Australian Shepherds are beloved working dogs with the constant need to stay active. Developed in the 19th century, breeders used several herding breeds to create the dog we know today.
Despite the breed's name, Australian Shepherds aren't Australian at all. However, the breeds used to develop these pups hail from Australia and New Zealand.
Thanks to their rich heritage and a gene pool from very active ancestors, Australian Shepherds are workhorses! They're instinctively protective and perform well on modern-day cattle ranches.
Of course, they're lovable companion family dogs, too.
Whether your Australian Shepherd works to keep your ranch running smoothly or is a source of love and cuddles, keeping them healthy is paramount. The best way to do that is with high-quality food.
Thanks to their active nature, Aussies require a well-balanced diet that supports their muscles, maintains their energy levels, and fends off disease. Cheap kibble from your local supermarket isn't going to cut it. These pups need the very best to truly thrive.
Not sure where to start your search? We have to covered. Check out our top picks for the best Australian Shepherd dog foods below.
9 of the Best Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds
1. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
This formula from American Journey is an excellent choice for Australian Shepherds. The recipe has a high protein content of 32 percent, which is perfect for building and maintaining muscles. Most of that protein comes from deboned salmon, chicken meal, and turkey meal.
The kibble also has a slew of fruits and vegetables. Your dog can take advantage of the nutrients from blueberries, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, and more. The latter ingredients also double as complex carbs to keep that energy supply nice and stable.
As a whole, the American Journey food is nutritious and easy on the stomach. It's grain-free and contains no unnecessary fillers.
2. Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food
Three lean animal proteins make up this Nutro dry kibble. A mix of chicken, lamb, and salmon provides a complex array of amino acids that continually support your Aussies active body.
Together, the proteins make up about 25 percent of the recipe. Healthy extras like antioxidants and linoleic acid enhance the food on a deeper biological level.
The antioxidants improve immune health while linoleic acid supports the skin and fur. Combine that with the lack of artificial additives or fillers, and you have a wholesome meal that will keep your Aussie in good shape!
3. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Deboned Turkey & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food
You can't go wrong with Wellness Core. This particular formula is grain-free and crafted for whole-body health. Turkey and chicken are the stars of the show, as they contribute most to the impressive 34 percent protein content.
There's also a ton of valuable extras. A detailed ingredients list includes plenty of wholesome ingredients that act as antioxidants, omega fatty acids, and probiotics.
There's also joint support and a slew of vitamins and minerals to support your dog as they get older.
4. Eagle Pack Power Adult Dry Dog Food
Great for active breeds like the Australian Shepherd, this Eagle Pack dog food has a lot to offer. It's rocking 30 percent protein, most of which comes from the chicken and pork meal.
Eagle Pack includes a strategic balance of fats and proteins to help maintain muscle tone and weight.
You'll also find ingredients to improve gut health and joint comfort. What you won't see, however, is unnecessary fillers and additives. This kibble has all the essentials and nothing more.
Best Dog Food for Older / Senior Australian Shepherds
5. CANIDAE PURE Senior Limited Ingredient Chicken, Sweet Potato & Garbanzo Bean Recipe
Help your aging Aussie transition into seniorhood with this food from Canidae. It's formulated with the needs of older dogs in mind. That means your dog is getting a blend of ingredients that provide antioxidants, probiotics, and joint care.
The recipe prioritizes muscle maintenance. Many older dogs start to lose their muscles due to a lack of physical activity. The ingredients help to combat that muscle loss and maintain overall tone.
It uses only premium ingredients and none of the unnecessary fillers.
6. Blue Buffalo Basics Grain-Free Turkey & Potato Senior Canned Dog Food
Here's a canned product that can help dogs that prefer something softer to eat. Made with a blend of high-quality ingredients, the food comes in the form of flavor-rich mash.
The ingredients list is relatively small. As a result, it's a fantastic choice for dogs that suffer from allergies and sensitivities.
The recipe is free of common allergies like chicken, beef, and grain. Those foods are prevalent in the dog food industry, so this food offers a healthy alternative to the standard products you see lining pet store shelves.
Best for Australian Shepherd Puppies
7. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
Give your growing pup everything they need to become healthy adults. This Blue Buffalo Life Protection recipe is exclusively for young puppies. It has all the premium ingredients you would expect from this brand. However, puppy-centric extras sweeten the deal even more.
With this food, your dog is getting a healthy dose of omega fatty acids for skin health, DHA for brain development, and ARA for ocular health. There's also a good amount of protein and just the correct ratio of calcium and phosphorus.
On top of all that, it has Blue Buffalo's proprietary blend of antioxidants.
8. Wellness Complete Health Puppy Deboned Chicken, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe
Another wonderful choice from Wellness is this chicken, salmon, and oatmeal formula. The dry kibble has 29 percent protein and a good amount of fat.
In addition to the primary protein sources, this recipe utilizes complex carbs for a steady supply of energy all day long. Pair that with the omega fatty acids, and your pup is ready for healthy development.
The food also includes antioxidants, probiotics, and a nourishing blend of vitamins. It's a complete diet that meets all of your young pup's needs.
Best Wet Canned Dog Food for Australian Shepherds
9. Purina Pro Plan Savor Adult Classic Beef & Rice Entree Canned Dog Food
Check out this balanced canned food. It has all the protein and energy-boosting carbs your Aussie requires. However, everything combines into a soft mash that's easy on the teeth.
Infused with flavorful broth and gravy, this is something your dog will have no problem scarfing down!
A blend of antioxidants supports Fido's immune health while omega fatty acids keep the skin and fur in check. Optimal protein and fat levels help promote healthy muscle tone as your dog avoids unnecessary weight gain.
Australian Shepherd Dietary Needs
The key to keeping any dog healthy is to meet their exact dietary needs. Don't take clever marketing at face value. All dog food manufacturers are vying for your money. While a product might look good enough for your dog, you never really know until you dive into the ingredients list.
Here are some basic dietary needs your Aussie needs to stay active, healthy, and happy.
Premium Source of Animal Protein
The most important component, by far, is an animal-based protein. Dogs thrive with a protein-rich diet filled with pure animal meats. Protein is chock-full of amino acids, which helps to build and maintain muscle mass.
The AAFCO recommends that adult dogs have a diet that consists of at least 18 percent protein. However, we recommend going even higher.
Australian Shepherds are some of the most active canines around, so they can use the extra muscle support. For the best results, aim for a protein percentage closer to 30 percent.
As for the type of protein you should get, stick to ingredients you can quickly identify. We're talking about whole chicken, turkey, bison, fish, and venison. Even meat meals are acceptable.
Avoid anything that doesn't have a clear animal label. For example, animal byproducts and mystery meats are a no-go!
Moderate Amounts of Healthy Fat
Contrary to popular belief, fat isn't necessarily a bad thing! In fact, Aussies need medium to high levels of fat in their food to stay active.
Fats are a valuable source of energy that energetic Aussies will use to keep going throughout the day.
Adult dogs need at least five percent fat content. Australian Shepherds can benefit from a little more than that baseline.
The best types of fat will come from the included animal protein source. You can also look for healthy fats like flaxseed and salmon oil.
Those alternatives contain omega fatty acids, which can help with heart health while keeping the fur nice and lustrous.
Carbohydrates are another ingredient that controls energy levels. There are no AAFCO guidelines for carbohydrates, so you have to do your part to ensure that the food you buy is conducive to your dog's health.
Complex carbs like sweet potatoes, barley, legumes, and oatmeal are best. They convert to glucose gradually, resulting in a constant supply of slow-burning energy.
Don't buy food with simple carbs like corn, wheat, or soy. Not only are they challenging to digest, but cheaper products use those ingredients as fillers.
They don't add much to the nutritional value of the food and often result in a midday energy crash.
Related: 7 Best Low Carb Dog Foods
Australian Shepherds do well with four to five percent fiber.
Fiber is responsible for keeping the digestive system in working order. This breed is susceptible to allergies and frequent stomach upsets, so fiber is an excellent way to combat chronic issues.
Furthermore, a generous amount of fiber can do a lot to manage weight gain.
Wholesome Vegetables and Fruits
Don't forget about the plant-based ingredients! Despite what many think, canines aren't pure carnivores. Even in the wild, dogs ingest some plant material for vitamins and minerals.
A nice mix of fruits and vegetables can do a lot to ensure that your dog is getting all of the daily essentials they need.
Look for dog foods with a complex array of extras.
Antioxidant-rich fruits are beneficial, as they help enhance the immune system while delivering a nice boost of vitamins.
Special Senior and Puppy Needs
For the most part, all of the core essentials remain the same throughout your dog's life. However, puppies and seniors can benefit from a couple of extras.
Puppies need slightly higher protein and fat content to support their growing bodies. According to the AAFCO, puppies need about 22 percent protein and around eight percent fat.
Growing canines also need a good amount of calcium and phosphorus to ensure proper bone development.
As your dog gets older, it might become less active and more prone to injuries. A lifetime of activity takes its toll! Your job is to make the transition to seniorhood as smooth as possible.
Joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin are a must. The same goes for digestive support like fiber and prebiotics. It's a good idea to monitor food intake and adjust accordingly to avoid weight gain, too.
Things to Avoid
Unfortunately, the dog food market today has many inferior products. While they can certainly fill your dog up, low-quality food isn't the best for your Aussie's health.
Steer clear of anything that contains mystery ingredients or unnecessary fillers. Make sure that all of the core proteins are identifiable and wholesome. The same goes for carbohydrates.
It's a good idea to avoid synthetic additives, too. There's no reason why your pup's food needs artificial colors or flavors.
If it has high-quality ingredients, your dog's meals should be enticing enough on their own!
How Much Food Does an Australian Shepherd Need?
On average, Australian Shepherds need about 30 calories per pound of bodyweight a day. That's just a baseline figure. All dogs are different, and your pup's needs might fluctuate several times throughout their life.
For example, active working dogs will need more than 30 calories a pound. They work through their energy supplies much faster. Plus, they often have ultra-fast metabolisms that burn through those calories at a breakneck speed.
So, you'll have to provide more food to cover the deficit.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have inactive dogs. Whether your pup is a spoiled couch potato or you're caring for an older dog that's slowed down, you'll need to adjust for the decreased activity.
Otherwise, your dog might end up gaining weight.
Speak to your vet if you're unsure. There's a delicate balance between providing something that's too nutritionally dense and food that's not dense enough.
Work with your vet to find the sweet spot.
Potential Health Issues
Australian Shepherds are, for the most part, active and healthy dogs. But, no breed is immune to potential health problems. The following conditions plague this breed.
Not all of them are avoidable, but the proper diet could alleviate symptoms and manage the situation.
As we mentioned earlier, Aussies can suffer from allergies. Many dogs of this breed become irritated whenever they eat low-quality foods or grains.
Switching to a limited ingredient diet or grain-free formula might solve the problem. Consult with your vet to identify potential allergens and find the right course of action.
With years of running and playing, joint problems are likely to happen. Arthritis is pretty standard as the soft cartilage that supports the joints begins to degrade.
To combat the pain, you can find food with supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin.
Some Australian Shepherds suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia. These conditions are mainly hereditary. However, improper development as a puppy can cause trouble, too.
Make sure you find a balanced diet with the right amount of calcium and phosphorus for puppies. Then, provide foods with joint supplements to combat pain as an adult.
Australian Shepherds seem to have an appetite that just won't quit! These dogs need a structured meal plan to avoid weight gain. Don't free-feed or make food available around the clock.
Split the meals up and provide enough calories to support your dog's lifestyle.
Australian Shepherds are some of the most enjoyable breeds to have around. They're active, loyal, and super lovable. What more could you want?
To keep your Aussie happy and healthy for as long as possible, ditch the cheap foods and invest in premium products. Use our guide to narrow down your choices and find something that meets your dog's dietary needs to a tee. You won't regret it!