Miniature American Shepherds, also known as “Mini Aussies”, are becoming wildly popular around the world. Minis were first bred in the late 1980’s in the United States as an off-shoot of the larger Australian Shepherd. They are very similar to full-sized Aussies in temperament and activity level – lots of love and fun to go around! But, their size and high energy level make it difficult to find the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs.
The breed name was officially changed in 2011. These dogs were first recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) in 2015 in the herding dog class. Minis are compact, fun-loving little dogs. They come in 4 distinct colors – Black, Red, Blue Merle and Red Merle. White markings and brown points are allowed, with some color patterns referred to as “Black Tri-Color” or “Red Tri-Color.”
For perspective, the standard Australian Shepherd weighs in at 35-70 pounds, depending on the sex and bloodline. Mini American Shepherds typically weigh in at 20-30 pounds and are about 5 inches shorter at the shoulder than the standard Aussie.
Minis are smart, high-energy and need a “job” to keep themselves busy. They are a great addition to an active family with or without children. He or she will be a loyal companion and ready for hiking, playing Frisbee or engaged in agility. Relatively long-lived, your Mini will be an energetic family member for 12-13 years.
In my veterinary clinic I am beginning to see more and more Mini Aussies. As they become more popular, I find myself having the conversation of which is the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs more often as well. Here’s a quick look at the top 10 brands that I recommend:
* Click on the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherds for more info and prices or see below for details.
Of course, these recommendations are made based on the “typical” Mini Aussie. Every dog has unique nutritional needs, and only your veterinarian will be able to tell you which of the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs is right for you pet. It is especially important to consult your vet if your pet has any health conditions.
When choosing the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs, you also need to take the breed’s common health concerns into consideration. These dogs are generally a healthy breed, but they dog have some specific health issues or concerns that they are more susceptible to than most dogs. Some of these conditions may be managed with a specific diet.
If you are interested in food therapy for your Mini Aussie’s condition, please talk to your veterinarian. It is extremely important that you consult an expert, like your vet or a trained canine nutritionist, before trying to treat any health conditions with diet or supplements. If not done properly, a change in nutrition could actually do damage to your dog’s overall health and well-being.
Best Dog Food for Miniature American Shepherd
10 vet recommended brands
Common health conditions in Miniature American Shepherds
Minis are a very healthy breed. Some of the issues that standard Australian shepherds have, such as hip dysplasia, are uncommon in Minis. However, there are some breed-associated issues that may be helped by diet.
Floating Kneecaps – Medially Luxating Patella
Many small and “mini” breeds are prone to luxating patellas. MPLs, or medially luxating patellas (“floating kneecaps”) happen when the kneecap pops out of place, often causing pain and eroding the protective cartilage at the knee.
When “mini” breeds are developed, shortened leg bones are selected for in order to make the dogs in future generations shorter. Unfortunately, their short legs can also be very straight. The straightness of their legs can cause a “conformational abnormality” where their bones meet at the knee.
This can make it difficult for the knee cap to sit in the grooves of the tibia where it belongs. It can pop out of place very easily in some cases – causing limping, hopping when walking, pain and early-onset of osteoarthritis. MPL is graded – with Grade 1 being least severe to Grade 4 being most severe and likely requires surgical repair.
For adult Minis with mild (Grade 1-2) luxating patellas, a joint-protecting diet can help protect their joints. Consider Hill’s Science Diet Ideal Balance Chicken & Zucchini Stew Adult 7+ as the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs with this condition.
This food looks as good as it sounds. It contains age-appropriate nutrition in an easily chewed and digested format. It also contains antioxidants (cranberries), chondroitin sulfate for joint health and flaxseed for an omega-3 boost. Omega-3s are a powerhouse for medical issues, reducing the overall level of inflammation in the body – not just in the joints.
Behavior Issues – Anxiety
Since the development of the breed, veterinarians have reported that some Minis exhibit higher levels of anxiety compared to other breeds. Some are simply “shy” while others may suffer from true anxiety-type disorders. Minis are very smart and if they become too bored, behavior issues such as anxiety can arise.
If you are concerned that your Mini is anxious, talk to your veterinarian. Sometimes a change in diet can help. Royal Canin Canine Calm Dry Formula is my recommendation for the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs with anxiety issues.
This diet is by prescription-only and can be used alone or in conjunction with behavior modification medication and training techniques. It is highly rated by owners on the Royal Canin US website and is balanced for adult dogs. The diet can help to “quiet nerves” and reduce anxiety due to its high level of tryptophan, an amino acid involved in balanced serotonin metabolism. It also contains calming hydrolyzed milk proteins and B vitamins.
How to Feed a Miniature American Shepherd
Before switching your dog to any new diet, always consult with a veterinarian. Remember that no article on the internet, including this one, can replace a consultation with a vet.
Puppy Miniature American Shepherd
Miniature American Shepherds mature quite quickly, it is recommended to feed them a balanced puppy-specific diet until they are 8-12 months of age. At 8-10 weeks of age, your puppy should be able to eat dry, crunchy kibble – but it is perfectly fine to feed a canned or balanced, freshly-prepared diet.
My top picks for Mini puppies include Royal Canin Medium Puppy Dry Formula. Royal Canin had your high-energy puppy in mind when they tweaked this formula. Minis are technically medium-sized dogs like many other working and herding breeds. The right balance of calories, high-quality protein and Calcium to Phosphorus ratio encourages growth at an appropriate rate.
Royal Canin has been trusted for over 40 years by veterinarians and nutritionists alike. Their no-fillers formula is a good value – you will end up feeding less than a lower-quality food and spending less in the end.
Another option for the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherds in their puppy stage is Kinetic Puppy 28K Formula. If your Mini American shepherd is destined for greatness as an agility or Flyball competitor – training will begin fairly early in life. For puppies that are exercising out in the field, consider Kinetic’s puppy formula.
It has a higher protein content than regular medium-dog puppy foods. DHA, an omega-3 essential fatty acid, is included for optimal cardiovascular and brain development. If your puppy enjoys the taste of Kinetic, it is easy to transition him or her onto an adult formula at 12 months of age.
Adult Miniature American Shepherd
When you switch your Mini from puppy to adult food, it is often a good idea to stick with the same brand. However, sometimes the taste can be different or you want to try something new. When you decide to switch, be sure to mix the puppy food with the new adult food over the course of a week to avoid tummy troubles. The first day should be a 20% puppy/80% adult then by day 3-4 it is 50/50 and on day 7 you are feeding 100% new adult food.
Many owners see good results with the Royal Canin puppy formulas and transition to the adult. If your adult Mini has specific issues, such as sensitive skin or a sensitive tummy, it is worthwhile to look into switching to Royal Canin Medium Sensitive Digestion Formula.
Royal Canin’s sensitive digestion formulas are top-notch and have received all 5-star ratings on their US website. They are definitely the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs with sensitive tummies. Some Minis may have issues from time to time with proper digestion, so it is good to start here if needed. This brand supports healthy digestion more than other brands due to its unique formulation – including gut-healthy fiber from beet pulp and prebiotics called fructooligosaccharides.
If you can’t find Royal Canin products or it is not in your price range, consider Eukanuba Performance Active Dog Formula. Adult Miniature American shepherds are very, very active dogs. They require higher levels of protein than other breeds that are more sedentary. Eukanuba’s adult active formula provides proper, balanced nutrition to keep up with your little ball of energy.
Active dogs are also more likely to put excess wear and tear on their joints – this food includes naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for joint support. Best of all – Eukanuba also boasts a 110% money-back guarantee.
Very Active – Sporting Miniature American Shepherd
If your Mini is engaged in sports such as Fly Ball, agility or Frisbee, it is best to feed a high protein, high calorie diet. Sports like agility require sudden bursts of energy for sprinting. Dogs burn protein for energy instead of carbohydrates in the first 30 minutes of strenuous exercise.
A high-protein diet will not only give him the energy to perform, but will help his muscles to recover. A good diet to try as the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs that are very active is Eukanuba Sporting Dog 30/20 Formula. 30% protein is perfect for agility sporting Minis. It is important to feed this diet as directed and cut down on the portions or switch to a lower protein adult dog food during the “off-season” to prevent unwanted weight gain. This food also contains naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to protect your athlete’s joints.
Senior Miniature American Shepherds
Mini American shepherds are considered senior around 8-10 years of age. As dogs grow older, it is important to support their aging bodies with optimal nutrition. The most common issues in older dogs are arthritis and dental disease. If your senior has issues with dental disease or has lost teeth – try an easy to chew canned or “stew” diet, such as Nutro Hearty Stews Senior Formula.
Nutro has a variety of “flavors” in their Hearty Stews like, including lamb, chicken and turkey. This easy to eat canned food is balanced and nutritious for your senior or picky eater. Real lamb, peas and carrots will make it seem like shepherd’s pie is on the menu every night.
For seniors with more significant arthritis, it is best to talk to your veterinarian about a prescription diet. My choice for the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs with severe arthritis is Hill’s Prescription Diet Joint Care j/d Canned Formula.
Hill’s Science Diet prescription diet j/d is one of the best ways that you can manage your dog’s joint health without medication. Many dogs with mild to moderate arthritis have improved mobility in just 21 days on this formula alone. j/d boasts one of the highest levels of glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate and omega-3 fatty acids in an easy to eat, palatable canned formula.
If your senior still enjoys crunchy food – look no further than Nutro Wholesome Essentials Senior Dry Formula. Nutro’s top senior dry formula will tempt even the pickiest of senior dogs while providing wholesome, balanced nutrition.
Your dog’s joint and brain health will be supported for healthy aging with addition of omega-3, omega-6 essential fatty acids, antioxidants from dried blueberries and naturally-sourced glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. This diet can be fed alone or with one of Nutro’s Hearty Stew senior formulas.
The Doggy Bag – Take Home Message
All dogs live the longest, healthiest lives when they are kept in a leaner body condition, receive life-stage-appropriate balanced nutrition and routine veterinary care. Regardless of which of the best dog food for Miniature American Shepherd dogs you choose for your furry family member, it is important to follow feeding instructions carefully and consult with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s health or nutrition.
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