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How Much Do You Feed a Shih Tzu

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on March 19, 2024

Shih Tzus are a small breed with a fast metabolism, so their nutritional requirements are different from larger breeds. It’s important to feed them high-quality, nutrient-dense food. The amount of food a Shih Tzu needs is generally measured in cups, and it will depend on the calorie content of the food.

1. Puppy vs. Adult: Feeding Differences

Puppies, being in their growth phase, require more calories per pound of body weight than adult dogs. For Shih Tzu puppies, approximately ½ cup of high-calorie puppy food is standard, spread out over three to four meals a day. Adults would need less, typically about ½ cup of dog food twice a day, depending on their size and activity level.

2. Caloric Needs and Measuring Food

The caloric content in dog food can vary widely. On average, a cup of dog food might contain anywhere from 200 to 500 calories. To determine how much to feed your Shih Tzu, you need to look at the caloric needs which can be around 35 calories per pound of body weight for an adult. For a 15-pound adult Shih Tzu, this would mean around 525 calories per day.

3. Adjusting Food Quantity for Weight and Activity

For a Shih Tzu that is more active, you may need to feed slightly more. Conversely, for overweight dogs or those with lower activity levels, the amount should be reduced. Regularly assessing your dog’s body condition and adjusting the food quantity accordingly is essential.

4. The Impact of Snacks and Treats

Treats should be given sparingly and constitute no more than 10% of a Shih Tzu’s total caloric intake. Always subtract the calories from treats from their total daily food allowance to prevent overfeeding.

5. The Cost of Feeding a Shih Tzu

The cost will vary based on the quality of the food and where you live. On average, for high-quality dog food, you might expect to spend between $20 to $60 per month to feed a Shih Tzu. This estimate can change based on individual needs and local prices.

Our 5 Top Foods for Shih Tzus

The diets were selected by our founder Justin Palmer, a certified canine nutrition expert, specifically with Shih Tzus in mind:

Food Pros Cons

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  • No filler carbohydrates, mostly animal protein
  • Freeze dried is the closest you can get to homemade/fresh. Retains 95% of nutrient value
  • Single source protein (many to choose from) ideal for dogs with allergies
  • Rich in Omega-3 and probiotics, which retain their value in a freeze dried food.
  • Pricier Option
  • Dog may never go back to kibble after trying!

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  • Multi-meat formula, which exposes your dog to multiple protein sources, which can reduce chance of allergies later in life
  • For a dry dog food, contains VERY high protein (38%). Most kibbles contain less than 25%.
  • Contains fish, providing a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids


  • For a dry dog food, its on the pricier side
  • Uses some legumes for protein, which is less ideal for dogs

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  • For a dry dog food, contains moderately high protein (27%)
  • Quality protein from free-range chicken, eggs, and turkey
  • Added fish oil and probiotics can help skin, coat, and digestion
  • Less protein than options above
  • Uses some grains for protein, which is less ideal for dogs

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  • Human grade ingredients that look fresh and homemade
  • Smells like actual human food!
  • Minimally processed and cooked at temperatures much lower than kibble, retains more nutrients.
  • Many flavor & protein options available
  • Pricey on a per meal basis
  • Your dog may not go back to eating cheaper food!

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  • Canned wet food cooked at lower temperature than kibble and retains more nutrient
  • High quality free-range chicken protein
  • Added antioxidants from Artichokes, Cranberries, Pumpkin, Tomato, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Parsley that you can actually see in the food
  • When buying wet food, you're paying for water weight
  • More expensive than dry food



It’s vital to feed your Shih Tzu the right amount of food to maintain a healthy weight and overall well-being. Consult with a veterinarian to tailor the feeding to your dog’s specific needs.


Frequently Asked Questions About Feeding a Shih Tzu

1. How many times a day should I feed my adult Shih Tzu?

Adult Shih Tzus thrive on a routine and should be fed twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening. Puppies, however, require more frequent feeding of three to four times a day due to their developmental needs.

2. What is the recommended amount of food per serving for a Shih Tzu?

A typical adult Shih Tzu requires about ½ cup of dry dog food per meal. However, this can vary depending on the dog’s activity level, age, and the calorie content of the food. Always refer to the feeding guide on your dog food’s packaging and consult your vet for personalized advice.

3. Is it okay to feed my Shih Tzu human food?

While some human foods are safe for dogs in moderation, it is generally not recommended to feed your Shih Tzu human food. Frequent feeding of human food can lead to obesity and nutritional imbalances, and some human foods can be toxic to dogs.

4. How do I know if my Shih Tzu is eating enough?

Monitor your Shih Tzu’s energy levels, weight, and overall health. If they are active, maintaining a healthy weight, and have a shiny coat, they are likely eating the right amount. Consult with your vet to ensure their dietary needs are being met.

5. Can I feed my Shih Tzu dry food only, or do they need wet food as well?

Shih Tzus can be fed a diet of dry food, wet food, or a combination of both. Dry food is good for their dental health, while wet food can be more palatable and hydrating. The choice depends on your dog’s preference and health needs.

6. What ingredients should I look for in a quality Shih Tzu dog food?

Look for dog food that lists high-quality proteins like chicken, lamb, or fish as the first ingredient. The food should also contain a balance of carbohydrates, fats, fibers, vitamins, and minerals specifically formulated for small breeds like the Shih Tzu.

7. How much water should a Shih Tzu drink each day?

A Shih Tzu should always have access to fresh, clean water. They typically need about one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day, but this can increase with hot weather or increased activity.

8. Are there any foods I should avoid giving my Shih Tzu?

Yes, avoid foods that are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and anything containing xylitol. Also, steer clear of high-fat and fried foods, which can lead to pancreatitis and obesity.

9. How do I transition my Shih Tzu to a new type of food?

Transition your Shih Tzu to new food gradually over the course of a week. Start by mixing a small amount of the new food with the old, and gradually increase the proportion of new food to old each day to prevent digestive upset.

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

If your Shih Tzu is picky, try mixing in a little wet food with their dry food, warming the food slightly, or adding a low-sodium broth to enhance the flavor. Always ensure the food is fresh and of high quality, and consult your vet for advice if pickiness persists.


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