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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.
At a Glance: Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds in 2021
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight
The Farmer’s Dog Company had strong values pertaining to wanting to provide every dog with the healthiest, freshest diet possible without the use of preservatives, fillers or un-listed chemicals. They cater to the individual dog by looking at the results of a questionnaire to ensure your dog gets perfectly tailored meals to meet their needs, with four protein options available including pork, turkey, chicken and beef.
Not only that, but The Farmer’s Dog offers 50% off for the first two weeks to give every buyer a fair shot with a half-price trial period, and will reimburse any unhappy customer so long as the leftover food goes to a shelter.
Because Australian Shepherds have a good appetite, they can put on weight easily despite being energetic and active. That’s why it’s important to give them foods that will support their high energy needs, but at the same time, promote a healthy weight as well. The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight is such a food – made with quality protein, whole grains, veggies, fruit and supplements, this formula is one of the best dog foods for Aussies as it’s highly palatable, nutritious but low in calories.
This formula contains deboned chicken as its first ingredient and primary protein choice, as well as lots of healthy produce and whole grains, including brown rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, spinach, blueberries and others. It’s also enriched with vitamins, minerals and beneficial supplements such as L-Carnitine, which helps dogs burn fat more efficiently. Importantly, it’s free from by-product meals, wheat, soy, and artificial flavors and preservatives.
If your Aussie has a sensitive stomach and coat and skin issues, it’s a good idea to eliminate coarse grains from her diet and focus on other wholesome foods and ingredients. The Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch can help you with that – this grain-free, high-protein formula is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help promote the well-being of canines. It’s a perfect Australian Shepherd dog food choice, especially for animals who struggle with digestive issues.
The formula contains herring, salmon and whitefish meals as its primary protein sources, which makes it rich in healthy fats, particularly beneficial for skin and coat health. It also contains quite a few fruits and veggies, including peas, blueberries, cranberries, apples, carrots, spinach and others. The food is also enriched with minerals, vitamins and supplements, including L-Carnitine which helps support lean muscle mass. What this dry dog food doesn’t contain is grains, gluten and potatoes. Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch is one of 5 dog food recipes mentioned in our Earthborn Holistic Dog Food Review.
For Aussies with serious digestive issues and food allergies, dog foods packed with various ingredients are a no-no. For such sensitive canines, simple recipes containing only healthy, necessary ingredients are the best option. The Canidae Grain-free Pure Sky formula is exactly like that – with only eight key ingredients and whole foods for gentle digestion, this dog food is an excellent choice for all sensitive Australian Shepherds.
Fresh duck is the first ingredient and the primary protein source is in this dry dog food. Turkey, sweet potatoes, peas, chicken fat and alfalfa are also a part of the ingredients list, and so are the added supplements, including minerals and vitamins and a probiotics mix. This high-protein food helps highly active canines develop and maintain muscle mass while promoting healthy digestion. Importantly, this simple recipe limited in ingredients doesn’t translate to bland taste – whether or not your pooch is grain-sensitive, he’ll love the delicious taste of this food.
If your Aussie is an older dog or a senior who still loves running around like he’s a young pup, the Hills’ Science Diet Adult 7+ Active Longevity food may be the perfect food choice for him. This formula provides precisely balanced nutrition for older dogs that promotes well-being and youthful energy. But importantly, it’s not high in calories – particularly important for senior dogs.
Chicken, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, including whole grain wheat, sorghum, barley and oats, apples, broccoli, carrots and cranberries, make the basis of this delicious dry dog food. Naturally packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including L-Carnitine that supports healthy weight, it’s clinically proven to promote health of older canines, including senior Aussies. Importantly, this biology-based formula is free of artificial fillers, including colors, flavors and preservatives.
Wellness Pet Food are well-known for their healthy, quality dog foods, and this particular recipe, Core Original, is no exception. If you have a growing Australian Shepherd dog, you need to focus on foods that are high in protein and that contain a wide array of nutrients, such as this formula. Containing lots of quality meat, this grain-free dry dog food is best suited for still developing or adult dogs with sensitive stomachs.
Turkey and chicken are the primary protein sources here, but ingredients such as peas, potatoes, flaxseed, salmon oil, spinach, broccoli, apples, blueberries, kale and other are also a part of the ingredients list, making this formula packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Of course, the product also contains added supplements, including probiotics for gentle digestion and Glucosamine and Chondroitin for healthy joints. The food doesn’t contain meat by-products, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Wellness CORE Original Deboned Turkey is one of 5 dog food recipes included in our Wellness Core Dog Food Review.
If your Aussie puppy is a picky eater, you need to focus on highly palatable, but still healthy and nutritionally-complete dog foods that will help her grow into s healthy, happy adult dog. The Purina Pro Plan Savor puppy dog food is such formula – delicious, nutritious and easily digestible, this is one of the best Australian Shepherd puppy foods on the market, especially for fussy eaters who demand only the most delectable formulas.
Made with chicken (first ingredient), fish meal and oil, grains, and important supplements, including probiotics for healthy digestion, this dry dog food has everything a growing puppy needs. Rich in protein and healthy fats, it supports muscle development and skin and coat health, while added vitamins, minerals and antioxidants support puppy’s developing immune system. Since the formula doesn’t contain veggies and fruits but instead a bunch of tasty ingredients, it’s best suited for super-picky pups who love delicious foods more than anything.
Just because your Aussie Shepherd is a tiny pup at the moment, doesn’t mean his nutritional needs are also small. In fact, puppies (as well as pregnant and nursing dogs) have the biggest nutritional needs as they’re still growing and developing. That’s why they need healthy, nutrient-rich foods that will support their high energy needs. And the Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition is the perfect formula for that – with plenty of protein and healthy fats packed into small kibble size, this is one of the best dog foods for mini Aussies.
Chicken meat, grains, fish oil and chicken fat make the basis of this nutrient-packed formula which is guaranteed to satisfy your little Aussie’s big appetite. This highly palatable food is also fortified with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which combined support proper development of the puppy’s immune system. Among many supplements, this puppy food contains L-Carnitine and taurine, ingredients known to help with fat metabolism and heart health. Royal Canin Small Puppy Dry Dog Food is one of the top 10 dog foods presented in our Royal Canin Dog Food Review.
Calorie content: 3891 kcal/kg, 354 kcal/cup
Min protein: 29%
Min fat: 18%
Max fiber: 3.3%
Max moisture: 10%
Small puppy formula
With L-carnitine and Taurine
Enriched with vitamins and minerals
First three ingredients: brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, chicken fat
If you want premium quality ingredients in your dog food, you need to check out Orijen. The company is well-known for using only fresh, wholesome foods in their pet formulas, and this particular Original recipe is no exception. Made with a host of nutrient-rich ingredients, this biologically appropriate, high in quality protein dog food is one of the best things you could serve your Australian Shepherd.
Packed with wholesome foods, including whole poultry, various fish, whole red and green lentils, whole peas and beans, pumpkin, butternut squash, kale, spinach, apples, pears and many other, this dry dog food has everything an adult Assie needs, and then some. Because it’s naturally full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, this kibble contains only one supplement – zinc. Needless to say, it’s free from anything artificial. Orijen dog foods are a bit more expensive than usual, but considering the number of quality ingredients they contain, it’s really no wonder. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is one of 5 recipes included in our review of the Orijen Dog Food.
Calorie content: 3940 kcal/kg, 449 kcal/cup
Min protein: 38%
Min fat: 18%
Max fiber: 4%
Max moisture: 12%
Fresh free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish and nest-laid eggs
If you’re looking for a highly palatable wet dog foot at a reasonable price, you’ve found it – the Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Wet Dog Food is made with beef, chicken and rice, making it highly delicious in dog-terms, while added supplements make it nutritionally complete. This tasty formula is best suited for picky Aussies who prefer wet foods, or like it mixed with their regular kibble.
This dog food’s first ingredient is real beef, making it moderately high in protein for wet foods. Liver and meat products, including chicken, as well as rice, make the rest of the ingredients. Of course, the formula is also fortified with important vitamins and minerals, including vitamins E, D, A and B vitamins, and minerals zinc, potassium, manganese, calcium and others. The best way to use this tasty wet dog food is to either mix it with your dog’s favorite kibble or as a stand-alone meal, depending on your dog’s current nutritional needs. Purina Pro Plan Savor Classic Beef & Rice is one of 5 dog food recipes mentioned in our Purina Pro Plan Dog Food Review.
Calorie content: 1179 kcal/kg, 435 kcal/can
Min protein: 9%
Min fat: 6%
Max fiber: 1.5%
Max moisture: 78%
Beef & Rice Entrée
Enriched with vitamins and minerals
First three ingredients: beef, water sufficient for processing, liver
Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds Buying Guide
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:
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 dog food brands.
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.
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.
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
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, toothpaste 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.
Best 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.
Eloise is the owner of a Malamute/Akita cross, a first-time mum, and an animal enthusiast from England. She comes from a family which has never gone a day without a pet (or 3!), and over the years has learned all the best tips and tricks to raising a difficult pet. A knowledge that she has put to good use, to help others navigate the limitless world of pet care.