Blue Heelers are a unique dog breed you don't see too often outside of farms and cattle ranches. They're loyal working dogs that thrive in those big open spaces with plenty of work that appeals to their instincts.
But of course, they do fine in family homes surrounded by lots of love, too!
As a muscled dog with high energy levels and a constant need for exercise, a high-quality diet is paramount!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a Blue Heeler owner is providing substandard food that doesn't address these dogs' distinct needs. These aren't your average house pups! They're born to run wild and have the appetite to match!
Whether you're a seasoned dog owner looking to upgrade your pup's diet or you're thinking about adopting a Blue Heeler and want to start them off right, we have you covered!
Here are some of the best dog foods for this beautiful breed.
10 Best Dog Foods for Blue Heelers
1. Holistic Select Adult & Puppy Grain-Free Salmon, Anchovy & Sardine Meal Recipe - Best for Adults
This grain-free formula from Holistic Select is an excellent universal choice for healthy Blue Heeler adults.
It checks off all the boxes! Your dog gets a high-protein diet containing healthy meat sources like salmon, anchovy meal, and Menhaden Fish Meal.
Together, they create the 29 percent protein content while giving your dog plenty of omega-fatty acids to support their coat.
This recipe also contains heart-healthy antioxidants, gut-supporting probiotics, and minerals for long-term joint care. There's a lot to love about this recipe!
2. American Journey Active Life Formula Lamb & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food - Best for Adults
This dog food is purpose-built with active breeds like the Blue Heeler in mind. It has about 23 percent protein. While not the highest, the meats utilized are fantastic.
The primary protein source is deboned lamb. Overall, the American Journey dog food is well-rounded. In addition to good protein content, it contains digestible complex carbs and grains.
There are also many antioxidant-rich ingredients for immunity and heart health.Pair that with the fish oil for a good dose of omega-fatty acids, and your dog has all the support they need to stay healthy.
3. ORIJEN Puppy Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food - Best for Blue Heeler Puppies
Here's a puppy food option to help your Blue Heeler grow into a healthy and muscular adult! It has an excellent protein content analysis of 38 percent!
That's more than enough to support the growing body of a young pup. Best of all, that protein comes from high-quality sources like chicken, turkey, flounder, and animal organs.
Orijen also made sure to include those smaller details. For example, it has the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio, a good amount of DHA, and omega fatty acids.
4. AvoDerm Natural Puppy Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food - Best for Blue Heeler Puppies
Here's another excellent puppy formula. This one comes from AvoDerm. It has a protein content of about 26 percent.
While lower than more concentrated formulas, it's still a fantastic choice for pups that won't grow up to work on a cattle ranch!
It's a balanced recipe with all the right stuff to help your dog grow up big and strong. That includes antioxidants for immunity, DHA for brain development, and omega-fatty acids for skin and coat support.
Thanks to the absence of corn, wheat, soy, and artificial additives, it's a healthy choice for any growing pup.
5. Go! SENSITIVITIES Limited Ingredient Venison Grain-Free Dry Dog Food - Best Food for Sensitive Blue Heelers
This recipe from Go! Solutions is ideal if your dog is sensitive to specific allergens. It's a limited ingredient formula that uses a novel protein source. Instead of your standard chicken or beef, this food uses venison deer meat.
The ingredients list is small, but that's by design. Fewer ingredients mean fewer chances for an adverse reaction. Even still, it's nutritionally balanced and has everything your dog needs.
Additions like chicory root offer digestive support to avoid upsets, while omega-fatty acids can help address skin irritation.
6. Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula Dry Dog Food - Best Weight Gain Food for Blue Heelers
Whether your dog needs to put on body weight or you want them to build muscle mass, this formula from Diamond Naturals will help make it happen.
It has a protein content of 32 percent, and roughly 91 percent of that protein comes from chicken and eggs.
For gut health, this recipe also has probiotics. It contains a species-specific probiotic strain to keep your dog's digestive system in good health.
The probiotics can also support their immunity with a healthy dose of antioxidants.
7. Merrick Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Chicken-Free Adult Dry Dog Food - Best for Blue Heelers with Joint Issues
Have a dog with some joint pain? This Merrick formula has a high dose of chondroitin and glucosamine.
Even if your dog isn't actively experiencing pain every day, that joint support can keep the joint cartilage healthy for many years to come.
As for nutrition, this food hits it out of the park. It has 34 percent protein from ingredients like deboned beef, lamb meal, salmon meal, and more.
There are also animal organs, fruits, and vegetables for a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals.
8. Nulo Freestyle Senior Grain-Free Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food - Best for Senior Blue Heelers
The senior-specific recipe from Nulo has a formula that can support your dog's aging body.
The 30 percent protein content helps combat muscle atrophy, maintaining your dog's build even as they become less active.
Meanwhile, the L-Carnitine supports your dog's metabolism to avoid unwanted weight gain.
Of course, it offers joint care by adding glucosamine and chondroitin. Your dog will also benefit from the healthy probiotic strains, antioxidant-filled fruits, and calcium-rich vegetables.
Overall, this recipe is well-rounded, addressing the unique needs that senior dogs face.
Best Wet Canned Dog Foods for Blue Heelers
9. Instinct Original Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food
With its loaf texture and visible vegetable ingredients, this product from Instinct is a fantastic wet food choice.
Beef and beef liver are the primary protein sources. The meats make up about 95 percent of the entire recipe! Meanwhile, peas and carrots add that boost of vitamins and nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy.
The food is the epitome of simplicity. The ingredients list is small, and there are no unnecessary additives or chemical preservatives. Thanks to the protein, it's food your dog will love!
10. American Journey Beef & Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Canned Dog Food
Here's another excellent product from American Journey. Like the kibble, American Journey's canned wet food is top-notch.
Lean chicken, beef, and liver are the primary protein sources. They help to build and support muscle mass by delivering a broad profile of healthy amino acids.
The canned food comes in the form of an easy-to-chew mash. Tiny morsels of potatoes add a great texture and serve as a source of fiber.
The food also has omega-fatty acids and plenty of healthy vitamins for all-around good health.
About the Blue Heeler Breed
Blue Heelers are medium-sized dogs that originated in New South Wales, Australia. Their origins go back to the 19th century. A cattle farmer crossbred popular drover dogs of the time with wild dingos.
Yes, you read that right! Blue Heelers share DNA with Australia's famous wild dogs!
This original crossbreeding experiment resulted in the Halls Heeler. It wasn't until after the original cattle farmer passed that breeders continued to develop the unique crossbreed into the Australian Cattle Dog, AKA: The Blue Heeler.
The name "Blue Heeler" comes from the dog's unique look and personality. The dogs have a short double-coat of fur.
Most Blue Heelers have a distinct blue-like color to their coats with light mottling. It's not uncommon to see tan around the legs and underbelly, too.
The "Heeler" part is a callback to how these dogs work. Blue Heelers are impressive workers that herd cattle. They run around, bark, and do whatever they can to guide cattle to where they need to go.
One way they get more stubborn bovine to move is by nipping at their heels!
Today's Blue Heeler weighs between 33 and 49 pounds fully grown. Females are usually 17 to 19 inches tall. Meanwhile, the males can grow up to 20 inches tall at the withers.
How Much Food Does a Blue Heeler Need?
Blue Heelers are highly active and full of energy! Even those spoiled pups that don't have to move a single cow need to get tons of exercise.
As you can imagine, they're quite muscular and require plenty of food to stay fueled.
But exactly how much do they need?
Generally, adults need around 25 calories per pound of body weight. For a 40-pound Blue Heeler, that's about 1,000 calories split into at least two meals. Of course, all dogs are different.
Always consider your dog's activity and body condition to adjust until you get things right. For example, a more active working dog may need more than 25 calories per pound to recover the energy they use. Meanwhile, a lazier house pooch may need less.
We always recommend going to your vet for guidance if you need help figuring out the calorie count.
Puppies will need a little more food to fuel their growing bodies.
About 30 calories per pound of body weight is the norm. They also require specialty formulas with the right amount of calcium and phosphorus for healthy development.
Seniors do best with around 20 to 25 calories per pound of body weight each day. They're less active, so reducing calories can help prevent unwanted weight gain.
Blue Heeler Dog Food Buying Guide
Finding the right dog food for your Blue Heeler is about more than just picking the most expensive or cleverly marketed product you come across.
These dogs need a balanced diet fit for their active lifestyles. To ensure you get the right product, here are the most important things to look for as you shop.
High-quality protein should be the very first thing you look at when choosing dog food. Canines require a good amount of protein to maintain their muscles. But with an active breed like the Blue Heeler, it's paramount!
Most breeds do fine with a diet with at least 22 percent protein. That's the bare minimum recommended by the Association of American Feed Controls (AAFCO).
However, Blue Heelers do better with at least 25 percent. If you can go higher, even better! There's no shortage of products with 30 percent or more protein content.
It's not just the amount of protein you need to pay attention to. The type of protein matters, too.
Go for whole premium meats like chicken, salmon, beef, and other identifiable meats. Multiple protein sources are always welcome because they provide an array of amino acids. Avoid byproducts and mystery meats.
Complex carbs include foods like sweet potatoes, quinoa, peas, oatmeal, and other high-quality ingredients. They are a much better alternative than simple carbs like corn, wheat, and soy.
Simple carbs move through the digestive system faster, providing a noticeable boost in energy. But because the body absorbs those simple carbs more quickly, they always lead to a subsequent energy crash.
Complex carbs have a low glycemic index. They absorb slowly, providing a steady energy supply throughout the day, helping prevent issues like diabetes.
Dietary fiber is always welcome. The best place to add fiber to your dog's diet is through complex carbs, fruits, and vegetables.
Fiber helps keep your pup regular and aids with digestion. No one wants to deal with runny stool or constipation, so fiber is essential!
Related: 5 Best High-Fiber Dog Foods to Support Healthy and Regular Digestion
Contrary to what many people believe, not all fats are bad! Healthy fats like fish or flaxseed oil can help your dog in many ways.
Those fats are full of omega-fatty acids and antioxidants. Not only do they fight off free radicals, but they can support the joints, improve cardiovascular health, and more.
Most adult dogs need a diet with around 12 to 15 percent fat. Avoid any low-quality fats. They'll only lead to weight gain.
Finally, don't forget the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The dog food you choose should have a healthy mix of fruits and vegetables.
Things like antioxidant-rich berries or leafy greens can do wonders for your dog's health.
It's also a good idea to look for additions like probiotics for gut health, glucosamine and chondroitin for joint care, and more.
Things to Avoid
Now you know what to look for in a good Blue Heeler dog food. Let's talk about the red flags you should avoid.
The first is animal byproducts or mystery meats. We've already covered the importance of high-quality protein sources.
Some brands will use questionable byproducts to bump the protein content. But those meats can contain hormones, chemicals, and other unmentionables. If you can't identify what animal the protein comes from, move on to another choice!
Another thing to avoid is unnecessary fillers. The most common you'll encounter are corn, wheat, and soy. Those foods aren't easy to digest. Not only that, but they don't have much nutritional content.
Manufacturers often use them to bulk up formulas for cheap. They can make your dog feel full, but they do nothing to support their health.
Next, steer clear of chemical preservatives, colorants, and other pointless additives. Preservatives like BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin can cause many issues, including kidney damage, cancer, and blindness. There are more natural alternatives, so the chemical stuff is easy to avoid.
The same goes for artificial colors and flavors. Dogs don't care about the color, and high-quality ingredients should be enough to make the food tasty.
Common Health Issues
For the most part, Blue Heelers are relatively healthy dogs. However, they can encounter a few health issues. Most are a result of their active lifestyle.
While some are unavoidable, you can use a high-quality diet to avoid, manage symptoms, and provide relief.
Unfortunately, arthritis is common in this breed. Stocky and muscular dogs that spend their lives running are bound to experience pain as they age.
You can support your dog's joints early on by choosing formulas that contain omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin.
Those nutrients support the cartilage, cushioning the joints and making arthritic pain more manageable.
It's also good to talk with your vet. There are many ways to manage arthritis as your dog ages, and your vet can help guide you in the right direction.
Sudden Leg Injuries
With tons of activity comes the risk of injury. Blue Heelers can suffer from cruciate ligament tears. It's similar to an ACL tear in humans that causes instability and intense pain.
Typically, surgery is the solution to provide relief. However, vets might recommend alternative therapies to address it. The same goes for patellar luxation, which is knee joint dislocation.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
This disease causes the retina in the eye to slowly deteriorate. It's a painless condition, but it can eventually cause blindness.
Vets typically recommend dietary changes to support ocular health when dealing with the potential for progressive retinal atrophy.
Keeping Your Blue Heeler Healthy
Blue Heelers are an excellent dog breed, and a proper diet with high-quality food will bring out the best in these pups! Check out one of our recommended picks; your dog can enjoy good health for years to come.
Also Read: Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds - 9 top picks