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10 Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzus in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 9, 2024 by Dogster Team

10 Best Dog Foods for Shih Tzus in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

shih tzu dog eating outdoors

Shih Tzus don’t have their own specific dietary requirements, as such, but they are a very small dog breed so they need to get all of their nutritional requirements in a comparatively small amount of food and without too many calories. They also need smaller chunks of food or pieces of kibble, and dogs of different ages do have specific dietary requirements, so you should buy food that is appropriate for puppies, adults, or seniors, according to the life stage of your Shih Tzu.

Below, you will find reviews of ten of the best dog foods for Shih Tzus, including those for different life stages and also including both dry and wet foods, so that you can find the one that best fits your dog’s appetite, preferences, and nutritional needs.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Winners (2024)

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Dry Dog Food Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Dry Dog Food
  • Small kibble is ideal for Shih Tzus
  • Contains probiotics and prebiotics
  • Free from corn, wheat, soy, and grains
  • Best Value
    Second place
    IAMS MiniChunks Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food IAMS MiniChunks Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food
  • Cheap
  • Main ingredient is chicken
  • Small kibble is easy for Shih Tzus to eat
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Chicken Dog Food Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Chicken Dog Food
  • Contains freeze-dried raw food
  • Small pieces suitable for small breeds
  • Primary ingredients are chicken and chicken meal
  • Best for Puppies
    Blue Buffalo Puppy Chicken Dry Fod Blue Buffalo Puppy Chicken Dry Fod
  • Grain, gluten, corn, and wheat free
  • Primary ingredients are chicken and chicken meal
  • LifeSource Bits include antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
  • Health Extension  Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food Health Extension Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food
  • Good price
  • Primary ingredients are organic chicken and chicken meal
  • Includes superfoods that are packed with vitamins and minerals
  • The 10 Best Dog Food For Shi Tzus

    1. Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Best Overall

    Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Food type: Dry
    Life stage: Adult
    Quantity: 12 lb

    Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food has the primary ingredients of chicken meal, potatoes, and canola meal. Its ingredients have been formulated for dogs that weigh less than 30 pounds and it is suitable for adult Shih Tzus. It doesn’t contain corn, wheat, soy, or grain: all of which are known allergens and can cause sensitivities in some dogs.

    The food does contain omega fatty acids, which are beneficial for the skin and coat as well as in the fight against inflammatory diseases and to bolster the immune system. Probiotics and prebiotics help fight bad gut bacteria and replace it with good, and the food comes in a small kibble shape that is easily chewed and digested even by small dogs. The food is very reasonably priced and the flavor popular with most dogs, and because it meets the dietary and nutritional requirements of the Shih Tzu, it is our choice as the best overall dog food for Shih Tzus.

    However, some of the ingredients that feature high in the list could be better. Potatoes and peas do offer protein, but it would be better to see meat proteins this high up the ingredients.

    Pros
    • Small kibble is ideal for Shih Tzus
    • Contains probiotics and prebiotics
    • Free from corn, wheat, soy, and grains
    Cons
    • Some of the top ingredients could be better

    2. IAMS Adult MiniChunks Small Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food – Best Value

    IAMS Adult MiniChunks Small Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food

    Food type: Dry
    Life stage: Adult
    Quantity: 40 lbs

    As well as typically being too high in calories, standard adult dry dog food comes in too large a kibble piece for a small breed dog like the Shih Tzu. IAMS Adult MiniChunks Small Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food contains chicken, ground whole grain corn, and ground whole grain sorghum as its primary ingredients and is designed for small breeds thanks to its smaller kibble chunks.

    The food also contains prebiotics and additional antioxidants to help keep your dog in top condition. Probiotics work as good bacteria for your gut, but like your dog, they also need a good source of food to ensure that they are equipped to fulfill their role. Prebiotics act as food for the probiotics, therefore ensuring that they work more efficiently.

    The food is suitable for Shih Tzus, thanks to its nutritional balance and its small kibble, and it is cheap, making it our choice as the best dog food for Shih Tzus for the money. However, it uses grain as its secondary ingredient and several vegetable ingredients would offer greater value if they were replaced by decent meat-based protein.

    The food also contains caramel color: dogs are not affected by the color of their food so these colorings are added for the benefit of human owners and are unnecessary.

    Pros
    • Contain prebiotics and probiotics
    • Small kibble is easy for Shih Tzus to eat
    • Main ingredient is chicken
    • Cheap
    Cons
    • Contains unnecessary coloring
    • Includes grain and other allergens

    3. Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe With Real Chicken – Premium Choice

    Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe With Real Chicken

    Food type: Freeze-dried
    Life stage: Adult
    Quantity: 10 lbs

    Many owners support the benefits of a raw food diet for dogs. It more closely replicates what a dog would eat in the wild and aims to accurately meet their nutritional requirements without having to rely on allergen and additive-packed commercial foods.

    However, as beneficial as it might be, a raw food diet requires a lot more preparation and work, as well as research. Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed grain-Free Recipe With Real Chicken offers a compromise.

    It includes freeze-dried raw pieces combined with a high-protein kibble so that your dog gets the protein and the enjoyment of raw food, supported by the nutritional completeness of the kibble. This combination and the intensive production processes do mean that this is expensive food, and you will have to gradually introduce the food over the space of a few weeks to avoid stomach upsets, but it is popular with dogs, especially those moving over from a purely dry diet, and it is designed for the specific dietary requirements of small breeds like the Shih Tzu.

    Pros
    • Contains freeze-dried raw food
    • Small pieces suitable for small breeds
    • Primary ingredients are chicken and chicken meal
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Needs gradual introduction to avoid upset stomachs

    4. Blue Buffalo Freedom Small Breed Puppy Chicken Recipe – Best for Puppies

    Blue Buffalo Freedom Small Breed Puppy Chicken Recipe

    Food type: Dry
    Life stage: Puppy
    Quantity: 11 lbs

    As with any breed, Shih Tzus have different dietary requirements at different stages of their life. Senior dogs need more protein and fewer calories, while puppies need higher concentrations of protein and fat to help build strong muscles and maintain good bone structure. Because of these unique requirements, it is important that you feed your Shih Tzu puppy a food that is designed for their dietary needs, as well as being suitable for small breeds.

    Blue Buffalo Freedom Small Breed Puppy Chicken Recipe combines all of these features in a small kibble. It is grain-free and gluten-free and does not contain any corn, wheat, or soy, so it is also suitable for sensitive stomachs. The food contains what Blue Buffalo calls LifeSource Bits, which are a combination of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, chosen by vets to ensure healthy puppy growth.

    The food is an average price and is good for animals with sensitive dietary requirements, but your dog has to like both the food kibble and the LifeSource Bits to get all the benefits, and the kibble could actually do with being smaller for puppies of really small breeds.

    Pros
    • Grain, gluten, corn, and wheat free
    • LifeSource Bits include antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
    • Primary ingredients are chicken and chicken meal
    Cons
    • Kibble pieces could be smaller
    • Some dogs dislike and ignore the LifeSource Bits

    5. Health Extension Little Bites Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Health Extension Little Bites Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Food type: Dry
    Life stage: Adult
    Quantity: 30 lbs

    Health Extension Little Bites Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food is an inexpensive food that is designed for small to teacup-sized dogs. Its primary ingredients are organic deboned chicken, chicken meal, and ground brown rice with additional ingredients that include chicken fat, lamb meal, and menhaden fish meal.

    The ingredients do include grain, so this food is not suitable for those pups with sensitivities and allergies, but they also include probiotics, prebiotics, and a host of superfoods like algae that are packed with vitamins and minerals essential to your Shih Tzu’s good health. The kibble does have a grainy texture and look to it, and this won’t appeal to all dogs. The kibble is a very small size and, if anything, they may be too small for an adult Shih Tzu.

    Pros
    • Good price
    • Primary ingredients are organic chicken and chicken meal
    • Includes superfoods that are packed with vitamins and minerals
    Cons
    • Very small kibble
    • Grainy texture that won’t appeal to all dogs

    6. Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dry Dog Food

    Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dry Dog Food

    Food type: Dry
    Life stage: Puppy
    Quantity: 2.5 lbs

    Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy Dry Dog Food is another kibble that is targeted specifically at Shih Tzu puppies. As such, it is a small kibble and is softer than a lot of other dry biscuits, which means that it is easier for little puppy mouths to be able to chew. It also contains chelated minerals and prebiotics and probiotics to help ensure a healthy gut and good gut health in your little one.

    The primary ingredients in this food are brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, and corn. It is disappointing to see brewers’ rice as the main ingredient. It would be preferable if this were a meat protein.

    Furthermore, the chicken by-product meal is a less desirable source of meat than a pure meat ingredient. By-products are essentially the bits that are left over after meat has been processed and prepared for other foods and other uses. Despite the seemingly lower-quality main ingredients, this food is expensive, even compared to other breed-specific puppy foods.

    Pros
    • Contains prebiotics and probiotics
    • Kibble is small and soft
    Cons
    • Primary ingredient is brewers’ rice
    • Chicken by-product meal could be replaced by a better ingredient
    • Expensive

    7. Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Deboned Turkey & Peas Recipe

    Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Deboned Turkey & Peas Recipe

    Food type: Dry
    Life stage: Senior
    Quantity: 4 lbs

    Like puppies, senior dogs have different dietary requirements to adult dogs. They need more protein but fewer calories in their food, and it is beneficial to buy a dedicated senior food for small breed dogs, especially to avoid putting too much weight on.

    Wellness Small Breed Complete Health Senior Deboned Turkey & Peas Recipe is an expensive food but it is geared specifically to your senior dog’s requirements. It is a natural food that lists deboned turkey, chicken meal, and ground brown rice as its main ingredients. The first two ingredients are meat, which means that this food likely gets the majority of its protein from good-quality meat sources. Although the rest of the ingredients are natural, there is a very long list, which means it can be difficult if you are trying to avoid certain ingredients that your dog is sensitive or allergic to.

    Also, it is worth noting that although this food is called a turkey recipe, it also contains chicken, which some dogs are sensitive to.

    Pros
    • Small kibble suitable for small dogs
    • Primary ingredients are turkey and chicken
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • A long list of ingredients
    • Turkey recipe includes chicken as a primary ingredient

    8. Nutro Ultra Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

    Nutro Ultra Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

    Food type: Dry
    Life stage: Adult
    Quantity: 15 lbs

    The moderately priced Nutro Ultra Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food is a dry kibble geared specifically towards small dog breeds like the Shih Tzu. It combines chicken, lamb, and salmon protein, and also includes a variety of superfoods to further enhance the nutritional benefits of the food and to ensure your little one is getting all the vitamins and minerals required. The primary ingredients are chicken, chicken meal, and whole brown rice.

    The food is reasonably priced and features meat as its first two ingredients. While the food does contain lamb and salmon meal, these appear much further down the ingredients list. The food is quite rich, too, so take it slowly and stop feeding if Nutro causes any stomach upsets or diarrhea. The food is also quite salty so you will need to ensure that your Shih Tzu is well hydrated and drinks plenty of water around mealtimes.

    Pros
    • Decent price
    • Primary ingredients are chicken and chicken meal
    Cons
    • The food is salty
    • Too rich for some dogs
    • Lamb and salmon feature much further down the ingredient list

    9. Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Small Breed Wet Dog Food Dainty Duck Medley

    Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Small Breed Wet Dog Food Dainty Duck Medley

    Food type: Wet
    Life stage: Adult
    Quantity: 12 trays

    The choice of whether to feed dry or wet food, or a combination of both, divides owners’ opinions. On the one hand, dry food keeps for longer, is cheaper, and can be left down all day. On the other hand, wet food tends to be more palatable and appealing to dogs. If you fall on the wet food side of the argument, Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Small Breed Wet Dog Food Dainty Duck Medley is a good choice of food for your Shih Tzu.

    It is a stew-style food that has deboned duck, duck broth, chicken broth, chicken liver, and deboned chicken, as its primary ingredients. This long list of meats at the top of the ingredient list suggests that the food gets the majority of its protein from good, meat sources. What’s more, there are no byproducts in the list.

    However, the food is expensive and there is some controversy over a purported link between this food and instances of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs that eat it. No link between the food and DCM has been proven by the FDA, but some owners may choose to avoid the food, especially because of the potatoes and peas that are found in the ingredient list.

    Pros
    • First five ingredients are from duck and chicken
    • Small chunks are suitable for Shih Tzus
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Contains potatoes and peas
    • Very wet stew style food

    10. Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition Grilled Steak & Vegetable Flavor Small Breed Dry Dog Food

    Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition Grilled Steak & Vegetable Flavor Small Breed Dry Dog Food

    Food type: Dry
    Life stage: Adult
    Quantity: 16 lbs

    Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition Grilled Steak & Vegetable Flavor Small Breed Dry Dog Food is an inexpensive dry food that is targeted at small dog breeds. It features the primary ingredients of ground whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal, and corn gluten meal.

    It does also include animal fat and meat and bone meal, both of which are decent sources of protein and other ingredients. Because the primary ingredient is that of corn, this food likely gets most of its protein from plant and grain-based sources, rather than the better quality meat sources that feature in more premium products.

    Although the kibble is a decent size that is suitable for small breeds, the biscuits are tough and can prove difficult to chew, especially for small teeth. Also, the ingredients list contains artificial dyes and preservatives which a lot of owners avoid and which can cause upset stomachs and other problems.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Decent kibble size for small dogs
    Cons
    • Biscuits are tough to chew
    • The main ingredient is whole grain corn
    • Contains preservatives and dyes

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    Buyer’s Guide: Finding The Best Dog Food for Shih Tzus

    Shih Tzus are happy companion dogs that usually get along with people and other animals. They can be a little vocal but they make such good companions because they will follow their owners from room to room and always have time to sit on a lap. They can turn their paws to obedience and even agility classes, and the Shih Tzu is a popular breed for exhibitions and shows, but they are most commonly seen as a companion.

    Caring for a Shih Tzu not only means pampering them with love and affection, and providing a little exercise every day. It also means finding an appropriate food that meets all of their nutritional requirements. Read on for more information on what to look for and what to avoid when buying food for this well-loved breed of dog.

    shih tzu with a puppy cat
    Image By: Yarnawee Nipatarangkoon, Shutterstock

    Food Type

    There will always be debate regarding whether dry food or wet food is best for your dog, while raw food has also entered the conversation. Each of these types of food has its advantages, as well as its disadvantages.

    Wet

    Wet food usually comprises small chunks of meat as well as vegetables and other ingredients, surrounded by some kind of broth, jelly, or gravy. Wet food ensures your dog is hydrated, although most dogs readily take to drinking from a water bowl throughout the day. It has a more appealing smell and taste than dry food, too, but it can be expensive, doesn’t last as long on the shelf, can’t be left down for longer than an hour or two, and can cause a real mess if your dog is not a clean eater. Wet food is usually more expensive than dry food, too, but some dogs may refuse to eat dry kibble, especially if they have enjoyed a prolonged period dining on pouches and trays of food.

    Dry

    Dry food contains many of the same ingredients as wet food but it contains a gelling agent, is dehydrated, and compressed into a brittle kibble or biscuit. The dehydration process means that the kibble will stay fresher for longer in the bowl and will keep longer on the shelf, too, but it can be unappealing. Dry food is usually the cheaper option and, as long as you buy good quality dry food, it should meet all the nutritional requirements of your dog.

    Freeze-Dried Raw Food

    Although not as common as dry or traditional wet food, freeze-dried raw food is becoming more popular. This food starts out as fresh food and is, as the name suggests, freeze-dried. It is a packaged and commercial alternative to the process of raw feeding, which is viewed as being difficult and time-consuming. Freeze-dried raw food tends to be the most expensive option but is good quality food and usually very appealing to dogs and owners alike.

    Combination

    A combination diet includes a combination of dry food, wet food, and/or freeze-dried raw food. Combining foods in this way gives the benefits of each food type so it offers the appeal of wet food at mealtimes and is long-lasting like dry kibble.

    wet and dry food
    Image By: Yuriy Golub, Shutterstock

    Grain-Free vs Grain-Inclusive

    Whatever type of food you choose, every recipe has different ingredients. Some are grain-free while some are grain-inclusive. Some dogs are sensitive to grains and eating them can cause sickness, diarrhea, and other digestive upset. If your dog does suffer from sensitivities or you have noticed that it tends to get sick after eating certain foods, consider a grain-free diet. You can also find foods that exclude certain other ingredients that are known allergens.

    Life Stage

    Shih Tzus, like all dog breeds, have different nutritional requirements according to their age or stage of life. For example, senior dogs need more protein but fewer calories than adult dogs. Buying food that is designed for a particular life stage means that you can meet these dietary requirements and manage the good health of your dog throughout its life.

    Primary Ingredients

    Always check the primary ingredients of dog food before feeding it to your little companion. Ingredients are listed in order, by weight, of unprocessed contents. This means that the ingredients at the top of the list are the most important. Although dogs are omnivores and can digest plants and vegetables, deriving benefit from the vitamins and minerals therein, meat-protein is considered higher quality and premium foods should usually contain more meat than vegetables.

    Kibble Size

    One important factor when buying food for a small breed like the Shih Tzu is the size of the food. The Shih Tzu is a very small breed and has a small mouth and small teeth. Large adult kibble is not suitable for these little ones and their kibble needs to be smaller so that it is easier to chew and digest. If you are buying a dedicated small-breed food, it should have smaller biscuits, but it may be worth checking to ensure this is the case.

    shih tzu dog getting wet food from owner at kitchen
    Image By: chaoss, Shutterstock

     

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    Conclusion

    The Shih Tzu is a small companion dog breed. It is popular because it is a loving and loyal dog that doesn’t require too much by way of exercise. However, that doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice on food quality. Buy food that is designed for small breeds because it should ensure that your dog gets the protein it needs without having to pack away too many calories.

    Although there are many options, we found Whole Earth Farms Small Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food to be the best overall dog food for Shih Tzus because of its price and inclusion of good-quality ingredients. IAMS Adult MiniChunks Small Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food is also a good quality food with a small kibble shape but available for less money, making it one of the best dog foods for Shih Tzus for the money.


    Featured Image Credit: thanakarn Singto, Shutterstock

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