The tireless Australian Shepherd, one of the greatest working dog breeds on the planet, is happiest when he’s physically active and has an actual job to do. But, even when he doesn’t have anything to do, this herding dog who possesses a natural impulse to herd, will find something to do on its own: if you have sheep, he’ll happily herd them, if you have ducks or geese, he’ll herd those too. Other dogs? He’ll herd them as well. And if you don’t have any animals around your yard or house, but you have kids – your Aussie will try to herd them too!
Because this is such an energetic dog with a hearty appetite, it’s important to feed him only quality, rich-in-nutrients but lower-in-calories foods that will not only satisfy his cravings but help him remain healthy and full of energy. Deciphering which dog foods are the best choices for your Aussie is not an easy task, but that’s why we’re here. We’ve put together a list of the best dog foods for Australian Shepherds, which we hope will help you choose the right formula for your pup and your wallet. And if you need more information, our Buying Guide & FAQ is there to help you.
Best Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds Buying Guide & FAQ
Finding a reliable brand and quality dog food for your pet is not an easy task. With what appears to be millions of different dog food options out there, finding the product that fits your pooch’s needs and preferences and your budget at the same time can be challenging. To help you navigate the sea of dog foods and purchase the best one for your Australian Shepherd, we’ve prepared this buying guide and answered some of the frequently asked questions. So read on, inform yourself and buy your Aussie a delicious, healthy food today!
What to Consider When Buying Dog Food for Australian Shepherd
While individual dog breeds as well as individual dogs themselves, can have special dietary needs, canines in general have pretty much the same nutritional requirements. This means that whether you have an Australian Shepherd or a German Shepherd, or any other dog breed, you want to buy foods that check the following boxes:
- Quality protein
Dogs are omnivores but they thrive on quality meats first and foremost. So make sure the dog food you’re buying has quality meat as its first or second ingredient. Poultry, beef, some pork and various fish are all excellent choices. Whole meats are fantastic, but meat meals as well as meat by-products are perfectly fine for healthy dogs. Just make sure you’re buying from reputable brands.
- Healthy Fats
Fats and oils are a necessary part of a dog’s diet, as canines (like humans), cannot make them themselves. These are known as essential fatty acids – omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Animal fats, such as chicken fat, pork fat, etc., are welcome ingredients in canine food, but so are added oils. Fish oil is a particularly healthy fat you want to focus on, especially if your Aussie has some coat and skin problems. Flaxseed oil and canola oil are also good oil choices.
- Complex carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are a key to a balanced canine diet. Plants such as vegetables and fruits, as well as grains, provide energy and many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Not to mention fiber – something you should want in your Aussie’s diet if she suffers from digestive issues. What about grains? Unless your dog has a grain-sensitivity and a very sensitive stomach or your vet recommends against them, you should not avoid grains in dog foods. Whole grains are loaded with healthy nutrients and should be a part of every healthy omnivore’s diet, including dogs.
Australian Shepherd Nutritional Needs
Although Australian Shepherds have their unique traits, behaviors and tendencies to develop health problems, their nutritional needs are not much different from general dietary recommendations for dogs. So focus on good protein, healthy fats and complex carbs. However, because Aussies are prone to obesity unless they exercise regularly (around 30-60 minutes of physical activity a day) and eat healthily, it’s wise to focus on dog foods that don’t contain a lot of calories.
Generally speaking, an Aussie dog should get around 30 calories per pound a day, but this obviously depends on several factors, including your dog’s activity levels, age, and current health state.
What You Should Avoid Feeding Your Australian Shepherd
Like all dog breeds, Aussies should not be given the following foods:
- Onions and garlic: these kill your dog’s red blood cells, which can cause anemia. A tiny bit of either onion or garlic is fine, but a lot of these can cause food poisoning.
- Chocolate: because chocolate contains theobromine, which can cause serious digestive issues, heart problems and even death in dogs, you should never offer it to your Aussie (especially dark chocolate).
- Xylitol: this sweetener, often found in gums, candies, toothpastes and various baked goods, can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop dangerously and even lead to liver failure.
- Alcohol: alcohol affects dogs similarly to humans, however, it takes a lot less to hurt your pet. Various alcoholic drinks can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, breathing problems and even death.
- Caffeine: coffee, caffeinated teas and other beverages and foods that contain caffeine are strictly forbidden for dogs. Small amounts can cause vomiting, digestive problems, restlessness, while large amounts lead to rapid heart rate, seizures and death.
Common Australian Shepherd Health Problems
Aussie dogs are generally a healthy, lively and smart breed. However, like all breeds, they are prone to certain health problems. The following ones are the most common:
- Hip dysplasia: a heritable condition where the femur doesn’t fit normally into the pelvic socket of the animal’s hip joint. Regular hip evaluation is recommended.
- Elbow dysplasia: another heritable condition caused by different growth rates of bones that make up the elbow. Regular elbow evaluation is recommended.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): degenerative eye disorder that causes blindness due to the loss of photoreceptors. It’s detectable years before the dog shows any signs of blindness, so get regular ophthalmologist evaluations.
- Multiple drug sensitivity (MDS): Aussies are one of the breeds that can be affected by the condition that makes the animal highly sensitive to common veterinary drugs, including a heartworm preventative ivermectin. Testing is recommended.
- Obesity: Because they’re such energetic dogs, Aussies have hearty appetites, which if not properly channeled, can spiral out of control. This is especially dangerous if your pet is not physically active. Make sure your pet eats enough but definitely too much.
Dog Food for Australian Shepherd FAQ
Q: How much should I feed my Australian shepherd?
A: Generally speaking, around 30 calories per pound a day is what an adult Aussie dog should eat. But this depends on multiple factors, including his physical activity (highly active dogs should eat much more), age (puppies and younger dogs should eat more than senior dogs) and health state (pregnant, nursing and dogs under stress should eat more).
Q: How often should I feed my Australian Shepherd puppy?
A: If you have a very young puppy, feeding him three to four times a day is a good idea. As your puppy grows, cut the feeding down to three times a day. Always try to feed your puppy at around the same time (every four to five hours).
Q: How do I change my Aussie’s diet?
A: If for whatever reason you want to change your Aussie’s diet, it’s important to do it gradually and slowly. Never switch your pet’s diet overnight – start by serving your pet’s favorite old food mixed with new food, gradually increasing the amount of new food until there’s more new than old in his bowl and he’s happily eating it. Finally, switch to the new (and hopefully healthier) food completely.
Our Top Pick
Whichever Aussie dog product you choose from our Top 10 list, we’re sure you’ll be satisfied. But if you’re stuck deciding between two or three products, maybe our Top Pick product could help you. We chose the Blue Buffalo Natural Adult Dry Dog Food as the winner because it has everything a quality dog food should have – and then some.
This formula contains a wide array of healthy ingredients, including quality meat, whole grains, veggies and fruits at a very reasonable price. Plus, it’s supplemented with all important vitamins and minerals, and even contains L-Carnitine, which can help your Aussie properly and efficiently burn fat and maintain a healthy heart. Furthermore, it’s free from artificial fillers, so it’s suitable even for sensitive canines. Finally, this dog food is low in calories, which is highly beneficial for Aussie dogs as they’re prone to obesity.