Recommended Dog Food Brands 2018




Formulas:  (Formulas are slightly different depending on whether they are made in the U.S. or Canada; check website.) Dry line: Puppy, Large Breed Puppy, Adult/Original (poultry based), 6 Fish (fish based), Regional Red (meat based), Senior , Tundra (contains less common proteins)

Freeze dried raw formulas: Adult, Regional Red, Tundra



 (Formulas are slightly different depending on whether they are made in the U.S. or Canada; check website.)

Regionals line:  Meadowland/Wild Prairie (poultry based), Pacifica/Wild Atlantic (fish based); Grasslands (multiple proteins); Ranchlands/Appalachian Ranch (meat based)

Heritage line (lower protein and fewer protein sources than the Regionals line):  Canada: Puppy Small Breed, Puppy & Junior, Puppy Large Breed, Adult Small Breed, Adult Large Breed, Cobb Chicken, Sport & Agility, Light & Fit, Senior Dog

America: Free-Run Poultry, Heritage Meats, Freshwater Fish

Limited Ingredients Formulas (Singles):  Lamb, Duck, Pork, Mackerel/Pilchard

NOTE: In Canada, there is also the Classics Line, which contains grain in the form of oats. Three formulas: poultry, fish, red meat)




Formulas: Duck, Lamb, Trout & Salmon, Rabbit, Whitefish, Turkey, Zssential (multi-protein)

Also has canned lines.



Wild Callings

Formulas: Rocky Mountain Medley line(multiple proteins), Western Plains Stampede line (single proteins): Beef, Turkey, Whitefish, Xotic Essentials line (novel protein): Bison, Rabbit, Kangaroo

Also has canned formulas.


WellMade  (Cloudstar)

Formulas: Kibble: Chicken, Lamb, Duck, Large Breed Chicken, Low-cal Chicken

Also makes several dehydrated raw formulas and canned formulas


Open Farm

Formulas: Kibble: Turkey/Chicken, Whitefish, Lamb, Pork, and Salmon formulas
Also makes freeze-dried raw formulas, treats, and "stew" type wet formulas.





Grain-free Formulas: Four Star line: Surf & Turf (salmon, duck, chicken); Beef Frittata Veg, Salmon Tunalini, Game Bird (duck, turkey, quail pheasant), Lamb & Lentil, Pork & Peas 

Healthy Grain Formulas: Four Star line: Pork & Applesauce, Duck & Sweet Potato, Chicken A La Veg, Whitefish & Potato, Salmon A La Veg ; Gold line: Adult Gold, Large Breed Adult Gold, Puppy Gold, Large Breed Puppy Gold, Senior Gold, all poultry based; Heartland Gold, red meat based. Gold Coast, fish based. Adult and Mature Adult Classics (both Classic lines contain chicken)




Grain-free Formulas (Now Fresh & Go! Fit & Free lines):  Now Fresh Puppy, Adult, Small Breed, Senior, Large Breed Puppy, Large Breed Adult, Large Breed Senior (all contain turkey, salmon, duck), Go! Fit & Free Puppy, Adult and Senior (all contain chicken, turkey, salmon)

Healthy Grain Formulas (Go! Daily Defiance & Summit Holistic lines):  Go! Daily Defiance Chicken, Lamb (both all life stages), Summit 3 Meat Puppy, 3 Meat Adult, 3 Meat Reduced Calorie (3 Meats contain chicken, salmon, lamb),

Limited Ingredients Formulas (Go! Sensitivity & Shine line): Duck, Salmon, Grain Free Turkey



Solid Gold

Grain-free Formulas:  Barking at the Moon (fish, beef); Sun Dancer (chicken)

Healthy Grain Formulas:  Hundchen Flocken Puppy, Hund-n-Flocken Adult (both contain lamb); Wolfcub Puppy, Wolfking Adult (both contain bison), Holistique Blendz Senior (fish), MMillennia Beef & Barley Adult, Just a Wee Bit Adult (bison)




Grain-free Formulas (Core line):  Puppy, Small Breed, Original, Reduced Fat (all contain chicken, turkey), Ocean (fish)

Note: New as of July 2018, the Complete Health line also has grain-free formulas. 

Healthy Grain Formulas (Complete Health):  Chicken, Lamb, Barley & Salmon Meal, Whitefish & Sweet Potato, Healthy Weight, Just for Puppies, Just for Seniors, Adult Large Breed, Puppy Large Breed, Adult Small Breed, Small Breed Healthy Weight, Small Breed Puppy (final 8 contain chicken)

Limited Ingredients Formulas (Simple Solutions line):  Duck & Oatmeal, Salmon & Potato, Turkey & Potato, Lamb & Oatmeal

Note: As of July 2018, the Complete Health line has LID formulas that are exactly the same as the Simple formulas. 




Grain-free Formulas (Legacy line):  Puppy, Adult (both contain chicken, salmon, turkey); Also has Amicus line for small breeds (turkey, chicken, salmon); Also has Pulsar line with peas, lentils, chicken and fish

Healthy Grain Formulas (Complete line):  Large Breed Adult, Large Breed Puppy, Puppy, Adult, Senior (all contain chicken)




Grain-free Formulas (Pure):  Sky (duck, turkey), Land (bison, lamb), Element (chicken, turkey, lamb, ocean fish), Sea (salmon)

Healthy Grain Formulas:  Lamb & Rice, Chicken & Rice, Beef & Fish, ALS (chicken, turkey, lamb, fish), Platinum Senior (chicken, turkey, lamb, fish)

Limited Ingredient Formulas:  Chicken, Brown & White Rice (Single Grain Protein)



Lotus (has a raw formula also)

Grain-free Formula:  Duck

Healthy Grain Formulas: Wholesome Chicken, Wholesome Chicken Puppies, Wholesome Chicken Seniors, Wholesome Lamb



Earthborn Holistic

Grain-free Formulas:  Primitive Natural (turkey, chicken, whitefish), Coastal Catch (herring, salmon, whitefish), Great Plains Feast (bison), Meadow Feast (lamb)

Healthy Grain Formulas: Adult Vantage, Puppy Vantage and Small Breed (all contain chicken and whitefish), Ocean Fusion (whitefish and menhaden fish)



Eagle Holistic Select

Grain Free Formulas: Adult & Puppy Salmon, Anchovy and Sardines

Healthy Grain Formulas:  Adult, Adult Small & Mini Breed, Puppy, Puppy Small & Mini Breed (all 4 contain anchovy, sardines, salmon), Adult Chicken Meal & Rice, Adult Duck, Adult Lamb, Senior Chicken & Rice, Large & Giant Breed Chicken & Oatmeal, Large & Giant Breed Puppy Lamb Meal & Oatmeal, Weight Maintenance Chicken & Peas



Holistic Blend

Grain Free Formulas: Turkey

Healthy Grain Formulas: Hollistic Blend (Lamb & Rice; Chicken, Rice & Vegetable) and The Healthy Dog (Chicken & Herring Meal)




Grain Free Formulas: Salmon Bleu, Viva La Venison, Le Lamb

Healthy Grain Formulas: La Porchetta (Pork, Limited ingredient)

**Also has raw dehydrated formulas**



Great Life

Grain Free Formulas: Buffalo, Chicken, Salmon; Pioneers Natural Grain Free Chicken, GF Pork, GF Venison and GF Whitefist

Healthy Grain Formulas: Buffalo, Chicken, Lamb, Salmon; Pioneers Natural Buffalo, Chicken, Pork Venison and Whitefish

Limited Ingredient Formulas (Dr. E's line): Buffalo, Duck; Grain Free Buffalo, Grain Free Duck




Grain Free Formulas: Lean (chicken, duck, herring), Aqualuk (salmon, herring), Salcha (chicken, turkey, duck), Manitok (lamb, venison)

Healthy Grain Formulas: Adult (chicken, 23% protein), Encore (chicken, 25% protein), Extra (chicken, 26% protein), Option (salmon and venison, 24% protein), Ultra (chicken, 32% protein), Small Breed ALS (lamb, venison, coming soon)



Nature's Variety (has a raw line also)

Grain Free Formulas: Instinct Raw Boost (5 formulas: chicken, beef & lamb, lamb & salmon, duck & turkey, venison & lamb); Instinct Originals (5 formulas: chicken, beef & lamb, duck & turkey, rabbit, salmon)

Healthy Grain Formulas: Prairie Dogs (6 formulas: chicken, beef, lamb, duck, venison, salmon); Puppy and Large Breed Puppy (chicken and brown rice)

Limited Ingredient Formulas (Instinct Grain Free line): Turkey, Lamb, Duck, Rabbitt




Grain Free Formulas (N&D line): Chicken, Large Breed Chicken, Small Breed Chicken, Wild Lamb, Wild Boar, Wild Herring

Healthy Grain Formulas (20% Ancestral High Protein line): Chicken, Lamb, Wild Cod




Harmony line: Grain-free Chicken, Grain-free Chicken Turkey & Salmon, Venison & Salmon (contains healthy grains) Melody line: Grain-free Chicken, Grain-free Chicken Turkey & Salmon, Lamb (contains healthy grains).



Grain free and healthy grain kibbles, also make canned food and dehydrated raw food.




Chicken Soup for the Dog Lovers Soul

Healthy Grain Formulas: Adult, Large Breed Adult, Senior, Adult Light, Puppy, Large Breed Puppy, Overweight (all contain chicken, turkey).





Honest Kitchen:


Ziwi Peak:

Stella & Chewy’s:

(S & C also has kibbles, including an LID line)


Tucker's Raw

Vital Essentials:




Rayne Clinical Nutrition:



** Brands that look okay but have had recent recalls or buyouts; still better than Iams, Nutro, Hills, and grocery store junk…..


Taste of the Wild (grain-free):

EVO (grain-free):

Innova (healthy grains):

California Natural (recommended for dogs with sensitivities):

Merrick (Before Grain is grain-free; 5-Star is healthy grains; Castor & Pollux is also owned by Merrick): |


Natural Balance (known for limited ingredient diets; merged with DelMonte 6/15/13):

Bravo (raw; more than one recall in last year):


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    • Bonnie, part of responsible dog ownership is feeding the dog quality food so that it will be as healthy into old age as you have contol over.  Think of eating junk food your whole life - you might be fine but you probably will develop health issues down the line directly related to poor diet.  The brands on this list reflect a lack of recalls, and ingredients sourced in reputable places. For example China has no laws governing what they put into foods so any pet foods that are assembled or sourced in China are suspect.  One of the cheapest of these brands is Canadae. You might check them out.

      One of the things to consider also is that you feed lots more per serving in the cheaper foods than you do in better quality foods so some of your 'saving's is really reduced by that. 

      • Exactly. The grocery store junk ends up being more expensive in the long run than a good quality food. 

  • Hello All,  Thanks for the list and comments about puppy food recommendations for my 4 1/2 month old goldendoodle Juno.  I also checked with my vet, who advised against grain-free food and anything that had peas or pea products.  To my surprise, several foods on the Food Group's recommended list had peas in their list of ingredients.  Though I didn't research them all, here are the ones I found that had pea products in them:  Canidae, Wellness, Earthborn, Solid Gold, Zignature.  I ended up ordering Farmina from


    • Your vet has been misinformed. There is nothing wrong with grain free food or food with peas in it. He is going by old, discredited information connecting grain free foods to a particular heart condition that was recently proven to be false. WE stand by the quality of all the brands we recommend. But Farmina is a good brand, too. 

      • Thanks for your reply.  I note that the article is skeptical about the test sampling and that the conclusion is that future studies are needed.  I trust my vet.  He is well-informed and is connected with the University of Florida college of veterinary medicine.  He's also dealing many dogs and their symptoms on a daily basis.  I am erring on the side of caution since golden retrievers have the genetic predisposition for DCM.  I appreciate the helpful information, especially the list which helped me determine that Farmina may be the best choice for my pup.


        • I don;t doubt that your vet is well informed. However, there is no nutrition curriculum in vet school, and what information vets receive about nutrition comes from unreliable sources, namely, the same big dog food companies (Nestle and Mars) that produce the food the vets sell. This has been documented, along with the fact that this relationship constitutes a conflict of interest. Our medical doctors also are uneducated in nutrition (also documented), but the big difference is that our doctors don't sell food or recommend specific brands. 
          The power of the corporate lobbyists on our government agencies, including the FDA, must not be underestimated. 
          I love and trust my vet, and we have a 20 year relationship. But when it comes to food, I do not ask for or take his advice. On that topic, I know way more than he does, lol. 

    • You may want to pass this article along to your vet.

      Review of canine dilated cardiomyopathy in the wake of diet-associated concerns
      Abstract. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) has been in the literature and news because of the recent opinion-based journal articles and public releases…
  • Do you know anything about Health Extension Dog Food? It was recommended to us and is a small family owned company. We've been feeding the small bites White Fish and Buffalo to our 12 week Mini Goldendoodle although after we finish this bag (4 pound bags) we will graduate to the regular size bites. A relative feeds their mini goldendoodle the Salmon and the Duck recipes after starting out on Royal Canin (recommended by their vet).  Our vet recommended feeding him food with grain and the brands recommended were not suitable to me. (Hills, Nutro, Royal Canin).  I am new to Doodlekisses, recommended by my neighbor who has a standard goldendoodle.  I need to find more information here on the grain/grain free discussion.  We introduced the Health Extension Chicken and Brown Rice recipe alternating days to his diet.  He loves both recipes and has not had any gastro-intestinal issues.  Any thoughts?  

    • The food looks okay nutritionally, although I'd like to see a higher protein percentage, and if the info on their website is accurate, the sourcing looks okay. What would stop me from recommending the brand is that according to their store locator, in my area the only places this brand is available are pet stores that sell puppies, like Petland and "happiness is Pets", and none of us should be patronizing businesses that promote and support puppy mills. :(
      Regarding grain/grain free, that is an absolute non-issue, as explained above. Our vets have been misinformed by the very same people who educate them about pet food in the first place: the marketing departments at Mars (Nutro, Royal Canin) Colgate-Palmolive (Hill's), and Nestle-Purina, along with the lobbyists for these multi-national mega-corporations. 
      Two years now, and they don;t have one single bit of evidence that grain-free diets, or ANY commercial diet) have the least little thing to do with DCM, which is a genetic issue. Don;t give it another thought.
      Most of us here have learned not to discuss food brands with our vets; they are doctors, not nutritionists. Your MD doesn;t sell you food or recommend brands, and vets shouldn't either. it is a conflict of interest. 

      • Thank you Karen.  I appreciate all of the information you have posted.  We purchase our dog food at a local family owned business.  They seem to carry holistic and family owned dog food brands in their warehouse.  I agree with you about not patronizing businesses that promote and support puppy mills.  Take care, be well and be safe in these crazy times.

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