Top 15 Best Grain-Free Dog Food Brands 2017

Grain-free diets for dogs have been on the market for years now. While grains aren’t the number one thing on the list of pet allergies, they are in the top five, which means that some dogs might need to cut out things like corn and wheat in order to live a happy and healthy life.

Whether you just want your pet to eat healthier or your veterinarian has recommended you feed him or her a grain-free diet, there are some grain-free dog foods that are better than others. In creating this list, we referred to the Dog Food Advisor website to ensure that these were at least above-average options. For more on how they rate dog food, see their article here. In addition to their score, we provided a link back to their website so you can read their evaluation in depth, if you’re curious.

Of their top ten best dog foods, seven are dry foods. Of those, we have two here on this list — Merrick Grain Free and Wellness Core. The other five remaining best dry dog foods are on our list of the best dry dog food brands. That list is the best of the best, but there’s a trade-off: They also tend to be the most expensive with relatively few exceptions.

We created this grain-free guide to offer a slightly wider range of options at different price points. Just because it’s highly rated doesn’t mean your dog will like it, so it’s good to have options. Taking into account the advice of your veterinarian and your own judgement, you should feel confident feeding your dog any of the items on both this list and on our dry dog food brands list. There is no objective best food. Even if there were, your dog might not know that. Feeding your dog is a mix of art and science — not unlike feeding your children. Our list isn’t a ranking; number one isn’t the best and number 15 isn’t the least. They’re numbered for convenience, any of these would make a good choice if it matches your needs.

To that end, be sure to transition your dog slowly to new food. If you abruptly change foods from one meal to the next and they don’t eat it, this is normal and shouldn’t necessarily be taken as a sign that they don’t like it. Lest you have to throw away a $70 bag of high-end dog food, give your pup seven days to adjust by mixing greater quantities of the new food into their current food each day. This will have the greatest chance of success and the lowest risk of intestinal distress.

These foods don’t contain supplemental glucosamine. If your dog needs it, we have a list of the best glucosamine joint supplements here. Similarly, these are all regular adult formulas. Many of these makers do have puppy, senior, and weight management formulas, but those aren’t the focus of this list.

A note about recalls: To some extent, recalls from even reputable pet food brands are unavoidable. The scale at which these companies operate make them prone to mistakes, though these are usually non-lethal errors. If you really want to be sure what goes into your dog’s food, you can always try out our top five best homemade dog food recipes and make your dog’s food at home, but this is obviously not the norm. Most folks don’t have the time to prepare large-batch meals for their dog, so to some extent, we’re at the mercy of the industry.

It’s unfortunate that an error in making pet food can lead to an animal’s death, and most of the brands on our list have avoided having to issue a recall, or haven’t issued one for awhile. Often, a recall is issued for things like elevated levels of beef thyroid hormone, which may only have a short term effect that is reversed once the dog stops eating that product. It’s rare, especially with the companies listed here, that a recall is serious, though it does occasionally happen. If you’re concerned, keep an eye on the Food & Drug Administration’s Animal & Veterinary Recall page or sign up for Dog Food Advisor’s Recall Alert emails.

If you don’t already have one, you might consider a pet food container to hold your newly-chosen chow. We also have a list of the top ten best natural dog treats for between meals and training. If your dog decides they love their new food a little too much, a slow feed dog bowl could be in order.

Here are the top 15 best grain-free dog foods for you to consider.


1. Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dog Food

grain-free dog food, best dog food brands, healthy dog food, best grain-free dog food

(Taste of the Wild)

There is a distinct reason why Taste of the Wild is a number one choice in many pet households. Their foods are absolutely grain-free and contain probiotics, which are good for your dog’s stomach, skin and coat. Their food is also packed with natural meats and lots of vegetables for a well balanced diet. If you are looking for a dog food with all natural ingredients, including fruits and vegetables, this is a great choice for your dog. Taste of the Wild offers both dry and wet options in many flavors.

Price: $48.99 for a 30-pound bag

Buy Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (High Prairie Bison & Venison variety):

  • Bison
  • Venison
  • Lamb meal
  • Chicken meal
  • Egg product
  • Sweet potatoes

Dog Food Advisor score: 5 stars (Enthusiastically Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Bison & Venison
  • Boar
  • Lamb
  • Salmon
  • Venison
  • Wildfowl

Browse all flavors of Taste of the Wild here.

2. Diamond Naturals Grain Free Pet Food

(Diamond)

Focusing on meat proteins, the first ingredient in this Diamond Naturals option is real beef. Using a mix of potatoes and other easily-digested vegetables, these formulas avoid many of the potential allergy conflicts present in lesser foods. The beef is pasture-raised, the chicken cage-free, and the whitefish wild-caught, if these are significant to you as a dog food buyer.

Price: $41.99 for a 28-pound bag

Buy Diamond Naturals Grain Free Pet Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Beef & Sweet Potato variety):

  • Beef
  • Lamb meal
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Pea flour

Dog Food Advisor score: 3.5 stars (Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Whitefish & Sweet Potato
  • Beef & Sweet Potato
  • Chicken & Sweet Potato

Browse all flavors of Diamond Naturals Grain Free Pet Food here.

3. Fromm Four-Star Nutrionals Grain-Free Dog Food

(Fromm)

FROMM is made in the U.S.A., in two manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin. They work hard to put out food that is both safe and healthy for your pets. This stuff is among the most expensive dry dog foods out there, with 26 pound bags breaking the $100 mark. However, if top shelf ingredients are important, it could be a good choice for your dog. The reason for the higher price is that they create their food in smaller batches to have more control over quality from shipment to shipment. It’s a complete food for dogs of all ages made as close to by hand as possible as this level.

Price: $69.99 for a 12-pound bag (Salmon Tunalini variety)

Buy Fromm Four-Star Nutrionals Grain-Free Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Salmon Tunalini variety):

  • Salmon
  • Salmon meal
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Pea flour
  • Dried tomato pomace

Dog Food Advisor score: 3.5 to 4 stars (Recommended to Highly Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Beef Frittata Veg
  • Chicken A La Veg
  • Chicken au Frommage
  • Duck & Sweet Potato
  • Game Bird
  • Hasen Duckenpfeffer
  • Lamb & Lentil
  • Pork & Applesauce
  • Pork & Peas
  • Salmon A La Veg
  • Salmon Tunalini
  • Surf & Turf
  • Whitefish & Potato

Browse all flavors of Fromm Four-Star Nutrionals Grain-Free Dog Food here.

4. Nulo FreeStyle Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

(Nulo)

A relative newcomer to the market, Nulo foods were designed from the ground-up with better dog nutrition in mind. Like the Zignature later on this list, their formulations avoid chicken, which is occasionally an allergen for dogs. Eighty-one percent of protein in this feed come from animal sources, while there are no white potatoes nor tapioca, both of which are common grain-free food fillers. The company also developed its own probiotic to encourage gut health. Like most of the items on this list, Nulo is made in the U.S.A. We included their cat formulation on our best dry cat food brands list.

Price: $62.93 for a 24 pound bag

Buy Nulo FreeStyle Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Lamb & Chickpeas variety):

  • Lamb
  • Turkey meal
  • Salmon meal
  • Yellow peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Sweet potato

Dog Food Advisor score: 5 stars (Enthusiastically Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Lamb & Chickpeas
  • Salmon & Peas
  • Turkey & Sweet potato

Browse all flavors of Nulo FreeStyle Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food here.

5. Wellness Core Grain-Free Dog Food

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(Wellness)

Like most other dog food brands, Wellness offers a variety of flavors, as well as dry and wet options. Wellness also offers grain-free snacks for your dog. This helps ensure your pet gets the proper nutrition he or she needs and you don’t have to worry about ingredients even when you just want to give them a little something extra.

Price: $58.99 for a 26-pound bag

Buy Wellness Core Grain-Free Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Original Turkey & Chicken variety):

  • Deboned turkey
  • Turkey meal
  • Chicken meal
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Dried ground potatoes

Dog Food Advisor score: 5 stars (Enthusiastically Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Original: Turkey & Chicken
  • Ocean Whitefish: Herring & Salmon
  • Wild Game: Duck, Turkey, Boar & Rabbit

Browse all flavors of Wellness Core here.

6. Canidae PURE Grain-Free Dog Food

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(Canidae)

Canidae got their beginning as a family-owned company, and they still are. For almost two decades they have been doing what they can to make the best pet food possible. One of the handy things about Canidae pet foods is that they are all grain-free. It’s part of the charm of this company. You know when you buy their dog food you are giving them something that has been created with care.

Price: $59.84 for a 24-pound bag

Buy Canidae PURE Grain-Free Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Bison variety):

  • Bison
  • Lamb meal
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Canola oil

Dog Food Advisor score: 4.5 stars (Highly Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Fresh Bison
  • Fresh Duck
  • Fresh Lamb
  • Fresh Salmon
  • Fresh Wild Boar

Browse all flavors of Canidae PURE Grain-Free Dog Food here.

7. Merrick Grain-Free Dog Food

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(Merrick)

Merrick offers a plethora of options when it comes to foods for your dog. One of their best lines is the Merrick Grain-Free, offering great flavors that include whole meats, vegetables and more. Merrick prides themselves in offering a healthy food for dogs, which includes always ensuring that meat is the first ingredient. Their food is made in their own facility and 100% made in the U.S.A.

Price: $56.48 for a 25-pound bag

Buy Merrick Grain-Free Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Real Buffalo + Sweet Potato variety):

  • Deboned buffalo
  • Chicken meal
  • Turkey meal
  • Sweet potato
  • Peas
  • Potato

Dog Food Advisor score: 5 stars (Enthusiastically Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Buffalo + Sweet Potato
  • Chicken + Sweet Potato
  • Duck + Sweet Potato
  • Lamb + Sweet Potato
  • Rabbit + Chickpeas
  • Salmon + Sweet Potato
  • Texas Beef + Sweet Potato
  • Turkey + Sweet Potato
  • Venison + Chickpeas

Browse all flavors of Merrick Grain-Free Dog Food here.

8. AvoDerm Grain-Free Dog Food

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(AvoDerm)

AvoDrem gets its name from the secret ingredient, avocados, and the fact that it is created to not just give your dog overall health, but also a healthy coat. AvoDerm has limited options when it comes to grain-free foods, so if you have a picky eater this might not be the best choice. They do carry wet and dry, but only two flavor options. Still, if you’ve tried the others and your dog hasn’t been excited by them, this is available as an option for grain-free eating.

Price: $39.99 for a 24-pound bag

Buy AvoDerm Grain-Free Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Salmon Meal and Potato variety):

  • Peas
  • Salmon meal
  • Potatoes
  • Pea flour
  • Canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols)
  • Tomato pomace

Dog Food Advisor score: 4 stars (Highly Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Salmon Meal and Potato
  • Chicken Meal and Potato
  • Red Meat Meal and Potato

Browse all flavors of AvoDerm Grain-Free Dog Food here.

9. Zignature Grain Free Dry Dog Food

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(Zignature)

Zignature focuses on allergy-free formulas. Since some dogs can have trouble even with chicken, their foods avoid it, as well as eggs, corn, wheat, soy, and potatoes (to which my dog is allergic, for example). They add in supplements for vitamins and antioxidants to help support your dog’s health. Beyond this, they limit the ingredients to more closely mirror the diet of wild animals. If you want to get really wild, Zignature has a kangaroo formula, too.

Price: $63.99 for a 27-pound bag

Buy Zignature Grain Free Dry Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Trout and Salmon Meal variety):

  • Trout
  • Salmon meal
  • Peas
  • Pea flour
  • Pea protein
  • Flaxseed

Dog Food Advisor score: 4.5 stars (Highly Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Trout and Salmon Meal
  • Catfish
  • Pork
  • Venison
  • Salmon
  • Kangaroo
  • Whitefish
  • Duck
  • Lamb
  • Turkey

Browse all flavors of Zignature Grain Free here.

10. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Dog Food

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(Natural Balance)

Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance, while attached to a celebrity name, is another great choice for pet parents looking for healthy grain-free options for their dogs. Natural Balance takes pride in making sure that they offer a healthy food for pets, and they have wet, dry and even treats available. The chicken formula was recently reformulated, moving real chicken to the front of the ingredients list, where before the first ingredient was sweet potato. The rating on this one from Dog Food Advisor is currently the lowest on this list at three stars, though they selected the Potato and Duck as the representative variety for their review. We suspect that in time, their score could be updated to reflect this improved ingredients mix, so we consider this a strong option.

Price: $53.99 for a 26-pound bag

Buy Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Chicken & Sweet Potato variety):

  • Chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Sweet potato
  • Peas
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Potatoes

Dog Food Advisor score: 3 stars (Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Chicken & Sweet Potato
  • Legume & Duck
  • Potato & Duck
  • Sweet Potato & Bison
  • Sweet Potato & Fish

Browse all flavors of Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets Grain-Free here.

11. SportDogFood Elite Grain Free Dog Food

(SportDogFood)

(SportDogFood)

The recipe for this food was created when one of the company’s owner’s dogs got sick, went on medication, and stopped eating. When looking for a a food without grains and full of easily absorbed nutrients, she found that the only options on the market were to expensive. She then set out to create the food she needed. The process for making this food is slightly different than most dog foods, in that they use low heat baking, resulting in porous kibble that is then soaked in fish oil and added to the other ingredients, which are only freeze dried. This approach leads to nutrients that are more readily absorbed by your dog, according to the company. They recommend a longer transition process from the old food, but the time spent may be worth because users report feeding less overall because their dogs were full quicker. They even make a Dash Button for this food, if you decide you love it.

Price: $45.59 for a 30-pound bag

Buy SportDogFood Elite Grain Free Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Beef variety):

  • Beef meal
  • Yams
  • Freeze dried sweet potato
  • Freeze dried beef liver
  • Freeze dried pumpkin
  • Freeze dried red clover sprouts

Dog Food Advisor score: 5 stars (Enthusiastically Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Whitefish
  • Venison

Browse all flavors of SportDogFood Elite here.

12. Under the Sun Grain Free Dry Dog Food

(Under the Sun)

Virtually all of the items on this list include potatoes. They’re a relatively healthy product that is commonly used as the replacement for grains in dog foods without them. For the most part, this is an okay ingredient and many dogs tolerate it very well. If you have a dog like mine who is allergic to potatoes, it can be difficult to find a food without grain that also avoids potatoes. Under the Sun is put out by the same company that makes Canidae, which also appears on this list. They set out specifically to create a grain-free and potato free dog food at the same price point as many grain-free foods. Price-wise, it’s certainly competitive with any of the other foods on this list. There’s a somewhat higher proportion of legumes in this recipe, which again is there to offset grains and potatoes. This shouldn’t be a concern for most dogs, so consider this a very solid option at this price.

Price: $49.99 for a 25-pound bag

Buy Under the Sun Grain Free Dry Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Chicken variety):

  • Chicken meal
  • Green peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Yellow peas
  • Chicken fat
  • Chicken

Dog Food Advisor score: 4 stars (Highly Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Whitefish

Browse all flavors of Under the Sun here.

13. Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

(Earthborn Holistic)

(Earthborn Holistic)

Earthborn Holistic focuses squarely on providing a high proportion of protein, as evidenced by the fact that four of the top six ingredients are proteins. The whitefish meal provides a good balance of Omega-3s which contribute to joint health. As an ancillary benefit, the company is also dedicated to environmental concerns, producing their food and packaging in North America, using renewable resources, and reducing packaging whenever possible. If you care about the Earth as much as you care about your dog, this brand might have a bit more appeal.

Price: $51.99 for a 28-pound bag

Buy Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free Dry Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Primitive Natural variety):

  • Turkey meal
  • Chicken meal
  • Potatoes
  • Chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols)
  • Whitefish meal
  • Dried egg product

Dog Food Advisor score: 4.5 stars (Highly Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Primitive Natural: Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Whitefish Meal
  • Meadow Feast: Lamb Meal
  • Coastal Catch: Herring Meal, Salmon Meal, Whitefish Meal
  • Great Plains Feast: Bison Meal, Lamb Meal

Browse all flavors of Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free Dry Dog Food here.

14. Castor & Pollux Organix Grain Free Dry Dog Food

(Castor & Pollux)

(Castor & Pollux)

The key to this Castor & Pollux product is right in the name: organic ingredients. It’s relatively rare to find a dog food bothering to source primarily organic products, so if this is a concern for you, consider this option. Chicken is the first ingredient, and later on in the list there is organic coconut oil, which is potentially helpful in treating canine cognitive and skin disorders. Where other brands might use fish oil (which, for the record, is still beneficial), this one throws in something specifically to address dog-specific issues as your pet ages.

Price: $46.99 for a 22-pound bag

Buy Castor & Pollux Organix Grain Free Dry Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Chicken & Potato variety):

  • Organic chicken
  • Chicken meal
  • Organic peas
  • Organic tapioca
  • Organic pea protein
  • Potato protein

Dog Food Advisor score: 4.5 stars (Highly Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Chicken & Potato
  • Lamb & Peas
  • Salmon & Peas

Browse all flavors of Castor & Pollux Organix Grain Free Dry Dog Food here.

15. Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food

(Holistic Select)

(Holistic Select)

When determining the value of a dog food, studying the specific type of protein ingredients is important. Holistic Select names salmon, anchovy, and sardines in their Anchovy & Salmon variety, giving you a good idea of what exactly you’re feeding your dog. The common and safe grain replacement of potato is especially present here, but this food still gets high marks as an all-around, complete-nutrition dog food. Like many of the other options on this list, this one also includes nutrients that are easy to digest and absorb, making this an excellent feed.

Price: $53.98 for a 26-pound bag (7 percent off MSRP)

Buy Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food here.


First Six Ingredients (Salmon & Anchovy variety):

  • Salmon
  • Anchovy & sardine meal
  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Dried ground potatoes
  • Canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols)

Dog Food Advisor score: 4.5 stars (Highly Recommended)


Flavors Available:

  • Salmon & Anchovy
  • Turkey & Lentils

Browse all flavors of Holistic Select Natural here.

If you’re bringing home a new puppy for the first time, use our new puppy checklist to make sure you have everything you need.

Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
37 Comments

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37 Comments

best dog food

I have read so many articles or reviews concerning the blogger lovers except
this article is in fact a fastidious piece of writing, keep it up.

Akash

Sure .. I just saw ratings of wellness is better than BB ?

Anonymous

I’ve done EXTENSIVE research on this subject, and yes, Wellness is a superior product to Blue Buffalo. It also, of course, depends on your pet’s individual factors. I have a small dog- they require more calories, higher fat and protein, etc. There are allergies to look for. Some are to chicken, some are to beef…. there is also grain free to consider.

Akash Patil

Hi .. I have 50 days old GSD puppy. I’m feeding him now FIDELE dog food. Some of my friends suggested me Royal Canin. So can u Please suggest me best of best dog food with the all ingredients.
the_aakash12@yahoo.com

Anonymous

My dog love DAD’s dog food. It’s the best.

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