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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          • I still can't believe that 18 oz bag of freeze dried beef lung is $10 (and that it's at Costco lol).  DH saw them again a few weeks ago and grabbed another bag... the dogs LOVE it.  A large bag of PureBites is about $35 and I don't think it's anywhere near 18 oz.

            Riley gains weight easily too, she's eating way under the "recommended" amount from the RER formula and is a healthy weight even with all the intense play time she gets with Toby and the running she does with DH.  Before Toby came home she was a tad overweight.

  • Hi Karen,  A couple questions on food for my Bentley who is 32 lbs. 7 yr. old mini australian labradoodle.    He's a picky guy but likes the Wellness canned stew so I wanted your opinion on it?   

    Portion question....I've been giving  Bentley the Wellness canned stews..... half can twice a day with a half puck of the stella chewy freeze dried duck duck goose mixed in, and a 1/4 c. or less of cooked chicken topper.    The stew label says to feed 3/4 to 1 can per 8 lbs. of body weight -- 3-4 cans a day? That's so much food for a 32 lb. dog.  What are your thoughts? 

    I also just now saw that Orejen has canned stew dogfood now!  I'm so excited about this as I know Orejen is one of your top recommended foods -- is the canned equally as good do you think?  I would think so.   I definitely would like to switch to it but again the feeding amounts are similar 3/4-1 can per 10 lbs. of weight per day so that's still 2 cans a day. If he likes well, it I could eliminate the toppers hopefully as it's a pain.    Perhaps I've not been giving Bentley enough food... but he's not super active and 32 lbs..  Appreciate any input!




    • We recommend brands based on the quality of the ingredients, the sourcing, and the company's overall transparency/integrity. If a brand is on our recommended list, any of their products are included. That doesn't mean that every product will work for your dog, it just means that we trust the product is safe and wholesome. 
      Feeding amounts are based on the calories required by an individual dog, which in turn is based on that dog's age, weight, and activity level. Since every food/product varies in the number of calories it contains, you need to do some math when you are feeding a variety of products. I would have to look up the calorie content of the specific Wellness canned product as well as the S & C product in order to tell you whether you are feeding enough/too much. Since you have the products on hand, it might take less time if you did that, lol. The quarter cup of cooked chicken, assuming it is white meat chicken with no skin or visible fat, is 50 calories. So you would add the calorie content of a half patty S & C to the calorie content of a half can of the Wellness food, and then add the 50 calories from the chicken. Then, since you are feeding that amount twice a day, double it. Off the top of my head, Bentley should be getting approximately 600 calories per day to maintain his current weight. So you want each meal to total no more than 300 calories, and if he also gets extras in the way of treats, chews, etc, it needs to be less than that. 

      Canned foods, regardless of brand, are much less calorie dense than kibble or freeze-dried/dehydrated raw food (which is also less calorie dense than kibble), due to the very high water content. This is why the feeding amounts are so much higher than they are for the other products. 
      I would think that if Bentley requires toppers in order to get him to eat the canned Wellness + S & C meal, he is going to require them even if you switch to the Orijen canned food. Picky eating habits are really not about what the dog likes; they are created by owners, lol. I use S & C Meal Mixers nuggets as a kibble topper, but a dog who is already eating a canned/raw diet without kibble really shouldn't need any toppers. :) Here is my favorite discussion on the topic of "picky eaters" and my advice on how to handle it. It's pretty good reading. :)

      An Ode to Sojos!
      Hallelujah! My picky eater likes Sojos Beef formula. Like is not the right word. He LOVES IT!!!! Monty is almost 2 years old and we've always had at…
      • When we switched Luna to canned food after her cancer diagnosis to help out her kidneys I remember there being a huge jump in the sheer volume of food.  It made sense because of all the water in the canned vs kibble.  

        Low calorie foods can mean an astounding volume of food for a large dog, Riley eats 5 cups of kibble a day right now I don't even want to think about how many cans that would be lol.

        • Yes. Just about any form of food other than kibble is very costly for large dogs, because of the required lower calorie density and necessarily larger feeding amounts. Jack would have been on an entirely home-made diet after his IBD diagnosis, but the amounts he required at 80+ were just not doable for me. We settled for half.

      • Thank you for the input and the quick response Karen,.  You are right on all points as always.   I know I go overboard and spoil him.  I want him to love his food but I'm sure he's not as picky as I think.   I might try the orejen canned and see if just that will suffice without me adding any toppers but that alone even seems like so much food to me for a 30-35 lb. dog.   I suppose I could feed him 3x's a day instead of two and that would help me to give him less treats.  He eats breakfast at 7:30 or so and dinner at 4:30 so that's a long day without food.   Thanks again for always being there for all of us doodle owners!


  • Earthborn Holistic had a recall August 2021. 

  • Wow, Karen! So much work you put into this and heartily agree! I recently transitioned over from Stella & Chewy's GF to Open Farm GF because my pickier of doodles likes it better. I noticed the S&C recommendations were only for pure raw (he got the dehydrated mix). I'm glad I switched if Open Farm is better!

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