10 Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds (2020 Guide)

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

If you’re looking for the best dog food for Australian Shepherds, it’s important to remember that these pups are working dogs, and as such, they have plenty of energy and are highly active.

Despite their name, these guys and girls were bred in the US to herd cattle. As long as their energy is channeled into plenty of exercise, these dogs are wonderful, intelligent family pets.

If you’re the proud dog parent of one of these beautifully-coloured fireballs, it’s essential that you feed your Aus Shepherd a food that will be easily digested and burnt as energy, while still nourishing your pooch and keeping them strong and lively. 

Product Name
Best Overall
Best For Active Australian Shepherds
Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
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ORIJEN Dry Dog Food for All ages, Original, Grain Free, High Protein, Fresh & Raw Animal Ingredients, 25lb
Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Duck and Sweet Potato, 24lbs
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dog Food – Natural Dry Dog Food for Adult Dogs – Lamb and Brown Rice – 30 lb. Bag
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Our Rating 90 / 100
Our Rating 89 / 100
Pro 1
Designed to be biologically appropriate (ie. to mirror what your dog would have eaten in the wild before becoming domesticated)
Limited ingredient, which helps avoid food sensitivities
Contain healthy grains – brown rice, oatmeal, and barley
Pro 2
Fantastic protein sources as well as fresh fruits and vegetables as carbs
Great protein and fat counts for Aussies
The protein and fat sources are good quality
Best Overall
Product Name
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
ORIJEN Dry Dog Food for All ages, Original, Grain Free, High Protein, Fresh & Raw Animal Ingredients, 25lb
Rating
Our Rating 92 / 100
Pro 1
Designed to be biologically appropriate (ie. to mirror what your dog would have eaten in the wild before becoming domesticated)
Pro 2
Fantastic protein sources as well as fresh fruits and vegetables as carbs
Custom Button
-
Best For Active Australian Shepherds
Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Duck and Sweet Potato, 24lbs
Rating
Our Rating 90 / 100
Pro 1
Limited ingredient, which helps avoid food sensitivities
Pro 2
Great protein and fat counts for Aussies
Custom Button
Best With Grains
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dog Food – Natural Dry Dog Food for Adult Dogs – Lamb and Brown Rice – 30 lb. Bag
Rating
Our Rating 89 / 100
Pro 1
Contain healthy grains – brown rice, oatmeal, and barley
Pro 2
The protein and fat sources are good quality
Custom Button
Sources researched
15
Sources researched
Customer reviews
18,000
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
18
Hours spent testing
Products tested
10
Products tested

Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds

1. Orijen Dry Dog Food

Premium Option: Fantastic protein source with fresh fruits and vegetables

ORIJEN Dry Dog Food for All ages, Original, Grain Free, High Protein, Fresh & Raw Animal Ingredients, 25lb
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Overall Rating92%
Calorie Count90%
Protein Count & Quality95%
Fat Count & Quality92%
Calcium/Phosphorus Ratio92%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • They have a chicken-free option (Six Fish Flavour)
  • Designed to be biologically appropriate (ie. to mirror what your dog would have eaten in the wild before becoming domesticated)
  • Fantastic protein sources as well as fresh fruits and vegetables as carbs
  • Very nutrient-dense food

CONS

  • More expensive than some others

Orijen food is designed the way it is for a particular reason – to be as close as possible nutritionally to the raw food dogs would have eaten in the wild before they became pets. The logic here cannot be denied, and reviews suggest that pets respond well to it. High-protein, and at 470 calories a cup, this may be more suited to dogs who get regular exercise, but it should suit pets of all ages and life stages. 

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Biologically Appropriate Nutrients 

Although it’s true that dogs are omnivores and need vegetables and fruits as well as meat, there’s no denying that a meat-packed diet is good for your dog’s body. This food is made up of 85% meat, and 15% veggies and fruits. Almost 70% of the meat they include is either fresh or raw, and the remaining portion is air-dried, which keeps all the nutrients but reduces the mass. 

One thing that may put off the humans of the Aussie Shepherds is that the meat sources include fresh meat, organs, cartilage, and bone. This is really not an issue though – bone, organ, and cartilage provide nutrients that muscle meat doesn’t, and the bone is not in pieces that can cause your dog harm. 

High-Quality Ingredient List 

There are around 14 protein sources in this food, accounting for the superb count of 38%. The rest of the ingredient list is filled out with whole vegetables and fruits and chelated minerals, with some awesome biological inclusions (like chicory root, turmeric, marshmallow root, and burdock root) that add a really great dash of health-promoting benefits. Again, this mirrors a wild dog’s diet. There is not a single ingredient on this list that can be disputed, so as long as your pooch is a hungry, active Aussie, this food would be a fantastic option for their daily meal.

2. Canidae Pure Real Duck Limited Ingredient

Best For Highly Active Dogs: Great protein and fat counts

Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Duck and Sweet Potato, 24lbs
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Overall Rating90%
Calorie Count90%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Limited ingredient, which helps avoid food sensitivities
  • Great protein and fat counts for Aussies
  • Added glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Probiotics are added after cooking to preserve nutrients

CONS

  • Contains chicken fat, so wouldn’t be suitable for pups who are sensitive to poultry
  • High-calorie, so may not suit less active dogs

Because Australian Shepherds tend to be very energetic, this high-calorie food could be suitable for lively pups who would have no problem burning it off with exercise. With 520 calories per cup, this is the highest calorie food we’re reviewing for these pups. Remember to do your sums to work out exactly how much your pooch needs before deciding if this one is appropriate for your guy or girl. It would definitely be better suited to dogs who are bouncy and get plenty of exercise.

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High Protein from Various Sources 

The protein count of this food is 32%, which is great for busy pets. Ingredient number one of this particular flavour is real duck, which is a great, lean protein source, and it’s followed by duck meal and turkey meal which will up the protein content quite nicely. Other flavours also contain real meat as their first ingredient. 

Other Ingredients 

This is a limited ingredient, grain-free food, which means it contains easily digestible whole foods. The carb sources comprise of sweet potatoes, peas, and potatoes, which are all great quality. The Omega-6 fatty acid levels are great, with Omega-3s coming in a little lower, but each will contribute nicely to your pup’s general health and wellbeing. Glucosamine and chondroitin are present too, which is great for keeping active pets’ joints tough.

3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Program

Best With Grains: Gluten-free, healthy grains

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dog Food – Natural Dry Dog Food for Adult Dogs – Lamb and Brown Rice – 30 lb. Bag
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Overall Rating89%
Calorie Count90%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Calcium/Phosphorus Ratio90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Contain healthy grains – brown rice, oatmeal, and barley
  • The protein and fat sources are good quality
  • Their LifeSource Bits contribute towards maintaining a healthy oxidative balance and a strong immune system
  • Only natural ingredients, nothing artificial

CONS

  • Slightly lower in protein than some
  • The “non-chicken” flavours contain sneaky chicken fat, so they’re not poultry-free

Grains can be an immediate no-no for some dog owners, but not all grains are the same. There are indigestible, gluten-filled grains such as wheat, corn, and soy, which can be big food allergy culprits. The ones contained in this food, though, are the good kind – gluten-free, easily digestible grains. These are an awesome source of fiber and are nutritious, so if your pup is one without a sensitive stomach, this food would be great for them.

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The LifeSource Bits Difference 

Blue Buffalo have formulated their own special mix of nutrients that they add into their foods via  LifeSource Bits. These are the tiny, darker kibbles mixed into your pet’s normal kibble. They’re a blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and are cold-formed to preserve as much of the nutrients as possible. This is a great way to get these nutrients into your pup instead of adding them into the regular kibble, as they are more potent when combined with fewer ingredients. 

The contents of these health-bits have been selected by animal nutritionists and holistic veterinarians, so you can be sure they’re the good stuff. They include these in all their foods, so no matter how old or active your Aus is, they’ll definitely benefit from these little vitamin-bombs. 

Be Aware Of Hidden Poultry 

Australian Shepherds can have food sensitivities, and one of the ingredients that’s often a problem is poultry. If your pooch reacts badly to chicken, there are plenty of foods out there that don’t contain it. Be aware though, that choosing a food with a lamb, beef, or other non-chicken flavour doesn’t automatically mean there are no chicken products in it. A look further down the ingredient list can often reveal chicken fat, so it’s best to check this before assuming there’s no chicken in it. This food would be great for Aussies of all ages, sizes, and health levels, provided their tummies are good with the sneaky chicken and healthy grains.

4. American Journey Protein First Dog Food

Best Value For Money: Quality ingredients, affordable price

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Overall Rating89%
Calorie Count85%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Calcium/Phosphorus Ratio90%
Affordability95%

PROS

  • Good protein and fat counts and a perfectly adequate calorie count
  • Very affordable for its quality
  • Good calcium/phosphorus ratio
  • A nice dose of Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids

CONS

  • Chicken sneaks into even the non-chicken flavours in the form of chicken fat, so it may not be great for those pups who are sensitive to poultry
  • No glucosamine or chondroitin specified on the label

This Protein First series by American Journey is great for Australian Shepherds whose owners are looking for a more affordable yet still high-quality option. As the name suggests, the ingredient list begins with high-quality protein. Other ingredients include vegetables such as peas, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and easily-digestible grains like oatmeal, barley, and brown rice.

Rice bran and brewers rice are generally considered to be lower-quality fillers, but the presence of good grains and real vegetables and fruits make these less of a worry. This would be great for all Aussie Shepherds whose tummies can deal with the grains (although they’re the more easily digestible ones)

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More Nice, Less Price 

You can’t go wrong with a 28-pound bag of high-quality food for $34,99. At this price, many dog foods are filled with indigestible grains, dangerous and non-nutritious fillers, and artificial colours, flavours, and preservatives. Not this one, though – they pack in a good amount of great quality, real meat animal protein, healthy fruits and vegetables, and mixed tocopherols (natural preservatives). 

They also have a good few different flavours, so your pup shouldn’t get tired of eating the same tasting food for too long. The calorie count can be considered slightly on the low side, at 365 per cup, but with a bit of mathematics and some between-meal treats, this shouldn’t be a problem at all. 

Quality Nutrients 

In addition to their all-natural, health-packed ingredient list, American Journey has added some great extras to this food to keep your pup healthy. The ingredients themselves are filled to the brim with healthy fiber, antioxidants, and Omega fatty acids. These help your dog’s immune system stay strong, and keep their coat and skin silky and healthy. 

Their calcium and phosphorus levels are good, and although they don’t have added glucosamine, the calcium and phosphorus will definitely help your pooch’s joints and bones. They also have a dose of DHA, which is usually present in puppy foods for healthy brain and eye development. This is great for Aus Shepherds though, as they tend towards eye problems later in life.

5. Nutro Grain-Free Adult Wet Dog Food Pack

Best Wet Food: Contains no carrageenan

Nutro Cuts in Gravy Grain Free Wet Dog Food Adult & Puppy, 3.5 oz Trays
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Overall Rating87.5%
Calorie Count85%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Contains no carrageenan, a non-nutritious thickening agent
  • Quite affordable as a supplemental food
  • Various flavours available
  • Real meat is the first ingredient in all flavours

CONS

  • Slightly lower calorie, so if you’re looking to use this to up your pet’s calories it may not be the best choice
  • All flavours contain chicken in some form

It’s always a great idea to have a go-to canned food that you can add to your pup’s kibble or give as a treat. These little tubs are flavourful meat cuts in gravy, made from quality ingredients, and contain between 90 and 100 calories in each flavour, so this would be a great option to feed your less-active dog as a treat or kibble topper (provided it doesn’t overfeed them), or your active pup as a few extra calories. 

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Wet Food Should Contain Real Meat Too 

Canned foods sometimes make the mistake of forgoing real meat, but these little tubs contain real meat as their first ingredient, no matter what flavour. The protein is at 8% minimum, but that is made up of good quality sources, including real meat, broth, and liver in some flavours. 

Great For Fussy Eaters 

Pups all have their own personalities, likes, and dislikes, just the same as us humans. This pack contains 4 different flavours, so you’ll have a really nice combo of foods and tastes for your pup to enjoy. They’re all equally nutritious so you can be sure whichever one you choose, your pet will be getting a good, tasty meal.

6. Merrick Grain-Free Senior Recipe

Best For Australian Shepherd Seniors: Specially formulated for senior dogs

Merrick Grain Free Senior Dog Food
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Overall Rating87.5%
Calorie Count90%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Specially formulated for senior dogs
  • Good protein and fat levels with fewer calories
  • Contains great additions that are particularly helpful for seniors

CONS

  • More expensive than some others
  • No specified calcium/phosphorus counts, but glucosamine and chondroitin will help

The protein and fat counts in this food work really well for senior dogs, whether they are still highly active, or less so. The calorie count comes in at a moderate 349 per cup, so if your pooch is less active, that’s helpful. If they are still super active and you feel they are getting too few calories, a couple of treats thrown in between meals works wonders for upping calories.

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Additions For Senior Dogs 

Although there is no mention of the calcium and phosphorus ratio on this food, the addition of glucosamine is fantastic for keeping your old guy or girl’s joints strong and flexible. L-carnitine is also super as it aids promoting healthy energy levels and metabolism, as well as helping regulate weight, which is great as pups get older and become less active. 

Omega Fatty Acid Levels 

Merrick have some of the highest Omega fatty acid levels of all dog foods. Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids perform various functions, including helping digestion, preventing inflammation, decreasing cholesterol levels, and soothing allergies and immune system dysfunctions. As well as that, they nourish your pet’s skin and coat, which is especially great for seniors as their body processes may be slowing down and causing brittle fur or dry skin. 

7. Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Recipe

Best For Australian Shepherd Puppies: For puppies of all activity levels

Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food Recipes
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Overall Rating87%
Calorie Count85%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Poultry-free options available
  • Contains all the nutrients necessary for a growing puppy
  • Contains glucosamine to strengthen your pup’s joints from the start

CONS

  • A little lower in calories than some, which means you may need to make up your pup’s calories with treats (do your calculations first, though!)

This food is great for Australian Shepherd puppies of all activity levels. The calorie count is on the moderate side, with around 370 in a cup. With 28% protein and 12% fat, your pup should get all the nutrients he needs with this kibble as his daily meal. It’s a fantastic option for little guys and girls as you’ll be feeding them high-quality, wholesome food from the very start of their life. 

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Superior Quality Puppy Food 

There are a couple of protein sources here, beginning with deboned beef. Lamb meal adds a bit to the protein total, and deboned salmon not only ups the protein count but is an amazing source of Omega fatty acids. The vegetables and fruits are well-chosen for being digestible and nutrient-packed, and include sweet potatoes, potatoes, apples, and blueberries. Vitamins and chelated minerals are present too, making this quite a good-looking ingredient list. 

Puppy-Specific Nutrients 

Puppies need some specific things in their diet that adults don’t necessarily, and this puppy-specific food doesn’t disappoint. First up is DHA, which is a great addition for puppies as it contributes towards their brain and eyes growing healthily. Glucosamine and chondroitin mean their joints will be strengthened, and the good calcium and phosphorus levels will help their bones to grow strong and solid.

8. Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Dry Dog Food

Best Without Real Meat: Great sources of protein

Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
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Overall Rating87%
Calorie Count90%
Protein Count & Quality85%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Calcium/Phosphorus Ratio90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Great sources of protein, even though there is no real meat
  • Dehydrated ingredients help preserve freshness without the use of artificial preservatives
  • Fairly affordable
  • Great additions such as DHA and L-carnitine

CONS

  • No real meat (although the meat meal is good quality)

For pups who may have digestion troubles, this food is great as it contains meat meal instead of real meat, which is higher in protein and super easy on the tummy. Its numbers are great, with 400 calories a cup, 32% protein and 18% fat. It also contains L-carnitine and DHA, which are great additions to keep your pup as healthy as possible.

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Meat Meal Benefits 

Meat meal contains almost 4 times as much protein as real meat, which means it can pack more of a punch for less mass. It is a healthy, perfectly acceptable form of protein to see on an ingredient list, as long as it’s been specified what type of meat it is. “Animal meal”, or “meat meal” are red flags and should be avoided, and of course, transparency is an indication of honesty! 

Because of the nature of this ingredient, it’s quite a bit more easily digested than real meat. It’s created by a process called rendering, which basically means meat is cooked to the point where all the water has boiled away, and the remaining residue is baked. Adding this to dog food is the doggy equivalent of protein powder. 

Dehydrated Ingredients 

If you have a look at the ingredient list, you may also wonder why the carb ingredients (fruits and veggies) are dried. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this though, and dehydrating is often used as a natural way of preserving ingredients. If they’ve been air-dried, there should be very little, if any, loss of nutrients. Heat-drying can sometimes result in a slight loss, but nothing major. For Australian Shepherds with digestive troubles, this food would be a great choice.

9. The Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food

Best For Sensitive Stomachs and Teeth: Highly digestible

The Honest Kitchen Human Grade Dehydrated Grain Free Beef Dog Food 10 lb - Love
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Overall Rating85%
Calorie Count90%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality85%
Affordability75%

PROS

  • Poultry-free options
  • Highly digestible and easy on your dog’s stomach
  • Human-grade, so you could eat some with your pet if you were keen!
  • Adds some more moisture to your pet’s diet

CONS

  • No specified calcium/phosphorus ratio or glucosamine/chondroitin levels (so if your pup needs bone or joint support, you may need to supplement)
  • Quite pricey, although one box makes four times the amount

This food is a lesser-known one but could be super for your Shepherd if they have trouble either digesting kibble or chewing it. It’s quite high-calorie, at 514 per cup, but if your pooch is exercising and doesn’t have any weight-gaining health conditions, it shouldn’t be a problem. The grain-free version is somewhat more pricey, but the one containing grains is a great option too as the grains included are the healthy kind. 

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Very Easily Digestible 

The ingredient list is filled with dehydrated foods, all of which are high-quality and super healthy for your pet. The beauty of using dehydrated ingredients is that no nutrients are lost in the dehydrating process, and rehydrating them makes for a solid meal that is filling, highly nutritious, and moisture-rich. The dehydrated nature of the ingredients also means that no artificial preservatives are necessary, and the shelf life of the food may be longer than others. 

More Moisture in Your Pup’s Diet 

The tagline on the Honest Kitchen dehydrated food is “Just add water, and love”. Especially for active dogs, keeping hydrated is very important. If you aren’t always around during the day, their water supply may become depleted and leave them dehydrating. This food, because it needs to be rehydrated to be fed to them, is another way of getting some water in, which can only be a good thing. 

10. Wellness Simple Natural Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Best Limited Ingredient: Reduces allergies

Wellness Simple Natural Grain Free Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Healthy Weight Salmon and Peas Recipe, 24-Pound Bag
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Overall Rating85%
Calorie Count90%
Protein Count & Quality90%
Fat Count & Quality90%
Calcium/Phosphorus Ratio75%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • High-quality ingredients that double as great protein and fat sources (salmon, salmon meal)
  • Limited ingredient and grain-free helps reduce allergies
  • Contains no chicken, which is a common allergen
  • Good calorie content for Aussies (394)

CONS

  • A little on the pricey side

For dog breeds that are prone to food allergies and sensitive stomachs (like Aus Shepherds), a limited ingredient diet may be a great idea. In some cases, it may even be recommended by a vet. Less than 10 ingredients means that your pup’s chance of allergies is far less, so if your Aus tends towards food allergies or has been suggested a limited ingredient diet, this is a great option. It would also be a super option for Shepherds that are overweight and need to lose a few pounds, as it would give them all the nutrients they need at fewer calories.

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Lower Fat Content 

While the protein count (26%) is still quite in the zone for these active pooches, the fat count is a little lower than what’s recommended. That doesn’t make this a bad food though. The ingredient quality is good, and the fat that is in there is great quality, coming from salmon canola oil, and flaxseed. 

For Food Allergies, Weight Loss, & Digestive Troubles 

Limited ingredient food is specially formulated to be easily digested, so the all-natural ingredients and addition of chelated minerals help with easy metabolism. The calorie count is moderate, so it would work really well as part of a reduced-calorie diet for overweight pets.


Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation

Criteria 1 – Calorie Count

Most Aussie’s are lively and burn calories pretty easily, which means they need a fair few calories during their day to get enough energy. The average-sized, averagely-active Aussie Shepherd will need around 1500 calories per day, so you’ll need to choose a food that has 350 and upwards calories to keep them full. 

We’ve reviewed foods that contain 350 calories or more, with the exceptions of low-calorie foods that we specifically mention. We have made sure to include lower-calorie foods for dogs who are less active, as Aussie’s are prone to weight gain and obesity if they don’t get enough exercise, which can happen for various reasons including not having enough space or opportunity to play, lowered activity due to age, illness, or injury, or simply a pup who doesn’t like being active.

Criteria 2 – Protein Count & Quality

Protein quality is the biggest factor in this criteria. Animal protein is first prize, and the count can be anywhere from 22% upwards, although for Shepherds, you can go quite high due to their activity level. 

The foods we’ve reviewed contain great quality animal protein sources, and are between 22 and 38% protein. Some work better than others for specific situations – for example, an older, less active dog will most likely need a bit less protein than young, bouncy one. You know your own dog best, so you’ll need to be a bit discerning when choosing a protein count.

Criteria 3 – Fat Count & Quality

These high-energy dogs need a higher than average fat count, because fat is a great fuel that’s converted quite easily to energy when metabolized. 

The minimum fat count you should go for is 8%, although up to 20% is great for these fluffs. The quality of the fat in the food is important. Animal fat, as long as it has been identified as a particular animal, is a fantastic fat source. Flaxseed is a common and great quality one to find in a dog food, as is canola oil. 

We’ve reviewed dog foods here that contain between 8 and 20% fat, unless specified as being lower in fat.

Criteria 4 – Calcium/ Phosphorus Ratio

Because Australian Shepherds are prone to hip and knee dysplasia, the amount of calcium and phosphorus in their food can make quite a difference to their health. 

Too much calcium in your pet’s diet can result in brittle bones and increased risk of arthritis and dysplasia. Too little of it can result in weak bones and other calcium-deficiency-related problems. The calcium and phosphorus numbers should be at least at a 1:1 ratio. We’ve reviewed foods here that fit the correct ratio so you don’t need to worry about working this out yourself.

Criteria 5 – Affordability

If you’re a parent of a high-energy, hungry pup, you will know how much feeding your pooch can cost. Although there are some foods out there that are on the more expensive side of the scale, there are just as many that are quite affordable and still pack a nutritional punch

While some of the more expensive foods are well worth the buy if you can afford them, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with going for something that fit a bit easier into the budget. We’ve scored each food on its affordability so you can easily compare and make the best decision for both you and your pet.


Questions & Answers

What should I consider when looking for the best dog food for Australian Shepherds?

Aussies were bred as working dogs, so they are usually highly active dogs who expend a lot of energy. Of course, each dog is different, so your pup may be a little less active, especially if they are older or in worse health. 

It’s important to consider your pup’s activity level when it comes to buying a dog food for your Australian Shepherd, as a less active dog will need fewer calories than an energetic one. Once you’ve decided on a rough calorie count that would suit your pup, you should consider any other requirements specific to your pup. Do they have a sensitive tummy? A grain-free food may be best. Do they suffer from skin or hair allergies? A food with a great Omega fatty acid count would be a good idea. Do you have an older pooch? A dash of glucosamine, chondroitin, and L-carnitine would be a great addition. 

Of course, you’ll need to feed your pet a great quality, all-natural food, but these are things you should be considering on top of the foundation of a healthy ingredient list. Choosing the right food for your pup will depend largely on your pup’s state of health and activity, so you can’t afford to not consider these things before choosing one.

What are the nutritional needs of an Australian Shepherd?

Australian Shepherds are kind of on the border between medium and large breed dogs, so their nutritional requirements will depend on their size, their activity level, and any special requirements that they may have. 

On average, an Aussie weighs between 45 and 55 pounds (20 to 25kg), although some can be smaller and some can be bigger. Generally, though, healthy males and females fall into that range. At this size, an Aussie will most likely need around 1500 – 1600 calories – the accepted formula is 30 calories per pound of body weight per day. 

Your Australian Shepherd will need a good amount of protein in their diet, and it’s imperative that this comes from high-quality animal protein sources. Real meat or meat meal are the best two options and should be the first ingredient on the list. 22% should be the lowest number you go (unless your pup is recommended a low-protein diet). If these guys are active, they can do well with 30% and upwards. Fats should be at a minimum of 5%, but more is better in the case of Aussies. Up to 20% is a great number as they burn fat to fuel all that activity. 

Glucosamine is a great addition to prevent hip and elbow dysplasia as far as possible. For puppies, a slightly higher protein and fat count is a good idea, and DHA is necessary for healthy eye development.

What should I avoid feeding my Australian Shepherd?

Although Australian Shepherds don’t typically suffer from sensitive stomachs, we suggest that you avoid giving them any artificial or overly processed foods. There are a whole range of foods that you should avoid feeding your dog, regardless of what breed they are, and you can check out a comprehensive list here

You’ll want to avoid giving your pooch “human food”, unless you’ve cooked it yourself and know exactly what went into it and have ascertained that it’s safe for their tummy. Anything with spices in it (including salt), or that’s been cooked in oil are definite things to avoid as pup’s bodies don’t deal with these things the same way we do. 

Also, it’s never a great idea to feed your pup cat food. It’s okay in a food emergency, but it definitely should not be a regular thing, as the nutrients in cat food are quite different because cats’ bodies are different to dogs’. Stick to the high-quality dog food you’ve chosen, and perhaps a wet food kibble topper and meaty treats that are geared towards dogs. 

How much should I feed my Australian Shepherd?

You’ll need to do some weighing and mathematics here, as this will depend on your Shepherd’s weight and the caloric value of their food. As mentioned in another answer above, an average-sized, energetic Aussie will need around 30 calories per pound of body weight per day. 

Step one is to weigh your pup. The easiest way to do this (if you only have a normal human scale) is to weigh yourself, then pick your pup up and step back on the scale. The difference is your pet’s weight. The other option is to get the vet to weigh them for you. You can then work out roughly how many calories your pooch should be consuming. 

The next step is to work out how many cups of their food will make up their daily calorie intake. If they’re eating a food that’s 300 calories per cup, you can make that a nice round 5 cups per day. 

You can get creative with how you feed your dog his or her calories – they don’t all need to be dry kibble. A few cups of kibble with a tasty, high-calorie canned topper will do the trick, and don’t forget to leave space for treats!

How often should I feed my dog?

This will also depend somewhat on your pup. Puppies should be fed three to four times a day, while adults will be able to deal with two or three times a day. 

We understand that it’s not always practical to feed your pup in the middle of the day, as many pet parents are away from home for work. Twice a day will work as long as you make sure your pup gets enough calories in. It;s also advisable to leave them something like a treat-dispensing toy, so they have something to supplement them during the day without being able to gorge themselves.

What health conditions should I be aware of with my Australian Shepherd?

Aussies are prone to certain health conditions, and as the parent of one of these beautiful dogs you should be aware of them and know what to do to counter them as much as possible. 

Unfortunately, these dappled shepherds tend to suffer from food allergies, which means a limited ingredient food may be best until you can identify the specific ingredient to which they react badly. This will require a bit of experimentation on your part, but here’s a list of the most common allergens in dog foods. You’ll need to try different things until you can settle on one that works well for your pup. 

Hip, knee, and elbow dysplasia are also fairly common, especially as these guys are super active. A food with a good calcium-phosphorus ratio and added glucosamine is a good option. 

Other conditions that Aus Shepherds may struggle with include epilepsyhypothyroidismprogressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, multiple drug sensitivity, and obesity (if they don’t get enough exercise). Being aware of these problems can help you spot them early on and get your pup treated before the condition worsens.

Some of them can be helped by a change in diet, and some can be helped with more regular exercise. Some, however, need a trip to the vet and medication in order to be managed. It’s important to take your pup to the vet if they display any worrying symptoms to rule out more serious disorders.