The Sheltie, or more formally, the Shetland Sheepdog, is a cute pooch best described as playful, energetic, and bright. This little dog is a furry pocket rocket that needs the right fuel to keep him going. But with so many food options out there, how do you know the good from the bad? Here in our ultimate dog food guide, we answer this question and much more.
The Sheltie has three life stages, and he needs slightly different nutrition in each. From puppy to adult to senior, we take you through each stage and show you what ingredients to seek out.
After rounding up all the foodie facts, we have found the best dog food for each Sheltie age group. Now all you need to do is pick the one that suits your Sheltie best.
At a Glance: Top Foods for Shelties
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- Sheltie Puppy Nutrient Needs
- Adult Sheltie Nutrient Needs
- Senior Sheltie Nutrient Needs
- Best Dog Food for Sheltie Puppies
- Best Dog Food for Adult Shelties
- Best Dog Food for Senior Shelties
- Final Thoughts
Sheltie Puppy Nutrient Needs
Sheltie puppies are teeny tiny, but they eventually grow into 15 to 25-pound dogs at maturity. This makes him a small to medium dog. Take a look at his parents, which are a great indicator of whether he’ll be a small Sheltie or a larger one. Most Shelties can eat kibble designed for medium dogs. But if your pup is likely to be a smaller one, you want to feed him a kibble designed for small breeds. Otherwise, the pieces might be too big for him.
It’s super important to feed your Sheltie puppy an age-appropriate food. While some all-life-stage foods state they are appropriate for pups, they aren’t always the best option. If you want to give your Sheltie the best start to life, feed him a high-quality food that provides a well-balanced diet. A baseline for this is the protein content. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that puppies need a minimum protein content of 22%. Meat should always be the first ingredient listed. Puppy foods provide the optimized nutrition for his growing needs.
One of the most important aspects of puppy nutrition is omega fatty acids. They support organ development and are particularly important for cognitive function and eye development. In addition to fuel, omega fatty acids also aid coat health, joints, and overall wellness. Look for food that supplies docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), nutrients found in mothers’ milk. Fish, meat meals, eggs, and fish oils are great sources of these nutrients.
Adult Sheltie Nutrient Needs
At around 12 months, you should switch your Sheltie onto big guy food, namely, adult food. You’ll want to do it slowly to avoid stomach upset, but every dog food has instructions. Adult varieties contain less fat, protein, and energy because the growth period is mostly complete. AAFCO recommends that adult dogs need a minimum protein content of 18%.
By now, you know if your Sheltie is a small or medium pooch. Although the standard is 15 to 25 pounds, some Shelties can be as small as 11 pounds in weight. The most accepted definition of a small dog is one that weighs less than 20 pounds. If he is small, we’d suggest feeding him a food designed for small dogs. And if he is a medium-sized, all-breed size kibble should suffice.
During adulthood, your Sheltie’s nutritional needs focus on a well-balanced diet. High-quality kibbles provide this, and they can be the difference between his best health and mediocre health. He’ll need animal protein, wholesome carbohydrates, fiber, omega fats, vitamins, and minerals. If your Sheltie has a sensitive stomach, we suggest feeding him a limited ingredient diet and consider probiotics to promote healthy bacteria in the gut. Look for dried fermented items in the ingredients list, such as ‘dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product.’
Senior Sheltie Nutrient Needs
Your Sheltie is considered a senior pooch between the ages of seven and eight. So when the time comes, you’ll need to switch him to a senior food. Aging dogs are especially susceptible to sudden food change, so a slow transition is required. Senior dog food contains more vitamins and minerals as his weakening immune system needs extra support to stay fit and healthy. Look for fruits and vegetables, as well as added supplements.
It is important to feed your golden oldie a senior dog food because they contain fewer fats and energy. Senior Shelties are less active in their older years, so it’s crucial to ensure he only eats what he burns. Otherwise, you risk weight gain and the development of weight-related health issues such as diabetes and joint problems. Plus, his stomach might struggle to digest rich food.
Senior kibbles are also higher in glucosamine and chondroitin, and these nutrients support his aching joints. Although he doesn’t carry a lot of weight, Shelties are very active and bouncy throughout their lifetime. His joints have worked hard over the years, so look for ingredients that support joints like meat meals, fish, fish oil, plant oils, green-lipped mussels, and added supplements.
Best Dog Food for Sheltie Puppies
Sheltie puppies need to wean off their mother’s milk at around six weeks of age. When you welcome him into your home, he should already be on the hard stuff. Ask your breeder what he is already eating so that you can either continue this. Or, if you want to switch to another, you’ll need a little of his previous kibble to transition him slowly. Here are our favorite picks for the Sheltie pup.
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.
Taste of the Wild is known for its fantastic recipe flavors, and this is their fish-based option for puppies. Salmon and ocean fish meal are the first two ingredients in this list, with smoked salmon and salmon meal listed further down. The big fishy flavor is bound to drive your Sheltie wild, plus it is full of omega fats that he needs to grow and develop healthily. It is also a chicken-free recipe for those allergic to this commonly used protein.
It offers a high fiber content of 5%, and many probiotic ingredients are listed. With live, naturally occurring microorganisms, his stomach is supported with every bite. Yucca schidigera is also listed, and this helps to reduce stool odor and gas. It is a grain-free recipe with sweet potatoes and peas for slow-release energy sources. Blueberries and raspberries provide antioxidants to support immunity.
We love that this recipe focuses on gut health. With so many probiotic ingredients, you can be sure that the friendly bacteria in his gut thrive.
Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Puppy
- Grain-free dry food for small breed puppies.
- Real deboned chicken as the first ingredient.
- High levels of omega fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin.
- Small kibble size with a crunchy texture to help reduce plaque and keep teeth clean.
- Cooked in the USA.
This recipe is designed specifically for small breed puppies. So if he is likely to be a smaller Sheltie, this could be the best option for him. The kibble pieces are small and crunchy so that he can eat them with ease. This recipe lists potatoes and peas instead of grains, and chicory root helps keep his digestive tract regular. Probiotic ingredients are listed too.
This is a chicken recipe, with deboned chicken and chicken meal being the first two ingredients. Chicken meal, along with flaxseed and salmon oil, provides high levels of glucosamine for growing joints. Apples and blueberries give antioxidants for the immune system, and added vitamins and mineral supplements add an extra support boost.
We love that this recipe has a high content of omega 3 fatty acids. Which is fantastic for his developing needs, plus his coat will look amazing.
American Journey Puppy Recipe
- Grain-free puppy formula.
- No corn, wheat or soy.
- Includes nutritious fruits and vegetables.
- Salmon and Flaxseed oil for Omega fatty acids.
- High-protein to support muscle growth.
- 380 Calories per cup.
- 30% Protein, 12% Fat, 5% Fiber.
This recipe offers a trio of meat proteins, with deboned lamb, chicken meal, and turkey meal listed as the first three ingredients. Menhaden fish meal is also listed, and this contributes to the high protein content of 30%. Combine this with salmon oil, and you’ve got the highest level of glucosamine for his hardworking joints too. Flaxseed takes care of his coat and skin.
This is a grain-free recipe that uses peas and chickpeas as the secondary energy source. Blueberries, carrots, and dried kelp are nutrient-dense and a great source of antioxidants for the immune system and calcium for growing bones. This recipe boasts a long list of probiotic ingredients for gut health. And taurine supports the cardiac system.
We love that this recipe has the highest protein content on this list. Making it is a great option for those who love big meaty taste or larger Shelties with a larger muscle mass.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Formula
- Limited ingredient food.
- Pea and lentil free.
- Farm-raised duck is the first ingredient.
- No corn, wheat, or soy.
- Made in the United States.
- 395 Calories per cup.
- 25% Protein, 12% Fat, 4% Fiber.
This is our favorite pick for those Sheltie pups who have a sensitive digestive system and need extra digestive help. Limited ingredient formulas only include items that are essential, and nothing unnecessary that might cause irritation.
This grain-free and pea-free recipe uses duck as the sole animal protein, with duck and duck meal as the first two ingredients. This makes it simple to digest, and it is chicken-free for those intolerant of this meat. Menhaden fish oil supports his joints and coat. This recipe is also fortified with vitamin and mineral supplements to support a developing immune system.
We love that this recipe is a limited ingredient diet that is the best option for those Shelties with sensitive digestive systems.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy
- Super 7 package with antioxidants.
- DHA for brain health.
- Omega fatty acids for skin & coat.
- No corn, wheat or soy.
- First ingredient is deboned chicken.
- 415 Calories per cup.
- 29% Protein, 17% Fat, 5% Fiber.
This is another kibble aimed at small breed pups who need smaller kibble pieces in their bowl. It is a chicken-based recipe, with deboned chicken and chicken meal listed as the first two ingredients. Menhaden fish meal, egg, and fish oil provide DHA and ARA for cognitive and eye development and other growing needs.
Blue Buffalo has included their exclusive LifeSource Bits into this recipe, containing seven antioxidant-rich nutrients optimized for his puppy life stage. Including blueberries, cranberries, and dried kelp. This is a grain-inclusive formula that uses gentle oatmeal, barley, and brown rice, which are gentle on puppy stomachs. There are a lot of probiotic ingredients to promote friendly bacteria too.
We love that this recipe has the highest fat and calorie count per cup, making it a great option for puppies with crazy energy levels.
Best Dog Food for Adult Shelties
When your Sheltie reaches adulthood, you can feed him adult version of the brand you have been giving. Or, if your circumstances or his dietary needs have changed, you might want to switch to another food altogether. Here are our top picks for adult Shelties.
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.
The Farmer’s Dog’s food is delicious, thanks to the fresh, human-grade ingredients. The first item is always meat, providing protein that’s full of rich nutrients for his skin, coat, and cognitive function.
Wholesome vegetables provide the immune system with antioxidants while protein keeps the bones and teeth strong. While this food is grain-free, mixing in some freshly cooked rice is a great way to add additional carbs and fiber while supporting a healthy balance for your pup’s diet and your wallet! For the adult stage, this is one of the best dog foods for a Sheltie.
We love that this recipe is made with all fresh ingredients and flash-frozen to ship directly to you.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free
- Real meat as the first ingredient.
- Crafted with vitamins and minerals from real fruits and superfoods, omega fatty acids.
- Contains species-specific K9 Strain Proprietary Probiotics, along with antioxidants and prebiotics.
- Made in the USA by a family-owned brand that only uses quality ingredients from trusted and sustainable local and global sources.
This is a different flavor option than the one we chose for the puppy recommendation. This option is the high prairie formula that lists water buffalo, lamb and chicken meal, roasted bison, roasted venison, beef, and ocean fish meal. So it’s safe to say that if your Sheltie loves a meaty taste, he’s going to love this recipe. It offers a high protein content of 32%.
Meat meals and eggs also provide DHA for continued cognitive function. Dried chicory root offers his gut prebiotic fiber, and probiotics further supports his gut. There is a long list of vitamins and minerals for immunity, and blueberries and raspberries add an antioxidant boost. This is a grain-free recipe for those who do better on this diet.
We love that this recipe has many probiotic ingredients that promote gut-friendly bacteria, making the digestive process much easier for sensitive stomachs.
Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato
- Grain-free dry food with chicken for small dogs.
- Real deboned chicken as the first ingredient.
- Formulated with prebiotic and probiotic fiber.
- Made with a crunchy texture in a small kibble size to help reduce plaque and keep teeth clean.
- Cooked in the USA.
This option is the adult version of the puppy kibble we recommend for his first year. So, if he did well on this one as a pup, he should do well on this option as an adult. It has the joint-highest protein content on this list, which is 38%. Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, and turkey meal and salmon meal complete the trio of protein sources for a variety of amino acids.
This is a grain-free recipe that uses sweet potatoes and peas as a nutritious source of energy. Meat meals, chicken fat, and salmon oil support his lively joints and keep his coat glistening. This kibble has the joint-lowest fiber content, making it a good option for dogs who struggle to process too much fiber. Several probiotics also aid in digestion and immunity support.
We love that this recipe is the best option for smaller Shelties who struggle to eat medium/normal-sized kibble pieces.
American Journey Active Life Formula Salmon, Brown Rice & Vegetables
- Provides 25% high-quality protein from real, deboned salmon as the first ingredient.
- Precise blend of nutrients and antioxidants.
- Balanced blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
- No wheat, corn, soy, poultry by-product meals, artificial colors, artificial flavors or artificial preservatives.
We have chosen a different flavor for the adult Sheltie compared to the puppy version. This option is a grain-inclusive formula that uses wholesome brown rice and gentle oatmeal. Many Shelties need grains to remain regular, so this one is a great option for them. The first two ingredients are salmon and menhaden fish meal, providing lots of healthy fats and glucosamine for his joints and coat.
This recipe is a high-fiber diet that many dogs need. Not only does it help some dogs to remain regular. But if your Sheltie seems to be extra hungry in between meals, it helps to keep him feeling fuller for longer. Blueberries, cranberries, and dried kelp are bursting with antioxidants to keep him healthy and fighting fit.
We love that this recipe is a fish-based recipe, which many fussy Shelties love. Plus, it is full of omega fats that are great for his coat and joints.
Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Duck & Potato
- Limited-ingredient dry food for dogs.
- Features farm-raised duck as the first ingredient.
- Crafted to provide the nutrition, quality and taste.
- Does not contain any added peas, pea protein, lentils, legumes, corn, wheat or soy.
- Produced in the USA using the world’s finest ingredients.
This is the same product as our limited ingredient diet puppy recommendation, but the adult version, of course. Shelties are known to have sensitive digestive systems, so this pick suits many of them. Duck is lean and nutritious, and we have stuck with the same flavor to avoid any drastic diet change for sensitive Shelties. The 24% protein content exceeds AAFCO recommendations but isn’t too rich for most to digest.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are the grain replacement, and these provide slow-release energy and fiber to stay regular. Flaxseed and menhaden fish meal nourishes his skin from the inside out and keeps him looking and feeling his best. There are many vitamins and mineral supplements to keep the immune system strong, and taurine looks after heart health.
We love that this recipe is the best option for those with a sensitive digestive tract and need minimal ingredients to avoid stomach upset.
VICTOR Purpose Nutra Pro Dry
- Sourced and Made in the USA.
- Composed of 92% meat protein with premium-quality chicken meal.
- Nutrient-dense recipe that is high in protein and contains low carbs.
- Fortified with vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, protein and amino acids.
- Made from gluten-free grains.
- Unique VPRO Blend.
This is our top pick for those employed Shelties herding all day long. It has the joint-highest protein content of 38%, providing hardworking muscles with energy and amino acids for maintenance. Chicken meal is the first ingredient, and nutritious blood meal is the second. Menhaden fish meal and beef meal provide lots of glucosamine too for his tired joints.
This is a performance kibble, meaning the high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate ratios are optimized for fuel, managing a lean and strong figure. L-carnitine further supports energy and metabolism. This recipe is fortified with antioxidants from organic dried seaweed and carrots, while probiotics help the gut digest this rich and meaty recipe.
We love that this recipe is the best option for working Shelties who spend long hours herding in the field.
Best Dog Food for Senior Shelties
When the time comes to switch your Sheltie to a senior food, you should do it slowly. Senior dogs are more sensitive to diet changes than they were before. Feeding your eldest a senior dog food is a must because it contains a lower fat and energy content to avoid weight gain. As well as take care of his other nutritional needs. Let’s take a look at our top five picks.
Purina Pro Plan Adult 7+ Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice
- Made with high-quality protein, including real chicken as the first ingredient.
- Fortified with guaranteed live probiotics.
- Hard kibble mixed with tender meaty pieces create a delightful experience.
- Shredded Blend Chicken and Rice.
- EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid, and glucosamine help support his joint health and mobility.
Purina Pro Plan has created this kibble with dogs aged seven-plus in mind, which is about the right time to switch your Sheltie across to senior food. Chicken is the first ingredient, and egg products and fish meal also go a long way to providing the DHA and other nutrients he needs. With these, his brain is supported to stay alert and function well in his golden years.
It is a grain-inclusive recipe that uses rice as the main carbohydrate ingredient, with soy, corn, and wheat listed too. This recipe is fortified with probiotic ingredients for his slowing gut health and probiotic fiber too. Vitamin and mineral supplements support his weakening immunity keeping him feeling young and fit.
We love that this recipe has real chicken shreds mixed in with the kibble pieces. This will make Fido feel like he is eating a delicious treat every mealtime.
Merrick Lil' Plates Grain-Free Real Chicken & Sweet Potato Senior
- Grain-free dry food for older dogs of small breeds.
- Features real deboned chicken as the first ingredient.
- Developed with high levels of omega fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin.
- Formed into a small kibble size with a crunchy texture to help reduce plaque and keep teeth clean.
- Cooked in the USA.
This option completes the set that we have chosen for the Sheltie throughout each life stage. This kibble is designed for little guys who need smaller kibble pieces. It has a protein content of 32%, and the first ingredients are chicken and chicken meal. Salmon meal and salmon oil boost the glucosamine levels needed to support his old joints, providing one of the highest levels seen on the market.
This grain-free recipe uses nutritious veggies for the slow-release energy sources, including sweet potatoes and peas. Apples and blueberries, along with several vitamins and minerals supply the strength he needs and supports a weakening immune system. L-carnitine stimulates the metabolism and helps him to digest this rich kibble.
We love that this recipe has the joint-highest protein content on this list, making it a top pick for fussy seniors who love a rich, meaty flavor.
American Journey Senior Recipe
- Grain-free formula.
- MCT’s to support brain health.
- Glucosamine boost for aging joints.
- Antioxidants for immune health.
- No corn, wheat or soy.
- 329 Calories per cup.
- 32% Protein, 10% Fat, 7% Fiber.
This recipe is salmon-based, with salmon listed as the first ingredient. This irresistible fishy taste helps with skin and coat nourishment. Turkey meal and chicken meal follow shortly after, completing the trio of animal protein. These ingredients are rich in glucosamine, contributing to the second-highest content on this list for his aging joints.
This grain-free recipe incorporates sweet potatoes, peas, and chickpeas as the main energy sources. Other ingredients like blueberries, pumpkin, and dried kelp complete the antioxidant requirements. Pumpkin is known for its soothing digestive properties, and a long list of probiotics provide extra gastrointestinal support.
We love that this recipe has the highest fiber content at 7%, making this kibble the best option for Shelties who are forever hungry and need more satisfaction between meals.
Blue Buffalo Senior Dog Food
- No corn, wheat, or soy.
- Glucosamine boost for joint health.
- Vitamins and minerals for immune health.
- Brown rice for easily digestible fiber.
- No poultry by-product meals.
- 371 Calories per cup.
- 23% Protein, 13% Fat, 6% Fiber.
This is the senior version of the puppy recommendation we made earlier in this guide. So, if that was his favorite as a pup, he should do well on it as a senior. Made for small breeds, each kibble piece is manageable for small mouths. This grain-inclusive recipe includes brown rice and oatmeal. It is high in fiber and lists probiotic ingredients for gut health.
This option has the lowest protein content at 23%, which might make this the best pick for those seniors who struggle to digest rich formulas. Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, rich in nutrition and glucosamine for aging joints. Blueberries, cranberries, and turmeric are rich in antioxidants for immunity. And dried kelp assists with bone health.
We love that this recipe is a great pick for small Shelties who need smaller kibble pieces in their bowl.
Nutro Ultra Senior Food
- Limited ingredient food.
- Made from lean animal proteins.
- 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.
This is a new recommendation to the Sheltie mix, but it is a great option for seniors. It is called the ‘superplate’ because it uses a variety of superfoods to strengthen his aging immune system. Ingredients rich in antioxidants include coconut, chia seed, egg product, kale, pumpkin, spinach, blueberries, apples, and carrots.
Chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients, with lamb and salmon meals listed shortly after to complete the trio of proteins. These together ensure that he consumes both rich and lean meats and a variety of amino acids for muscle maintenance. Sunflower oil, flaxseed, and fish oil ensure that he maintains his lustrous coat and keeps his brain alert.
We love that this recipe has the lowest calorie count for those seniors who are far less active than they used to be and need to watch their weight.
So, there you have it, guys and gals! We’ve covered the complete Sheltie selection from puppyhood all the way to the golden years. You are now armed with all the nutritional facts you need so you can make the best decision about what to put in his bowl. And by sticking to our recommendations, you can be sure your Shelties gets the crème of the crop when it comes to dog food. We hope we’ve made it an easier decision for you, and your Shetland Sheepdog will be forever thankful.