SHARE

Finding good puppy food can be time-consuming. With a large number of options available, the choice is overwhelming.

But a high-quality diet designed specifically for a puppy will ensure healthy growth and prevent musculoskeletal health problems like hip dysplasia or early-onset osteoarthritis as the dog ages.

Table of Contents

To keep our puppies healthy and on a good (and affordable) diet this year, for our 2021 puppy food rankings, I've used my personal experience in the pet food industry and employed the help of other experts to go through nearly a hundred dog food brands and formulas, and pick out a list of 25 for best puppy food.

How to Choose the Best Puppy Food for Your Dog

Here's the truth: there is no single puppy food brand ideal for all dogs.

The only thing we can do is analyze the ingredients of each puppy food formula and assess the company's history and reputation, then draw a conclusion based on that.

In the US, two entities govern (to an extent, not the way human foods are protected) the quality and manufacturing process of pet foods – FDA and AAFCO.

Some pet food companies also like to have their factories inspected by USDA when producing organic puppy foods.

Unfortunately, they do not do too good of a job to prevent poor quality ingredients used in some dog food formulas.

The overall best puppy food will depend on your individual dog.

That said, there is a way and a formula to filter out all the bad dog foods and worst puppy food brands.

The below-listed twenty-five best puppy food picks are the result of this type of filtering.

Here's what was considered and how you can do that, too:

  • Ingredient quality: based on currently available research of what's harmful to dogs
  • Organizational requirements: how well and how many of those the product meets
  • Dog food recalls history: how many recalls, if any, the company has had and why
  • Company's reputation: transparency of the manufacturing process and ingredient sourcing

These four areas, expanded into further subcategories, which I explain below, were the major factors in assessing and picking out recommended puppy foods for our 2020 rankings.

Note: For this list, we've also included Dog Food Advisor reviews (DFA) because the site has been very popular and many pet owners like to cross-reference our puppy food reviews with DFA's.

I do not always agree with DFA, but there's some good advice and accurate rankings on the site.

Therefore, just for your convenience, we've provided Dog Food Advisor ratings alongside ours.

Criteria for Ranking The Best Puppy Food

Ultimately, from an objective point of view, there's an abundant amount of criteria to consider to pick a good puppy food in any category.

But according to research, canine nutritionist, and veterinarians, ten factors will help you determine the best dog food for puppies.

In order of importance, use this to pick your ideal puppy food:

  1. [Puppy food brand] doesn't contain suspicious or controversial ingredients
  2. [Puppy food brand] doesn’t contain chemical and/or artificial preservatives
  3. [Puppy food brand] doesn’t contain artificial flavorings or coloring agents
  4. [Puppy food brand] doesn’t contain unknown or anonymous ingredients
  5. [Puppy food brand] doesn’t contain foul ingredients and generic animal fats
  6. [Puppy food brand] has a ratio between fat and protein that’s 60-80% (or lower)
  7. [Puppy food brand] has a high protein percentage and high-quality protein source
  8. [Puppy food brand] has a medium to a low amount of carbohydrates and grains
  9. The company meets most of AAFCO and organizational requirements
  10. The company discloses manufacturing location and ingredient sources

Other criteria can and should be considered, but the above ten factors will bring up some of the top-rated puppy foods with great quality ingredients and safe for puppies.

Use the above criteria to find the best dog food for puppies yourself, or scan through our list below for recommendations.

Value. Although we believe that reputation and quality should always be primary considerations, we know that for most pet parents, cost and value for money are also deciding factors when choosing puppy food.

For that reason, we also took bag size and cost into account when making our recommendations, and when it came to great puppy foods of equal quality, the more affordable brand is rated higher.

How to Choose the Best Puppy Food Brand

Assessing the Quality of Puppy Food

Let's get into more details of how to assess what makes the best puppy food brand.

This is a quick brief of further criteria that was used for these puppy food reviews and rankings.

1. Understanding nutritional requirements for puppies.

While many things apply equally to adult dogs and puppies (like the quality of ingredients), the nutritional needs will differ.

Growing puppies need a different protein ratio (amino acids), calcium, phosphorus, and calories in particular.

Research shows that not following these means a puppy may develop various growth-related health problems, musculoskeletal diseases, and other issues (Lauten et al. 2002).

National Research Council (NRC) releases and updates nutritional requirements for dogs and cats every few years based on most current research.

Merck Vet Manual has the full guideline for puppies right here.

The AAFCO nutritional requirements for puppies are later adjusted and used to govern pet food companies and ensure that the best puppy food formulas are well-designed for growing dogs.

2. Avoid filler ingredients and prioritize meat content.

To save on costs, pet food companies add what's called “fillers.” These usually come in plant-based foods, such as soy, corn, wheat, grains, rice, and more.

Although plant foods aren't necessarily always bad for dogs, when it comes to puppies, many studies show that we must prioritize high-quality meats as the first ingredient making up most of the puppy food formula content (Knight et al. 2016).

3. Avoid artificial agents, preservatives, and additives.

Just like with human foods, it's not uncommon to have artificial stuff in dog food (Potera, 2010).

While some of those are not harmful, many of them are dangerous and should be avoided.

The problem is that FDA still allows for these agents to be included in pet foods. Thus we had to filter out all formulas with potentially harmful artificial ingredients.

High quality pet food will always be enticing to dogs, and will not require any additives.

These agents may be added for different reasons, but often to make the puppy food more palatable and flavorful and add moisture (e.g., propylene glycol, which was shown to an irritant).

However, vets agree that there is never a good reason to flavor dog food that's high in meat content because most dogs will prefer the natural taste.

It's only poor-quality formulas that require additives.

4. Avoid (some) formulas with byproducts and meat meals.

Meat is expensive, and many pet food companies cannot justify the costs of including fresh beef, lamb, chicken, or other animal protein source in their formulas.

This is where byproducts and meat meals come in.

According to studies, the truth is that these are generally not dangerous to dogs, and in fact, can increase the total protein concentration of the puppy food formula, according to studies (Funaba et al. 2005).

However, there are several problems with manufacturing puppy foods this way.

The main issue is because nobody monitors what type of meat meals (rendered meats) will go into the dog food for puppies formula, meaning very low-quality ingredients can become “meat meal,” nor do they see the process of rendering itself, meaning that nutrition can be lost.

Dr. Donna Spector, DVM, wrote an article on PetMD about how high temperatures during these manufacturing processes destroy nutrients, and in particular, protein and enzymes.

Be Careful About Which Puppy Food You Choose

With all the above considered, and if you follow the outlined criteria that we've used to pick these puppy foods, you'll be able to pick and choose your own formulas that will be specifically designed for your own puppy's growth and contain only high-quality ingredients.

In summary, it's important to reiterate how every dog is different, and you should always seek the best food for your individual pup.

With so many variables to account for, it’s generally impossible to pick an ideal puppy food brand that would be the optimal choice for all dogs (and all the dog food reviews websites that are telling you otherwise are wrong or simply lying).

Instead, what you can do is (a) consider your personal situation, (b) all the puppy food ranking criteria mentioned above, (c) pay attention to organizational requirements, and (d) use your critical thinking.

Here’s the formula I recommend you use if you want to choose your own puppy foods

Personalize + Critical Assessment + Requirements + Company's Reputation = Best Puppy Food

This should give you a good start, and you can do your own due diligence.

That way, you know that you've chosen something good for your specific puppy rather than relies on something that may be.

To wrap this up, for pet owners who are looking for a selection of top-rated foods for puppies in one place, after doing hundreds of dog food reviews myself and getting help from other experts to plow through hundreds of puppy foods available today, we have managed to make a list of twenty-five dog foods for puppies, listed below.

Note that the affordability of each puppy food brand was also considered.

Top 25 Best Puppy Food Brands of 2020

1 Dog Puppy & Junior Protein Rich
 by Acana

  • Cost-to-Value: $2.2/lbDog Puppy & Junior Protein Rich  by Acana
  • Overall Rating5 stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($63.99)
Unavailable on Chewy

Guaranteed analysis:
Crude protein (min.) 33 %
Fat content (min.) 20 %
Crude ash (max.) 7 %
Crude fibers (max.) 5 %
Moisture (max.) 12 %
Calcium (min.) 1.5 %
Phosphorus (min.) 1.1 %

The ACANA line of dog foods has long been highly regarded by pet owners and veterinarians alike due to their manufacturing process, high-quality ingredients, sourcing, and transparency.

However, they may also sometimes come at a higher price, particularly for dog owners in the USA (the company is based and makes its food in Canada).

This first best puppy food brand formula is void of fillers and fast-digesting carbs like rice, and it doesn't contain grains, potatoes, or other controversial ingredients.

The company claims to source their meats from farms where animals are ethically raised and employ sustainable fishing practices for their fish-based formulas.

None of the ingredients are outsourced outside of Canada.

 

2 Naked Essentials Puppy Recipe Kibble
 by I and love and you

  • I and Love and You Puppy Kibble: Naked Essentials Puppy Recipe KibbleCost-to-Value: $2.7/lb
  • Overall Rating5 stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($11.99)
Find it on Chewy ($11.99)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 32.0% min
CRUDE FAT 15.% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% min
DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID (DHA) 0.05% min
CALCIUM 1.2% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.0% min

As a new kid on the block, oddly named I and love and your line of pet foods have quickly gone up in rankings due to their attention to high-quality ingredients with no grains, fillers, corn, rice, soy, wheat, and other known controversial additives.

This second-rated puppy food formula is made without any byproducts or meat meals, and the company claims this as “holistic” food.

However, this marketing term has no meaning under FDA and AAFCO pet food labeling requirements.

Another notable aspect of this puppy kibble from I and love and you is their popularity among pet owners and their dogs.

This brand has a very high ratio of adaptability, most likely explained by natural and wholesome ingredients, which most dogs are likely to prefer over artificial additives and agents.

 

3 CORE Natural Puppy Food
 by Wellness Core

  • Wellness Core PuppyCost-to-Value: $2.3/lb
  • Overall Rating5 stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($67.99)
Find it on Chewy ($67.99)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 36.0% min
CRUDE FAT 18.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 1.5% max
PHOSPHORUS 1.0% max

One of the well-known names in the pet food industry, Wellness CORE puppy formula, is designed with high meat percentage and a very low number of fillers.

It contains no grains or meat by-products, no artificial preservatives, gluten, coloring, or flavors.

For a company this size, it's very refreshing to be particularly careful about formulating protein-rich puppy foods containing premium ingredients, added probiotics, and digestive enzymes.

However, while they may be helpful, studies show that the small amounts of these beneficial additives in pet foods are unlikely to affect dogs in any way.

 

4 Puppy Dry Food
 by Orijen

  • Orijen Puppy Dry Dog FoodCost-to-Value: $3.3/lb
  • Overall Rating5 stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($89.09)
Unavailable on Chewy

Guaranteed analysis:
Crude protein (min.) 38 %
Crude fat (min.) 20 %
Crude fiber (max.) 6 %
Moisture (max.) 12 %
Calcium (min.) 1.2 %
Phosphorus (min.) 0.9 %

Another popular dog food brand among veterinarians, Orijen, manufactures high-quality protein-rich dog foods with a low percentage of carbohydrates.

This fourth best puppy food formula from Orijen has no rendered meat byproducts, a higher level of fats for puppy's growth, a low number of carbohydrates, and ethically raised chicken and turkey as their animal protein source.

The company's reputation is in good standing as Orijen is known for their transparency, made in America pet foods without outsourcing ingredients, and formulating their foods with only fresh and dehydrated proteins.

The only two problems some pet owners may find with this fourth-ranked food brand are the taste, which not all puppies prefer, and the cost, which is often more expensive than other brands due to higher quality ingredients.

 

5 Instinct Raw Boost Puppy Grain-Free Recipe
 by Nature's Variety

  • Cost-to-Value: $3.5/lb
  • Overall Rating5 stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($50.57)
Find it on Chewy ($69.99)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 33.5% min
CRUDE FAT 15.5% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.5% max
MOISTURE 9.0% max
CALCIUM 1.2% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.0% min

The fifth puppy formula pick is from another established and known company, Nature's Variety, and their different approach to manufacturing pet foods.

This Instinct Raw Boost Puppy formula is the 2-in-1 way to buy kibble and raw dog food with convenience.

Very high protein and completely grain-free, the ingredients and their quality are why it ranks among the top puppy foods on many veterinarian's and dog food reviews websites.

All foods go through very little processing, contain no known fillers or byproducts, and their protein source is always cage-free chicken.

If raw feeding is what you'd like to try with your young dog, then this fifth formula from Nature's Variety is where it's at.

 

6 GO! FIT + FREE™ Puppy Recipe
 by Petcurean

  • GO! FIT + FREE™ Puppy RecipeCost-to-Value: $2.8/lb
  • Overall Rating5 stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($55.99)
Find it on Chewy ($55.99)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 36.0% min
CRUDE FAT 18.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 3.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 2.2% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.3.0% min

Another newer company on the pet food industry stage, Petcurean, is quickly gaining popularity among pet owners due to their carefully crafted recipes.

We've had their chief nutritionist, Dr. Jennifer Adolphe, on our podcast several times (here, here, and here), where she revealed the company's philosophy and the way the company makes its foods.

Our editor-in-chief Samantha has also reviewed several of their formulas in greater detail.

Overall, this sixth puppy recipe is a healthy and affordable option for most pet owners, contains no artificial ingredients or byproducts, no fillers or gluten, no growth hormones or additives.

There's an added amount of extra probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes, and they don't use beef for their puppy foods to avoid triggering allergies in young dogs.

 

7 Amicus Puppy Food
 by Horizon

  • Horizon Amicus Puppy FoodCost-to-Value: $2.9/lb
  • Overall Rating5 stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($70.99)
Find it on Chewy ($70.99)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 32.0% min
CRUDE FAT 18.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
ASH 7.4% max
CALCIUM 1.11% min
PHOSPHORUS 0.9% min

The seventh brand is from a lesser-known company that not many pet owners are aware of, but it's worth your attention – Horizon.

The company is mostly focused on small breeds and their nutrition, so if you have a puppy or small dog, this may be worth looking at.

This dog food formula, in particular, uses three meat sources, what they call the “triple animal protein” formula and a very low number of carbohydrates.

 

Horizon includes premium ingredients that result in a high level of antioxidants in all of their pet foods, all of which are manufactured in a strictly regulated factory with a transparent process for pet owners to know how their dogs' foods are made.

 

8 Ultra Formula
 by Annamaet

  • Annamaet Ultra FormulaCost-to-Value: $2.3/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 4.5/5

Find it on Amazon ($49.99)
Find it on Chewy ($49.99)

Guaranteed analysis:
Crude Protein, not less than 32.00%
Crude Fat, not less than 20.00%
Crude Fiber, not more than 3.00%
Moisture, not more than 10.00%
Ash, max 6.8%

Another less well-known dog food brand, Annamaet, is a USA-made pet food company and manufactures specific pet food formulas.

It is often great for dogs with certain health conditions or in certain life stages, such as growth or lactation.

These eight best dog food for pups, and the whole line of products, never had any recalls and generally have a great reputation among their small fan base of pet owners.

Ingredients are always fresh animal meat sources followed by high-quality vegetables, no soy, corn, or wheat.

This is a mid-range food on this list of foods and is generally fairly affordable.

 

9 Earthborn Holistics Puppy Vantage
 by Wells Pet Food

  • Earthborn Holistics Puppy VantageCost-to-Value: $1.5/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 4/5

Find it on Amazon ($51.99)
Find it on Chewy ($51.99)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 28.0% min
CRUDE FAT 20.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
CALCIUM 1.3.0% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.1% min

The ninth place is a much more popular brand and significantly more affordable when compared to the above-mentioned eight-rated puppy food formulas.

Wells Pet Food's Earthborn Holistics is favored by many pet owners, even though there may be a few small issues with their ingredient formulation.

Nevertheless, this remains a healthy choice for most puppies, with well-balanced omega-3 additives, premium quality animal protein sources, and following whole food vegetables to make up the rest.

Yet another company that has never had any dog food recalls, and they have been around for a while.

Even though the term “holistic” should not be part of your consideration, the company seems to follow what they believe being holistic actually means, making this one a cheap puppy food formula.

 

10 Range Hearty Dog Food for Puppies
 by Nature's Select

  • Nature’s Select Range Hearty RecipeAverage Cost: $62.89 for 28 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.2/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($79.99)
Unavailable on Chewy

Guaranteed analysis:
Crude Protein Min 33%
Crude Fat Min 16%
Crude Fiber Max 3.5%
Moisture Max 9%

Rarely found at online retailers' websites and most often bought in local pet stores, Nature's Select line of pet foods has been well-rated by our team, veterinarians, and Dog Food Advisor.

This tenth best puppy food formula in the mid-range budget is simple yet healthy for most young dogs with no specific health problems.

It's grain-free, high in protein, and low in carbohydrates.

They often include several meat sources in their formulations, which makes up for a large percentage of protein on the label.

If you're afraid of the popular dog food brands that are receiving public backlash, this smaller pet food company and their tenth-rated formulation may be more along your alley.

 

11 Freestyle Grain-Free Dry Food
 by Nulo

  • Cost-to-Value: $2.1/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($75.99)
Find it on Chewy ($75.99)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 30% min
CRUDE FAT 18% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.5% max
MOISTURE 10% max
DOCOSAHEXAENOIC ACID* (DHA) 0.80% min
CALCIUM 1.20% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.10% min

Nulo is quickly becoming the go-to product for new pet owners as they are first to research for best dog food brands.

They have a great company reputation, their formulations contain a perfect ingredient profile, and most importantly their line of foods is very affordable, ranging somewhere between “budget” to “mid-range.”

However, the lower price range doesn't seem to be reflected in their quality, and this pet food is solid proof of that.

It contains no grains, a low number of carbohydrates to make it a very low GI formulation, no potatoes, tapioca, corn, wheat, soy, or other fillers, and no GMOs.

All-American made, and with careful attention to detail, we've also had them previously on the site and reviewed a few of their products in greater detail.

This eleventh brand, in particular, is very high in protein (up to 80%) and contains added probiotics and digestive enzymes.

 

12Life Protection Puppy Formula
 by Blue Buffalo

  • Cost-to-Value: $2.8/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($82.13)
Find it on Chewy ($82.13)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 42.0% min
CRUDE FAT 22.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 2.3.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
ASH 8.6% max
CALCIUM 1.5% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.0% min

A well-known mid-range pet food brand, Blue Buffalo puppy food is the first on the list where the company claims cruelty-free and “never frozen” manufacturing.

When it comes to ingredients, there doesn't seem to be any problems there, as the company's formulations have been rated highly among vets and other dog food ranking websites for years.

This twelfth recipe is made with fresh chicken, a small number of carbs, without grains, gluten, or GMOs.

Moving past the ingredients and looking around, pet owners have been big fans of Farmina foods for years, with great reviews on Amazon and Chewy, and generally speaking well about the company on pet forums.

The only issue with this recipe is that it costs slightly more, all of their foods ranging somewhere between Mid-Range and coming closer to Premium.

 

13 SubZero Puppy Fraser Valley
 by Nutrience

  • Cost-to-Value: $2.8/lbSubZero Puppy Fraser Valley  by Nutrience
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($91.99)
Unavailable on Chewy

Guaranteed analysis:
Crude protein min. 38.0%
Crude fat min. 18.0%
Crude fiber max. 3.5%
Moisture max. 10.0%
Docosahexaenoic acid* (DHA) Min. 0.21%
Calcium min. 1.1%
Phosphorus min. 0.9%

In the same price range as the above-mentioned option, Nutrience is another well-made dog food for puppies.

Nutrience has great quality ingredients and healthy formulation, but far less popular among pet owners.

This is another brand that's rarely found online but most commonly bought from local pet stores.

Nevertheless, the company deserves some praise for its transparent and strict manufacturing practices.

All made and sourced in Canada, and this dog food has a high protein formulation, no grains or other fillers.

Moreover, this is one of the healthy additive-friendly food for puppies on this list.

The company often adds probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, coconut oil, and other supplementation to reinforce the recipe.

This one specifically is made from “never frozen protein sources,” according to Nutrience themselves, and with wild-caught fish sources.

 

14 Wolf Cub Bison & Oatmeal Puppy
 by Solid Gold

  • Cost-to-Value: $2.5/lbWolf Cub Bison & Oatmeal Puppy  by Solid Gold
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($59.84)
Find it on Chewy ($59.84)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 41.0% min
CRUDE FAT 20.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max

Moving down the list of best dog foods for puppies, lesser-known among pet owners, Solid Gold deserves mention on the list as much as any others we've already picked out.

The company has a great reputation, albeit not very popular, and their pet foods are often made without any grains, gluten, meat by-products, corn, soy, wheat, or other fillers.

It's the USA-made dog food for puppies with an average protein amount designed to fit dogs of all ages.

That said, the reason it's ranked as the fourteenth brand even though it's cheaper than a few above-mentioned formulas is that “all life stages” may not always be a great fit for puppies.

There are some talks regarding this among veterinarians, and you'd better consult your vet, too.

 

15 Active Puppy Formula Grain-Free
 by Victor Dog Food

  • Victor Active Dog & Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog FoodCost-to-Value: $1.5/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 4/5

Find it on Amazon ($47.82)
Find it on Chewy ($47.82)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 33.0% min
CRUDE FAT 16.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 3.8% max
MOISTURE 9.0% max

Pet owners looking for good puppy food recipes that are affordable will find Victor's dog food a great alternative to the above-mentioned Earthborn.

It's a cheap puppy food that's healthy for the majority of dogs without any issues.

It's grain-free and has no gluten, soy, wheat, corn, or other additives. The company is less transparent about its manufacturing process but claims to use USA-sourced animal proteins.

Most of their formulas have added probiotics and digestive enzymes to support puppies' digestion.

This is also the “All Life Stages” formulation, meaning that it works for both adult dogs and puppies, and I've already explained the small issue with that above.

Overall, this is one of the better puppy foods for an affordable price and worth taking a look at.

 

16 Rocky Mountain Medley
 by Wild Calling

  • Wild Calling! Rocky Mountain MedleyCost-to-Value: $2.8/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon
Unavailable on Chewy

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 32.0% min
CRUDE FAT 18.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 9.0% max
CALCIUM 2.0% min
PHOSPHORUS 1.25% min

Getting back to Mid-Range to Premium cost pet foods, Wild Calling formulation is a great choice for pet owners who can afford to pay $70+ for a 25 lbs bag.

It's not a popular company among pet owners and is often bought in local pet stores, but their recipes are good quality and, on the paper, are very healthy.

This sixteenth recipe specifically is grain-free, designed for rotational feeding with multiple proteins, and contains no usual bad agents – no fillers, byproducts, gluten, additives, etc.

This brand has a unique type of animal protein source and often includes three types in every formulation formulations. And like with other brands mentioned above, this is the “All Life Stages” formula, meaning it works for adult dogs and puppies alike.

 

17 40/16 Food
 by Young Again

  • Young Again Dog FoodAverage Cost: $129 for 40 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $3.2/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Unavailable on Amazon
Unavailable on Chewy

Guaranteed analysis:
Crude Protein (min) 40%
Crude Fat (min) 16%
Crude Fiber (max) 3.0%
Soluble Fiber 1.91%

Another “All Life Stages” formulation on our list, the Young Again puppy recipe, contains no plant protein sources, no gluten or grains, and a low number of carbohydrates.

Their first ingredient is hydrolyzed pork, which some pet owners may find concerning, but there's no reason to be as we have not seen any evidence regarding this as of yet.

What we do know is that this protein is highly digestible among most adult dogs, but it's still unclear how it affects puppies.

Overall, their nutrient profile is well-rated, and the company had great Dog Food Advisor reviews for a few years.

That said, it's a more expensive product, and a few other brands mentioned above may be more affordable for most.

 

18 Puppy Raw Blend
by Stella & Chewy's

  • Stella and Chewy’s Raw BlendCost-to-Value: $3.6/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($46.99)
Find it on Chewy ($46.99)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 45.0% min
CRUDE FAT 30.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 4.0% max
MOISTURE 5.0% max

Stella and Chewy's has been one of the best-known pet food companies manufacturing raw blend foods for puppies and adult dogs.

Today, they're mostly chosen by pet owners with adult dogs.

Their puppy formulas are far less popular due to palatability and the fact that many young dogs don't seem to love the taste, for whatever reason.

However, speaking of quality, Stella & Chewy's eighteenth recipe stands out: the USA made, it's grain-free, contains no potatoes or gluten, with a small level of carbs, all sourced in America and manufactured by a company that values transparency and being open about their practices.

Stella & Chewy's have a big following, and for the price, their raw formulation is one of the most affordable puppy foods out there.

 

19 Human Grade Grain-Free
 by The Honest Kitchen

  • Honest Kitchen Grain FreeCost-to-Value: $8.6/lb*
    * (dehydrated dog food makes up to 40 lb. real food)
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($88.19)
Find it on Chewy ($88.19)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 24.0% min
CRUDE FAT 15.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 6.5% max
MOISTURE 8.5% max

Now let's talk about dehydrated dog food.

The Honest Kitchen has made it on the list of best dog food for puppies, and for good reason. It is the best-known brand out there.

The company is open about their manufacturing process and are known for their human-grade pet foods and extremely meticulous process of making the healthiest raw dog food possible.

This dog food is perfect for owners looking to start their young dogs on dehydrated raw food without grains.

The nutrient profile of this formulation is outstanding, with all USA sourced ingredients, 100% human-grade, no preservatives or by-products.

The Honest Kitchen is also well-known for its high-quality limited ingredient formulas, and there's one available with this “All Life Stages” formulation as well.

The food is on the expensive side, however.

 

20 Pureformance Food
 by Grandma Lucy's

  • Grandma Lucy’s PureformanceCost-to-Value: $7.6/lb*
    * (freeze-dried dog food makes 55 lb. of real food)
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($74.10)
Find it on Chewy ($74.10)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN (MIN) 34.0%
CRUDE FAT (MIN) 9.0%
CRUDE FIBER (MAX) 6.5%
MOISTURE (MAX) 6.1%
CALCIUM (MIN) 1.0%
PHOSPHORUS (MAX) 0.46%

Closely following the above-mentioned option, Grandma Lucy's freeze-dried dog food for puppies (“All Life Stages” formula) is a great alternative that's slightly cheaper.

They're not officially human grade and are less transparent about the process than The Honest Kitchen (but then who isn't), but are much more open about the manufacturing and sourcing of products than a large majority of other pet food companies out there.

All-American-made formulas with no preservatives or byproducts, their puppy recipe is something to take a look at if freeze-dried dog foods are what you're after.

 

21 Regionals Dog Food
 by Acana

  • Acana Regionals Dog FoodAverage Cost: $65.99 for 25 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.6/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($27.28)
Unavailable on Chewy

Guaranteed analysis:
Crude protein (min.) 33 %
Crude fat (min.) 17 %
Crude fiber (max.) 6 %
Moisture (max.) 12 %
Calcium (min.) 1.8 %
Phosphorus (min.) 1.2 %

We've already picked one option from ACANA as the first ranked puppy formula on this list, but if you're looking for an alternative that's designed for all life stages, then look no further.

Acana has gained a lot of attention for their high-quality ingredients and strict manufacturing practices.

It's rated lower mostly because of the price and giving some attention to other companies of the same quality of ingredients, but they're still one of the more affordable Mid-range to Premium food out there.

 

22 Homestyle Complete
 by Bravo!

  • Bravo Homestyle CompleteAverage Cost: $78.18 for 6 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $13/lb*
    * (freeze-dried dog food makes up to 30 lb real food)
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Find it on Amazon ($34.68)
Find it on Chewy ($34.68)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 38.0% min
CRUDE FAT 8.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 5.0% max
MOISTURE 20.0% max

Another lesser-known company on the list of kibbles, Bravo!, has a decent nutrient profile that we liked, some pet owners following and is also well rated on Dog Food Advisor and veterinarians.

It's another freeze-dried dog food for puppies option (all life stages).

However, significantly more expensive than the few other freeze-dried puppy food recipes we've already picked out.

 

23 Limited Ingredient Food
 by Great Life

  • Great Life Dog FoodAverage Cost: $67.62 for 25 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $2.7/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 4.5/5

Find it on Amazon ($69.87)
Find it on Chewy ($69.87)

Guaranteed analysis:
CRUDE PROTEIN 27.0% min
FAT 12.0% min
FIBER 2.5% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max

A small company often sold in local pet stores and occasionally on Amazon or Chewy, Great Life has a good nutrient profile and is Mid-Range in pricing.

The company makes its foods in the USA and sources all ingredients in America.

All life stages formula is grain-free, without any fillers, GMOs, gluten, or other potentially harmful additives.

There's only one animal protein.

Depending on the formula, it's likely to be a novel protein source (such as buffalo), which may be easier on the puppy's digestion and if the puppy has sensitive stomach or food allergies.

 

24 Humankind Dog Food
(recently discontinued)

  • Average Cost: $99.99 for 10 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $10/lb*
    * (dehydrated dog food makes 37 lb of real food)
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

 

Nutram Total Grain Free25 Total Grain Free
 by Nutram

  • Average Cost: $20.99 for 6 lbs bag
  • Cost-to-Value: $3.5/lb
  • Overall Rating4 half stars
  • Dog Food Advisor Review: 5/5

Unavailable on Amazon
Unavailable on Chewy

Guaranteed analysis:
Crude Protein minimum 36.0%
Crude Fat minimum 17.0
Crude Fiber maximum 5.5%
Moisture maximum 10.0%
Calcium minimum 1.4%
Phosphorus minimum 1.0%

The final pick on our list of best puppy food brands is another lesser-known company, often sold only in local pet food stores, but worth a mention due to their Mid-Range to Premium pricing and high-quality ingredients.

This last brand is grain-free, made for all life stages with a low number of carbohydrates and high protein percentage.

The company claims this as a holistic formulation; however, this term carries no weight as mentioned above.

All their foods are made in Canada under strict regulations, thus making this a great choice for pet owners looking for an average-to-expensive priced high-quality dog food for puppies.

Take-Home Message

Always use extra care and caution when switching your puppy’s food.

When you switch your puppy from one food to another, always make the switch slowly.

A sudden change in food can cause gastric upset, which can lead to complications in young dogs.

The food transition should take place over a one to 13-day period as follows:

  • Day 1-2 (1-4 for sensitive dogs): Feed 75% of your puppy’s original food and 25% of the new food.
  • Day 3-4 (5-8): Feed 50% of your puppy’s original food and 50% of the new food.
  • Day 5-6 (9-12): Feed 25% of your puppy’s original food and 75% of the new food.
  • Day 7 (13): Feed 100% of the new food.

If your puppy shows gastric upset (gas, diarrhea) during their new food transition, slow down the transition period.

If your puppy is still having gastric problems after slowing its food transition, consult your veterinarian right away.

They may be suffering from food allergies or illness, and young dogs can quickly succumb to diarrhea, dehydration, and nutritional deficiency if left untreated.

READ NEXT: 19 Tips for Picking a Good Dog Food Brand

Want to share this?

Best Puppy Food Brands of 2020