2020 Best Dog Food For Shih Tzu (Top 10 Picks)

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

The Shih Tzu is a fluffball of a toy breed, with flowing hair and a spunky temperament. Their coats come in a variety of colors, and they make amazing show dogs if you have the time to groom them!

Unfortunately, these little furballs are prone to some health issues and allergies, so making sure they’re eating the best dog food for Shih Tzu adults, puppies, or seniors is essential to keep them as healthy as possible.

A wholesome diet and regular grooming will keep your Tzu affectionate, loving, and happy.

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Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
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Diamond Skin & Coat Real Meat Recipe Dry Dog Food with Wild Caught Salmon 30lb
Nulo Small Breed Freestyle Limited Plus Grain Free Dry Dog Food: All Natural Limited Ingredient Diet For Digestive & Immune Health - Allergy Sensitive Non Gmo (Turkey Recipe - 4 Lb Bag)
Merrick Lil Plates Grain Free Small Breed Recipe, 12-Pound, Chicken
Pro 1
Very affordable for its great quality
High levels of omega fatty acids
Very high in Omegas
Pro 2
Superfood ingredients rich in antioxidants
High in protein and fat
High in protein, great for active dogs
Best Overall
Rank
Ranked #1
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Diamond Skin & Coat Real Meat Recipe Dry Dog Food with Wild Caught Salmon 30lb
Pro 1
Very affordable for its great quality
Pro 2
Superfood ingredients rich in antioxidants
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Premium Option
Rank
Ranked #2
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Nulo Small Breed Freestyle Limited Plus Grain Free Dry Dog Food: All Natural Limited Ingredient Diet For Digestive & Immune Health - Allergy Sensitive Non Gmo (Turkey Recipe - 4 Lb Bag)
Pro 1
High levels of omega fatty acids
Pro 2
High in protein and fat
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Best for Active Shih Tzus
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Ranked #3
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Merrick Lil Plates Grain Free Small Breed Recipe, 12-Pound, Chicken
Pro 1
Very high in Omegas
Pro 2
High in protein, great for active dogs
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Sources researched
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Customer reviews
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Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
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Hours spent testing
Products tested
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Products tested

10 Best Dog Food For Shih Tzu in 2020

Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Recipe

Best Overall: Great Quality, Best Value For Money

Overall Score89%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Probiotics & Prebiotics85%
Omega Fatty Acids85%
Affordability95%

PROS

  • Very affordable for its great quality 
  • Superfood ingredients rich in antioxidants 
  • Perfect protein and fat levels 
  • Contains DHA

CONS

  • Contains potatoes, which some Shih Tzus may be sensitive to

There’s no need to shell out a fortune in order to feed your dog one of the best dog food for Shih Tzu dogs. This offering is not only affordable, it’s on-par with the others in terms of quality.

Pet parents on a budget, this one would be perfect for you. You can rest assured knowing that you’re feeding your pup a wholesome, healthy meal while still saving pennies.

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High Quality, Low Price Tag

Just a quick glance at the ingredient list is an indication of the quality meal your dog will be getting when you feed them this kibble.

It begins with salmon and fish meal, two super protein sources that aren’t typically allergens. They’re fairly high in protein, contributing to the count of 25%.

Following that are healthy vegetables. This is where some Shih Tzus may struggle, as potatoes and legumes can cause allergies. They’re still good quality, though, and further down you’ll find even more good stuff.

Superfood ingredients pack an antioxidant punch. Blueberries, kale, chia seeds, kelp, and coconut are just some of the superfoods this dog food is made up of. These are all rich in antioxidants and vitamins and minerals.

That in itself is a value-packed kibble. The cherry on top is the addition of DHA, which is normally found in puppy food to help eyes and brain cells develop. It’s fantastic to see in an adult dog food, especially for dogs who are prone to eye disease.

Nulo Small Breed Freestyle Limited Plus Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Premium Option

Overall Score87%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Probiotics & Prebiotics85%
Omega Fatty Acids90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • High in protein and fat 
  • High levels of omega fatty acids 
  • Available in four flavors 
  • Added probiotics

CONS

  • Slightly pricey

Shih Tzu parents, this is our top choice to feed your fluffy pooch. In terms of nutrients, it’s high in all the good stuff and contains none of the bad stuff. 

It’s also a limited ingredient formula, which means your dog can avoid ingredients that they may be allergic too while still getting a great, wholesome meal. 
The calcium/phosphorus ratio and addition of DHA make this food suitable for puppies and adults! This is ideal for pet parents with more than one dog of different life stages.

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High Protein & Fat 

With 30% protein and 17/18% fat, this dog food is best for Shih Tzu dogs who get enough exercise during their day. 

Those numbers come from premium quality ingredients. Each recipe contains a single protein, which makes it easy for your dog to have a variety of flavors but still avoid the protein that upsets their tummy

They also state on their packaging that they’re free from common allergens including eggs, chicken, potatoes, tapioca, peas and pea protein, corn, wheat, and soy. 

This dog food also scores points for containing GanedenBC30 probiotics, which help your dog’s digestive system deal with the digestive process better. 

Add to that high levels of Omegas, and all you may need to get for your pup is a separate glucosamine supplement!

Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Best for Active Shih Tzus

Overall Score87%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Probiotics & Prebiotics85%
Omega Fatty Acids90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • High in protein, great for active dogs 
  • Very high in Omegas 
  • Contains joint supplements 
  • Added probiotics

CONS

  • Not suitable for less active dogs

Shih Tzus can be active when given the opportunity to exercise. If you’re the parent of an energetic one who gets plenty of exercise every day, they need a dog food to support their active lifestyle. 

This offering from Merrick is our top choice for active dogs. It’s high in protein to keep their muscles strong and supple, as well as being fairly high in fat to power them through their active day.

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Small but Mighty Kibble 

Merrick small-bite kibble is the perfect size for little mouths. It’s packed with high-quality ingredients, yielding a whopping 38% protein and 17% fat. 

Active Shih Tzus will do well with this kibble. The Omegas are above average, which will keep their coat and skin healthy and happy. 

You’ll also find joint supplements to keep them strong and flexible, and probiotics to keep their tummies as they should be.

Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food

Best For Shih Tzu Seniors

Overall Score83%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Probiotics & Prebiotics80%
Omega Fatty Acids80%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Human grade dog food
  • Three flavors, each with different nutrients
  • Adds moisture to your dog’s diet
  • Minimally processed

CONS

  • High in calories

If you have a senior Shih Tzu who struggles to crunch hard kibble, this dog food could be a game-changer. It’s dehydrated, which means all you need to do is add water to give your dog a soft, tasty meal. 

This is great for adding some extra moisture to your older pup’s diet. It also helps dogs with dental issues to get enough food without hurting themselves.

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Human Grade Dog Food 

This food is minimally processed, so it retains all its healthy nutrients. Something we like is that each recipe is nutritionally different. 

If your senior dog needs weight management food or is quite inactive, the beef flavor has 8.5% fat, which would be perfect. 

The other two (turkey and chicken) have 15% and 14% fat, which would be great for seniors who are still fairly active.

CANIDAE PURE Real Limited Ingredient

Best Limited Ingredient

Overall Score86%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Probiotics & Prebiotics90%
Omega Fatty Acids85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Variety of recipes
  • Options for puppies, seniors, and overweight dogs
  • Probiotics added
  • Grain-free

CONS

  • Somewhat pricey

If your pup’s allergies are bad, trying a limited ingredient diet could be the key to improving their health. This range from Canidae allows your pup some choice without having to deal with potential allergy ingredients. 

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Recipe Range 

With 8 recipes for adults and options for puppies, seniors, and weight management, this is a comprehensive range. 

Each recipe contains fewer than 10 ingredients, and make it easy to avoid ones that your pooch is allergic to. 

They vary in nutritional values, but each is filled with only good stuff and would be a great meal for your pup, containing all a Shih Tzu would need.

Solid Gold Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Recipe

Best For Sensitive Stomach

Overall Score87%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Probiotics & Prebiotics85%
Omega Fatty Acids85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Great non-allergy protein sources 
  • Good Omegas 
  • Contains DHA 
  • Probiotic support

CONS

  • May have a fishy smell

If your Shih Tzu suffers from stomach issues, this food could help! It’s specially formulated for pups with sensitive tummies.

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Good Quality Ingredients 

For sensitive tummies, salmon, fish meal, vegetables, and antioxidant-rich fruit are great ingredients. Add to that vitamin E for skin and coat health and 90-million probiotics per pound, and you’ve got a super healthy and tasty food!

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

Best For Weight Management

Overall Score84%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Probiotics & Prebiotics80%
Omega Fatty Acids80%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Fortified with LifeSource Bits 
  • Reduced calories, lower in fat 
  • Contains L-carnitine 
  • Contain glucosamine

CONS

  • No flavor variations

If your Shih Tzu is carrying a few too many pounds, a weight management food is the first step towards getting them back to the weight they should be. 

Overweight dogs are much more at risk for health problems and medical conditions, so it’s in both your dog’s and your best interests to get them back down to their ideal weight as soon as possible.

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Lower in Fat 

Weight management dog foods work by reducing the amount of fat, and therefore lowering the calories in each cup of food. 

Fat is what dogs use for energy. If the fat count is lowered, your dog’s body is forced to use its own fat for fuel. In this way, your pup loses weight quite effectively! 

It’s important to note that weight management food should be used in conjunction with exercise! 

Helpful Additions 

This food not only has fewer calories in it, but it also features a couple of things that assist in fat loss. L-carnitine is a wonderful addition that helps regulate a dog’s metabolism and use energy efficiently. 

Glucosamine and chondroitin are great supplements that will strengthen your Shih Tzu’s joints. 

Lastly, Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits are cold-formed nuggets loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to help your pooch lose weight safely and healthily.

AvoDerm Natural Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Best for Skin & Coat

Overall Score83%
Protein Count & Quality80%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Probiotics & Prebiotics80%
Omega Fatty Acids85%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Moderate protein, good fat level 
  • Contains chelated minerals 
  • Single animal protein 
  • Bite-sized kibble for small breeds

CONS

Shih Tzus can develop skin and coat trouble as a result of food allergies. If your Shih Tzu is struggling with dry skin, itching, and a brittle coat, this could be the food that changes it all. 

The best dog food for Shih Tzu’s skin and coat will be high in Omegas and contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will help nourish and moisturize their skin.

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Moisturizing Formula 

This dog food is unique in that its key ingredient is avocado. That’s not an ingredient you see often in dog food! 

In fact, many consider avocado to be poisonous to dogs, but most of the toxin is concentrated n the leaves and pit. In large amounts, the flesh of an avocado can have a negative effect on a dog, including vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis. 

But in small amounts, it can have some great health benefits, including bringing some Omega fatty acids to the table. Dogs who struggle with skin issues need Omegas, and this kibble offers exactly that. 

The addition of vitamin E also soothes and repairs skin, so the benefits of this dog food are twofold. 

It also gets a thumbs-up for its small kibble size, moderate protein, good fat level, and good quality ingredient list.

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Dog Food

Best Breed-Specific

Overall Score78%
Protein Count & Quality70%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Probiotics & Prebiotics70%
Omega Fatty Acids85%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Specially designed kibble for Shih Tzu 
  • Stool odor reduction properties 
  • Contains DHA and EPA 
  • High levels of Omegas

CONS

  • Low-quality ingredients 
  • Somewhat pricey

We’ve included this kibble to give a good comparison between “general” dog food that isn’t specific to a certain breed, and “breed-specific” dog foods. 

Just because it’s aimed at Shih Tzus specifically, it doesn’t mean this dog food is good for them.

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Lower Quality Ingredients 

Although this dog food contains good stuff like glucosamine, Omega fatty acids, DHA, and EPA, the ingredient quality is where it falls short. 

Brewer’s rice, chicken by-products, and oat groats are all considered to be low-quality, non-nutritious “fillers”.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Dry Puppy Food

Best For Shih Tzu Puppies

Overall Score86%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Probiotics & Prebiotics85%
Omega Fatty Acids85%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Good protein and fat for puppies 
  • Contains DHA and high Omegas 
  • Joint supplements added 
  • Probiotics included

CONS

  • No flavor variation

Shih Tzu puppies need slightly different nutrients to adults, but this dog food covers everything they could possibly need. 

The protein and fat (28% and 15%) are great for little pups, and the addition of DHA is perfect to help puppies’ eyes and brains to develop as they should.

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High-Quality Ingredient List 

The list is filled with premium quality real-food ingredients. The only downside is that it only comes in one flavor (chicken).


Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation

Criteria #1: Protein Count & Quality

These little guys and girls may be toy breeds, but they still need a good dollop of protein in order for their tiny muscles to stay tough and strong.

The minimum protein your Shih Tzu should be getting in their food is 22%. More is totally fine – in fact, most of the foods we’ve reviewed have upwards of 25%.

We’ve also made sure the protein comes from healthy sources. We don’t promote dog foods that use animal by-products or stick to vegetable proteins only.

Every dog food on this list has a decent amount of protein that comes from superior sources. Animal proteins only!

Criteria #2: Fat Count & Quality

Although Shih Tzu’s are toy breeds, they have plenty of energy! Dogs get their energy from the fat in their kibble. 

Also, don’t assume that because they’re little, they need a tiny amount of fat in their diet. Fat eaten does not equate to fat stored! Rather, it’s used to fuel their everyday activities

An adult Shih Tzu will need around 13 or 14% fat in their kibble to be able to power them through their days adequately. 

Again, healthy animal fat is first prize. You want to see a named fat, like chicken fat or pork fat. Vegetable oil or flaxseed oil also contributes a little, but animal fat should be the main source. 

We’ve chosen dog foods with 10% or more fat. Less active Shih Tzu’s may need less, especially those who are on a weight loss quest. Very energetic pups may need more, but all the foods we’ve reviewed contain an appropriate number sourced from wholesome, real foods.

Criteria #3: Probiotics & Prebiotics

Shih Tzus are known to have allergies, both of the skin and of the stomach. Probiotics and prebiotics are microorganisms added to dog food to soothe a sensitive stomach. 

Probiotics are live bacteria that live in your dog’s digestive tract and help with the digestive process. Prebiotics are the fibers that feed the probiotics and keep them healthy! 

You don’t need to know what to look for in dog food. We’ve done the research for you! We’ve let you know in each review if the dog food contains these healthy bacteria and their fertilizer or not.

Criteria #4: Omega Fatty Acids

These pups have lovely long hair, and that needs to be nourished. Omega fatty acids are super nourishers! 

Omegas are different to the normal fat that your dog will use for energy. These fats will help with digestion and keep skin and fur moisturized

Every dog food contains Omegas on their guaranteed analysis list and we’ve taken note of them when reviewing these dog foods. 

If they’re a little low, we’ve made a note for you. But generally, most dog foods contain good levels, with some being above average.

Criteria #5: Affordability

As always, we consider not only the health of the fluffs involved but also the health of the pet parents’ wallets! 

Affordability is always a consideration, and the good news is that you can get premium quality dog food for a very friendly price if you know where to look. 

Our Best Value for Money option is aimed specifically at those dog parents who are looking for something that won’t cost an arm and a paw but will still nourish their pup and keep them as healthy as possible. 

It contains everything your dog may need and even has some advantages over the common top-of-the-range dog foods (aside from its price!).


Questions & Answers

What should I look for in the best dog food for Shih Tzu dogs?

Shih Tzus are prone to certain health conditions, so it’s important to select their food carefully if you want to avoid health problems later on. 

You should be aiming for dog food with:

Around 25% protein 

Make sure that protein comes from named animal sources. Multiple sources is completely fine, but a single source protein may be better for pups with a sensitive tummy. 

About 13% fat 

Fat is the fuel dogs need, and small dogs need a fair amount of it! Go for +-13% for the average adult Shih Tzu. 

If your pup needs to lose some pounds, less fat is a good starting point. Seniors and dogs who are less active may also do better with below 13%. On the other hand, those pups who get plenty of exercise may need slightly more. 

Fruits & Veggies 

At all costs, avoid corn, wheat, and soy. Other grains are okay, such as oats, millet, barley, and quinoa. But Shih Tzus are known for their fussy tummies, so if you can go grain-free then it ay be worth doing. 

Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and vitamins and minerals, so they’re a far superior carb source. 

Good Omega Levels 

As we’ve mentioned, dogs with flowing coats like Tzus can benefit from Omega fatty acids as they moisturize and nourish the skin and fur. 

Other 

Probiotics and prebiotics are super helpful for dogs who tend to have stomach problems or food allergies. 

Glucosamine and chondroitin can be very helpful if your Shih Tzu tends to suffer from joint dysplasia. 

DHA is essential in puppy food, and helpful in adult dog food, as it strengthens the eyes.

How much should I feed my Shih Tzu?

If you aren’t quite sure about numbers, following the instructions on the packaging is a great way to start. 

It can definitely differ from dog to dog, though, so it’s a good idea to try and work out what’s appropriate for your specific pooch. 

Generally, healthy adult Shih Tzus will need about 35 calories per pound of body weight

This isn’t set in stone, though! If your Tzu is older, more relaxed, or simply a little lazy, it’s more likely they’ll need about 30 calories per pound. 

If they’re a little fireball and burn plenty of calories from lots of exercises during the day, 40 calories per pound may work better for them. 

Start with 35 calories, and monitor your pup for a few weeks to see how he or she deals with it. If they seem hungry all the time or start to look a little scrawny, that’s a sign they need a few more calories per day. 

If, however, they begin to look a little pudgy, you may need to either decrease their calories or increase their exercise.

What health issues are common to Shih Tzus?

These pretty little show dogs are unfortunately prone to certain conditions. Keep an eye out for symptoms indicating: 

Allergies 

Allergies can manifest themselves in digestive issues or skin and coat issues. Your pooch may have dry patches on their skin, scratch excessively, lick their paws obsessively, or shed more than usual. 

Their pooping habits may also change. Any signs of diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain could be a symptom of food allergies or intolerances.

Changing their food is a good first step to fixing the issue. Go for dog food with a different protein, as the protein is often the culprit when it comes to allergies. 

Hypothyroidism 

This condition is when the thyroid gland isn’t producing the hormones it should be in order to keep your pup healthy. 

Common symptoms include: 

  • Unexplained weight gain 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Weakness & lethargy 
  • Intolerance of the cold 
  • Skin and coat problems 
  • Dry eyes 
  • Thickening of facial skin 

Hypothyroidism needs to be diagnosed and treated by a vet. You can help your dog by switching them to a dog food that will help alleviate their symptoms. You’d still need to see a vet though! 

Brachycephalic Syndrome 

Short-nosed dogs are at risk of developing a set of conditions known as Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. This is a set of health problems mainly to do with breathing. 

Shih Tzus are particularly prone to breathing issues in warmer weather. Not all of them will have these problems, but it’s definitely something Shih Tzu parents should be on the lookout for. 

Some problems can be managed with just a little effort, while others may be severe enough to need surgery. 

Eye Problems 

Shih Tzus of all ages are prone to eye problems like cherry eye, inverted eyelids, ingrown eyelashes, and cataracts. The shape of their face lends itself to an eye injury, unfortunately. 

Another thing they’re prone to, which isn’t really a health problem, are tear stains. These reddish-brown marks on your Shih Tzu’s face aren’t dangerous to their health, but don’t look pretty! 

Anemia 

Shih Tzu dogs seem to be more susceptible to this autoimmune disease than other dogs. It will need to be diagnosed by a vet and treated, but changing their diet can help with the symptoms. 

Joint Dysplasia 

Yes, even tiny dogs can have joint problems! A dose of glucosamine and chondroitin can help keep their joints tough and strong. 

This is more often a problem with overweight Shih Tzus!

My Shih Tzu is overweight, how do I help them to lose weight?

There are two ways to help your dog lose weight: increase their daily exercise, and decrease the amount of calories they’re eating. 

Increasing exercise is always preferable! Just a short walk every day and a bit of play can burn a significant amount of calories. 

Choosing a weight loss kibble can also have a good effect. These are usually formulated with a lower fat count, so your pup will have to burn their own fat instead of what they’re getting in their dog food.