Australian shepherds are known for high-octane activities, from herding livestock around the pasture to flying through the agility course. But how do you fuel such a sporty canine?
Easy! Give your Aussie good, nutritious eats.
Below, we’ll dive into what it takes to keep your Aussie running in tip-top shape, plus share our picks for the best dog foods for Australian shepherds.
Australian Shepherd Food Considerations
While dog food can’t prevent genetic conditions or many other idiopathic health concerns found in Australian shepherds, a quality dog food can help boost your Aussie’s overall health, ensuring she’s in the best shape to take on each day.
When browsing dog food for Aussies specifically, look for the following areas of concern:
- Joint support: As rough-and-tumble medium-sized doggos, Aussies put a fair amount of stress on their bodies through play and work. Look for dog foods that offer joint health support through glucosamine or chondroitin. These are especially important for senior Aussies.
- Omega-3s: Omega-3 fatty acids are a wonder ingredient, helping everything from skin and coat health to brain and eye development in puppies. Dog foods containing these healthy fats from salmon oil, flaxseed, and other sources nourish your Aussie from the inside out, keeping her happy and healthy from nose to tail (or nub!)
- Antioxidants: It’s important to keep your Aussie’s immune system running strong to fight off ickies while her body recovers after a long day’s fun. This is where antioxidants come in. They’re found in many fresh fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, strawberries, spinach, and carrots.
- Muscle support: Quality protein is vital to every dog’s diet, especially for working breeds like the Australian shepherd. Protein supports proper growth and muscle development, keeping your Aussie’s frame strong and lean.
- Energy: Carbohydrates are one of the primary sources of energy in your Aussie’s food. Seek grain-inclusive dog foods using high-quality carbohydrates like brown rice or oats to keep her fueled.
The 11 Best Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds
We’ve herded up our top picks for the best dog foods for Australian shepherds, from convenient kibble to flavor-packed fresh options. Let’s dig in!
About: Fuel your Aussie’s greatness with Ollie, a fresh food featuring wholesome ingredients cooked gently in small batches to preserve flavor and nutrients. Delivered fresh-frozen to your door, it’s a convenient way to feed your floof balanced meals that meet her individual needs, whether she’s a couch potato pup or an agility ring regular.
- Vet-formulated to meet the AAFCO standards for all life stages
- Customized to meet your dog’s age, activity level, and more
- Subscription-based setup schedules food delivery automatically
- Made in the USA with human-grade ingredients sourced in the US and globally
Options: Available in Beef, Chicken, Turkey, and Lamb.
Chicken, Carrots, Peas, Rice, Chicken Liver, Potatoes, Spinach...,
Blueberries, Eggs, Tricalcium Phosphate, Chia Seeds, Salmon Oil, Salt, Zinc Gluconate, Rosemary, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Choline Bitartrate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Potassium Iodide
- Customized to fit your Aussie’s individual needs, keeping her trim and thriving
- Palate-pleasing pick for most dogs (including pickier pups!)
- Comes with a 100% money-back guarantee
- Pricing is pretty high
- Requires refrigeration
2. Diamond Naturals
A cost-conscious kibble featuring protein-rich recipes with real produce and belly-boosting probiotics.
About: Nourish your Aussie with good eats while still watching your wallet with Diamond Naturals, a quality kibble containing the nutrients your pup needs for a long day of work (or play!) It has the staples you’d expect, like protein for lean muscle development, and bonuses like probiotics for digestive support.
- Real fruits and vegetables offer natural sources of vitamins and fiber
- Omega-3 fatty acids help your Aussie’s skin and coat look and feel their best
- Recipes designed by vets and pet food nutritionists
- Made in the USA with US and globally sourced ingredients
Options: Available in 13 recipes and formulas, including Lamb Meal & Rice, Skin & Coat, Extreme Athlete, and more. Also available in Grain-Free recipes.
Lamb Meal, Ground White Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley...,
Grain Sorghum, Egg Product, Dried Yeast, Rice Bran, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Oatmeal, Dried Beet Pulp, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Kale, Chia Seed, Pumpkin, Blueberries, Oranges, Quinoa, Dried Kelp, Coconut, Spinach, Carrots, Papaya, Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium animalis Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Beta Carotene, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Manganese Proteinate, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid
- Affordably priced, letting you save doggy dollars for awesome Aussie activities
- Probiotics give your Aussie’s digestion a natural boost
- Great selection of recipes like puppy, senior, weight management, and more
- More exotic protein options would be ideal for Aussies with allergies
- Lacks a whole protein
- Pickier puppers may need enticing to give it a try
3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
About: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is a standout choice amongst kibbles for Aussies and other hardworking breeds with its balanced mix of ingredients like lean protein for muscle development and real fruits and veggies for natural fiber and vitamins. Its glucosamine supports your Aussie’s joints, while its healthy fats maintain her beautiful skin and coat.
- Real meat is always the first ingredient
- Balanced mix of probiotics for digestive support
- Antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits give your Aussie’s immune system a boost
- Made in the USA with US and globally sourced ingredients
Options: There are 21 Life Protection Formulas, including Chicken & Brown Rice, Fish & Brown Rice, Beef & Brown Rice, and more.
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal...,
Pea Starch, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids), Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Dried Tomato Pomace, Peas, Pea Protein, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets, Dried Chicory Root, Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Garlic, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Rosemary Oil
- A solid all-around pick for most pups with quality ingredients
- Contains probiotics for gut support
- Great mix of recipes to choose from, including multiple proteins
- Some dogs eat around the LifeSource Bits (wasting food and sometimes making a mess!)
- Some pet parents aren’t keen on peas
4. Canidae All Life Stages
About: Canidae All Life Stages pate-style wet food option that can be served on its own or added to your Aussie’s food as a meaty treat. Its grain-inclusive recipe fuels your pup for a long day on the farm with brown rice and pearled barley.
- Real meat is the first ingredient
- Doesn’t contain corn, soy, or wheat
- Vet-formulated recipe meets the AAFCO standards for all life stages
- Made in the USA with US and globally sourced ingredients
Options: Available in Chicken & Rice, Lamb & Rice, and Multi-Protein Formula (Chicken, Lamb & Fish.)
Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Dried Egg Product...,
Brown Rice, Pearled Barley, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Salmon Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Sunflower Oil, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Agar-agar, Choline Chloride, Canola Oil, Dried Kelp, Dried Cranberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Iron Proteinate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Sulfate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Manganese Proteinate, Potassium Iodide, Riboflavin Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Rosemary Extract
- Pate texture and taste are wins with most dogs
- All life stages formula ideal for multi-dog households
- Grain-inclusive nature keeps your pup satiated
- More protein options would be nice
- Some Aussies might prefer a stew-form wet food over pate style
5. Open Farm
About: Open Farm is a freeze-dried raw food containing a protein-rich mix of ethically-sourced meat, nutrient-dense organ meat, and real produce. This meat-forward food can be used as a tasty topper here and there or your Aussie’s complete diet.
- Humanely-harvested meat is always the first ingredient
- Simple feeding: Just scoop your dog’s food, add water, and serve
- Each freeze-dried nugget is kibblet-sized for easy eating
- Made in the USA with 100% traceable ingredients
Options: Offered in Harvest Chicken, Grass Fed Beef, Homestead Turkey, Pasture-Raised Lamb, Farmer’s Table Pork, and Surf & Turf.
Chicken With Ground Bone, Chicken Livers, Chicken Necks...,
Chicken Hearts, Carrots, Blueberries, Squash, Montmorillonite Clay, Sunflower Seeds, Cranberries, Salmon Oil, Spinach, Kale, Pumpkin Seeds, Chicory Root, Dried Kelp, Coconut Oil (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Apple Cider Vinegar, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Mixed Tocopherols (A Natural Preservative), Spirulina, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Choline, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Selenium Yeast
- Ingredient traceability is a win for concerned owners
- Most dogs go gaga for the taste
- Great mix of protein options
- Pricey to feed, particularly as your dog’s sole source of food
- Can be too rich for some dogs’ systems
- Freeze-dried raw requires careful handling and cleanup
6. A Pup Above
About: Tempt your picky eater’s taste buds with A Pup Above, a palpable fresh option prepared using gentle sous vide cooking to preserve flavor and nutrients. Featuring non-GMO vegetables and collagen-rich bone broth, it has the high-quality ingredients you want in every bowl.
- Shipped in entirely recyclable packaging
- Meets AAFCO standard for adult dog nutrition
- All ingredients are completely traceable using the lot code on the bag
- Made in the USA in a USDA human food facility with human-grade ingredients
Options: Available in Chicka Chicka Bow Wow, Turkey Pawella, Porky’s Luau, and Texas Beef Stew.
Chicken, Chicken Liver, Sweet Potatoes, Chicken Bone Broth, Rice...,
Apples, Spinach, Kale, Turmeric, Thyme, Parsley, Minerals [Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Bicarbonate, Magnesium Oxide, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite], Vitamins [Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement
- Most dogs love the taste and texture
- Hard to top the quality of this human-grade dog food
- Single-protein recipes ideal for Aussies with sensitivities
- Not as customized as some other fresh dog foods
- Pricing is steep
7. Blue Buffalo True Solutions Perfect Skin & Coat
About: Keep your Aussie’s coat and skin looking and feeling their best with Blue Buffalo True Solutions Perfect Skin & Coat, a kibble rich in fatty acids from high-quality salmon and free of the common allergy triggers of corn, soy, wheat, dairy, and eggs. Healthy grains keep your canine running with energy and nutrients, while a probiotic blend supports healthy digestion.
- Real salmon is the #1 ingredient
- Formulated by animal nutritionists
- LifeSource Bits pack a punch of Vitamin C and Vitamin E for immune support
- Made in the USA with US and globally sourced ingredients
Options: Available in dry and wet varieties
Deboned Salmon, Salmon Meal, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Barley...,
Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Canola Oil, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Peas, Pea Protein, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Fish Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Potassium Chloride, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Salt, Pumpkin, Dried Chicory Root, Potatoes, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, DL-Methionine, L-Threonine, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Tryptophan, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), L-Lysine, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Aspergillus niger Fermentation Extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum Fermentation Extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis Fermentation Extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary
- Omega-rich recipe made specifically for dogs with skin and coat troubles
- Many pet parents report an improvement in skin and coat appearance
- Probiotics support gut health
- Some dogs dislike the LifeSource Bits
- On the pricier side of the kibble aisle
8. Nom Nom
About: Customize your shepherd’s meal time with Nom Nom, a fresh dog food delivered right to your door with the ingredients she needs to look and feel her best, whether it’s extra fatty acids for skin support or fewer calories to keep her trim.
Just take the easy-to-follow quiz to customize your dog’s meal plan to her needs, including her age, body condition, activity level, and more.
- Food is gently cooked to preserve taste, texture, and nutrients
- All recipes formulated by veterinary nutritionists to meet the AAFCO standard for all life stages
- Pre-portioned to meet your dog’s unique needs
- Made in the USA
Options: Available in Beef Mash, Chicken Cuisine, Pork Potluck, and Turkey Fare. You can also purchase optional probiotics as an add-on.
Ground Turkey, Brown Rice, Eggs, Carrots, Spinach, Dicalcium Phosphate...,
Citric Acid, Vinegar, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Water Sufficient For Processing, Fish Oil, Choline Bitartrate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Taurine, Natural Flavor, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Manganese Gluconate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Cholecalciferol (Source Of Vitamin D3), Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement.
- Short ingredient list makes spotting triggers easy
- Meaty mash texture and taste a hit with most four-legged friends
- Customized dog food made to fit your dog’s individual needs
- Requires refrigeration
- Expensive compared to other dog foods
9. Wellness Complete Healthy Weight
About: Help your pup shed extra pounds with Wellness Complete Healthy Weight, a calorie-conscious food that tastes great while supporting woofer weight loss. Added glucosamine and omega-3s keep your Aussie moving, aiding in her exercise regimen.
- Real meat is the first ingredient
- Probiotic blend aids in digestion
- Grain-inclusive recipe keeps your dog energized and satisfied between meals
- Made in the USA with US- and globally sourced ingredients
Options: Offered in Deboned Chicken & Peas Recipe. Small breed options are also available.
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Brown Rice...,
Ground Barley, Peas, Tomato Pomace, Rice, Ground Flaxseed, Tomatoes, Chicken Fat, Carrots, Natural Chicken Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Spinach, Vitamin E Supplement, Taurine, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols added to preserve freshness, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Blueberries, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin A Supplement, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Copper Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Proteinate, Chicory Root Extract, Manganese Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Garlic Powder, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract
- Provides the same great nutrition as regular Wellness recipes but with fewer calories
- Most dogs seem to be fans of the taste (hard to find in diet doggo foods!)
- Great extras like probiotics and joint-boosting glucosamine
- Some owners report excessive canine gas after feeding
- More protein options are needed
10. Nutro Ultra Puppy
A kibble made with a superfood combo of quality proteins, produce, and grains for healthy puppy development.
About: Get your Aussie pup’s journey started on the right paw with Nutro Ultra Puppy, a nutrient-rich recipe made with a trio of proteins for muscle development. A blend of healthy fats helps your best bud’s eyes and brain develop and nourish her skin and coat.
- Real chicken is the first ingredient
- Grain-inclusive for energy and satiety
- Doesn’t contain corn, soy, wheat, or artificial colors
- Made in the USA with US- and globally sourced non-GMO ingredients
Options: Available in Puppy and Large Breed Puppy.
Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of glucosamine and chondroitin), Whole Grain Barley...,
Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Whole Grain Sorghum, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Whole Flaxseed, Pea Protein, Fish Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Chloride, Salt, Choline Chloride, Citric Acid (preservative), Mixed Tocopherols (preservative), Dried Coconut, Whole Chia Seed, Dried Egg Product, Tomato Pomace, Dried Kale, Dried Pumpkin, Dried Spinach, Dried Blueberries, Dried Apples, Dried Carrots, DL-Methionine, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Sodium Selenite, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract
- Good source of DHA for brain and eye development in puppies
- Flavor gets a paw’s up from most puppies
- Kibblet size works great for puppies
- Pricing is a little up there
- Mixed protein nature isn’t a good fit for Aussies with food allergies
11. Nulo Freestyle Senior
A food made for senior pups with joint-boosting glucosamine and chondroitin, plus probiotics for digestion.
About: Support your aging Aussie’s body with Nulo Freestyle Senior, a tasty kibble containing lean proteins for muscle health and glucosamine and chondroitin for aiding joints. Added probiotics also nourish your senior’s gut, keeping things moving.
- Real fish is the top ingredient
- Free of chicken and egg products
- Fruits and vegetables offer a natural source of antioxidants
- Made in the USA with American and globally sourced ingredients
Options: Available in a single Trout & Sweet Potato recipe.
Deboned Trout, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, Yellow Peas, Sweet Potato...,
Chickpeas, Deboned Turkey, Pea Fiber, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols & Citric Acid), Lentils, Natural Flavor, Yeast Culture, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Tomatoes, Dried Carrots, Dried Blueberries, Dried Apples, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, L-Carnitine, Choline Chloride, Chondroitin Sulfate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Iron Proteinate, Niacin, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract
- Good source of joint-supporting glucosamine, chondroitin, and fatty acids
- Most like the taste
- Great option for dogs with chicken or grain allergies
- No bones about it, this food is pricey
- Grain-free food isn’t a good fit for every dog
- Mixed proteins can be an issue for Aussie with food sensitivities
What Are the Best Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds?
The best dog foods for Australian shepherds vary dog to dog. What works great for one doggo may be a dud for another, which is why it’s so important to take a look at your Aussie’s unique needs versus what food’s trending.
With so many options available today, choosing a dog food can feel overwhelming, regardless of breed. Luckily, you can weed out the best from the rest for your Aussie relatively fast.
When reviewing your list of dog food contenders, consider the following:
- Does the food meet the AAFCO standards for your dog’s life stage? Your Aussie’s nutritional needs vary throughout her life, with a bouncy puppy’s requirements differing vastly from those of an adult doggo. Select food that meets her current needs and adjust as needed.
- Does the food address any health issues your Aussie has? A great dog food should help with any health concerns your pup has, whether it has extra omega fatty acids to support her dry skin or it’s a dog food with glucosamine to nourish her aging joints. Other Aussies may even need specialized diets, like kidney-friendly dog food or hypoallergenic dog food, though only if directed by your vet.
- Does your vet support this food? Your vet is a treasure trove of information, and if you’re stuck between food options, they’ll be happy to offer up some input. Your vet can also steer you away from foods that don’t suit your sniffer’s needs or toward a type that addresses your Aussie’s health concerns.
With these three requirements met, you likely have a quality dog food your Aussie will do just fine eating.
While the Australian shepherd’s breed standard cuts off at 65 pounds on the high end, some large males can exceed 70 pounds, putting them in AAFCO’s large breed category. This larger size comes with differing nutritional needs as your dog develops, so you may need to opt for a large breed puppy food if your barker’s projected to be on the bigger side.
If you have those key questions answered and want to narrow your options further, look into the following:
- Where is the food made? Stick to dog foods made in the USA or the western world. These nations have strict pet food regulations, keeping your canine safer than other regions.
- Where are the food’s ingredients from? Similar to the above, opt for manufacturers who source ingredients from the USA or other western nations such as England, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, or members of the European Union. More food safety regulations exist in these nations, protecting your pooch.
- Who formulates the food? The best dog food companies have veterinary nutritionists behind every recipe, ensuring your Aussie’s getting the appropriate nutrients in the proper amounts with every serving. If it’s a specialty dog food such as a veterinary diet, ensure a veterinary nutritionist is also on staff, as they specialize in this area.
- Is the food properly treated to prevent foodborne pathogens? Tummy troubles aren’t fun for anyone, and sadly the rise in raw food has led to some sick puppies (and people!) Skip the risk and stick to manufacturers that properly handle and process proteins.
- Is a whole protein the first ingredient? Whole meat provides protein in its purest form, making it the best choice for the top of the ingredient list. Why the top? Because dog food labels are arranged according to their proportion in the food. A food with a whole protein, like deboned chicken at the top of the list, contains mainly chicken.
- Are all proteins properly labeled? Meat meals and animal by-products are great sources of protein and other nutrients, but they should always be labeled. An example would be “chicken meal” instead of “animal meal.” Mystery meat is a poor sign of a food’s overall quality.
- Is the food free of questionable ingredients? Some dog foods contain ingredients that some pet parents aren’t comfortable with, like carrageenan, artificial colors, or ethoxyquin. These ingredients aren’t inherently bad, but some prefer more research into their long-term safety before serving them to their pup.
What Health Problems Do Australian Shepherds Get?
As true ranch dogs at heart, Aussies are known for having a wicked work ethic and overall hardy nature, but they do have some serious health concerns to watch for. Let’s investigate some of the most common health issues found in Aussies.
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
As with other popular shepherd breeds, hip and elbow dysplasia are common in Aussies. These genetic malformations of the hip or elbow joint cause an improper fit of the joint, leading to painful wear down over time. Ultimately, this results in lameness, reluctance to exercise, and chronic pain in dogs.
Since these dysplasias are genetic, the best way to avoid them is to only purchase your Aussie puppy from a breeder who does strict elbow and hip testing on their breeding dogs. If you already have a pup and are concerned about potential dysplasia, discuss it with your vet.
However, it is generally helpful to opt for a food containing joint-supporting supplements for breeds who’re at risk of these ailments.
Australian shepherds are one of the more common breeds to suffer from idiopathic epilepsy, which causes seizures in dogs. Seizing often occurs during high excitement, such as during feeding time, play, or while staying away from home at a kennel.
Epilepsy is definitely one of the scarier canine maladies, and it can be deadly, but it’s also treatable with daily medications that can help your Aussie live a happy, healthy life. As with dysplasia, your best chance at avoiding epilepsy in your Aussie is to purchase her from a reputable breeder who screens breeding dogs for health issues.
Cataracts are a cloudy eye coating that leads to blurry vision or blindness in dogs if left untreated. They’re most common in older doggos, but Aussies with diabetes or injured eyes can develop them earlier.
Canine cataracts can be genetic or random, with proper breeding eliminating some but not all cases. Luckily, the condition is treatable with cataract surgery, though it is pricey.
Sadly, Australian shepherds experience a higher rate of lymphoma than other breeds and are at an elevated risk of hemangiosarcoma. These cancers and others are most commonly seen in older Aussies, but young pups can sometimes experience them.
In some cases, cancer seems to have a hereditary component, making selecting an ethical breeder a must, but it can also occur randomly. Some treatments do exist, and some dogs make a complete recovery. Yearly visits with your vet are a must with your Aussie, as regular bloodwork can spot problems before they manifest as symptoms. Other signs to look for are swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, and pale gums.
Australian shepherds are more genetically prone to be deaf than other breeds. Deafness is most commonly seen in double-merle Aussies, or puppies born to a set of parents where both carry the merle gene. Deafness isn’t a health risk but requires owners to establish alternative training methods and safe handling practices.
More worrying are the health conditions linked to double-merle Aussies. These pups often suffer from eye issues that can be painful or potentially blinding and face an increased risk of skin cancer. Buying from an ethical breeder is essential with merle breeds like Aussies, as the only way to prevent a double merle is through genetic testing.
Australian shepherds have a slightly higher instance of diabetes than other dog breeds. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that comes in two forms: insulin-resistant (found in older, obese pups) and insulin-deficient (the most common form of dog diabetes). Pregnant females can also experience gestational diabetes, as seen in humans.
All forms of diabetes involve a breakdown in how your dog’s body responds to glucose (sugars) found in carbohydrates, so special dog food diets designed for diabetic dogs and feeding schedules are a must. Many diabetic dogs also require medication, like insulin. Untreated diabetes can lead to cataracts, kidney failure, seizures, and more.
Roughly half of all Australian shepherds have a genetic mutation of the Multi-Drug Resistance 1 (MDR1) gene, causing a life-threatening sensitivity to certain drugs, including ivermectin, Imodium, and acepromazine. These drugs are commonly used in canine medications like heartworm preventatives, so knowing if your Aussie carries the gene mutation is critical.
Thankfully, testing for the MDR1 mutation isn’t complicated, requiring only a simple cheek swab from your Aussie. The MDR1 mutation is dangerous and requires you to advocate for your dog’s health but still allows your pup to live a happy, healthy life.
These are just some but not all of the health issues experienced by Australian shepherds. Regular vet visits, daily exercise, and quality food are the best defense of your dog’s overall health.
Best Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds: FAQ
Do you still have some outstanding questions about feeding your Aussie? Check out these commonly asked questions and concerns.
How much should I feed my Australian shepherd?
This varies from dog to dog as well as from food to food. Aussies are active herding dogs by nature, but the feeding needs of a house dog differ significantly from a working pup on the farm. Similarly, dog foods can vary dramatically in calorie count, with some packing more calories per cup to fuel canine athletes.
The best rule of thumb is to first stick to the feeding guidelines on your Aussie’s food. These instructions detail how much you should feed your dog and how often she should be fed based on her weight. You can adjust accordingly from there if you notice she’s losing or gaining weight.
How often should I feed my Australian shepherd?
Feeding schedules vary, but most adult dogs do best with two meals daily. Puppies, pregnant females, and other doggos needing more calories typically eat three times a day. Breaking up meals into smaller portions over time keeps your dog from gorging herself on too much food at once, plus it prevents an upset stomach from going too long between meals.
What is the best food for Australian shepherds?
The best food for your Australian shepherd meets her AAFCO nutrition profile for her life stage, addresses any health concerns she may have, and satisfies the goals you and your vet set. If those three goals are met, and your Aussie loves the food without any troubles, it’s a solid choice, whether it’s kibble, fresh food, or canned canine cuisine.
Does your Aussie eat any foods we listed? Is there another she enjoys? Tell us about it in the comments. We’d love to hear!