The Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus Page

What’s the best dog food for a shih tzu?

The answer to that crucial question depends on the AGE of YOUR particular dog.

That’s because…

Shih tzu puppies… adults… and seniors… EACH have different nutritional needs… to provide optimal long-term health.

Which means…

A dog food designed for an adult shih tzu may contain too little calcium for a growing puppy… or too little protein… and too many calories for a less active senior.

And there are other important differences, too..

For example…

A shih tzu puppy needs 0.44% histidine (an essential amino acid)… while an adult requires less than half that amount… just 0.19% of the same nutrient.

In contrast…

A senior shih tzu benefits from a dog food containing more protein… and fewer calories per serving.

Here’s the point…

Since there are no official nutrient standards for ANY particular breed…

And to optimize your dog’s long-term health…

It’s critical to choose a food that’s designed to match the AAFCO nutrient profile for your shih tzu’s age… and stage of life.

The 3 Life Stages of a Shih Tzu

Since dogs age at different rates, life stage ranges for any breed are never exact.

The age data found in the following table were obtained from multiple sources and should be used to help you find the best possible food for your shih tzu.

Life Stage Age
Puppy Under 9-12 months
Adult Over 9-12 months
Senior 11+ years

Our Top Recommendations

On this page…

We’ll share The Dog Food Advisor’s best dog food for shih tzus based on the life stage of your pet.… and we’ll answer the 6 most frequently asked questions we get about feeding this super-popular small breed dog.

The following dog foods are listed in random order. Each was chosen because it meets or exceeds our selection criteria. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a referral fee. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.

Editors Choice Logo for Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus
August 2021

Here are The Dog Food Advisor’s best dog food brands for Shih Tzus for August 2021.


Nutro Ultra Dog Food Review

Nutro Ultra Small Breed

Rating:

Nutro Ultra Small Breed Adult is one of 10 dry recipes rated in our review of the Nutro product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adults only (not suitable for puppies)

This small breed recipe derives most of its animal protein from fresh chicken as well as chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 29% protein, 17% fat and 46% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.

A holistic blend of “superfoods” containing a balanced mix of 3 premium (lean) proteins, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, and healthy whole grains… ideal for optimal small breed nutrition. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “I am a huge fan of Nutro. My dogs are picky and have sensitive stomachs. The small breed ultra is their favorite. We purchase a bag once every 3 weeks and it suits my two 15 lb boys.”

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Ollie Beef Recipe Fresh Dog Food Ideal for Shih Tzus and Other Small Breeds

Ollie Fresh Dog Food

Rating:

Ollie Turkey is one of 4 fresh cooked recipes included in our review of the Ollie product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Turkey thigh, pumpkin, turkey liver, turkey heart, carrot
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adult shih tzus as well as puppies

This Ollie recipe derives the lions share of its animal protein from turkey thigh, turkey liver, and turkey heart. Dry matter label analysis reveals the formula contains 44% protein, 28% fat and 20% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 67%.

A nutritionally balanced, fresh-cooked meal that’s as close to homemade as you can get… but without all the fuss and hard work. Ollie’s made in small batches, custom packaged and delivered fresh, right to your door.

A super-tasty, healthy option ideal for smaller dogs. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “Jolene has been with Ollie from the beginning. She never has digestive issues or allergies. Her coat is shiny, she has energy, and I’m thankful I can get fresh food for her delivered at my door.””

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Blue Buffalo Freedom Small Breed Puppy Dry Food

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy

Rating:

Small Breed Puppy is one of 12 dry recipes analyzed in our review of the Blue Buffalo Freedom product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, pea starch, turkey meal
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: Growth
  • Best for: Shih tzu Puppies

This Small Breed Puppy formula obtains the better part of its animal protein from fresh deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 33% protein, 20% fat and 39% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.

We also note this recipe is fortified with taurine, an amino acid many veterinary professionals believe may help reduce the risk of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a type of heart disease found in certain breeds.

An affordable choice for those shih tzu parents who prefer a quality, grain-free design. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “The kibble is measured in millimeters so easy for ultra small breeds to eat. It must taste good to a dog because not only does the puppy eat it well; my older dog likes to snipe some for herself. The food produces a good stool. Not too hard or not too soft. Does not produce much, if any gas. Grain free definitely helps out in that area.”

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Health Extension Little Bites Dry Kibble

Health Extension Little Bites

Rating:

Little Bites Chicken and Brown Rice is one of 6 dry recipes evaluated in our review of the Health Extension product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Organic deboned chicken, chicken meal, ground brown rice, chicken fat, lamb meal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice)
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adult shih tzus as well as puppies

Little Bites gets the better part of its meat protein from fresh deboned chicken, chicken meal, and lamb meal . Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 27% protein, 20% fat and 45% estimated carbs… which creates a fat-to-protein ratio of about 75%.

The formula contains 8 different probiotic ingredients to help support healthy digestion… as well as zinc polysaccharide complex and 4 other costly chelated minerals for superior absorption and balanced nutrition.

A classic, grain-inclusive design that’s ideal for shi tzus of all ages. Easily recommended.

Sample buyer review… “I have two small dogs. Recently our regular food had not been agreeing with the older of the two. Both of my dogs Love. This. Food! When I was introducing it with their old food, they would pick it out and leave the old food all over the floor. My older dog no longer gets bloated after eating and both dogs seem to have energy. This is our new regular food.”

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Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Real Beef and Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food

Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed

Rating:

Texas Beef and Sweet Potato is one of 8 dry recipes included in our review of the Merrick product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned beef, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adult shih tzus as well as puppies

Merrick Lil’ Bites Small Breed derives most of its animal protein from fresh deboned beef and lamb meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 43% protein, 17% fat and 32% estimated carbs… delivering a fat-to-protein ratio of about 39%.

We note this formula contains BOTH prebiotics and probiotics for healthy digestion. Lil’ Bites also includes naturally sourced levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for optimal point health.

Reasonably priced. A top quality kibble option for smaller breeds. Recommended with confidence.

Sample buyer review… “I have been giving my furbaby the chicken recipe of this Merrick small breed kibble. He likes it, so I decided to try the beef and he loves it. Merrick kibble is an excellent product free of corn, grains and fillers etc. I know I am feeding my sweet boy quality food. As a result he is a healthy senior with a full, silky, shiny coat. I add a bit of pumpkin and he seems to really enjoy both the chicken and the beef. I highly recommend this kibble (and the chicken too).”

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Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain Free with Real Chicken Dry Dog Food

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed

Rating:

Small Breed with Real Chicken is one of 14 dry recipes contained in our review of the Instinct product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, chickpeas, tapioca, chicken fat
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adult shih tzus as well as puppies

This Instinct Raw Boost formula receives the major part of its meat protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 38% protein, 22% fat and 32% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

It’s not only made with cage-free chicken, the recipe contains no corn, wheat, soy or artificial colors or preservatives. The formula also includes zinc proteinate and 3 other chelated minerals, costly supplements for superior nutrition… ingredients found in better quality dog foods.

Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “Our almost 3 year old Shih-Tzu is a bit of a food snob and so we were relieved to find out that he approved of this and didnt just sniff it and walk away. We wanted to switch up his kibble so that he could have some variation and not get bored. I add a little bit of warm water, mix it up and then drain it out (he seems to prefer all of his food prepared this way.) He does pick out the freeze dried pieces first and gobbles them down but always returns to his bowl to finish.”

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Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Turkey Dry Dog Food

Wellness Complete Small Breed Senior

Rating:

Small Breed Senor is one of 14 dry recipes included in our review of the Wellness Complete product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned turkey, chicken meal, ground brown rice, peas, rice
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (ground brown rice, rice)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adults only (not suitable for puppies)

This Wellness Complete recipe acquires the better part of its meat protein from deboned turkey and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 28% protein, 13% fat and 51% estimated carbs… delivering a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

Features a smaller kibble size for smaller mouths and easier chewing.

Wellness Complete Health has always been one of The Dog Food Advisor’s favorite, small-breed brands. Yet even though this particular recipe is designed for seniors, it’s also available as a fully-balanced, nutritious “regular” adult dog food, too.

Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “I have tried so many dry dog foods and given them away because my Shih Tzu just won’t eat them. He gets a handful of this to go next to his wet food and eats it. Picky eater doesn’t begin it describe him and add senior into the mix, ugh. I can honestly recommend this one.”

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Nom Nom Turkey Fare Fresh Food Ideal for Shih Tzus and Other Small Dogs

Nom Nom Turkey Fare

Rating:

Turkey Fare is one of 4 fresh human-grade recipes evaluated in our review of the Nom Nom product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Ground turkey, eggs, brown rice, carrots, spinach
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice)
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adult shih tzus as well as puppies

Nom Nom Turkey Fare receives the majority its animal protein from ground turkey. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 37% protein, 17% fat and 39% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.

If you’ve ever wanted to serve your shih tzu a fresh home-cooked meal… but without all the time-consuming effort… then Nom Nom makes a smart choice.

Top level, human-grade ingredients and a 100% balanced recipe designed by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. Not cheap. Yet highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “Tula gets so excited when it’s mealtime. She no longer has skin issues, her coat looks wonderful and her stools are the best they’ve ever been. I can’t imagine ever feeding her anything but Nom Nom!”

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Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Dog Food

Whole Earth Farms Small Breed

Rating:

Small Breed with Chicken and Turkey is one of 9 dry recipes contained in our review of the Whole Earth Farms product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken meal, potatoes, peas, chicken fat, sweet potatoes
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Adult shih tzus as well as puppies

Whole Earth Farms Small Breed derives the majority of its animal protein from chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 30% protein, 16% fat and 46% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

In addition, the recipe contains no corn, wheat, soy or artificial coloring agents. Plus, it’s not only optimized for smaller dogs, it’s also 100% free of BHA or other high-risk, chemical preservatives.

Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “I changed from a expense grain free brand to this; my dogs are very happy with it. I’m happy with the savings in cost.”

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Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy

Rating:

Shih Tzu Puppy is one of 16 dry recipes analyzed in our review of the Royal Canin product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, corn, chicken fat, wheat gluten
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brewers rice, corn, wheat gluten)
  • Profile: Growth
  • Best for: Shih tzus puppies

This Royal Canin breed-specific puppy recipe obtains the major part of its meat protein from chicken by-product meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the formula contains 29% protein, 18% fat and 45% estimated carbs… which produces a favorable fat-to-protein ratio of about 62%.

We also note this formula includes fish oil. Fish oil is rich in the omerga-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, for healthy skin and coat as well as optimal joint nutrition. Recommended with confidence.

Sample buyer review… “I was able to easily transition my shih tzu to this brand. The small kibble is easy for her to pick up and chew, and she loves it. No tummy issues, no poop issues; this brand is perfect for us. And our vet approves! This is “Presley Approved.” :)”

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Natures Recipe Chicken and Wild Salmon Wet Dog Food

Nature’s Recipe Chicken and Wild Salmon Trays

Rating:

Chicken and Wild Salmon is one of 3 wet recipes analyzed in our review of the Nature’s Recipe product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, pumpkin, salmon, brown rice
  • Type: Grain-Inclusive (brown rice)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adults only (not suitable for puppies)

This Nature’s Recipe derives the better part of its meat protein from fresh chicken. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 65% protein, 12% fat and 16% estimated carbs… which yields a fat-to-protein ratio of approximately 18%.

We’re also pleased to note the inclusion of zinc glycine complex and 3 other chelated minerals for superior nutrition. These are more costly forms of nutritional supplements typically found only in better quality dog foods.

Reasonably priced. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “my dog loves these! he is a small dog who struggles to eat and is superrrrrr picky with his food. I’ve tried so many different wet food items and this is the one he actually eats when i put it down. 10/10 recommend for dogs who are picky eaters.”

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More Top Picks

To view more top recipes for your Shih Tzu… click the link below that best meets your personal feeding needs.


How can I switch to a new food… without making my shih tzu sick?

In the following video

Internet vet, Dr. Gary Richter, shares a simple feeding tip that can help reduce your dog’s risk of getting sick when you switch your shih tzu to a new food.


Do shih tzus need special dog food?

There are no official pet food industry standards or FDA guidelines established specifically for shih tzus. However, because shih tzu puppies, adults and seniors EACH have different nutritional needs, it’s important to choose a food that’s designed to match the life stage of YOUR particular dog.


How much dog food should I feed my shih tzu?

An important study found that dogs fed an amount of food to keep them at ideal body condition lived nearly 2 years longer… than other dogs.1

Since every shih tzu is different, it’s impossible to predict the exact serving size that’s “ideal” for every animal. So, start with the feeding amount printed on the package. Then, over time, adjust that amount up or down… to reach and then maintain your shih tzu at ideal body weight.


What’s the best dog food for a shih tzu puppy?

Since they’re considered small breed dogs, shih tzus benefit from eating foods that contain the right balance of calcium and other nutrients specifically designed for puppies. So, until he (or she) reaches 9 to 12 months, your shih tzu should be eating a dog food that meets AAFCO nutrient guidelines… and is clearly labeled “for Growth” or “for All life stages”.

In addition to the Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Food above, you’ll find a complete list of The Dog Food Advisor’s Best Small Breed Puppy Foods here.


When can I safely switch my shih tzu puppy to adult dog food?

Shih tzu puppies don’t stop growing and aren’t ready for adult food until they reach 9 to 12 months of age.2 3 That’s because adult dog foods can be deficient in protein as well as histidine and other essential nutrients. And why it’s SO important not to switch to regular dog food too soon.


What’s the best dog food for a senior shih tzu?

According to VCA Hospitals, small breed dogs tend to live longer than large breeds. Shih tzus aren’t considered “senior” until they reach 11 years of age. So, if your shih tzu is 11 years (or older), you may wish to visit The Dog Food Advisor’s Best Senior Dog Foods page here.


A Final Word

The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned. We do not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) and from sellers of perishable pet food when readers click over to their websites from ours. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.

For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.

Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

References

  1. https://www.avma.org/News/Journals/Collections/Documents/javma_220_9_1315.pdf
  2. Royal Canine: When does my puppy become an adult dog?
  3. IAMS: How to Transition Your Puppy to Adult Food, IAMS