The Shih Tzu is a small-breed dog developed in China. The breed was officially recognized by the AKC in 1969 and became a perennial top 10 most popular small-breed dog.
This breed is believed to have been developed for the royal. Shih Tzu in Chinese means the lion dog. Since lions are not native to China, this was what the Chinese of old imagined one to look like. In fact, Shih Tzu looks more like the lion prop used in the Chinese lion dance than the African lion. The non-native lion managed to become the highest symbol of regality in China, together with the fantastical Chinese dragon. It’s impossible for anyone not to be impressed by the Chinese depiction of the dragon when they saw it for the first time. The same can be said about the Shih Tzu.
The AKC breed standard for the Shih Tzu is 9 to 16 pounds. These long flat-coated small dogs look as cute as they’re regal. Unlike many other small dogs, the Shih Tzu’s body is stout and strong. If you touched a small Shih Tzu, you’d swear that the dog weighed a lot more than the dumbbells used by President Obama in his famous leaked workout video.
This breed has no pervasive health issues except ear infections and eye issues such as tearing and corneal disorders due to their large bulging eyes. God knows what they fed the dog in China back in the days but most Shih Tzus do not require any special diet. This is why we will emphasize value and look outside conventional wisdom when arriving at the best dog food for Shih Tzus.
Nutro’s Ultra label proudly proclaims “Nature’s Very Best Ingredients”. Nutro prides itself for using only non-GMO ingredients. For the excellent Nutro Ultra Small Breed formula, we’re talking about the combination of three lean animal protein sources, whole grains & natural oils, and powerful antioxidants from fruits and plants.
The three protein sources are chicken (fresh and dehydrated meal), lamb meal, and salmon meal. Fresh chicken and chicken meal are also the top 2 ingredients. The whole grains are brown rice, brewers’ rice and rice bran that fill out the rest of the top 5 ingredients. The natural oils are chicken fat and sunflower oil. The fruits and plants are whole chia seeds, dried coconut, tomato pomace, dried pumpkin, dried kale, dried spinach, dried apples, dried blueberries, and dried carrots. Interestingly, the fruits and plants came after additives such as potassium chloride, choline chloride, DL-methionine, and salt, etc., so perhaps not a large quantity of them.
All in all this is a rather average list of ingredients for a premium dog food brand. However, as previously mentioned this write-up is about defying conventional wisdom. The fact is Shih Tzus thrive on Nutro Ultra Small Breed. The hair grows soft and shiny and manageable, the skin moisturized, and the dog healthy and happy.
The protein and fat contents are 26% and 15%. The calorie content is 352 kcal/cup or 3630 kcal/kg.
Royal Canin specialized in breed- and symptom-specific dog food formulas. The 49-year-old company’s specialties have been continuously researched and refined through the years. Royal Canin was bought out by Mars and remains one of the most highly regarded pet food brands in the international community.
The company’s founder was a French veterinary surgeon who successfully treated skin and coat conditions of cats and dogs by way of prescribed cereal-based diets. Safe to say that cereal-based diets would run contrary to the popular grain-free movement of today, except they have also been demonstrated to work.
The Royal Canin Shih Tzu formula’s top protein source of chicken by-product meal would surely be frowned upon by self-proclaimed dog food “experts” as well but, all kidding aside, you will not find a Shih Tzu who doesn’t thrive on this breed-specific formula. And that’s exactly why it’s one of our best dog foods for Shih Tzus.
As a matter of fact, chicken by-product meal is the only source of animal protein in this dog food. The top 2 ingredients are brewers’ rice and brown rice. This formula uses an extended list of supplements in lieu of fruits and vegetables, which is actually the default scientific and modern medicine approach to wellbeing.
Nutritional analysis is 22% protein, 18% fat, 4.3% fiber, 4% Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids, and 10% moisture, which leave about 8% ash and 34% carbs. The calorie content is 355 kcal/cup or 3905 kcal/kg.
Diamond Naturals’ Small Breed formula is proof positive that affordable dog food and great dog food are not mutually exclusive. Start with fresh chicken as the first ingredient, add high-quality grains and superfoods and you have an awesome dog food for Shih Tzus.
After fresh chicken, the top ingredients are chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, ground white rice, peas, chicken fat, dried beet pulp, and egg products. Those who think that complex carbs like brown rice and sweet potatoes are best for dogs have neglected to consider that the breed of Shih Tzu was developed in China, where white rice and barley drinks are staples. The ancestors of Shih Tzu thrived on them and so will modern Shih Tzus.
Superfoods and plants such as blueberries, papaya, oranges, chia seed, kale, pumpkin, coconut, spinach, carrots and yucca extract plus supplements and probiotics make this formula ideal for Shih Tzus at an unbeatable price.
The protein and fat contents are 27% and 16%. The calorie content is 345 kcal/cup or 3683 kcal/kg.
A Shih Tzu needs about 25 to 40 calories per pound depending on age and level of activity, with senior couch potatoes on the low end and young energizer bunnies at the top end.
Royal Canin’s Shih Tzu breed-specific formula would be our top pick for best dog food for Shih Tzus if not for the relatively exorbitant price. The cost of this formula for a 10-pound bag puts this dog food on the ultra-premium level with Orijen and prescription diets. It is, however, the best dog food for Shih Tzus if the price is no object.
On the other hand, Nutro Ultra Small Breed is the right choice for those who insist on getting a well-known American premium brand with non-GMO ingredients for their precious Shih Tzus. It’s also a good-tasting dog food for picky individuals.
The title of the best dog food for Shin Tzus goes to Diamond Naturals Small Breed. This formula is ideally suited to the Shih Tzu breed at a price so economical that it’s a downright steal! This is an instance when you can spend more but you won’t get better results.