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9 Best Puppy Foods for Australian Shepherds in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Chelsea Mortensen

Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

9 Best Puppy Foods for Australian Shepherds in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

A Brown Dog Eating Its Food

Every puppy is different, and Australian Shepherds have their own quirks. These large, active dogs need a lot of nutrition to keep them playing and growing all day long! These reviews go over a few of our favorite puppy foods for Aussie pups. Although there isn’t one perfect food, we hope that these reviews will help you find the food that’s best for your new best friend.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
The Farmer's Dog Fresh Dog Food The Farmer's Dog Fresh Dog Food
  • Meets AAFCO nutritional guidelines
  • Features healthy whole proteins
  • Ingredients often sourced from local farms
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural
  • Slashed pea content promptly in response to concerns
  • High in chicken protein
  • Low price option
  • Third place
    Wellness CORE Digestive Health Puppy Wellness CORE Digestive Health Puppy
  • Full of digestive boosters
  • Supports strong immune system and brain development
  • Lots of fruit and vegetable vitamin sources
  • Purina Pro Plan Puppy Sensitive Skin & Stomach Purina Pro Plan Puppy Sensitive Skin & Stomach
  • Chicken-free for puppies with sensitivities
  • Vet recommended
  • Easy to digest ingredients
  • Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy
  • Variety of meat sources
  • Nutritious fruits and veggies
  • Includes probiotics
  • The 9 Best Puppy Foods for Australian Shepherds

    1. The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food Subscription — Best Overall

    the-farmers-dog-full-recipe-packaging

    Main ingredients: Chicken, Beef, Turkey, or Pork
    Protein content: Up to 41%
    Fat content: Up to 32%

    The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food comes in #1 on our list and is our selection for the best overall puppy food for Australian Shepherds. The company’s four basic fresh recipes—chicken, turkey, beef, and pork—hit all the high notes regarding variety, nutrition, and flavor. The Farmer’s Dog doesn’t have puppy-specific formulations, but its fresh options are appropriate for dogs over 8 weeks old.

    The Farmer’s Dog’s meals were developed with the input of veterinary nutritionists and meet the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines to ensure your pet gets all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need for optimum health.

    The Farmer’s Dog’s fresh options are prepared in USDA-certified kitchens and feature whole proteins and locally sourced ingredients like carrots, broccoli, and green beans. The meals are lightly cooked at low temperatures to lock in nutrients and flavor. They’re then lightly frozen to preserve freshness. The food doesn’t contain preservatives but requires prompt refrigeration after delivery.

    The meals are only available through The Farmer’s Dog’s subscription service. However, getting started is incredibly easy—just head to the website, answer a few questions, and you’ll get a series of recommendations to help you select the right options for your dog.

    Pros
    • Meets AAFCO nutritional guidelines
    • Features healthy whole proteins
    • Ingredients often sourced from local farms
    Cons
    • Requires a subscription
    • Must be refrigerated

    2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Food — Budget Buy

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Soybean Meal, Whole Corn, Chicken Fat
    Protein content: 28%
    Fat content: 16%

    If you hope to feed a growing puppy on a budget, Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy food is our favorite value option. Low-price food often means low quality, but this puppy food still manages to be in the same league as much more expensive food. It has real chicken as the first ingredient and is high in protein to fuel growth in all breeds of puppies. A newly formulated recipe caters to the latest research. That includes cutting down on the number of peas in the food after a study suggested a link to heart disease. However, this does use soybeans in its food, a plant-based protein source that many feel is a less-than-ideal ingredient.

    Pros
    • Slashed pea content promptly in response to concerns
    • High in chicken protein
    • Low price option
    Cons
    • Contains soy protein

    3. Wellness CORE Digestive Health Dry Dog Food

    Wellness CORE Digestive Health Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oat Groats
    Protein content: 31%
    Fat content: 15.5%

    Wellness Core Digestive Health Puppy Formula is one of the best puppy foods out there for a growing Aussie, with a special focus on digestive health. If transitioning to dry food is proving hard on your pup, this delicious food’s higher price tag might be worth it. It is full of prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes that help your puppy’s stomach and digestive tract to grow and flourish. It also contains all the ingredients needed for supporting cognitive development, a strong immune system, and a soft, healthy coat. Many of the necessary vitamins and minerals come from fruit and vegetable sources like pumpkin, beet, blueberries, and pomegranates. This food is definitely on the pricey side though, so if your puppy does well on a different brand of food, you might not see a need to switch.

    Pros
    • Full of digestive boosters
    • Supports strong immune system and brain development
    • Lots of fruit and vegetable vitamin sources
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Not necessary for every pup

    4. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Sensitive Skin and Stomach

    Purina Pro Plan Puppy Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Salmon, Rice, Barley, Fish Meal, Canola Meal
    Protein content: 28%
    Fat content: 18%

    Another good option for Aussie pups who struggle with digestion or have intolerances to chicken is Purina Pro Plan Puppy Sensitive Skin and Stomach. This food has salmon as its first ingredient, a healthy protein source that is high in Omega fatty acids. That means that if your dog has a chicken allergy, this is a great alternative. Protein-source allergies are among the most common intolerances in dogs, so this is a great option. It is a grain-inclusive food with the main grains being rice and barley, both easy to digest, and other boosts that will help sensitive puppies. Although we like the ingredients overall, there is one controversial ingredient. Menadione sodium bisulfite is a form of vitamin K that some studies have suggested might be linked to allergies and other health effects.

    Pros
    • Chicken-free for puppies with sensitivities
    • Vet recommended
    • Easy-to-digest ingredients
    Cons
    • Contains menadione

    5. Taste of the Wild Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food with Roasted Bison and Venison for Puppies

    Main ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Pea Protein
    Protein content: 28%
    Fat content: 17%

    With ingredients like water buffalo, lamb meal, bison, and venison, Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Food lives up to its name. This puppy food is full of novel proteins that give it unique flavor and nutrition. It is also full of other wholesome ingredients, including nutritious fruits and veggies, probiotics that help with gut health, and antioxidants and prebiotics. It also advertises that its ingredients are from trusted and sustainable sources. With all these good things, it is easy to see why so many love it, but there are some drawbacks too. It is a grain-free diet that is relatively high in plant proteins, including pea protein. New research released by the FDA suggests that many grain-free diets aren’t as nutritionally sound as advertisers would have you believe. Peas and pea protein in particular have been linked to some heart health issues. Because of that, this diet isn’t suitable for all puppies.

    Pros
    • Variety of meat sources
    • Nutritious fruits and veggies
    • Includes probiotics
    Cons
    • High in peas and plant protein
    • Grain-free may not be ideal for all pets

    6. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Puppy Food

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Barley
    Protein content: 27%
    Fat content: 16%

    The Blue Buffalo Life Protection Puppy Formula is another good puppy food because it strikes such a great balance between nutrition and digestibility. This puppy food is high in protein and healthy fats, as well as lots of other great nutrients, including omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are especially important for developing puppies. It is also high in vitamins, like calcium and phosphorus, that are essential for healthy growth. LifeSource Bits, which look like darker pieces of kibble, add tons of vitamins to Blue Buffalo foods like this one. This kibble is made with whole grains that are easy to digest, especially brown rice. Digestibility is also helped by the smaller kibble size, which means even smaller puppies will have no trouble tasting it. Our only quibble is the sodium content, which is a little high.

    Pros
    • Healthy LifeSource Bits
    • High in protein, omega acids, and essential vitamins
    • Healthy and digestible whole grains
    Cons
    • Higher in Sodium

    7. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Sorghum
    Protein content: 24%
    Fat content: 11%

    Hill’s Science Diet is a huge proponent of research, and its wide variety of dog foods are formulated for every kind of dog. Their large breed puppy formula is a great option for Aussies and is formulated specifically for dogs of about 50–90 pounds, right in the same range as an Australian Shepherd. Their calcium support in particular is formulated to help larger dogs reach their ideal bone growth rate. This formula is made with high-quality ingredients, including whole grains, fish oil, and fruit and vegetable extracts. It is a little lower in protein and fat than many on this list, with only 24% protein and 11% fat content, but it is otherwise a great puppy food.

    Pros
    • Optimized for large breed puppies
    • High-quality ingredients
    • Calcium support for optimal bone growth
    Cons
    • Lower in protein and fat

    8. Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Original Dry Dog Food

    Iams Proactive Health Smart Puppy with Real Chicken Dry Dog Food

    Main ingredients: Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Dried Plain Beet Pulp
    Protein content: 29%
    Fat content: 17.5%

    Real chicken and whole grains are the first ingredients in this protein-heavy dog food, and there’s a lot to love. Chicken is the first ingredient, and chicken fat and fish oil are both healthy and rich in antioxidants. It’s nutritionally balanced and has whole grains like ground corn and sorghum. It’s also a lower-cost option than many on this list. But that lower cost does come with a price. Some of the protein comes from chicken byproducts, a cheaper and less nutritious option than chicken, and it also contains many artificial colors that serve no nutritional purpose. Although it has real chicken as the first ingredient, it’s likely that the low cost is due to shortcuts and less-than-stellar ingredients.

    Pros
    • Full of whole grains
    • High in protein and key nutrients
    • Lower cost option
    Cons
    • Contains artificial colors
    • Contains meat byproducts

    9. American Journey Active Life Formula Puppy Food

    American Journey Protein & Grains Puppy Chicken

    Main ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Brown Rice, Peas
    Protein content: 25%
    Fat content: 15%

    American Journey Active Life Formula Puppy Food is an all-around balanced dog food, with digestible ingredients, nutrient-dense formula, and a delicious flavor. It is designed for active, high-energy puppies like Australian Shepherd pups, and full of calcium, phosphorus, omegas, antioxidants, and other vital ingredients.

    It is a little lower in protein than other puppy foods on this list, and a glance at the ingredients might reveal why—with brown rice, brewers rice, and rice bran listed as separate ingredients, it’s likely that it’s a little grain-heavy. Listing similar ingredients separately like this is called ingredient splitting. It also contains peas in the first few ingredients, which have been linked to heart health issues.

    Pros
    • Gentle on sensitive stomachs
    • Nutrient-dense ingredients
    • Formulated for active breeds
    Cons
    • Contains peas
    • Lower protein levels
    • Possible ingredient splitting

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    Buyers Guide: Picking the Best Puppy Foods for Australian Shepherds

    If you want your Aussie to grow up big and strong, real food is the way to go. There’s no one right food, but here are some guides to keep in mind.

    Puppy vs Adult Food

    If your dog is still growing, you want puppy food. This food is a little more expensive, but the cost is worth it, especially since it will only be needed for 18 months or so. Puppy food has more protein and fat, but that’s not the only difference—slightly different ratios of vitamins and minerals will help your puppy grow strong bones, a healthy brain and eyes, and a good digestive system. You should also give puppy food to pregnant and nursing mothers.

    Proper Proteins and Fats

    Puppies need a lot of energy, especially in highly active breeds like Aussies. Puppy food is required to have at least 8% fat and 22% protein, but in general, the ideal is a little higher than that. 26–30% protein is ideal for building strong muscles and fueling your growing puppy day and night. Since obesity isn’t a concern with growing dogs and balanced food, don’t try to limit your pup’s calorie intake either.

    Grains or Grain-Free?

    Carbs are another essential part of a healthy diet, and whole grains are the way to go. Grain-free diets were popular once, but it turns out they aren’t all they’re hyped up to be. These tend to have other vegetable fillers like potatoes and sweet potatoes that aren’t any healthier, and recent studies link grain-free foods to higher risks of heart disease. Newer research suggests that whole-grain corn, rice, wheat, sorghum, oatmeal, and other grains are preferable. If your puppy struggles with digestion, brown rice is recommended.

    dry dog food in bowl and on wooden table
    Image by: 279photo Studio, Shutterstock

    Veggies, Vitamins, and Other Ingredients

    Along with the meat and grains, veggies, vitamins, and minerals are important too. Keep away from anything that’s too high in peas or legumes—these have recently been linked to heart disease. But other veggies are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Regulation makes sure that your pup has all the most important vitamins, but other bonuses like prebiotics, probiotics, and antioxidants aren’t always present. Chelated minerals are easier to absorb.

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    Conclusion

    There are few joys like an Aussie puppy, and the right food is worth the hassle to find. Our best overall pick is The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food because of its balance and digestibility. For a budget-friendly option, we suggest Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Food, which has more nutrition than other foods of the same price. We hope that these reviews will help you decide what your Aussie pup needs.


    Featured Image Credit: cottonbro, Pexels

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