Best food for a working breed with low energy!

We recently adopted a Croation Sheepdog who came to us on Skinners kibble for working dogs, however he appears to have low energy and is quite a lazy pup who likes to snooze all day and protests if we try to take him on a longer walk! When grooming him I’ve also noticed he has dandruff. Would anyone have any recommendations on good quality dry food which would be more suitable for him than Skinners? He is 2 years old and approx. 30kg (his breeds ideal weight should really be no more tham 25kg.
Thank you :slight_smile:

Hello and welcome to the forum. Is it the Skinner’s Field and Trial Duck or Maintenance that you are using? The former attracts a higher score on the Dog Food Directory but does not have meat/protein as the first ingredient and this is always something you should look for. I suspect that your dog, being young, needs a higher protein level but arguably, perhaps not too high in case it upsets his digestion.

You have indicated that he might be overweight. I usually assess weight by body condition scoring as well as the breed weight because dogs can vary so much in size and muscle/bone. There are a number of video on YouTube about how to assess a dog’s weight using body condition scoring and it is a good thing to be familiar with this.

Go to the Dog Food Directory and I would suggest that for now you set the filters as follows:

Dog age - 2 years
Type of dog - pet
Type of food - choose the one you prefer and remove the ticks from the other boxes.
Food properties - natural and clearly labelled.
Rating - move slider to 4 - 5 stars
Avoid ingredients - all red
Nutrient levels - move the slider protein slider to 15-35%, fat slider 0-16%

  • Please note that the nutrient level suggestions are because your dog has been on a low protein/high carbohydrate diet and it may suit his digestion better to increase these gradually. Also, as he might be overweight, it is as well to watch the fat level.
    Click ‘Go’ and see what it brings up. For me, it returned two pages.

All of the parameters can be adjusted by yourself - these are just suggestions. When you have had a good look at the results, you can then decide on a suitable product for your dog. Remember that better quality foods can usually be given in lower quantities so be sure to weigh the food properly, not use cups or mugs. If you weight accurately it is easy to know how much less or more to feed, according to the dog’s weight.

With regards to the dandruff, I think a better quality food should help - look for ones with good quality oil in them. For instance, Eden semi moist (which came up on my list) has coconut and seaweed oils in it. The cold pressed foods have these too e.g. rapeseed/linseed. I always find that bathing my dogs using Sebocalm shampoo helps reduce dandruff. It is soap free and hydrates the skin.

There may be more replies so please would you keep a watch on your thread and provide us with feedback? I am always interested to know what people decide upon.


I forgot to answer your query about your dog being reluctant to go for walks. It might have nothing to do with food so I would advise you to have him checked out by the vet (including blood tests). If all is ok, a change of food might help but maybe it is the heat or perhaps his personality. One of my dogs isn’t bothered about walks so now I just take her for short outings on the field. She has a long training lead and is able to run about and sniff. She is happy with that but not with ordinary walks. All dogs are different - it’s a case of tuning in to their needs and preferences.


Above advice is sound.

Please trawl the forums. Without too much digging you will find multiple posts from established members outlining other things to consider.

I agree it is important to rule out health issues.

As touched on Skinners make more than one food…the differences between some of their products are significant.

I have no experience or knowledge re croatian sheepdogs but a quick bit of online research caused me to find the following…"The Croatian Sheepdog is an alert, agile, keen and intelligent dog with enormous energy " It may be the case that your dog is just super chilled…but I would want to ensure health & diet were properly considered.

With such limited provided info it is not possible to make specific recommendations.

If it were my dog I would be asking myself some q’s including…

Does the dog have any underlying health issues ?

Is the dog relatively happy…(dogs can get bored & depressed) ?

Is the dog getting enough water ?

Do I want a lethargic laid back working breed dog or one that has more energy ?

Should I be looking to feed an acceptable food that provides better fuel for energy rather than looking for a food that supports the dog being more lethargic ?

Nothing wrong with feeding foods that provide less energy as long as the composition does not compromise health…I say this because some lower energy foods are of lesser quality than some higher protein foods.

There are foods out there that have acceptable composition yet which also cater for dogs with lesser energy needs, however, some research will be needed.

I see little point in feeding a couch companion a high energy food, (many make the mistake of feeding high energy foods to dogs that don’t expel the energy).

My personal view is that a 2 year old working dog should thrive on active exercise, when fed a suitable diet.

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All good advice above from Dottie and Coaster. The only other consideration I can think of in terms of the walking issue, is how relaxed your dog is when out walking. My dog can get stressed out by other dogs and traffic to a lesser degree. If we have a walk that she finds stressful, she may need time to chill at home before wanting to go out again.

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Hello Sebaroo and welcome to the forum!

You might also consider adding in a wet complete and reducing the dry complete kibble as by volume kibble tends to be more calorie dense.


Good advice above, … i would add, that skinners can contain wheat dependent upon the bag (worker 23 for example) … it could be the wheat causing the dandruff, the weight… and the apparent lethargy could be that the dog has a constant tummy upset/issue caused by wheat intolerence.
Speak to a good independent pet shop (dog food specialist) and they will outline your wheat free and grain free options - remember to avoid other sources of wheat like leftover pasta, toast, many treats and dental chews etc (read the ingredients and avoid “Wheat” or “cereals” )
Your options could be Autarky (wheat free and from £20 , Skinners Duck as mentioned at around £25 through to high meat grain frees like Carnilove from £45 … and dont worry about high proteins in this type of food, good meat proteins wont make your dog hyper.
You should notice a difference within 7 days if this is the issue - bear in mind you may need to see a vet if the issues continue.
But please everyone, visit your local independent dog food specialist - they will ask you all about your dogs feeding habits, issues, weight, poo quality, your budget etc etc… a five min conversation can cover lots and lots…its very very different than a big box retailer/chain store, and bring your dog with you if you can.


Thanks so much for your replies! So much helpful info to consider. He is currently on the worker 23 so I will transition to a wheat free food to see if that helps his dandruff (and I’ll also look at his treats too!) His stools are loose and he is rather 'windy so I wonder if he is suffering with an intolerance? I’ve reduced the amount of kibble he is fed as his previous owner was giving up to 1kg a day!! He is now on 260g a day over two meals and he has been much more active and playful.
I’m off to put Dottys suggestions into the food directory - I’ll keep you posted how we get on!



Any update ? :slight_smile: