Australian shepherds are beautiful dogs. But their appearance isn’t the only quality that makes them invaluable companions and desirable pups. Australian shepherds are also intelligent, friendly, and affectionate. They’re generally happy dogs that enjoy being around their owners.


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So, it’s only natural that the pet parents of Aussies would want to reward their pups with high-quality, nutritious food that’s tasty enough to wolf down. While there are a lot of options available, some are more life-enriching than others.

Australian Shepherds might seem nearly indestructible while they’re chasing a ball or protecting you from the mailman, but the breed does suffer from a handful of common issues. By feeding your dog the right type of chow, you can help to prevent painful or uncomfortable ailments like dry, flaky skin, or excruciating joint pain.

Just as with humans, the general life expectancy for domesticated dogs is on the rise, and better access to balanced and targeted diets may be partially responsible for that increase. It’s not uncommon to see a 15-year-old Australian shepherd gently coasting through old age, especially if that pup was well-cared for during its life.

Providing an exceptional life begins with putting down the right food. Understanding what your Australian shepherd’s body needs, craves, and can benefit from is crucial to choosing the best dog food for them. However, it’s also essential to understand when and how much to feed your pup. Fortunately, doing a little research and following a food chart can help.

5 Key Nutritional Needs of an Australian Shepherd

Though most modern domesticated dogs descended from a couple of common ancestors, there are currently hundreds of breeds and they all differ in size, activity level, temperament, and nutritional needs. For example, terriers and labradors require vastly different diets and environments. Aussies also require a few crucial nutrients to live healthy lives.

Protein

While many may believe that Australians shepherds can survive solely on meat, this is simply not true. While most canines do benefit from consuming animal protein, domesticated dogs are omnivores, not carnivores. Consequently, they require a mix of meat and vegetable matter to get all of the nutrients they need.

Dogs can actually thrive on fully vegetarian diets, as long as those diets are rich in protein. That’s because proteins are the main source of energy for pups of all ages. Also, protein contains necessary amino acids that help build muscle tissue, boost the immune system, and keep living organisms healthy and strong.

Shepherding dogs are typically high-energy and exceptionally active, so a high-protein diet is essential to keep that energy flowing.

Fatty Acids

Australian shepherds typically have lustrous and colorful medium-length or long hair. With proper brushing, this hair remains shiny and strong as the skin’s natural oils spread out through the coat. However, grooming might not be able to help dogs that lack fatty acids in their diets.

Some types of dogs, including Aussies, can suffer from dry skin that affects their coat, disposition, and overall health. Fatty acids like those found in fish or flaxseed can help any medium-haired or long-haired dog enjoy smooth, moisture-rich, healthy skin.

And when an Australian shepherd’s skin is in tip-top condition, so is its coat. Besides, a pup with extremely dry skin or skin allergies can scratch themselves to the point of injury, so preventing dry skin can also help prevent more serious veterinary calls.

Calcium/Phosphorus

Calcium is an essential element used to strengthen bones and teeth. A serious lack of calcium can result in spinal deformities, arthritic joints, and tooth loss. Active dogs require a little extra boost of calcium to keep their bones strong and capable, no matter how many circles they run while chasing their tail. This is especially true of larger breeds that have far more bodyweight pressing on their joints.

However, calcium alone isn’t enough to keep joints and bones in their best shape. Phosphorus is also required. Without phosphorus, a dog’s body wouldn’t be able to use the protein it ingests to create and repair muscle tissue. A lack of phosphorus could also result in reduced energy and an irregular heartbeat.

Still, an overabundance of any vitamin can be deadly. That’s why every quality dog food features a well-tested balance of nutrients, including a balance between calcium and phosphorus.

DHA

You may already be familiar with DHA and its brain-boosting abilities. However, while it can be a helpful developmental nutrient for puppies (and potentially help older dogs improve their cognitive function), it has a slightly different primary purpose for Australian shepherds. DHA can help bolster healthy eye development and potentially prevent or delay vision problems.

Glucosamine

People have been using glucosamine for years to combat the progression and symptoms of arthritis. Medium-sized and large breeds of dogs often suffer from joint and bone problems, especially later in life. Providing a regular diet that contains glucosamine can help reduce the risk of your Australian shepherd developing arthritis, suffering hip dysplasia, or experiencing joint and bone problems.

6 Special Dietary and Nutritional Considerations of Australian Shepherds

Nearly all purebred dogs are at risk for some type of genetically derived disorder or ailment. Bulldogs, for example, have exceptionally short snouts and compact bodies, making them especially susceptible to respiratory disorders.

Australian shepherds are a fairly hardy breed, but they can exhibit a few health issues. Special dietary and nutritional considerations must be taken to help prevent issues and keep pups feeling their best.

Low Carbohydrates

Protein is more essential than carbohydrates, and carbs don’t have a large place within an Australian shepherd’s diet. While it can be tricky to completely avoid carbs, especially when attempting to provide your pup adequate dietary fiber, there are safer alternatives to whole grains, corn, rice, and soy. Sweet potato, for example, is a great source of soluble carbohydrates that won’t cause your dog’s blood sugar to skyrocket. However, if you have the option to go completely carb-free, you should take advantage of that opportunity.

Eye Support

Aussies are prone to several different types of eye problems. They can develop cataracts at a young age and experience progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). They may also exhibit signs of Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) or colobomas. While some of these ailments are less common than others, they can all lead to complete blindness.

Foods that contain DHA, beta-carotene, and Vitamin A can help support eye health. However, regular veterinary exams are necessary to ensure that an Australian shepherd is not experiencing vision problems. Regular testing can catch diseases sooner, resulting in a higher chance of a healthy and successful outcome.

Bone and Joint Support

Medium and large breeds require a little more bone and joint care than smaller breeds. That’s because they carry more weight around on their paws, leading to rapid cartilaginous degradation. In other words, the soft cushioning between their joints and bones tends to wear down sooner, leading to arthritis and elbow or hip dysplasia.

Convincing your Australian shepherd to take it easy on themselves and not play so rough can be nearly impossible, especially for younger dogs that seem to be full of boundless energy. Shepherding dogs were bred to walk, run, and chase livestock all day long. Trying to keep then sedentary is like trying to stop the sun from rising.

However, feeding your dog a diet that’s rich in calcium, phosphorus, and glucosamine can help support bone and joint growth and health. Annual or bi-annual veterinary check-ups can help ensure that Aussies of all ages enjoy painless movement and freedom of motion.

Epilepsy

Canine epilepsy is a genetic disorder that is passed down from parent to offspring. While it is one of the rarer health conditions an Australian shepherd might face, it’s not completely unheard of. Recessive genetic conditions tend to arise more often in purebred animals than those with mixed genetic backgrounds, so it’s important to purchase your pup from a reputable breeder.

Of course, if your dog shows signs of seizures, there are treatment options available. Unfortunately, there is no way to test for this disorder. The best way to avoid it entirely is by adopting a mixed Australian shepherd, or by purchasing your pup from a well-known breeder. While treatments can help reduce the regularity of seizures, they cannot completely eradicate them.

Healthy Oils

Oils aren’t typically seen as particularly healthy things, but they can work wonders for a canine’s coat, skin, and digestion. Healthy oils derived from flaxseed, fish, and coconuts can prevent skin dryness and give fur a lustrous shine. Pups with dry skin can experience wholesome relief from itchiness by consuming the right oils, resulting in a healthier and happier life.

Heart-Healthy Fats

Cardiovascular health is just as imperative as skeletal support, eye support, and skincare. After all, if the heart can’t pump blood properly, the entire body suffers. While oils can help keep an Australian shepherd’s skin and hair in prime condition, heart-healthy fats can help keep cholesterol levels low and heart muscles strong and robust.

Heart disease is common in dogs of all breeds. It can be a significant issue later on in a pup’s life, especially as they enter the senior stage. Consistent and early dietary care may be able to prevent arteries from weakening or clogging as dogs age, resulting in a longer lifespan and fewer veterinary visits. Considering how active Australian shepherds are, it’s crucial for their hearts to be in fighting shape.

Australian Shepherd Feeding Schedule

How Often and How Much Should I Feed My Australian Shepherd?

How often you should feed your Australian shepherd depends on their age. But the quantity of food you should provide each day varies greatly depending on your puppy’s weight. The following chart can help you stay on-track when feeding your dog, but it’s crucial to follow the guidelines laid out by your preferred dog food manufacturer. Higher-quality meals tend to be more filling, necessitating fewer cups per meal.

Age/WeightFeedings Per DayCups of Food Per Day
Less than four months / 25lbs or less3 to 4½ cups to 2 cups
Older than four months / 26lbs to 50lbs22 cups to 3 cups
Older than four months / 51lbs+23+ cups

Overall Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds

Merrick Grain-Free Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best Overall

This grain-free dry dog food contains everything that Australian shepherds need to enjoy a long and healthy life. It’s mostly crude protein and fat, the two things that medium-sized, active dogs need. It also contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids for skin and heart health. Crude fiber is present, and while this food is dry, it contains up to 11% moisture per serving.

This food also contains an exceptional amount of joint-friendly glucosamine (800mg/kg). Overall, it’s an ideal option for Aussies and can be a great way for pet parents to gain some peace of mind.

10 More Top-Rated Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Medium Adult Dry Dog Food

Super Premium

  • Specifically designed for medium-sized breeds
  • Contains DHA and omega fatty acids
  • Skin-friendly Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and biotin are included

Though this dry food contains rice and wheat (primarily for their fiber content), it’s also a brilliantly synthesized balance of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It’s designed with the needs of medium-breeds in mind, and it’s primarily composed of crude proteins and fats. It also has a few nice additional ingredients such as brain-friendly choline (DHA), skin-friendly Vitamin E, and heart-healthy omega fatty acids.

Consequently, this food can be an excellent choice for those with Australian shepherds. The included ingredients target nearly all of an Aussie’s common ailments. The only things this food doesn’t include are bone-strengthening calcium and joint-lubricating glucosamine.

Pros

  • Pea-free option
  • Can help prevent eye problems
  • Promotes healthy skin and fur

Cons

  • Contains rice and wheat
  • Can be too expensive for some pet owners

True Acre Foods Chicken & Vegetable Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Most Popular

  • Exceptionally affordable grain-free option
  • The primary ingredient is chicken
  • Contains a diverse blend of essential nutrients

Anyone hoping to cut down on their pup’s carbohydrate intake is bound to enjoy this grain-free option. However, this dry food does contain a significant amount of peas, which could deter some pet parents from jumping on board and embracing this product. However, peas are primarily negative ingredients when they’re salted and canned, and this food uses fresh and dehydrated peas.

Like other high-quality Australian shepherd food options, this chow primarily consists of crude protein and fat. However, it also contains fiber, calcium, phosphorus, omega fatty acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and selenium. While selenium is not commonly found in many store-bought dog foods, it is a necessary trace nutrient that supports healthy immune function.

Pros

  • A budget-friendly grain-free option
  • Contains a calcium/phosphorus blend for bone and joint health
  • Contains an above-average amount of Vitamin A and Vitamin E

Cons

  • Does contains peas and pea starch
  • Does not contain DHA for eye/brain health

Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food

Best Value

  • Contains over a dozen superfood ingredients
  • Has a calcium/phosphorus blend
  • A heart-healthy, skin-friendly option

While most dog foods focus primarily on protein and fat content, Nutro Ultra recognizes that canines are omnivores and therefore require a blend of meats, vegetables, and fruits. Rather than combining just any of these ingredients, Nutro has picked only the best, most nutritious superfoods to go into this recipe.

The result is a high-protein, high-fat food that’s chock-full of moisture, trace nutrients, calcium, phosphorus, and omega fatty acids. While it does contain rice, this dry food is incredibly low in complex carbs, resulting in a cleaner more effective source of energy. In terms of bang for your buck, it’s hard to compete with this option.

Pros

  • Excellent source of crude protein and fat
  • Provides a stable source of immune-boosting zinc
  • Contains natural oils from flaxseed, sunflowers, and chia seeds

Cons

  • Contains rice
  • Lacks DHA

Only Natural Pet MaxMeat Air-Dried Beef Grain-Free Dog Food

Pea-Free

  • Free of grains, peas, soy, wheat, and corn
  • Looks, smells, and feels like jerky
  • Primarily contains real meat

When you’re tired of the traditional kibble option, there’s always Only Natural Pet MaxMeat dog food. This freeze-dried combination of beef protein, beef fat, and wholesome veggies looks almost identical to jerky, ensuring that your pup will wolf it down without a second thought.

While it does lack a significant amount of calcium or omega fatty acids, it makes up for this with an optimal amount of crude protein. This pea-free, grain-free option can improve skin quality and condition, coat luster, and brain functioning. It also provides enough protein to keep Australian shepherds energized and enough fat to keep them satisfied.

Pros

  • One of the highest-protein dry foods
  • Human-grade quality for optimal safety
  • Contains brain-healthy choline
  • A great source of Vitamin E

Cons

  • Lacks a variety of omega fatty acids for heart health
  • Not a great source of calcium

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Turkey Dry Dog Food

Best for Puppies

  • Is 36% crude protein
  • Grain-free option
  • Contains a full spectrum of necessary nutrients

Australian shepherd puppies can benefit from a nutritional head start, which is why it’s vital to choose a puppy food that contains things like DHA, Vitamin E, Calcium, Phosphorus, and omega fatty acids. This dry food contains it all, and it even features a whopping amount of crude protein, fat, and fiber. This equates to plenty of puppy energy and wellness.

The fact that this option contains peas and carbs (mostly in the form of potato starch) may be a turn off for some. Still, this puppy-approved kibble contains everything that your little one needs to grow up healthy and strong. Healthy eyes, bones, joints, skin, and hearts start with proper nutrition and lots of love, and Wellness CORE Grain-Free is packed with nutrients and created with care.

Pros

  • Is more than ¼ crude protein
  • Contains an excellent amount of fiber for improved digestion
  • Offers growing puppies a comprehensive variety of crucial vitamins and minerals

Cons

  • Contains peas
  • Contains a mix of starches and carbohydrates

VICTOR Senior Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

Best for Seniors

  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for joint and bone health
  • Features immune-boosting zinc, Vitamin E, and selenium
  • Balanced amount of protein, fat, and fiber

Just as growing puppies need a diet of nutrient-rich, high-protein chow, senior Aussies require a specialized blend of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and happy throughout old age. This option is rich in joint-supporting glucosamine and chondroitin, which is especially important for older dogs.

It also contains a complex blend of immune-boosting nutrients like zinc and selenium. Though this dry food does contain carbohydrates and grains, it also contains a few ingredients that are rarely found in the standard sack of puppy kibble. Seaweed, taurine, calcium, iron, and copper are just a few of the impressive components of this senior-friendly food.

Pros

  • A complex blend of essential vitamins and nutrients
  • May help reduce joint pain and discomfort in aging dogs
  • Could help improve vision and eye health

Cons

  • Contains rice and carbohydrates

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Gluten-Free

  • Contains pasture-raised venison and bison
  • Has probiotic qualities due to chicory root
  • Immune-boosting vitamins and minerals

Pet parents who are determined to give their dogs the closest in paleo dieting may want to consider this dry food. While it does contain a few naturally carbohydrate-heavy vegetables (such as potatoes), it also consists of 32% crude protein. This natural protein is primarily derived from pasture-raised venison and pasture-raised bison.

In the ancient past, undomesticated wolves would have hunted these two creatures for sustenance. Nowadays, farmers and owners can handle the messy parts and produce a complex dietary blend that’s absolutely grain-free, nutrient-dense, and bound to drive even the calmest Australian shepherd a little wild.

Pros

  • Unique source of animal protein
  • Contains absolutely zero grains
  • Has a small amount of taurine for improved heart health

Cons

  • Contains peas
  • Contains carbohydrates (in the form of potatoes)

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Farm Raised Chicken

Skin Health

  • A non-GMO option
  • Contains chondroitin and glucosamine
  • An excellent source of skin-friendly Vitamin E and biotin

When an Australian shepherd suffers from dry skin, things can get hairy. Not only can they scratch themselves until they begin to bleed, but they can also suffer from hair loss, matted hair, and a brittle, dull coat. To ensure that your dog looks and feels their best, it’s important to take care of their skin and hair.

This tasty dry food contains a variety of skin-friendly vitamins and minerals, helping to prevent dry skin issues and unhealthy coats. It also has a handful of supplements that are imperative to Aussies, including glucosamine for joint and bone health, and zinc for improved immune health. However, it does include gluten and peas.

Pros

  • All ingredients are non-GMO
  • Contains immune-boosting zinc and selenium
  • Heart-healthy omega fatty acids throughout this dry kibble

Cons

  • Not a gluten-free option
  • Contains split peas

Hill’s Prescription Diet Weight & Joint Care Dry Dog Food

Hip & Joint Support

  • Can help overweight dogs lose weight
  • Contains chondroitin and glucosamine
  • A high-fiber option for improved digestion

Hill’s has been offering professional-level dog foods for several years, and the Weight & Joint Care dry food is no exception. It’s a carefully created blend of weight-loss promoting ingredients and joint-cushioning supplements. The result is a dietary product that can help medium-sized Australian shepherds shed their extra weight while regaining their mobility and comfort.

Senior and adult dogs can both benefit from consuming this particular dry food, though the cost might be over-budget for some pet parents. Still, this option isn’t only designed to reduce joint issues. It’s also built to provide pups with a comprehensive range of necessary nutrients, including Vitamin A, biotin, calcium, and beta-carotene.

Pros

  • Brilliantly combined joint care + weight loss for ultimate wellness
  • Provides comprehensive and targeted nutrition
  • Contains L-lysine for improved vision

Cons

  • Is more expensive than other dry dog foods
  • Contains carbohydrates and grains
  • Contains peas

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food

Immune Support

  • Contains zinc and Vitamin E
  • Contains a complex arrangement of B vitamins
  • An overall comprehensive source of vital nutrients

Blue Buffalo is one of the most popular brands of dry dog food, and when you take a long hard look at the ingredients of this particular product, it’s easy to see why. While it does contain a handful of less-than-lovely ingredients (grains and peas), it’s difficult to ignore how many rich, vital nutrients are also included in each tiny bit of kibble.

This dry food has Vitamin E to keep skin healthy, zinc to keep immune systems in tip-top shape, a complex assortment of B vitamins for improved metabolism and digestion, and over a dozen other thoughtful, crucial vitamins and minerals. The balance between these nutrients and the core protein/fat/fiber mix is sublime.

Pros

  • An excellent blend that contains a calcium/phosphorus balance
  • Offers pups two different types of omega fatty acids, plus EPA
  • Has glucosamine and chondroitin for bone and joint health

Cons

  • Contains rice and grains
  • Contains peas and pea starch

Our 2020 Australian Shepherd Feeding Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Aussie dog food. If you cannot find the answer to your question here, be sure to reach out to your local veterinarian for more information.

How Often Should I Feed My Australian Shepherd Puppy?

Puppies require more feedings than older dogs. Pups four months and younger should eat between three and four times a day, but they should only be given small portions during these feedings unless otherwise directed by the veterinarian or manufacturer.

When your adventurous little shepherd reaches five months and beyond, it can be fed twice a day. These ‘adult’ portions should be gradually increased as puppies gain weight and continue to grow. Following the product’s recommended food portioning guide can help ensure that your bounding pup gets all the nutrition they need.

When Should I Switch My Australian Shepherd From Puppy to Adult Food?

Austria shepherd puppies can keep munching down on their specialized puppy chow until they’re about eight months old. However, weight is also a factor to consider. Underweight or struggling pups can continue for another two months on puppy food without suffering any excess weight gain or dietary problems.

Do Australian Shepherds Have Food Allergies?

Like any other canine, Australian shepherds can have food allergies to a wide range of ingredients. However, gluten intolerance is often the most common type of food allergy exhibited by this breed. Grains and complex carbohydrates in general may also cause some dogs to experience digestive problems. Consulting with a veterinarian and eliminating potential allergens is the best way to determine if your Aussie has food allergies.

Conclusion

Now that you’re familiar with almost a dozen high-quality types of Australian shepherd dog food, you can feel confident in providing your pup with the best nutrition and the highest quality of life possible.

Understanding this breed’s key nutritional needs, special dietary requirements, and potential health issues, it’s essential to invest in food that cares just as much for your dog as you do. The products recommended here are top-rated for keeping your Australian shepherd healthy and happy!

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