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Picking top dog food brands is not simple, and here's why: it depends on what kind of dog foods you're looking for. As someone who's been doing research on this for years, I'd like to first quickly introduce you to the right way of choosing best dog foods for your specific dog.

If you already know all about types of dog foods, then click here to jump to the list of top dog food brands (dry kibble). If you're not sure, then I recommend you continue reading.

Picking best dog food based on type

We'll discuss all of this further in the article.

What are the top dog food brands?Think what type of dog food you'll feed your dog:

  • Dry dog food kibble, or
  • Wet canned dog food, or
  • Freeze-dried, dehydrated dog food.

Now, you can pick two varieties of dog food:

  • Well-balanced dog food, or
  • Grain-free dog food.

Finally, age of your dog is also important:

  • Are you feeding a puppy?
  • Is your pet an adult dog?
  • Or do you have a senior dog?

Here are the five top dog food brands that we'll cover later in the article (among others):

Top Dog Food BrandsPrice$ per lbIngredientsRating
Merrick Grain Free Recipe$$$2.16/lbA+5 star dog food
Nature's Variety Instinct Grain Free Recipe$$$2.17/lbA5 star dog food
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine Formula$$1.86/lbA+5 star dog food
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Recipe$$$$2.23/lbA5 star dog food
CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Elements Formula$$$$2.37/lbA+5 star dog food

* Click on the best dry dog food brand for more information and prices, or scroll below for more details, notes and dog food reviews.

What is the best dog food brand?

Top best dog food ratings and reviewsAre these the absolute best dog food brands for our pets, then?

There's no such thing. The correct answer is, it depends.

Anybody (and I mean tons of other dog food ratings and reviews websites online) that tell you otherwise, are lying.

With so many variables to account for, it's impossible to pick the absolute best dog food brands that would be the optimal choice for all dogs. Instead, you have to (a) consider your personal situation, (b) several dog food criteria, and (c) several organizational requirements.

Here's the formula I recommend using (more on this below):

Personalize + Critical Assessment + Requirements = Best Dog Food

I've already mentioned above how to pick the best dog food for your specific dog. Now, you also need to consider several criteria of good quality dog food (for critical assessment) that I'll mentioned below.

Final ranking factors come off of FDA's Pet Food guidelines and AAFCO requirements as well as using evidence from research and rational advice provided by veterinarians and nutritionists as a last step.

How to pick top dog food brands

It's very important to know how dog foods are chosen.

There are tons of criteria to consider in order to pick the absolute best dry dog food brand in any category (hence my ongoing research on this, even after years of reading and studying).

But according to research, canine nutritionist and veterinarians, there are ten factors that will help you to determine the best dog food brand for your canine (ranked in the order of importance, from most to least).

Your ideal dog food:

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

Even though some other criteria can and should be considered, the above ten will usually bring up a handful of top dog food brands that will be of great quality and safe for dogs to eat.

You can easily take the above list and try to find the best dog food brand yourself.

After doing hundreds of dog food reviews, I've managed to make a selection of fifteen top dog food brands, which you can find below. For more information on choosing the best dog food brand and how you should do so, continue reading.

I've used links to Amazon where you can see more information about the brand on their product page, and also read other pet owners' dog food reviews, which I strongly encourage.

15 Top Dog Food Brands in 2017
(Best Dry Dog Food)

This top dog food brands list has only dry dog foods (grain-free and well-balanced) varieties.

For these dog food reviews and ratings, we've used adult dog food recipes/formulas. If you're feeding a puppy or senior dog, simply pick their puppy/senior formula, since they rank closely in rating.

1Merrick Grain Free
by Merrick

Merrick Grain Free RecipeRating5 star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $2.16 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 43%
  • Fat: 19%
  • Carbohydrates: 30%

Description: Merrick Grain Free dog food ranks high on the list of top dog food brands as it fits most of our ranking criteria, with high quality ingredients and little to no controversial items on the list. Depending on the formula you pick, the first ingredient will always be real protein source (chicken, lamb, duck, buffalo, etc.) Some healthy additives like a balance of omega-3s and omega-6s with additional glucosamine and chondroitin makes this a decent choice.

Merrick Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

2 Nature’s Variety Instinct
by Nature's Variety

Nature’s Variety Instinct Grain-FreeRating5 star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $2.17 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 39%
  • Fat: 22%
  • Carbohydrates: 31%

Description: Nature's Variety Instinct Grain Free dog food formula is yet another high quality brand that's a popular choice among pet owners who understand the importance of using different criteria for vetting their top dog food brands. The company is known for producing great quality pet food always with added omega-3 and omega-6, vitamins and minerals and never artificial preservatives, colors or flavorings. The ratio of high amount of protein and ultra-low amount of carbohydrates makes this a perfect grain free choice.

Nature’s Variety Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

3Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine
by Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine FormulaRating5 star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $1.86 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 32%
  • Fat: 17%
  • Carbohydrates: 43%

Description: Taste of the Wild dry dog food is arguably the most popular top dog food brand on the market today. They use a simple formula that closely follows (yet not to the extreme) the ancestral diet of dogs, and prioritize high protein and extremely low carbohydrate recipes. Their Bison and Venison formula is the most well-known that contains high quality protein source as the first ingredient, with the rest of the food supplemented with low calorie healthy additions such as vegetables and fruits.

Taste of the Wild Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

4Wellness Core Natural Grain Free
by Wellness Core

Wellness Core Natural Grain FreeRating5 star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $2.23 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 38%
  • Fat: 13%
  • Carbohydrates: 41%

Description: Wellness Core Natural Grain Free dry dog food is another extremely popular brand that hasn't been poisoned by the multinational corporations gobbling up natural dog food manufacturers that still care about producing high quality dog foods. It ranks high on our top dog food brands list due to its continued dedication and promise to provide reduced fat, low carbohydrate and high amount of good quality protein pet foods. Always made in the USA, this is never a bad choice as long as your dog loves the taste.

Wellness Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

5Canidae Grain Free PURE
by Canidae

Canidae Grain Free PURERating5 star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $2.37 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 33%
  • Fat: 13%
  • Carbohydrates: 45%

Description: Canidae Grain Free Pure dry dog food formula has been around for a while but deserves a lot more attention that it has received to date. This company similar to the other top dog food brands I've mentioned above follows a very simplistic formula to manufacture pet food with high quality protein sources, no additives or unnecessary carbohydrate fillings, with an addition of vital vitamins and minerals. Their PURE recipe is especially great for dogs with sensitive stomachs and is one of the most popular choices.

Canidae Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

6Orijen Six Fish
by Orijen

Orijen Six FishRating5 star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $4.70 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 42%
  • Fat: 20%
  • Carbohydrates: 30%

Description: Orijen Grain Free dry dog food is arguably one of the highest quality foods, but it's also one of the most expensive brands out there as well. It's often ranked as the number one choice by veterinarians and canine nutritionist. The company haven't changed much in all the years they've been in the industry, and their recipe is very simple (read: great). The most popular option is the Six Fish recipe that has been formulated to be biologically appropriate for dogs, but at the price, not every dog owner can afford it.

Orijen Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

7Castor and Pollux Organix
by Castor & Pollux

Castor and Pollux OrganixRating4 half star dog food
Variety: Well-balanced
Value: $2.08 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 30%
  • Fat: 16%
  • Carbohydrates: 46%

Description: Castor & Pollux Organix dry dog food is one of the few organic top dog food brands among the popular, well-known companies that can still pride themselves for high quality. Their main ingredient is usually real chicken, followed by brown rice and the addition of flaxseed oil and other minerals, which is the most popular option in their line. They're not grain-free, so if your canine has no problems with a few extra carbohydrates, this USA-made organic dog food brand is easily the best dog food of the non grain-free variety.

Castor & Pollux Organix Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

8Iams Healthy Naturals
by IAMS

Iams Healthy NaturalsRating4 half star dog food
Variety: Well-balanced
Value: $1.12 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 28%
  • Fat: 18%
  • Carbohydrates: 46%

Description: Iams Healthy Naturals dry dog food is quickly climbing up the ranks to join other popular top dog food brands and their companies as more pet owners are choosing this do good. You can find either grain-free or non grain-free formula, and they have an outstanding ratio of protein to fat to carbs. Some of their popular formulas will contain a rich blend of the most vital minerals and vitamins for dogs, and the company prides themselves for never including any wheat, soy or meat byproducts (a popular option for many others) in their recipes.

Iams Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

9Horizon Legacy
by Horizon

Horizon LegacyRating4 half star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $2.80 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 38%
  • Fat: 17%
  • Carbohydrates: 38%

Description: Horizon Legacy dog food is one of the least popular top dog food brands on this list, and that's very unfortunate. Their Salmon recipe in particular is made of extremely ultra healthy and natural ingredients, and 80% of which is simply high quality salmon (this is very rare among most dry dog foods). This is a non grain-free formula, but the little amount of included carbohydrates have all the necessary nutrients for the dogs with no useless fillings. The reason it's not as popular as other dog foods is their price.

Horizon Legacy Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

10Victor Active Dog & Puppy
by Victor Dog Food

Victor Active Dog & PuppyRating4 half star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $2.23 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 36%
  • Fat: 18%
  • Carbohydrates: 38%

Description: Victor Dog Food Grain Free dry dog food is not yet popular among pet owners as the company hasn't been around as some of the mentioned famous top dog food brands above, but their dedication to manufacturing high quality dog food can already be noticed. This formula specifically contains three protein sources as their main ingredients – beef, chicken and pork – with very little carbohydrate fillings. The rest of the food is complimented with everything else needed for dogs: omega-3 and omega-6, vitamins and minerals.

Victor Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

11Bully Max High Performance Super Premium
by Bully Max

Bully Max High Performance Super PremiumRating4 half star dog food
Variety: Well-balanced
Value: $3.20 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 33%
  • Fat: 22%
  • Carbohydrates: 37%

Description: Bully Max High Performance dog food is the newest company of all those mentioned on top dog food brands list here. While we're still monitoring them for how they will continue to perform as the company grows, so far they've been manufacturing high quality performance dog food usually marketed for pit bulls (although there's no reason other dog breeds cannot use this). This best dry dog food doesn't include any wheat, soy, corn and is primarily meat-based. It's a high calorie dog food which is perfect for canine weight loss.

Bully Max Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

12 Pinnacle Peak Protein
 by Pinnacle

Pinnacle Peak ProteinRating4 half star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $5.20 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 47%
  • Fat: 24%
  • Carbohydrates: 21%

Description: Pinnacle Grain Free dog food is yet another unpopular option among out top dog food brands picks, and it's mostly their cat foods that are known to pet owners. Nevertheless, the company manufactures a great recipe for dogs that contains no grains with their primary ingredient a high quality, natural, real turkey, salmon or duck. Their recipes also often include sweet potato, pumpkin or quinoa seeds for added nutrition and the necessary vitamins and minerals to complete the formula.

Pinnacle Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

13EVO Small Bite
by EVO

EVO dog foodRating4 half star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $5.30 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 47%
  • Fat: 24%
  • Carbohydrates: 21%

Description: EVO Grain Free dog food has been recently breaking into the market, and they have first done so successfully with their canned dog foods. Now bringing one of the best dry dog food brands, their recipes will not disappoint – no grains, extremely low levels of carbohydrates, high protein and great protein to fat ratio. More than 80% of their formula will usually contain high quality protein source, quickly following but a small amount of fruits and veggies to ensure an ample supply of vitamins and minerals.

EVO Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

14 Farmina Natural & Delicious
 by Farmina

Farmina Natural & DeliciousRating4 half star dog food
Variety: Grain-free
Value: $6 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 41%
  • Fat: 20%
  • Carbohydrates: 31%

Description: Farmina Natural & Delicious Grain Free dry dog food is mostly a popular choice of puppy food, but their adult dog food formula and/or all life stages recipe are just as great. However, their higher prices prevent the company from becoming more popular among pet owners. When it comes to ingredients, the company is mostly focused on grain free and gluten free formulas with high level of natural, good quality, fresh protein sources and a small amount of fiber and carbohydrates.

Farmina Dog Food Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon

 

15Weruva Caloric Melody
by Weruva

Weruva Caloric MelodyRating4 half star dog food
Variety: Well-balanced
Value: $7.5 per pound
Deals: Check prices on Amazon

Video: Weruva Dog Food Review (2017)

Dry matter content:

  • Protein: 41%
  • Fat: 15%
  • Carbohydrates: 36%

Description: Weruva Caloric Melody dry dog food is another young company that has broken onto the scene and into our list of top dog food brands as one of the best dry dog foods with high quality ingredients. They are not yet well-known but if they continue to include grass-fed lamb (extremely rare in dog foods) and focus on certified GMO-free ingredients (also rare), they should quickly gain more popularity. The company is very transparent and open about the sourcing of ingredients, but their prices are still very high.

Weruva Caloric Melody Reviews: Read what dog owners say on Amazon


Understanding Dog Nutrition

When it comes to picking the best dog food for your specific canine, ideally, you want to be able to choose your own top dog food brands based on your dog's age, health condition and other unique requirements that only you will know about.

In order to do that, you need to understand the basics of dog nutrition.

I have already mentioned above the criteria that is best to use when picking top dog food brands. On top of that, you can also further educate yourself on the topic of canine nutrition and use reputable resources.

There's a lot of misinformation of dog foods out there.

Dry dog food vs Canned dog food
Dry dog food vs Canned dog food.

With so much false assumptions and plainly wrong advice floating around the internet, it's important to use the most accurate, up to date information and well-referenced data to pick the best dog food for your pet.

A few studies to refer to assess nutritional adequacy of dog food brands:

If you're able to pay for it, there's another important paper on the topic (behind the paywall) called The Effect of Ingredients in Dry Dog Foods by Malathi Raghavan, DVM, PhD, et al.

A couple of good and short guides to understand dog nutrition, which will ultimately help you choose your own top dog food brands for your specific dog, can be found here and here.

Just to be clear, in this article we have chosen the best dry dog food brands. If that's not what you were looking for, here's a list of other picks that may be more specific to your situation:

If dry top dog food brands is not what you're out for, then you'll find more appropriate dog foods in the above articles. Dry kibble is the most popular choice among pet owners, so you can probably find the best dog food brand for your canine among the choices below.

With all the above information at hand, you should easily distinguish between poor quality dog foods and top dog food brands that will best suit your specific dog at his stage of life (age) and condition.


Disclosure: We may earn affiliate commissions at no cost to you from the links on this page. This did not affect our assessment of products. Read more here and find full disclosure here.