The Best Dog Food For Shih Tzus

best dog food for shih tzu

The Shih Tzu, or ‘Little Lion” dog, is a joy to be around. This breed has a huge heart, and an even bigger personality. They are lovingly playful lap dogs with a medium energy level, who love daily walks and have a desire to be included. With historical roots dating back to Chinese royalty, the Shih Tzu remains one of the most popular dog breeds in America today.

Though Shih Tzus are generally healthy dogs, there are some common health concerns to watch out for. It probably goes without saying, but, their diet can have a profound effect on their health, appearance, and general well-being. In this article, we’ll run down our top dog food picks for Shih Tzus to keep them looking and feeling their best.

RankProductRatingCheck Price
#1Royal Canin Shih Tzu48689_MAIN._AC_SS190_V1550511523_Check Price
#2Purina Pro Plan SAVOR Small Breed Formula86253_MAIN._AC_SS190_V1530113517_Check Price
#3Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Small Breed75324_MAIN._AC_SS190_V1551302428_-1Check Price
#4Nature's Recipe Grain Free Small Breed76138_MAIN._AC_SS190_V1531946363_Check Price
#5Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breednutro-1Check Price

Considerations When Choosing The Best Food For Your Shih Tzu:

Dental Problems

Shih Tzus have small mouths, which often predispose them to tooth misalignment and overcrowding. According to the American Shih Tzu Club, more than 85% of Shih Tzus ages 2 years and older have periodontal disease (gum disease). This occurs when plaque builds up on teeth and hardens to form tartar. The tartar then spreads up under the gumline and can become infected, resulting in the loss of one or multiple teeth. In advanced cases, the bacterial infection from the periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and spread the infection to the heart, kidneys, or liver.

Hard kibble is one tool that vets recommend to remove plaque, as the crunchy bits scrape the plaque from the teeth as your dog chews. The same goes for hard chew toys, like bully sticks.

A daily tooth-brushing routine is recommended as the first line of defense. But for Shih Tzus, it is also particularly important that you maintain a yearly veterinary dental cleaning to keep their teeth and gums as healthy as possible.

Signs of dental problems include bad breath, bleeding or inflamed gums, loss of appetite, depression, and irritability when touched or petted on the head.


Shih Tzus are not on the list of breeds most plagued by allergies, but they have their fair share. They can suffer from seasonal, flea, or food allergies, all of which can wreak havoc on their little bodies.

If you suspect you Shih Tzu has a food allergy or sensitivity, you may want to start an elimination diet to find out exactly what their immune system is reacting to. In this case, it would make sense to choose a limited ingredient dog food, but please note that “limited ingredient” does not have a standard meaning in the dog food industry. It can mean that the food only has one protein source as opposed to multiple protein sources, or only one carbohydrate. It can also mean it just has fewer ingredients compared to that particular company’s standard kibble recipe. You will have to be the detective and keep track of what ingredients you are feeding your dog. For more detailed information on food allergies in dogs, check out our article, “The Low-Down On Food Allergies In Dogs.”

When switching your Shih Tzu to a different food, it’s important to remember that it’s a process, not an overnight transition. A dog’s food must be transitioned over time, typically 10 days, to prevent stomach upset and diarrhea. Start day 1 with 25% new food, 75% old food, and gradually increase the new while decreasing the old until the transition is complete on day 10.

Luxating Patella

Shih Tzus are prone to a condition called a luxating patella, which means the knee is out of place or dislocated. Some dogs can tolerate this problem for many years, and some for all their lives. With advancing age, arthritic changes may take place in the joint resulting in joint pain. When choosing a food, you may want to select one that has supplements for joint health.

Obviously, joint problems are only made worse in a dog that is overweight. If you notice your little fur baby is getting thick around the middle, keep an eye on portion size, and adjust daily portions in conjunction with how many treats you give in a day. Free-feeding (leaving food out all of the time) is never recommended. Given that Shih Tzus are small dogs, it is suggested that you adopt a 2 or 3 meal a day feeding schedule.

The Best Dog Foods For Shih Tzus

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Dry Dog Food

First 5 Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Brown Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Chicken Fat, Oat Groats

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Dog Food is tailor-made nutrition created specifically for Shih Tzus. The unique kibble shape and texture are specially designed for their short muzzle and underbite, making it easy for them to pick up and chew. An exclusive complex of nutrients reinforces the skin barrier to maintain skin health. Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and biotin give the Shih Tzus coat softness and shine. And a combination of highly digestible proteins, precise fiber content, and high-quality carbohydrate sources supports healthy digestion to help reduce stool volume.

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Formula is also available for puppies 8 weeks to 10 months old.

Purina Pro Plan SAVOR Small Breed Formula

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Ground Rice, Poultry By-Product Meal (Source Of Glucosamine), Soybean Meal, Beef Tallow Naturally Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols

A highly affordable and highly rated option, Purina Pro Plan SAVOR lists real chicken as the #1 ingredient. Unique to this formula are two textures to help entice picky eaters: crunchy kibble and tender shredded bites. An optimal protein-to-fat ratio helps your Shih Tzu maintain an ideal body weight, while Vitamin A and linoleic acid (Omega-6) help support healthy skin and coat. Natural prebiotic fiber, sourced from wheat bran, and guaranteed live probiotics provide digestive and immune system support. Purina Pro Plan SAVOR is manufactured in Purina-owned U.S. facilities.

If your Shih Tzu is already on the heavy side, please note that Purina Pro Plan also makes a highly rated Weight Management Formula containing 25% less fat than the regular SAVOR Small Breed Formula.

Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Small Breed

First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Canola Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols)

The Wellness brand is a trusted brand that contains only premium, all-natural ingredients with no wheat-gluten, corn, soy, meat by-products, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The Simple Small Breed Formula is a limited ingredient recipe containing only a single source of protein and easily digestible carbohydrates. They add flaxseed for healthy skin, and prebiotics and probiotics to further support digestion and immune health. The small breed formula is also a smaller kibble size for smaller mouths. Wellness is made in the USA.

Nature’s Recipe Grain-Free Small Breed

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Garbanzo Beans, Peas, Poultry Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols)

Real chicken is the first ingredient, and Nature’s Recipe’s nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources are easy to digest, keeping your Shih Tzu active and healthy. They add calcium and phosphorous to support strong bones and teeth, and glucosamine to support joint mobility. The smaller kibble is a perfect fit for smaller mouths. Nature’s Recipe contains no corn, wheat, poultry by-product meal, artificial colors or preservatives, and is made in the USA.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Split Peas, Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice

This Nutro Small Breed Formula lists farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient. It provides natural fiber for healthy digestion and essential antioxidants for a healthy immune system, plus vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. This recipe is specifically tailored to meet your small breed’s unique needs and is made with patented levels of Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and a soft, shiny coat. This formula follows Nutro’s FEED CLEAN philosophy and is always made with non-GMO ingredients. It is free of chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, soy protein, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Nutro is made in the USA.


With so many dog foods on the market, it can be challenging to pick a food that meets your Shih Tzu’s needs. Feed your fur baby the best dry dog food you can afford. Their energy levels, overall health, and even their mood can depend on it.

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