11 Best Dry Dog Food Brands: Compare & Save

best dry dog food

123RF (dimarik16)

Dog lovers everywhere know the struggle of trying to find a food that’s healthy, free of junk, and meets your dog’s specific needs. Fortunately, the last few years have seen a proliferation in high-quality, dog foods entering the market. To help you choose the best fit for your dog, discover the best dry dog food brands to ensure your dog’s health.

If you prefer to go the fresh route, check out The Farmer’s Dog – the human-grade dog food delivery service.

What is the best dry dog food?

Orijen Premium Grain Free Dog Food Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Not just protein sources - named species
  • 85% animal ingredients
  • Made in Kentucky
Price: $105.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Nature's Variety instinct grain free dry dog food Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Freeze-dried raw bits encourage interest
  • Above-average protein with below-average carbs
  • Five star rating
Price: $69.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Victor grain free dog food Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 75% of protein comes from meat sources
  • Added glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Five star rating
Price: $82.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Solid Gold grain free dry dog food Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Inexpensive relative to competing brands
  • No potatoes, corn, wheat, or soy
  • Added digestion enzymes and chelated minerals
Price: $16.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Canidae pure grain free dry dog food Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 10 or fewer primary ingredients
  • Contains enzymes to aid digestion
  • Made in Texas
Price: $64.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Up to 85% of protein from meat sources
  • Custom-developed probiotic for gut health
  • Made in USA with no Chinese ingredients
Price: $71.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Wide variety of meat options
  • Designed to be hypoallergenic
  • Relatively accessible price
Price: $67.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
“I and love and you” Nude Food Grain Free Dry Dog Food Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Inclusion of coconut oil provides MCT
  • No wheat, corn, soy, or rice
  • Prebiotics & probiotics for gut health
Price: $58.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • High proportion of meat-based ingredients
  • Added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
  • Five star rating
Price: $67.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Real meat is always the first ingredient
  • Added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
  • Made in the USA with no Chinese ingredients
Price: $64.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Grain and potato free
  • Easy-to-absorb chelated minerals
  • Renewable, resealable packaging
Price: $51.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Orijen Premium Grain Free Dog Food

    Pros:
    • Not just protein sources - named species on the ingredients list
    • 85% animal ingredients
    • Made in Kentucky
    Cons:
    • Very expensive
    • Ingredient list uses "ingredient splitting" to report legume content as lower (though this accurately reports possible allergens)
    • Contains lentil fiber, which is of no nutritional value to a dog

    If you want the absolute best-of-the-best, no compromise dog food, you’re looking at Orijen.  They’re dedicated to ultra-high quality foods, which includes these four varieties of kibble for all life stages. Particularly when considering their Six Fish variety, the ingredients list names not only the protein source, but the exact species.

    Orijen recipes have no less than 38 percent protein and no more than 20 percent carbohydrates to keep weight in check. Unlike other foods, Orijen doesn’t rely on meat meal, but on a 1/3-to-2/3 ratio of dehydrated meat to fresh or raw meat during processing. Additionally, 85 percent of these recipes come from animal protiens, while 15 percent come from fruits, vegetables, and botanicals that confer antioxidants.

    In fact, the entire ingredients list is made up of readily-recognizeable items which have a clear nutritional purpose. None of their recipes contain potatoes, grains, or soy of any kind, while only the Original recipe features chicken, if that’s a concern for your dog. Freeze-dried liver is included as an enticing element to enhance palatability.

    Production moved to Kentucky within the last few years, and ingredients are sourced from local family farms and delivered to their kitchen raw for processing.

    Unfortunately, this approach comes at a price. Orijen is prohibitively expensive for most folks, particularly if you’re feeding more than one medium-to-large sized dog. That said, for a similar but less-costly approach, you might consider sister brand Acana, which is about on par with the rest of this list in terms of both quality and price. Both are owned by Champion Petfoods and both are excellent options.

    First Six Ingredients (Six Fish variety):

    • Whole Atlantic mackerel
    • Whole Atlantic herring
    • Monkfish
    • Acadian redfish
    • Founder
    • Whole silver hake

    Dog Food Advisor score: 5 stars (Enthusiastically Recommended)

    Flavors Available:

    • Original
    • Regional Red
    • Six Fish
    • Tundra
  2. 2. Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Dog Food

    Pros:
    • Freeze-dried raw bits encourage interest
    • Above-average protein with below-average carbs
    • Five star rating
    Cons:
    • Somewhat expensive
    • Contains tomato pomace, which some think is useless filler
    • May contain GMO canola oil (unconfirmed)

    This food is one of my favorites to feed my dogs, including my shar pei mix who is allergic to potatoes. It’s grain free and goes the extra step of being potato free, too. I’ve been feeding this for awhile now and he still isn’t sick of it. Even better, he’s maintained a healthy weight without going hungry.

    Part of the reason for that is the added freeze-dried raw bits and coating that put it a step above other brands with similar qualities. This freeze dried approach makes the food more appealing on the whole, even to picky eaters. This might be one to consider if you think you’ll have trouble making a transition to tastier foods with more junk in them.

    This food is on the expensive side thanks to the addition of the raw parts, but they also make a cheaper variety which only coats the kibble in a raw topper rather than providing the freeze-dried raw morsels. That said, the price has come down of late and isn’t so outrageous considering the extra touches.

    • First Six Ingredients (Chicken variety):
    • Chicken meal
    • Chicken
    • Chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid)
    • Chicken eggs
    • Chickpeas
    • Peas

    Dog Food Advisor score: Five stars (Enthusiastically Recommended)

    Flavors Available:

    • Chicken
    • Duck
    • Beef
    • Vension
    • Lamb
  3. 3. Victor Grain-Free Formula Dry Dog Food

    Pros:
    • 75% of protein comes from meat sources
    • Added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
    • Five star rating
    Cons:
    • Contains blood meal, which some consider controversial
    • Contains tomato pomace, which some think is useless filler
    • Brewers yeast may be an allergen for some dogs

    Victor makes a variety of excellent options for your pup. The guaranteed 33 percent protein comes from the animal sources of beef, chicken, pork, and fish meals, which are perfectly acceptable meat concentrates seen in many pet food products.

    By combining these with flaxseed, which contributes both protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, they’ve created a dog food focused on supporting primarily adult dog health. The Hero formula in particular is good for protecting against joint issues.

    One notable ingredient that might look odd is montmorillonite relatively high up the list, but this is just a clay that adds beneficial minerals and may help calm digestive issues, particularly IBS.

    First Six Ingredients (Hero Canine variety):

    • Beef meal
    • Sweet potato
    • Chicken meal
    • Peas
    • Chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols)
    • Menhaden fish meal

    Dog Food Advisor’s score: Five stars (Enthusiastically Recommended)

    Flavors Available:

    Hero Canine Beef, Chicken, Pork And Fish

  4. 4. Solid Gold Grain Free Dry Dog Food

    Pros:
    • Inexpensive relative to competing brands
    • No potatoes, corn, wheat, or soy
    • Added digestion enzymes and chelated minerals
    Cons:
    • Only the Sun Dancer variety rates a 4.5 on Dog Food Advisor
    • Vegetables fillers may provide less bio-available protein
    • Use of pea protein controversial to some

    My husky mix has a very temperamental stomach. We’ve had him for just about three years now and tried a wide, wide variety of foods, including several on this list. While my shar pei and blue nose pitbull take quite ready to many of the foods on this list, my husky often doesn’t like what’s okay for his stomach and loves what isn’t.

    About a year ago, I switched to Solid Gold, the Sun Dancer variety in particular, and managed to finally find harmony among my three dogs. The husky doesn’t get sick nearly as often and the other two like it as well. This is merely anecdotal, but I happy recommend this to dog owners who are having trouble finding a suitable feed.

    Solid Gold was one of the original holistic dog food brands, and this latest iteration of their grain free line offers plenty of flavor combinations for even the pickiest dogs. It’s also considerably cheaper than some of the best dog food brands, possibly owing to their longer experience which suggests an established supply chain.

    First Six Ingredients (Sun Dancer variety):

    • Chicken
    • Chicken Meal
    • Peas
    • Tapioca
    • Ocean Fish Meal
    • Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols)

    Dog Food Advisor score: Up to 4.5 stars (Highly Recommended)

    Flavors Available:

  5. 5. Canidae PURE Grain-Free Dog Food

    Pros:
    • 10 or fewer primary ingredients
    • Made in Texas
    • Contains enzymes to aid digestion
    Cons:
    • Most recipies have potatoes, which could be an allergen
    • Contains alfalfa - an unusual dog food ingredent (but unlikely to cause problems)
    • Full ingredients list is longer due to addition of vitamins, minerals, and digestive enzymes

    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, as well as soy-free.

    To that end, these are limited-ingredient foods, featuring ten or fewer ingredients in each recipe. Of course, that primarily refers to the main ingredients, as there is a long list of vitamins, minerals, and digestive enzymes present, as well.

    The minerals in particular are chelated, which means they’re attached to proteins to make them easier to absorb and are typically found in better dog foods.

    That said, most of their recipes rely on potatoes or sweet potatoes as the replacement for grains. While this isn’t a problem for most dogs, some are allergic. To address this, Canidae created the Under the Sun line, which features a similarly limited ingredient lists with potatoes swapped out for chickpeas and other vegetables.

    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:

    • Bison
    • Chicken
    • Duck
    • Lamb
    • Salmon
    • Wild Boar
    • Red Meat
  6. 6. Nulo FreeStyle Adult Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Pros:
    • Up to 85% of protein from meat sources
    • Custom-developed probiotic for gut health
    • Made in USA with no Chinese ingredients
    Cons:
    • Expensive
    • Ingredient list uses "ingredient splitting" to report legume content as lower (though this accurately reports possible allergens)
    • Uses pea fiber, which provides no nutritional value

    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.

    Depending on the flavor you opt for, up to 85 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 list, as well.

    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
  7. 7. Zignature Grain Free Dry Dog Food

    Pros:
    • Wide variety of meat options address potential sensitivities to chicken
    • Designed to be hypoallergenic
    • Relatively accessible price
    Cons:
    • Contains alfalfa, an unusual ingredient in dog food
    • Contains beet pulp, which is controversial despite blood sugar benefits
    • High vegetable content compared to others at this price

    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, of course, and their feeds are rich in antioxidants, selenium, riboflavin, and phosphorus. Beyond this, they limit the ingredients to more closely mirror the diet of wild animals.

    Such a wide selection to choose from means that your dog will very likely never get board and allows you to rotate new and interesting flavors. If you want to get really wild, Zignature even has a kangaroo formula.

    Despite the relatively exotic offering line, these foods are not overly expensive relative to peers. The inclusion of things like catfish allow you to buy a limited ingredient diet with a relatively price-controlled central protein so you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot.

    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:

  8. 8. “I and love and you” Nude Food Grain Free Dry Dog Food

    Pros:
    • Inclusion of coconut oil provides MCT, which can aid cognitive function
    • No wheat, corn, soy, rice, artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors
    • Prebiotics & probiotics for gut health
    Cons:
    • High vegetable content compared to others at this price
    • Ingredient list uses "ingredient splitting" to report pea content as lower
    • May containt GMO canola oil (unconfirmed)

    Like Nulo, I and Love and You is a relatively new company, dedicated to creating healthy foods in a sustainable way. As we mentioned in our best wet cat food brands post, the company is also a founding member of the Pet Industry Sustainability Coalition.

    This food is about 34 percent protein and includes pre- and probiotics to aid digestion. Flaxseed and fish oil help maintain a healthy coat, while otherwise this is free of major allergens.

    A prominent feature of this food that sets it apart from others is the use of coconut oil, which provides medium-chain triglycerides, which can potentially help with canine cognitive dysfunction, which is similar to dementia in humans. If you have an older dog who is still quite active, this would make an excellent choice.

    First Six Ingredients (Red Meat Medley variety):

    • Pork
    • Lamb meal
    • Herring meal
    • Dried yellow peas
    • Garbanzo beans
    • Pea protein

    Dog Food Advisor score: 4.5 stars (Enthusiastically Recommended)

    Flavors Available:

    • Red Meat Medley
    • Poultry Palooza
    • Simply Sea Recipe
  9. 9. Wellness Core Grain-Free Dog Food

    Pros:
    • High proportion of meat-based ingredients
    • Added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
    • Five star rating
    Cons:
    • Contains pea fiber, which is of no nutritial value to dogs
    • Contains tomato pomace, which some think is useless filler
    • Potatoes may be an allergen for some dogs

    Like most other dog food brands, Wellness offers a variety of flavors, as well as dry and wet options. Their best option for dogs (and cats) is the Core line, which uses meat-first recipes that include flaxseed for skin and coat health.

    The kibble itself is coated in probiotics to encourage digestion, while the addition of glucosamine and chondroitin support joint health.

    The Core line extends to the RawRev line that adds freeze-dried raw morsels like the Nature’s Variety Instinct elsewhere on this list. If you don’t have the grain free requirement, consider Wellness Complete Health, which is cheaper.

    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:

  10. 10. Merrick Grain-Free Dog Food

    Pros:
    • Real meat is always the first ingredient
    • Added glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health
    • Made in the USA with no Chinese ingredients
    Cons:
    • High vegetable content compared to others at this price
    • Contains alfalfa, an unusual ingredient in dog food
    • Uses pea protein, which is less bio-available to dogs

    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. Seventy percent of the protein in their grain-free offerings comes from meat sources, with the remainder coming from high-quality vegetable sources.

    Their food is made in their own facility and 100 percent made in the U.S.A. If grain free isn’t a requirement, check out their Classic line, or their budget-friendly Whole Earth Farms line, which we included on our cheap dry dog food post.

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

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

    Dog Food Advisor score: 4 stars (Enthusiastically Recommended)

    Flavors Available:

  11. 11. Earthborn Holistic Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Pros:
    • Grain and potato free
    • Easy-to-absorb chelated minerals
    • Renewable, resealable packaging
    Cons:
    • Contains pea fiber, which is of no nutritional use to dogs
    • Contains pea protein, which is less bio-available to dogs
    • May contain GMO canola oil (unconfirmed)

    Earthborn Holistic focuses squarely on providing a good balance of whole foods, with a focus on antioxidants and fatty acids. Four of the top six ingredients are proteins, giving this an above-average protein proportion compared to lesser foods. The whitefish meal also 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.

    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:

What are the best dog foods on the market?

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.

We created this guide to offer a wide 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 this list.

There is no objective best dog 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; the order isn't important, and our price slider can help you decide what best meets your needs.

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.

Most of 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.

What makes for healthy dog food?

Grain free dog food has certainly gained the edge of late, judging by what ranks highly on Dog Food Advisor. This list prioritizes those, largely because dogs have evolved to prioritize metabolism of proteins and fats ahead of carbohydrates, according to VCA Hospitals. Grain fillers are largely carbohydrates, which generally lead to higher calorie counts, especially in proportion to what your dog can readily digest.

Additionally, 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. Controlling the ingredients list out of the gate helps to account for those vectors of concern.

All that said, a dog food does not necessarily have to be grain free to be healthy. For one thing, any dog food certified as conforming to AAFCO guidelines is likely to have the right balance of nutrients for dogs. Many options on our best cheap dry dog food post are quite healthy without being grain free. Much of it depends on your specific dog and the advice of your vet.

Dog Food 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.

Also, since these finer foods tend to be a bit pricey, you could also ponder our best cheap dry dog foods post for comparison.

See Also:

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