Miniature American Shepherds, also known as “Mini Aussies”, are a wildly popular breed. Minis were first bred in the late 1980's in the United States as an off-shoot of the larger Australian Shepherd. They are very similar to full-sized Aussies in temperament and activity level. But their size and high energy level make it difficult to find the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs.

For perspective, the standard Australian Shepherd weighs in at 35-70 pounds, depending on the sex and bloodline. Mini American Shepherds typically weigh in at 20-30 pounds and are about 5 inches shorter at the shoulder than the standard Aussie. Relatively long-lived, your Mini will be an energetic family member for 12-13 years.

In my veterinary clinic I am beginning to see more and more Mini Aussies. As they become more popular, I find myself having the conversation about which is the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs. Below are some of the brands I recommend.

When trying to pick the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd breed, you also need to take this breed's common health concerns into consideration. These dogs are generally a healthy breed, but they dog have some specific health issues that they are more susceptible to. Some of these conditions may be managed with a specific diet.

Best Dog Food for Miniature American 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.

Minis are actually a very healthy breed. Some of the issues that standard Australian shepherds have, such as hip dysplasia, are very uncommon in Minis. However, there are some breed-associated issues that may be helped by diet.

1. Floating Kneecaps (Medially Luxating Patella)

Many small and “mini” breeds are prone to luxating patellas. MPLs, or medially luxating patellas (“floating kneecaps”) happen when the kneecap pops out of place, often causing pain and eroding the protective cartilage at the knee.

When “mini” breeds are developed, shortened leg bones are selected for in order to make the dogs in future generations shorter. Unfortunately, their short legs can also be very straight. The straightness of their legs can cause a “conformational abnormality” where their bones meet at the knee.

This can make it difficult for the knee cap to sit in the grooves of the tibia where it belongs.  It can pop out of place very easily in some cases – causing limping, hopping when walking, pain and early-onset of osteoarthritis.  MPL is graded – with Grade 1 being least severe to Grade 4 being most severe and likely requires surgical repair.

Over a lifetime, this knee problem can cause significant cartilage degradation and early arthritis. Keeping your dog in the top, the lean condition will help prevent excess strain on their knees.

Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Canned Wet Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Canned Wet FoodFor adult Minis with mild (Grade 1-2) luxating patellas, a joint-protecting diet can help protect their joints. Consider Hill's Science Diet Adult 7+ Canned Wet Food as the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs with this condition.

This food looks as good as it sounds. It contains age-appropriate nutrition in an easily chewed and digested format. It also contains antioxidants (cranberries), chondroitin sulfate for joint health, and flaxseed for an omega-3 boost. Omega-3s are a powerhouse for medical issues, reducing the overall level of inflammation in the body – not just in the joints.

2. Behavior Issues (Anxiety)

Since the development of the breed, veterinarians have reported that some Minis exhibit higher levels of anxiety compared to other breeds.  Some are simply “shy” while others may suffer from true anxiety-type disorders. Minis are very smart and if they become too bored, behavior issues such as anxiety can arise.

Royal Canin Nutrition Comfort Care

Royal Canin Nutrition Comfort CareIf you are concerned that your Mini is anxious, talk to your veterinarian. Sometimes a change in diet can help. Royal Canin Nutrition Comfort Care is my recommendation for the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs with anxiety issues.

This diet is prescription-only and can be used alone or in conjunction with behavior modification medication and training techniques. It is highly rated by owners on the Royal Canin US website and is balanced for adult dogs. The diet can help to “quiet nerves” and reduce anxiety due to its high level of tryptophan, an amino acid involved in balanced serotonin metabolism. It also contains calming hydrolyzed milk proteins and B vitamins.

The Best Dog Food for Miniature American Shepherd Puppies

Miniature American Shepherds mature quite quickly, it is recommended to feed them a balanced puppy-specific diet until they are 8-12 months of age. At 8-10 weeks of age, your puppy should be able to eat dry, crunchy kibble – but it is perfectly fine to feed a canned or balanced, freshly-prepared diet.

Royal Canin Medium Puppy Dry Formula

Royal Canin Medium Puppy Dry FormulaMy top picks for Mini puppies include Royal Canin Medium Puppy Dry Formula. Royal Canin had your high-energy puppy in mind when they tweaked this formula. Minis are technically medium-sized dogs like many other working and herding breeds. The right balance of calories, high-quality protein and Calcium to Phosphorus ratio encourages growth at an appropriate rate.

Royal Canin has been trusted for over 40 years by veterinarians and nutritionists alike. Their no-fillers formula is a good value – you will end up feeding less than a lower-quality food and spending less in the end.

Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula

Purina Pro Plan SPORT FormulaAnother option for the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherds in their puppy stage is Purina Pro Plan SPORT Formula. If your Mini American shepherd is destined for greatness as an agility or Flyball competitor – training will begin fairly early in life.  For puppies that are exercising out in the field, consider Purina's Sport formula.

It has a higher protein content than regular medium-dog puppy foods. DHA, an omega-3 essential fatty acid, is included for optimal cardiovascular and brain development. If your puppy enjoys the taste of Purina dog food, it is easy to transition him or her onto an adult formula at 12 months of age.

The Best Dog Food for Adult Miniature American Shepherd

When you switch your Mini from puppy to adult food, it is often a good idea to stick with the same brand. However, sometimes the taste can be different or you want to try something new.

When you decide to switch, be sure to mix the puppy food with the new adult food over the course of a week to avoid tummy troubles.  The first day should be a 20% puppy/80% adult then by day 3-4 it is 50/50 and on day 7 you are feeding 100% new adult food.

Royal Canin Medium Sensitive Digestion Formula

Royal Canin Medium Sensitive Digestion FormulaMany owners see good results with the Royal Canin puppy formulas and transition to the adult. If your adult Mini has specific issues, such as sensitive skin or a sensitive tummy, it is worthwhile to look into switching to Royal Canin Medium Sensitive Digestion Formula.

Royal Canin’s sensitive digestion formulas are top-notch and have received all 5-star ratings on their US website. They are definitely the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs with sensitive tummies. Some Minis may have issues from time to time with proper digestion, so it is good to start here if needed. This brand supports healthy digestion more than other brands due to its unique formulation – including gut-healthy fiber from beet pulp and prebiotics called fructooligosaccharides.

Eukanuba Premium Exercise 26/16

Eukanuba Premium Performance Adult Dry Dog FoodIf you can’t find Royal Canin products or it is not in your price range, consider Eukanuba Premium Exercise 26/16. Adult Miniature American shepherds are very, very active dogs. They require higher levels of protein than other breeds that are more sedentary. Eukanuba’s adult active formula provides proper, balanced nutrition to keep up with your little ball of energy.

Active dogs are also more likely to put excess wear and tear on their joints – this food includes naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for joint support. Best of all – Eukanuba also boasts a 110% money-back guarantee.

The Best Dog Food for Very Active Miniature American Shepherds

If your Mini is engaged in sports such as Fly Ball, agility or Frisbee, it is best to feed a high protein, high calorie diet. Sports like agility require sudden bursts of energy for sprinting. Dogs burn protein for energy instead of carbohydrates in the first 30 minutes of strenuous exercise.

Eukanuba Sporting Dog 30/20 Formula

Eukanuba Sporting Dog 30/20 FormulaA high-protein diet will not only give him the energy to perform, but will help his muscles to recover. A good diet to try as the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs that are very active is Eukanuba Sporting Dog 30/20 Formula. 

30% protein is perfect for agility sporting Minis. It is important to feed this diet as directed and cut down on the portions or switch to a lower protein adult dog food during the “off-season” to prevent unwanted weight gain. This food also contains naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to protect your athlete’s joints.

The Best Dog Food for Senior Miniature American Shepherds

Mini American shepherds are considered senior around 8-10 years of age. As dogs grow older, it is important to support their aging bodies with optimal nutrition.

Nutro Hearty Stews Formula

Nutro Hearty Stews FormulaThe most common issues in older dogs are arthritis and dental disease. If your senior has issues with dental disease or has lost teeth – try an easy to chew canned or “stew” diet, such as Nutro Hearty Stews Formula.

Nutro has a variety of “flavors” in their Hearty Stews like, including lamb, chicken and turkey. This easy to eat canned food is balanced and nutritious for your senior or picky eater. Real lamb, peas and carrots will make it seem like shepherd’s pie is on the menu every night.

Hills J/D Mobility Formula

HILL'S PRESCRIPTION DIET j/d MobilityFor seniors with more significant arthritis, it is best to talk to your veterinarian about a prescription diet. My choice for the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs with severe arthritis is Hills J/D Mobility Formula.

Hill’s Science Diet prescription diet j/d is one of the best ways that you can manage your dog’s joint health without medication. Many dogs with mild to moderate arthritis have improved mobility in just 21 days on this formula alone. j/d boasts one of the highest levels of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and omega-3 fatty acids in an easy to eat, palatable canned formula.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Dry Formula

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Dry FormulaIf your senior still enjoys crunchy food – look no further than Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Dry Formula. Nutro’s top senior dry formula will tempt even the pickiest of senior dogs while providing wholesome, balanced nutrition.

Your dog’s joint and brain health will be supported for healthy aging with addition of omega-3, omega-6 essential fatty acids, antioxidants from dried blueberries and naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. This diet can be fed alone or with one of Nutro’s Hearty Stew senior formulas.

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The Best Dog Food for Miniature American Shepherd - Top 10 Vet Recommended Brands

In the last 8 years, Dr. Shores has worked as a clinical veterinarian for dogs, cats, small mammals and non-human primates as well as a writer on the subject of pet health. Her passion is breaking down the intricacies of proper dog health care and dog nutrition.