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Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds

Mike Sagman  Julia Ogden

By

Mike Sagman
Mike Sagman

Mike Sagman

Founder

Dr Mike Sagman is the creator of the Dog Food Advisor. He founded the website in 2008, after his unquestioning trust in commercial dog food led to the tragic death of his dog Penny.

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&
Julia Ogden
Julia Ogden

Julia Ogden

Content Director

Julia is the content director at the Dog Food Advisor and responsible for the overall strategy of the website.

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Updated: May 22, 2024

Verified by Laura Ward

Laura Ward

Laura Ward

Pet Nutritionist

Laura studied BSc (Hons) Animal Science with an accreditation in Nutrition at the University of Nottingham, before working for eight years in the pet food and nutrition industry.

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Laura Ward

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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 StageAge
Aussie puppyUnder 12 to 15 months
Aussie adultOver 12 to 15 months3
Aussie seniorOver 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 Dog Food Advisor - Editor's choice

Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds July 2024

Here are The Dog Food Advisor's best dog food brands for Australian Shepherds for July 2024.

  • 1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection

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    Chicken and Brown Rice Adult is one of 21 dry recipes rated in our review of the Blue Buffalo product line.

    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.

    Read our review of the full Blue Buffalo Dog Food range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 27
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult Aussies

    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)."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 2. Orijen Regional Red

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

    Orijen Regional Red gets the most of its animal protein from beef, wild boar, lamb, pork, and beef 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.

    Read our review of the full Orijen Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Beef, wild boar, lamb, pork, beef liver
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 43
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For All Australian Shepherds

    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!"

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 3. The Farmer's Dog Fresh

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    Pork Recipe is one of 4 fresh human-grade formulas covered in our review of The Farmer’s Dog product line.

    The formula derives the bulk of its meat protein from fresh pork. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 28% fat and 28% estimated carbs… which yields a fat-to-protein ratio of about 78%.

    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.

    Read our review of the full The Farmer’s Dog (Fresh) range here

    Main Ingredients Pork, sweet potatoes, potatoes, green beans, cauliflower
    Type Grain-free, fresh
    Protein Percentage 36
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Aussie adults and puppies

    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."

    Read more buyer reviews at TheFarmersDog.com
  • 4. Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon

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

    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.

    Read our review of the full Taste of the Wild Dog Food range here

    Main Ingredients Beef, peas, garbanzo beans, lamb meal, canola oil
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 32
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For All Australian Shepherds

    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!"

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 5. Nutro Ultra Large Breed

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    Large Breed Adult is one of 9 dry recipes contained in our review of the Nutro Ultra product line.

    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 24% protein, 14% fat and 53% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.

    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.

    Read our review of the full Nutro Ultra Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, whole grain sorghum, whole grain barley
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 24
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult Aussies only (not recommended for puppies)

    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!"

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 6. Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy

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    Large Breed Puppy is one of 13 dry kibble recipes included in our review of the Wellness Complete Health product line.

    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.

    Read our review of the full Wellness Complete Health Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, ground brown rice, salmon meal
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 32
    AAFCO Standards Growth
    Best For Australian Shepherd Puppies

    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."

  • 7. Iams ProActive Health Lamb & Rice

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

    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.

    Read our review of the full Iams Proactive Health Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Lamb, brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, ground whole grain barley, ground whole grain corn
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 28
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult Aussies

    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."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 8. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Beef

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    Real Beef is one of 13 dry recipes contained in our review of the Merrick Classic product line.

    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.

    Read our review of the full Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned beef, pork meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 29
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult Australian Shepherds

    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 doesn't 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."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Final word

The Dog Food Advisor does 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.

Sources

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.






8: https://www.avma.org/News/Journals/Collections/Documents/javma_220_9_1315.pdf

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