Australian Shepherd Diet & Meal Plan Advice

By Hungry Bark | July 21, 2021

Known as highly intelligent, playful, trainable, and affectionate, the Australian Shepherd is a breed known for its spotted coats and multiple-colored eyes.

Australian Shepherds, or Aussies as they’re known, have a lot of energy and need regular vigorous exercise, and are best suited for households with large yards.

For long, healthy life, your Aussie needs a combination of regular exercise, proper nutrition, and routine visits to the vet.

Australian Shepherds are herding dogs, meaning they will try to get you and anyone in your household to follow its directions. They are bred to handle large animals like cows and sheep, so a little herding behavior with your loved ones shouldn’t come as a surprise.

To give your Aussie the best life possible, you should provide the best food you can at feeding time. However, understand not every meal plan is made the same, so if you’re curious about what to feed your Australian Shepherd for optimal health, keep reading.

The Importance Of Getting Enough Exercise

For Aussies, getting enough exercise is crucial to their physical and mental health.

The recommended amount of exercise for a healthy adult Australian Shepherd is at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day.

There are numerous benefits of exercise for your Australian Shepherd. In addition to making them healthier, regular exercise will also allow you time to reinforce proper behaviors and enhance the bond you both share.

Some additional benefits include:

  • Aid Digestion: Regular exercise will help keep your dog’s waste production regular as well. Also, a daily routine will maintain a proper body width and simultaneously improve your dog’s appetite.
  • Correct Negative Behaviors: It’s understood that dogs lash out and misbehave at times, and the causes are often associated with not enough exercise. Symptoms include agitation, stress, and uncomfortableness.
  • Improved Mental Function: Australian Shepherd’s that develop anxiety issues show very little ability to focus, and negative behaviors become dominant. Regular activity will alleviate anxiety, calm their mind, and make them more receptive to instructions.
  • Improved Respiratory and Cardiovascular Function: Vigorous exercise taxes the lungs and cardiovascular systems of Australian Shepherd so that regular exercises will improve their heart and lung health.
  • Increased Flexibility: As dogs age, joints and muscles become tighter. Regular exercise and movement are crucial in maintaining joint health and flexibility.
  • Maintain The Skeletal-Muscle System: Daily exercise builds and strengthens your Aussie’s skeletal-muscle system, which is crucial for overall health and wellness. Strong muscles force the cardiovascular system to work long after the exercise is over, adding to the benefit of vigorous exercise.

The Type Of Nutrition Your Australian Shepherd Needs

Dogs like to sniff and explore their surroundings. It’s instinctual and serves to discover new food sources and or potential threats in the area. Daily walks allow your Australian Shepherd to engage their curiosity as well as explore their surroundings.  

This discovery also has one added benefit. Dogs rely on the sense of smell, and in fact, they smell 40x better than a human, and from scents, dogs can also learn about what other animals ate, what time they ate, and other factors of the other animals’ day.

We have a few suggestions of the types of exercises you may have your Aussie do.

Walks: The easiest form of exercise is to take daily walks. The benefits of these include allowing your Australian Shepherd to get some exercise while discovering their immediate surroundings. Walks are also a great way to reinforce good behaviors and strengthen the bonds between you two.

Hikes: Hikes can be a great alternative to daily walks. Going somewhere new and different will expose your pet to new sights and sounds to engage their curiosity. Keep in mind the type of terrain and temperature before you head on a hike and pack plenty of water for both of you.

Dog Park: Dog parks are a great suggestion and have multiple benefits. Allowing your Aussie to be off-leash will enable it to discover its space and boundaries while also getting exercise running around. Additionally, they will learn social skills with other dogs, as dogs are social by nature. Don’t worry if they pack with other dogs, run, and look like they are wrestling with each other. It’s part of how dogs interact with each other.  

Agility Drills: Australian Shepherds are amazingly athletic. Creating obstacles and agility drills is a great way to get exercise, work on behavior, and training drills as well. These types of activities will engage your Aussie’s curiosity, get them the vigorous exercise they need, and reinforce the hierarchy and roles between pet and pet parent.


Swimming: Most Aussies enjoy all types of physical activity, and that includes swimming. Of course, this is a generalization, and individual dog preferences may be different. Swimming is a full-body activity and is an excellent option for low-impact exercise, especially for older animals.

Why Your Australian Shepherd’s Food Ingredients Are Important

Like people, your Aussie has tastes and preferences unique to its personality. So when you are researching the type of meal plan to offer, consider your Australian Shepherd’s preferences but don’t cut corners on nutrition.

When exploring the best meal plan for your Australian Shepherd, factor in your pet’s age, weight, activity level, and whether your pet has any allergies, and look for one that avoids any potential for allergies.

Your Australian Shepherd’s Age And Weight

The right balance of nutrition and caloric needs can be a little overwhelming at first.

We suggest that you consider your Aussie’s age and ideal weight when selecting your meal plan.

Your Aussie has different nutritional needs at various stages of life, so any meal plan you select should be appropriate for its age and weight.

One other factor to consider is your dog’s eating habits. Some dogs eat small amounts multiple times a day, like one large meal, and others eat sporadically. As the pet parent, you understand your dog’s likes and dislikes and focus on the types of calories and nutrition needs, and serving size will help them maintain a healthy weight.

Your Aussie’s Activity Levels

While evaluating meal plans, consider your Aussie’s level of fitness and age.

While some dogs are prone to overeating, Aussies are not known to be prone to weight issues, but a sedentary lifestyle may impact their metabolism.

Understand that an active dog will need a diet protein-rich as opposed to a sedentary one. The best meal plans prioritize protein from a single source such as lamb, chicken, salmon, or turkey in the food label.  

Protein should be listed as the primary food source, followed by carbs and fats in that order.

Is Your Dog Allergic Or Intolerant To Types Of Foods

Dog’s that develop a foodborne allergy are prone to more allergic reactions over time. Choosing a meal plan that lists the specific nutrient source is crucial in determining the cause of a foodborne allergy.

The reason foodborne allergies are complicated for your Aussie’s immune system is that once the auto-immune system becomes over-stimulated, it will aggressively attack any other allergens within the body.

 Symptoms of foodborne allergies include digestive issues such as diarrhea and vomiting to excessive itching. In addition, excessive itching can cause other health concerns as it causes skin irritation when bacteria get under the skin, heightening the body’s itch response.

Another type of allergy-related to food is known as food intolerance. This intolerance is the same in people as animals and is when the dog can’t digest a specific food. These allergies can be from something toxic, like chocolate, and the severity of the intolerance can be similar to humans with a nut allergy. 

The best way to avoid developing food allergies and intolerances is to understand the source of nutrition in the meal plan you select.

In general, a meal plan should have proteins from a specific source, carbohydrates from natural ingredients such as brown rice, and fats before any other ingredient.

Understanding The Ingredients Label

The meal plan you select for your Australian Shepherd will go a long way to provide them with the energy they need, maintain ideal body weight, as well as give them the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals required for a healthy life.

Proper nutrition should prioritize macronutrients, the building blocks for energy.

Macronutrients are the primary energy source for your Aussie, and high-quality food plans balance skeletal-muscle maintenance, boost their immune system, and aid digestion.

Benefits of good nutrition for your Australian Shepherd include:

  • Higher levels of energy
  • Stronger muscle tone
  • Healthier bones and teeth
  • Improved Cardiovascular Function
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Improved digestion and better waste production
  • Healthier coats

When reading a food label, you need to understand that the item listed is based on weight and percentage of the total ingredient included.

For example, a meal plan that lists chicken first and brown rice will mainly be chicken in the ingredient list.

Avoid unnecessary fillers such as “meat meal” as they provide little information about the source of protein, may include additives and fillers that can cause allergic reactions.

Instead, you want a food label to list ingredients from a single source, such as turkey, without any added terms such as “dinner, entree, or flavor.” You want to avoid these terms because while food manufacturing is a highly regulated industry, the use of obscure terms details the level of purity of the ingredients.

Terms like “dinner or flavor” is a way that manufacturers can claim an amount less than 95% of the purity of the protein in their food label. This tactic is a cost-cutting measure that obscures the fact that there is less protein in the meal than expected.

The best meal plans avoid obscure language and terms and clearly state that the protein comes from a single source.

If you’re confused about how to choose the best meal plan for your Australian Shepherd, the Hungry Bark Custom Meal Planner is a great place to start!

In as little as 2 minutes, the meal planner will customize your Australian Shepherd meal plan to factor breed, age, weight, and activity levels to provide the best meal plan for a long, healthy life.

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