Whether you’ve just put a deposit down for a new Shih Tzu puppy or are looking to switch your older dog onto a different food, this is one breed that can benefit from breed-specific dog food. Shih Tzus can have heart and dental issues, and they need specialized nutrition to keep their long and flowing coats in the best condition possible.
But we know that when looking at all the food options, it can be a bit of a challenge trying to figure out exactly which food will suit your Shih Tzu dog the best. Do you choose grain-free, high protein, limited-ingredient, or a multi-purpose blend that suits all your dogs, not just the small breeds?
To help you make your decision, we’ve reviewed the top nine dog foods for Shih Tzus. We took a close look at the ingredients used in each brand, as well as the shape of the kibble and whether the food was designed to suit a specific life stage or type of dog. We hope this will help you make your decision and find the perfect new food for your Shih Tzu.
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The 9 Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzus
1. The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food Subscription — Best Overall
For Shih Tzus and other small dogs with sensitive stomachs, dry or itchy skin, or other signs of food sensitivities and allergies, The Farmer’s Dog fresh food is invaluable. A fresh dog food diet is the best way to support your Shih Tzus overall health. The Farmer’s Dog recipes are pre-portioned and specialized to your Shih Tzu, and the ingredients are sourced from small farms, so you can trust that it is real food.
The Farmer’s Dog fresh food contains omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and improve arthritis for your Shih Tzu. The specialized portions will also help you avoid overfeeding your furry friend, reducing the likelihood of your Shih Tzu becoming overweight and developing diseases like diabetes or even cancer.
Not only is the food packed in USDA-approved kitchens, but the food doesn’t use feed-grade ingredients. The Farmer’s Dog food simply includes meat proteins, fresh produce, and essential vitamins and minerals. Providing your dog with a diet of fresh dog food from The Farmer’s Dog contributes to your Shih Tzu’s overall health.
The Farmer’s Dog fresh food is the 1st best overall dog food for your canine companion.
2. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Dry Dog Food — Best Value
As the best dog food for Shi Tzu for the money, we recommend Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Dry Dog Food. The non-GMO ingredients in this dry kibble include farm-raised chicken, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. The formula is also enriched with both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help support a healthy coat and skin.
While it contains plenty of wholesome ingredients, what this kibble doesn’t contain is any meat by-products, soy protein, corn, wheat, or artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. So, you can feel confident that you’re feeding your pup tailored nutrition while avoiding ingredients that won’t do your pup any good. While we think this food is a great budget choice, it just missed out on our top spot because it’s designed for small breeds in general, not just Shih Tzus.
3. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dry Dog Food — Best for Puppies
If you’ve just brought home your gorgeous new Shi Tzu puppy, one of the first things you’ll want to get right is what to feed them. Royal Canin has again come up with a winning formulation. The Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dry Dog Food is a perfect choice. This feed is high in protein, which will help your pup build the lean muscle THAT they need to stay fit and healthy. It also contains antioxidants designed to support your pup’s immune system as they settle into their new home and start exploring the world.
It also contains vitamin A, DHA, and EPA, which will help support your pup’s skin so you can be proud of its luxurious Shih Tzu coat. When your pup is around 10 months of age, you can switch them to one of the brands that we recommend for adult Shih Tzus.
4. CANIDAE All Life Stages Multi-Protein Formula Dry Dog Food
If you have multiple Shih Tus or are looking for a larger bag of food that offers great value for money, then the CANIDAE All-Life Stages Multi-Protein Dry Dog Food is a great choice. This feed is designed for all breeds, sizes, and ages, which is perfect if you have Shih Tzus and larger breeds. This feed contains a blend of chicken, turkey, and lamb, although these are sourced from meat meals rather than real meat.
This formula was created by veterinarians, so you can be sure that it includes everything your Shih Tzu needs to thrive. If your pup has allergies, this is also free from ingredients that can commonly trigger allergies, such as soy, wheat, and corn. With a high percentage of protein, a small amount of food will be all your puppy or adult dog needs to thrive. This makes it an economical option too!
5. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Dry Dog Food
Another great choice for your Shih Tzu is the Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Dry Dog Food. While many dog food formulas are designed for small breeds in general, this one by Royal Canin is specifically created for Shih Tzus over 10 months old. This kibble contains a blend of nutrients designed to keep your pup in the best of health.
Shih Tzus have small jaws and can be prone to dental issues. The shape of this kibble is designed specifically to be as easy as possible for your pup to eat. While this kibble is expensive, we still place it in our top five as the only dog food to be specifically designed for your precious Shih Tzu.
6. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Loaf in Sauce Canned Dog Food
If your Shih Tzu prefers wet food or you want to feed a combination of wet and dry food, then the Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Loaf in Sauce Canned Dog Food is a good choice. From the same range as our best overall choice, this breed-specific canned dog food is designed to provide all the breed-specific nutrients that your Shih Tzu needs to thrive.
Some Shih Tzus can be a little fussy about their food, but this loaf is extremely palatable and should tempt even the pickiest of dogs. As well as tasting great, this wet food is packed with ingredients designed to support cardiac, skin, and coat health.
7. Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Some Shih Tzu dogs thrive on a grain-free diet, so if that sounds like your pup, the Rachael Ray Nutrisy Zero Grain Dry Dog Food is an excellent choice. The first ingredient is real farm-raised turkey, which is supplemented with a range of fruits and vegetables and all the minerals and vitamins your dog needs to stay healthy.
While this is an excellent grain-free choice, bear in mind that it’s not formulated specifically for Shih Tzus or even small breeds. That means the kibble is a larger size, and that can cause problems for some Shih Tzus, as they might find it difficult to eat.
8. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food
The Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food is rich in protein and healthy ingredients, and it doesn’t contain any fillers or grains. It’s specifically formulated to provide everything that a small breed dog needs to stay fit and healthy. The first ingredient is real turkey, and there’s also contains pre- and pro-biotics to maintain a healthy digestive system.
It is high in protein and fat, which is great for active dogs but can quickly cause your pup to pile on the pounds if they’re less active than average. So, you may need to adjust their rations accordingly. This also contains peas, which can trigger allergies in some dogs.
9. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Dry Dog Food
Our final pick is the Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Dry Dog Food. The small kibble size is perfect for toy breeds like the Shih Tzu. Real turkey is the first ingredient in this kibble, always a good sign! This contains a large amount of protein, at 27%, which is good for dry kibble.
This kibble isn’t suitable for puppies, so don’t feed it until your Shih Tzu is over 10 months old. The high-fat content will suit some dogs, but for older or less active Shih Tzus, you’ll need to be careful that it doesn’t cause them to gain weight. If your Shih Tzu is particularly fussy, they may not like the taste of this kibble, as some users have reported that their dog turned their nose up at it.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus
Choosing the right food for our dogs is one of the most important decisions that we can make as pet parent. As a breed, Shih Tzus can suffer from several different health conditions that can affect their digestive system, so choosing a suitable food is even more important for these little dogs.
The tiny size of a Shih Tzu’s jaw can make them prone to dental issues from crowded teeth. They will also struggle to pick up larger-sized kibble that hasn’t been specifically designed for a small breed. Keeping an eye on your pup’s teeth, cleaning them regularly, and selecting a small-sized kibble will all help your Shih Tzu feel their best.
These sensitive little pups can be prone to allergies and food intolerances. That means choosing a food brand that doesn’t use common allergens is a sensible idea. Wheat and soy are often the culprits of food allergies in dogs, so avoiding these is a good place to start. Beef isn’t as digestible a meat protein as turkey, chicken, or lamb, so you may also want to avoid that. Peas can also trigger food allergies in some dogs, so if you suspect that that might be the cause of your pup’s allergies, then plenty of the brands are free from pea protein.
You might also want to avoid feeds that use meat by-products. These are organs and other parts of the animal that wouldn’t be used in human-grade food — essentially, the “scraps.” While these can make up a percentage of the ingredients of budget brands, not all owners like the idea of feeding them to their dogs. Knowledge is power, so if you’re happy feeding these to your dog, it’s not a problem at all. But if you’re not, make sure you check the label, as even some premium brands can contain a percentage of meat by-products.
Choosing dog food to suit the particular life stage of your Shih Tzu is also a good idea to make sure they receive the nutrition that’s tailored to their specific age. Puppy food contains a higher level of protein and fat that is designed to help support your puppy as they grow and mature. After they reach 10 months, you can switch them to a food that’s formulated for adult dogs.
The long and thick coat of a Shih Tzu needs extra care and attention in terms of grooming, but you can also support your pup’s skin and coat by choosing a feed that’s high in fatty acids. These will encourage healthy growth to make sure your dog’s coat is shiny and strong.
After reviewing the top eight dog foods for the Shih Tzu breed, we found the best choice overall to be The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food. With recipes customized specifically to your dog’s needs, and high-quality ingredients mean you can be confident your pup is getting tailored nutrition that will help them feel and look their best.
As a budget option, we suggest the Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Dry Dog Food. Containing a blend of wholesome, non-GMO ingredients, this feed is also supplemented by plenty of beneficial fatty acids to help that long and lustrous Shih Tzu coat shine from the inside out.
In this list, we made sure there’s something to suit all Shih Tzu dogs, whether they’re puppies or older dogs or if they prefer wet canned food or dry kibble. Making sure you choose a diet that’s correctly formulated for these sensitive little dogs will help them stay feeling and looking their best. As devoted dog parents, that’s all we can ever ask for!
Featured Image Credit: NcikName, Shutterstock