Best Dog Food for Shih Tzu in 2024

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Shih Tzu were bred to spend their days in palaces, cuddling up to their owners — meaning they’re not the most active dogs.

But because of this, many Shih Tzu can have obesity problems, primarily due to their sedentary lifestyle. 

And they aren’t alone. About 55% of dogs are currently considered overweight. So you’ll want to grab a lower calorie and low-in-fat dog food to avoid joint problems and weight gain.

Our favorite choice for Shih Tzu is Whole Earth Farms Small Breed dry dog food

This is the food my own Shih Tzu eats, and he has successfully lost weight. But we have other options, too, including foods for budget buyers and those with puppies.

Our Best Dog Food for Shih Tzu 

10 Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzu Reviewed 

All dog food options on this list meet the standard AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for dogs. Before switching to any new dog food, consult with your veterinarian. 

Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Grain Free Salmon & Whitefish Dry Dog Food

Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Grain-Free Salmon & Whitefish
Our Rating:
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Chickpeas, Chicken Meal
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 11% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 373 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Gluten-Free; No Corn, Wheat, or Soy; Grain-Free
  • Life Stage: All Life Stages
  • Key Feature: Grain-free formula for small breeds

This formula offers high-protein and moderate-fat for most adult Shih Tzu that need to maintain their weight but not lose muscle mass. 

At 381 kcal/cup, it’s also lower in calories to keep weight gain at bay. It provides real salmon, whitefish, and chicken meal, for a whopping 27% Crude Protein. And these offer glucosamine and taurine for heart and joint health

It’s important to note that this is a grain-free formula, which many vets don’t recommend for Shih Tzu unless they’re allergic to grains. But it’s an excellent option for dogs with food intolerances. 

This food also includes supplemented probiotics to protect their small digestive tracts and boost their immune response. It also contains apples, sweet potatoes, and carrots, which provide vitamin A and C for eye support and fight inflammation. 

Dog owners love the size of this kibble. But many note that it does contain poultry, which some dogs can be allergic to. 


Probiotics for digestive health

Contains omega-3s for coat shine

Small kibble size




Includes poultry, a common allergen

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dog Food

Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy
Our Rating:
  • First 5 Ingredients: Brewers Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn, Chicken Fat, Wheat Gluten
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 16% Crude Fat, 3.6% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 355 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High Protein; Includes Grains; Breed Specific
  • Life Stage: Puppy 
  • Key Feature: Breed-specific formula exclusively for Shih Tzu puppies

This formula is designed for Shih Tzu puppies 8 weeks to 10 months old. And it’s a specialized kibble designed for their short muzzles and underbite.

It provides 355 kcal/cup and 26% Crude Protein from chicken by-product meals, which is essential for healthy weight gain and lean muscle mass in small dog breeds. The protein also offers l-carnitine, which turns fats into energy. 

This is a grain-inclusive formula, so it’s not the best choice for dogs sensitive to grains. But, it offers corn and brewers rice, two easy-to-digest ingredients, for added fiber. This aids in gut health and keeps stools from being bulky or loose. 

This recipe also contains plenty of healthy fats, essential for a growing puppy’s energy levels and coat health. Fish oil and chicken fat also provide DHA and ARA for a brain boost. 

Puppy parents say even their pickiest puppy gobbles down this food, and they don’t have any adverse reactions. But many note that it’s expensive and tends to go rancid faster. 


Contains DHA for brain development

Contains grains for gut health

High-protein for muscle growth

Small kibble size


Expires fast


Wellness Complete Small Breed Senior Dog Food

Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Deboned Turkey Peas
Our Rating:
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Peas, Rice
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 435 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, Wheat, or Soy; Weight Control
  • Life Stage: Adult 
  • Key Feature: Affordable dog food for senior Shih Tzu 

This food offers a high-protein and low-fat diet for aging small breeds who need to maintain weight and lean muscle mass. 

Even though it only provides 12% Crude Fat, it contains chicken fat and a vitamin E supplement. These keep joints strong and limber and support skin health without the extra fat that can cause weight gain. 

Deboned turkey and chicken meal offer 25% Crude Protein, which is essential for senior dogs. It helps avoid muscle loss due to age and is an excellent alternative for energy, which can keep them active and strong. 

Fiber-rich grains like ground brown rice and oats provide natural prebiotics and nutrients like vitamin B6 and calcium. These keep bones from being brittle and aid in energy production

Dog parents say this food is excellent for seniors with sensitive tummies. But while the kibble is slight, many note that it gets harder over time. So it may become difficult for older dogs to eat. 


Contains probiotics for gut health

Small kibble size for tiny mouths

Healthy grains provide fiber for digestion

High-protein for muscle maintenance


High-calorie, so focus on serving sizes

Kibble loses moisture fast

Eukanuba Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Eukanuba Small Breed Adult
Our Rating:
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn, Chicken Fat, Wheat
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 3.6% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 425 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High protein
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Key Feature: High protein formula for high-energy adult Shih Tzu 

This toy breed formula offers tiny kibble for adult Shih Tzu up to 23 pounds. But it is higher in fat and protein, so follow the feeding instructions to help your dog avoid weight gain. 

It starts with real deboned chicken, which offers 28% Crude Protein. And the chicken provides a natural source of taurine, glucosamine, and chondroitin. These aid in joint, heart, and muscle health. 

With 18% Crude Fat, this is an excellent recipe for active small dogs to keep up with their energy levels. This is achieved with chicken fat and fish oil. They’re also packed with omega fatty acids to keep joints supple. 

This dog food also contains a proprietary 3D DentaDefense blend. This helps clean your dog’s teeth naturally and reduces tartar buildup — a common problem with Shih Tzu. 

Dog moms and dads appreciate the moist and small kibble and say even the most miniature dogs can munch on it. But they mention that finicky pups may pick at it. 


Contains dental care ingredients

High-protein for muscle maintenance

Moist for easy eating

Small kibble size


High fat, which can cause weight gain

Picky pups may not like it

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE Limited Ingredient Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dog Food

CANIDAE Grain-Free PURE LID Salmon
Our Rating:
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas 
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 32% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 496 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Sensitive Digestion; Grain-Free; Limited Ingredient Diet 
  • Life Stage: Adult 
  • Key Feature: Best dog food for sensitive Shih Tzu 

This formula can be beneficial if your pup needs a limited ingredient diet due to food allergies. 

It only contains fish — including salmon and Menhaden fish meal — for canines who can’t eat proteins like chicken or beef. And the formula still has 32% Crude Protein, one of the highest percentages on this list. 

Instead of grains, this recipe offers legumes like lentils and garbanzo beans. These provide easy-to-digest carbohydrates and prebiotics for digestive health and to bulk up the stool. 

For an extra boost to gut health, this formula also supplements probiotics. These help flush out potentially harmful bacteria and keep your dog’s tummy happy. 

Shih Tzu owners love that this food doesn’t contain chicken or beef, common allergens for pups. But they have noticed that this formula also causes stinky poops. 


Limited-ingredient diet

Grain-free for sensitive dogs

Contains probiotics for gut health

High protein for strong muscles


Can cause stinky stool

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Small Breed Canned Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Small Breed Chicken Dinner
Our Rating:
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Carrots, Peas, Brown Rice
  • Key Feature: Best wet dog food 
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 10% Crude Protein, 7.5% Crude Fat, 1.5% Crude Fiber, 78% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 214 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, Wheat, or Soy
  • Life Stage: Adult 
  • Key Feature: Best wet dog food 

This wet dog food is high in fiber and protein to support Shih Tzu who eat canned options exclusively. It’s also a good topper option for picky pups. 

It contains 10% Crude Protein when measured as wet matter or 40% when compared to dry food.

This is because of the real chicken and dried egg product that is included. It’s also free of poultry by-product meals for parents who prefer real animal proteins. 

Blueberries and cranberries contain natural vitamin C. This boosts your dog’s immune system. And cranberries also aid in urinary and eye health. 

This is a lower calorie canned food at 214 kcal/cup. So larger canines may need three cans a day instead of two. This can add up in costs, so it’s not the best option for dog owners on a budget. 

Pet parents say they love spoiling their pup with this canned option. But they also admit that it’s mushy and smells. 


High-protein for muscle support

Contains fruits high in antioxidants

Offers healthy grains for gut health

Doesn’t contain by-products




Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Dog Food

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain Free Chicken Freeze Dried
Our Rating:
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Chickpeas, Tapioca, Chicken Fat
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 35% Crude Protein, 20% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 9% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 469 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High Protein; Gluten Free; Raw
  • Life Stage: Adult 
  • Key Feature: Best raw-like dog food 

At 35% Crude Protein and 20% Crude Fat, this is the highest protein and fat food available for small breeds. 

So if your dog needs extra energy to gain weight or keep up with activities, this is the best option. 

It contains multiple animal proteins — including real chicken and turkey meal. And it also provides freeze-dried chicken liver. This adds extra flavor for picky eaters and is rich in amino acids for strong muscles and recovery. 

Dried kelp and blueberries offer natural antioxidants and vitamin C. These help your dog break down and absorb the other ingredients in this food. This helps them avoid tummy upset and boosts their energy. 

Dog moms and dads say the raw bits in this food have made a massive difference in their dogs’ energy levels and coat health. But they admit that it may be too hard for smaller pups to eat. 


Contains raw food for extra protein 

Adds probiotics for gut health

High in fat for a boost in energy

A great option for picky eaters


Crunchy kibble


Iams Proactive Health Adult Minichunks Small Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food

Our Rating:
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken By-Product Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 380 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High Protein; Farm-Raised Chicken
  • Life Stage: Adult 
  • Key Feature: Budget friendly dog food with whole ingredients 

This affordable dog food offers a small kibble size and contains real farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient. 

With 25% Crude Protein, this recipe aids muscle development and health. Plus, chicken contains glucosamine and chondroitin for your pup’s small joints. These nutrients keep them strong and help prevent arthritis as your dog ages. 

It’s moderate in fat, offering 14% from ingredients like flaxseed and chicken fat. They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for brain health and to keep your pup’s long shiny coat.

This formula does include grains, including whole-grain wheat and whole-grain corn. If your dog is sensitive to those ingredients, avoid this food. 

Pet owners love this affordable food and say their dog hasn’t had any adverse reactions to it. But they admit it’s higher in calories and filling grains, which can cause weight gain if your dog overeats. 


High protein for muscle and joint health

Contains farm-raised protein

Lower in fat



High calories can cause weight gain

Contains filler grains

Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Chicken Adult Small Breed Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina Pro Plan Weight Management Chicken Adult Small Breed
Our Rating:
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry By-Product Meal, Whole Grain Corn
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 10% Crude Fat, 4.5% Crude Fiber, 12% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 346 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: High Protein; Weight Control
  • Life Stage: Adult 
  • Key Feature: High protein and low fat to aid weight loss 

If your Shih Tzu needs to lose weight, this high-protein formula is lower in fat and calories to help. 

It’s lower in calories than most foods on this list, providing 346 kcal/cup. But it still offers 30% Crude Protein from real chicken, fish meal, and dried egg product to help your pup keep their muscle tone and energy. 

Beef fat is the primary healthy fat of this food, offering essential vitamins like vitamin A, C, and D. These aid in bone health and boost your dog’s immune system. Even though beef is included, the recipe only contains 10% Crude Fat, so it won’t cause tummy upset or weight gain. 

This formula is also slightly higher in moisture to provide a better chew for dogs with small jaws. And this keeps the food from being dry, which some picky dogs find unappealing. 

Dog owners say their pups were able to shed extra weight with this food and still had the energy to run around. But they note that it can cause stinky poops. 


Moist kibble for easier chewing

Low-calorie for overweight dogs

High-protein for energy

Low-fat to prevent obesity


Causes stinky stool

Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Small Breed Dog Food

Wellness Simple LID Grain Free Small Breed Salmon Potato
Our Rating:
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Canola Oil
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 29% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 450 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Sensitive Digestion; Limited Ingredient Diet; Grain-Free; Chicken-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult 
  • Key Feature: Limited-ingredient recipe made for sensitive stomachs 

This limited-ingredient diet doesn’t contain chicken or beef, common allergens for small dogs. But it’s still high in protein and fiber for digestive support and lean muscle mass. 

It starts with salmon and salmon meal, which provide 29% protein content. They also offer taurine and omega fatty acids, protecting heart health and keeping joints limber and flexible. 

Instead of grains, this formula provides peas, potatoes, and chicory root extract. They offer grain-free carbohydrates and fiber for easier digestion. 

While grain-free diets aren’t recommended for many dogs, some can’t handle them due to food sensitivities. The inclusion of peas and potatoes provides the essential nutrients your dog needs, like vitamin C and zinc, that they would otherwise get from grains. 

Pet parents admit that this is the only food their dog can eat without allergy flareups. But many say their dogs don’t finish all the food, so it may not be the best option for fussy pups. 


High-protein for muscle maintenance

Limited-ingredient diet for sensitive pups

Higher fiber for gut health

Contains probiotics for digestion


High-calorie may cause weight gain

Picky dogs don’t finish the food

shih tzu eating kibble

Guide to Buying Dog Food for Shih Tzu

When selecting nutritious and balanced dog food for your Shih Tzu, there are several important nutritional needs to look at. 

Nutrients Your Shih Tzu Needs

Eating a balanced diet is important for your Shih Tzu, as there are many common digestive and weight problems they can have. Because of these potential issues, it’s important to follow the proper dietary guidelines for dogs

Higher Protein  

Although Shih Tzu aren’t considered highly active, they do still need at least 21% crude protein. 

All of the dog foods on this list meet these requirements, and many are higher in protein than others. Because of their more sedentary lifestyle, too much protein can cause weight gain in Shih Tzu. 

In dog food, the best protein comes from meat as the first ingredient. After that, focus on other protein sources like pea protein, meat “meals” (like chicken meal or salmon meal), and higher protein vegetables and grains such as peas and chickpeas. 

Be sure that if you choose a food with more than 25% of protein you portion your Shih Tzu’s food correctly. 

Lower Fat 

While dogs require at least 8% crude fat, Shih Tzu need food right at, or just slightly higher, than the recommended amount. Due to their potential weight problems, high fat content can enable a Shih Tzu to gain weight quickly. 

While oils like canola oil or flaxseed oil can be great additions to dog food, be sure that they’re not the main ingredients. They should be lower on the list.

Another great option is fish oil. But, since Shih Tzu aren’t as active, they don’t need dog food with high crude fat levels.


Carbohydrates provide energy and are considered an important and essential part of your dog’s food. However, carbohydrates shouldn’t make up more than 20% of your canine’s diet. 

Try to avoid dog foods that include “simple” carbohydrates that will be hard on your dog, like white rice. 

Instead, focus on finding dog foods with carbohydrates like oatmeal, sweet potato, and brown rice. Because Shih Tzu can develop diabetes more easily, these complex carbs are preferable — they have a slower absorption rate, and so are less likely to cause hypoglycemia. 

These carbs will help keep your dog satiated and energetic, without the potential digestive issues.

Vitamins & Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are essential in your dog’s health functions, as well as in their growth. 

B-vitamins are important in aiding your Shih Tzu’s body in converting food into energy, creating new blood cells, and maintaining healthy skin; vitamins A and C support eye health and immunity; and minerals like iron help provide oxygen to cells. 

Most commercial dog foods, including the options on this list, already have the necessary vitamins and minerals that your dog needs in their daily diet. 

shih tzu puppy

How to Choose Food For Your Shih Tzu

After finding a food that meets your Shih Tzu’s dietary needs, it’s also important to look at a few other specific needs your furry friend may have. 

Your Shih Tzu’s Age 

While your Shih Tzu is growing, they will need more fat and protein. After weaning, a puppy will need around 23% of crude protein daily. This will slowly decrease over time, as they reach adulthood and their senior years.

Once they reach adulthood, their diet should consist of a balance of carbs, fat, and protein that supports adults.

They’ll need around 21% crude protein, 8% crude fat, and 4% crude fiber, with carbohydrates being limited to 20% or less of their food source (according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials).

And, when they’re a senior, they may need more moisture, so wet food may be a better option. Senior dogs are more prone to dehydration, due to their bodies not functioning as well as they did when they were puppies. Providing water is a necessity, and wet food can help them with their water consumption. 

Kibble Size 

Because of their small size, Shih Tzu can choke on larger pieces of kibble. A large size could also cause tracheal collapse, although that’s the worst case scenario. 

However, it’s still better to be safe. Choose a food that has smaller, bite sized pieces that your Shih Tzu can enjoy. 

Caloric Needs

As an adult, a Shih tzu will need about 35 calories of food per pound of weight they have. 

As an example, if your Shih Tzu is the average size of about 10 pounds, they will need 350 calories a day to sustain their energy levels — which you can split into two or three meals. 

My Shih Tzu has epilepsy, and, due to his medication, he’s required to eat slightly fewer calories than the average Shih Tzu. If your dog has any medical conditions, extreme allergies, or is super active, talk to your veterinarian to figure out their caloric needs. 

Daily Calorie Requirements

Weight (LBS)Daily Calories 

The average Shih Tzu weighs 10-12 pounds and requires 350-420 calories per day. 

shih tzu dog outdoor

Common Shih Tzu Health Issues 

Nutrition and the food you choose for your Shih Tzu can impact their health. Here are the most common health issues amongst this breed that diet can help manage. 


Common amongst Shih Tzu, hypothyroidism is when their thyroid gland doesn’t produce adequate amounts of the thyroid hormone. Because of this, there is usually inflammation.

Due to hypothyroidism, excessive weight gain, ear infections, and lethargy are common. Managing your Shih Tzu’s food source and feeding them proper portions can help manage this condition with or without medication. 

If they are still gaining weight, even with proper food portions, take them to your veterinarian to check their hormone levels. 


One of the most common health issues with Shih Tzu is their susceptibility to becoming overweight or obese. 

The average weight for a Shih Tzu shouldn’t exceed 16 pounds. 

Using a weight control dog food, measuring the proper serving size, and feeding smaller portions more often can help your Shih Tzu avoid weight gain. 

Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse happens when there is an airway obstruction in dogs. This is common amongst many toy and small breeds, including Shih Tzu. 

While the exact cause for tracheal collapse is unknown, eating food that isn’t the right size can trigger symptoms. This is why it’s important to find food specifically for small and toy breeds. 

The cause of tracheal collapse is unclear, but symptoms can be provoked by eating the wrong size food. In obese dogs, these symptoms and problems can be worse. 

Our Verdict

Just like all other dogs, Shih Tzu need a balanced diet with the vitamins and minerals that support their health. If their needs aren’t met, they can be subject to health issues and disorders, as well as lethargy. 

Whole Earth Farms Small Breed dog food is my personal favorite choice for my sweet and cuddly pup, and is the best dog food for most Shih Tzu. 

It is high in protein and lower in calories, which will help your Shih Tzu avoid weight gain without sacrificing muscle.

Plus, it’s easy to find both in dry and wet food options, in multiple flavors (for picky Shih Tzus), and is made with simple ingredients.


Can Shih Tzu puppies eat adult dog food?

Shih Tzu puppies should eat puppy food until they’re at least 7 months old, with the recommended age at 9 months or older. 

Adult kibble can cause a choking hazard. Plus, adult food is usually lower in the fat content and nutrients that puppies need to grow. 

How often should I feed my Shih Tzu? 

Just like an adult human, a Shih Tzu does best with a more regular eating schedule. 2–3 feedings a day should be sufficient. 

Just remember that all feedings should be equal to or less than the max feeding guidelines on the dog food you purchase. 

What should I do if my Shih Tzu is a picky eater?

If your Shih Tzu is picky or becomes picky, choosing a wet food or mixing wet food in with their regular kibble can help. 

This may depend on your budget and their dietary needs, but feeding them wet food can keep them from refusing food. 

Can Shih Tzu eat grain-free diets?

Most Shih Tzu can thrive on a diet with grains and carbohydrates. But, if they have allergies, or if your veterinarian recommends a grain-free diet, follow those recommendations. 

Can my Shih Tzu eat human food?

Of course, as long as it isn’t considered toxic to dogs. Also consider making dehydrated treats, like sweet potato, for your Shih Tzu to enjoy longer. 

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Kim Studdard is a freelance writer for many websites in the pet universe. When she isn't spending time with her family and pets, or saying "Look a dog" everytime she sees one, you'll find her reading a book or traveling the U.S.

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