The Australian Shepherd and the Border Collie look alike, and research shows that they are closely related. However, their nutritional needs aren’t necessarily the same. If you’re taking care of an Aussie fur baby, you should start looking into what you can feed your active pups to help them reach their full potential. The best dog foods for Australian Shepherds will keep your furry friends both healthy and happy and potentially help them live longer.
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Our team has spent hours researching products to find the best food for your Australian Shepherds, read our in-depth reviews below. Learn more about our 10 point inspection checklist.
Best Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds
1. Sport Dog Food Elite Series Herding Grain-Free Recipe Buffalo and Sweet Potato Dog Food
We start the list off with the Sport Dog Food Elite Series specialized dog food for Australian Shepherds and other herding dog breeds. A kibble designed to suit canine athletes and dogs that run around or exercise a lot. It contains real buffalo, a leaner protein than lamb or beef, which perfectly fits dogs like the Aussie!
Expect leaner muscle, improved tenacity, longer-lasting energy, a boosted immune system, and a healthy coat for your dog. Most dog breeds will love the flavor of fresh meat, sweet potato, and more, and the kibble has added vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants. It is a dog food created for breeds like the Australian Shepherd, and you won’t be disappointed.
Why We Like It – Australian Shepherds are sporty and active breeds that are used for herding, canine sports, and more. This grain-free dog food has just the right levels of protein, fiber, and other nutrients to provide Aussies with the energy they need to excel.
|Caloric Content||3,595 kcal/kg (460 kcals/cup)|
|Crude Protein||30.0% min|
|Crude Fat||15.0% min|
|Crude Fiber||3.3% max|
+ Made for herding breeds
+ 30% high-protein formula
+ HIgh natural taurine to support heart, brain, and eye development
+ With buffalo and sweet potato
+ No grains, peas, or poultry
+ Improves tenacity and muscle strength
– Not human-grade
– Not recommended for sensitive stomachs according to some dog food reviews
2. Purina Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages
An established brand like Purina offers something for all dogs. This Purina Pro Plan Sport All-Life Stages for high-energy dog breeds is perfect for the fun and lively Aussie! The recipe is formulated to boost the metabolism of oxygen, which helps improve endurance for active dogs to keep enjoying their favorite activity for even longer.
It has been enriched with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6) for overall nutrition. This dry food has Glucosamine and Chondroitin to keep your Australian Shepherd’s bones and joints in shape for longer. Offer your gorgeous Aussie this quality kibble free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives, and notice the difference almost instantly.
Why We Like It – Purina Pro Plan is one of the best-known dog food brands globally and a brand you can trust. Their sports mix contains all the nutrients needed to keep an active dog going while protecting their sensitive bones and joints. Check out the reviews about Purina Pro Plan here.
|Caloric Content||4,390 kcal/kg (484 kcal/cup)|
|Crude Protein||30.0% min|
|Crude Fat||20.0% min|
|Crude Fiber||3.0% max|
|Glucosamine||500 ppm min|
|Omega-6 fatty acids||1.9% min|
+ High protein dog food for lean muscle mass
+ Chicken as the #1 ingredient
+ Fortified with live probiotics to support healthy digestion and immunity
+ Promotes healthy joints and bones
+ Enriched with Omega fatty acids, with DHA and EPA for healthy skin and coat
+ Unique blend of vitamins and minerals
– A little bit more salt than we’d like
– Some dogs have issues with dried egg product
3. Dr. Tim’s Pursuit Active Canine
Dr. Tim’s Active Dog Pursuit Formula Dry Dog Food is packed with 86% of animal-based protein. It offers your Aussie energy that will keep them going if used as working dogs or in physically (and mentally) demanding canine sports.
The unique fiber mix promotes improved GI tract health. The patented BC30 probiotic gives digestion a much-needed boost; your Australian Shepherd will benefit from a higher nutritional intake and a lowered risk of weight gain and obesity.
In this dog food for Australian Shepherd, you also find Omega-3 and other fatty acids – naturally sourced from ocean fish. It also has ingredients that help boost energy and aid with recovery after a challenging activity.
Why We Like It – As the name indicates, this underrated dog food is made for active dog breeds that need something extra to stay on top of their game. It has real meat listed first, and patented probiotics to keep your fur friend healthy and free from any illnesses that could otherwise hold them back.
|Caloric Content||3,840 kcal/kg ( 442 kcal/cup)|
|Crude Protein||30.0% min|
|Crude Fat||20.0% min|
|Crude Fiber||3.0% max|
+ 86% animal protein for a healthy and active lifestyle
+ Patented BC30 probiotics and fiber blend to support gut and digestive health
+ With Omega-3 fatty acids to support skin and coat health
+ Essential vitamins and minerals designed for athletic dogs
+ Enhances endurance and recovery
+ Promotes a natural gut microbiome
– Only comes in a 5lb bag and 40lb bag
– Non-resealable bag
4. Blue Buffalo Blue Wilderness Chicken Senior Dog Food
As your Australian Shepherd grows older, their nutritional requirements begin to slowly change. Blue Buffalo has created this tasty chicken recipe for large senior dogs, like the Aussie. It is packed with essential vitamins and minerals that aging dogs need to stay in good health. And no need to worry about low-quality ingredients because this dog food for Australian Shepherd doesn’t contain any grain or meat by-products.
The Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is made with deboned chicken, high-quality protein chicken, fish meal, and vegetables like peas, potatoes, and carrots. Blueberries and cranberries are full of antioxidants, plus Blue Buffalo’s signature aspect – the LifeSource Bits! In these, you find a unique blend of essential nutrients to promote healthier skin, a shinier coat, stronger bones, and better teeth.
Why We Like It – Senior Aussies deserve the best we can give them. This Blue Wilderness is considered the best dog food for Australian Shepherds and other dogs over the age of 7. Not only is it rich in quality protein, but it also provides an Aussie oldie with a unique collection of nutrients for heart and brain health.
|Caloric Content||3,464 kcal/kg (387 kcal/cup)|
|Crude Protein||30.0% min|
|Crude Fat||12.0% min|
|Crude Fiber||7.0% max|
|Glucosamine||400 ppm min|
|Omega-6 fatty acids||2.0% min|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||0.75 % min|
+ Designed to meet the needs of Aussie senior dogs
+ With high-quality protein from real chicken and fish
+ Includes wholefoods like blueberries, cranberries, and carrots
+ No corn, soy, wheat, meat by-products, or artificial flavors
+ Packed with LifeSource Bits to help support the immune system
+ Supports joint, bone, skin, and coat health
– Not recommended for dogs with food allergies from chicken
5. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal High Energy Dry Dog Food
Active and sporty dogs like the Australian Shepherd can easily end up being a bit on the skinny side due to all the exercise. That’s why they need this Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal High Energy Dry Dog Food for Australian Shepherd that is rich in protein and fat to compensate for everything they lose daily.
This delicious wet dog food can be used as a food topping or on its own. It has higher fat levels than other dog foods, balanced out by just the right amount of protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and more. The fatty acids, DHA and EPA, help your pup’s stomach function the way it should, and it aids digestion and metabolism.
Why We Like It – Not all Australian Shepherds need a high-fat diet, but if your pup exercises a lot, which many Aussies do, they might need a little boost! More than that, Australian Shepherds are highly known for their rich coats and fur. This dog food is great for dogs with coat and skin issues because it has all the necessary vitamins and minerals to nourish their skin.
|Caloric Content||3702 kcal/kg (337 kcal/cup)|
|Crude Protein||28.0% min|
|Crude Fat||14.0% min|
|Crude Fiber||4.5% max|
|Omega-6 fatty acids||2.5% min|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||0.5 % min|
+ Highly digestible protein
+ Helps maintain a healthy gut
+ With EPA and DHA fatty acids great for skin-sensitive dogs
+ High in fat for active dogs
+ Balanced diet for small breed adult dogs
+ Can be paired with Coat Care Wet Dog Food to please picky eaters
– Limited flavor
– Uses meat by-product meals
– Contains corn and wheat which may not be liked by picky dogs
6. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Puppy Formula
Looking for dog food that will meet all your puppy’s nutritional needs? This Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Puppy Food has it all taken care of! Its formula contains real chicken for quality protein to make sure your Australian Shepherd puppy thrives with lean muscles.
Guess what else is important for puppies? Their bones! And with this puppy formula, your pooch will get a balanced diet that supports their bone and teeth health with calcium and phosphorous. This food for Australian Shepherd puppies also has DHA and ARA, ensuring their brain and eye function well. Your dog also gets antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals from the LifeSource Bits that protect their immune system.
Why We Like It – This is truly the best puppy food for Australian Shepherds. It provides overall support to their health, providing all the nutrients they need to grow. Not to mention the essential fatty acids, Omega-3 and 6, to ensure they grow up with healthy skin and coat. Choosing this for your Aussie’s diet is probably one of the greatest decisions you’ll make.
|Caloric Content||3,686 kcal/kg (398 kcal/cup)|
|Crude Protein||27.0% min|
|Crude Fat||16.0% min|
|Crude Fiber||5.0 % max|
|Omega-6 fatty acids||3.0% min|
|Omega-3 fatty acids||0.75% min|
+ High-quality protein from real chicken as the first ingredient
+ With DHA and ARA to support brain and eye development
+ Precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
+ No poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives
+ Contains wholesome grains, fruits, and vegetables
+ Calcium and phosphorous for teeth and bone health
– Not recommended for dogs with poultry allergies
– Has little chance for dogs to have runny or loose stools most likely because of the fiber content
7. Iams Minichunks Adult Lamb & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
Iams Minichunks Lamb & Rice Recipe Adult Dog Food is one of the best dog foods for adult Aussies. It provides your adult dog with overall nourishment, including high-quality protein lamb as the first ingredient for muscle growth support. Change this to your dog’s diet, and they will have complete and balanced nutrition, making them one of the healthy dogs.
Suitable for adult dogs of all breed sizes, this dry dog food is the best dog food for your Aussie. If you want optimal immunity and digestion for your Aussie, the antioxidants, fiber, and prebiotics in this IAMS formula can help. It’s made with real, wholesome ingredients such as farm-raised lamb, rice, healthy fats from chicken fat, carrot garnish, and beet pulp.
Why We Like It – Don’t worry about anything with this dog food because it’s one of the most vet-recommended dog foods. It has all the nutrients to give your adult Aussie the energy they need to thrive with an active lifestyle. Fur parents love it because of its quality and what it can offer. And with its affordable price, its nutritional value makes it more worth it!
|Caloric Content||3,672 kcal/kg (382 kcal/cup)|
|Crude Protein||25.0% min|
|Crude Fat||14.0% min|
|Crude Fiber||5.0 % max|
|Omega-6 fatty acids||1.75% min|
|Vitamin E||60 IU/kg min|
+ 100% complete and balanced nutrition for adult dogs
+ #1 ingredient is made from real, premium lamb
+ With essential nutrients and antioxidants to support overall health
+ Includes natural fiber and prebiotics for healthy digestion
+ No fillers, artificial flavors, or preservatives
+ Promotes healthy coat and skin with Omega-6 and Vitamin E
– Small kibble size may not suit large breed dogs
– Fiber content may cause gassiness
How We Chose The Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds
Every dog has unique nutritional needs. Aussies who are specific herding and active dogs might require more special attention to maintain their health. To put you at ease, here’s how we chose our top-rated dog foods for your Aussie fur babies.
High Protein Dog Food – Protein-rich recipes are the best option for breeds like the Australian Shepherd. Since they are naturally energetic and love working or playing around, they need something to preserve and build up their muscles as they grow old. Protein is the main source of amino acids that help in healthy muscle development.
Essential Fatty Acids – Fatty acids like Omega-3s and 6s are considered healthy fats that nourish their skin and coat. Some good sources of Omega fatty acids come from fish oils or vegetable oils like salmon oil or flaxseed oil. Omega-6 is not only good for skin and coat health but also in improving your dog’s cognitive and retinal function.
Fruits and Vegetables – One of the admirable traits of Aussie Shepherd are they are not picky eaters. This means getting them to eat fruits and veggies is not hard. This is good because fruits and vegetables have the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep your dog thriving and even help them maintain a healthy weight.
A Buyer’s Guide On Dog Food for Australian Shepherds
The Australian Shepherd is a stunning dog breed. They are common in many parts of the world, especially in the United States. Some have them only for the company – as pets. While other Aussies also get to work (herding, farm work, and service dog tasks are a few examples) or compete in canine sports like Agility, Flyball, and Rally Obedience.
Regardless of what your Aussie is up to, it is highly likely that they have an active lifestyle. If so – they need quality dog food to stay on top of the game. When choosing dog food for an Aussie, these are the things you want to pay attention to.
Nutritional Needs of Australian Shepherds
Every dog has different needs to thrive. It will depend on their breed, breed size, health status, and age on what kind of diet they need to get to have a fruitful development.
Protein is what will give your dog enough energy for all the tasks or adventures you plan to engage them in. More than that, protein also allows for healthy muscle development in dogs. You can usually find them in meat, vegetables, and legumes. Pick a food product with high content of animal-based protein. Dog foods with specific animal protein sources like chicken, lamb, beef, or turkey are the ones you should opt for.
Keep in mind that fresh meat contains a lot of water, and once this is removed, the item is likely to end up a lot further down on the list. Due to this, it is a good thing if a fresh meat source is followed by meat meals, such as chicken meal, lamb meal, turkey meal, or salmon meal. These contain approximately 300% more protein than fresh meat.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin
For dogs that compete in physically challenging dog sports, it is vital to remember the stress it puts on bones and joints. Dog food containing Glucosamine and Chondroitin can help strengthen their bones and joints and keep your dog from getting injured. This becomes increasingly important as your dog grows older.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin are usually added to high-quality dog foods for large breeds, and your pup is likely to benefit from breed-specific dog foods.
The gorgeous coat of an Australian Shepherd will quickly lose its shine if your dog is not receiving enough nutrients. This is why you need dog food with natural ingredients and fatty acids like DHA and EPA (Omega-3).
These are found naturally in fish and fish products (like fish oil), and it helps both with skin health – to prevent and treat skin allergies – and to boost and strengthen the coat and give it back that desired Aussie shine.
Fiber is very important to keep your dog at a healthy weight and keep them feeling full for longer. It’s the one responsible for managing your dog’s metabolism and digestive system. The ideal fiber content for dogs is about 4-5%. Although, you should know that some soluble fibers, like beans, chickpeas, or dairy products, can cause gassiness or diarrhea.
Carbs are not a necessary part of a dog’s diet, but they can be beneficial in providing energy for your pupper. However, you should know that simple carb are different from complex carbs. Simple carbs, such as corn, wheat, sugar, or soy, are best left out on your dog’s food.
While complex carbs from fruits and veggies are the ones you should include in your Aussie’s diet. Mainly because they contain essential nutrients and vitamins that are good for your dog.
Main Health Concerns for Australian Shepherds
Aussies are known to be highly active and healthy dogs. But, regardless of their activity levels, they are still prone to some health conditions. These are just the few health concerns for Aussies you should watch out for.
Hypothyroidism is one of the most common autoimmune, genetic diseases that Australian Shepherds are prone to. According to a report done by the Australian Shepherd Health & Genetics Institute, 20% out of the 500 sampled Australian Shepherds has this disease passed on to them.
This condition is determined by the lack of production of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. Essentially, thyroxine is responsible for managing and taking care of your dog’s metabolism. If your Aussie doesn’t have enough of this thyroid hormone, it can lead to serious health complications and possibly death.
The common symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs are the following:
- Dark spots on the skin
- Dry eyes
- Ear infections
- Getting cold easily
- Hair loss
- High cholesterol
- Skin infections
- Slow heart rate
- Stunted hair growth
- Unexplained weight loss
This is based on Canine Journal’s article: Hypothyroidism In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment.
Hip dysplasia is another common disease of Australian Shepherds. It’s a condition wherein their hips are deformed because the femur ball is dislocated and doesn’t correctly fit the pelvis or hip socket. Hip dysplasia can be unnoticeable at first, but your dog’s condition can become severe as this disease progresses.
Based on the American Kennel Club, symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs are the following:
- Decreased activity
- Decreased range of motion
- Difficulty or reluctance rising, jumping, running, or climbing stairs
- Lameness in the hind end
- Swaying, “bunny hopping” gait
- Grating in the joint during movement
- Loss of thigh muscle mass
- Noticeable enlargement of the shoulder muscles as they compensate for the hind end
- Stiffness or limping
Multiple Drug Sensitivity
Multiple Drug Sensitivity or MDS is a condition where your dog is oversensitive to common medicines prescribed by veterinarians. This condition can be diagnosed if your dog shows symptoms once exposed to medications like Ivermectin, Loperamide, Apomorphine, or Acepromazine. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures, or coma.
According to the Canine Epilepsy Research Project, back in 2013, 162 out of 1212 tested Australian Shepherds had shown symptoms of idiopathic epilepsy. This is a common genetic disease that has no known causes and cure yet. Symptoms of this disease may include shocks, tremors, restlessness, loss of consciousness, or drowsiness.
Cataracts are one of the common eye problems of Australian Shepherds. This condition is defined by the clouding of the lens in the eye that can cause visual impairment and eventually blindness if it goes untreated. Cataracts can develop as soon as the dog turns 2 years of age and progress quickly if the dog has 2 copies of the HC mutation.
Common Allergies of Australian Shepherds
A good area of the general dog population is affected by different types of allergies. Determining what your dog is allergic to is important so that you can catch in early and get a diagnosis from the vet.
Common food allergens can come from protein sources such as chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, or fish. Moreover, low-quality ingredients like grain fillers and artificial preservatives, coloring, or flavors are also a few of the common causes of food allergies in dogs.
The saliva from flea bites can cause an allergic reaction to your Aussie if they have a flea allergy. If your dog is suffering from flea allergies, you can provide them flea prevention and protection products to drive away nasty flea or ticks. For example, you can utilize flea collars, flea shampoos, or flea sprays to apply to your dog or in their environment.
Pollens, dust mites, or mold spores are examples of environmental allergens. Aerosol sprays or other household cleaning agents can also cause an allergic reaction to some dogs.
The signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction are the following:
- Irritated skin like itching, rash, or skin sores
- Skin inflammation
- Hair loss
- Dry and dull coat
- Glassy eyes
- Teary eyes
- Bloodshot eyes
- Chronic ear infection
- Upset stomach or diarrhea
- Coughing or wheezing
- Biting or scratching of their own skin
Frequently Asked Questions
What to feed an Australian Shepherd puppy?
The best dog food you can give your Aussie puppy is the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Puppy Formula. This puppy food is specifically formulated to provide overall health support. It has all the essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to take care of your dog’s skin, coat, immune system, and bones. Best of all, it doesn’t contain any low-quality ingredients or fillers such as by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial preservatives of any kind.
What is the recommended calorie intake for Australian Shepherds?
The average calorie intake for Aussies should be at 20 to 30 calories per pound of body weight. Since they are known as active and working breeds, they require a lot more calories to compensate for the work they are putting in. They can even need as much as 35 calories per pound of body weight if that’s what their vet recommends. Overall, their calorie intake will still depend on their breed, size, age, activity levels, and health condition.
What ingredients should I avoid feeding my Australian Shepherd?
In general, meat by-products or meat without a specific listed animal source should be avoided at all costs. Animal by-products are considered low-quality because they are slaughterhouse waste, and their safety is not 100% ensured. While animal meat listed without the specific species it came from is considered unsafe because you don’t know its source. Other things you should not feed a dog are chocolates, onion, garlic, alcohol, and anything with caffeine in it.
If your Australian Shepherd is active and gets a lot of exercise, they will need good dog food to stay healthy and strong. A commercial low-quality brand will not be enough. It is worth the extra money to invest in a food product that will keep your fur friend away from the vet as they get older! Do your Aussie a favor and pick the best dog food for herding breeds you could find – they deserve it!
Pay close attention to your Aussie’s weight. If they are on the heavy side – lower the food quantity, and if they seem a bit skinny – consider feeding more.
Did You Know?
Despite their name, the Australian Shepherd does not come from Australia. It is believed that they originally came from Spain but were given their name once brought over to Australia.