom Nom Turkey FareBest Fresh Food For Shih Tzu
6. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Dog FoodBest Premium Food For Shih Tzu
7. Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition Dog FoodBest Budget Food For Shih Tzu
8. Solid Gold Mighty Mini Gut Health Small & Toy Breed Dog FoodBest Tasting Food For Picky Shih Tzu

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


1. Nutro Small Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken Dog Food — Best For Adult Shih Tzu

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Split Peas, 4. Whole Brown Rice, 5. Brewers Rice

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,712 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 24%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.)  4%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

With farm-raised chicken as its first ingredient and being GMO-Free, this offering from Nutro is what you are looking for. With this recipe’s focus on skin and coat health, it is easily one of the best dog foods for Shih Tzu. It’s completely devoid of artificial flavors and ingredients, including by-product meals.

The kibble shape in this product is ideal for the flat face of Shih Tzus; it’s easier to eat and reduces plaque buildup on the teeth. It includes Omega-6 fatty acids that combat dry skin problems and promotes a full and healthy coat. This formula is wholly manufactured in the USA and is GMO-Free.


2. Blue Buffalo Freedom Small Breed Dog Food For Puppies — Best For Puppy Shih Tzu

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Starch, 5. Turkey Meal

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,758 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30%, Fat (min.) 18%, Fiber (max.)  5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

If your Shih Tzu has allergies, this food might be an excellent choice. Blue Buffalo created its “Freedom” line for dogs that suffer from grain allergies. This grain-free dog food contains no gluten, soy, corn, wheat, or meat by-products.

But that’s not all:

This formula contains DHA and ARA for brain and eye development. Calcium and Phosphorous promote healthy bones and joints, and the famous LifeSource Bits help improve your dog’s immune system. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids complete this excellent food for your allergy-sensitive Shih Tzu.


3. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Dog Food — Best For Senior Shih Tzu

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Ground Brown Rice, 4. Peas, 5. Rice

  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,478 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 25% | Fat min. 12%, | Fiber max. 5% | Moisture max. 10%
  • Form: Dry

Every Shih Tzu needs to adjust their diet in their senior years to adjust for their slowing metabolism and increased risk of diseases. And Wellness Small Breed Complete Health is the best option for this. The food uses easily-digestible ingredients like turkey and ground-brown rice — providing long-lasting energy for this active senior.

Older dogs also face a decline in skin and fur health, and this formula solves that problem with omega fatty acids. Your dog also gets glucosamine and probiotics with the diet to keep their joints and digestive system functioning properly. Another key feature of the food is its smaller kibble size, allowing Shih Tzus to grab and chew the food easily.


4. Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws Chicken & Barley Dog Food — Best Wet Food For Shih Tzu

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Water, 2. Chicken, 3. Cracked Pearled Barley, 4. Whole Grain Corn, 5. Pork Liver

  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per can): 164 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 3.5%, Fat (min.) 2.5%, Fiber (max.) 1.5%, Moisture (max.) 78%
  • Form: Wet Food

If your Shih Tzu is entering his golden years, you need a diet designed for their less active lifestyle. This formula by Hill’s Science Diet is for small breeds over seven years of age. 

It provides protein that supports lean muscle mass while reducing unnecessary calories making this an excellent choice for your aging Shih Tzu. This recipe is a senior-friendly sensation with plenty of fiber for healthy stools and a heart-healthy, low-sodium formula.


5. Nom Nom Turkey Fare — Best Fresh Food For Shih Tzu

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Ground turkey, 2. brown rice, 3. eggs, 4. carrots, 5. spinach

  • Life Stage: All
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,479 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 10% | Fat min. 5%, | Fiber max. 1% | Moisture max. 72%
  • Form: Frozen

If you want your Shih Tzu to reach peak performance and vitality, Nom Nom Turkey Fare is the diet to choose. The home-cooked diet contains only fresh ingredients like ground turkey, brown rice, spinach, carrots, and eggs.

Supplements provide micronutrient support, and the food is cooked hours before being packaged and sent to your doorstep. 

Even the pickiest dogs crave its aroma and delicious taste. The diet plan is tailored to your Shih Tzu using a health profile to avoid digestive problems or allergens. Most importantly, you will see health improvements, increased energy, and shinier fur within weeks of switching.


6. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Dog Food — Best Premium Food For Shih Tzu

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Brewers Rice, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Chicken By-Product Meal, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Oat Groats

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,905 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 22%, Fat (min.) 18%, Fiber (max.)  4.3%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Royal Canin is the only mainstream manufacturer currently designing a diet specifically for Shih Tzus. They realize the health concerns inherent in this breed, including heart and kidney diseases, and have crafted a formula to help this breed combat them.

This adult Shih Tzu food is ideal for dogs above ten months of age and contains nutrients designed to nourish the skin. Adding Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids makes this formula a gem for any Shih Tzu that yearns for a soft, lush coat. Since Shih Tzus have a flat face, the kibble size and shape make it easier for them to chew and eat. This formula also reduces fecal volume, which cuts down on those late-night walks.


7. Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition Dog Food — Best Budget Food For Shih Tzu

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Ground Whole Grain Corn, 2. Poultry By-Product Meal, 3. Brewers Rice, 4. Corn Gluten Meal, 5. Soybean Meal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg):3,490 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 21%, Fat (min.) 11%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry

Even though this recipe contains by-product meals and gluten, they are safe for non-allergic dogs. The Pedigree small breed formula proves to be a wholesome diet with a fine blend of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. 

It also contains Omega-6 fatty acids, which help to improve your Shih Tzu’s coat. The crunchy texture helps improve oral hygiene.


8. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food — Best Weight Gain Food For Shih Tzu

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Potatoes, 5. Peas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,746 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 32% | Fat min. 16%, | Fiber max. 5.5% | Moisture max. 10%
  • Form: Dry

Wellness CORE is the go-to option if you like your Shih Tzu’s food to be full of high-quality protein. With 36% protein content, this is the most protein-packed dog food on the list.

This formula also contains salmon oil, a great source of Omega fatty acids. Additionally, the chondroitin and glucosamine in this dog food help to improve joint and bone health.


9. Eukanuba Fit Body Weight Dog Food — Best Weight Loss Food For Shih Tzu

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken By-Product Meal, 3. Wheat, 4. Corn, 5. Barley

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,519 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 29%, Fat (min.) 10%, Fiber (max.)  3.9%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

If your Shih Tzu is putting on some pounds, you may need to switch to a small-breed weight-control formula. Fortunately, this dry dog food by Eukanuba is as good as they come.

It contains 40% less fat compared to their regular adult formula. Also, the L-carnitine in this dog food helps utilize excess fat and converts it into useable energy.


10. Hill’s Science Diet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Small Breed Dog Food — Best Food For Shih Tzu With Sensitive Stomach

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Yellow Peas, 5. Cracked Pearled Barley

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per cup): 392 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 21%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.)  4%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

It’s not uncommon for Shih Tzus to have a sensitive stomach. But this formula uses chicken meal and barley, which are suitable for trouble-free, healthy digestion. Also, this formula emphasizes the coat health of small dogs. Hill’s Science Diet is one of the biggest names in dog food due to the quality of its ingredients. All ingredients in this product are a product of the United States.

Prebiotics are a feature of this food for high digestibility. It contains Omega-6 fatty acids, a lifesaver for dogs with skin and coat allergies, and includes vitamins C and E. It has no artificial flavors or colors, making this food a suitable choice for your Shih Tzu.


11. Natural Balance L.I.D. Small Breed Bites Grain-Free Dog Food — Best Food For Allergic Shih Tzu

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Duck, 2. Duck Meal, 3. Potatoes, 4. Cassava Flour, 5. Sweet Potatoes

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,431 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 24% | Fat min. 10%, | Fiber max. 4% | Moisture max. 10%
  • Form: Dry

Natural Balance is a fan favorite of owners with sensitive or allergic pups. Luckily, they’ve also made a Small Breed Duck & Potato Formula for toy dogs like the Shih Tzu. As the name suggests, the recipe is a limited ingredient diet that contains duck meat, sweet potatoes, and sunflower oil, among essential micronutrients. 

All of the above ingredients are non-allergenic, easy to digest, and packed with flavor. No peas, lentils, beef, grains, or fillers are used in the recipe as they’re known to trigger digestive upset and skin rashes in dogs. The kibbles are also reduced in size to make for easier chewing and improved dental health. 


12. Solid Gold Mighty Mini Gut Health Small & Toy Breed Dog Food — Best Tasting Food For Picky Shih Tzu

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Chickpeas, 4. Peas, 5. Chicken Fat 

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,825 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 30% | Fat min. 18%, | Fiber max. 4% | Moisture max. 10%
  • Form: Dry

There’s nothing that tastes better than raw, natural ingredients. And Solid Gold Mighty Mini is full of them, which is why small dogs drool over it. Some featured ingredients include chicken meat, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, flaxseed, salmon oil, and a range of other fruits and vegetables. 

This grain-free single-protein formula is easy on the stomach of Shih Tzu with chronic digestive issues or allergies. Probiotics in the recipe further boost digestion by promoting gut bacteria. Most owners have positively reviewed the food, claiming that their picky eaters gobbled up the food on the first test.


13. Purina Pro Plan Adult Toy Breed Chicken & Rice Dog Food — Best Food For Active Shih Tzu

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Rice, 3. Corn Gluten Meal, 4. Whole Grain Corn, 5. Poultry By-product Meal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Extra Small & Toy, Small breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 4,162 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 30% | Fat min. 17%, | Fiber max. 3% | Moisture max. 12%
  • Form: Dry

Shih Tzus are naturally active dogs. But for those that are extra-athletic and burn off tons of calories, an equally nourishing dog food like Purina Pro Plan would be appropriate. This recipe is specially designed for toy breeds, featuring loads of protein and a reduced kibble size to compensate for their tiny jaws.

Real chicken and rice are the primary sources of calories in the food because of their easy digestibility and good reputation with allergic dogs. The recipe contains live probiotics for enhanced digestive health, calcium, and essential minerals for bone strength and joint health. And let’s not forget the incredible taste that will excite your dog!

Related Guide:


The Best Dog Foods For Shih Tzus: Frequently Asked Questions

Before we go any further, I’m sure you have a lot of questions. We’ve tried to think of as many as we can and answered them here.

What is the best dog food for a Shih Tzu with allergies?

Skin allergies are not uncommon with Shih Tzus, and while there is no particular dog food that’s effective for all of them, there are ingredients to look for. Look for Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, when you have a dog with skin allergies.

What foods are bad for Shih Tzu?

Some foods that are bad for Shih Tzus include:

  • Grapes
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Fruit seeds
  • Onions
  • Nuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Cow’s milk
  • Garlic

What vegetables are good for Shih Tzu?

Vegetables are great sources of fiber that are good for a dog’s digestion. Some vegetables that you should include in your Shih Tzu’s diet are:

  • Peas
  • Sweet potato
  • Green beans
  • Raspberry
  • Baby carrots
  • Zucchini slices
  • Bell peppers

What human foods can Shih Tzu eat?

Most human foods are dangerous for dogs of all breeds. However, the following human foods are safe for Shih Tzus:

  • Chicken
  • Peanut butter (without xylitol)
  • Salmon (provides Omega fatty acids which are great for coat health)
  • Green beans (source of fiber)
  • Carrots (perfect treats)

Is chicken bad for Shih Tzu?

Not at all! Chicken is a great natural source of proteins which can be invaluable for your Shih Tzu. However, if your pooch does run into digestive or other health issues by eating chicken, consider paying a visit to the vet.

Are eggs good for Shih Tzus?

It is best to avoid feeding raw eggs to your Shih Tzu. Raw eggs are optimum sites for bacterial growth, and feeding them to your dog can lead to some serious health problems. Cooked eggs,  however, are an excellent source of protein, and most dogs find them delicious.

Can a Shih Tzu eat bananas?

Technically, dogs shouldn’t have a problem eating bananas as long as you give them in moderation. Always consider bananas as a treat and not a regular part of your dog’s diet as these fruits are quite sugary and can upset the tummy.

Is cucumber good for Shih Tzus?

Sure they can! Cucumber is harmless for dogs as it contains mostly water. It’s best to cut the cucumber in small slices before feeding it to your pooch.

Is cheese OK for Shih Tzus?

Yes, Shih Tzus can have all types of cheese, provided they aren’t lactose intolerant. However, it’s important to remember that cheese is a fatty food which you should only feed in moderation.

Can Shih Tzu eat tuna?

Although many many are concerned with the level of mercury in Tuna fish, recent studies have revealed that it’s currently not a matter of concern for dogs and humans. With that in mind, you should limit the consumption of tuna for your dog.

Is sweet potato good for Shih Tzu?

You’ll find sweet potatoes on the ingredient lists of many dog foods. But when feeding sweet potato as a treat, it should be done in moderation.

Can Shih Tzu eat chocolate?

Chocolate is toxic to dogs and should not feed it to your dog under any circumstances. Chocolate contains theobromine and, in large enough amounts, can be fatal to your dog. Especially toy breeds like the Shih Tzu.

Does Shih Tzu eat rice?

It’s certainly safe to let your Shih Tzu have rice. Some of the best dog foods for Shih Tzu include rice in their major ingredients. That’s because rice is bland and readily converts into usable energy for the body. However, always consult your vet before making a major dietary change for your dog.

How many times should a Shih Tzu eat?

It depends on their age. Puppies are better off if you space their meals out to 3-4 times a day. After their first birthday, you can cut your adult Shih Tzu down to two meals a day.

Do Shih Tzus sleep a lot?

Shih Tzus do like to nap. An energetic puppy might sleep half the day away while seniors may sleep as much as 20 hours a day.

Why is my Shih Tzu not eating?

Shih Tzus are usually energetic as long as you encourage them to exercise. That means their diet is solid as well. So, if your Shih Tzu is not eating, it can be an indication of health problems and you should consult your veterinarian promptly.

Can I feed raw meat to a Shih Tzu?

You can, but it might not be the best choice. Many are strong advocates for feeding dogs a raw diet to ensure they are closer to nature. However, feeding a raw diet can be dangerous as raw meat can contain bacteria and viruses. Remember, your pooch is probably just a domestic dog — treat it like one!

How to stop a Shih Tzu from eating poop?

Shih Tzus can eat poop if their diet is not proper or if they’re stressed out. To stop them from doing so, make sure the Shih Tzu dog food you’re buying contains no fillers. Reassess the dietary intake of your dog and limit its access to poop.

Why won’t my Shih Tzu eat her dog food?

Shih Tzus can be picky eaters or simply ones that don’t eat all that much. But if the situation persists, it might lead to weight loss and weakness over time. So, make an appointment with your vet to discuss this issue.

Do Shih Tzu dogs have milk intolerance?

Not just Shih Tzus, but dogs of all breeds are commonly lactose intolerance. That’s because they lack the enzyme lactase for digesting milk. Even if your lactose-intolerant Shih Tzu loves milk, it’s probably best to avoid.

Best dog food for Shih Tzus with a sensitive stomach?

If your Shih Tzu has a sensitive stomach, then Hills Science Diet’s Sensitive Stomach and Skin recipe may work well for you. It contains a lower quantity of proteins (only 21%) and high fiber content for better digestion.

What to feed picky Shih Tzus?

If your Shih Tzu is a picky eater, you should try adding some of its favorite treats in its food. Make sure the addition is minimal, so you don’t end up feeding too many calories. You could also try different dog foods and see which one works best for your furball.

What to feed a 6-week-old Shih Tzu puppy?

At six weeks old, a Shih Tzu puppy can live independently without its mother. At this time, you should feed it a quality puppy food around four times daily until it’s ready for an adult formula at around 12 months of age.

Buyer’s Guide for Shih Tzu Dog Foods

Shih Tzus can be quite a tricky breed to feed. That’s because this breed can have a sensitive stomach and some allergies as well. That’s why choosing the best dog food for Shih Tzus requires some prior research. So, to help you with that, we’ve compiled a list of factors that one should look into when buying dog food for Shih Tzus.

Here they are:

Protein content

Proteins are arguably the first component that you should look into when buying dog food. The amount of protein required for a Shih Tzu depends on its age and level of activity. However, an adult Shih Tzu would need at least 22-25% protein in its diet.

The sweet spot?

Fat levels

Fat is an important ingredient. Ideally, there should be a minimum of 8-10% fat content in the recipe.

Consider Your dog’s allergies

As mentioned earlier, Shih Tzus are prone to having allergies and sensitivities digestion. So, if your doggie is one of the unfortunate allergic ones, make sure you read the ingredients of the dog food thoroughly before purchasing it. Many dogs are allergic to grains, so in that case, you should be looking for a grain-free option.

Easy digestion

For Shih Tzus, you’re looking for a dog food that’s easier on the stomach. If your dog suffers from indigestion and vomiting, look for something with lower protein levels. It’s also worth mentioning that a high fiber content allows for better digestion in Shih Tzus.

Vitamins

Like humans, Shih Tzus need their vitamins too. However, vitamins from synthetic sources can do more harm than good. The best dog foods for Shih Tzus contain natural sources of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K.

Kibble size

Don’t make the mistake of feeding a large-sized kibble to your Shih Tzu. Remember that these dogs are flat-faced, making it harder for them to eat large kibble. The answer to this problem is simple: buy kibble that is small in size. Feeding larger pieces can not only lead to cuts in the mouth and indigestion but can also cause your little buddy to choke.

Supplements

We’ve covered proteins, fats, and fiber, but what about supplements?

Shih Tzus are specifically prone to skin allergies, which can cause rashes on the coat, leaving a rough texture. But with dog food that contain supplements like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, your dog’s allergies can be curbed. Several other supplements can also benefit Shih Tzus including chondroitin and glucosamine, for bone health and antioxidants for a healthy nervous system.

Ingredients to avoid

Not every ingredient in dog foods is safe for every pooch to consume.  Shih Tzus with sensitive stomachs should avoid all types of fillers and artificial colors, flavors, and ingredients which can lead to allergic reactions and indigestion.

Wet or dry?

Ah, the age-old debate!

Both wet and dry foods have their pros and cons. However, that doesn’t mean that one is better than the other.

With that said, wet dog foods are much more palatable for dogs. However, they don’t provide the oral hygiene component that dry dog food does. Also, wet dog food contains a lot more water and fewer calories as compared to dry options.

Pro tip: Feel free to top your dog’s dry food with a bit of the wet stuff to make it more flavorful,  especially useful for picky Shih Tzus.


Conclusion

In this article, we discovered some of the best dog foods for Shih Tzus. If you have one, then make sure you’re aware of its allergies and sensitivities, if any. It can save a ton of money for you and lots of pain for your dog.

Reference and resources:

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