The shih tzu is a beloved dog breed around the world, known to be affectionate and good with both other dogs and children. The American Kennel Club classifies the dog as a "toy" breed because shih tzus tend to be small (the standard is no taller than 10.5 inches and no more than 16 pounds in weight).
Although they require regular grooming, shih tzus do not shed much — in fact, excess shedding might be a sign of poor diet. As with any other living creature, a good diet is essential to a shih tzu's health. Healthy meals can include chicken, turkey, or fish for shih tzu, homemade dog food, and even a shih tzu raw diet. There are a lot of reasons why homemade and or raw dog foods may or may not work for any particular dog. It's best to follow the recommendations of your vet who knows your particular dog before subscribing to any specific diet, whether you make it yourself or purchase it commercially.
Homemade cooked dog food
YourPurebredPuppy.com and the American Shih Tzu Club suggest feeding your dog homemade food such as fresh meats, vegetables, and grains. The shih tzu, in its native environment, fed on natural foods to survive prior to becoming domesticated. If possible, prepare natural foods such as lamb, bison, chicken, turkey, beef, or even fish for a shih tzu. Additionally, you can feed your shih tzu vegetables, fresh rice, soy, and fresh yogurt and cheeses because, unlike cats, dogs can extract nutrients from some vegetables and fruits (but never give them onions).
The obvious benefit of this diet is that your dog is eating food you would feed your own child and as long as you provide a good balance of each major food group, your dog will be healthy. Yes, with the homemade cooked food diet they are essentially eating people food, but whole foods, not processed. The downside is that this diet requires you to prepare the meal yourself and you end up spending time (and money) ensuring your dog has a complete diet.
Shih tzu raw diet
Some dog owners and dog experts are proponents of a raw food diet. The American shih tzu club points out that raw dog food proponents argue that, historically, dogs did not have access to cooked (or processed) foods in the wild and that a raw food diet is more akin to the dog's natural diet and thereby better. Advocates of this diet have strong views.
The problem is that raw meats have a risk of bacterial or viral infection. While shih tzu, like other dogs, have digestive systems that can handle certain bacteria or viral infections better than humans, the raw dog food diet still carries this risk. Use only Department of Agriculture-approved food such as liver, beef and chicken. Discuss this option with your dog's veterinarian before putting your dog on a shih tzu raw food diet.
Commercial USDA-approved dog foods
If natural diets (cooked or raw) are not an option, consider purchasing a commercial dog food that has passed USDA inspection. When considering a commercial dog food for your shih tzu, YourPurebredPuppy.com suggests that the first two ingredients in the food be meat (as apposed cereal or vegetable matter). Also, be wary of dog foods that contain artificial preservatives and byproducts. These ingredients might make the food harder to digest and cause health problems with your shih tzu.
Some major pet food manufacturers, such as Royal Canine, sell a brand of food specially designed for shih tzus. The added omega-3 and omega-6 is good for the characteristic silky coat of the shih tzu and might also help with skin allergies not uncommon in this breed. The kibble shape is easy for flat-faced dogs to eat, also a consideration.