Many dogs are fine just eating whatever food you offer them, though this is rarely the path to peak health. But Shih Tzus are a different story. This breed can be difficult to feed, for several reasons. First, they’re known for being picky eaters, turning their noses up at any food that doesn’t please them. But these dogs are also sensitive to foods. Chemicals, colorings, additives, and other ingredients can cause health issues for Shih Tzus, including skin, coat, and digestive health problems.
Naturally, you want to help your Shih Tzu avoid these types of problems. The best way to do that is with high-quality food that’s formulated specifically for a small breed like the Shih Tzu. But with so many options on the market, how are you to narrow down the choices to just one? Well, you don’t have to, because we’ve already done it for you. We gathered and tested the most popular and highest-quality foods that are ideal for Shih Tzus. After testing them all, we’ve written up the following reviews so you can see how they compared.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 8 Best Puppy Food for Shih Tzu – Reviews 2021
1. Wellness Complete Health Puppy Dry Dog Food – Best Overall
There are many different formulas on the market that are great for Shih Tzus, but out of them all, our favorite is the Wellness Complete Health Puppy Dry Dog Food. This blend is formulated specifically for small breed health. It contains the nutrients that these small dogs need, such as essential fatty acids, of which this blend has plenty.
What it’s lacking though is meat by-products or fillers. Instead, you’ll find only high-quality ingredients in this formula, including many animal-based ingredients. In fact, three of the first five ingredients are animal products, the first being deboned turkey. With such a high-quality animal-based protein listed as the primary ingredient, you can be sure that this food is offering some top-notch nutrition for your Shih Tzu.
Though it’s loaded with vital nutrients vitamins A and E, this formula isn’t as high in taurine as others that we like. Still, it’s not low in taurine. Your cat won’t become deficient on this food; that’s for certain. And with so much protein and other essential nutrients, this food is formulated for your Shih Tzu to thrive.
2. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food – Best Value
Looking for the best puppy food for Shih Tzus for the money? We think it’s the Diamond Naturals Small Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food. It’s loaded with essential nutrients to boost the health of small-breed dogs but is still priced affordably for any budget. You can get an 18-pound bag of this food for little more than the cost of a four-pound bag of certain competing brands.
Don’t let the low price fool you though; this food is made with some great ingredients. Three of the top five ingredients are animal-based, including chicken, which is the primary ingredient in this particular blend. You’ll notice that it’s chicken and not a by-product or meal, showing that Diamond Naturals opted for quality over profit by utilizing a high-quality animal protein instead of a cheaper filler.
This blend is packed with precisely the nutrients that small breeds need. The only problem is that many of our small-breed dogs wouldn’t eat it! Apparently, it’s not the greatest choice for picky eaters. Still, it’s a quality dry food that’s perfect for Shih Tzus at an affordable price, which is why it’s our pick for best value.
3. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dry Dog Food – Premium Choice
Let’s get it out of the way first: Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dry Dog Food is prohibitively expensive. It’s many times pricier than other blends. So expensive, in fact, that a 2.5-pound bag of this blend costs more than 10 pounds of many other small-breed dog foods. That said, very few dog foods are formulated specifically for Shih Tzus, but this one is breed-specific.
With perfect Shih-Tzu health in mind, this food contains all the nutrients that a small-breed canine requires. For instance, it’s packed with EPA and DHA. You’ll also find plenty of vitamins A and E in here, which are vital for proper canine health. Additionally, the kibble is shaped so that it’s easy for small breeds to chew.
While this food is meant to aid in digestive health and improve overall health of Shih Tzu puppies, we have a hard time getting over the first ingredient, which is brewers rice. Brewers rice isn’t a whole grain and it’s not an ingredient we generally try to feed our dogs. However, this food has been shown to keep Shih Tzus in great health, which is what we’re most concerned with.
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Dry Dog Food
Marketed as a premium, health-conscious pet food but priced more affordably than many other premium brands, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food is a great choice for Shih Tzus. It’s loaded with ingredients that contain exactly the nutrients that small dogs like Shih Tzus require. For example, this blend contains DHA and ARA to promote healthy eye and brain development.
Protein is essential for dogs, and this blend is 29% crude protein. It accomplishes this by using quality animal-based ingredients. The first ingredient listed is deboned chicken; a top-quality ingredient that provides plenty of protein and other essential nutrients. Also listed in the first five ingredients are chicken meal and menhaden fish meal, so this blend contains a diverse array of animal-based proteins.
On top of all the protein, this blend contains other nutrients, such as essential fatty acids. We just wish the ingredients list was a bit shorter. It’s much longer than many other foods that we’ve tested, and we’re not fans of long ingredient lists filled with supplements instead of whole-food ingredients.
5. Solid Gold Mighty Mini Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Though it’s pretty expensive, we still think there’s a lot to like about the Solid Gold Mighty Mini Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. For starters, the grain-free formula makes it easier to digest, so it’s great for sensitive stomachs. Plus, it’s intended to improve gut health, making it doubly beneficial for those with digestive issues.
Since it’s designed specifically with small breeds in mind, this food provides precisely the nutrients that a dog like a Shih Tzu needs. To that end, you’ll find 20 superfoods that are rich in nutrients on the ingredients list. But to achieve that required using quite a few carbohydrate ingredients, which we’re not big fans of.
Dogs, even little ones like Shih Tzus, need to consume substantial amounts of protein with a diverse array of amino acids from multiple sources. However, this food contains protein from just one meat source. While that might be beneficial for a dog with a sensitive digestive system, it’s not as ideal for a healthy dog, which is why this food didn’t rank higher on our list.
6. Purina Pro Plan Focus Toy Breed Dry Dog Food
Made just for breeds under 10 pounds, toy breeds like Shih Tzus, the Purina Pro Plan Focus Toy Breed Dry Dog Food should be an ideal Shih Tzu food. It contains live probiotics for improved digestion. Additionally, it’s high in essential nutrients for little dogs, including vitamins A and E. You’ll also find some DHA in there, along with omega-6 essential fatty acid.
Looking just at the nutritional content of this food gives you the idea that it’s a great choice. It’s packed with protein at 34% and contains plenty of beneficial nutrients. However, looking at the ingredients list gives a slightly different impression. To start, it’s very long, and we generally prefer short ingredients lists. We can get over that, but some of the ingredients are second-rate, such as the animal by-product meals or the many carbohydrate ingredients.
This is a good food, and we wouldn’t mind using it as a backup if our top choices were out of stock. That said, it’s certainly not one of our favorites, thanks to low-grade ingredients that make us think this food is lower-quality than the alternatives that we’ve recommended.
7. Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Puppy Dry Dog Food
We’ve had great luck with many Merrick dog foods in the past, but this time we weren’t so impressed. This was the only dog food we tested that wasn’t specifically made for smaller breeds, but it still had all the makings of a good Shih Tzu food at first glance. Looking at the nutritional content, it has 28% protein with just 15% fat; a great breakdown for our dogs. Plus, this food is high in essential fatty acids, and even contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.
This recipe is grain-free, making it easier to digest than some alternatives made with grains. It’s also loaded with prebiotics and probiotics to aid in digestive health, making it a great option for sensitive stomachs.
But the ingredients list was lackluster at best. Only two of the top five ingredients were animal-based, and the other three were carbohydrates. Looking at the ingredients list closer, you’ll find there are many supplements added, rather than nutritious whole-foods. While we appreciate the attempt to provide vital nutrients, we prefer the recipes that manage to do it with mainly whole-food ingredients instead of supplemental fortification.
8. Eukanuba Small Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
Eukanuba is a more commercialized brand than some of the other names further up this list. You can find Eukanuba foods in some big box stores, and it’s generally more affordable than many of the other options we tested. Despite this, it’s loaded with DHA to support healthy brain development. Of the first five ingredients, three are animal products, so things are off to a good start, or at least that’s how it seems.
The first ingredient is chicken, which is a quality animal protein. It’s followed by chicken by-product meal, which is a cheaper choice and often considered to be sub-optimal. There’s also corn and wheat in this blend, which are both hard to digest for many dogs.
A few of the Shih Tzus we fed this too ended up with watery stools. With only 3.2% fiber, this blend is pretty low, but our dogs also might have had trouble with some of the lower-quality ingredients. Either way, this isn’t a food we’d turn to for our Shih Tzus if there were any other choices available.
After reading our reviews, you can choose a food based on our recommendations and be done with the work. But if you’re frustrated at trying to compare different dog foods and you want to learn more about how we did it, then this short buyer’s guide is for you. In it, we’re going to discuss the important things to know when picking food for a Shih Tzu, helping you to make a more informed decision.
Finding the Best Food for a Shih Tzu
Shih Tzus are a breed with a few specific needs. Let’s take a look at the considerations you should give to dog foods that you want to feed your Shih Tzu. Knowing what to look for can help you to compare different options that look good on the surface and tell which one is truly the better bet for your best friend.
Feeding a Brachycephalic Breed
Many Shih Tzu owners have heard their dog snorting, snoring, and breathing noisily. It’s a phenomenon that’s not limited to Shih Tzus though.
This is something that’s a regular occurrence with brachycephalic breeds like Shih Tzus, including Pugs and Boston Terriers. Brachycephalic breeds have Brachycephalic syndrome, which gives them their flat, smushed-looking faces.
Brachycephalic syndrome can also cause problems when it comes to breathing and eating. Because of this, kibble size is more important with Shih Tzus and similar breeds than it is with other dogs. If you feed your Shih Tzu kibble that’s too large, it could pose a choking hazard.
Healthy and Vibrant Coat
One of the trademarks of the Shih Tzu breed is their long, luscious coat. But if you don’t take care of your dog’s coat through diet, then it won’t be as luxurious as you might hope. To keep that coat in top shape, Shih Tzus require additional fat and protein. Additionally, essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 are vital.
Picky Puppy Problems
A common issue when feeding Shih Tzus is that they’re often picky eaters. This can make it difficult to find a food that your dog will agree with. You can guess all you like, but at the end of the day, the only way to know if your Shih Tzu will eat a particular food is to offer that food to yours and see what happens.
Allergies and Itchiness
Allergies and skin problems happen with many Shih Tzus. They often experience inflammation, redness, dry skin, infections, hair loss, severe scratching, and more. For many of these dogs, the culprit is the food they’re eating. You’ll have to be careful not to feed your Shih Tzu anything that could cause an allergic reaction.
Chemicals, Colorings, and Additives
More so than most dogs, Shih Tzus are sensitive to additives in their food of any type, including chemicals, colorings, preservatives, and more. We prefer to feed our Shih Tzus foods that are free of artificial additives entirely. Even natural additives can be difficult for a Shih Tzu to digest though, so pay attention to what’s on the ingredients label of your dog’s food.
Shih Tzus are some of the most popular dogs, but keeping them in peak health requires some special considerations. We wanted to find the ultimate dog food for Shih Tzus, so we went through the most popular and best choices, testing them with our own dogs. After preparing for our reviews, we settled on three formulas that we feel confident recommending to you.
Our top choice overall was the Wellness Small Breed Complete Healthy Puppy Dry Dog Food. It’s loaded with essential nutrients for small-breed dogs, including fatty acids and vitamins. Three of the five main ingredients are animal-based, but none of the ingredients are meat by-products or fillers.
For the best value, we recommend the Diamond Naturals Small Breed Formula Dry Dog Food. Made just for small breeds, it’s intended to boost their health with essential nutrients like fatty acids, DHA, and vitamins A and E. It’s made with quality animal ingredients, including chicken, which is listed as the top ingredient.
If money is of no concern, then you might try the Royal Canin Shih Tzu Dry Dog Food. It’s one of the only blends formulated specifically for Shih Tzus, loaded with EPA, DHA, and other essential nutrients.
Featured Image Credit: STEVEPHILCOPHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock
An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan. He gains experience on a full-time journey of exploration. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning. An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.