Originally bred as smart, capable herding dogs, Australian Shepherds are active, medium-sized pets who are usually happiest when they get plenty of time to run and play. Their activity level is an important consideration when deciding how much to feed them, along with other factors such as the dog’s age and size. It is essential for owners to stay alert when it comes to their dogs’ physical condition to ensure their pets are getting the right amount of food.
Dry dog food has the advantage of being easy to store and convenient to feed. It also helps keep your Aussie’s teeth clean by scraping off any accumulation of plaque. Most dry dog foods are fed based on the weight of the dog. Adult Australian Shepherds typically weigh between 35 and 60 pounds, with about 45 to 55 pounds being the most common weight range for both males and females. They need anywhere from three to four cups of dry food per day.
Aussie owners who want to give their dogs a raw, natural diet often choose to feed them a commercially made, frozen diet. These diet foods typically contain a combination of raw meat and vegetables, and are sold as patties, cubes or in cylindrical chubs. In general, a 50-pound Australian Shepherd needs about a pound of frozen food each day. It is essential to handle raw dog food safely, in the same manner as you would handle any kind of raw meat. Defrost the food in the refrigerator, discard any food that your dog doesn’t eat within 30 minutes after serving, and wash your hands, utensils, work surfaces, and your dog’s dish in hot, soapy water after use to avoid contaminating bacteria. Check with a veterinarian before feeding your dog raw meat.
Canned dog food can be used as a complete diet for your Australian Shepherd, but dogs fed only soft foods may need extra help with their teeth and gums. Dog biscuits and hard rubber toys help to remove plaque before it causes problems; brushing your dog’s teeth will also help. Choose food tailored to your dog’s needs, selecting either an all-purpose food or one designed specifically for various health problems, for puppies or for older dogs. Start by feeding about one-half a can per day for every 10 pounds of the dog’s body weight if your dog is not very active. Active or pregnant dogs need about twice that much, for a total of up to five cans a day or more. Many owners prefer to feed their Australian shepherd a single can each day, replacing some of the kibble and mixing the two together to make a semi-moist meal.
Older dogs and puppies have different needs than the average adult Australian Shepherd. Aussie puppies generally need more food than adult dogs of the same size. As dogs age, they tend to slow down, though many Australian Shepherds remain active well into their senior years. Aussies who don’t run and play a lot don’t need as much food, and their intake should be cut back to help them maintain a healthy weight. Pregnant and nursing females need extra food, typically in increasing amounts from the time the pups begin to develop during pregnancy until weaning.