The Australian Shepherd, or “Aussie”, is a lively, energetic dog with a very curious nature. Their diet needs to be adapted to their metabolism and activity level, which is generally high in this dog breed. Good food is essential to the good health of your dog, which is why your Australian Shepherd's diet needs to be chosen with care, to ensure that it fully and properly meets their nutritional requirements. If you're thinking of adopting an Australian Shepherd (or you already have!), here are some tips to help you understand the specific needs of the breed and select the best type of dog food for your furry friend.

Australian Shepherd: Specific Dietary Needs

Australian Shepherds are large dogs that typically expend a lot of energy throughout the day. Very active, playful, and curious, they need to exert themselves sufficiently both physically and intellectually to be well-balanced. These are some of the specific characteristics that you should consider when choosing the right dog food for your Australian Shepherd:

  • Australian Shepherds have a very high energy expenditure rate: when not sleeping, these doggies are almost always on the go. As such, their dog food needs to meet their energy requirement and provide your pooch with enough energy throughout the day.

  • This dog breed is predisposed to joint problems: hip and elbow dysplasia are frequently observed in Australian Shepherds. Their dog food will therefore need to have a composition which supports their bones.

  • Australian Shepherds are also prone to skin diseases. While their beautiful, thick coat protects them from bad weather, your Australian Shepherd's skin is a little fragile.

In addition to the specific features related to the breed, it's important to take into account other factors, such as age, weight, physical activity, and any potential or reported diseases. An inadequate diet can cause many problems, such as deficiencies. Your vet or an animal nutrition expert can always help you determine the ideal diet for your dog.


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What Type of Dog Food Should I Give My Australian Shepherd?

First and foremost, you need to make sure that your dog's typical dietary needs are met, in terms of protein, mineral and vitamin requirements, etc. Then, opt for kibble adapted to your Australian Shepherd, which will effectively meet the requirements of the breed.  When choosing the ideal dog food for your Australian Shepherd, look for:

  • Dog food that respects your dog's build and metabolism, providing them with an appropriate energy supply: A high level of protein and fat helps to maintain muscle mass while offering a sufficient supply of energy. Enough to allow your pooch to fully enjoy their day and exercise at will.

  • Dog food that protects their joints and cartilage: Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate are good for maintaining your dog's joints and cartilage. Vitamin C also promotes the production of collagen, which helps build healthy cartilage. This is essential for this large dog breed, whose well-developed musculature can put a lot of stress on the joints.

  • Dog food that promotes healthy skin and coat: Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, from quality fish oil, help to protect your Australian Shepherd from any risk of dermatitis. It can also help improve the health of your dog's skin and give them a beautiful, shiny coat.

  • Dog food that improves digestion: Because of their high energy expenditure, Australian Shepherds tend to eat very quickly and want to exercise right after a meal. Prebiotics work miracles, helping to avoid the risks of digestive disorders!

The Hector Kitchen Motto

Every dog is unique, so their diet should be too!

We cannot stress it enough: each dog has their own specific dietary needs. And these recommendations are not the only things to take into account when choosing the best food for your Australian Shepherd.

Their age, weight, activity level, and any potential or reported diseases are equally important factors. No one is better qualified than an animal nutrition specialist to create a suitable diet for your Australian Shepherd.

How Often Should I Feed My Australian Shepherd?

Once you’ve chosen the ideal food for your Australian Shepherd, you'll also need to learn how often to feed them.  We recommend that you give them their meals at the same, fixed time each day to avoid possible digestive disorders. The amount of kibble provided should be adapted according to your dog's weight and daily activity level.

Here are some recommendations for how best to feed your Australian Shepherd:

  • Split their daily food ration into two or three small meals: The idea is to distribute their food throughout the day, so as not to overload their digestive capacities. It also stops them from feeling hungry. Give them their meals in a quiet place, away from possible sources of distraction: It's important to create a pleasant environment for mealtimes, as this facilitates digestion and promotes a balanced diet.

  • Give them the correct amount of dog food: This will depend on different factors, such as your dog's age, weight, activity level (normal or sustained), and reported illnesses. Your vet or an animal nutritionist specialist can help you determine the appropriate amount of food for your dog.

  • Forbid certain foods: Of course, some foods are toxic to dogs. Sugar, cold meats, and chocolate are dangerous foods for dogs. Chicken and rabbit bones are also not recommended as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

  • Treats: In addition to their regular food, you can certainly offer your furry friend a healthy treat from time to time. Little pieces of fruit or cooked vegetables are a great, natural option! However, be careful with this if your dog is overweight.

  • Finally, make sure that your Australian Shepherd has constant access to a water source: Hydration is an integral part of a healthy diet and is essential to the good health of your pooch. Make sure you change their water bowl every day so that the water is always fresh. If you want to encourage your pooch to drink more water, try placing ice cubes in their water bowl. You can also rehydrate your Australian Shepherd's kibble by adding a little lukewarm water to it.

Australian Shepherd: Characteristics of the Breed

A Brief History of the Australian Shepherd

Contrary to what the name suggests, Australian Shepherds did not originate in Australia: they actually come from the United States! Many theories claim that Australian Shepherds have ancestry in the Basque region of Spain where they were used by shepherds, who then emigrated to the United States.

American farmers developed the breed at the start of the 20th century to work as sheepdogs. They were particularly used in the Rocky Mountains, and subsequently bred by breeders in Colorado to attract wealthy shepherds from California.

The breed standard was established in the United States in 1957. The breed first arrived in the UK in the mid-1980s and has gained popularity for both its qualities as a working dog and as a companion dog for families.

Australian Shepherd Temperament

Australian Shepherds are very well-behaved, calm, and sociable dogs. They are also very intelligent and loyal - the perfect companion dog! These doggies tend to be lively and are natural leaders. Australian Shepherds have lots of energy to spare, while also being very gentle.  They adapt very well to family life so long as they get enough exercise.

You should start training your dog as early as possible. However, be careful to never use violence in your training; the Australian Shepherd is a sensitive breed and very affected by violence of any kind. Underneath their good-natured exterior, Australian Shepherds have a strong will. As such, it's important to establish yourself as the boss right from the start. If you don't have the time to plan lots of activities for your Australian Shepherd, to exert them both physically and mentally, it would be better to opt for a calmer breed.

Australian Shepherd Health Problems

While generally robust, Australian Shepherds are predisposed to certain health problems. They are particularly prone to canine hereditary eye diseases. A screening test for progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), collie eye anomaly (CEA), and juvenile cataracts should be performed annually.

MDR1 (Multi-Drug Resistance Mutation)

MDR1 is a drug sensitivity caused by a genetic mutation. It can make certain drugs dangerous for Australian Shepherds who carry this gene. Certain anti-parasitic, anti-diarrhoea, and anaesthetic drugs can thus be harmful, and even fatal, for these dogs. Dogs who carry the genetic mutation may experience increased side effects associated with overdose after taking these drugs. To find out if your dog is a carrier of this gene, you can request a test from your vet, who will take a gingival sample or a blood sample.

Australian Shepherds are also prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as epilepsy. If you are considering adopting an Australian Shepherd, it's important to understand all the specificities of the breed before you decide.



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