The Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds

Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherd

What’s the best dog food for an Australian shepherd?

The answer to that critical question depends on the AGE of YOUR particular pet.

That’s because…

Aussie puppies… adults… and seniors EACH have different nutritional needs.

For example…

Adult Aussies can thrive on just about ANY quality dog food… wet or dry.

But…

Aussie puppies have a higher risk1 of developing a crippling form of hip disease… a risk which may increase if they’re fed a diet that contains too much calcium… while they’re growing.2

X-ray of medium or large breed dog with bilateral hip dysplasia
Canine Hip Dysplasia with Joint Damage

What’s more… there are OTHER age-related nutritional differences, too.

For example…

Senior Aussies need more protein… and fewer calories… than younger dogs.

Here’s the point…

Since there are no “official” nutrient standards for ANY breed…

It’s super important to choose a dog food that’s designed to match the nutritional life stage of YOUR particular Aussie.

The 3 Nutritional Life Stages of Australian Shepherds

Since Aussies are considered medium breed dogs, the life stages below can be used as a guide to help you find the best possible food for your dog.

Life Stage Age
Aussie puppy Under 12 to 15 months
Aussie adult Over 12 to 15 months3
Aussie senior Over 7 to 10 years4

Our Top Recommendations

On the page below…

We’ll share The Dog Food Advisor’s safest and most recommended brands… each optimized for the age of your Aussie.

And we’ll also answer the 6 most frequently asked questions we get about feeding Aussies.

The following dog foods are listed in random order. Each was chosen because it meets or exceeds our selection criteria. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a referral fee. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.

Editors Choice | Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds

Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds
September 2021

Here are The Dog Food Advisor’s best dog food brands for Australian Shepherds for September 2021.



Blue Buffalo Life Protection Chicken and Brown Rice Adult Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

Rating:

Chicken and Brown Rice Adult is one of 23 dry recipes rated in our review of the Blue Buffalo product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice, barley, oatmeal)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult Aussies

Blue Life Protection derives the bulk of its animal protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 27% protein, 16% fat and 50% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.

The formula contains no BHA or any other artificial chemical preservatives. It’s fortified with Blue’s proprietary Life Source bits… a specific blend of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals for optimal immune health.

Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “We most recently switched from Purina Pro sensitive stomach meal and Ranger loves it! When he hears that kibble hit his Stainless steel bowl he struts over to the kibble leaving trails of drool. His stool seems to be smaller, which is what I was looking for (less filler)”

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Orijen Regional Red Dog Food Safe for Australian Shepherd Puppies and Adults

Orijen Regional Red

Rating:

Regional Red is one of 9 dry recipes covered in our review of the Orijen product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned beef, deboned wild boar, deboned goat, deboned lamb, lamb liver
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: All Australian shepherds

Orijen Regional Red gets the most of its animal protein from beef, wild boar, goat, lamb, and lamb liver. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 43% protein, 20% fat and 28% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.

A meat-rich, dry kibble made by a top company known for its superior, biologically appropriate designs. A bit pricey… yet still worthy of serious consideration.

Sample buyer review… “We love this food! Ever since we started feeding this, we have noticed our dog has needed to eat less, has more energy and sheds less. We are halfway through our second 13lbs bag and our dog still stands over his bowl, licking his lips while we scoop his favorite food ever!”

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Farmers Dog Fresh Food

The Farmer’s Dog Fresh

Rating:

The Farmer’s Dog Pork recipe is one of 3 fresh humaan-grade recipes covered in our review of the Farmer’s Dog product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Pork, sweet potatoes, potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, pork liver
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: Aussie adults and puppies

The formula derives the bulk of its meat protein from fresh pork. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 39% protein, 25% fat and 28% estimated carbs… which yields a fat-to-protein ratio of about 64%.

The company custom designs each feeding plan based on your dog’s age, weight, breed type, and activity level… and then packages an exact portion size, according to the number of calories needed to keep your dog at ideal weight.

The food is delivered to your door on a flexible schedule. Once inside your home, the product should be stored in your freezer. Then, thawed in your refrigerator… as it’s needed.

The Farmer’s Dog is ideal for those who want to feed a scientifically balanced diet that’s as close to homemade as you can get… yet without all the hard work. A bit pricey, but well worth it. Enthusiastically recommended.

Sample buyer review… “My dog was beginning a downward slope. We decided to make a change to her food…and we chose Farmer’s Dog…The difference is ASTOUNDING. She eats with gusto, her energy levels are back up, her teeth and coat are even better quality…she’s like a whole different dog. I honestly feel that Farmer’s Dog saved her.”

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Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon

Rating:

Southwest Canyon is one of 9 dry recipes analyzed in our review of the Taste of the Wild product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef, peas, garbanzo beans, lamb meal, canola oil
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Profile: All Life Stages
  • Best for: All Australian shepherds

This Taste of the Wild recipe draws much of its meat protein from fresh beef. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 32% protein, 17% fat and 43% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

Available in multiple “flavor” options, Taste of the Wild makes an affordable grain-free option for Australian Shepherds. Super popular. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “My dog loves this food! He eats it enthusiastically and it has really helped him thrive! He is energetic, has a gorgeous coat, and devours his meals!”

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Purina Pro Plan Focus Large Breed Dog Food for Adult Australian Shepherds

Purina Pro Plan Large Breed

Rating:

Large Breed Adult is one of 19 dry recipes evaluated in our review of the Purina Pro Plan product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, rice, corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, poultry by-product meal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (rice, corn, gluten meal, whole grain corn)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult Aussies

This Purina Pro Plan obtains the majority of its meat protein from fresh chicken. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 30% protein, 14% fat and 49% estimated carbs… which creates a fat-to-protein ratio of about 46%.

Even though Aussies are considered medium size dogs, larger kibbles have been scientifically shown to be preferred by animals of all breed sizes.

A classic, grain-inclusive dog food, one of the most frequently recommended brands by vets and professional breeders. Reasonably priced.

Sample buyer review… “Good source of protein for your big dog. It gives him a shiny coat and helps maintain his weight. Huge improvement in his poops from Kibbles n bits. They are more solid as compared to the soupy mess he was making.”

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Victor Senior Dog Food for Older Aussies

Victor Purpose Senior

Rating:

Senior Healthy Weight is one of 6 dry recipes included in our review of the Victor Purpose product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef meal, whole grain brown rice, whole grain millet, grain sorghum, chicken fat
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice, millet, sorghum)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Senior or overweight Aussies

This Victor Purpose recipe acquires the lions share of its animal protein from beef meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 30% protein, 13% fat and 50% estimated carbs… which results in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 43%.

The formula also contains L-carnitine for improved weight control as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints… making this recipe an ideal option for senior Aussies.

Easy on the pocketbook, too. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “My fur babies are from 5 years to 16. They all LOVE IT!. Coat if so shiny, skin allergies have cleared up and I feed a lot less that all the foods with fillers! I HIGHLY reccommend. My dogs have been on everything I can think of but the most expensive brands. Great price for the quality of food. I am hooked. After YEARS of looking, I found my brand!”

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Nutro Ultra Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Nutro Ultra Large Breed

Rating:

Large Breed Adult is one of 10 dry recipes contained in our review of the Nutro Ultra product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult Aussies only (not recommended for puppies)

Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult receives the bulk of its meat protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 26% protein, 13% fat and 53% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 52%.

We’re also pleased to note this formula contains an iron amino acid complex and 2 other chelated minerals for superior absorption and nutrition. Chelated minerals like these are typically found in better quality brands. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “My dog loves this dog food, she’s a very picky eater and actually enjoys this! I love the ingredients listed, it’s hard to find good quality dog food with chicken as the main ingredient! I will be buying this for a long time!”

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Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy Food

Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy

Rating:

Large Breed Puppy is one of 14 dry kibble recipes included in our review of the Wellness Complete Health product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, ground brown rice, salmon meal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice)
  • Profile: Growth
  • Best for: Australian shepherd puppies

Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy acquires most of its animal protein from chicken, chicken meal, and salmon meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 32% protein, 14% fat and 45% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.

We like the inclusion of omega-3, DHA-rich fatty acid from salmon oil… which helps support brain and vision development during growth. This classic, scientifically-designed, grain-inclusive formula also contains just the right amount of calcium to make it an ideal option for for growing Aussie puppies.

Reasonably priced. Highly recommended.

For More Choices: See our Best Puppy Foods page

Sample buyer review… “6 month old lab loves this food. He had been on Purina Pro Plan from the breeder but I wanted to change it up for some higher quality ingredients. He gobbled this down and is so excited to eat. Great weight, energy & shiny healthy coat. Also- the food has no smell which is so nice compared to other dry foods.”

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Iams Proactive Health Lamb and Rice Dog Food

Iams ProActive Health Lamb and Rice

Rating:

Lamb and Rice Adult is one of 12 dry recipes studied in our review of the Iams ProActive Health product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Lamb, brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain barley, ground whole grain corn
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brewers rice, barley, corn)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult Aussies

This Iams ProActive Health formula acquires the majority of its meat protein from fresh lamb and chicken by-product meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 28% protein, 16% fat and 49% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

An affordable, “classic” grain-inclusive design offering multiple recipe and flavor options. A top selection for adult Aussies… popular (for years) with veterinarians and professional breeders. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “My picky eater rescue mix has been hard to please for the 2 years we’ve had her. I’ve tried several brands of food and had settled on Blue Buffalo lamb as I have found she prefers lamb in her food rather than chicken. As time has gone on, she stopped eating the Blue Buffalo. I had to start mixing in wet food, cheese, bacon or anything I could find to get her to eat it. Then we found Iams Lamb and Rice. WOW! She eats ALL of her food happily and I don’t need to mix anything in it. Finally, I have found a food she likes.”

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Merrick Classic Beef and Healthy Grain Dry Dog Food

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Beef

Rating:

Real Beef is one of 5 dry recipes contained in our review of the Merrick Classic product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned beef, pork meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (brown rice, barley, oatmeal)
  • Profile: Maintenance
  • Best for: Adult Australian shepherds

Merrick Healthy Grains Real Beef derives the bulk of its animal protein from fresh beef and pork meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 29% protein, 17% fat and 46% estimated carbs… delivering a fat-to-protein ratio of about 58%.

Not to be confused with Merrick’s grain-free product line. This classic, grain-inclusive design contains absolutely no meat by-products… and no BHA or other cancer-causing synthetic preservatives. Affordably priced. Easily recommended and a top option for adult Aussies.

Sample buyer review… “I spent days researching food for my dog. He is allergic to chicken and turkey and his stomach is so so sensitive. I’ve experienced with many food brands and they didnt work. This has worked wonders for him! He doesnt have rash or upset stomachs anymore. He loves the flavor! This lasts us way longer than other foods we have bought in the past. It’s high quality and works for our little sensitive pup.”

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More Top Recommendations

To view more suggestions for your Australian Shepherd… click the link below that best meets your personal feeding needs.


How to switch to a new food… without making your Aussie sick

In the following video

Dr. Gary Richter, shares a simple feeding tip that can help lower your Aussie’s risk of getting sick… when you decide to switch to a new dog food.


Do Australian Shepherds need special dog food?

The pet food industry has never established any “official” nutrient standards specifically for Australian Shepherds. However, because Aussie puppies, adults and seniors EACH have different nutritional requirements, it’s important to feed a dog food that’s designed to match the life stage of YOUR particular pet.


What’s the best dog food for an Australian Shepherd puppy?

Since they’re known to have a slightly higher risk of developing hip disease, Aussie puppies may benefit from eating foods that contain a more controlled balance of calcium and other nutrients.

So, even though Aussies are considered medium-breed dogs, it’s probably safer to feed your young Aussie a food that’s designed specifically for large breed puppies.

Like (for example) the Wellness Large Breed Puppy food mentioned above.

In addition, you’ll find a complete list of The Dog Food Advisor’s Best Large Breed Puppy Foods here.


When can I safely switch my Australian shepherd puppy to adult food?

Aussie puppies don’t stop growing and aren’t ready to eat regular adult dog food… until they reach the age of 12 to 15 months.5 6 7 Which is why switching your puppy to an adult diet too soon may increase your pet’s risk of developing a crippling form of canine hip dysplasia.


How much food should I feed my Australian shepherd?

A landmark study conducted by researchers at Purina found that dogs fed an amount of food to keep them at ideal body condition lived nearly 2 years longer… than other dogs.8

Since every Aussie is different, it’s impossible to predict the exact serving size that’s “ideal” for each animal.

So, start with the suggested serving size printed on the package. Then, over time, adjust that amount up or down… to reach and keep your Aussie at ideal weight.


What’s the best dog food for a senior Australian shepherd?

According to doctors at VCA Hospitals, larger breed dogs tend to age sooner than smaller breeds. Which is why some Aussies may be considered “senior” at 7 to 10 years of age.

If your Aussie is 7 years (or older), you may wish to visit our best senior dog foods page here for some exceptional recommendations.


A Final Word

The Dog Food Advisor is privately owned. We do not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) and from sellers of perishable pet food when readers click over to their websites from ours. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.

For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.

Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

References

  1. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Australian shepherds have a 6.1% risk of testing positive for abnormal hips
  2. Lauten SD, Nutritional Risks to Large Breed Dogs: From Weaning to the Geriatric Years, Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) 1345–1359.
  3. Royal Canin, When does my puppy become an adult dog?
  4. Lynn Buzhardt, DVM, How Old Is Old? Comparing Dog Age to Human Age
  5. Royal Canine: When does my puppy become an adult dog?
  6. IAMS: How to Transition Your Puppy to Adult Food, IAMS
  7. Purina: When to Switch to Adult Dog Food?
  8. https://www.avma.org/News/Journals/Collections/Documents/javma_220_9_1315.pdf