The Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherds of 2023
Choosing a healthy, balanced food for you dog should be easy, right? Not necessarily so! Pet parents are beginning to realize that healthy dogs need a diet which will provide them with the proper nutrients to sustain their active bodies. Just as a human athlete must eat a proper diet, so should a working dog.
The Australian Shepherd is considered a working dog, and even if you don’t have him chasing livestock all day, you know that your dog is happiest when he is “busy.” This may mean that you take him to the dog park and allow him to run and play with other pups; this may mean he accompanies you on the running trail or on long hikes. Regardless of how Fido expels his energy, he needs a well-balanced diet that includes the right amount of protein and other important vitamins and minerals.
This guide is intended to explore six popular dog food brands in order to determine which is best for the high-energy Australian Shepherd. Keep in mind that working dogs need a dry dog food that contains at least twenty-eight percent (or higher) of crude protein and eighteen percent of crude fat. We will also discuss which ingredients pet parents should avoid when choosing the right dog food.
Our Top List
Price / Value
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
Canidae Pure Premium Dry Dog Food
Earthborn Holistic Coastal Catch Dry Food
Hill's Science Diet Dry Food
Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Food
Purina Pro Plan Probiotics Dry Puppy Food
Blue Buffalo is quickly becoming a popular food due to its natural ingredients. Real meat is the first ingredient of this dog food, and that is important for many reasons. Just as is the case with human foods, the top ingredient on the list is the highest percentage in the food. Because real meat is the top ingredient, you can rest assured that there is ample protein in the food to build and maintain muscle.
This food also contains antioxidants which promote a healthy immune system as well as Omega-3 and -6 Fatty Acids that are intended to strengthen your dog’s skin health and give him a shiny, healthy coat.
You’ll also notice when you read over the ingredient list that Blue Buffalo contains no artificial preservatives, no meat by-products, no corn, or any other potentially unhealthy ingredients.
- Real meat is chief ingredient
- Contains vitamins and minerals
- No artificial colors, preservatives, or other harmful ingredients
Canidae prides itself of producing a dog food that has limited ingredients. In fact, they list ten or less ingredients on the packaging. Canidae wants to give your dog “everything they need and nothing they don’t.” If you are looking for a completely organic dog food, Canidae is fully organic.
The company does add probiotics , antioxidants, and Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids to their food, but state that they do this after the food is cooked. Canidae also offers a number of flavor combinations certain to please even the pickiest pup.
- Includes Probiotics
- Made in America
If you’re looking for a dog food that is made in the United States, then look no further than Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free. This company works to make everything about Earthborn Holistic food as organic as possible. The packaging is even made from recycled material that is BPA free. Your dog will be treated to a combination of organic meat, fruits and vegetables that are intended to provide loads of antioxidants, healthy fatty acids, and the optimal amount of protein.
One of the main ingredients of Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free food is L-carnitine. This mineral helps to convert fat into energy (and muscle), support lean muscle mass and properly condition the body. The fatty acids included in this food are there to give Fido a healthy, shiny coat as well as supple and healthy skin underneath the coat. If you are seeking a truly organic food, Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free might be right for you.
- Made in the USA
- Grain and gluten-free
- contains antioxidants and Omega fatty acids
Hill’s Science food is likely one that you are at least a little familiar with. This is a veterinarian-recommended product, and you have likely seen the product in your vet’s office. It is one of the few brands of dog food that is made in the United States, and therefore, the FDA does have some regulatory power over the ingredients in this food. However, Hill’s Science does not just stop at offering pet-grade food. They provide all-natural ingredients with absolutely no artificial preservatives or harmful chemicals.
This is one of the few brands to include the proven antioxidant DHA in its product. This antioxidant is derived from fish oil, which means that the fatty acids essential for a healthy coat and for the proper development of your dog’s eyes and brain is also a chief ingredient in the product. This food also contains just the right amount of protein for your Australian Shepherd.
- Made in the USA
- Organic ingredients with no artificial preservatives
- Veterinarian recommended
Wellness Core prides itself of producing a food that is not only grain- and gluten-free, but packed full of only the highest-quality protein, non-GMO (genetically modified) ingredients. Of course, you’ll never have to worry about artificial chemicals or preservatives in this brand food; this food is made in the USA under the strictest of conditions.
Wellness Core offers a food for every stage of your pup’s life – from the first few months of life to senior years. You can also choose a variation that caters to certain dietary restrictions (sensitive stomachs, for example).
Wellness Core is made from a simple recipe that includes meat as a primary ingredient as well as fruits and vegetables that add vitamins and minerals naturally in your dog’s diet. Wellness Core also includes antioxidants and probiotics to aid in your dog’s overall health and wellness.
- Grain-Free, Non-GMO ingredients
- Only high-quality protein
- Made in the USA
Pet parents know that providing the best food for Fido when he is a puppy is a step in ensuring that he has all the nutrition he needs to develop and grow properly. Purina Pro Plan Probiotics not only provide DHA but also probiotics to aid in the proper digestion of this food. Your puppy will develop strong bones and healthy muscles as well as mental health.
Further Reading: Check this article for our recommended puppy foods in general.
- Made with real meat as the top ingredient
- Contains probiotics
- Loaded with DHA to promote brain development
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
Of all the products listed, Blue Buffalo is our top pick for an Aussie Shepherd. It contains all natural ingredients as well as avoids all the filler ingredients. Furthermore, dogs love the taste of Blue Buffalo. Real meat is the chief ingredient, and there is an ample amount of antioxidants and probiotics present in the finished product. You can find this product at your local pet food supply store, but you can also order it online.
Remember, you want the best food for your high-energy dog, even if he isn’t herding livestock. Therefore, Blue Buffalo is a great source of all the things your dog needs to be happy and healthy!
There are a few things to consider when you are purchasing food for your Australian Shepherd. First, the Australian Shepherd is a high-energy dog. You might not have Fido herding sheep, but you know you must keep him active so that he doesn’t get into mischief. Dogs with high energy levels, no matter what you may require from him or her, should get a food that is high in protein, as previously stated. This helps your dog to build and maintain the right amount of muscle for daily activities.
Ingredients to Avoid
Next, you should focus on looking for what I like to refer to as “no-no” ingredients. There are certain ingredients you should steer away from any time you are choosing a dog food. These include not only what SEEM to be natural ingredients (such as corn and meat by-products) but easily identified chemicals – BHT and BHA, ethoxyquin, food dyes, and more.
Let’s focus on what you should look for on a list of ingredients. Look for words like chicken, lamb, or beef. Make sure these words are not followed by “by-product.” Meat by-products can mean any part of the animal, and sadly, this is typically parts that are not consumable on their own. This may mean that even bones are ground up into the “meat” ingredient and included in your dog’s food. Some dogs with sensitive systems may have a reaction to the meat by-product. Therefore, you should avoid foods with this as a part of the ingredient list, and definitely put the bag down if the first ingredient is a meat by-product.
Next, look for the inclusion of wheat gluten or corn gluten. Just as some people have issues digesting gluten, dogs also face issues with the consumption of this product. The issues may manifest in skin irritation or a loss of the hair in his coat, but you can be assured a dog with gluten sensitivities is most definitely uncomfortable and likely feels sick after consuming this product.
Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and 4-MIE are all highly toxic to canines. These dyes can cause all types of health issues in your pup, but, because pet food is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, dog food manufacturers are still including these ingredients in a number of dog food products. It is up to pet parents to steer their dogs away from these harmful ingredients.
This is another ingredient in many dog foods from which you should steer clear. While this ingredient in itself is not necessarily harmful to dogs, rendered fat is often added to dry dog food as a “flavor enhancement,” and it is a source of harmful microorganisms and heavy metals. Rendered fat may carry salmonella or E.coli bacteria, which are the chief causes of food poisoning in humans (so imagine what it would do to Fido). Furthermore, the heavy metals in some rendered fat can cause digestive issues for your dog. Another issue with foods containing rendered fat is the likelihood that the food will develop mold, even if it is stored in a cool, dry area. Simply put, it is not safe to purchase a dog food with rendered fat as an ingredient.
Avoid a dog food that contains artificial preservatives including BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) and Ethoxyquin as well as PG (Propylene Glycol). BHA and BHT are preservatives that are added to oils found in pet food and pet treats. Both BHT and BHA are known carcinogens and are not permitted to be a part of human-grade food. It shouldn’t be on the list of ingredients in pet food, either! However, remember that the FDA does not govern pet food manufacturers the same as it does humans, so we pet owners must be advocates for our dogs and leave items with BHA and BHT as ingredients on the shelf. PG is another extremely harmful ingredient often added to pet-grade food. Propylene Glycol is a derivative of ethylene glycol, the active ingredient in antifreeze, a known toxin for dogs! Again, avoid these chemicals at all cost. Fido will thank you later.
Yet another toxin that is allowed in pet-grade food. This chemical is a food preservative, just as BHA and BHT are. This chemical, unlike BHT and BHA, is typically not listed on the ingredients of any dog food. You’ll likely see this sneaky yet harmful chemical listed as “fish meal.” Ethoxyquin is harmful to your dog whether he ingests the chemical or if he even has skin contact with the chemical.
Now that we know what ingredients to avoid, what are some ingredients that we can look for that are GOOD for our pups? The presence of Vitamin C or E indicates natural rather than artificial preservatives (however, you should attempt to find a dog food that contains no preservatives if possible). Next, look for a label that states the food is “Made in the USA” or that it contains “human-grade ingredients.” Remember, pet-grade foods often allow for meat by-products, gluten, and other harmful chemicals that can make our dogs miserably ill.
Moving to our list of foods that are appropriate for dogs, you’ll find that these foods are typically organic, contain real meat as a chief ingredient, and lack animal by-products or chemicals. The adding of anti-oxidants or probiotics is not harmful to dogs. Let’s look at six brands that are considered proper for an active dog such as the Australian Shepherd.
We are the Pet Dog Pals, a group of avid pet owners, bloggers, product testers, and writers for all your canine needs! We own a collective 16 dogs and 21 cats to help us test and review pet products. Our top lists and tips come from experience to help you be the best dog owner you can be!