12 Best Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds: Top Picks & a Nutrition Guide

Australian Shepherds are energetic companions, famous for their intelligence and agility. Originating from the western United States, these dogs have become beloved family members worldwide. This breed’s high energy levels demand quality nutrients to maintain their active lifestyle.

With the overwhelming number of dog food options available, choosing the right one can be daunting. In this guide, I’ll walk you through the best dog food for Australian Shepherd. Whether you’re a new Australian Shepherd owner or looking to switch up your dog’s diet, this article will steer you in the right direction for your dog’s optimal health and happiness.

Top Pick: Orijen Regional Red

When it comes to feeding an Australian Shepherd, my top pick is undoubtedly Orijen Regional Red. This choice stems from its impressive high-protein content and the variety of quality meat sources it offers, perfectly aligning with the energetic lifestyle of an Aussie.

The grain-free formula of Orijen Regional Red caters to dogs with sensitivities, ensuring a nutritious meal without the worry of common allergens. I’ll discuss the specifics later, covering its ingredients and benefits in detail, ensuring you understand why it’s my top choice for Australian Shepherds.

Best Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds

PRODUCTOVERVIEWPRICE

ORIJEN Regional Red
— Top Pick

ORIJEN REGIONAL RED Dry Dog Food, Grain Free and Poultry Free Dog Food, Fresh or Raw Ingredients, 23.5lb
  • High-protein content from diverse meat sources
  • Grain-free formula suitable for dogs with sensitivities
  • Includes whole prey ratios to mimic a natural diet
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Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula 

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Brown Rice 30-lb
  • Real chicken as the primary ingredient
  • Includes LifeSource Bits for antioxidants
  • A balanced diet with wholesome grains
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Purina Pro Plan Adult Large Breed

Purina Pro Plan High Protein, Digestive Health Large Breed Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Rice Formula - 34 Lb. Bag
  • Specially formulated for large breeds
  • Contains high-quality protein from real chicken
  • Enhanced with glucosamine and EPA for joint health
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Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy 

 

Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Dry Dog Puppy Food with Grains, Natural Ingredients, Made in USA with Real Meat (Puppy, Chicken, Salmon & Rice, 30-Pound Bag)
  • Formulated for large breed puppies
  • High in protein for growth and development
  • Includes DHA for brain and eye health
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IAMS Proactive Health Minichunks Small Kibble

IAMS Adult Minichunks Small Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food with Real Chicken, 30 lb. Bag,(Packaging may vary)
  • Small kibble size perfect for smaller mouths
  • Enhanced with a blend of fiber and prebiotics for digestive health
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient for muscle support
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Nutro Ultra Large Breed

NUTRO ULTRA Adult Large Breed High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken Lamb and Salmon, 30 lb. Bag
  • High protein blend tailored for large breeds
  • Combination of chicken, lamb, and salmon
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
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CANIDAE All Life Stages 

Canidae All Life Stages Premium Wet Dog Food for All Breeds, All Ages, Chicken & Rice Recipe, 13 oz. (Case of 12)
  • Suitable for dogs of all life stages
  • Simple recipe with chicken and rice for easy digestion
  • Free of corn, wheat, and soy
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Nulo Freestyle Senior Grain-Free
— Best for Seniors

Nulo Senior Grain Free Dog Food With Glucosamine And Chondroitin (Trout And Sweet Potato Recipe, 11Lb Bag), Model:Senior Trout & Sweet Potato
  • Grain-free formula, ideal for seniors with sensitivities
  • High-quality trout as the primary protein source
  • Enhanced with L-carnitine to support metabolism
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Merrick Classic Healthy Grains

Merrick Healthy Grains Premium Adult Dry Dog Food, Wholesome And Natural Kibble With Beef And Brown Rice - 25.0 lb. Bag
  • Real deboned beef for high-quality protein
  • Healthy grains, including brown rice and barley
  • Contains omega fatty acids for skin and coat health
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Diamond Naturals 

 

Diamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food Lamb Meal and Rice Formula Made with Lamb Protein, Probiotics and Essential Nutrients to Support Balanced and Overall Health 20LB
  • Lamb meal as a novel protein source
  • Includes probiotics for digestive health
  • Formulated with antioxidants for immune support
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Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult

Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Large & Giant Breed Adult Recipe, 30-Pound Bag
  • Formulated specifically for large and giant breeds
  • Contains prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes
  • Chicken meal and oatmeal for sustained energy
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Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Sensitive Stomach

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Dog Food Salmon and Rice Formula - 30 lb. Bag
  • Formulated for dogs with sensitive skin and stomachs
  • Salmon is the primary protein source
  • Contains easily digestible oatmeal
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1. Orijen Regional Red

Orijen REGIONAL RED Dry Dog Food, Grain Free and Poultry Free Dog Food, Fresh or Raw Ingredients, 23.5lb

Key Features

  • High-protein content from diverse meat sources
  • Grain-free formula suitable for dogs with sensitivities
  • Includes whole prey ratios to mimic a natural diet

First 3 Ingredients

  • Beef
  • Wild boar
  • Lamb

As a devoted Australian Shepherd owner, finding dog food that meets the high energy demands of my active companions is always my priority. Orijen Regional Red has been a game-changer in this regard. The varied protein sources, including beef, wild boar, and goat, provide the muscle-supporting nutrients essential for an Aussie’s active lifestyle. Its grain-free composition is a relief, especially for dogs with sensitive stomachs. 

What I Like

  • High-quality protein sources
  • Grain-free for sensitive dogs
  • Mimics a natural canine diet

What I Don’t Like

  • Can be pricey
  • Not suitable for dogs with specific meat allergies
  • Might be too rich for some dogs
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2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Brown Rice 30-lb

Key Features

  • Real chicken as the primary ingredient
  • Includes LifeSource Bits for antioxidants
  • A balanced diet with wholesome grains

First 3 Ingredients

  • Deboned chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Brown rice

Finding the right balance of nutrients for an Australian Shepherd can be challenging, but the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula strikes that balance beautifully. It’s the harmony of real chicken, wholesome grains like brown rice and barley, and the unique inclusion of LifeSource Bits – a precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

This formula supports the immune system and provides a well-rounded diet, making it a great choice for maintaining the health and vitality of my Australian Shepherds. It’s a product that aligns well with my desire to provide a nutritious yet delicious meal.

What I Like

  • High-quality chicken for protein
  • Includes whole grains for sustained energy
  • Enhanced with vitamins and antioxidants

What I Don’t Like

  • Some dogs may be sensitive to grains
  • Contains chicken meal as a secondary protein source
  • Might not suit dogs with specific poultry allergies
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3. Purina Pro Plan Adult Large Breed Chicken & Rice Formula

Purina Pro Plan High Protein, Digestive Health Large Breed Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Rice Formula - 34 Lb. Bag

Key Features

  • Specially formulated for large breeds
  • Contains high-quality protein from real chicken
  • Enhanced with glucosamine and EPA for joint health

First 3 Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Rice
  • Whole grain wheat

When it comes to feeding my Australian Shepherds, Purina Pro Plan’s focus on large breeds is a major plus. The real chicken provides the high-quality protein necessary for maintaining lean muscle mass. What’s particularly beneficial for Aussies, especially as they grow older, is the addition of glucosamine and EPA, crucial for joint health. Given their active nature, maintaining joint health is vital, and this formula addresses that need effectively.

What I Like

  • Tailored for large breed nutritional needs
  • Supports joint health
  • High-quality chicken is the main protein source

What I Don’t Like

  • Contains grains, not suitable for all dogs
  • Includes chicken by-product meal
  • Some dogs might not prefer the taste
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4. Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy Recipe

Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Dry Dog Puppy Food with Grains, Natural Ingredients, Made in USA with Real Meat (Puppy, Chicken, Salmon & Rice, 30-Pound Bag)

Key Features

  • Formulated for large breed puppies
  • High in protein for growth and development
  • Includes DHA for brain and eye health

First 3 Ingredients

  • Deboned chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Peas

Raising Australian Shepherd puppies requires attention to their rapid growth and development. That’s where Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy Recipe comes in. Its high protein content from deboned chicken ensures my puppies get the necessary nutrients for muscle development. The inclusion of DHA is another aspect I appreciate, as it supports brain and eye health, crucial during the formative puppy years.

What I Like

  • High protein content for growing puppies
  • Includes DHA for developmental health
  • Tailored for large breed puppy needs

What I Don’t Like

  • Includes peas, which may not suit all puppies
  • Higher price point compared to some other brands
  • Some puppies may have sensitivities to chicken
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5. IAMS Proactive Health Minichunks Small Kibble

IAMS Adult Minichunks Small Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food with Real Chicken, 30 lb. Bag,(Packaging may vary)

Key Features

  • Small kibble size perfect for smaller mouths
  • Enhanced with a blend of fiber and prebiotics for digestive health
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient for muscle support

First 3 Ingredients

  • Lamb
  • Brown rice
  • Chicken by-product meal

IAMS Proactive Health Minichunks has been a great find, especially for my friend’s Australian Shepherd because it prefers a smaller kibble. The small size makes it easier for them to eat, while real chicken supports their muscular physique. I particularly appreciate the blend of fiber and prebiotics, which aids in maintaining a healthy digestive system – a must for any active dog.

What I Like

  • Small kibble size for easy eating
  • High-quality chicken for protein
  • Supports digestive health

What I Don’t Like

  • Contains grains, which might not suit all dogs
  • The use of corn and sorghum as fillers
  • Might not be rich enough for very active dogs
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6. Nutro Ultra Large Breed High Protein Dog Food

NUTRO ULTRA Adult Large Breed High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken Lamb and Salmon, 30 lb. Bag

Key Features

  • High protein blend tailored for large breeds
  • Combination of chicken, lamb, and salmon
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

First 3 Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Whole-grain brown rice

Nutro Ultra’s high protein blend is a perfect match for Australian Shepherds’ dietary needs. The combination of chicken, lamb, and salmon offers a rich and varied source of proteins for their active lifestyle. I’m particularly thrilled that it’s free from artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, ensuring a natural and healthy diet.

What I Like

  • A variety of protein sources
  • Free from artificial additives
  • Tailored for large breed requirements

What I Don’t Like

  • Includes grains, which may not suit every dog
  • Relatively higher cost
  • Some dogs may not like the taste of lamb or salmon
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7. CANIDAE All Life Stages Chicken & Rice Formula

Canidae All Life Stages Premium Wet Dog Food for All Breeds, All Ages, Chicken & Rice Recipe, 13 oz. (Case of 12)

Key Features

  • Suitable for dogs of all life stages
  • Simple recipe with chicken and rice for easy digestion
  • Free of corn, wheat, and soy

First 3 Ingredients

  • Chicken
  • Chicken broth
  • Chicken liver

CANIDAE All Life Stages is a versatile choice that I’ve found to be suitable for my Australian Shepherds at different ages. Its simple chicken and rice formula is great for easy digestion, which is beneficial for Aussies with sensitive stomachs. The absence of corn, wheat, and soy is a big plus, catering to dogs with specific grain sensitivities.

What I Like

  • Versatile for all life stages
  • Simple ingredients for better digestion
  • Free of common allergens like corn and wheat

What I Don’t Like

  • Protein levels might not be sufficient for highly active dogs
  • Limited variety of protein sources
  • Some dogs might find the flavor bland
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8. Nulo Freestyle Senior Grain-Free Trout & Sweet Potato Recipe — Best for Seniors

Nulo Senior Grain Free Dog Food With Glucosamine And Chondroitin (Trout And Sweet Potato Recipe, 11Lb Bag), Model:Senior Trout & Sweet Potato

Key Features

  • Grain-free formula, ideal for seniors with sensitivities
  • High-quality trout as the primary protein source
  • Enhanced with L-carnitine to support metabolism

First 3 Ingredients

  • Deboned trout
  • Turkey meal
  • Salmon meal

For my senior Australian Shepherds, the Nulo Freestyle Senior formula has been a blessing. The grain-free recipe, centered around trout and other fish proteins, provides the necessary nutrients without causing digestive upset. I especially value the addition of L-carnitine in this formula, which helps in maintaining a healthy metabolism, a crucial factor for older dogs who may be less active.

What I Like

  • Grain-free for sensitive older dogs
  • Quality fish proteins for lean muscle
  • Includes L-carnitine for metabolic health

What I Don’t Like

  • Fish-based protein might not appeal to all dogs
  • Pricier than some other senior formulas
  • Limited carbohydrate sources
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9. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Beef & Brown Rice Recipe

Merrick Healthy Grains Premium Adult Dry Dog Food, Wholesome And Natural Kibble With Beef And Brown Rice - 25.0 lb. Bag

Key Features

  • Real deboned beef for high-quality protein
  • Healthy grains, including brown rice and barley
  • Contains omega fatty acids for skin and coat health

First 3 Ingredients

  • Deboned beef
  • Pork meal
  • Brown rice

The Merrick Classic Healthy Grains formula has struck the right chord with my Australian Shepherds, thanks to its real deboned beef and wholesome grains. The brown rice and barley provide energy, essential for an active breed like Aussies. Additionally, the omega fatty acids in this formula are fantastic for maintaining a healthy skin and lustrous coat.

What I Like

  • High-quality beef as the main ingredient
  • Includes healthy grains for sustained energy
  • Omega fatty acids for skin and coat health

What I Don’t Like

  • May not be suitable for grain-sensitive dogs
  • Beef as a single protein source may not suit all dietary needs
  • Some dogs might prefer a poultry-based protein
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10. Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula

Diamond Naturals Adult Dry Dog Food Lamb Meal and Rice Formula Made with Lamb Protein, Probiotics and Essential Nutrients to Support Balanced and Overall Health 20LB

Key Features

  • Lamb meal as a novel protein source
  • Includes probiotics for digestive health
  • Formulated with antioxidants for immune support

First 3 Ingredients

  • Lamb meal
  • Ground white rice
  • Cracked pearled barley

Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice Formula has been a go-to for Australian Shepherd owners, especially those who prefer lamb. The lamb meal provides a novel protein source, which is great for dogs sensitive to more common proteins like chicken. The probiotics and antioxidants in the formula are a thoughtful addition, supporting both digestive and immune health.

What I Like

  • Novel protein source for protein diversification
  • Probiotics for digestive wellness
  • Antioxidant-rich for immune support

What I Don’t Like

  • Meal-based protein rather than whole meat
  • Contains grains, which may not be suitable for all dogs
  • Some dogs might not favor the taste of lamb
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11. Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Chicken Meal & Oatmeal Recipe

Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food, Large & Giant Breed Adult Recipe, 30-Pound Bag

Key Features

  • Formulated specifically for large and giant breeds
  • Contains prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes
  • Chicken meal and oatmeal for sustained energy

First 3 Ingredients

  • Chicken meal
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal

The Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed formula is tailored to meet the specific needs of breeds like Australian Shepherds. What stands out for me is the focus on digestive health, as it contains prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. In addition, the chicken meal and oatmeal balance protein and carbohydrates for sustained energy throughout the day.

What I Like

  • Specific formulation for large breeds
  • Focus on digestive health
  • Balanced protein and carbohydrate content

What I Don’t Like

  • Chicken meal rather than whole chicken
  • May not be suitable for dogs with grain sensitivities
  • Some dogs might require a higher protein content
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12. Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Sensitive Stomach

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach Dog Food Salmon and Rice Formula - 30 lb. Bag

Key Features

  • Formulated for dogs with sensitive skin and stomachs
  • Salmon is the primary protein source
  • Contains easily digestible oatmeal

First 3 Ingredients

  • Salmon
  • Rice
  • Barley

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach formula is a reliable choice for Australian Shepherds with sensitive skin and stomachs. The primary ingredient, salmon, provides high-quality protein and omega fatty acids, which are great for skin health. In addition, oatmeal, known for its digestibility, ensures this food is gentle on the stomach, making it a great option for Aussies with dietary sensitivities.

What I Like

  • High-quality salmon for sensitive dogs
  • Supports skin and coat health
  • Gentle on the stomach

What I Don’t Like

  • Limited protein variety
  • Contains grains, not suitable for all sensitivities
  • Some dogs may prefer meat other than fish
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How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherd

Australian Shepherd Nutritional Needs

Australian Shepherds known for their boundless energy and intelligence, require a balanced diet that fuels their active lifestyle. As a herding breed, need a diet that supports their muscular physique and high energy expenditure. Such a diet has the following nutrients:

Protein

Essential for muscle maintenance and repair. Look for high-quality protein sources like whole meats.

Fat

Provides energy and supports skin and coat health. Healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial.

Carbohydrates

Should come from whole grains or vegetables, providing sustained energy and aiding in digestion.

Vitamins and Minerals

Crucial for supporting immune health, bone strength, and overall well-being. A well-balanced dog food will include a comprehensive range of these nutrients.

Australian Shepherd Health Issues

Australian Shepherds are generally healthy, but like any breed, they have predispositions to a few health issues. These include hip dysplasia, epilepsy, and hereditary eye problems. A diet tailored to prevent or manage the following issues can contribute significantly to their overall health:

Food Allergies and Sensitivities

Aussies may develop sensitivities to certain ingredients. Identifying and avoiding these allergens is key.

Hip Dysplasia

Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids and proper calcium and phosphorus levels can support joint health.

Weight Management

Monitor their caloric intake and adjust their diet as needed to avoid obesity, which can exacerbate joint issues.

Feeding Guide for Your Australian Shepherd

Feeding your Australian Shepherd correctly is crucial for their health and well-being. This section guides you on how to feed your Aussie throughout its life stages and addresses specific dietary considerations.

Adjustments for Activity Level, Age, and Health Status

Puppies

Australian Shepherd puppies require a diet rich in protein and fat to support their rapid growth and development. Puppy-specific formulas are typically higher in these nutrients. Remember to feed them smaller, more frequent meals to aid in digestion and growth.

Adults

As your Aussie reaches adulthood, transition to an adult formula that maintains their energy levels and supports overall health. Adult Australian Shepherds thrive on a balanced diet that includes a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Seniors

Senior Australian Shepherds may need a diet lower in calories but still rich in high-quality protein to maintain muscle mass. Look for senior-specific formulas that support joint health and are easier to digest.

FAQs on Feeding Australian Shepherds

Is grain-free dog food better for Australian Shepherds?

Grain-free diets can be beneficial for Australian Shepherds, especially if they have grain sensitivities or allergies. However, it’s not necessary for all Aussies. If your dog is healthy and has no issues with grains, a diet that includes healthy grains like brown rice or oatmeal can be a good energy source.

How much should I feed my Australian Shepherd? 

The Australian Shepherd’s amount of food depends on their age, size, activity level, and the type of food you’re feeding. Always start with the feeding guidelines provided by the dog food manufacturer and adjust as needed. In addition, monitor your dog’s weight and body condition and consult your vet for personalized advice.

Can Australian Shepherds eat a raw diet?

Yes, Australian Shepherds can eat a raw diet, but it must be well-balanced and carefully prepared to ensure they’re getting all the necessary nutrients. If you’re considering a raw diet, I recommend consulting with a veterinary nutritionist to create a plan that’s safe and nutritious for your dog.

Are there any foods I should avoid giving my Australian Shepherd? 

Yes, certain foods can be harmful to Australian Shepherds, as with any dog. Avoid giving them chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and anything containing xylitol, as these can be toxic. Also, be cautious with human foods that can cause digestive upset or allergies.

How often should I change my Australian Shepherd’s diet?

Generally, you shouldn’t need to change your Australian Shepherd’s diet frequently if they are doing well on their current food. However, you may need to adjust their diet as they age or if they develop health issues. Always make dietary changes gradually to avoid upsetting their stomach.

Wrapping Up Our Top Recommendations

We’ve explored a range of dog foods ideal for the unique needs of Australian Shepherds. From my top pick, Orijen Regional Red, known for its high-protein content and grain-free formula, to options like Blue Buffalo and Purina Pro Plan, there’s a variety to cater to different needs. Remember, the key to a healthy Aussie lies in balanced nutrition that supports their energy levels, joint health, and overall well-being.

Always consider any specific health issues or dietary sensitivities your dog may have, and consult a vet for personalized advice. Feeding your Australian Shepherd the right diet is a fundamental step towards ensuring a long, happy, and active life together.

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