Known for its fluffy appearance, the Shih Tzu is one of the most affectionate, playful, and outgoing dog breeds out there. Whether you are planning to adopt one or already have a litter, you’ll want to figure out something important: how much should you feed a Shih Tzu puppy?
Frankly speaking, Shih Tzu pups need quality food and the right nutrition, as well as proper scheduling because of their size. You will need to understand just how much food they can take at a day depending on their age bracket.
A Shih Tzu puppy should get the right amount and kind of food to help them grow healthy and strong. In this guide, we’ll help you build a proper schedule and routine for your little companion, as well as other dietary problems you might encounter along the way.
How much to feed a Shih Tzu puppy?
Keep in mind that the Shih Tzu is a toy breed, which means they will need far less food amount compared to other dogs. Consider about one-fourth or less of food per day, divided equally for 3 to 4 meals. You can increase the amount as much as one-half as your puppy grows into an adult.
Of course, the amount will vary depending on various factors, such as the age of your puppy in weeks, their activity levels, underlying health issues, and whatnot. Toy breeds like the Shih Tzu have a hard time digestive a generous amount of food at once, so be careful!
Either way, it’s important to stick to a schedule for your growing Shih Tzu puppy because they might get sick if they are either underfed or overfed! Toy breeds are best fed with a diet that requires them to only eat a little bit more often, as compared to big dogs that can eat only 1 to 2 times a day.
To help you figure out your preferred schedule for your Shih Tzu puppy, we put together a handy feeding chart. Your Shih Tzu pup needs to be trained into eating on a schedule to avoid getting overweight and also to eliminate or lessen food begging problems.
Here is a handy chart on how much you should feed your Shih Tzu pup and how often, to avoid any mishaps in their weight and digestive system:
|Age of Shih Tzu puppy||Amount of food||Frequency|
|3 months old and below||Free-feeding with a bit of nursing||3 to 6 times a day|
|3 to 12 months old||1 to 2 ounces (1/8 to ¼ cup)||3 to 6 times a day|
|1 to 2 years old||2 to 3 ounces (1/4 to 3/8 cup)||3 to 4 times a day|
|2 years and older||½ to 1 cup||3 to 4 times a day|
With that said, you should take your puppy to the veterinarian for the best way to know how much and how often you should feed them. Not all Shih Tzu puppies weigh the same so they will have a variety in dietary needs.
Despite being a toy breed, the Shih Tzu needs to be observed for changes in their weight. Here is a helpful chart to know how they will be in adulthood based on their weight:
|Age in months||Weight in Kilogram||Weight in Pounds|
|1 months||0.9 (kg.)||2 (lbs.)|
|2 months||1.8 (kg.)||4 (lbs.)|
|3 months||2.7 (kg.)||6 (lbs.)|
|4 months||3.6 (kg.)||8 (lbs.)|
|5 months||4.5 (kg.)||10 (lbs.)|
|6 months||5.0 (kg.)||11 (lbs.)|
|8 months||5.3 (kg.)||11.8 (lbs.)|
|10 months||5.5 (kg.)||12.3 (lbs.)|
|12 months||5.5 (kg.)||12.3 (lbs.)|
|24 months||5.5 (kg.)||12.3 (lbs.)|
As seen above, Shih Tzu puppies start as little companions and will eventually grow past 10 pounds when they reach adulthood. Their weight depends mostly on their genetics, feeding routines, the type of food given, and other factors. Here’s a more detailed guide on their puppyhood journey:
2 to 4 weeks old
During the early stages of your Shih Tzu puppy’s life, you should get them closer to their mother to avoid disruption in getting nursed. Their mother’s milk is the most important source of food so they shouldn’t be weaned yet.
During the Shih Tzu puppy’s second week, they should be nursed as much as possible and they shouldn’t get solid food yet. They will need a comfortable space for this nursing activity to take place – especially if it is a big litter.
By 4 weeks of age, the mother of your puppy should get a bit more active and interested in the world around them. They might still stick around their mom for the rest of the day for nursing, but exploration is bound to happen.
Some breeders and pet owners try out their Shih Tzu puppies with their taste for solid food. This is to avoid them getting shocked during the weaning process. First, try putting a bit of soaked (in water) puppy food on a teaspoon and test it out.
If your puppy is somehow intrigued with the flavor and aroma, this might be a sign that your Shih Tzu pup is ready to transition to solid food. If not, you can just try offering it some other time (or try with the other members of the litter, if any).
6 weeks old
Once you’ve figured out the perfect time on when to start your Shih Tzu puppy on solid food, you should get to work. Needless to say, at 6 weeks of age, it should already be the right time for kibble training. A healthy puppy should get all of the nutrients they need – both from their mother and regular food.
During this stage of their life, their mother would be nursing less frequently because it will hurt them more. Instead, you can just slowly introduce your Shih Tzu pup to solid food by combining a mixture of kibble and water (must be appropriate for your puppy’s breed and age – see our guidelines before).
What you are doing to your Shih Tzu pup is training them that food is only available for a certain and limited time so they should eat whenever possible. About 1/3 cup is the best amount per day for a Shih Tzu puppy, which is divided into 3 to 6 meals depending on your availability.
8 weeks old
The best time to re-home or adopt a Shih Tzu puppy is 8 weeks of age. They are typically fully weaned by this age because their mother would have probably stopped nursing altogether. Thus, your transition of solid food should somewhat be finished by this point.
Remember that feeding the water and kibble mixture should be done in a slow transition. First, it should start with 1 part water and 3 parts food; gradually increasing the amount of kibble until the Shih Tzu puppy only eats the puppy food.
Free-feeding is still okay by this point, although it depends on the maturity of your puppy and the advice of your vet. Since the Shih Tzu is a toy breed, it’s hard to tell if they are overweight or too thin, so you’ll need an expert for this.
Have your Shih Tzu puppy weighed regularly during your visit to the vet so they can assess if your pup needs to increase or decrease its diet. Your vet might also assess your puppy depending on their physical activity all day – less food is more suitable for pups that don’t move around too much.
10 weeks old
Contrary to other dog breeds, a Shih Tzu puppy around 10 weeks of age can still be free-fed because of its nature as a toy breed. This also involves trial and error on the amount of food they should get each day. However, keep the frequency to at least 3 times a day or more, depending on the need.
Always consult your vet if you think their weight is not ideal for their age or if they have health issues. A Shih Tzu pup might still have a stout appearance despite weighing just right so it’s hard to tell if they are overweight or not.
The typical schedule for a Shih Tzu puppy in terms of feeding would be morning, noon/afternoon, and evening. Feel free to adjust the times as needed and depending on your availability. After all, work is important so you can give your Shih Tzu pup a decent and quality meal when you get home!
Hypoglycemia is a common condition found in most Shih Tzu puppies, which affects their diet. This means that they digest food at a much faster rate than other similar breeds. That’s why most pet owners of this breed stick to about 4 meals per day or more.
If you can’t attend to this frequency of feeding, you can have someone feed them at regular schedules or buy an automatic food dispenser and leave it to your puppy. Treats are also okay to give to your Shih Tzu pup, so long as you include it in their overall calorie count.
12 weeks old
When your Shih Tzu pup turns 12 weeks old, it’s time to let go of the free-feeding routine and completely stick to a full schedule. Have them eat in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night, depending on your schedule.
You can also give them treats from time to time but closely watch their weight. Fortunately, a 12-week-old Shih Tzu pup will be less chubby by default so you’ll know when they are getting overweight based on their tummy bulk.
Either way, you should still consult your vet if you are not sure about your Shih Tzu puppy’s weight. You can also consult our weight chart above for reference in case you have doubts about your pup when it comes to the ideal weight for their age.
Now that we know how to feed a Shih Tzu puppy when it comes to frequency and amount, what exactly do you feed them with? Here are some recommended types of food that you can put into their breakfast, lunch, or dinner bowl:
Meat is a common source of protein for dogs and the Shih Tzu is no different. Consider getting their protein from quality meat such as fish, chicken (white meat), lamb, turkey, and even meat organs such as heart and liver.
Make sure that the brand you buy has no fillers and contains quality lean meat as the first ingredient. When looking for the best Shih Tzu puppy food, consider a higher percentage of protein rather than carbohydrates.
Protein is needed by dogs for building their muscles, improving their coat appearance, and their overall growth and development. They need it more than carbohydrates, which will only get them overweight at the end (and even prone to allergies).
Glucosamine-rich puppy food
Look for glucosamine and chondroitin in your puppy food because the Shih Tzu is a breed prone to hip dysplasia and other similar joint problems. What glucosamine does is strengthen their joints for preventing these problems from arising during adulthood.
Fortunately, many puppies and dog foods out there do have glucosamine in their list of ingredients. Make sure they are appropriate for your pup and toy breeds before buying so they could digest it properly! Moreover, consider quality sources such as chicken and fish and not just random meat products.
Foods rich in Vitamin A
Did you know that Shih Tzu puppies could develop cataracts in adulthood if they aren’t eating healthy food? That’s why you’ll need to boost them with Vitamin A, especially if their parents have a history of similar eye problems.
Sources of vitamin A in dog food may include fish liver oil and similar organs. You can also find them in carrots, vegetables such as kale, egg yolks, and sweet potato (which is also a healthier carbohydrate source compared to corn and wheat for dogs).
Foods to Avoid
When it comes to feeding your puppy, what foods and ingredients should be avoided? Here’s a list of no-nos in your Shih Tzu pup’s bowl:
Unspecified meat and by-products
These shouldn’t go into your Shih Tzu puppy’s diet because they might contain road-kill and sick animals. Instead of these unspecified meat products, look for a “first ingredient” label that tells you whether it has chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, fish, or other animals.
In any dog diet, especially with a Shih Tzu puppy that has a sensitive digestive system, always consider getting food that doesn’t contain fillers like corn and wheat. Your goal should be more protein than carbohydrates for your puppy to be healthy.
MSG-based foods are not healthy for your puppy, especially if taken excessively. This is why many people prefer to feed their Shih Tzu pup raw or home-cooked meals as advised by their vet. However, if you have no time to prepare, simply select a brand that has little to no artificial flavorings.
Many supermarket brands out there have artificial preservatives and colorants, as well as flavors. They aren’t good for your puppy’s health even if they taste good.
FAQs on Feeding a Shih Tzu Puppy
Do you want to know more information regarding a Shih Tzu puppy’s daily diet? Here are some FAQs that might help you out:
When looking for food for your Shih Tzu puppy, make sure it is easy to digest because they belong to the toy breed group. Their stomach can only take so much so always consider buying a brand variation that’s suitable for toy breed puppies.
You can also go for a puppy food that has omega fatty acids, which are suitable for a Shih Tzu puppy since they need all the nourishment they can get for maintaining a healthy coat. Look for glucosamine as well since they are prone to joint issues.
If you need to buy store-based food, look for brands that use herbs as natural preservatives. Examples of these would be rosemary and green tea, which are deemed safe for canines to consume in very little amounts.
Yes – as mentioned above, Shih Tzu puppies can be given treats because of their frequent need to eat. However, watch their weight as you go and don’t give them too much to avoid forming bad habits with begging. Always include their puppy treats in their calorie count.
Raw feeding a Shih Tzu puppy
If you do consider feeding your Shih Tzu puppy with a raw diet, always make sure they have balanced nutrients, such as calcium, protein, magnesium, omega fatty acids, phosphorous, and the like. Consult a vet or a breeder to help you get started.
Common raw foods, to begin with, are brown rice, meat organs, raw eggs, cauliflower, and various fruits and veggies as advised by your vet. It can be a trial and error sometimes because your Shih Tzu pup could have food allergies to certain ingredients.
As a whole, Shih Tzu puppies need extra care because of their sensitive stomachs. Always stick to a schedule, especially during their later years, and calculate their daily food intake to avoid causing obesity in your pup. We hope this guide helped you in feeding your Shih Tzu puppy properly!