Best Dog Food for Shih Tzu - Comparison and Reviews

Becky - author

Author: Becky Roberts
Last Updated: November 2019​

Category: Best Dog Foods

shih tzu sleepingShih Tzus are some of the most affectionate and showy dog breeds out there. They live to be pampered and played with. Unfortunately, they can also be one of the most delicate and fussy breeds. Their nutritional needs, therefore, need to be on-point and carefully monitored.

If you’re a Shih Tzu owner, taking care of one is already hard enough. So, we wanted to make things easier for you. We’ve run through some of the best dog food out there for your showy little one.

Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzu 2019 - Reviews

1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection for Small Adult Breeds

Blue Buffalo Life Protection dog food is an all-natural, dry dog food from one of America’s most reputable brands. The great thing about this dog food is the quality of the protein. All of Blue Buffalo’s product lines use named protein sources. They only feature real meat and not meat “meals” or fillers.

The Small Breed line is also limited to a single protein and starch source. For breeds with sensitive stomachs, this is especially beneficial. It helps avoid food allergies that are so rampant with Shih Tzus.

The formulation of Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection line, in particular, makes it ideal for the health of Shih Tzus. First, it includes a healthy dose of Omega Fatty Acids, which contributes to your Shih Tzu’s healthy coat.

Next, it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals thanks to Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection technology. For long life breeds like a Shih Tzu, this is great for lengthening their lifespan. In particular, it also contains glucosamine, which helps promote your dog’s bone and joint health.

All in all, Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection dog food is a superb choice for a Shih Tzu. Our little one particularly enjoyed it. You might hear of some dogs not liking this one, but honestly, that’s few and far in between.

 

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Dog Food – Natural Dry Dog Food for Adult Dogs – Chicken and Brown Rice – 15 lb. Bag

Pros

  • Uses named meat as the first ingredient, so you’re assured of a quality protein source.
  • Life Protection bits give a boost of vitamins and minerals for your Shih Tzu’s health
  • Limited ingredients to help fight food allergies

Cons

  • The taste might not be liked by some dogs

2. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food for Sensitive Stomachs

Hill’s Science Diet Dry Dog Food is the perfect dog food for pups with sensitive stomachs. Which, coincidentally, is what most Shih Tzus are!

Hill’s Science is mainly known for providing food that’s precisely formulated for specific health issues. Fortunately, they deliver once again with a superb product that helps with digestive problems.

First, it contains an optimal balance of prebiotic fiber and nutrients to help promote your dog’s digestive health. This primes your dog to digest their food better and faster for more efficient nutrient absorption.

Next, the ingredients featured in this dog food are easily digestible. They’re also all-natural, so it’s both healthy and not taxing to digest for your little one. Apart from providing digestive health, this dog food will also do wonders for your Shih Tzu’s coat health. This is thanks in part to the Omega Fatty Acids in the formulation.

In our own experience (and that of our other dog owner friends), this dog food really is the deal. It also helped that our Shih Tzu really liked nibbling on it, and we saw no side effects with it.

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult, Small & Mini, Sensitive Stomach & Skin, Chicken Recipe, 15 LB Bag

Pros

  • Has the optimal nutritional balance to help your Shih Tzu digest
  • Helps promote the health and sheen of your dog’s coat
  • Made with only named and natural ingredients, so you’re sure of your dog’s digestive health

Cons

  • Chicken might cause allergies in some dogs

3. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition for Shih Tzu Adult

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition is made to be breed-specific. It’s produced by one of the most renowned names in dog food. What we like about this dog food is that it’s a no-brainer. There’s no second-guessing, no trial and error. If you own a Shih Tzu, then this dog food will suit them quite well.

The components in this dog food are well thought out to be 100% compatible with the exact needs of a Shih Tzu. Physically, let’s start with the kibble themselves. The shape is made to accommodate the short muzzle and underbite of a Shih Tzu. This makes it easier for them to eat it.

What makes a Shih Tzu a great show breed? A lot will argue that it’s their long, beautiful coat. Good news, this dog food is excellent for maintaining that. It contains a mix of Omega fatty acids and biotin that help nurture a Shih Tzu’s majestic fur.

It also includes vitamins and nutrients like EPA, which all contribute to excellent skin health and helps avoid itchiness from drying out.

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Breed Specific Dry Dog Food, 10 lb. bag

Pros

  • Nutritionally compatible with you Shih Tzu, so you’re assured of peace of mind
  • The kibble shape is specifically designed to make it easier for a Shih Tzu to consume
  • Great for promoting and improving a Shih Tzu’s beautiful coat

Cons

  • Doesn’t use a named protein source
  • Meat is not the first ingredient

4. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Puppy Food

If you’re looking for all-natural food, then Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Puppy Food just might be what the doctor ordered.

Right off the bat, this dog food boasts of only all-natural ingredients. Reading through the ingredient list, you’ll actually be surprised that you’re looking at the components of dog food.

It includes ingredients one would find in human food from a health food store. It starts off with chicken, which is where the bulk of the protein and fat content comes from. It then uses oatmeal and barley, which are rich in fiber and is a better carb source than rice or potatoes.

For your Shih Tzu’s coat health, you have flaxseed oil. Not only does it promote skin health, but it also aids in digestion. This is thanks in part to its substantial fiber content.

As a final touch, this formulation is also rich in antioxidants, delivered via two nutritional powerhouses: spinach and blueberries. Berries, in particular, are also rich in vitamins and minerals. Spinach, on the other hand, is abundant in magnesium and beta-carotene.

What this ultimately means is that your dog will get immunity-boosting vitamins, optimal digestive health, and a beautiful coat — all with ingredients that you won’t feel guilty feeding your little one.

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Puppy Food, Chicken, Salmon & Oatmeal, 5-Pound Bag

Pros

  • Uses only natural ingredients with named meats
  • Includes a natural source of antioxidants in the form of blueberries and spinach
  • Only high-quality grains (oatmeal) is used
  • Nutritionally balanced dog food that caters to all aspect of a dog’s health

Cons

  • Some owners reported gassiness and diarrhea after using this dog food
  • Does contain grains

5. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition for Shih Tzu Puppy

We’ve reviewed the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition dog food already, but this time, we’re looking at the version that’s explicitly catered for developing puppies. Royal Canin knows that Shih Tzu puppies have exceptional nutritional needs. It’s 100% tailor-made not just for a Shih Tzu, but also for puppies as well.

What’s different in this puppy version is that it puts emphasis on the immune system. This is ideal for Shih Tzu puppies since their still developing immunity makes them especially susceptible and fragile.

Like the adult version, this puppy food has specially shaped kibble that takes into account the underbite of a Shih Tzu, but this is particularly useful for puppies, which need all the help they can get.

All in all, you still get all the benefits of the adult version dog food, including the omega fatty acids that promote skin and fur health.

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Breed Specific Dry Dog Food, 2.5 lb. bag

Pros

  • Protects a puppy’s delicate immune system
  • Small, specially design kibble made to help puppy Shih Tzus eat better
  • Promotes a puppy’s digestive health, and reduce the amount of bad-smelling stools
  • Ideal for Shih Tzu puppies from 8 weeks up to 10 months old

Cons

  • Not made with natural ingredients
  • Uses meat meal and by-products

How to Choose the Best Dog Food for a Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus benefit from a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. In addition, the meat should be from a quality source, preferably a named animal. All-natural ingredients from reputable dog food companies are ideal.

shih tzu porch

What Things to Consider When Buying Food for Shih Tzu

Nutritional Needs of Shih Tzu

Calories

The average adult Shih Tzu needs around 35 calories per pound of body weight. If he is particularly active (walking outdoors for 2-3 times a day), he may need more calories. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-45 calories.

It’s important to remember, though, that Shih Tzus are highly susceptible to obesity. You need to continually check his weight to see if he is being overfed. Then, gradually add or reduce the amount of food accordingly.

Proteins

A healthy adult Shih Tzu needs at least 18% of his diet to come from protein. These need to come from high-quality sources, preferably leaner sources. Significant examples include pure chicken and beef. Organ meats (such as liver, hearts, and kidneys) are also good options but use them sparingly as they contain higher amounts of saturated fat.

If your dog is not lactose intolerant, you can also feed them dairy sources like yogurt and cottage cheese. Eggs can also be used but shouldn’t be the dominant source because of their fat content.

Carbohydrates

Unlike humans, dogs like Shih Tzu can survive without many carbohydrates. In fact, eating too much of it can lead to a higher risk of obesity in this breed. Besides, the bulk of a dog’s diet should come from protein and fat sources.

That being said, carbs still do provide a good source of energy for dogs, especially active dogs. If you plan to include some, get it from non-grain sources such as potatoes and vegetables instead.

Vitamins and Minerals

Shih Tzus are dogs with a particularly long lifespan. While this is good, it does present some health challenges. It makes them much more likely to contract complications such as diabetes and cancer.

To avoid this, make sure to include lots of vitamins and minerals in their diet. Food rich in antioxidants, like fruits and vegetables, should be considered to prolong their life.

Fiber

Just like in humans, fiber is an essential component of a healthy digestive tract for a Shih Tzu. A dog’s high protein needs a little bit of fiber to counteract it and can be derived from vegetables and fruits.

Be careful not to overdo it, though. Excess dietary fiber can lead to gassiness.

Related: Best Dog Food for Small Dogs

Life Stage of Shih Tzu Dog
Puppy

The first 12 months of a Shih Tzus life is marked by rapid growth and a large intake of food. This is especially important for puppies under three months, because they are at higher risk of hypoglycemia, a dangerous drop in blood sugar.

Hence, puppies are usually free feed during this stage. This is where food is available to them at all times and topped up as necessary.

Related: Best Puppy Food

Adult

As Shih Tzus reach adulthood, their nutritional needs shift. Here, their calorie intake should be carefully monitored. Unlike larger breeds, Shih Tzus benefit from smaller, frequent meals throughout the day.

Senior

As Shih Tzus reach senior age (past the 8-year mark), their daily calorie needs begin to decline. This is in line with their reduced activity levels. In general, older Shih Tzus need around 33 calories or less per pound of body weight.

However, be especially careful that their reduced food intake is due to age, and not because of a more severe health issue.

Related: Best Senior Dog Food

Shih Tzu Health Conditions and Special Dietary Needs

Bone and Joint Health

Shih Tzus, despite their energy levels, can be delicate breeds. They are especially prone to bone and joint problems later in life. In particular, most suffer from spine disc problems and hip dysplasia.

It’s, therefore, crucial to control your Shih Tzu’s weight so as not to put unnecessary pressure on his bones. Do portion control to prevent him from becoming obese. You should also include more copious amounts of protein and glucosamine to promote muscle and bone health.

Healthy Skin and Coat

Shih Tzus need a healthy dose of Omega Fatty Acids to maintain their skin and coat. Not giving them enough of this nutrient can lead to excessive itching from dry skin. In some cases, itching might also be due to a food allergy.

Digestive Health

Shih Tzus can also have the occasional case of an upset stomach. However, such occurrences are risky. Since they are a smaller breed, they are much more at risk of rapid weight loss and dehydration than bigger breeds.

When this happens, determine what caused this in the first place. This is often due to food allergies. Try to switch him to a bland or a limited ingredient diet to determine the cause of the problem.

Also, be sure your Shih Tzu stays hydrated with plenty of water.

Food Allergies

Shih Tzus are one of those breeds that are highly prone to allergies, especially food allergies. If you notice that your dog has constant loose stools, consider replacing his diet with a grain-free one. Going for a limited ingredient dog food can help you pinpoint the exact cause of this.

For skin allergies, you need to add a bit more Omega-3 Fatty Acids to his diet. This healthy fat is essential for skin health and can reduce inflammation and itching arising from these bouts of allergies.

Weight Management

As a breed, Shih Tzus are more at risk of becoming overweight as they age. This can lead to a host of complications, such as bone disease and heart problems.

You need to be more proactive in controlling your Shih Tzu’s caloric intake. Regularly monitor his weight and adjust serving portions as required. You might also need to cut back on the carbs, which is the #1 culprit in weight gain among Shih Tzus.

Related: Best Dog Food for Weight Loss

FAQs

How much to feed a Shih Tzu puppy?

Since they are in a rapid growth stage, Shih Tzu puppies need more calories than adults. A rule of thumb is to start with 55 calories per pound of body weight.

An average healthy Shih Tzu puppy would fall in the 5- to 6-pound range, or roughly 280 to 335 calories. Aim for about a maximum of 1 cup of dog food daily, adjusting as needed. Shih Tzu puppies are extra energetic, so you need to take this into account as well.

How much to feed an adult Shih Tzu dog?

As a general guideline, adult Shih Tzu dogs need to consume around 35 calories per pound of body weight. As most adult Shih Tzus weigh on average of 10 pounds, this translates to 350 calories per day. Or roughly around 1 to 1.5 cup of dog food a day.

Of course, this figure varies wildly. You need to take into account how active your dog is since Shih Tzus tend to be active. Also, be warned that Shih Tzus are prone to obesity. A restrained diet works best for them.

When should a Shih Tzu switch from puppy food to dog food?

Once your Shih Tzu goes past the one-year mark, it’s time to consider a switch. At this point, their growth spurts start to reduce, and their caloric needs lower. A dog food designed for the exact nutritional needs of an adult Shih Tzu should be considered.

Take note, though, that each Shih Tzu is different. It is best is to observe his eating patterns. If he starts to ignore or nitpick his food than usual, then it might be a sign that he needs adult dog food.

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