puppy eating dry dog food from a bowl and the floor

What Food Should I Feed My Dog?


This article is written by Pet Circle pet expert and owner of a small chihuahua army, Jessica Varley, and last updated by Dr. Gillian Hill BVSc (Hons)

Wondering which type of dog food is best for your pooch? Finding it difficult to choose between the vast array of products that all claim to be superior over the others? Follow our guide below to help choose the right food for your dog.

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Things to consider when choosing the best diet for your dog:

The age and size of your dog

The pros and cons of value vs premium foods

Whether a breed specific formula is available and/or suitable

Whether your dog may benefit from a tailored diet to treat a particular condition

Do you prefer a natural diet?

Do you prefer an ethically sourced diet?

Age and Breed Size of Your Dog

Age specific formulas are designed for the different life stages of your dog. Puppy formulas will have higher levels of fats, proteins and essential vitamins to accommodate for the accelerated growth rate of your pooch in their first 12-24 months. Senior formulas are highly digestible and contain adequate protein to help maintain muscle mass, and higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids (sourced from ingredients like fish, chicken, or flaxseed) for anti-inflammatory effects that help conditions such as arthritis, renal disease, and skin issues.

Read more about why age-appropriate nutrition is important for your pet.

Small dogs under 10kg

Smaller breeds will need less time on a puppy diet than larger dogs as they have less growing to do. If kept on a puppy formula for too long, they're likely to gain excess weight. Generally smaller breeds are weaned onto adult diets at 12 months and will stay on an adult diet until 8 years of age. Brands like Advance have diets with smaller sized kibble to accommodate for the daintier jaws of smaller breeds.

Medium dogs between 10-25kg

Medium breeds will usually be kept on a puppy formula until the age of 12 months. They will stay on an adult diet until 7 years of age after which you may look at transitioning to a food formulated for senior dogs. Royal Canin have diet formulas just for these breeds, as well as diets to support certain health conditions like sensitive skin.

Large Breeds over 25kg

Bigger dogs are generally categorized as either large (25 - 45kg) or giant (>45kg), and the food and medication they consume will also generally be grouped in this way. Dogs 25kg and over are usually kept on a puppy diet until 18-24 months of age. They are then fed an adult formula until 6 years of age after which they should be transitioned to a senior diet.

Due to their large body frame and weight putting more pressure on their bones and joints, large breed dogs can experience complications with arthritis and joint degeneration much earlier than smaller breeds. Advance Large breed, as an example, not only has a larger kibble size to suit these dogs, but the formula is designed to promote a healthy weight and reduce the impact of conditions such as arthritis.

Please note, ages and weights specified above are a guide only and some brands may have different specifications depending on their formulation. The weights for different breeds are based on the expected adult weight, not the weight they are during their growth state.

Value vs Premium Dog Food

labrador being fed food treat by owner

There are significant price differences between dog food brands. Just like human food, there are higher and lower quality foods available for our pets.

It's easy to be fooled by cheap pet foods as we naturally compare by the price per kilo, when really we should be looking at the cost per feed to assess cheaper dog food brands.

Premium foods have a higher absorption rate than cheap foods which means that you feed a lesser amount to your dog to get the required nutrients. The higher absorption rate also means less waste, so you should have smaller and fewer poopy landmines to dodge in your backyard.

Many low-cost foods will also be vague when specifying their ingredients which allows them to change their food formulas between batches. For example, formulations may change depending on the price of ingredients at the time of manufacture and these sudden changes in diet may cause digestive upsets such as vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Not sure how to understand what's in your dog's food? Check out our article How do I read the label on a bag of dog food?.

When taking both quality and cost into consideration, you'll notice that there are significant advantages to choosing premium dog food brands over the cheaper alternatives often available in your supermarket.

What Dog Food Should You Get For Purebreds?

German Shepherd purebred dog in a field

Brands such as Advance, Royal Canin and Eukanuba have designed formulas to work with unique behavioural traits and combat conditions that are likely to develop in individual breeds.

For example, Labradors are well known for hoovering their food which often causes excessive weight gain and digestive complications. Royal Canin Labrador kibble is unique in shape and size which significantly reduces the guzzling of food.

Royal Canin also offers formulas designed to prevent and manage specific conditions such as urinary tract issues for Miniature Schnauzers or dental disease common with small breeds like Chihuahuas. See our full range of breed specific Royal Canin diets.

Advance has recently also released a line of breed-type diets for dogs, including a small terrier diet, which provides extra skin support and a tasty ocean fish recipe, a medium terrier diet, perfect for staffies, with added zinc and linoleic acid to support skin and coat health, and a Retriever-specific diet with green-lipped mussel for joint health and fewer calories to support a healthy weight. They've also released an Oodle-specific range with skin and heart support ingredients to target common issues in the Oodle breeds and a specific Shepherd diet with joint and skin support.

Dog Foods To Support Health Conditions

For pets already suffering from medical conditions, super premium manufacturers Hill's and Royal Canin have created Prescription dog diets for the prevention or management of common conditions.

Examples of these include; allergies, obesity, urinary crystals or bladder issues and kidney disease. These diets need to be prescribed by a veterinarian and regular check ups are recommended.

Natural Dog Food Is An Increasingly Popular Choice

The natural pet food industry is ever-growing. More and more people are getting on board the 'natural' train and reaping the benefits. Pet owners generally report many improvements after swapping to a natural diet for dogs, the most common being improved skin and coat, as well smaller, firmer stools.

There are a large number of natural dog food brands. Our favourites include Ivory Coat, Taste of the Wild, Black Hawk, Open Farm, Zignature and K9 Natural.

Our Top Natural Diets for Dogs

Open Farm

This ethical brand produces natural diets in a range of different meat proteins. Employing humane production animal welfare standards and sustainable fishing, Open Farm is leading the way in sustainable values.

Instinctive Bite

Made in Australia from Aussie ingredients, Instinctive Bite produces both grain and grain-free dry food for adult dogs. Consistently reviewed as being highly palatable, Instinctive Bite is also great for fussy dogs.

Ivory Coat

This dry food is very popular among owners of dogs with skin issues. It is Australian-made and grain free, and its high palatability means it is good for tempting fussy eaters.


Savourlife produces natural, Australian made dry food for adult dogs, and gives 50% of profits to rescue shelters. This formula is made with nutritious kangaroo; and dogs love it!

Ethical and Sustainable Pet Food

brown dog eating from a multi-coloured dog bowl on the ground

All over Australia, pet owners are clueing into the fact that pet food manufacturers aren't always transparent about their recipes, fishing and production animal welfare standards, as well as their ethics around sourcing ingredients.

There are a large number of dog food brands which provide transparency, ethical sourcing, and prioritise sustainable fishing and production. Leaders in this more sustainable dog food category include Open Farm, Orijen, and K9 Natural.

Our Top Ethical Diets for Dogs


Orijen is transparent in showcasing where each of the wholefood ingredients have been sourced from, and only selects free run chicken, duck, turkey, and humanely raised pork and beef.

Open Farm

This ethical brand produces natural diets in a range of different meat proteins. Employing humane production animal welfare standards and sustainable fishing, Open Farm is leading the way in sustainable values.

K9 Natural

This NZ-made brand uses only free range, grass fed and grass finished lamb and beef, and all meats are free from antibiotics and hormones.

Every pet family is different

It may be overwhelming choosing the right food for your dog, but following our guide will give you a great head start!

Just remember that every pet family is different! To re-cap, your first step is to choose the food that best suits your dog's age and size. This will narrow down the available options making selection a simpler process.

If you know that your dog's breed is prone to certain conditions like joint degeneration, a targeted food such as Hills Science Diet Mobility to improve joint flexibility and motion may be the best option.

For more specialised nutrition, check if there is a kibble designed for your dog's breed. For example, Royal Canin has many different breed specific foods from Beagles to Boxers.

If you have multiple pets in your household consider whether a food that is nutritionally suitable for all breeds and ages, such as Zignature is a more convenient option.

Further Reading

Raw Diets for Pets: A Complete Review of the Pros and Cons

Ethical and Sustainable Pet Food

What is the best dog food?

Exploring Grain Free Pet Food

Dental Care For Dogs: A Complete Guide

Premium pet food: Is it worth it?

Best Wet Dog Food - Vet Reviewed

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