If you are looking for a dog that might be smarter than you, look no further than the Australian Shepherd. These intelligent, energetic dogs will keep you on your toes. They are a busy breed that enjoys having a job to do, which makes feeding them a challenge. That's why I'm recommending the best dog food for Australian Shepherds.
Despite its name, this Aussie does not come from the land down under. The breed was developed in California. There are two types of Aussies out there – the ‘original’ or standard and the miniature. The miniatures split from the Australian Shepherd group in 2011 and is now called the Miniature American Shepherd.
Aussies are medium to long-haired and come in several striking colors. These dogs have brown or blue eyes, and some even have both at the same time! Aussies are a relatively long-lived breed, topping out at around 12 years of age. They are considered a medium to large-sized breed with an average weight of 40-65 pounds.
Aussies have an incredibly beautiful, soft, flowing coat. It also is a source of shedding, so special care needs to be taken when choosing your dog’s nutrition and grooming schedule.
This isn't the only thing that makes feeding these dogs a challenge. There are a few health conditions that Australian Shepherds are prone too, and proper nutrition is the best way to fend them off. I'll get into more details about these conditions in a moment, but here's a quick look at the dog food products I'll be recommending later in this article:
|Dog Food Brands||Price||Value||Rating|
|Royal Canin Medium Breed Puppy||$$||$1.77/lb||4.5/5|
|Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Puppy Formula||$$||$1.23/lb||4.5/5|
|Purina Pro Plan Sport Active 26/16||$$||$1.31/lb||4.7/5|
|Royal Canin Sporting Life Agility 4100||$$$$$||$10.68/lb||4.3/5|
|Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Recipe||$$||$1.67/lb||4.5/5|
|Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Chicken and Barley||$$||$.15/oz||4.2/5|
|Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d||$$$$||$4.44||3.9/5|
* Click on the Australian Shepherd dog food for more information and prices or scroll down below for more details.
Factors that effect nutritional requirements of Australian Shepherds
Aussies, as a herding breed, need daily activity and mental stimulation. If not with an active, engaging family, Australian Shepherds can develop behavioral issues. The most common stem from boredom, such as anxiety, barking and destructive tendencies.
Daily walks and a ‘job’ such as playing flyball or being a part of an agility club will help keep behavioral problems at bay. These dogs are great as working dogs on farms or for owners that want an agility, dock jumping or nose work partner.
Australian Shepherds can be subject to a genetic condition called hip dysplasia, which is abnormal growth of the hips. Over time, the abnormality can cause painful hip arthritis, even in puppies.
While hip dysplasia is not a huge problem in the Aussie breeding population, it still occurs enough to warrant caution when buying and feeding your puppy. Nutrition has a large role in hip dysplasia in some individuals, especially when puppies are over-fed, consume excess dietary calcium and grow too quickly.
Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds
7 Vet Recommended Brands
How to Feed an Australian Shepherd
Before switching your dog to any new diet, always consult with a veterinarian. Remember that no article on the internet, including this one, can replace a consultation with a vet.
Puppy Australian Shepherds
Aussies seem to come out of the womb as bundles of energy. They will keep you on your toes and try to herd you any chance that they get. High energy also means high demand for solid nutrition.
Don’t be fooled though, your Aussie may seem like he’s starving to death. Trust me, he’s not, so please don’t overfeed. As a certified veterinarian, I have seen many puppy parents over the years looking for the best dog food for Australian Shepherd pups.
I recommend Royal Canin Medium Breed Puppy. Give your Aussie a great start by feeding Royal Canin Medium breed puppy formula. This food is created specifically for higher energy medium-sized dogs and has the proper kibble size and shape to boot.
Medium sized breeds have a large range for their optimal adult weight, and Royal Canin has developed a clever feeding recommendation chart on each bag of food.
Ask your breeder about your pup’s parent’s size and weight and set that as your “target” adult weight. The recommended daily ration will then be determined by your Aussie’s age up to 12 months. High quality ingredients include DHA-rich fish oil for a healthy coat and beet pulp for improved digestion.
I also recommend Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Puppy Formula as one of the best dog food for Australian Shepherd puppies. If your Aussie puppy comes from ‘bigger boned’ parents, it is a good idea to invest in a good large-breed puppy food.
Purina Pro Plan’s Focus formula boasts an impressive range of benefits and is a great value. Antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids help support optimal brain development, and the inclusion of high-fiber peas in the formula helps promote satiety and digestive health.
Best Dog Food for Adult Australian Shepherds
At 12 months of age, Aussies become adults. When you make the transition from puppy food to the best dog food for Australian Shepherds in the adult stage of life, it is okay to switch brands. Your dog’s nutritional needs can vary greatly depending on his lifestyle and activity level.
Whichever food you choose, be sure to mix the old food and the new food together for 4-5 days before solely feeding the new adult food. You also need to consult your veterinarian or a canine nutritionist on the best dog food for Australian Shepherds in this stage of life.
Normal Body Condition Australian Shepherds
A great place to start for an active, normal body weight/condition Aussie in a low-active home is Purina Pro Plan Sport Active 26/16. Purina Pro Plan provides quality nutrition for the average Aussie in their 26/16 formula.
At 26% protein and 16% fat, your dog will have plenty of spunk for long walks, playing Frisbee and chasing the kids around the yard. This balance of energy will help prevent unwanted weight gain. It also contains quality ingredients for a healthy coat, like biotin, fish and eggs.
Very Active/Sporting Australian Shepherds
If your Aussie is very active – engaging regularly or competitively in activities like agility, herding or flyball – it is best to invest in a food that keeps up with them. A very popular and effective source of nutrition that can be easily tweaked to your dog’s needs is from Royal Canin.
Royal Canin Sporting Life Agility 4100 stands out because of its manufacturer’s dedication to quality, as well as its carbohydrate and high protein content. It contains high amounts of carbs, which provides your dog with quick energy to perform.
After strenuous exercise, your Fido will be able to repair his muscles with high quality, easily digestible protein. Chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine and omega-rich fish oil will help keep your Aussie athlete’s joints in top form.
Senior Australian Shepherds
Australian Shepherds are considered senior or geriatric around 9 years of age. As they age, their nutritional requirements change as well. It is best to choose a food that will help to support them and their medical challenges.
Aussies are some of the smartest dogs on the planet, but age can start to take its toll on their cognitive abilities. With that in mind, it is smart to seek out the best dog food for Australian Shepherds that fosters brain function.
I recommend Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Recipe. Nutro has a quality, affordable senior food that will support your Aussie’s health from head to toe.
It provides high levels of beneficial ingredients such as yeast, sweet potato, rosemary extract, ALA and DHA essential fatty acids – with their minimum levels right on the product label. This food also gets high ratings for taste, enticing even the pickiest of eaters.
Picky Eater? No worries.
As some Aussies get older, they become picky about what is on their plate. If your dog’s appetite appears to be slacking, have him checked by your veterinarian. Sometimes dental disease and other medical issues can cause picky eating. In this case, even the best dog food for Australian Shepherds won't help.
You can also tempt him with Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Chicken and Barley Entrée. This canned food is sure to tempt even the choosiest of Aussies. It can be fed alone as a complete, balanced diet or in addition to dry kibble. Sometimes it takes just a little to get them going and keeps them going.
Older and mobility issues? I have a recommendation for the best dog food for Australian Shepherds in this category too!
Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d is my go to in this situation. Many Aussies suffer from arthritis after years of wear and tear on their joints. Active dogs are more prone to injury and onset of degenerative joint disease (DJD), no matter their age. If your Aussie suffers from arthritis, it is worthwhile to talk to your veterinarian about this Hill’s prescription diet.
This j/d formula has one of the highest levels of chondroitin, glucosamine and omega-3's out there on the market. It helps preserve cartilage and decrease inflammation naturally with essential fatty acids and antioxidants.
It can also help your dog’s mobility in as little as 21 days. This diet is not only recommended for seniors, it can also be beneficial for overweight and ideal weight adult dogs.
The Doggy Bag – Take Home Message
Aussies tend to live the longest, healthiest lives when they are kept in a leaner body condition, receive life-stage-appropriate best dog food for Australian Shepherds and routine veterinary care. It is important to follow feeding instructions carefully and consult with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s health or nutrition.