Best Dog Food for Shih Tzu

The Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus + Our Informational Feeding Guide

There are hundreds of dog food brands, and finding the right one can be a little overwhelming, especially for your Shih Tzu. Shih Tzus tend to have sensitive stomachs, and feeding them properly can profoundly affect their health and appearance.

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Your Shih Tzu has specific nutritional requirements that require high-quality food and a predictable feeding schedule. Shih Tzus are loyal, affectionate, and outgoing dogs that can be a lot of fun to have around. They are good companion dogs and generally get along well with the whole family.

To keep your Shih Tzu in good spirits, it’s crucial that you feed your dog the right kind of food. Proper nutrition is essential for your dog to maintain their energy and alertness. After all, Shih Tzus can have a big attitude when it comes to meals, and finding the right food plays a large role in your pup’s well-being and health.

With this in mind, we’ve scoured the internet and researched various foods to compose this list of eleven dog foods that are ideal for your Shih Tzu. We’ve analyzed ingredients and gathered customer feedback. We’ve also provided some valuable information about this lovable breed to help you along the way.

8 Ingredients to Avoid When Feeding Your Shih Tzu

Generally, Shih Tzus have sensitive stomachs, but every dog is different and will have individual needs. That said, there are some things to avoid when feeding your Shih Tzu and others to be wary of, especially if your pup is having trouble. Keep in mind that the following are not necessarily bad, but they have caused problems in some dogs.


Soy is a common source of protein that comes from plants. It is sometimes used in dog food to raise the amount of protein it contains, mostly because it’s cheap. Unfortunately, some dogs don’t respond well to it, and some develop allergies that can have a negative effect on the health of your dog.

As a general guideline, dogs should be getting the majority of their protein from animal sources. Most high-quality dog food will use chicken or salmon as the primary source of protein. If a dog food supplements its protein levels with soy, it’s probably not the best food for your dog.


A lot of dogs across all breeds develop an intolerance to wheat. While wheat is a common source of carbohydrates for humans, dogs’ digestive system is not designed to handle it very well, especially Shih Tzus.

It’s best to avoid dog foods that contain wheat. Although carbohydrates are an essential part of your dog’s diet, they should be minimal and come from other sources besides wheat, such as rice or sweet potatoes.


Corn is another cheap carbohydrate that can upset the digestive system of many dogs. For Shih Tzus, it’s hard to digest, and it’s best to avoid it altogether.

Unfortunately, corn is very cheap, so it’s used in dog foods as a filler. In most cases, it’s worth paying a little extra for a dog food that gets its carbohydrates from a more easily digestible source.


The term ‘cereal’ is a tricky one and can be very misleading. When you see it in the ingredients list in dog food, you don’t really know what you’re getting. It’s a way for companies to avoid telling you what kinds of grains may be in the food. In some cases, these grains can vary from batch to batch, making the food you’re getting completely unreliable.

Many times, when the ingredients of dog food say ‘cereal,’ it’s a way to avoid listing corn, wheat, and soy. If your Shih Tzu is sensitive to any of these grains or suddenly has an adverse reaction to the food they’re eating, it may be because they have developed an allergy to specific challenging to digest grains.

Propylene Glycol

Dog foods containing preservatives and artificial colors often use propylene glycol to help keep the food fresh and preserve flavor. Unfortunately, propylene glycol can be bad for your pup. In some cases, there have been reports of hair loss and a dull coat because of this chemical, which is the last thing you want for your gorgeous Shih Tzu.

It’s best to look for a dog food that is free from artificial colors and preservatives. Propylene Glycol is a preservative used in antifreeze, and given that fact, most dog owners prefer to steer clear.


Beef is a funny one because it is a good source of animal protein and fat. However, some dogs develop an intolerance to it, and some studies have found it to be one of the most common allergies in dogs across the world.

For this reason, most top-quality dog foods use an alternate source of animal protein. Chicken, turkey, and lamb are all much easier for your dog to digest while still providing the protein and fat your Shih Tzu needs to thrive.

Meat Derivatives

Another term that you might see listed in the ingredients of certain dog foods is ‘derivatives.’ If a food says ‘chicken derivatives,’ it means that it contains parts of the chicken that might not sound very appealing, such as gut parts and may contain feathers, hair, and other animal parts.

While meat derivatives are not necessarily bad for your dog, as animal guts remain high in protein and contain essential minerals, some people prefer to avoid them altogether. The real problem with them is that meat derivatives are inconsistent as they are a way for a manufacturer to throw in whatever is cheap. With your Shih tzu, a consistent diet is vital.

Poultry By-Products

Poultry by-products is another ingredient that may make the dog food inconsistent. The by-products are often animal parts that are not commonly eaten by humans, including the heart, liver, intestines, and head. While including poultry by-products is not necessarily bad as they are high in nutrition, it’s better if the meat source is specified.

Poultry can mean a lot of different animals. It could include chicken, turkey, duck, or any other type of bird. Food should list the specific animal source for every ingredient so that you know exactly what you’re feeding your dog.

8 Dietary Considerations When Buying Food for Your Shih Tzu

Like any dog, Shih Tzus can have various sensitivities to some foods. Shih Tzus are small dogs with delicate digestive systems that require the right balance of nutrients. Because of this, it’s crucial that you not only provide the right kind of food for your dog but that you’re aware of other potential allergens and toxic foods that you may have around the house and may be tempted to give to your dog as treats.

When considering a dog food, the following are essential factors to keep in mind.

Fat Levels

Fat is vital for building muscle and long-term energy. Look for foods with a minimum of 8-10% fat content. Lower than that is not enough, and some dogs can benefits from as much as 22%, although if your Shih Tzu starts to gain too much weight, this may be too high for them.


Protein is perhaps the most important nutritional element to consider in dog food. Dogs of all breeds need plenty of protein to build muscle, feed the brain, and sustain energy. That said, protein should primarily be sourced from animals, as this is the type that they digest most readily.

The amount of protein Shih Tzus require depends on age and activity level. In general, an adult Shih Tzu will do best on at least 20-22% of its diet being protein. Highly active dogs and puppies may require even more.

Easily Digestible Ingredients

Like we mentioned above, Shih Tzus can have sensitive digestive systems and don’t do well with certain ingredients, particularly cheap carbohydrate sources like corn and wheat. They also don’t respond well to soy.

For this reason, it’s critical to look for a dog food that your Shih Tzu can digest. If your Shih Tzu suffers from indigestion or vomiting, it may be time to lower the food’s protein content. It may also help to get food with a high-fiber content that allows for better digestion.


If your dog has any known allergies, then it’s best to avoid them. However, if you’re unsure about what allergies your Shih Tzu may have, finding the right food can be a matter of trial and error. For instance, some Shih Tzus are allergic to grains, so will require a grain-free food.

That said, Shih Tzus are prone to sensitivities and allergies, so make sure you read the ingredients list carefully and know exactly what you’re feeding your pup. That way, if your dog starts to develop symptoms, you’ll be able to look at the ingredients and be better able to identify what may be causing the allergies and what should be avoided in the future.

Vitamins and Minerals

Just like us, your dog requires a mix of daily vitamins and minerals to maintain health and stamina. The best dog foods contain natural sources of vitamins, rather than added ones, including vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K.


While the best source of vitamins comes from natural sources, your Shih Tzu can still benefit from those added to their food. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help with certain allergies, particularly skin allergies that Shih Tzus are prone to that can leave your dog’s skin rashy and rough.

Your Shih Tzu can also benefit from supplements you add to their diet, either added to their food or given as separate treats. Glucosamine and chondroitin can help with bone health and an improved nervous system.

Kibble Size

If you’re feeding your Shih Tzu kibble food, it’s essential to remember that your dog is a small breed. What’s more, Shih Tzus have small mouths and narrow jaws compared to a lot of other breeds. Because of this, it’s best to consider the size of the kibble you’re feeding them.

Buy kibble that is small in size for your Shih Tzu. Large pieces can cut up your dog’s mouth and may even cause your dog to choke. It may also be harder for your dog to digest larger pieces.

Avoid Certain Ingredients

Every dog is different, and what may be okay for one may not be for another. Shih Tzus are particularly sensitive and prone to skin allergies that may be made worse by their food. So, it’s important to carefully read every ingredient to ensure you get what’s best for your pup.

In general, it’s best to avoid artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors. Artificial ingredients can lead to indigestion and allergic reactions.

Common Health Problems In Shih Tzus

Quickly, before we get into the dog food itself, there are a few health problems common to Shih Tzus that are good to be mindful of. In some cases, a well-balanced diet can help keep your dog in good health and avoid these issues. However, it’s always a good idea to see a veterinarian if your Shih Tzu is displaying signs of any of the following.

  • Over-crowded teeth. Shih Tzus have small mouths and can have problems with growing too many teeth. This issue not only causes discomfort for your dog but can lead to infections in the mouth that can become serious. Unfortunately, Shih Tzus have narrow jaws, and some teeth may need to be removed by a vet.
  • Allergies, and intolerance. Allergies are common in Shih Tzus. You may need to switch to a grain-free food or learn what ingredients are best avoided for your pup. Talk with your veterinarian about changing your dog’s diet and how best to go about it.
  • Eye injuries and infection. Shih Tzus have large eyes and flat faces. They also have short muzzles, making it easier for them to injure their eyes. Rough play with other dogs, particularly larger breeds, can lead to injury, so it’s best to be careful.
  • Inguinal and umbilical hernias. Hernias are common in Shih Tzus and may need to be taken care of. They show up as a bulge in the abdominal region and should be checked out by your veterinarian.

Best Overall Dog Food for Shih Tzus

With the above information in mind, it’s time to talk about the best dog foods we found for your Shih Tzu. We’ve done some serious research and looked at a number of different brands and styles. There are many different kinds of dog food on the market, and in some cases, we had to make decisions based on convenience and prices.

Nevertheless, we think you’ll find our list comprehensive, with options for all types of Shih Tzu owners, ages, and lifestyles. At the end of the day, your Shih Tzu is a unique individual with nutritional needs that you will have to assess to ensure they’re eating the best food for them.

Let’s start with our best overall pick.

Our Top Pick – Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • 80% more meat than in traditional dog food
  • Formulated specifically for small breeds
  • No grains or artificial additives

As for the best overall food, Wellness CORE Grain-Free Dry Dog Food came out on top. It came out best because it offers perfect balanced nutrition for your Shih Tzu while being free of potential allergens. It’s also a reasonable price and a dry dog that is convenient and easy to feed your pup.

Wellness CORE dog food is also fortified with omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat, which is always suitable for Shih Tzus. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin for bone and joint health.

This dog food is ideal for everyday feeding and nutrition for your Shih Tzu. It has small bites, a high protein content from meat, and is free of grains and other potentially harmful things. It’s perfect for your Shih Tzu because it offers complete nutrition at a reasonable price while avoiding the ingredients that Shih Tzus tend to be sensitive to.


  • 36% crude protein, 15% fat, 5% crude fiber
  • High-quality protein from meat sources
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin for joint and bone health
  • Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat


  • May be too high in calories for some dogs

10 More Top-Rated Dog Foods for Shih Tzus

While our top pick is certainly a good choice, there are a lot of options available for feeding your Shih Tzu. The following are our top 10. We put together this list to provide you with options, especially since every dog is different and every owner situation is too.

You may want to pay particular attention to the final four entries in this list. They’re all fresh food delivery services that provide an ideal diet for your pup. That said, while they’re convenient, they may be too expensive for some dog owners, especially if you need to feed several dogs.

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Dehydrated dog food
  • Contains many essential nutrients
  • High-quality and minimally processed

Another really great option for your Shih Tzu is The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food. It provides the perfect diet for an active, adult Shih Tzu, with high-quality ingredients that are minimally processed.

One of the major selling points of this food is that it’s dehydrated instead of kibble. You pour the food into a bowl and add water. The food absorbs the water and provides a hearty meal for your pup that is soft, easy to digest, and simple for small-mouthed Shih Tzus to chew. It’s the perfect middle-ground between expensive delivery services and kibble. It’s flavorful for your dog and still has the nutritional integrity of fresh food.

It also has protein from free-range chicken, carbohydrates from whole grain barley, and vitamins from garden vegetables. It’s higher in fat than many other dog foods, making it best for active Shih Tzus. However, because of this, it may not be the best choice for senior dogs. If you try this food and find that your Shih Tzu is gaining too much weight, it’s probably best to move on to something else.


  • Dehydrated food maintains its nutritional value
  • Soft and easily digestible for Shih Tzus
  • High-fat content is good for maintaining energy levels
  • Not as expensive as fresh food delivery services


  • May be too high in fat for senior dogs

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Puppy Turkey, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Formulated for small breed puppies
  • Sources protein from salmon and turkey
  • Sources carbohydrates from oatmeal and barley

If you have a new puppy at home, you’ll need to consider the additional nutrition your puppy needs for growth and muscle development. There are certain nutrients that your puppy needs in higher concentrations than adult dogs, and so puppy food is formulated to meet these needs.

Wellness Small Breed Puppy Food is a great choice because it’s rich in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. It also has plenty of vitamins and minerals to support healthy growth. On top of that, the kibble is very small, so your Shih Tzu should be able to handle it, even if they’re only a month or two old.

Another great thing about this food is that it offers a solid protein source from turkey and salmon, which both provide solid nutrition for your pup. Plus, the salmon has the omega fatty acids for skin and coat health. As for carbohydrates, those come easily digestible oats and barley.


  • High-quality meat-based protein from turkey and salmon
  • Provides complete nutrition for a growing puppy
  • Small bites for tiny-mouthed Shih Tzu puppies
  • Vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats to promote growth


  • Too fatty for adult dogs

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • High-quality protein sourced from chicken
  • Added vitamins and minerals

Blue Buffalo is a good choice for households with multiple dogs or simply as all-around good dog food. It provides high-quality protein sourced from meat, and vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Nutrition provided by Blue Buffalo is balanced for almost any breed, including Shih Tzus, although it’s best to get the small bite option.

This food contains what Blue Buffalo calls “life source bits” that are vitamin-fortified pieces providing a solid boost of nutrition for your dog. These added vitamins promote immune health and strong bones. They also contain glucosamine for joint health.

As for ingredients, Blue Buffalo uses natural chicken protein, animal fat, and carbohydrates sources from whole grain brown rice. To provide a balanced diet for your Shih Tzu, it’s worth checking out this dog food. It’s offered in a small bite formula for small breeds like your Shih Tzu.


  • Free from corn, wheat, and soy
  • High-quality protein sourced from animals
  • Contains chelated minerals, glucosamine, and vitamins


  • Not specifically formulated for Shih Tzus

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Specifically designed food for Shih Tzus
  • Good balance of protein, fat, and fiber

For a food specifically formulated for adult Shih Tzus, Royal Canin has you covered. One of the most important parts of caring for a Shih Tzu is taking care of their skin and coat. As far as that goes, this food contains fatty acids for a healthy and shiny coat, as well as vitamins and minerals for healthy skin and overall well being.

Another thing that this food does is reduce the odor of your dog’s poop. It does this with a combination of omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, and biotin. Together, these elements make your dog’s poop less smelly and even decrease its volume. Not bad for dog food!

This food also contains the ideal nutritional balance for adult Shih Tzus. It has proteins that are easy to digest, plenty of fat to keep your dog active, and the right amount of carbohydrates for energy.


  • 22% crude protein, 18% crude fat, 4.3% crude fiber
  • Formulated for purebred Shih Tzus (10 months and older)
  • Keeps your Shih Tzus coat healthy and shiny
  • Reduces unpleasant poop odor


  • Not formulated for puppies and senior dogs may need a different food

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Provides well-balanced nutrition for multiple breeds

American Journey is the best dog food for anyone on a budget. It provides well-balanced nutrition without breaking the bank. It’s high in protein that is mostly sourced from salmon and contains omega fatty acids and easily digestible carbohydrates.

It has lots of whole grains, vegetables for healthy nutrients, and fruit for antioxidants. What’s more, it’s fortified with plenty of supplement vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. It will give your Shih Tzu everything they need to maintain health.


  • 25% protein, 15% fat, and 6% fiber
  • Animal protein sources from animals
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Digestible carbohydrates
  • Chelated minerals


  • May be too high in fiber for some dogs
  • Contains some plant protein from peas

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Key Features:

  • Grain-free
  • Added vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids
  • Highly digestible

Taste of the Wild is an affordable food that provides a balanced diet for your Shih Tzu. It’s grain-free, which is ideal for Shih Tzus with common sensitivities. Plus, it features lean buffalo as the first ingredient, which is high in protein and healthy fat.

It has sweet potatoes and peas for carbohydrates, giving your dog fast energy without resorting to grains. It also has fruit and vegetables that contain fiber and added chicory root for even more fiber, which can help your Shih Tzu better digest their food.

Taste of the Wild offers balanced nutrition to keep your dog healthy. It contains the nutrients your Shih Tzu needs to maintain their healthy coat and provides lasting energy. What’s more, it has essential chelated minerals and amino acids to ensure the absorption of these beneficial nutrients.


  • Premium animal proteins
  • Easily digestible grain-free carbohydrates
  • Chelated minerals, omega fatty acids, and probiotics


  • Main source of fat is canola oil, which is plant-based
  • Has plant proteins from potatoes and peas


Key Features:

  • Fresh food
  • Conveniently delivered
  • Nutritionally customized for your dog

The final four options on this list of best dog food for Shih Tzus are all services that deliver fresh food to your door. NomNom prepares custom meals for your dog and delivers them monthly to your door. The service offers a fully-customizable meal plan, so you can tailor the food to provide the best possible nutrition for your Shih Tzu.

The food options are limited, but a doctor formulated each one with nutritional levels established by the AAFCO. While you will pay a premium for this service, it’s well worth it if you can afford it.


  • Made from fresh ingredients
  • Delivered to your door automatically
  • Perfectly portioned


  • Limited number of recipe options
  • Expensive dog food

Farmer’s Dog

Key Features:

  • Fresh food delivered to your door
  • Nutritionally customized for your dog

The Farmer’s Dog is an excellent service that delivers freshly-made dog food to your doorstep. The food comes portioned and follows a custom nutrition plan you design specifically for your Shih Tzu. You’ll then get automatic deliveries every month.

While this service only offers a limited number of meals, each one is formulated by certified professional cooks. All ingredients are human-grade and sourced from small farms across America.


  • Customizable and meal pre-portioned plans just for your Shih Tzu
  • Three healthy recipes
  • No fillers or preservatives


  • More expensive than traditional dog food
  • Fresh food spoils quickly, so you may need to freeze some of it before it’s eaten


Key Features:

  • Custom meal plans delivered to your door
  • Easy and nutritionally balanced

Ollie provides some of the highest quality meals for dogs available anywhere. They make their meals specifically formulated for your dog’s breed, weight, activity level, and other factors and regularly ship it to your door each month.

Each meal is nutritionally balanced, with higher than average protein and fat and lower than average carbohydrates. If you’re looking to feed your Shih Tzu the best quality food around, you should consider Ollie.


  • Provides some of the most balanced and nutritious meals available
  • Meal plans are made specifically based on your dog’s breed, weight, activity level, etc.
  • Dog Food delivered to your door, making it very convenient for you


  • More expensive than traditional dog food

A Pup Above

Key Features:

  • Fresh food delivery service
  • Uses a Sous-vide cooking method

The final fresh food delivery service on this list is A Pup Above. Unlike the other companies above, A Pup Above used the sous-vide cooking method to make their food. This method involves sealing fresh ingredients in a BPA-free bag and slowly cooking them over the course of two hours.

A Pup Above produces food with more flavor and 72% more protein than other fresh food recipes. It’s an ideal way to ensure your Shih Tzu is eating the healthiest and most nutritious meals possible.


  • Sous-vide cooking method produces food with 72% more protein than other fresh food recipes
  • Conveniently delivered to your doorstep
  • Ethically-conscious company


  • Food is not pre-portioned like other similar companies
  • Expensive, especially compared to traditional dog food

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I feed my Shih Tzu wet or dry dog food?

Generally, wet food is more palatable for Shih Tzus than dry food. However, it’s not necessarily better. Keep in mind that dry food is better for your dog’s teeth and contains more calories than wet food. You may want to experiment with both or feed your dog a little wet food on top of a bowl of dry food.

What should I feed my picky Shih Tzu?

Shih Tzus are notoriously picky eaters. If yours is not eating their food, try adding a few treats to the bowl or a little wet food with the dry. You should also try different dog foods until you find one that your pup likes.

How often should I feed my Shih Tzu?

How often you feed your Shih Tzu will depend on your dog’s age, weight, activity level, and general health. For puppies, it’s typically best to feed three times a day. For mature Shih Tzus, two larger meals are generally recommended.


The key to keeping your shih tzu healthy and happy lies in proper nutrition. While any of the dog foods we’ve talked about in this article will do, it’s important to consider your dog’s unique traits and personality. Hopefully, you’ve found this guide to the best dog food for Shih Tzus helpful.

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