How Much to Feed an Australian Shepherd (Feeding Chart & Guide)

Owner feeding his Australian Shepherd

As a medium-sized, energetic working breed, Australian Shepherds need a balanced diet with adequate calories and nutrients to maintain their health and fitness.

Australian Shepherd feeding is highly influenced by age. An Aussie puppy needs to eat ¾ to 4 cups of food, whereas an adult Australian Shepherd requires 2 ½ to 3 ½ cups. On the other hand, a senior Aussie’s daily dietary requirements can be met with 2 to 2 ¾ cups of food.

In this article, we’ll explore the key factors to consider when determining how much to feed them, their feeding frequency, and more about their diet. Let’s start!

What Factors Impact How Much to Feed an Australian Shepherd?

Aussie dog eat from bowl at home

Determining how much to feed an Australian Shepherd can be tricky as there are a variety of factors that can impact their dietary needs. It is crucial to provide them with the proper amount of food to maintain their overall health.

Below are some factors that can influence the amount you feed your Australian Shepherd:

  • Activity Level: Australian Shepherds are active dogs and require plenty of exercise to maintain their health. More active dogs need more calories to fuel their bodies, while dogs with a less active lifestyle require fewer calories.
  • Weight: The weight of your Australian Shepherd is another essential factor to consider when determining how to feed them. This is to ensure they maintain a healthy weight and prevent insufficient nourishment.
  • Age: Age plays a significant role in determining the nutritional requirements of dogs. An Australian Shepherd puppy will require more food than adult dogs to support their rapid growth and development. On the other hand, senior dogs tend to have slower metabolisms and require fewer calories.

One of the things you will also need to consider when it comes to your Australian Shepherd’s diet is the type of dog you have. For example, a friend of mine is fond of smaller dogs, so he opted to get a toy Aussie Shepherd for himself.

However, since this dog falls outside the standard size and weight for the breed, I suggested that he consult with a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist so that they can provide the proper guidance on feeding such dogs without compromising their health.

By considering these main factors, you can develop a feeding plan that meets your dog’s individual needs and promotes their overall well-being.

How Much to Feed Your Australian Shepherd?

Australian Shepherd dog waiting for feeding

The following sections will offer instructions for feeding Australian Shepherds at various life stages. However, it is important to remember that these suggestions are merely estimations.

Australian Shepherd Puppy Feeding Chart (2 to 12 months)

Initially, at birth, a reputable breeder will ensure that the Aussie puppy primarily gets its main food source from its mother’s milk, which contains colostrum — its first source of natural antibodies essential for its development.

When an Australian Shepherd puppy starts to develop their teeth, typically between 3 and 4 weeks old, the weaning process usually starts.

This involves slowly incorporating a small quantity of dry dog food or puppy food that is mixed with their puppy milk.

The table below is to help determine the appropriate amount of dry dog food and calories to give Aussie puppies:

AgeDaily Feeding Amount (Cups)Caloric Intake (Per day)
2 – 3 months¾ – 3 388 – 1,298
4 – 5 months 1 ¾ – 2 ¾732 – 1,208
6 – 8 months 2 ¼ – 3 ½ 992 – 1,563
9 – 12 months2 ¾ – 4 1,184 – 1,771
*Use a standard 8-oz measuring cup

It is important to remember that each Australian Shepherd puppy is unique and may require adjustments to its feeding routine or portion sizes based on individual needs.

Adult Australian Shepherd Feeding Chart (1 to 6 years)

The nutritional needs of an adult Australian Shepherd are different compared to puppies. Generally speaking, adult Aussies require a diet high in protein with moderate levels of fat and carbohydrates.

The feeding chart below displays the right amount of food adult Australian Shepherds need:

AgeDaily Feeding Amount (Cups)Caloric Intake (Per day)
1 – 6 years2 ½ – 3 ½ 984 – 1,417
*Use a standard 8-oz measuring cup

It is evident that adult Australian Shepherds require more calories than Aussie puppies, especially if they herd, as they need to sustain their energy levels throughout the day.

You may want to supplement your dog’s diet with natural ingredients like fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and green beans, which can provide additional vitamins and minerals.

Another feeding approach that some Australian Shepherd owners opt for is raw food and animal protein sources such as lean meats, including fresh chicken and lamb liver, into their meals.

Senior Australian Shepherd Feeding Chart (7 years and above)

As Australian Shepherds reach their senior years, they become less active, and their metabolism slows down. It is recommended to provide them with adult dog food that has fewer calories and a moderate amount of protein.

Below is a table that outlines the suitable quantity of food for a senior Australian Shepherd:

AgeDaily Feeding Amount (Cups)Caloric Intake (Per day)
7 years and above2 – 2 ¾ 788 – 1,134
*Use a standard 8-oz measuring cup

Senior dog food typically has lower calories, reduced fat, and higher fiber to help maintain a healthy weight and support their digestive system.

Canned food is another viable option for feeding your Aussie. This food often contains a higher moisture content, which can help keep your dog hydrated.

Additionally, senior dog food often includes supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin to support mobility and have healthy joints.

How Often Should You Feed Your Australian Shepherd?

Australian Shepherd eating dog food from a spilled tub

The frequency of feeding depends on the age of your Aussie and its individual needs. Australian Shepherd puppies are usually fed 3 to 4 small feedings daily, while adults only require 2 to 3 meals. Senior Australian Shepherds, on the other hand, should be fed 1 or 2 meals per day.

The table below is a feeding guide on feeding frequencies based on the age of your Australian Shepherd:

AgeFeeding Frequency
2 – 12 monthsThree to four times a day or free feeding
1 – 6 yearsTwo to three times a day
7 years and aboveOnce or twice a day

Australian Shepherds are known for their hearty appetite and tend to eat more than other dog breeds.

However, it is essential to maintain a healthy mealtime schedule for your Australian Shepherd to prevent overeating and related health issues such as an upset stomach or bloating.

How to Transition Your Australian Shepherd to a New Food 

Aussie dog and kitten eat together from one bowl

Transitioning your Australian Shepherd to a new food requires careful planning and a gradual approach to avoid any digestive upset.

Begin by introducing a small amount of adult food before completely replacing their puppy food or wet food, even if the dog food brands are different.

Below is the recommended schedule to make the food transition smoothly:

DayOld FoodNew Food
1 – 275%25%
3 – 450%50%
5 – 625%75%

Similar to the weaning process, it may take around seven days for Australian Shepherd puppies to adjust to adult food. If you notice any digestive upset, don’t hesitate to slow down the transition.

Increase the quantity of dry dog food gradually until the puppy food is completely replaced with adult dog food. It’s essential to monitor your pet’s response and adjust as needed.

If you observe any indication that your puppy needs a slower transition or a different brand, restart the process.

Tips on Feeding an Overweight Australian Shepherd 

Because of their build, some may confuse Australian Shepherds for large breed dogs and overfeed them, putting them at risk of being obese.

Further, for those who are familiar with taking care of Australian Shepherds, like me, I can attest that due to the active nature of these dogs, they will make up for their lost energy by eating a lot.

If their diet is not monitored, it is easy to overfeed these dogs since they tend to ask for more food than what is required. This can easily lead to an uncontrolled weight gain.

Feeding an overweight Aussie requires a delicate balance between reducing calorie intake and ensuring your dog receives essential nutrients to maintain its health. Here are some tips for feeding your overweight Aussie:

  • Monitor and measure your dog’s food. Regardless of the type of food you provide, be it dry kibble, raw meat, or wet food, it is essential to regulate and decrease your Aussie’s calorie intake. Following the feeding guide corresponding to their age is one approach to monitoring their diet.
  • Add fiber-rich foods. Adding fiber-rich foods to your Aussie’s diet can help them feel full for longer and reduce their calorie intake. Good sources of fiber include vegetables like green beans, carrots, and broccoli and fresh fruits like apples and berries.
  • Offer low-calorie snacks/treats. Treats are an excellent way to reward your pooch, but they can also contribute to weight gain if not given in moderation. Look for low-calorie snacks and treats like baby carrots, apple & banana slices, and green beans, or offer them smaller portions of their regular food as dog treats.
  • Increase their exercise. Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy dog. It helps burn calories and builds muscle, boosting your Australian Shepherd’s metabolism. Take your pooch on daily walks, play fetch, or engage in games like tug-of-war to increase physical activity.

Remember, losing weight takes time, and it’s essential to be patient and consistent with your Aussie’s weight loss plan. Keep track of your Australian Shepherd’s weight loss progress. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Australian Shepherd sitting with dog food
Editorial credit: Danielle W Press /

How Do I Know If I’m Feeding My Australian Shepherd Enough?

To assess whether you are providing sufficient food for your Aussie pup, you can utilize the feeding charts provided earlier that correspond to their age and weight to compare your current feeding amount.

Another effective approach to determine if you are feeding your pet enough is by utilizing a body condition score chart.

Following the simple guideline of feeling or visually assessing your pet’s ribs, you can adjust their food intake based on your observations.

Why Is My Australian Shepherd Not Eating?

Australian Shepherds are generally not picky eaters. So, if they refuse to eat, it can be concerning and may be due to a couple of factors, such as loss of interest in their food, adjustment to a new environment, or stress.

If your puppy refuses to eat, you can consider mixing dry kibble and wet food, exploring a raw diet, introducing flavorful dog treats, or substituting various dog food brands.

If you observe lethargy, weakness, vomiting, or diarrhea accompanying your dog’s decreased appetite, it is recommended to consult a trusted veterinarian for a more accurate diagnosis.

Can I Feed My Australian Shepherd With Human Food?

While it is generally not recommended to feed your dog human food solely, there are certain types of human food that can be safe and beneficial for your Australian Shepherd puppy in moderation.

It is important to remember that the nutritional needs of Aussies differ from humans and require a specific and balanced diet for them to thrive.

Do Australian Shepherds Eat a Lot?

Yes, Aussies are known to be highly food-driven, and this is typically a result of their high energy needs. As with any dog breed, their dietary needs vary depending on age, size, activity level, and overall health.

So, it is essential to stick to a dietary plan and avoid overfeeding, as excess weight can lead to health problems such as joint issues and obesity.

Can Australian Shepherds Eat Bones?

Like all breeds, Aussies can consume bones but only raw ones to avoid ingestion and potential complications. It is crucial for owners to closely monitor their dogs when feeding them bones.

Supervised chewing on raw, edible, or recreational bones promotes strong teeth and jaw muscles in these dogs.

Hopefully, you have learned valuable tips from this feeding guide. Share with us your experiences in Australian Shepherd feeding in the comment section!

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