Recommended Dog Foods
Puppy buyer's should always ask any breeder what they are feeding their puppy. You should check into all foods using DogFoodAdvisor.com
Even name brand puppy foods can be lower quality than you think or have "controversial" ingredients that could be detrimental to your puppy during these critical months of growth. Just for the record, we don't get anything from anyone for making recommendations.
While your puppy is here and when it is old enough, besides the dry dog food below, we feed the puppies some raw chicken, liver and egg. They also get some venison if we have it available. We have a high quality meat grinder that we put the raw chicken into and it obliterates the bone and the meat for a puppy to eat. There is loads of nutrition in this and it will give your puppy an excellent advantage in development if you'd like to carry on with feeding some raw chicken. You don't have to, but it's good if you do continue feeding some raw chicken to your dog. Raw feeding absolutely has to be done correctly, so if you are interested please let us know and we will share some info.
You have put your trust in us and so we are proud to have done our homework to identify some of the best dry foods available. We feed a mixture of foods so your puppy can transition easiest to whatever you can find in your area, with different main protein sources. We only feed your puppy a food that is rated "All Life Stages" or rated as "Puppy" or "Growth" food by the AAFCO. Occasionally, we feed our other adults foods that are rated for "Maintenance" or "Adult", but usually we feed them an "All Life Stage" food.
The foods we use are listed in blue below as a link to a photo of what the bag looks like and it's ingredients. Since dry dog food will lose a significant amount of nutrition in manufacturing, we also give our dogs RAW chicken leg quarters in addition to the food we feed below. These chicken leg quarters are usually sold frozen in 10 lb bags. Each dog gets a chicken leg quarter for their evening meal. They LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. The bone cleans their teeth and the unprocessed chicken meat and skin is the equivalent of a high quality vitamin supplement that is naturally easy for their bodies to recognize and digest. The raw chicken has nutrients that are lost when dry dog food is made, but it is not a balanced diet by itself, so raw chicken should not be the majority of your dog's diet. We also crack a raw egg or two over the dry dog food a couple times per week. It's also fine for the dog to eat the shell since it's a natural source of many nutrients a dog's digestive system can process.
To make life easiest, you can select several dry foods from the "All Life Stages" list and then you won't have to transition from "Puppy" to "Adult" foods later on.
We are currently feeding these brands:
And we also feed some raw meat which is the Foster Farms "Fresh and Natural" Chicken that can be found in most grocery stores. The "Fresh and Natural" is important since it has no added hormones or steroids.
We strongly believe in and recommend a variety in your dog's diet. Your dog will appreciate the different flavors. We recommend using a few different dog foods with high protein from different main meat sources (beef, chicken, venison, turkey, fish, bison, etc.) We buy a few bags at a time and mix the varieties together in a large container. If you don't want to bother with mixing all the time, then you could also feed one kind on one day and another kind on a different day. Your dog may appreciate the variety of flavor, as long as your dog doesn't get picky about a certain kind and just not eat that day. If you are going to alternate days/food types then just get them used to all of them mixed and then feed individually. It is true that a major change in diet in a short time can upset your dog's tummy. So,when changing food types, feed 90% what they are used to and 10% new food for a few days. Then go 80% and 20% new food for a few days. Then move to 70% and 30% and so forth. If you find any approach is upsetting to your dog's tummy (diarrhea, etc) then just revert back to what works and go slower or adjust what you think works best.
Price can be somewhat of an indicator of food quality, but not entirely. Sometimes we may think a brand is high quality, when in reality it isn't that good for our dogs.
We searched high and low for independent evaluations of different dog foods. The guy behind DogFoodAdvisor.com sadly had a dog die from contaminated kibble that was later recalled, and it became his passion to not let it happen to other people. They took the tedious task of looking into each ingredient and then rated the different foods that he's researched and we are using this for the basis of our list below.
We would like to help you sort through this "dog food maze." Below is a list of foods that are higher quality. These foods are either entirely grain free, or very low grain. Most dog food brands are loaded with grain because it's cheap. Dogs are resilient and so some can "tolerate" the grain in their food, but they don't naturally digest grain. They have a very short digestive tract, not allowing the time for proper digestion of nutrients from grains.
Some people may choose to go with an all raw diet. While we do believe this is good for your dog, there is also a lot to learn in order to do a raw diet safely. If this is your plan, please contact us to discuss it. For raw feeders, the 3 yr. guarantee will be on a case by case basis.
On a 5 star scale, the below listed foods are 4 to 5 star. Please pay special attention to the exact recipe listed, as not all kinds within a brand are rated the same. Also please note the AAFCO statement on each bag you buy. Our list contains our latest known rating for each kind. BUT the maker could change their recipe and you would want to be aware if the rating changes. A food rated for "Growth and Reproduction" is for puppies and pregnant or lactating females. A food rated for "Adult Maintenance" is for dogs over 2 years old. A food rated for "All Stages" can be fed to dogs of any age, including puppies.
Do not feed foods without an AAFCO adequacy statement. If it says it is intended for intermittent feeding, this means it is not a complete food and do not use it. As we do not feed our dogs ALL of these foods, we will not be aware of all changes. If you happen to notice a change in the AAFCO statement from what our below list states, please let us know. We will do our best to keep our list current.
Again, may we stress, check EVERY bag of food for the AAFCO adequacy statement since the manufacturers can change recipes! Even if it says "puppy" in the name, still check. If puppies are fed food rated only for "Adult Maintenance" it can cause painful joint problems that requires costly surgery!!! Make sure puppies are given food rated by AAFCO for "Growth and Reproduction" or "All Stages" or "Puppy".
- Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Puppy Chicken Recipe (4.5)
- Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Large Breed Puppy Chicken Recipe - 4 Star - Ingredients 26% Protein and 15% Fat
- Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations (4.5)
- Canine Caviar Grain Free Puppy Dinner (5)
- Farmina N&D Grain Free Chicken Large Breed Puppy (5)
- FirstMate Grain Free Pacific Ocean Fish Meal Endurance/Puppy (4.5 stars)
ALL STAGES FOOD
- Acana Regionals Grain free: Acana Pacifica Recipe, Acana Grasslands Recipe, Acana Wild Prairie Recipe, Acana Ranchlands Recipe (5)
- American Natural Premium Grain Free: Ocean Fish Meal and Potato Recipe or Duck Meal & Pork Meal Recipe (4.5)
- Annamaet: Grain Free Salcha Poulet Formula, Grain Free Manitok Red Meat Formula, Grain Free Aqualuk Cold Water Formula (5)
- Boreal Grain Free All Breeds All Life Stages: Lamb Recipe, Turkey Recipe, Wild Salmon Recipe (4.5)
- California Natural Grain Free Pork Meal and Sweet Potatoes (4.5)
- Canine Caviar Grain Free Puppy Dinner (5)
- Canine Caviar Wild Ocean Holistic Grain Free (5)
- Dr. Tim’s: RPM Grain Free Formula, Kinesis Grain Free Formula (5)
*Earthborn Note: The ingredients on this line look good, and I believe it is AAFCO for All Stages. But website was not completely clear, so verify AAFCO statement before buying.
- Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Coastal Catch - 4.5 Star - Ingredients 32% Protein and 18% Fat (Fish)
- Earthborn Holistic Grain Free: Primitive Natural Formula, - 5 Star - Ingredients 38% Protein and 20% Fat (Turkey/Chicken)
- Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast - 5 Star - Ingredients 34% Protein and 18% Fat (Bison)
- Evanger’s Grain Free: Chicken Recipe, or Meat Lover’s Medley (5)
- Farmina N&D Grain Free: Chicken Recipe, Grass Fed Lamb Recipe, Wild Boar Recipe, Wild Herring Recipe, Chicken Large Breed Puppy Recipe (5)
- Fromm Four Star Nutritionals Grain Free: Game Bird Recipe, Beef Frittata Recipe, Pork and Peas Recipe, Salmon Tunalini Recipe, Lamb and Lentils Recipe (4.5)
- Fromm Four Star Nutritionals Grain Free Surf & Turf (5)
- Go! Sensitivity + Shine Grain Free Turkey (5)
- Grandma Mae’s Country Naturals Grain Free (4.5)
- Great Life Grain Free: Buffalo formula, Chicken Formula, Wild Salmon Formula (5)
*Note: Merrick Grain Free Foods (Most are all stages, some are adult. I am not sure which are which so check your AAFCO statements on bags.)
- Merrick Grain Free Real Pork + Sweet Potato (5)
- Merrick Grain Free Real Duck + Sweet Potato (5)
- Merrick Grain Free Real Turkey and Sweet Potato (5)
- Merrick Grain Free Real Buffalo and Sweet Potato (5)
- Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken and Sweet Potato (5)
- Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato (5)
- Nutrience Grain Free: Ocean Fish Formula, or Turkey Chicken and Herring Formula (5)
- NutriSource Grain Free: Chicken Recipe, or Lamb Meal Recipe (4.5)
- NVC Canine Grain Free: Buffalo and Duck Recipe, or Chicken and Potato Recipe (4.5)
- Oven-Baked Tradition Grain Free: Chicken Recipe, or Chicken Small Bites Recipe (5)
- Oven-Baked Tradition Grain Free: Fish recipe, or Fish Small Bites Recipe (4.5)
- Perfect Balance Grain Free (5)
- PetKind Green Lamb Tripe Formula (4.5)
- PetKind Green Tripe and Bison Formula (4.5)
- PetKind Green Beef Tripe Formula (5)
- PetKind Green Tripe and Wild Salmon Formula (4.5)
- Pinnacle Peak Protein Grain Free Formula (5)
- Pure Balance Wild and Free Bison & Pea Recipe (4.5 Star) Ingredients 30% Protein and 12% Fat (our dogs find this one quite palatable)
- Victor Grain Free: All Life Stages formula,
- Victor Grain Free: Ultra Pro 42 Formula - 5 Star - Ingredients 42% Protein and 22% Fat (while this has high nutrient content, our dogs don't love it)
- Victor Grain Free: Yukon River Formula (5)
- Whole Earth Farms Grain Free with Chicken and Turkey - 4.5 Star - Ingredients 26% Protein and 13% Fat
ADULT FOOD (we don't feed these to Puppies or our nursing or pregnant females)
- Annamaet Grain Free Lean Low Fat Formula (only if "V" is overweight) (5)
- California Natural Grain Free Chicken Meal (5)
- Canidae Grain Free Pure Sea (5)
- Canidae Grain Free Pure Sky (5)
- Canidae Grain Free Pure Elements (5)
- Castor and Pollux Natural Ultramix Grain-Free Duck, Sweet Potatoes and Whole Peas Recipe (5)
- Castor and Pollux Natural Ultramix Grain-Free and Poultry-Free Adult (4.5)
- Castor and Pollux Organix Grain Free Adult (4.5)
- Hi-Tek Naturals Grain Free: Alaskan Fish recipe, Chicken Meal and Sweet Potato Recipe, Lamb Meal and Sweet Potato Recipe(5)
- Merrick Grain Free Real Lamb and Sweet Potato (5 Star) Ingredients 25% Protein and 13% Fat
- Merrick Grain Free Real Salmon and Sweet Potato (5 Star) Ingredients 25% Protein and 13% Fat
- Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe (4.5) (Only use this if your "V" is overweight.)
- Nature’s Select Grain Free Dog Food (5)
- Nutro Natural Choice High Protein Grain Free: Duck and Chickpeas formula, Chicken and Chickpeas Formula(4.5)
- Nutro Natural Choice High Protein Grain Free Salmon and Chickpeas (5)
- Nutro Ultra Gluten Free: Lamb, Potato and Peas Formula/ Turkey, Potato and Peas Formula/Salmon, Potato and Peas/Chicken, Potato and Peas (4.5)
- Victor Grain Free Joint Health (5)