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The Shih Tzu is a toy breed known for its long, flowing coat. These little dogs are not just one of the most attractive dog breeds but also one of the oldest breeds as well, having been developed in China hundreds of years ago. The Shih Tzu breed was always intended to be lap dog and the breed became very popular among Chinese royals for a time. Today, the Shih Tzu is very popular as a companion pet, consistently ranking among the top twenty dog breeds according to AKC registration statistics.
The Shih Tzu may be small, but it has high energy needs and it should be fed a commercial dog food diet formulated for toy breeds. Feeding your dog the right diet will have a serious impact on his overall health and the condition of his long, flowing coat. Below you will learn the basics about the nutritional needs for Shih Tzus – you will also learn about some special considerations to keep in mind when feeding your dog. You will also receive recommendations for three top-quality commercial dog food products that would be ideal for your Shih Tzu.
Nutritional Needs for Shih Tzus
The Shih Tzu is a small breed of dog classified as a toy breed. These dogs only stand about 8 to 11 inches tall at maturity and weigh an average of 8 to 16 pounds. Although the Shih Tzu is a very small dog, it has fairly high needs for energy (calories). Small-breed dogs have very fast metabolisms so, while they may not require as many total calories as a larger breed, they need more calories per pound. For example, a 110-pound Mastiff might require about 2,500 calories per day while an 11-pound Shih Tzu only needs about 450. If you divide it out, however, you will see that the Mastiff needs about 23 calories per pound of bodyweight and the Shih Tzu needs about 41 calories per pound of bodyweight. This is why you need to feed your Shih Tzu a small- or toy-breed formula because these foods are designed to be energy- and nutrient-dense.
In addition to considering the type of food you feed your Shih Tzu you also need to think about the nutrients that food provides. Protein is the most important consideration in a dog’s diet because it provides helps to fuel healthy growth and development – it should come from high-quality sources like deboned chicken and fresh fish, not from plant-based sources or animal by-products. Fat is also very important, especially for small-breed dogs, because it is the most highly concentrated source of energy available to your dog. Look for animal-based fats like chicken fat and salmon oil instead of plant-based fats like canola oil and flaxseed. You also want to make sure that your Shih Tzu gets a balance of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to maintain the health and shine of his coat.
Aside from protein and fats, your dog also needs some carbohydrate in his diet, though dogs do not have specific requirements for how much carbohydrate they need. High-quality carbohydrates provide dietary fiber as well as a host of vitamins and minerals. Your dog should get his carbohydrates from digestible sources like whole grains, sweet potato, and gluten-free ingredients. Avoid low-quality carbs and inexpensive fillers like corn and soy ingredients. Shih Tzus are also prone to food allergies so, if your dog has a food allergy you may need to find a commercial dog food formula that is free from whatever allergen that affects your dog. You might want to look for a Limited Ingredient Diet formula that is made with a select number of ingredients and is free from common allergens.
Special Considerations for Feeding Shih Tzus
When it comes to selecting the right food for your Shih Tzu you have several factors to consider aside from the nutritional aspect. Because the Shih Tzu is such a small dog you want to make sure that the kibble you provide comes in small, bite-size pieces. Choosing a small-breed specific formula will help to make sure that this is the case. Small-breed formulas are also typically more energy-dense than large-breed formulas because your small-breed dog needs to be able to get the energy he needs in a smaller portion due to his small stomach. You should plan to feed your Shih Tzu three or four small meals throughout the day instead of two large meals. This will help to ensure that his metabolism is properly fueled and that he doesn’t eat too much at one time.
Ideally, you should be feeding your Shih Tzu a commercial dog food diet specially formulated for toy- or small-breed dogs. You also need to start your Shih Tzu with a small-breed puppy formula. Small-breed puppies reach their adult size much more quickly than large-breed dogs so you need a puppy food that will support your puppy’s fast growth and development. Once your Shih Tzu puppy reaches about 80% of his adult size you can switch over to a small-breed adult formula. You should also be careful of feeding your Shih Tzu too many treats (especially during training) because if you increase his daily calorie intake too much he could become overweight or obese. A good tactic to use is scheduling your training sessions around meal time and use your puppy’s kibble as the reward instead of giving him extra treats on top of his meal.
Top-Recommended Foods for Shih Tzus
If you need some help in finding the right food for your Dachshund, consider one of the commercial dog food brands discussed below. Be careful when considering a breed-specific formula for your dog – do not just assume that the formula will meet your dog’s needs without evaluating the product for yourself. Consider the ingredients list to make sure the product is of high-quality before offering it to your dog.
1. Nutro Toy Breed Adult Dog Food
The Nutro Toy Breed Adult Dog Food formula is specially designed to maintain your small-breed dog’s health over a course of 15 to 20 years. This formula is made with fresh chicken, whole brown rice, and oatmeal as well as a variety of other healthy ingredients. Perhaps what makes this product the most unique, however, is the inclusion of Nutro’s DNA-Advantage Blend which contains a unique blend of antioxidants to support your dog’s immune system health. This formula comes in small bite-size pieces formed in a unique shape that will help to reduce plaque and tartar buildup in your dog’s mouth. It also has targeted levels of protein and fat to maintain the high energy needs of your Shih Tzu. Simply put, this Nutro Toy Breed Adult Dog Food formula is made with top-quality ingredients in a special formula that is perfect for your Shih Tzu.
2. Wellness Toy Breed Complete Health Adult Dog Food
The Wellness pet food company is dedicated to providing pets with healthy, well-balanced diets based on the principles of holistic nutrition. The Toy Breed Complete Health Adult formula is one of many Wellness products that are made with top-quality ingredients in a perfect blend of nutrients to support your dog’s whole-body health. This formula is rich in protein to ensure that your toy breed’s energy needs are met – it is also supplemented with both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health. The Toy Breed Complete Health Adult formula is made with deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, and ground brown rice as the top four ingredients followed by chicken fat, oatmeal, and other high-quality additions.
3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Toy Breed Formula
The Blue Buffalo dog food company is known for providing high-quality formulas made with the best ingredients. This company offers four different product lines – Basics, Freedom, Life Protection, and Wilderness. The Life Protection line of dry foods is designed to provide dogs with well-balanced nutrition. The products in this line are free from corn, wheat and soy ingredients – they are also made with wholesome wheat-free grains plus garden vegetables and fresh fruits. The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Toy Breed formula is made with fresh deboned chicken, chicken meal, and brown rice as the top three ingredients – it also contains a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids plus chelated minerals. This formula is also made with Blue Buffalo LifeSource bits which contain a proprietary blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support your dog’s whole health. Simply put, this Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Toy Breed formula is designed to meet your Shih Tzu’s high energy needs while also providing him with well-rounded nutrition.
If you want your Shih Tzu to look and feel his best you need to be intentional abut feeding him a high-quality diet. To help you choose a top-quality commercial food for your Shih Tzu, consider one of the top recommended brands reviewed above.