If you have an Australian Shepherd, you know they’re a breed of their own. These medium-large dogs are highly energetic and intelligent, so it’s no surprise they thrive with the best food. Since Australian Shepherds are so active, they need a lot of protein and a little more fat than the average pooch.
Any good-quality dog food can fuel your Aussie, but some foods are better than others. We hope these reviews of a few of our favorite foods for Australian Shepherds will help you make your choice.
A Glance at Our Winners in 2022
|Best Overall||Nom Nom Turkey Fare Fresh Dog Food||
||Click to Save 50%|
|Best Value||Blue Buffalo Life Protection||
|Spot & Tango Lamb and Brown Rice||
|Wellness Complete Health Puppy||
|Canidae All Life Stages Chicken and Rice Canned Food||
The 8 Best Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds
1. Nom Nom Turkey Fare Fresh Dog Food — Best Overall
|First Five Ingredients:||Turkey, brown rice, eggs, carrots, spinach|
|Life stage:||All life stages|
Aussies have a lot of energy, and they love fresh food. Nom Nom’s Turkey Fare is the best overall food for Australian shepherds with a balanced blend of ground meat, easy-to-digest veggies and grains, and vital vitamins. The turkey recipe uses brown rice as its primary grain, making it great for dogs who struggle to digest traditional grains. It has approximately 10% crude protein, 5% crude fat, and 72% moisture—a higher fat and protein blend than some of Nom Nom’s other dog recipes.
Nom Nom operates on a subscription service, both a pro and a con. It’s nice to have food delivered right to your door, without any hassle and at a schedule you choose. It’s also easy to swap out different recipes and see which food blend works for you. And your dog will enjoy the health benefits of eating fresh food, however, the subscription is more expensive than many of the traditional canned or dry dog foods. But, you will be saving on future Vet bills!
2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dog Food — Best Value
|First Five Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal|
Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection food is one of the most popular dog foods out there, and it’s easy to see why. We found Blue Buffalo Life Protection to be the best dog food for the money. This kibble is made with real meat, whole grains, and delicious veggies, plus added nutrients. The high-quality proteins and fats will help fuel your dog’s active lifestyle. It’s also packed with LifeSource Bits, a nutrient blend that is antioxidant-rich and helps complete your dog’s balanced diet. Available in bags of anywhere from 3-30 pounds, this dry food is easy to store too!
Your average Aussie will love this food, but it isn’t the best for dogs with sensitive stomachs because of the variety of whole grains. If your dog struggles with digestion, it might be best to move to a grain-free or stomach-sensitive food instead.
3. Spot & Tango Lamb and Brown Rice Dog Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Lamb, brown rice, spinach, carrots, peas|
|Life stage:||All life stages|
Spot & Tango is another fresh food option with some delicious alternative recipes to Nom Nom, including Lamb and Brown Rice. We found this a great option for dogs of all life stages who have stomach sensitivities. Lamb and ice are some of the easiest ingredients on a dog’s stomach, so if your dog can’t handle more traditional meats and grains, this is a good alternative.
Like Nom Nom, this food is only available through a subscription service, so getting the food is easy but requires regular deliveries. The meals are designed to be frozen until use, so make sure you have the space to store them and serve them.
4. Wellness Complete Health Puppy — Best Puppy Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, oatmeal, ground barley, peas|
|Food Type:||Dry food|
Aussie puppies keep growing until they are around 12-15 months old, so they need a lot of fuel! Wellness Complete Health Puppy food is a great option. This food formula, with a mix of chicken and salmon, is a choice for puppies because it is packed with healthy proteins and fats and contains wholesome grains and veggies that keep your puppy going all day long.
This food is generally considered one of the best out there for growing puppies, but it has attracted some controversy for its use of garlic. Although the manufacturers claim that a small amount of garlic can help support your pup’s immune system, it’s well known that too much garlic can cause tummy troubles or sickness in your dog. If your dog has a negative reaction to the food, you might want to switch to something garlic-free.
5. Canidae All Life Stages Chicken and Rice Canned Dog Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver, dried egg product, brown rice|
|Life stage:||All life stages|
Sometimes dry food isn’t what your dog needs. Canidae’s wet dog foods make great alternatives if your dog needs something that isn’t kibble and fresh food is out of your budget. This canned food is great for any stage of life, from puppies to seniors, because of its high moisture content and healthy recipe. This chicken and rice formula will tempt most dogs. It is rich in animal proteins that will help your dog stay healthy and strong.
It is important to note that it has more fat per gram of protein than most dog foods; this means it isn’t as ideal for dogs who are prone to obesity or less active.
6. Canidae Grain-Free Salmon and Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Salmon, salmon meal, menhaden fish meal, lentils, sweet potatoes|
|Food Type:||Grain-free, dry|
Canidae’s Grain-free dry dog food is a great choice for many stomach-sensitive dogs, but your dog doesn’t have to be stomach-sensitive to enjoy it. Canidae’s Salmon and Sweet Potato formula makes a delicious meal for any Aussie. It’s packed with healthy fish-based proteins, lots of vitamins and minerals, and other good nutrients. Without the fillers that fluff out most dry foods, this dog food is sure to make your dog’s mouth water. This dog food makes a great choice for adult Aussies.
While this product offers alternative protein sources, the product is made in a facility with shared equipment and might contain traces of chicken, soy, wheat, or other ingredients.
7. Nutro Ultra Large Breed Dog Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, whole grain sorghum, whole grain barley|
Australian Shepherds straddle the line between medium and large dogs, but their high energy means that large breed dog food is often well-suited to them. Nutro Ultra Large Breed Dog Food is a good option for Aussies, and it has high reviews by customers, who say that even picky dogs like it. The food includes amino acids and chelated minerals that increase nutrient absorption, helping your dog to get the most out of his food.
However, this dog food isn’t as protein-heavy as some of the foods on this list. It has a lower level of protein and a higher level of carbohydrates that is less healthy overall. The variety of grains in this food can also upset some dogs’ stomachs.
8. Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Dog Food
|First Five Ingredients:||Beef, peas, garbanzo beans, lamb meal, canola oil|
|Food Type:||Dry grain-free|
|Life stage:||All ages|
Grain-free diets aren’t for every dog, but sensitive-stomached Aussies might want to give Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Dog Food a try. This dog food is packed with protein that comes mostly from beef, a great source of meat matter for dogs. The protein-heavy diet is also recommended for some senior dogs in smaller portions. Nutrient-rich legumes are the main vegetable matter in this food instead of grains. The food is also fortified with healthy vitamins and minerals, along with a proprietary probiotic strain meant to support healthy gut health and minimize digestive issues. Taste of the Wild is still a smaller brand, so you should expect a higher price than other dry dog foods.
Peas and garbanzo are listed as the second and third ingredients, so they are probably counted as a source of protein in this recipe. Ideally, we would like more animal protein in the first 4 ingredients.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose The Best Dog Foods for Australian Shepherds
Your Shepherd’s Nutritional Needs
Like all dogs, Australian Shepherds need the proper mix of high-quality proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to be healthy. They also need lots of vitamins and minerals. Protein provides most of your dog’s energy, with fat and carbohydrates providing secondary sources of calories. Fat is also important for your dog’s metabolic functions. Carbohydrates come mostly from plant matter, but not all plants are created equal. Some grains, like corn and soy, are mostly filler for dog food and don’t provide much nutritional value. The best plants are nutrient-rich and easy to digest.
Australian Shepherds weigh between 40 and 65 pounds on average—right between medium and large. They are highly active and intelligent dogs, so they need a lot of energy. This energy should come from high-quality proteins and fat. They will do well with foods that are slightly higher in both compared to most dog foods.
What to Look for to Feed your Aussie
With all that in mind, you can start looking at the dog food on the market to see what your dog needs. As you evaluate foods, look for natural ingredients first and foremost. Avoid processed foods with lots of artificial additives. Dog food should always have high-quality animal protein as the main protein source. The vegetable content in your dog’s food should be nutritious and digestible—whole grains, fresh fruits, and starchy veggies are all good choices.
Grain or No Grain?
In the past, grain-free has been touted as the most natural and healthy dog diet. There are certainly some grains that are better than others. Corn and soy are mostly fillers, while whole grains like millet, sorghum, and barley are much more healthful. Many dogs are especially sensitive to grains, so if your dog has digestive concerns, a switch to grain-free food might resolve them.
But there’s also research to suggest that a fully grain-free diet isn’t the best choice for a healthy dog. A recent FDA study suggests a link between grain-free foods and some heart conditions in dogs. Although the link isn’t certain yet, that suggests that a little bit of grain is suitable for your dog.
As you can see from these reviews, there’s no one best dog food for Australian Shepherds, but there are some stand-out options. Nom Nom’s Turkey Fare is the best overall option, with Spot & Tango Lamb Dog food a great premium alternative. If you want the best value for your dollar, we highly recommend Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection food. And for puppies, Wellness Complete Health Puppy Food is a great choice.
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Featured Image Credit: Michelle D. Milliman, Shutterstock