Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds
You want the best for your Aussie Shepherd, and that includes finding the best dog food. With so many options on the market, it can be hard to know where to start.
Some contain fillers and low-quality ingredients that can actually be harmful to your Aussie Shepherd's health. It's important to choose a food that meets their unique needs.
This guide contains everything you need to know about finding the best dog food for your Australian Shepherd. I've also included a list of my top 10 picks to get you started.
First a quick note: this website is reader-supported. I spend a lot of time (along with the help of my two dogs) personally evaluating, testing and reviewing each product on this list. When you buy through links on our site, I may earn an affiliate commission. This keeps my dogs fed and happy too!
Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds
Best Meal Topper
Best For Puppies
Best For Allergies
Best Wet Food
1. Best Overall: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Beef and Brown Rice
Blue Buffalo uses farm raised beef, which is important for muscle development and overall health due to its high protein content.
In addition to beef, they also include brown rice, oatmeal, and barley to provide carbohydrates for energy and dietary fiber that aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
The formula also contains LifeSource Bits, a special blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These smaller bits can be seen alongside the larger kibble pieces.
Key Ingredients: Deboned Beef, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley
My dogs used to refuse eating dry kibble unless it was mixed with wet food until we tried Blue Buffalo. They quickly discovered how delicious it was because as soon as we placed the bag in front of them; they eagerly sniffed at it without hesitation.
I served Atlas (who usually has picky preferences) some food from this brand's bowl; he devoured it as if he hadn't eaten in days... no second thoughts whatsoever.
If you take a look at other reviews online you'll find similar stories where dogs absolutely adore this product—so why not give Blue Buffalo a try?
2. Bluebird Provisions Beef Bone Broth
Having introduced bone broth into the diets of my two dogs, I can confidently say that it is a game changer for their coat and joints. Atlas struggled with stiff joints until I started giving him bone broth two years ago.
Now he is aging in reverse like Benjamin Button. My other dog Nitotem struggled with skin and coat issues dating back to when he had parvovirus as a puppy. Now he has soft, vibrant fur and no itchiness.
This bone broth is made specifically for dogs and has only two simple ingredients: water and grass fed beef bones sourced from the USA.
It is 94% protein, so it gives them a natural boost to their diet. And a little goes a long way since you only need 1 tsp to 1 tbsp per day and it comes in a convenient 7 oz pouch.
If you want to spice up your shepherd's meals or just give them a bit more collagen as they age, try this bone broth from Bluebird Provisions.
Purchase from Bluebird Provisions or
3. Best Australian Shepherd Puppy Food: Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Food
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Food is the best option for your Aussie Shepherd puppy. It's packed full of protein with 28% to go along with 17% fat.
I'm a huge fan of the buffalo and lamb as the sole protein sources as they are lower allergen proteins compared to poultry. Bison tends to be higher in crucial nutrients like zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins compared to poultry.
Taste of Wild also includes their patented probiotic strains that help to support digestive health and build up your pups immune system as they age. This recipe also incorporates nutrient-rich fruits and superfoods (blueberries and raspberries) delivering essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Key Ingredients: Water buffalo, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, egg product, garbanzo beans.
The one downside is that the omega 3 fats are on the low end for what I like to see at 0.3%. But overall, this is a fantastic option for active puppies.
4. Best Wet Dog Food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Turkey and Chicken
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Turkey and Chicken Grill is a top-notch wet dog food that is an ideal choice for Aussie's. This formula, which does not contain grains or gluten and uses real turkey and chicken.
The protein content of this product, at 10%, along with the fat content of 9% and fiber content of 1.5%, makes it highly nutritious. It's worth noting that this wet dog food has a moisture content of 78%.
Blue Buffalo avoids using by-products, meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives in their formulation and instead includes essential vitamins and minerals to support your pup's well being.
What stands out about this wet food option is 100% real meat ingredients and chicken broth. Using chicken broth or bone broth can have various benefits for coat health and digestion in dogs.
Blue Buffalo also provides important vitamins (such as B vitamins)and minerals (like vitamin D), which are crucial for supporting an active lifestyle in mature dogs.
Customers adore it too! At the time of writing, I was amazed to see that there were nearly 8000 Amazon reviews. My dogs love it and yours will too.
5. Best for Allergies: Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Sensitive Skin and Stomach
Purina Pro is widely recognized as one of the top salmon-based dog foods on the market. Personally, I don't pay much attention to rankings because they can be manipulated.
Nonetheless, this pet food option from Purina is an excellent choice for Australian Shepherds!
Purina offers a great balance of protein and fat, with 26% protein and 16% fat. I appreciate that it has a higher fat content which sets it apart from other pet food brands.
Also, Purina includes added vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, E, calcium, and selenium which are beneficial for maintaining a healthy coat.
This product also contains omega-3 fats (0.75%) and glucosamine to promote joint health in dogs.
The main ingredients include salmon, rice, barley, oats, canola meal, fish meal and salmon meal. I like that the ingredient list is simple with salmon being the primary source of protein
In terms of carbohydrates, Purina uses easily digestible sources such as rice, barley and oats which provide dogs with energy to support their daily activities.
To ensure balanced nutrition for pets there are live probiotics included in this formula; these probiotics contain helpful bacteria promoting healthy digestion and nutrient absorption.
With over 15,000 reviews on Amazon, you can be confident that your dog will thrive on this food.
6. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Lamb and Rice
Diamond Naturals made this awesome recipe using protein sourced from pasture-raised lamb and real fruits and vegetables. This gives you another refreshing alternative to traditional chicken kibbles (don't worry, they're on the list too).
One aspect I like is the inclusion of essential vitamins and minerals from superfoods like kale, blueberries and coconut.
Key Ingredients: Lamb meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, oatmeal
When I put Diamond Naturals to the test, both of my dogs thoroughly enjoyed the taste of lamb without experiencing any digestive problems during the transition period.
I also appreciate the addition of glucosamine and omega 3s for joint health in active dogs.
What sets Diamond Naturals apart is its commitment to using only natural ingredients with no artificial colors or flavors added.
It also prioritizes not just nourishment but also considers aspects like skin health and coat quality along with weight management for dogs' optimal health.
When you look at the stats you can see it has 22% protein with 12% fat, which is right where you want to be.
This specific formula additionally contains a unique probiotic strain that supports gut health and aids digestion. If you have an Aussie Shepherd with digestive sensitivities who does not respond well to chicken or beef options, I would recommend you give lamb a chance.
7. Wellness Complete Healthy Weight Chicken & Potatoes
Wellness Complete Healthy Weight is a fantastic choice for your Australian Shepherd regardless of whether they have weight issues. It uses deboned chicken as the first ingredient, ensuring your Aussie gets lean proteins for energy.
It also has an added probiotic blend to support their digestion and gut health.
Key Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Brown Rice.
In my experience, it is easier to trust products that are made in the USA like his brand. It gives you peace of mind knowing it goes through rigorous health and safety standards.
They balance out the recipe with superfoods like blueberries, spinach and flaxseed for antioxidants and omega 3s (0.5%).
I'm a huge fan of the added glucosamine and chondroitin so that you don't need to worry about joint issues. Finally, it has no meat byproducts, fillers or artificial preservatives!
8. Iams ProActive Health Large Breed With Grains
You'll love Iams ProActive Health if you're looking for balanced nutrition and your pup has a sensitive stomach. One of my dogs (Nitotem) has a very sensitive stomach. Almost ever kibble we tried him on gave the poor boy diarrhea.
This kibble doesn't hurt his stomach and he seems to love it. It is probably thanks to the simple ingredients like chicken and barley.
Iams is loaded with omega 6 fatty acids (2.9%) which helps promote a shiny coat and healthier skin. There's also prebiotics and healthy fiber containing foods like beet pulp which help with digestion and immunity.
Key Ingredients: Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Barley, Ground Whole Grain Corn
This is specifically made for large, active breeds like Australian Shepherds and there's solid nutrition with 22.5% protein and 12% fat. Try some today!
9. Hill's Science Diet Large Breed Chicken & Barley
Your Australian Shepherd deserves the best, and Hill's Science Diet Large Breed ranks right up there.
- It is USA-made and exceeds are the rigorous health and safety standards.
- Its main ingredients are nutritious chicken and oats, making it a perfect option active dogs.
- There's natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health and reducing inflammation.
Key Ingredients: Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum
It's difficult to stress how much dogs love this food. When I tested it with Nitotem, he devoured it within 45 seconds. He seems to approve of the taste, but what about his health?
I'm proud to report that Hill's did not cause any loose stool during the transition. It's taken years to figure out his gut health, so I am thrilled to find this one.
See if it works for your pup too!
Understanding the Nutritional Needs of Australian Shepherds
There are crucial nutritional needs for Aussie Shepherds because of their unique genetics. As such, you need to focus on quality animal protein, specific vitamins and minerals, omega 3s and both prebiotics and probiotics.
1. Animal Protein
Animal protein is an essential diet component for Australian Shepherds, providing vital nutrients for their highly active lifestyle and physique.
Look for at least 22% protein on the back of the label for best results. Here are a few crucial reasons why your pup needs animal protein:
- Enables Muscle Growth: Protein aids in the development, repair, and maintenance of robust muscles characteristic of Aussie Shepherds.
- Supports Energy Levels: Particularly, a high-quality protein diet fuels the breed's high-energy nature.
- Aids Digestive Health: Animal protein sources – like chicken, salmon, lamb or beef – can boost the efficiency of senior Aussies' digestion.
- Allergy Management: Opting for novel proteins like venison or salmon can reduce likelihood of allergies.
2. Vitamins and Minerals
Key vitamins like A, E, and B support eye health, skin health and metabolism respectively. Crucial minerals like calcium and phosphorus promote bone health, which are crucial for active breeds.
For example, lacking calcium, your furry friend may develop spinal deformities and joint issues. And phosphorus is equally important as it aids muscle repair and sustains energy levels.
Choose dog food fortified with these nutrients for a happy, healthy, hearty Australian Shepherd.
3. Omega-3 and Omega-6
Ever wondered why your Aussie’s coat isn’t as shiny as it could be? It might be the lack of Omega-3s in their diet!
These crucial fats not only lend a glow to their fur but also enhance brain development, eye health, joint health and reduce inflammation.
But unfortunately you can't just use any omega 3s. It must be from marine or fish derived sources because the real benefits come from EPA and DHA.
EPA and DHA are not found in plant sources in the same quantity. So things like flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds do not help with these benefits (although they are still good for other things).
There are a few practical things to look for on dog food labels.
- Some brands list the Omega 3 percentage in the 'Guaranteed Analysis' section. I like to see at least 1.2% omega 3s.
- If your kibble is lower than this, consider using a quality fish oil supplement on their food.
- If you're using a fish or salmon based kibble, it will likely have enough omega 3s from that to cover your bases.
Can you imagine your furry pal struggling with dull coat and lower immunity? Worrisome isn’t it! Don't fret, the solution is simple - feed them quality dog food rich in these beneficial fats. Foods such as our Chicken & Salmon Rustic Stew Wet Dog Food are a great place to start. Watch as they flourish with the right nutrition!
4. Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are dietary fibers and live bacteria, respectively, that boost gut health. For Australian Shepherds, these are important for a few reasons.
First, they aid digestion and nutrient absorption. This means that your pup is getting all the nutrients they need to lead an active lifestyle full of walks and playing.
Probiotic strains are added to many dog food formulas now. Just look towards the back of the ingredient list to find out if it is in there.
Prebiotics come from fiber. So if you see some fruits and vegetables on the list, you are likely getting enough.
Factors to Consider When Buying Dog Food for Australian Shepherds
Some important things to consider before you buy a dog food are Aussie breed standards, health concerns, energy needs, protein, allergies, vitamins and minerals.
Let's get into each of these below.
1. Breed standards
Understanding breed standards when buying dog food for your Australian Shepherd is crucial. It ensures you fuel their unique nutritional needs and help them ward off certain breed-specific afflictions.
I'm guessing your Aussie Shepherd is full of energy, right? For this reason, they need lots of high quality food and protein (more on that below).
Also, Aussies can be highly sensitive to certain drugs. This sensitivity reinforces the need for natural, additive-free dog food to minimize any adverse reactions.
Remember, an Aussie's diet can change over life stages, so always opt for suitable puppy, adult or senior formulations.
2. Genetic Health Concerns (Dysplasia)
When selecting food for your Australian Shepherd, it's vital to consider their unique genetic factors. Be aware that Aussies are prone to hip dysplasia, epilepsy and certain cancers.
These health issues will directly impact their dietary needs. Here are a few unique things to pay attention to:
Hip & Elbow Dysplasia
Foods rich in Omega-3 fats, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfata.
Foods with ample fatty acids, biotin, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc
Foods high in beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin E
No specific food prevents this, overall wellness supports general ear health
Foods rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E
3. Energy Needs
Choosing food and the right quantity of food for your bouncy Aussie is critical to their vitality. I'm sure this is no surprise to you, but they are hyper-active. As such, they require a diet rich in protein and calories to sustain their energy levels.
The caloric requirement is roughly 30 calories per pound of their weight. You are best to start by following the directions on your dog food packaging. Then you can always adjust plus or minus 5-10% based on what you think their weight is doing.
Also remember that Aussie puppies need more calcium, phosphorus and protein for their developing bodies. Aussie puppy food will be fortified with these nutrients.
4. Food Allergies
Like many breeds nowadays, shepherds can be more likely to develop certain allergies. If you notice digestive issues, skin irritations, itchiness or reduced energy, it could be due to allergies.
Perhaps they're allergic to something in food or something they are exposed to environmentally. Common dog food allergens are corn, soy, meat by-products, yeast, natural flavors.
Also, some dogs are allergic to poultry and poultry by-products. If you suspect your dog has allergies, consider an at-home food tolerance test, an elimination diet or changing their food.
My dog Nitotem is allergic to just about every protein aside from salmon.
The poor guy used to itch himself into hot spots until we finally figured out what worked for him. Now he is happy and thriving!
How did we figure it out? I used the 5Strands at home pet tolerance test. It was super convenient to get everything mailed to our home and not have to spend lots of money at the vet.
We got our results within days.
Here are things to look for to get started:
- Limited ingredient dog food (not grain free) to avoid common allergens.
- Omega-3 rich diet for skin health.
- Non-irritating ingredients like sweet potatoes and fiber for digestive health.
- Avoidance of corn, wheat, soy, and artificial additives to prevent adverse reactions.
Protein plays a pivotal role in the diet of Australian Shepherds. Given their active and muscular nature, they require high-quality protein for muscle growth, repair and maintenance.
When shopping for dog food for your Aussie, look for meat listed as the first ingredient, such as chicken, beef, lamb or fish. For example, a blend of chicken, lamb and salmon can provide a good mix of proteins for your active adult Aussie.
From here you can check the back of the bag to see how much protein is really in it. I like to see at least 22% fo active dogs.
6. Fat and Fatty Acid Needs
Fat in your Australian Shepherd's diet is vital - it fuels energy, ensures proper absorption of minerals and vitamins and even promotes brain health. It's crucial for their skin and coat health too, so skimping on healthy fats like chicken fat or fish oil could lead to dry, itchy skin and a dull, brittle coat.
Plus, your Aussie needs omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, that only food sources can provide. Look for at least 1.2% omega 3s in your dog food or consider using a supplement like the Pet Honesty Fish Oil.
7. Vitamin and Mineral Needs
For your Australian Shepherd's robust health, the right vitamins and minerals is crucial. Vitamin A supports eye health, vitamin E aids skin well-being and B vitamins boost metabolism.
Give them foods fortified with calcium and phosphorus for strong bones, especially significant for energetic breeds like Australian Shepherds. You can also mix bone broth into their meals for hydration and increased immunity.
Also, if your pup is showing signs of joint pain or discomfort, you can try glucosamine and chondroitin.
Remember, balance is key – an abnormally high level of any nutrient can be deadly. So, ensure to feed them a complete, balanced diet following guidelines from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
There you have it, the 9 best dog food options for your Australian Shepherd. I hope this comprehensive guide has been helpful in your search for the best food for your furry friend.
A good starting point is to try the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Beef recipe. See how your dog reacts to this one. And if you need a meal topper, go for the dog bone broth from Bluebird Provisions.
Remember to take into account your Aussie's unique needs when choosing a food, and always consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be used to treat or supplement any pet's diet. Consult your veterinarian or animal health specialist if you have questions about anything related to their food, consumption or health. The statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, USDA or CFIA.