Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

8 Best Puppy Foods for Shih Tzus in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

shih tzu puppy

Shih Tzus are great little dogs — they’re loyal and loving, and they have fierce personalities that bely their diminutive size.

However, feeding them isn’t easy, especially when they’re puppies, as they don’t respond well to just any food you decide to plop down in front of them. When you factor in the fact that many dog food companies make it nearly impossible to tell whether their food is truly healthy or not, it can be easy to buy your pup something that won’t truly nourish them.

Luckily, we’ve taken the time to examine some of the top puppy foods on the market. In the reviews below, we’ll show you which ones are best for Shih Tzus, and which ones are pieces of…garbage.

Divider 5

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Royal Canin Royal Canin
  • High amount of protein and fat
  • Beet pulp for fiber
  • Filled with omega fatty acids
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Rachael Ray Nutrish Rachael Ray Nutrish
  • Real chicken is first ingredient
  • Dogs enjoy taste
  • Good value for the price
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Ollie Fresh Dog Food Subscription Service Ollie Fresh Dog Food Subscription Service
  • Subscription-based plan can be updated anytime
  • Kibble and fresh food options
  • Multiple proteins available
  • Blue Buffalo Blue Buffalo
  • Filled with chicken
  • Lots of garden vegetables
  • No corn or wheat
  • Merrick Lil' Plates Merrick Lil' Plates
  • Grain- and gluten-free
  • Filled with pro- and prebiotics
  • Wide variety of nutrients
  • The 8 Best Puppy Foods for Shih Tzus

    1. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dry Dog Food – Best Overall

    Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition

    Many food companies make the same kibble and just slap different labels on it to convince you it was “specially made” for your breed of pup, but Royal Canin Shih Tzu clearly takes the needs of these small dogs into consideration.

    Even the shape of the kibble shows that it was clearly made for these pups. It’s designed to accommodate their short nuzzle and underbite, and each tiny piece is curved into a little “L” shape to make it easy for them to chew.

    A great emphasis was placed on ingredients that are important for a shiny coat as well, and you’ll find minerals like biotin and vitamin A inside for that very purpose. There’s also beet pulp for fiber and a lot of fish oil for omega fatty acids.

    There’s a decent amount of protein and a lot of fat in here, both of which should help keep your pup feeling full without causing her to pack on extra pounds.

    We do wish they’d do away with fillers like corn and wheat gluten, but nothing’s perfect (and those ingredients likely help keep the price down). Overall, though, it’s hard to find much to quibble with in each bag of Royal Canin Shih Tzu, which is why it earns our pick of the best puppy food for Shih Tzus.

    • Kibble is specially designed for Shih Tzus
    • Heavy emphasis placed on building a shiny coat
    • High amount of protein and fat
    • Beet pulp for fiber
    • Filled with omega fatty acids
    • Includes fillers like corn and wheat gluten

    2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food – Budget Buy

    Rachael Ray Nutrish

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy starts off with real chicken, and the ingredients (mostly) just get better from there.

    You’ll find “superfoods” like cranberries and flaxseed in here, and those earned that title by being chock-full of antioxidants. There are also various kinds of protein meal, each of which offers a different assortment of nutrients, so your puppy will have a well-balanced nutritional profile.

    Most dogs seem to love the taste, too, which isn’t surprising given how much meat is in it. There aren’t any artificial colors or preservatives, either, so you won’t have to worry about your pooch ingesting any strange chemicals.

    Despite all this, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a less expensive food, which is why we feel Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy is the best puppy food for Shih Tzus for the money.

    It’s not perfect, though. There’s a lot of corn inside and it has a high salt content as well, and we feel those two ingredients could be greatly reduced or eliminated without much fuss.

    Of course, two minor issues aren’t enough to ding this food too harshly, and it certainly earns its silver medal here.

    • Real chicken is first ingredient
    • Has superfoods like cranberries and flaxseed
    • Dogs enjoy taste
    • Good value for the price
    • No artificial colors or flavors
    • Includes corn
    • Lots of salt inside

    3. Ollie Fresh Dog Food Subscription – Premium Choice

    Ollie Fresh Turkey with Blueberries dog food

    Ollie is the premium food choice for feeding your Shih Tzu pup. This subscription-based food is available in fresh food and kibble options, and you can select a plan that will send your pup either option or both, based on their preferences. There are four protein options available through Ollie, including turkey and lamb, which tend to have a lower allergen potential than chicken and beef. When you sign up for Ollie, you’ll fill out a questionnaire about your puppy, and Ollie will make food recommendations based on this information.

    Since this is a subscription-based product, you can rest assured you’ll always have plenty of food on hand for your puppy, and you can update the shipping frequency and food amount if your puppy’s needs change. With your first order, you’ll receive a food scoop and storage container, allowing you to properly measure your dog’s food and ensure it stays fresh and safe.

    Ollie makes donations to animal shelters and rescue organizations, so you can feel good knowing that your purchases are helping to support these organizations. They offer customer service 7 days a week, so you’ll be able to get help with your Ollie orders, even on the weekend.

    • Subscription-based plan can be updated anytime
    • Kibble and fresh food options
    • Multiple proteins available
    • Food scoop and storage container are included with your first order
    • Donations are made to animal shelters and rescues
    • Customer service is available 7 days a week
    • Premium price

    4. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Wet Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo Blue Homestyle Recipe

    If you can afford it, feeding your puppy a wet food like Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe (or mixing it in with her kibble) will give your dog some nutritional support she can’t get from dry food.

    This particular wet food is filled with chicken: real chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, you name it. There also isn’t any corn or wheat, so you don’t have to worry about your pup getting fat on empty calories.

    Instead of corn and wheat, it uses veggies like corn, peas, sweet potatoes, and more. There’s also oatmeal to keep your dog regular and flaxseed for omega fatty acids.

    Most dogs wolf down wet food, too, so you shouldn’t have an issue convincing your pup to eat it. That’s good, because this stuff isn’t cheap, and having wasted cans would be a small financial tragedy.

    However, it’s generally not advised to feed puppies a diet of strictly wet food, as the mushy consistency doesn’t clean their teeth, which could lead to periodontal disease down the road. As a result, you’ll likely need to pair this stuff with an equally high-quality kibble (maybe one of the two ranked above?).

    Still, if you’re determined to pamper your little Shih Tzu, serving her Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe is a good start.

    • Filled with chicken
    • Lots of garden vegetables
    • No corn or wheat
    • Dogs tend to wolf it down
    • Very expensive
    • Doesn’t have consistency puppy teeth need

    5. Merrick Lil’ Plates Dry Puppy Food

    Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free

    Dogs with delicate tummies will appreciate Merrick Lil’ Plates, as it is both grain- and gluten-free. These are two of the most common food allergens, so omitting them from the recipe decreases the chances that you’ll end up with a mess on your hands (or lawn) down the road.

    You’ll find both pre- and probiotics inside, both of which should help keep your doggy’s digestive tract in fine working order. There’s a decent amount of fiber inside, too — about 4.5%.

    The food is also packed with nutrients, including omega fatty acids (from the salmon and flaxseed oils), antioxidants (thanks to the blueberries), and vitamin E (from the chicken fat).

    It’s pretty expensive, though, so all those nutrients come at a price. It doesn’t seem to be as flavorful as many other foods out there, either, which is why we docked it a spot or two.

    If you can convince your Shih Tzu pup to eat it, Merrick Lil’ Plates is one of the healthiest foods on the market today. It’s just hard to rank it in the top three when so many pups turn their noses up at it.

    • Fairly pricey
    • Many dogs don’t care for taste

    6. Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural Puppy Dog Food

    Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural

    Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural has bits of meaty morsels mixed in with the regular kibble, and those little treats are likely to keep your pup coming back for more.

    In addition to being good for finicky eaters’ palates, it’s also good for their immune systems, as it’s bolstered by an antioxidant blend that keeps their internal defenses in fine working order. There’s also DHA inside for vision and brain development.

    Chicken is the first ingredient, which is good, but unfortunately the manufacturers also packed it with cheap fillers. The next few ingredients are rice flour, soybean meal, and corn gluten meal, with whole grain wheat and corn not far behind. That makes it a poor choice for overweight dogs and those with sensitive digestive tracts.

    You’ll also find artificial flavors and colors inside, which is never a good thing.

    Purina ONE SmartBlend Natural is filled with lots of stuff that we like, but most of that is counterbalanced by the inclusion of ingredients that were better left out.

    • Has meaty morsels mixed in with kibble
    • Contains an antioxidant blend to boost immune systems
    • Filled with DHA for brain and eye development
    • Packed with cheap fillers
    • Not ideal for overweight or allergy-prone dogs
    • Contains artificial colors and flavors


    7. Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food

    Hill's Science Diet Wet Dog Food

    The first ingredient in Hill’s Science Diet is water, and that sets the tone for what comes next.

    Chicken is the next food listed, but after that you’ll find a variety of grains and meals that add little other than empty calories to the food.

    It does have pork liver and fish oil, both of which are filled with omega fatty acids and other important nutrients. Also, there are large meat chunks inside which your pooch should find quite appetizing.

    However, those meat chunks are fairly sizable, and they may be too hard for a Shih Tzu puppy to chew. There’s quite a bit of salt inside, too, and even though  they pack this stuff full of water, the food tends to be dry and crumbly.

    All of this is in addition to the inherent issues with feeding a wet food-only diet that we mentioned above, so expect to need to pair it with a kibble.

    Hill’s Science Diet has a few things going for it, but overall, it needs a pretty drastic overhaul to rise much higher on this list.

    • Has pork liver and fish oil for omega fatty acids
    • Filled with appetizing chunks of meat
    • Chunks may be too big for Shih Tzu puppies
    • High salt content
    • Food is dry and crumbly

    8. Cesar Gourmet Puppy Wet Dog Food

    Cesar Gourmet

    If you don’t want to overwhelm your pup with a massive amount of food, these little tins of Cesar Gourmet Wet Food may be perfect for you. However, the ingredients aren’t high-quality enough to warrant a strong recommendation.

    The ingredients list starts off strong, with chicken, chicken liver, and beef lung, all of which are high in protein and packed with important nutrients.

    However, the next food is beef by-products, which is basically code for “all of the parts of the cow we should have thrown away.” If you don’t know what’s in animal by-products, trust us when we say you don’t want to know — and you probably don’t want to feed them to your pet, either.

    There’s not a lot in here besides meat, either, so you’ll need to add some veggies (or, preferably, a dry kibble with a lot of veggies in it) to give your dog a well-balanced meal.

    The stuff stinks, too, so if your dog doesn’t eat a whole tin in one sitting, you’ll need to find an airtight container to store it in. You’ll likely want to immediately take the empty containers to the trash bin outside, too.

    Cesar Gourmet Wet Food looks good at first, and it wouldn’t take much tinkering to make this a great food. However, as presently constituted it’s a food that just barely makes this list.

    • Lots of meat inside
    • Includes low-quality animal by-products
    • Very little fruits or veggies
    • Has a strong odor

    Related Read: 10 Best Puppy Foods


    Royal Canin Shih Tzu is one of the few foods that’s specially made for a certain breed, and it shows in everything from the shape of the kibble to the nutritional profile of the food. It’s our clear pick for the best puppy food for a Shih Tzu.

    For a less expensive option, consider Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy. Despite its low price point, it’s full of incredibly nutritious foods, so your puppy should have all the vitamins and nutrients she needs.

    Finding a puppy food can be incredibly daunting, and it feels like you’ll harm your Shih Tzu for life if you don’t find the perfect kibble for her formative years. We hope these reviews have taken some of the stress out of the decision for you and helped you to make a decision that both you and your puppy can be happy with.

    Featured Image Credit: jaygeorge, Pixabay

    Related Articles

    Further Reading

    Vet Articles

    Latest Vet Answers

    The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database