10 Best Dog Foods for Active Dogs 2023 (Premium & Budget)

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Last Updated on April 27, 2023

While we all want a puppy, the energetic stage that all young new dogs go through can be exhausting. Thankfully, most puppies outgrow their extreme energy levels as they age.

But note, some breeds, like Collies and Shepherds, remain super energetic way beyond their early years.

A Corgi with food at a dining table
A Corgi ready to eat

These active dogs need quality nutrition to support their high energy levels.

Their food needs to contain optimum levels of protein and fat to sustain them throughout the day while supporting their muscles, bones, and joints. 

While many pet parents of active dogs opt for homemade diets to support their active pets, there are a variety of commercial dog foods that cater to these breeds.

You just have to know what to look for.

Thankfully, we’ve done the legwork for you and examined the recipes of various dog foods to formulate what we believe are the top ten dog foods for active pups.

Quick Top Picks: Best Dog Food For Active Dogs

If you’re short of time, be sure to check out our top three picks below.

We’ve analyzed the ingredients, nutritional values, and costs of the top dog foods for active dogs, and these are our absolute favorites:

  Dog Food Recipes Our Rating The Price for Feeding a 15-lb adult dog per day
Best Overall Dr. Tim’s Active Dog Pursuit 5 $1.83
Runner-up Taste Of The Wild High Prairie 4.8 $1.04
Best Budget Dog Food for Active Dogs Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula 4.6 $0.55

While Dr. Tim’s Active Dog Food is our firm favorite, it’s quite expensive and difficult to find.

However, Taste of the Wild High Prairie provides a great quality alternative at an affordable price.

But if you really need to consider the budget, Diamond Naturals is a good affordable option without compromising quality. 

10 Best Dog Foods for High-Energy and Working Dogs

A Shetland Sheepdog doing agility training
An active Shetland Sheepdog

Here are some of our favorite foods for dogs loaded with essential nutrients that can help your active pet maintain the energy they need.

1. Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food

Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food

Our rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Ground turkey, eggs, brown rice
Type: Fresh dog food
Producer: Nom Nom
Daily Feeding Cost: $5 to $6.50 per day
Best for: All adult dogs

Nom Nom Fresh Pet Food is delivered right to your door daily. This freshly prepared dog food offers a variety of recipes based on the specific needs of your pet.

This option provides the quality of home cooking without the inconvenience at the cost of between $5 and $6.50 a day. 


  • You can customize your dog’s meals based on their calorie requirements
  • Nom Nom uses only the best, human-grade ingredients in their formulas


  • Daily fresh food for your dog does unfortunately come at a price


2. Taste Of The Wild High Prairie

Taste of the Wild High Prairie

Our rating: 4.8
Top Ingredients: Water Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal
Type: Grain-free dry dog food
Producer: Taste Of The Wild
Daily Feeding Cost: $1.04 per day
Caloric Content: 3,719 kcal/kg, 370 kcal/cup
Best for: All adult dogs

Taste of the Wild High Prairie is a grain-free dry dog food that offers your pet a good balance of protein, fat, and other nutrients.

It features buffalo, lamb, and chicken as the first three ingredients and primary protein sources, while roasted bison and fresh venison are also included in the ingredients. 

This food offers your pet 32% protein, 18% fat, and 4% fiber. This well-respected brand of food costs around $1.04 per day but is well worth it for the premium formula.


  • It is formulated with probiotics and prebiotic fibers, which aid in digestion
  • Chicken fat and ocean fish meal supply your pet with a blend of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for healthy skin and coat and immune system boost
  • A variety of antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits are also included in the recipe, such as blueberries, raspberries, and tomatoes


  • Not all dogs require a grain-free recipe, and the FDA is currently investigating a link between grain-free diets and heart disease in dogs


3. Canidae Grain-Free Pure

Canidae Grain-Free Pure

Our rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal
Type: Dry Dog Food
Producer: Canidae
Daily Feeding Cost: $1.02 per day
Caloric content: 3,880 kcal/kg, 496 kcal/cup
Best for: All adult dogs

Canidae Grain-Free Pure dog food is packed with delicious flavor for your pet. This food offers your dog 32% protein, 18% fat, and 4% fiber.

For a cost of $1.02 per day, your dog gets a premium grain-free diet made with just ten key ingredients, making it an excellent choice for active pets with food sensitivities. 


  • This food is fortified with various essential vitamins and minerals to support your pup’s whole body health, including B Vitamins and magnesium


  • Some dogs got an upset stomach on this diet


4. American Journey Active Life Formula

American Journey Active Life Formula

Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Brown Rice
Type: Kibble
Producer: American Journey
Daily Feeding Cost: $1.02 per day
Caloric content: 3,685 kcal/kg or 405 kcal/cup
Best for: All adult dogs

American Journey Active Life Formula offers your active pet high-protein food while still affordable.

For $1.02 per day, this food is made with real, deboned salmon as the first ingredient and includes 25% protein, 15% fat, and 6% fiber. 

The carbohydrates in this recipe include brown rice and barley, which are easy to digest, while nutritious veggies like sweet potatoes and carrots round out the list.


  • The recipe is free from any wheat, corn, soy, by-products, and artificial additives
  • This food contains essential omega fatty acids to keep your dog’s skin and coat looking and feeling good


  • Some dogs refused to eat this food


5. Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula

Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula

Our rating: 4.6
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Chicken, Ground White Rice
Type: Dry dog Food
Producer: Diamond
Daily Feeding Cost: $0.55 per day
Caloric content: 4,710 kcal/kg, 470 kcal/cup
Best for: All adult dogs

Diamond Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula is another affordable option for active dogs.

Chicken meal and chicken feature as the first ingredients and single highly concentrated protein source. This recipe features 32% crude protein, 25% fat, and 4% fiber. 

A variety of fruits and veggies and complex carbs like pearled barley aid digestion and support your dog’s whole body health.

At a price of just $0.57 per day, your dog gets a superior, energy-rich kibble at a reasonable cost.


  • The formula includes a variety of vitamins including Vitamin A, E, and Zinc to provide your pet with complete nutrition
  • The recipe is added with omega fatty acids to boost your pup’s immune system and build healthy skin and coat


  • Some pet owners said their dog just didn’t like the taste of this food


6. Merrick Backcountry Hero’s Banquet Recipe

Merrick Backcountry Hero's Banquet Recipe

Our rating: 4
Top Ingredients: Deboned Beef, Pork Meal, Turkey Meal
Type: Kibble with freeze-dried bits
Producer: Merrick
Daily Feeding Cost: $2.19 per day
Caloric content: 3,739 kcal/kg, 396 kcal/cup
Best for: All adult dogs

Merrick Backcountry Hero’s Banquet Recipe provides an alternative for pet owners that want to feed their pet a raw diet but don’t want the hassle.

The dry dog food is infused with freeze-dried bits of premium protein to supply your pet with delicious taste and high-quality nutrition.

For just $2.19 per day, you are guaranteed 38% crude protein, 17% fat, and 3.5% fiber. 


  • The recipe features a unique blend of animal proteins, including pork, turkey, beef, lamb, and salmon
  • Highly digestible carbs like sweet potato, as well as probiotics and prebiotic fibers, help ensure proper digestion
  • The food is formulated with omega-three fatty acids for the immune system and chelated minerals for nutrient absorption


  • Plant proteins from peas and potatoes do boost the protein content of this food


7. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Large Breed

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Large Breed

Our rating: 4.4
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal
Type: Puppy food
Producer: Purina
Daily Feeding Cost: $26.24 per day
Caloric content: 3934 kcal/kg, 419 kcal/cup
Best for: Large breed puppies

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Large Breed is specifically made for puppies of active large breed dogs. It is designed to supply your young dog with the extra protein he needs to grow properly.

The chicken and rice formula is available for $26.24 per day and offers your dog 28% protein, 13% fat, and 4.75% fiber. 


  • This food is supplemented with probiotics to aid in digestion
  • This dry kibble has been fortified with DHA to support your puppy’s brain and vision development


  • Unfortunately, the recipe contains some controversial ingredients like corn gluten meal and poultry by-product meal


8. Natural Balance Synergy Formula

Natural Balance Synergy Formula

Our rating: 4.5
Top Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice
Type: Dry Dog Food
Producer: Natural Balance
Daily Feeding Cost: $1.39 per day
Caloric content: 3,700 kcal/kg, 400 kcal/cup
Best for: All puppies and adult dogs

Natural Balance Synergy Formula features chicken as its main ingredient, offering your pet 31% protein, 18% fat, and a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

For just $1.39 per day, your dog will benefit from a food designed for healthy digestion and a luscious skin and coat.


  • This food is suitable for dogs of all breeds, from puppy right through to adulthood
  • The formula includes complex fiber sources to help lower your dog’s stool volume and improve stool quality


  • Some pet owners complained that this food had a weird smell


9. Dr. Tim’s Active Dog Pursuit

Dr. Tim’s Active Dog Pursuit

Our rating: 5
Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Natural Tocopherols, A Source Of Vitamin E)
Type: Dry dog food
Producer: Dr. Tim’s
Daily Feeding Cost: $1.83 per day
Caloric content: 3,840 kcal/kg | 442 kcal/cup
Best for: All adult dogs

Dr. Tim’s Active Dog Pursuit has been formulated by vets and canine nutritionists to supply your pet with the very best.

For $1.83 per day, you get dog food specifically crafted for active and working dogs with 30% protein, 20% fat, and 3% fiber.


  • This all-natural recipe has been slow-cooked to ensure all the nutrients are locked in
  • This food contains omega-3 fatty acids to support your pet’s skin and coat
  • Patented BC30 probiotics and a specialized fiber blend support your pet’s digestive system


  • This product is quite expensive when compared to other products on the market


10. Wellness Core Air Dried Dog Food

Wellness Core Air Dried Dog Food

Our rating: 4.6
Top Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, Deboned Chicken, Chickpeas
Type: Air-dried dog food
Producer: Wellness
Daily Feeding Cost: $5.34 per day
Caloric content: 3,740 kcal/kg or 411 kcal/cup
Best for: All adult dogs

Wellness Core Air Dried Dog Food is a great option for pet owners looking for a grain-free, raw food diet for their pets.

The protein in this recipe has been gently air-dried to preserve the nutrients.

The recipe includes 31% protein, 21% fat, and 3% fiber, with turkey and chicken featuring as the main ingredients. 

This food which is available for $5.34 per day, is designed as a tasty topper to your dog’s ordinary kibble.


  • The recipe contains no wheat-gluten, corn, soy, artificial colors or flavors, preservatives, meat by-products, or other common allergens
  • This product is proudly made in the USA


  • This formula is not made to be eaten on its own as your pet’s only meal


Which Dog Breeds are the Most Active?

A Border Collie playing frisbee
An active Border Collie playing frisbee

Dogs of the working class and hunting dogs are most often active dogs. Working dogs can be of any size. They don’t need to be a large breed for them to be active.

Some of the most active dog breeds include the following:

How Much Energy Do Active Dogs Need?

A Shetland Sheepdog walking outdoors
Source: @17mon0719 / IG

There is no exact method to decide how active your dog is, as their activity level could be based on numerous factors.

This includes their age, size, weight, breed, health condition, and even the time of year as dogs are more active during spring and summer.

Where you live, whether your dog is a working dog or participates in dog sports and the amount of activity he/she gets per day will all determine their energy levels and ultimately how many calories he needs to consume each day.

If all else fails, you can always consult your veterinarian.

What Nutritional Values Do Active Dogs Need?

A Beagle puppy eating
A cute Beagle puppy having its meal

Active dogs require more protein and fats than the average pet as their metabolism processes fats differently, turning them into the fuel they need to be energetic.

However, if a dog does not use enough energy, these fats can cause the dog to suffer from a weight issue; therefore, the fat level should be adjusted according to the exercise the dog receives.

Protein keeps their muscles strong enough to support their active lifestyle. As with any dog food, real meat products are always the best source of healthy protein.

Active dogs do not rely on carbohydrates as this does not supply them with energy. However, they should maintain a balance of fiber and carbohydrates to aid digestion. 

The basic requirements for an average dog’s kibble include a minimum of 22% crude protein for puppies and 18% for adults, but an active dog’s protein needs will be much higher.

Active dogs should consume food that has a protein content of 28% or more in dry food and 7% in wet food. 

The fat content of your active dog’s food should ideally be higher than 20% in dry food and 5% in wet food.

You should also look for food rich in B Vitamins and Magnesium which help with energy metabolism.

Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin will also help support your pup’s joint health.

How to Feed an Active Dog?

An Irish Setter training
An Irish Setter training outdoors

Your chosen dog food should support and maintain healthy joints, constant muscle strength, and a healthy coat.

Ideally, their food should be easily digestible and have sufficient calories to support your pup’s energy expenditure.

That doesn’t mean that feeding an active dog more food is the right solution – quality is favored over quantity.

Adult dogs should eat at least twice a day, whereas puppies can eat as much as four or five times daily.

For really athletic dogs, some vets recommended several smaller meals throughout the day to ensure your pet is getting in enough calories to sustain his energy.

Is Owning an Active Dog Hard?

An Australian Shepherd puppy training
An Aussie pup having fun while training

Your lifestyle can have a big effect on whether an active dog is suitable for you. If you are looking for a cuddle buddy rather than a running partner, you might find yourself disappointed. 

Active dogs require constant exercise and someone willing to help them with this or to enroll them in suitable dog sports to help them burn up their energy.

If you live on a farm or smallholding, having an active dog can complement your lifestyle as a working dog can be a helping hand. 

It is important to remember that an active dog’s dietary needs can also be an extra expense.

So Which of our Most Dog Foods Will You Choose for Your Active Pet?

Some breeds, like Huskies, Corgis, Shepherds, and Collies, have enduring levels of energy.

These active dogs need quality food with elevated protein and fat levels that are designed to support their needs.

Thankfully, when it comes to supplying your active pet with quality nutrition, there are some great brands to choose from, from fresh food diets to freeze or air-dried ancestral style diets to more commercially ready kibble.

The above list details a few of our favorites that will keep your active dog energetic sustained, and healthy.

Is there a brand we missed? What does your active dog love to eat? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!


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