6 Best Australian Shepherd Dog Food Plus Top Brands for Puppies & Seniors

Our Picks for the Best Australian Shepherd Dog Food
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Though his name might suggest otherwise, the Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized breed that originated in the United States.

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The Australian Shepherd was developed as a herding breed and, though he can adapt to life as a family companion, he will always be a working breed at heart. These dogs are highly intelligent with excellent trainability and they excel in nearly every job or sport they take on. If you’re looking for an active, trainable dog that will work as hard as you do, this may be it.

Australian Shepherds are medium-sized dogs that stand 18 to 23 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 35 to 65 pounds. Though they may not be the biggest dogs around, they have very high needs for exercise and high energy requirements. Make sure to choose a high-quality, calorie-rich diet for your Australian Shepherd to ensure that his nutritional needs are met.

Keep reading to learn more about your Australian Shepherd’s dietary requirements and to see our top 15 picks for the 2019 best dog food for Australian Shepherds.

Understanding an Australian Shepherd’s Diet Requirements

All dog breeds have the same basic nutritional requirements, though there are some variations according to breed size and activity level. The Australian Shepherd is a very active breed but still a fairly small breed, so they need a diet rich in protein to sustain their lean muscle mass with higher than normal fat content to provide extra energy. Both of these nutrients should come from high-quality animal sources to ensure digestibility and bioavailability of the nutrients.

Dogs don’t have any specific requirements for carbohydrates in their diet but digestible sources like whole grains, vegetables, beans, and legumes can provide essential nutrients as well as dietary fiber. The Australian Shepherd is prone to food allergies and grains are a common culprit, however, so you might try a grain-free recipe just in case. You should also look for beneficial supplements to support digestion like prebiotic fibers and probiotics.

  • Puppy Australian Shepherds Diet – As a puppy, your Australian Shepherd needs a minimum of 22% protein and 8% fat. Because your puppy will grow quickly, a higher fat percentage can be a benefit but don’t let your puppy grow so fast that it puts extra strain on his developing joints.
  • Adult Australian Shepherds Diet – When your Australian Shepherd reaches his adult size, you can switch to an adult recipe that provides a minimum of 18% protein and 5% fat. Again, higher protein is good for lean muscle maintenance and your dog needs more fat for energy.
  • Senior Australian Shepherds Diet – As your Australian Shepherd gets older, he may slow down which means you might need to scale back his diet. Joint-supporting nutrients also become more important as he ages.

In addition to making sure your Australian Shepherd’s basic needs are met, look for a recipe that contains beneficial supplements. Chelated minerals are nutritional supplements that have been bound to protein molecules to increase their absorption. Your dog can also benefit from supplemental glucosamine and chondroitin due to his propensity for joint problems.

Special Dietary Considerations for Australian Shepherds

The Australian Shepherd might be one of the smartest dog breeds around but, unfortunately, he may not be the healthiest. These dogs are prone to a number of musculoskeletal issues as well as eye problems and inherited disorders.

Here is a quick list of the health problems to which the Australian Shepherd may be prone:

  • Allergies
  • Cataracts
  • Collie Eye Anomaly
  • Deafness
  • Epilepsy
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Persistent Pupillary Membrane
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Let’s take a closer look at some of these health problems.

Many of the health problems to which the Australian Shepherd breed is prone can be grouped into categories such as eye problems, inherited diseases, and musculoskeletal issues.

Some of the eye problems to which the Australian Shepherd breed is prone include cataracts, distichiasis, collie eye anomaly, and progressive retinal atrophy. A cataract is an opacity in the lens of the eye that can obstruct vision and distichiasis occurs when extra eyelashes grow abnormally on the oil gland in the eye. Collie eye anomaly is an inherited condition that can lead to blindness and has no treatment. Progressive retinal atrophy involves the gradual degradation of the retina.

The Australian Shepherd is prone to several inherited health problems, some of which are musculoskeletal like hip and elbow dysplasia. Epilepsy is another that cannot be cured but can often be managed with medication – deafness is also often an inherited health problem that is fairly common in the breed. It will require special training and care.

For a medium-sized breed, the Australian Shepherd has a surprising number of musculoskeletal issues. Elbow dysplasia is a malformation of the elbow joint which causes the arm bone to pop in and out of socket. Hip dysplasia affects the hip joint and the femoral head in a similar way. These dogs are also prone to osteochondrosis dissecans which is an orthopedic condition in which the joint cartilage grows improperly, causing painful stiffening. Making sure your dog’s diet contains joint-supporting nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin can help with the management of these conditions.

In addition to these health problems, the Australian Shepherd also has a higher risk for food allergies than many breeds. In addition to allergies to common irritants like mold, pollen, dust, and chemicals, Australian Shepherds can develop allergies and sensitivities to common dog food ingredients like wheat, corn, soy, chicken, beef, and pork. Feeding your dog a limited ingredient diet or a grain-free recipe may help resolve these issues and choosing a high-quality, natural diet will help with digestion.

Australian Shepherd Feeding Chart

The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized breed which would normally mean a daily calorie intake around 20 to 30 calories per pound of body weight. Because this breed has high energy levels and is often used as a working breed, however, these needs could go as high as 35 calories per pound. Generally speaking, you’ll be feeding your dog between 1 ½ and 2 ½ cups of food per day, divided into either two or three meals according to your preference.

The best way to know how much to feed your Australian Shepherd is to choose a high-quality dog food and follow the feeding recommendations. Check the recommendations according to your dog’s age and weight and try it out for a few weeks. If your dog loses weight or seems to have low energy, you may need to increase his daily portion or switch to an active or working breed formula. Keep an eye on your dog’s body weight and condition as he gets older and make adjustments as needed.

The Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds: Our 2019 Top 15 Picks

Now that you have a better understanding of your Australian Shepherd’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping for dog food! Remember, the best Australian Shepherd food will be made with high-quality, natural ingredients to ensure digestibility with plenty of animal proteins and fats. These dogs need high protein to maintain lean muscle mass with higher than normal fat content to provide for their high energy needs. They may also require a grain-free or limited ingredient diet if food allergies are a factor. Here are our top 15 picks:

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Turkey Recipe

Overall Best Food for Australian Shepherds: To provide your Australian Shepherd with a high-quality and highly digestible staple diet, try this The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Turkey Recipe. This provide is dehydrated instead of cooked, so the ingredients retain more of their original nutritional value. This recipe features free-range turkey as the main ingredient with fresh fruits and vegetables as natural sources of essential nutrients, not to mention grain-free carbohydrates. This formula is entirely grain-free with no by-products, GMO ingredients, hormones, or artificial additives. It is clean, quality nutrition, plain and simple.

  • Pros: Dehydrated not cooked, contains 40 pounds of wholesome ingredients, easy to rehydrate, lean source of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, grain-free, no artificial additives
  • Cons: Some dogs dislike the dehydrated texture, no probiotic supplements

American Journey LID Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Dry Food

Most Affordable Food: For high-quality nutrition you can consistently afford, try this American Journey LID Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Dry Food. This recipe is perfect for your Australian Shepherd because it contains a limited number of ingredients to reduce the risk for triggering food allergies and sensitivities. It features salmon as the main ingredient which is an excellent source of protein but also contains plenty of omega fatty acids to support your dog’s lovely coat. This recipe contains grain-free carbohydrates like peas and sweet potatoes with chelated minerals for nutritional balance.

  • Pros: Single source of animal protein, limited number of ingredients, rich in essential fatty acids, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, chelated minerals, no artificial additives
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), main source of fat is plant-based, could be higher in fat

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Food

Most Popular Food: If you’re not sure what to feed your Australian Shepherd, this Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dry Food is a good option. Made with several premium animal proteins and loaded with healthy fats, this recipe is just what your dog needs. It features real salmon and ocean fish meal as the main ingredients with grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas to follow. It contains smoked salmon for natural flavor, fresh berries for antioxidants, and chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption. All in all, it is a balanced source of quality nutrition any dog would be lucky to have.

  • Pros: Several premium animal proteins, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, rich in omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, prebiotics and probiotics
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil), could be higher in fiber

NomNomNow Fresh Food Delivery Service

Super Premium Food: If you can afford to feed your Australian Shepherd fresh food, you can’t do better than NomNomNow. This service provides fresh, custom meals delivered right to your door on a monthly basis. Every recipe is made from premium, all-natural ingredients at the peak of freshness and they are never frozen or cooked at high temperatures. Simply fill out a profile for your dog online, choose your favorite recipe, and start receiving shipments! Everything is perfectly portioned and customized to your dog’s needs – you can even make adjustments for food allergies.

  • Pros: Made with the freshest ingredients, custom meals for your dog, delivered fresh to your door, perfectly portioned pouches, automatic shipments
  • Cons: Limited number of recipe options, very expensive to feed, delivery restrictions in some areas

First Mate Australian Lamb Meal Formula Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Food

Best Food for Australian Shepherds with Allergies: For an Australian Shepherd with food allergies, you need a limited ingredient diet made with novel protein and grain-free carbohydrates. This First Mate Australian Lamb Meal Formula Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Dry Food is a perfect match. This recipe feature lamb meal as a concentrated source of protein with chicken fat for essential fatty acids. It is made with grain-free, digestible carbohydrates like potatoes with chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and balance. You can bet that this recipe is full of natural flavor and easy to digest.

  • Pros: Single source of novel protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, rich in essential fatty acids, fresh fruits for antioxidants, chelated minerals, glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Cons: May be too high in fiber for some dogs, expensive to feed as a staple diet

Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch Salmon, Whitefish & Trout Adult Recipe

Best Food for Australian Shepherds with Sensitive Stomachs: If your Australian Shepherd has a sensitive stomach, you need to focus on high-quality ingredients. This Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Pacific Catch Salmon, Whitefish & Trout Adult Recipe features premium natural ingredients like deboned salmon, whitefish meal, sweet potatoes, and blueberries. It contains fresh fruits and vegetables to provide natural sources for key nutrients with prebiotic fibers and probiotics for healthy digestion. This grain-free recipe has a low risk for triggering food allergies and sensitivities, and it contains 34% protein with 16% fat.

  • Pros: Premium natural ingredients, high-protein kibble infused with raw pieces, grain-free carbohydrates, rich in omega fatty acids, fresh fruits and vegetables, probiotics
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (potato and pea), expensive to feed as a staple diet

Nature’s Variety Instinct LID Grain-Free Recipe with Real Duck

If you’re concerned about food allergies for your Australian Shepherd, this Nature’s Variety Instinct LID Grain-Free Recipe with Real Duck is a good option. It features a single source of novel protein with digestible grain-free carbohydrates and plenty of healthy supplements. This recipe is made with duck meal as a concentrated source of protein with plenty of omega fatty acids.

Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Venison Meal & Sweet Potato Recipe

Another excellent limited ingredient diet for your Australian Shepherd is this Nutro Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Venison Meal & Sweet Potato Recipe. This recipe features real venison as the main ingredient to support your dog’s lean muscle mass with plenty of healthy fats for energy and coat support. It is supplemented with grain-free carbohydrates and chelated minerals as well.

Wellness Simple LID Lamb & Oatmeal Dry Food

For a simple source of high-quality nutrition, try this Wellness Simple LID Grain-Free Lamb & Oatmeal Dry Food. This recipe features a limited number of main ingredients including protein-rich lamb and digestible whole-grain oatmeal. It may not work if your dog is sensitive to grains, but it provides a rich source of balanced nutrition for any dog.

3 More Top Rated (5 Star) Australian Shepherd Puppy Foods

FirstMate Endurance Puppy Pacific Ocean Fish Meal LID Recipe

High energy puppies like your Australian Shepherd need a protein- and calorie-rich diet like this FirstMate Endurance/Puppy Pacific Ocean Fish Meal LID Recipe. This recipe is particularly good because it is a limited ingredient diet with a low risk for triggering food allergies and sensitivities. It features ocean fish meal as a single source of novel protein with digestible grain-free carbohydrates.

Adirondack 30% High-Fat Puppy & Performance Recipe

If you want to make sure that your active Australian Shepherd puppy gets the energy he needs to undergo rigorous training, try this Adirondack 30% High-Fat Puppy & Performance Recipe. This recipe features a full 30% protein for strong muscles with 20% fat for energy. It is made with chicken meal as  a concentrated source of protein with digestible brown rice for carbohydrates and chicken fat for nutrient-rich energy.

Solid Gold Love at First Bark Chicken, Potato, & Apple Puppy Recipe

To get your Australian Shepherd puppy started right with high-quality nutrition, try this Solid Gold Love at First Bark Chicken, Potato, & Apple Puppy Recipe. This recipe features premium natural ingredients like real chicken, green peas, apples, and salmon oil. It offers 28% protein and 16% fat with plenty of beneficial supplements like fresh fruits and veggies, chelated minerals, and probiotics.

2 More Picks for Senior Australian Shepherd Foods

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Deboned Turkey Senior Recipe

For an Australian Shepherd with food allergies or sensitivities, this Wellness CORE Grain-Free Deboned Turkey Senior Recipe is a good option. It is uniquely formulated for senior dogs and designed for digestibility and balanced nutrition. It features fresh turkey and chicken meal as the main ingredients with digestible grain-free carbohydrates, fresh fruits and veggies, and beneficial supplements.

Go! Fit +Free Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Trout Senior Recipe

If you’re looking for a senior recipe for your Australian Shepherd that is still high in protein but slightly lower in fat, try this Go! Fit +Free Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Trout Senior Recipe. This recipe features lean proteins like chicken and turkey with salmon meal and trout for essential fatty acids. It contains grain-free carbohydrates like potatoes, peas, and lentils with beneficial supplements like prebiotic fibers, probiotics, and chelated minerals.

Our FAQ and Australian Shepherd Feeding Guide

In addition to picking out a high-quality Australian Shepherd food, you should also think about feeding and food storage. Choosing a dog bowl isn’t hard, but there are a few factors to consider. First, think about durability – you don’t want the bowl to break if your dog knocks it over. Second, think about something easy to clean that won’t harbor bacteria. Stainless steel and ceramic are two good options, though ceramic may break if you drop it.

When it comes to food storage, you should know that your dog’s food will start losing nutritional value as soon as it is exposed to air. You can minimize the damage by buying it in smaller volumes and by storing the entire open bag in an airtight container in a cool, dry location. The inside of dog food bags is treated to preserve the food, so you don’t want to lose that benefit by pouring the bag out into a new container.

And now, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about feeding an Australian Shepherd:

How much food should I feed my Australian Shepherd? – Generally speaking, you’ll be feeding your dog about 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups of food per day. His individual needs will vary depending on his age, weight, and activity level and the amount you feed will vary depending on the calorie content. Refer to the feeding instructions on the package and divide that amount by the desired number of daily meals.

How many times a day should I feed my Australian Shepherd? – When your Australian Shepherd is a puppy, you should feed him three small meals a day to fuel his growth and development. As an adult, he might be able to get by with two meals a day unless he is highly active. For very active or working breeds, consider breaking your dog’s daily portion up into three meals instead of two.

What kind of food do Australian Shepherds eat? – The best food for an Australian Shepherd will be made from wholesome natural ingredients with premium animal proteins, healthy fats, and digestible carbohydrates. For some dogs, this might mean a high-quality dry food because it is the most affordable or convenient option. If you want to maximize your dog’s nutrition, however, you should consider dehydrated, freeze-dried, or fresh food. These options offer the most bioavailability of nutrients to keep your dog healthy for as long as possible.

What vegetables are good in a Australian Shepherd food? – Vegetables provide dietary fiber as well as natural sources for vitamins and minerals. As such, they are a valuable addition to any high-quality dog food. Here are some of the best vegetables for Australian Shepherds:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Zucchini

Even if the dog food you choose contains fresh vegetables, you might still want to consider supplementing his diet with veggies as a healthy snack. Just make sure they are safe for dogs to eat and that you clean them thoroughly before feeding. You should also feed small amounts to avoid upsetting your dog’s stomach from an overload of fiber.

Do Australian Shepherds need grain-free dog food? – The jury is still out regarding the safety of grain-free diets for dogs in the long term. The fact remains, however, that the Australian Shepherd is more prone to food allergies than other breeds and grains are a common culprit. If your dog can tolerate grains, there is no reason to choose a grain-free diet. If he is sensitive to or allergic to grains, however, a grain-free diet is a must – you might also consider a limited ingredient diet to further reduce the risk for allergies.

A Final Word

Now that you know the basics about your Australian Shepherd’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping for the best Australian Shepherd food. Remember to look for a product that is made with high-quality, natural ingredients to ensure digestibility with plenty of animal proteins and fats. These dogs need high protein to maintain lean muscle mass with higher than normal fat content to provide for their high energy needs. They may also require a grain-free or limited ingredient diet if food allergies are a factor for these dogs.

If you’re still not sure where to start in choosing the best Australian Shepherd dog food, try one of our top 15 picks reviewed above!

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