How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat?

How much food should a shih tzu eat?

One Meal Just Isn’t Enough

It’s not just a case of “How much food should a shih tzu eat”, it’s not quite as simple as that. It’s not complicated either but there are other factors to take into account to discover what is right for your dog.

A large dog can usually meet all of its nutritional needs on just one large meal per day. It’s not so for a small dog like a shih tzu. A shih tzu, with its tiny stomach, cannot eat all it needs to in one day in one sitting.

It’s best to distribute a shih tzu’s daily food allowance over three equally portioned meals, ideally breakfast, lunch and supper.

Of course, if you are out at work or at school all day and cannot get home for lunch, this creates a problem. You will either need to have someone come in, or perhaps another household member feed your dog at lunch time or, alternatively, buy a commercially available automatic treat and water dispenser that you can load with dry food. You can also use a treat dispensing toy for this; this attention grabbing toy is also good for relieving separation anxiety. Make sure you buy the correct size toy, XS for puppies, S for adults.

If your shih tzu is still a puppy, he will need feeding four times a day. This is because his stomach is smaller still and with him being at the growing stage will need more food than an adult. On top of this, puppies are prone to hyperglycemia if they go too long between meals. Four meals a day, evenly spaced out, help to prevent this condition from happening.

Some experts say that puppies should be “free fed”, that is you put their food into a bowl and let them come and go as they please to eat the contents. Myself and others say that this is not a good thing as it allows your puppy to get into bad habits and eventually he will be telling you when and what to feed him.

To place yourself as pack leader, and therefore in control of your dog, it needs to be you dictating the menu and what is eaten. In an article I’ll be posting in the near future I’ll be delving deeper into an effective way of training your shih tzu to eat on demand.

But for now, if you just show your puppy where the food and water bowls are at feeding times until he remembers for himself, that will suffice.

Quality, Weight, Activity, Age

A shih tzu eating with his face buried in his bowl.
ID 73488248 © Blanscape |

These are four words that don’t usually go together but in this case they describe the other four factors that determine portion sizes.

If you are buying cheap “value” food, it most likely includes in its ingredients substances known as “fillers” and “by-products” that have no nutritional value at all. This means your dog needs to eat more to ingest all of the nutrients and vitamins that he needs.

This is counterproductive as, not only will you have to buy extra food, but also you will probably be facing large veterinarian’s bills as a result of your shih tzu either becoming malnourished or dangerously obese, both conditions that could become fatal.

So cheap food is not so “cheap” or of “value” in the long run. It is far better for you and your dog for you to invest in quality food that contains at least 25% lean protein and around 10% healthy fats such as omega 3 and omega 6 and is labeled as whole grain. There is an unsubstantiated but plausible theory that grain free may actually be harmful for a dog in the long run. I go into the best food to feed your shih tzu here.

A shih tzu’s natural, healthy weight, his activity level and age all come into play when assessing how much he should eat. To take the two extremes, a large, young adult who likes to run around and play a lot is going to need to replace many more calories than an a smaller, senior adult that sleeps most of the day.

How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat?

A shih tzu offered a bowl of food.
ID 99183848 © Chaoss |

So, assuming your shih tzu is fit and healthy and you are going to feed him quality, whole grain food  consisting of at least 25% lean protein and 10% healthy, omega fats, here are the guidelines of how much to feed him per day. Don’t forget to divide these quantities evenly between three servings.

4.5 – 6.5lbs
(2 – 3kg)
6.5 – 11lbs
(3 – 5kg)
11 – 15.5lbs
(5 – 7kg)
2 – 2.1oz
(55 – 60g)
2.1 – 3oz
(60 – 85g)
3 – 3.3oz
(85 – 95g)
2.1 – 2.5oz
(60 – 70g)
2.5 – 3.5oz
(70 – 100g)
3.5 – 3.9oz
(100 – 110g)
2.5 – 2.8oz
(70 – 80g)
2.8 – 3.9oz
(80 – 110g)
3.9 – 4.2oz
(110 – 120g)

Also take into account the serving instructions on the packaging as these have been thoroughly researched and are usually very accurate. If there is a conflict between these figures and the manufacturer’s directions, go with the latter.

Shih tzu are quite susceptible to allergies and many of these allergies can be triggered by different foods. If your shih tzu is on a hypoallergenic diet, or a veterinarian has recommended one, the size of the portions change for hypoallergenic dog food.

4.5 – 6.5lbs
(2 – 3kg)
6.5 – 11lbs
(3 – 5kg)
11 – 15.5lbs
(5 – 7kg)
0.9 – 1.2oz
(25 – 35g)
1.2 – 2.5oz
(35 – 70g)
2.5 – 3.2oz
(70 – 90g)
0.9 – 1.6oz
(25 – 45g)
1.6 – 3.2oz
(45 – 90g)
3.2 – 3.5oz
(90 – 100g)
1.2 – 2.1oz
(35 – 60g)
2.1 – 3.9oz
(60 – 110g)
3.2 – 4.2oz
(90 – 120g)

If you have a shih tzu puppy, for reasons I go into in my article “Best Dog Food For A Shih Tzu”, it is a very good idea to start your puppy off on a hypoallergenic diet whether he has allergies or not.

As I mentioned before, as your puppy needs extra energy for growth, the daily allowance starts much larger and tapers off as he reaches adulthood. Don’t forget to divide these daily allowances into four equal portions served at regular intervals during the day.

2 – 3 months 4 – 5 months 6 – 8 months
2- 3.5oz
(55 – 100g)
1.8 – 3.2oz
(50 – 90g)
1.2 – 2.1oz
(35 – 60g)
3.9 – 7.8oz
(110 – 220g)
3.2 – 5.6oz
(90 – 160g)
2.1 – 3.9oz
(60 – 110g)

From nine months old onwards, switch your puppy to the adult allowances.

The Importance Of Portion Control

A shih tzu out shopping for treats.
ID 92934935 © Pongmoji |

It is just as important for your shih tzu’s health to give him the correct sized portions as it is to give him the right quality of food. When you come to measure out a portion from the above tables you may think that it’s too tiny to satisfy your shih tzu but don’t forget also that his stomach is tiny.

The main causes of obesity in dogs is oversized meals and too many treats. With obesity comes the related health problems. Breathing difficulties, heart problems, joint problems and the increased possibility of contracting diabetes are the main diseases that can arise if your shih tzu overeats.

If you are following any of my training advice you are probably giving treats to your shih tzu. There is no problem with this as long as the treats are deducted from the daily allowance and constitute no more than 10% of his total daily food intake.

The chances are that when you are eating at the dining table your shih tzu will beg for scraps. However much it hurts you not to and however much he begs it’s imperative that you don’t give him anything. Again, you must make feeding him your decision for you to stay in control and to avoid your shih tzu overeating. When he realises that the begging will get him nowhere, he will stop.

Equally important is to give your shih tzu sufficient quality food to eat. Seriously underfeeding will lead to malnutrition and growth problems. If your shih tzu doesn’t want to eat at all, it’s time to take him to see the veterinarian to find out what the problem is.

You shouldn’t have any problems as long as you follow the guidelines I have written down above and follow the feeding instructions that come with the quality dog food products as I have previously suggested.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and that you have found it helpful. Don’t forget to see my article on the best dog food for a shih tzu.

If you have any questions about this post or shih tzu in general, please leave a comment or use our contact us form.

Bye for now.

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4 thoughts on “How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat?

  1. My shitzu only weighs 1.44kg how much food should I be feeding her and how many times a day please

    1. Hello Sharlene,

      Thank you for your query.

      At 1.44kg, I’m guessing that your girl is still a puppy. Whether this is true or not, how much to feed her and how many times a day is dependent upon certain factors such as age, weight, and level of activity.

      Within this post, I have published tables setting out guidelines for daily food allowances using these factors. Click on the appropriate link to go straight to the table that applies to your shih tzu:

      Puppy Feeding Chart

      Adult Feeding Chart

      For a puppy, this allowance should be divided into four or five meals per day to take into account their tiny stomachs and the relatively larger amount of food compared to adult portions.

      For an adult, with less food in total and a slightly larger stomach, the daily allowance should be divided into two or three meals per day.

      I hope this helps,

      Shih Tzu Steve.

  2. Don’t overdo it on snacks. While healthy snacks are an important part of a dog’s overall diet and can work well to tide a dog over until the next meal and treats are vital for training and are fantastic for reinforcing good behavior, these additions to meals should take up no more than about 10% of a dog’s daily food intake.

    1. I totally agree with you, Ryenne.

      Any treats given to your dog should be taken into account against the recommended total daily food allowance.

      For more information on what constitutes a shih tzu’s daily food allowance, take a look at the three charts contained within this post.

      Thank you for taking the time comment,

      Shih Tzu Steve.

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