Did you recently add an Australian Shepherd to your family? Or maybe your Aussie is moving on from puppyhood to adulthood? In this article, we analyze the best dog food for Australian shepherds at each stage in their life. The Australian Shepherd is a super-intelligent pup, and also just as energetic. As such he will need a high-quality kibble that will provide his active body and mind with all the nutrients it needs.
The Australian Shepherd is a medium-sized dog who will typically weigh anywhere from 40 to 65 pounds at maturity. The Aussie Shep is a relatively healthy dog, and whilst nutrition cannot cure his health concerns, they can certainly help him to be as healthy as he can possibly be, so getting it right is key to a happy and healthy pup!
It’s important to meet your Aussie’s nutritional needs at each stage in life, so we will run through all of them, including puppy, adult and senior life stages, and what nutrients he needs for each. And while an overweight Australian Shepherd is rare, strange things do happen, so we have added a weight management section too! For each life stage we have found some of the best kibbles around to suit all Aussie Shepherds, and their owners’ budget. Let’s jump in!
At A Glance: Our Favorite Foods For The Australian Shepherd
Best For Puppies
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy
Best For Adults
The Farmer’s Dog
Best For Seniors
Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food
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Australian Shepherd Puppy Nutrient Needs
The MSD Veterinary Manual recommends a puppy should be fed a kibble that will provide him with a minimum protein content of 22%, but a seriously active dog such as the Australian Shepherd ideally should be fed a kibble with a minimum protein content of 26%. Look for identifiable meats and meat meals as they are a great source of glucosamine too, which supports his active bones and joints.
It also recommends that his kibble should provide a minimum fat content of 8%, and should consist of omega fatty acids, such as Salmon meals, fish oil, flaxseed, and Chicken fat. Healthy fats have an abundance of benefits, such as healthy and nourished skin and coat, as well optimal cognitive and eye development, and supporting healthy bone growth.
Healthy cognitive and eye function is also supported with amino acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). Vitamins and minerals, either in the form of wholesome fruits and veggies, or added supplements, will also support his developing immune system to keep his body as strong as possible against disease and illness.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to puppyhood is to feed him a formula that is specifically designed for puppies, and steer clear of ‘all life stage’ kibbles. Most high-quality kibbles will provide everything that he needs for his body to develop as he should and set the foundations for a healthy life.
Adult Australian Shepherd Nutrient Needs
Your Australian pup will reach maturity at around the age of 12 to 15 months, so it is around this time that you should wean him off your chosen puppy formula, and gradually switch him to an adult formula.
Aussies should be fed a kibble that will provide him with a protein content of 26%. It is also important that the kibble you feed him will sustain his energetic body throughout the day, so a higher fat content and calorie count compared to other breeds is needed here, especially if he is a working Aussie. Working Aussies could eat as much as 1,400 calories per day.
His distinctive coat needs to be cared for with omega fatty acids such as fish oils, flaxseed and vitamin E, and other vitamins and minerals are required to maintain his strong immunity. During adulthood a well-balanced diet is key.
Senior Australian Shepherd Nutrient Needs
At around the age of 8 or 9 years, the Aussie should be gradually switched to a senior kibble, as these formulas concentrate on the new needs of his aging body. Protein is still the key focus, and a high protein content is ideal for his hardworking muscles.
He will need much less energy than he once needed as an athletic adult, and the fat content should also be lower, because not only does he not need it, but his digestive system cannot breakdown fat as well as it used to. You should aim for around 700 calories in his senior years and adjust according to his own needs.
Now that his bones and joints have undergone years of hard-work and running around, they need to be supported with higher levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, which can be found in meat and fish meals and added supplements.
Best Food For Australian Shepherd Puppies
Australian Shepherd puppies are little balls of fluff when they are young! Once these pups start weening and are old enough to start eating dry kibble, they also turn into little balls of energy. Because they are energetic, they need a dry puppy food formula that will help support their immune system and growth.
Dogs should be on a puppy formula until they reach about 12 to 15 months of age. Any longer than that and you’ll risk your Aussie gaining more weight than you’d like. There are many different brands of puppy food to choose from, and navigating this can be difficult if you are a first-time dog owner. Let’s look at our favorite foods for your Aussie in no particular order below.
Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy
- Real salmon is the first ingredient.
- Grain-free recipe.
- High protein content for muscle growth.
- Antioxidants for immune system health.
- Made in the United States.
- 360 Calories per cup.
- 27% Protein, 15% Fat, 5% Fiber.
This recipe is full of Salmon which most dogs go mad for, so if you have a fussy pup then you can be sure to entice him with this formula. It also means that it is great in nourishing that beautiful coat of his thanks to the fish oils, as well as DHA and ARA nutrients needed for healthy overall development.
It has the lowest protein content on this list, but it exceeds guidelines, and some dogs do much better on a lower protein content, and if you find your Aussie is particularly gassy this might be a better option for him.
We love that this recipe is made with Salmon as the only protein source, which makes it a great alternative to the commonly used poultry ingredients if he is either allergic or a fussy pup.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Rocky Mountain
- Made with red meat.
- Completely free of chicken.
- DHA for brain development.
- Grain-free formula.
- Smaller kibble size for puppies.
- 427 Calories per cup.
- 32% Protein, 16% Fat, 5% Fiber.
This recipe uses red meat as the main source of protein, such as Beef, Lamb and Venison, as well as fish meal. With the second highest protein content on this list it is great for those pups who are super energetic or getting ready to be a working ranch dog when they are older.
It is a grain free formula that instead relies on wholesome veggies for your pup’s energy and fiber, such as peas, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
We love that this recipe includes Blue Buffalo’s exclusive LifeSource Bits, which are cold-formed pieces of kibble that are full of optimized nutrients for puppies.
Canidae Limited Ingredient Puppy
- Contains real chicken as the first ingredient, paired with whole ingredients like sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans, and peas.
- Complete and balanced goodness for older dogs.
- Made using 9 or fewer key ingredients that are easily recognizable, perfect for sensitive dogs.
- Formulated with antioxidants and probiotics to support a healthy digestive and immune system, along with a nutritious blend of vitamins and minerals.
- Premium proteins and regeneratively farmed ingredients nourish pets and the planet.
From their Pure range, this formula comprises of only 9 key ingredients. Chicken, fish meal and dried whole eggs are the main protein sources which fuel your puppy’s muscle growth and maintenance, as well as providing omega fatty acids and DHA and ARA. It has the highest calorie content which is fantastic for puppy growing power and energy needs.
His coat and skin will be nourished with flaxseed too, and it is also grain free and uses potatoes, lentils, and peas for his fiber needs.
We love that this recipe is a limited ingredient formula, so this is great dog food for gassy stomachs.
Nutro Wholesome Puppy Formula
- Real, high-quality chicken is the ingredient.
- Made with non-GMO ingredients.
- No chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat, or soy.
- Omega-3 fatty acids like DHA supports brain and eye development.
- Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin.
- Formulated to support healthy joints.
- Supports healthy immunity with essential antioxidants.
- Made in the USA.
This is the only grain inclusive recipe on this list, using brown rice, gentle oatmeal and rice bran. Despite having the lowest fiber content, it lists dried beet pulp and sweet potato so you can rest assured his digestive tract is still supported.
Chicken and Chicken meal are the first two ingredients for his protein needs, and Chicken fat and fish oil ensure that his eye and cognitive function will develop as they should. This option is also great for those on a smaller budget and is much better quality than others in a similar pricing band.
We love that this recipe has the lowest fiber content for those Aussies who need a low fiber diet.
Wellness Core Grain Free Puppy
- Grain-free formula.
- Made with real chicken and turkey.
- DHA for brain development.
- Gluten-free formula.
- No artificial flavors or preservatives.
- 491 Calories per cup.
- 36% Protein, 18% Fat, 5% Fiber.
This is a grain free recipe, but it has the highest fiber content which is great for those pups who do better on such a diet, or those hungry pups who are always looking for food, as it will keep them feeling fuller for longer. Wholesome veggies such as peas, potatoes and lentils provide fiber and energy, and each piece is covered in acticoat which is a probiotic solution that promotes a healthy gut flora.
Chicken, Chicken meal and Turkey meal are the first three ingredients in this protein rich recipe for higher energy pups. Salmon oil provides DHA for overall development, and antioxidants from bananas, spinach, broccoli, and blueberries support his immune system.
We love that this recipe is great for those bigger Aussies who are estimated to be 50+ pounds, as it will support his larger bones and joints with controlled calcium and phosphorus levels.
Best Food for Adult Australian Shepherds
As the Aussie reaches anywhere from 12 to 15 months of age, it will be time to transition them to an adult formula dry kibble. You’ll want to do this gradually so you don’t cause your pup to suffer through an upset stomach. Australian Shepherds always have good amounts of energy, so you typically don’t have to worry about them getting overweight.
With that being said, don’t let them linger on a puppy food too long or the extra calories will eventually start to add up. Seeing as your Aussie will spend a good portion of their life eating an adult formula food, you’ll want to make sure it’s something they like as Aussies can be particular about their food. If you have a picky Aussie, there are foods formulated for that, or you can always add a topper. Below are our favorite dog foods for adult Aussies, in no particular order.
The Farmer's Dog
- Cooked fresh, flash-frozen, and shipped to you.
- Personalized meal plans.
- 4 healthy, vet-designed options: beef, chicken, turkey, or pork.
- Made with human-grade ingredients (no fillers or preservatives).
- Manufactured in the United States.
- Calories and nutritional values vary based on recipe.
This formula is packed full of healthy, human-grade ingredients and customized to your dog’s unique needs. And if your dog prefers one or two meats over the rest, you can choose from chicken, beef, pork, and turkey, or mix a few different flavors in to add variety.
Each recipe also includes a special blend of vitamins, minerals, and probiotics to nourish the skin and coat while also making for easy digestion. If you prefer to include grains in your dog’s food, you can also stretch the food and your budget a bit further by making rice or quinoa at home to mix into each bowl.
We love that this recipe is customized to meet your Aussie’s unique dietary needs while also providing formulas that are literally good enough for you to eat!
Instinct Raw Boost Salmon Adult Recipe
- 72% real animal ingredients and nutritious oils, 28% vegetables, fruits, and other wholesome ingredients.
- Responsibly sourced wild-caught salmon is the #1 ingredient.
- High protein dog food made with probiotics to support healthy digestion and omegas for skin & coat.
- No grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meals, artificial colors, or preservatives.
- Every piece of kibble is coated in freeze-dried raw for nutrition and taste.
- Made in the USA with the finest ingredients from around the world.
Salmon, white fish meal, menhaden fish meal and herring meal are the main protein sources, and along with freeze-dried cod, beef, beef liver, beef heart, beef kidney and beef spleen you can be sure that this recipe is super tasty and nutritious. Great for fussy Aussies, this recipe also has freeze-dried raw toppers in addition to the kibble pieces.
The fish ingredients provide plenty of omega fatty acids, which means his coat will be shiny and luxuriously nourished, and his heart and cognitive function cared for. Apples, cranberries, and a list of vitamins and minerals look after his immune health, and pumpkin seeds and chickpeas provide energy.
We love that this recipe has a very high protein and fat content, which is great for energetic Aussies, and it also has the highest calorie count to keep him going all day.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult
- Grain-free formula.
- No by-product meals.
- No corn, wheat or soy.
- No artificial preservatives.
- Rich in antioxidants & healthy carbohydrates.
- 409 Calories per cup.
- 34% Protein, 15% Fat, 6% Fiber.
Following on from the Wilderness puppy formula, this recipe uses deboned Beef and fish meal as the first two ingredients, with deboned Lamb and Venison listed further down. Blueberries, cranberries and added vitamin supplements keep him fighting fit.
This is a grain free recipe and peas and sweet potatoes provide healthy complex carbohydrates that are gentle on his digestive system, and probiotic ingredients such as lactobacillus acidophilus help to support a healthy gut flora.
We love that this recipe is Chicken and poultry free, which is great for those Aussies who are allergic to, or simply do not like, poultry ingredients.
Sport Dog Herding Dog Elite Series
- 1st ingredient: high protein, easily-digestible, lean Buffalo Meal.
- 30% protein, 15% fat, 460 kcal/Cup, 89% from animal protein.
- High natural taurine from animal sources.
- Grain-free with no peas, lentils, or beans.
- Pumpkin to regulate digestion, ensure firm stool.
- Trumune, 100% natural yeast culture, has been proven to help manage stress, inflammation, and sensitive stomachs.
This is a lesser known brand, but one that only uses the best ingredients like our other recommendations. It is designed with the herding dog in mind, and Buffalo meal, Pork meal and Catfish meal provide a lot of glucosamine for hardworking joints, and omega fatty acids too.
Kelp meal and cassava root provide calcium to keep his bones strong, and coconut oil will keep his coat nourished. Dried pumpkins, carrots, blueberries and cranberries provide fiber and antioxidants that dogs cannot get from meat alone.
We love that this recipe is designed specifically with the herding dog in mind, and it has optimized protein and fat ratios, as well as being full of energy.
Wellness Core Adult Recipe
- Grain-free recipe.
- Made with deboned turkey.
- Probiotics for digestion.
- Omega fatty acids for skin and coat.
- No soy, corn, or artificial ingredients.
- 421 Calories per cup.
- 34% Protein, 16% Fat, 4% Fiber.
Following on from the puppy formula, this poultry protein rich kibble provides the second highest protein content on this list and is specifically made for larger dogs. Each kibble piece is covered in their acticoat solution which supports a healthy gut flora.
It also has the lowest fat content, calories per cup and a high fiber content, which might make this kibble the better option if your adult is putting on a little chub but not enough to warrant a weight management kibble. This recipe is also full of antioxidants and omega fatty acids.
We love that this recipe is specifically designed for larger breeds, and if this is your Aussie then he might do better on such a recipe whereby calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine, and chondroitin levels are optimized.
Best Food For Senior Australian Shepherds
As your Aussie enters into their senior years, you’ll need to ensure that they transition to a food with a lower calorie count that’s boosted with antioxidants. Australian Shepherds aren’t known for becoming overweight naturally, but as their metabolism slows down, you’ll still want to monitor their food intake if their energy and activity levels start to drop.
Senior dogs of all breeds need an antioxidant boost in their foods to strengthen their immune system. They also need additional joint support through a boost in glucosamine. While Aussies aren’t notorious for Hip Dysplasia like other breeds, you’ll still want to ensure they have the nutrients they need to move freely about the home. Below you’ll find our favorite foods for Senior Australian Shepherds in no particular order.
Nutro Ultra Senior Formula
- Limited ingredient food.
- Made from lean animal proteins.
- Contains glucosamine boost for seniors.
- No artificial colors or flavors.
- Omega fatty acids for skin & coat health.
- 316 Calories per cup.
- 26% Protein, 11% Fat, 4% Fiber.
Chicken, Chicken meal, Lamb meal and Salmon meal provide a trio of protein sources for his muscles, overall energy, and taste buds. It also provides those all-important levels of glucosamine.
Dried coconut, kale, pumpkin, spinach, blueberries, and apples offer exotic fruits and fibers for his immunity, oxidative state, and overall senior nutritional needs. This is also a grain inclusive recipe.
We love that this recipe has a vast variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which is why it is called the superfood plate.
Nulo Senior Recipe
- Made from low glycemic ingredients.
- Grain-free formula.
- DHA for brain development.
- Contains vegetables for antioxidants.
- Probiotics for gut health.
- 424 Calories per cup.
- 30% Protein, 16% Fat, 4.5% Fiber.
This recipe has a high protein content and low glycemic ingredients, which is great for active Aussies that need energy, but want an easy-to-digest recipe. Probiotic solutions are added to this recipe to soothe his aging gut.
Sweet potatoes, chickpeas and lentils replace grains for energy and fiber, which also help him to feel fuller for longer. Trout, Turkey meal and Salmon meal provide plenty of omega fatty acids. This food is stacked with glucosamine for his aging joints.
We love that this recipe uses alternative protein sources such as deboned Trout, Turkey and Salmon, which makes this a great option for those fussy or intolerant Aussies.
Science Diet Youthful Vitality
- Antioxidants boost immune health.
- Omega fatty acids for skin and coat health.
- L-carnitine for muscle retention.
- Easy to digest formula.
- Veterinarian endorsed brand.
- 363 Calories per cup.
- 19% Protein, 11% Fat, 3% Fiber.
This recipe has a lower protein content, which many older dogs do much better on, so this might be a better option for an inactive Aussie, but Chicken is still the first ingredient. Egg product and fish oils promote cognitive function.
A variety of vitamin and mineral supplements boost his weaker immune system, and flaxseed and omega acids nourish his coat and skin. This is a grain inclusive option.
We love that this recipe has the lowest fiber content for those Aussies who do much better on a less fibrous diet.
Merrick Senior Recipe
- Glucosamine boost.
- Deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
- L-Carnitine for metabolism boost.
- Made in the United States.
- 372 Calories per cup.
- 32% Protein, 12% Fat, 3.5% Fiber.
This grain free recipe has the highest protein content with deboned Chicken, Chicken meal and Salmon meal listed as the first three ingredients. Not only does this provide essential muscle maintenance but it also provides glucosamine and chondroitin for his hardworking body.
Sweet potatoes, peas and apples provide his body with healthy fibers for his digestive tract, and his immune system with antioxidants. Omega fatty acids are present with Salmon oils and Chicken fat, whilst also listing L-carnitine to support his aging metabolism.
We love that this recipe offers leading levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for his aging bones and joints.
Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Senior
- Made with only 9 real food ingredients.
- Grain-free and made without corn, wheat or soy.
- Contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
- Fortified with Canidae’s HealthPLUS probiotics, antioxidants and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids.
- Manufactured in United States.
Chicken, Chicken meal and Turkey meal are the first three ingredients which provide plenty of protein and glucosamine for his aging joints, whilst still providing a high energy content which is great for those more active seniors.
Sweet potatoes, beans and peas replace the need for grains, and ensure his digestive system has enough fiber to function as it should. Taurine and other added vitamins and minerals are listed for his immunity and aging body.
We love that this recipe is a limited ingredient list which is great for those seniors who have a super sensitive stomach.
Food For Overweight Australian Shepherds
It’s very rare for an Aussie to become overweight as they are super active and more interested in working or training than eating or resting. But if your Aussie becomes overweight it is important to switch him to a weight control dry dog food to prevent him from becoming obese. Unnecessary weight comes with added health risks, so be sure to tackle it as soon as you notice it.
Wellness Core Reduced Fat Formula
- Premium protein expertly balanced with nutrient-rich superfoods for a complete and balanced dog food.
- Available in grain and grain-free recipes, as well as limited ingredient diets for dogs with food sensitivities.
- Made with a high concentration of protein from fresh meat ingredients.
- Guaranteed levels of omega fatty acids from ingredients such as flaxseed and salmon oil.
- Supported by omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, probiotics, and taurine for a healthy heart.
- Made in the USA using globally-sourced, non GMO ingredients.
This recipe focuses on providing high protein content which is important for the energetic Aussie, whilst reducing the fat content by 25%. The protein content is 33%, the fat content is 10% and the calorie count per cup is 360. It does so by providing a very high fiber content of 12%, which will keep him feeling fuller for longer, and is grain free.
We love Wellness Core’s reduced fat formula. The reduction in calories will ensure that you can get your Aussie’s weight under control.
Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight
- Grain-free formula.
- Doesn’t sacrifice protein content.
- Promotes an ideal body weight.
- Free of corn, soy, wheat, or by-products.
- 353 Calories per cup.
- 30% Protein, 10% Fat, 10% Fiber.
This recipe lists grains such as brown rice and oatmeal to keep him feeling fuller for longer, as well as peas and potatoes. The protein content is 20%, the fat content is 9%, fiber content is 10% and the calorie count is 326. It also lists L-carnitine which supports his metabolism.
We love the Blue Buffalo healthy weight formula for many different breeds. It holds it’s own as one of the dog food titans when compared to other brands.
The Australian Shepherd is a super active pup whose nutrition needs to focus on protein, energy, and digestive health as he is known to suffer from a sensitive stomach. After reading our comprehensive guide, we hope you feel good about finding the best food for your Australian Shepherd. By sticking to our recommendations above and both you, and your Aussie, should be both healthy and happy.