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Best Dog Foods For Shih Tzus: Puppies, Adults & Seniors

We talk you through the Shih Tzu’s nutritional needs in every stage of his life, as well as those times where he becomes a little too porky for his tiny frame. The in-depth and comprehensive guide recommends the best food around, walk through why we like each brand.

Emma Braby Picture

Last Updated: September 13, 2022 | 14 min read

Best Dog Food for Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is a popular family pet who, in 2020, finds himself in the top family dog breeds in America. And while nutrition is one of the most important, and easiest, ways to keep your Shih Tzu healthy, most dog owners do not know about their pooch’s nutritional needs. Finding the best food for your Shih Tzu isn’t difficult when equipped with the right data, which we provide as we get in-depth below.

Our recommendations are made from natural premium ingredients that are the very best for your Shih Tzu, as well as being made by well-known brands. Each brand is also compliant with the Association of American Feed Control Officials, who have set quality compliance for all dog foods.

So, whether your Shih Tzu needs a change in diet, or you are about to welcome one of these little guys into your home and need to get the nutritional low down, stick with us as we have got you, and your Shih Tzu, covered.

At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods for Shih Tzus

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Formula
Our Rating

Best For Puppies

Royal Canin Shih Tzu

The Farmer's Dog Food Products (3 flavors)
Our Rating

Best For Adults

The Farmer’s Dog

Hills Science Diet Dry Dog Food Adult 11 Senior Small Paws
Our Rating

Best For Seniors

Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws 11+

Note: Clicking the above links take you to, Chewy, or each company’s website, where you can get additional product information and customer reviews. If you make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Shih Tzu Puppy Nutrient Needs

Although Shih Tzus are small, they are even smaller as puppies, so they still need a lot of energy to help them reach their ideal weight of 9 to 16 pounds. For this reason, it is crucial to choose a puppy formula that is designed specifically for toy breeds, as they have the optimum amount of protein, energy, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals. Additionally, this also ensures that the kibble pieces fit into his mouth, as standard kibble pieces are often too big.

It is important to stick to the food that the breeder has used up to the age of three months, because a change in diet can lead to an upset stomach, which in turn leads to him not wanting to eat. The Shih Tzu is known to suffer with hypoglycemia, and as such not eating at all could be very dangerous. Shih Tzu puppies should also be free-fed, again, because their blood sugar levels are known to drop quickly.

Ideally, a protein content of at least 22% is desirable, which helps his muscles to develop correctly and maintain their mass. The Shih Tzu is also known to suffer with sensitive digestive system, so be sure to monitor his general eating patterns and signs of a sensitive stomach, and consult your Veterinarian if you suspect there is something wrong.

Adult Shih Tzu Nutrient Needs

Once your Shih Tzu has reached the grand old age of 12 months, you should look to switch him to adult formula. Again, you should feed your Shih Tzu adult formula designed for small breeds as this contains the nutrients he needs, and be sure to avoid all life-stage formulas.

You do not have to stick to the same brand of food, however, if you do switch then be sure to gradually transition him so to not upset his stomach. You should not free-feed the adult Shih Tzu as his body is better able to regulate his blood sugar levels by now, and this increases the chances of obesity, so feed his daily allowance across 3 to 4 meals a day. Just as a puppy, the protein content should be at least 22% and be sure to follow the package instructions according to your Shih Tzu’s weight.

Senior Shih Tzu Nutrient Needs

The senior Shih Tzu’s nutritional needs, just like senior humans, change over time, and as such they should be fed less colorific kibble that has specific aging nutrients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that all aid his aging joints and body. Feeding him anything other than senior food means that he does not receive the goodness that he needs, and as such he ages much quicker.

Whilst the protein content can remain the same, the fat content and calorie count per cup need to be much less, otherwise, he piles on the pounds which further weakens his joints. Superfoods, vitamins and nutrients are also important to strengthen his aging immune system and keep him fighting fit.

A Shih Tzu is considered to be a senior at around the age of eight, but this can vary between pooches, so be sure to speak to your veterinarian if you have any questions about when to switch his food. Just like the adult Shih Tzu, the senior pooch should be fed 3 to 4 meals a day.

Best Food For Shih Tzu Puppies

Shih Tzu Puppy Food
Shih Tzu’s require a higher calorie count per serving of food as puppies to help them grow.

Whilst there are lots of puppy foods to choose from, there is a limited choice when it comes to puppy formula specifically designed for smaller breeds, but below are a selection of natural kibbles that are all high quality and highly rated by other small breed owners just like yourself.

Because puppies have different nutritional needs than adults or seniors, you’ll need to ensure that you are looking at foods that are not only smaller in size, but foods that are more nutrient-dense. These foods have different nutritional values that help meet the needs of your growing Shih Tzu puppy.

Royal Canin Shih Tzu

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Formula
  • Designed to meet the nutritional needs of purebred Shih Tzus 8 weeks to 10 months old.
  • Unique kibble shape is designed for a Shih Tzu’s short muzzle and underbite.
  • Helps protect puppy development of their immune system and natural defenses with an exclusive complex of antioxidants including vitamin E.
  • Promotes healthy skin and maintains a Shih Tzu’s growing, long coat with specific nutrients.
  • High-quality proteins and prebiotics for your small breed’s digestive health helps reduce amount of stools and stool odor,

This formula has been designed with the Shih Tzu puppy in mind, so you cannot get much more tailored than this recipe. It is designed for puppies aged 8 weeks until 10 months and has a unique kibble shape that has been designed for the Shih Tzu’s short muzzle and underbite, so he can pick up the pieces with ease.

There is a balanced blend of vitamins and minerals to help his immune system strengthen as well as nutrients to aid a healthy coat and silky locks. This recipe contains prebiotics for a healthy gut and stools, which helps to achieve better gut health.

We love that this recipe has the least amount of calories per cup, which makes it the best option for those calmer Shih Tzus, or the ones who are partial to lazing in his master’s lap.

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Puppy
  • All-natural small breed puppy food.
  • Real meat is the first ingredient.
  • Contains no meat by-product.
  • Contains no fillers or artificial ingredients.
  • Contains blueberries, peas & carrots (Fiber).
  • Also contains sweet potatoes (antioxidants).
  • Smaller size kibble for smaller jaws.

Deboned Chicken and Chicken meal are the first two ingredients in this recipe, which is perfect for the Shih Tzu’s protein needs and growing power, as well as being super tasty. Fish oil and Chicken fat promote a healthy coat, as well as additional Flaxseed.

It contains Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Arachidonic Acid (ARA) which is an important ingredient that is found in mothers’ milk, and it is a crucial ingredient for eye and brain development. This recipe also has tasty LifeSource Bits which are made of a precise blend of all the vitamins and minerals that he needs during his puppy stage.

We love that this recipe is grain free for those Shih Tzus with sensitive stomachs or grain intolerances, and it also has the highest fiber content too which is great for his gut health.

Wellness Complete Small Breed Puppy

Wellness Complete Small Puppy Food
  • Contains no meat by-products or fillers.
  • First ingredient is real meat (turkey).
  • Supports small breed energy needs.
  • Calcium Supports bone development.
  • Contains blueberries & spinach (antioxidants).
  • Skin & coat support with Omega 3’s.
  • Made in the United States.

The fish ingredients provide high levels of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which are great for his bone growth and coat health. It has vitamin A and E which are also important for his immune system development.

This recipe has the second highest fiber content, with chicory root extract, pea fiber and carrots that aid healthy stools, as well as prebiotics and probiotics, which aid a healthy gut flora for his sensitive stomach.

We love that this recipe concentrates on his overall wellness, so you can be sure that there is nothing missing from this ingredient list.

Canidae Pure Small Breed Puppy

Canidae Small Breed Puppy
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Contains probiotics and antioxidants.
  • Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
  • Salmon is the first ingredient.
  • Limited ingredient formula.
  • 525 Calories per cup.
  • 24% Protein, 13.5% Fat, 4% Fiber.

This recipe is made with fish protein only, so it is the best option for those fussier Shih Tzus who do not like, or are allergic to, the most common protein source, poultry. Fresh Salmon, Salmon meal and freeze-dried raw Salmon not only provide him with all of his brain development and bone health requirements, but it is also super tasty for him.

Probiotics are also added to every kibble piece to ensure that his sensitive stomach is cared for, as well as lentils and peas to supply him with his fiber needs.

We love that this simple recipe is made with only eight ingredients, so you can be sure that it is full of everything that he needs and nothing that he doesn’t, which is great for sensitive dogs.

Best Food For Adult Shih Tzus

Shih Tzu Adult Eating Food
Shih Tzu adults have different nutritional requirements from puppies and seniors.

Adult Shih Tzus start to have different developmental and nutritional needs when they reach about 1 year of age.  This is around the time they should transition to adult food, which should be done slowly over time.  They shouldn’t be switched quickly as to avoid upsetting their stomach and possibly turning them off of the new food that’s a better fit for their nutritional requirements.

While there are a lot more choices for small breed adults, there are also many poor quality brands that claim to be the best, so here we have sifted through multiple brands and types to find our favorite high-quality diet perfect for your adult Shih Tzu.

The Farmer's Dog

The Farmer's Dog Food Products (3 flavors)
  • Cooked fresh, flash-frozen, and shipped to you.
  • Personalized meal plans.
  • 4 healthy, vet-designed options: beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.
  • Made with human-grade ingredients (no fillers or preservatives).
  • Manufactured in the United States.
  • Calories and nutritional values vary based on recipe.

We are not saying you want to eat this dog food from The Farmer’s Dog, but you certainly could because it includes only human-grade ingredients. This ensures that your dog’s coat stays shiny and his large muscles are kept strong and healthy. And the customized plan, designed by vets and recommended based on your Shih Tzus’ specific needs, supports him in maintaining a healthy body weight and condition. And to get more bang for your buck, mix in homecooked rice if your dog does not require a grain-free diet.

In addition to high-quality meats, your dog will enjoy the gentle fibers, such as sweet potatoes and lentils, that encourage digestion and healthy gut flora. Prepared in a USDA-certified kitchen, these recipes are sure to please even the most discerning palate.

We love that these grain-free meal plans are customized for your Shih Tzus’ weight, activity level, level of pickiness, and any special dietary needs. It’s an excellent option that guarantees your dog is eating the freshest, highest-quality, well-balanced meal available.

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Breed Specific

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Adult Breed Specific Dry Dog Food
  • Designed to meet the nutritional needs of purebred Shih Tzus 10 months and older.
  • Unique kibble shape is designed for a small breed’s short muzzle and underbite.
  • Promotes healthy skin and coat with an exclusive complex of nutrients including EPA, DHA, and vitamin A.
  • A combination of omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and biotin maintains a healthy coat.
  • Highly digestible proteins, precise fiber content, and high-quality carbohydrate sources help reduce amount of stools and odor.

This recipe is perfectly blended with the Shih Tzu’s nutritional needs in mind, and the uniquely shaped kibble pieces help to ensure that mealtime is easy for him. Royal Canin have studied the Shih Tzu to determine exactly what he needs, such as his sensitive gut and coat requirements, and ensured that it is included in this recipe.

It also supports his long luscious locks and healthy supple skin with Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids such as Chicken fat, Fish oil, and biotin. This recipe also helps to maintain his gut health and firm stools with highly digestible ingredients and precise fiber content such as oat groats and beet pulp.  Royal Canin is one of our favorite food brands for the Yorkshire Terriers as well, which is another small breed pup.

We love that recipe is designed with the adult Shih Tzu in mind, so you can rest assured that this tailored recipe caters for all his adult needs.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Small Breed

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural Adult Small Breed
  • Real chicken as the first ingredient.
  • Specifically formulated to meet the unique energy requirements of smaller breeds.
  • Contains omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for skin and coat.
  • Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support immune system health.
  • Made with the finest natural ingredients enhanced with vitamins and minerals.
  • No chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.

Deboned Chicken and Chicken meal are the first two ingredients, which are important for his protein requirements and energy. Flaxseed and animal fats nourish his coat from the inside out, and the listed cranberries are not only yummy and nutritious, but they also aid a healthy urinary tract. Blue Buffalo is one of our favorite food brands for larger breeds like the Mastiff as well.

The adult version of this recipe also includes the LifeSource Bits, which ensures that his adult nutritional needs are met with a different blend of vitamins and minerals to ensure that he maintains a healthy oxidative balance.

We love that recipe is grain free which is perfect for those small breeds with sensitive stomachs, especially if this is what he was fed as a puppy.

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Adult

Small Breed Instinct Raw Boost
  • Made with raw food ingredients.
  • Boosted nutrition for small breed dogs.
  • Cage-free chicken is first ingredient.
  • Natural probiotics for digestion.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 469 Calories per cup.
  • 35% Protein, 20% Fat, 4% Fiber

This premium recipe is made with freeze-dried raw pieces, which not only retain more nutritional value, but they are also delicious. This recipe also lists Herring meal, Turkey meal, and Lamb meal as well as Beef heart, liver, spleen and kidney, so whilst that might not sound appetizing to you, your Shih Tzu will love it.

This recipe is also grain free, which makes it another great option for those Shih Tzus with sensitive stomachs, and it is full of antioxidants with peas, apples, and cranberries.

We love that this recipe has the highest protein content with the first ingredient being real Beef, which is great for those super active and boisterous Shih Tzus, as well as having freeze dried raw toppers as an extra.

Wellness Small Breed Adult

Wellness Small Breed Adult Natural Food
  • Smaller Kibble bits for smaller mouths.
  • Omega 3’s and 6’s for skin and coat health.
  • Chondroitin boost.
  • Prebiotics and Probiotics for gut health.
  • Contains no wheat, corn, or soy.
  • 420 Calories per cup.
  • 28% Protein, 15% Fat, 4% Fiber.

Following on from the puppy recipe, this recipe compliments his adult life stage. Full of Turkey and Salmon, this recipe provides him with energy and protein for his overall health. These protein sources also ensure that the uniquely shaped kibble pieces are full of taste too, which will keep him interested.

Vitamin A and C contribute towards healthy teeth and gums which is important for all small breeds, as well as pre and probiotics to keep his digestive tract in top condition.

We love that this recipe focuses on his five most important areas: skin and coat, digestive health, energy, eyes and teeth, and immunity, so it has a little bit of everything.

Nutro Ultra Adult Small Breed

Nutro Ultra Adult Small Breed
  • Trio of Proteins From Chicken, Lamb, and Salmon.
  • Specially formulated for small breed adult dogs.
  • Made with high-quality protein and our blend of 15 vibrant superfoods, like coconut, chia, kale, blueberries, and other quality ingredients.
  • No chicken by-product meal, corn, soy, or wheat, and no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
  • Quality ingredients, sourced from a trusted network of farmers and suppliers.

Chicken, Lamb, Salmon and Egg products provide the Shih Tzu with his protein needs and much needed energy, as well as all the Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids he needs for a shiny looking coat.

With 15 superfoods included in every bite you can be sure that he is getting all the nutrients he needs to stay a healthy adult and prepare him for his later life stages. Dried beet pulp, spinach and kale provide him with all the fiber he needs for a healthy gut.

We love that this kibble is packed with superfoods which is important for strong immune systems and general overall health.

Best Food For Senior Shih Tzus

Senior Food For Shih Tzus
Senior Shih Tzus need to be moderated when it comes to food intake so they don’t get overweight.

There is no doubt that the right nutrition keeps any pooch healthier, and therefore alive longer, sometimes significantly, so be sure to give your Shih Tzu the best senior food around. As they age, these pups need to dial back their caloric intake to ensure they don’t put on unnecessary weight, so finding the right food is crucial.

There are a few great brands that make excellent formulas for small breed senior pups. Below are our favorite high-quality kibbles that cover your senior’s nutritional needs, and as always, they are highly rated and tried and tested.

Hill’s Science Diet Small Paws 11+

Hills Science Diet Dry Dog Food Adult 11 Senior Small Paws
  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • Antioxidant blend for immune health.
  • Made with natural ingredients.
  • Fiber supports digestive health.
  • Easy to digest ingredients.
  • 371 Calories per cup.
  • 18% Protein, 11% Fat, 4% Fiber.

Lifelong health starts with science, and this recipe is made and recommended by scientists and dog nutritionists, so you know that it has got to be seriously good. Designed with older smaller breeds in mind, it supports his aging bones and joints with fish oil to keep him feeling young.

It also provides him with omega 6 fatty acids and vitamin E to support his skin and coat, which needs extra nourishment in his older age. The ingredients list a precise blend of nutrients and minerals for his cardiac health too.

We love that this recipe is designed for seniors aged 11+, so this kibble is great for the senior seniors.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Formula
  • High protein content for muscle maintenance.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin boost.
  • No corn, wheat, soy or chicken by-product.
  • Super 7 package of antioxidant-rich ingredients.
  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
  • 371 Calories per cup.
  • 23% Protein, 13% Fat, 6% Fiber.

Blue Buffalo offer senior life protection with deboned Chicken and L-carnitine which helps to keep his muscles lean and strong with high-quality protein sources. Glucosamine and chondroitin also feature in this recipe which is fantastic for his joints and mobility.

This recipe also provides him with wholesome grains, vegetables and fruit, as well as their LifeSource Bits that contain a precise blend of senior nutrients to keep him as healthy as possible. He will feel stronger and healthier with this kibble for sure.

We love that this recipe has the highest level of fiber, which makes it a great option for those Shih Tzus with a sensitive gut who need a high fiber diet.

Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed

Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Small Breed
  • Features enhanced botanical oils to promote alertness and mental sharpness.
  • Specially made for dogs age 7+.
  • Chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Bite-sized kibble makes chewing easier for small dogs.
  • EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, and glucosamine for joint health and mobility.

Not only does this recipe promote strong bones, joints, teeth and gums, it also heightens his slowing brain function with botanical oils such as arginine, DHA and B vitamins. It is said to promote alertness and mental sharpness within 30 days, so if he is looking a bit slower than normal why not try him on this recipe.

Real chicken and Fish meal provide him with the energy he needs to play and get up and about with healthier joints, and biotin and Fish oils keep his long coat looking vibrant.

We love that this has the highest protein content and calorie count, so if your Shih Tzu is just as active as he was as an adult, then this recipe will be sure to keep his energy levels up.

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Senior

Wellness Small Breed Senior Complete Health
  • Low sodium for heart health.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin boost.
  • Omega 3’s and 6’s for skin and coat.
  • Lower calorie for less active Boston Terriers.
  • No fillers or by-products.
  • 437 Calories per cup.
  • 25% Protein, 12% Fat, 5% Fiber.

This recipe is made with smaller kibble pieces with added glucosamine and chondroitin for his aging joints and hips. It is also made with select healthy fats and carbohydrates which means that he is better able to maintain his weight, which is why this recipe has the lowest fat content.

Natural fiber such as peas, spinach and probiotics ensure that his gut remains healthy and as flatulence free as possible. Not only this, but it also keeps him feeling fuller for longer, so you’ll find him begging for food less.

We love that this recipe completes the set of Wellness Complete recommended through all of your Shih Tzu’s life stages, and as always, it concentrates on his overall senior health.

Food For Overweight Shih Tzus

Foods for Overweight Shih Tzus
As Shih Tzus become overweight, you’ll need to dial back caloric intake.

There comes a point in most people’s lives when they become a bit overweight, and our beloved pooches are no different.  While this typically happens in older dogs, it can happen in adult Shih Tzus as well if you free feed and don’t watch their food intake to balance it with exercise. Shih Tzus love to eat, and this can result in them putting on extra pounds.

If this is currently the point your Shih Tzu is at, fear not, for the following weight management kibbles are perfectly suited to the smaller Shih Tzu, just be sure to increase his activity levels and monitor his treats in order to achieve his weight loss or management.

Science Diet Perfect Weight Small Dog

Science Diet Perfect Weight Small Dog
  • Made with natural ingredients.
  • Made for small breed weight maintenance.
  • Veterinarian endorsed brand.
  • High-fiber formula.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 291 Calories per cup.
  • 24% Protein, 9% Fat, 13% Fiber.

This specialty diet is based on science, and again, it is designed and recommended by Veterinarians and dog nutritionists alike. Over 70% of overweight dogs lost weight within 10 weeks when fed this reduced calorie diet. The kibble pieces are designed for small and mini pooches, so your Shih Tzu will no doubt lose weight with this kibble and the right activity levels.

We love Hill’s Science Diet for many breeds, and many different categories. But they really excel here making a weight management food that’s specifically designed for small breeds like the Shih Tzu.  It’s highly rated, and is everything your overweight Shih Tzu needs.

Halo Grain Free Healthy Weight

Halo Senior Weight Loss
  • Made with real salmon and whitefish.
  • Non-GMO vegetables and ingredients.
  • Smaller kibble size for small mouths.
  • NO meat-meals used.
  • Made in the United States.
  • 383 Calories per cup.
  • 27% Protein, 12% Fat, 5% Fiber.

This grain free recipe is the best option for those porkier Shih Tzus who need to lose or manage their weight, but who are also grain intolerant or have sensitive stomachs. Reduced calories and L-carnitine help to boost his metabolism, and whole Salmon and Whitefish provide him with the protein that he needs. This recipe is super digestible with plenty of fibrous ingredients, and Halo claim that the proof is in your Shih Tzu’s healthy poop.

We love the Halo Grain free healthy weight formula, because it’s specifically targeted at smaller breeds. It’s also great that it caters to pups that may have sensitive stomachs, which is an added benefit.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to your beloved Shih Tzu, you should only feed him the very best food around, and hopefully, after reading this guide you are now equipped with everything you need to know about his nutritional needs.

Every life stage is just as important as the other, but each stage has its own set of unique needs. During his puppy stage, he needs the perfect blend of protein and energy for his growing power, as well as all the nutrients he needs to develop a strong immune system and strong bones. His adult stage requires lean protein to maintain muscle mass and keep him feeling energized, and his senior stage requires less energy to ensure that he does not become too fat, and extra glucosamine and superfoods for his weakening joints and immune system.

By sticking to our recommended high-quality dry dog foods you can be sure that each one of his unique nutritional needs are met, and you have one of the healthiest and happiest Shih Tzus on the block.

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