Australian Shepherds are incredibly intelligent, high-energy dogs, so it’s extremely important to feed them a kibble that can meet all their nutritional needs, especially when they’re puppies. However, finding such a kibble is much easier said than done.
If you spend any amount of time comparing labels and advertising claims, you’ll quickly discover that canine nutrition is surprisingly complex. Fortunately, you don’t need a veterinary degree to find a great kibble for your pup, as we’ve compared the top brands on the market to determine which is best for these dogs.
In the reviews below, we’ll reveal which food deserves a spot in your Aussie’s bowl, as well as which ones we wouldn’t dare feed our dogs.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites (Updated 2022)
The 9 Best Foods for Australian Shepherd Puppies
1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Food — Best Overall
Active puppies need all the protein they can get, and Taste of the Wild High Prairie offers it in spades. Its overall levels are on the higher side of average at 28%, but the variety of meat sources sets this food apart.
In each bag, you’ll find buffalo, lamb meal, eggs, chicken fat, bison, venison, beef, and fish meal. Just about anything that walks, flies, or swims gets thrown into the mixture. That gives your dog a wonderful variety of essential amino acids in each serving.
It’s not just meat inside either. You’ll also find fruits and veggies like sweet potatoes, blueberries, raspberries, and flaxseed, as well as additives like salmon oil, chicory root, and potato fiber.
The recipe includes plenty of probiotics, so it should help keep everything in your dog’s digestive tract running smoothly. There’s also taurine, which is excellent for building a healthy heart.
The formula does have quite a bit of plant protein in it. This isn’t ideal because plants don’t offer the same amino acids that animal sources do.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie isn’t a perfect food, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a kibble that will do a better job of ensuring your Shepherd starts their life off on the right paw.
2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Food — Best Value
Typically, the budget-friendly kibbles are bargains for a reason, which is that they have inferior meat in order to keep costs down.
That doesn’t seem to be the case with Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy. It’s certainly budget-friendly, but it manages to be affordable without using animal by-products or other low-quality meat. As a result, it’s our choice for the best food for Australian Shepherd puppies for the money.
There are a few questionable ingredients in here, however. Corn and soybeans are the main culprits; these cheap fillers provide little more than empty calories, and many dogs have difficulty digesting them as well.
Beyond that, though, there’s not much to complain about here. The first two ingredients are chicken and chicken meal, so your pooch will get plenty of high-quality meat. You’ll also find foods like carrots, cranberries, and peas, all of which provide valuable nutrients.
If you want to feed your dog the best kibble on the market, Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy isn’t it. However, it provides enough value to be a great choice for dog owners on a budget.
3. Ollie Fresh Dog Food Subscription Service — Premium Choice
If you are the happy owner of an Australian Shepherd puppy (or are about to be), you might be wondering what kind of food you should give your new bundle of joy. Our premium dog food picks for Australian Shepherd puppies is Ollie, a subscription service of fresh and wet foods.
Australian Shepherds are highly active dogs and need the right food to keep up their energy. Ollie is designed for dogs of all life stages, but when you initially order the food, you fill in your pup’s information (including their size and activity level). With this information, the experts at Ollie will figure out the right kind and amount of food to send you.
You won’t have to go to the store and lug home a ginormous bag of dog food, as Ollie shows up at your door exactly when you need it. You can choose from chicken, beef, lamb, or turkey recipes for the fresh food and chicken or beef for the dry food. It’s made with fresh, all-natural ingredients and is slow cooked to preserve nutrients. The food shows up frozen to retain its freshness.
However, Ollie is quite expensive and only available in the continental U.S. So, Alaska, Hawaii, and the rest of the world are out of luck. But if you live in the serviced areas and if Ollie fits your budget, you can give your Australian Shepherd puppy wholesome food that you don’t have to worry about in regard to its quality.
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Food
One of the most appealing things about Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is the brand’s proprietary LifeSource Bits included in each bag. These look like little burnt chunks of kibble, but they’re actually packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
The actual kibble is good too. It’s full of chicken (and some fish meal), giving it an overall protein level of 27%. We like that there are chicken meal and chicken fat, which give your dog glucosamine and omega fatty acids, respectively.
You’ll also find complex carbs like brown rice and oatmeal inside; not only are these foods high on the glycemic index, but they’re also gentle on growing tummies.
Of course, all these premium ingredients come at a premium price, as this food isn’t cheap. It also has more salt than we’d like.
Neither factor is enough for us to punish Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula too harshly, though.
5. American Journey Puppy Dry Dog Food
American Journey may not be a widely-known food brand, but if all their recipes are as high quality as their puppy kibble, that’s likely to change.
It’s a fairly affordable food, even without using cheap fillers or animal by-products. In fact, the worst ingredient we can find on the list is pea protein, and that’s hardly bad for your dog.
The list starts with chicken and chicken meal, ensuring that it has a solid base of protein. The overall levels aren’t spectacular at 25%, but that should be more than sufficient to help your pup grow up big and strong.
The formula is filled with rice, which should make it gentle on your dog’s stomach.
However, there is so much rice and it’s listed in so many different ways, we suspect the manufacturer uses a technique called “ingredient splitting.” This is where it classifies the same ingredient in different ways to push it down the list and disguise how much is really in the food; in this case, there may be more rice than chicken inside. This may explain the mediocre protein levels as well.
While American Journey has a few obvious flaws, it’s a good food overall, one we wouldn’t hesitate to feed our Australian Shepherd pups. It’s just not quite as good as the options ranked above it.
6. Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Food
Iams ProActive Health Smart is a perplexing food; on the one hand, it has high-quality ingredients, but on the other hand, it’s riddled with bad ingredients.
Let’s start with the positive: This food has a large amount of lean protein in it. Chicken is the first ingredient, and there’s also chicken meal inside (albeit by-products).
We like the fact that there are chicken fat and fish oil, both of which are rich in antioxidants. Your growing puppy needs all they can get. There are also other quality veggies like carrots.
Now, for the bad: This food is packed with corn. It’s the second ingredient, meaning the manufacturers tried to keep the price low by stuffing the kibble with empty calories. It’s high in sodium as well, which is likely to encourage your dog to wolf down all that corn.
There are artificial colors in here as well. That’s always confusing because those chemicals add absolutely nothing to the food; they’re there to make the kibble look appetizing to the owners.
Iams ProActive Health Smart is a mediocre food. It has attractive qualities, but its myriad shortcomings make it impossible for us to rank it higher.
7. Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy Puppy Food
If you read the packaging on each bag of Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy, you’ll notice that it touts the fact that real chicken is the first ingredient. That’s true, and it’s likely mentioned in order to distract you from all the ingredients that follow said chicken: corn, animal by-products, soy, etc. They’re not alone, either, as they bring with them artificial colors, artificial flavors, and salt.
None of those are ingredients you want to see in a puppy kibble, so it’s unfortunate to find them all inside Purina ONE SmartBlend Healthy. There’s little fiber too.
On the sunny side of the ledger, there’s a great deal of rice and oatmeal, so that should help offset any intestinal distress caused by all the corn and soy.
This food has a few things going for it, but those positives are more than outweighed by all the baggage it carries.
8. Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Dry Dog Food
Purina Pro Plan Focus starts strong with real chicken, but unfortunately, the ingredients list quickly turns into a disaster after that.
This food checks off just about every “questionable ingredient” box you can think of. It has animal by-products, corn, wheat, and fat from unnamed animals.
The overall protein levels are on the higher end of average at 28%, but there’s hardly any fiber in it at all (a paltry 3%). You’ll have to monitor your dog closely when they need to go, and be ready to supplement this kibble if they seem backed up.
It’s fairly high in calories, which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself; it’s the fact that almost all of those calories are empty that bothers us. It does have fish meal and oil, though, so at least there are omega fatty acids in here.
9. Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy Food
German Shepherds are close enough to Australian Shepherds that you’d think this Royal Canin food would work equally well for both breeds. However, the first ingredient is chicken by-product meal. That’s a double-edged sword, as it provides glucosamine, but from extremely low-grade meat. You’re better off finding a food that skips the by-products or using a glucosamine supplement.
After that, it’s a cavalcade of wheat, corn, and other questionable ingredients, including rice. It’s also quite expensive.
We understand the appeal of feeding your dog a breed-specific food, but Royal Canin German Shepherd simply doesn’t have enough quality ingredients to deserve a spot in your pup’s bowl.
Conclusion: Choosing the Best Dog Food for Australian Shepherd Puppies
Taste of the Wild High Prairie is our favorite food for Australian Shepherd puppies, as it includes a wide array of meat sources. It’s also filled with high-quality fruits and veggies, as well as probiotics for digestive support.
If you want great food that won’t break the bank, we recommend Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy. While it uses a few questionable ingredients, it manages to pack in a surprising amount of nutrition at a budget-friendly price.
Our premium pick goes to Ollie Fresh Dog Food since it contains all-natural ingredients, great for active puppies, and supports your pup’s growth through all of their life stages.
Picking a quality food for your Aussie Shepherd puppy can be an intimidating chore, and we hope that our reviews have taken some of the stress out of your decision. After all, these high-powered dogs need the best fuel you can offer them — and they’re probably smart enough to read labels to determine if you’ve been short-changing them.
Featured Image: Hetty van der Zanden from Pixabay