The Best Dog Foods for Shelties – Top 5

Updated: October 9, 2023

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Shelties are small dogs known for their beauty and bright personality. Officially called the Shetland Sheepdog, they were originally bred as herding dogs, so these pups are very active and intelligent by nature.

Today, Shelties are considered to be energetic lap dogs that serve as lovable companions. With that being said, these dogs need proper nutrition to thrive. The breed is susceptible to a number of health issues.

* To ensure that your Sheltie maintains proper physical and mental health,

you need to choose a high-quality food that fulfills their unique nutritional needs.

well fed sheltie outside

In a hurry?  Here's a quick overview of the recommended formula's / best dog food for Shelties

  • Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Dog Food - More info
  • Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe - More info
  • CANIDAE Grain Free PURE fresh Bison Dry Dog Food - More info
  • Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient - More info
  • Wellness Complete Health Natural Small Breed Dog Food - More info

How Much Food Do Shelties Need?

Sheltie's aren't a large dog breed by any means. However, they have caloric requirements that are similar dogs twice their size because of their active lifestyle. A healthy adult Sheltie can weigh anywhere between 11 and 24 pounds.

It's important to provide your pup with the right amount of caloric fuel based on their size and activity level.

sheltie profile

Adult shelties will typically require just under 600 calories a day. This is enough fuel for a dog that's active and playful. If your dog works to herd all day or gets a considerable amount of exercise, you may want to provide as much as 900 calories per day.

A higher amount of calories is vital to an active dog's health. It helps prevent unhealthy weight loss while also providing enough energy to perform their normal tasks.

Senior dogs tend to be less active. However, it's not uncommon for Shelties to stay playful well into their senior years. The dog's activity should be monitored to fully assess their needs.

Usually, a senior dog will need just under 500 calories to remain healthy. It's not a significant decrease from adulthood, but it can help ensure that the dog doesn't gain weight.

5 of the Best Dog Foods for Shelties

To help make your search for the perfect dog food a bit easier, here are 5 of the best formulas for Shelties. They contain a mixture of beneficial ingredients and high-quality sources to help your beloved dog thrive.

1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Adult Dog Food

This formula from Blue Buffalo is designed to provide beneficial nutrients throughout the dog's life. It contains natural ingredients, starting with the protein.

The main source of protein is deboned lamb. However, it also contains turkey meal. This combination supports healthy muscle development and strength. The formula also contains whole sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole ground barley for carbohydrates. These complex carbs provide energy and are much better for digestion compared to cheaper alternatives.

There's also a number of fruits and vegetables thrown in, including carrots for beta-carotene. The unique thing about this dog food is the inclusion of LifeSource Bits. They are nutrient-dense bits that contain 7 different antioxidant sources, including blueberries, cranberries, and spinach.

2. Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe

Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe

Made to maintain a healthy weight, this all-natural dog from Merrick is filled with advantageous ingredients. In fact, 55% of the formula is comprised of a mixture of proteins and healthy fats. This ensures that your dog has the energy to remain active and the foundation to develop strong muscles.

The first ingredient is deboned beef. It also has chicken and turkey meal. When it comes to fat, the food contains flaxseed oil, salmon oil, and natural chicken fat. The chicken fat is preserved with mixed tocopherols, eliminating the need for chemical additives.

As the name implies, there are no grains to be found here. Instead, the manufacturers used sweet potatoes and peas for carbohydrates. There's also a mixture of nutritional fruits and vegetables, like apples, alfalfa, and more.

3. CANIDAE Grain Free PURE fresh Bison Dry Dog Food

If you're looking for a simple formula that's easy to understand, this option from Canidae may be for you. It's limited to only 7-10 key whole ingredients.

For protein, the manufacturers use bison and lamb meal. Both sources are very lean and excellent for Shelties. Chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and peas are used for carbohydrates. They are easier to digest and perfect for sensitive stomachs.

The formula also contains fatty acids to achieve a beautiful and healthy coat of fur and antioxidants to build a strong immune system. Canidae adds probiotics to their formula as well. Probiotics promote a healthy digestion system and help to keep the dog regular.

4. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited-Ingredient Dry Adult Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Basics Skin & Stomach Care Grain-Free Formula Turkey & Potato Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

Another great option from Blue Buffalo, this formula contains a limited number of ingredients to help with digestion and food allergies. It utilizes ingredients that are a bit more uncommon so that it's a viable option for dogs that are sensitive to ingredients in other dog foods.

It utilizes turkey as its single source of protein. Peas and potatoes are used as carbohydrates to ensure proper digestion. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, this formula has pumpkin, cranberries, and blueberries. There's also flaxseed oil for omega fatty acids.

Overall, the formula is very basic and easy to understand, making it a great option for dogs that need a simple option that's easy to digest.

5. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food

This dog food from Wellness Natural Pet Food is made for smaller dogs. The kibble size is smaller than other formulas to better accommodate the smaller teeth of Shelties.

It's also made to maintain a healthy weight. It has fewer calories and up to 26% less fat. Deboned turkey, chicken meal, and salmon meal are used for proteins. The salmon adds some much-needed fish oil into the mix for a healthy coat of fur. It also contains ground barley, brown rice, and flaxseed.

Carrots, spinach, sweet potato, apples, and blueberries are all used as high-quality sources of essential vitamins and nutrients. The unique food is great for Shelties because of its smaller size and nutrient-dense formula.

How to Properly Feed a Sheltie

The best way to feed your Sheltie is by separating the food up into two separate meals. One meal should be given out in the morning to give the dog fuel for the day while the second should be given in the evening.

Depending on the calorie density of your food, the right amount of daily food will be between three-quarters of a cup up to 2 cups.

While wet food may be appetizing for dogs, it's best to stick with dry kibble for your Sheltie. The hard and crunchy texture of dry food will act as a toothbrush.

As the dog chews, the food will remove tartar and debris from the teeth and help prevent plaque build-up and periodontal disease.

If the dry food looks sparse in the bowl, don't fret. The dry food works with liquids in the stomach to expand over time. This will result in your dog feeling full and replenished. Avoid adding extra food than recommended to prevent weight gain.

Must-Have Ingredients

When you're looking for dog food for your Sheltie, pay attention to the ingredient's list. Because of their active lifestyle, Shelties need a diet that's rich in nutrients and protein.

Without the proper ingredients, your dog can't develop properly and may experience a host of potential health issues.


Protein is the most important thing your dog will need. Dogs are omnivores by nature. They need high-quality sources of protein to develop strong muscles and bones.

Dog food formulas vary by source and percentage. It's good to go with an option that has a high percentage of protein. The more protein, the better.

The protein source should be listed first in the ingredients list. This is a good indication that most of the formula is comprised of something beneficial.

The best source of protein is from lean meat. This includes chicken, beef, lamb, and any other animal source. A combination of protein sources is fairly common and quite beneficial for the dog.

It provides numerous sources of amino acids that will help develop strong muscles. Many foods include a protein "meal," which is simply ground up meat.

essential ingredients for shelties

One thing to avoid is "meat and bone meal." If the specific source of the meat isn't clearly labeled, then the protein comes from a very questionable source. It may contain anything from euthanized animals to roadkill.

It can contain harmful chemicals or bacteria that may lead to severe health issues.

Meat and poultry byproducts should also be avoided. Byproducts are simply remnants of a butchered animal from a slaughterhouse. They're heavily processed and don't contribute much to your dog's health or nutritional requirements.

Healthy Fats

While it's a good idea to stay away from fried foods and high amount of animal fat, healthy fats do have their benefits. Healthy fats include flaxseed oil and fish oil.

They are often included in small doses to add a bit of natural flavor and promote healthy skin and fur.

Fats are a good way to keep your Sheltie's thick coat of fur in good condition. It adds luster and prevents conditions like dry skin. They also contain Omega Fatty Acids. They can help promote good heart health while also benefiting the liver and digestive system.

Fat may be included in the form of essential oils or through the inclusion of fish as a protein source.


While carbohydrates are often introduced as a filler in dog food formulas, it's actually beneficial to your dog's health. Complex carbohydrates are especially important in Shelties. They provide energy and help maintain a healthy weight.

When choosing a dog food, look for an option that has a healthy mix of protein and complex carbohydrates. However, proteins should always make up most of the formula.

Complex carbohydrates include peas, sweet potatoes, beans, whole grains, and a number of different vegetables. While these are all great ingredients,

simple carbs like corn and soy should be avoided. The right type of carbohydrate will fill your dog up while also providing energy and fiber.

Ingredients to Avoid

In addition to animal byproducts, meat or poultry meal, and simple carbohydrates, there's a bevy of ingredients to avoid. Cheaper dog foods often contain ingredients that preserve the quality of the food. However, they may cause more harm than good in your pooch.

Chemical Preservatives

Chemical preservatives like Propylene Glycol and Ethoxyquin should be avoided. These preservatives are used to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth on the food. However, they are known to cause issues within specific organs in the body.

For example, Ethoxyquin is a pesticide that's known to cause cancer in humans. While it's banned in human food, it's not uncommon to find it on the ingredients list of cheap dog food.

Instead of chemical preservative, look for a formula with a more natural approach. Ingredients like Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Tocopherols are often used as preservatives. They're natural ingredients that are good for your dog's health.

Synthetic Additives

Many manufacturers use a variety of synthetic ingredients to change the food's appearance or add a unique flavor. Unfortunately, many of these ingredients are difficult for dogs to digest and can contain harmful chemicals.

Typically, dog food manufacturers introduce only small amounts into the food to achieve the desired result. However, regular consumption can cause a number of health issues. Look out for foods with natural alternatives instead.

Common Health Issues

Shelties are susceptible to a number of common health issues. While they may not be completely avoidable, a nutritional diet can decrease their severity. Some ingredients can even be used to treat symptoms.


This condition affects the connective tissue in the skin. It's genetic and often skips a generation, making it difficult to diagnose. If left untreated, it can ultimately damage the nervous system.

The first signs of the condition are hair loss on top of the head, tail, and forearms. The introduction of Omega Fatty Acids can help alleviate symptoms. The healthy fats will keep the skin soft and supple.

Heart Disease

This condition can also be prevented with Omega Fatty Acids. Heart disease can result from a poor diet. It restricts blood flow throughout the body and can ultimately lead to death. A diet rich in Omega Fatty Acids will promote good heart health.

Eye Problems

Unfortunately, Shelties are prone to a number of different eye conditions. These include progressive retinal atrophy and malformation of the eyes. To help prevent these issues, you can find dog foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients.

Beta-carotene is especially useful. It's found in carrots and can help improve vision. If your dog is experiencing eye issues, it's important to consult a veterinarian for diet-specific treatment options.

Category: best dog food by breed

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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.