Dry dog food is convenient, long-lasting, and easy to store. It’s also highly nutritious, making it the most popular option for many pet parents. Of course, with this popularity comes myriad different brands on the market, some of which are packed with wholesome ingredients and others are just vying for a piece of the market and using sub-par ingredients to win out on price.
As any pet parent knows, a good diet is key to a healthy, happy dog, and your dog’s food is the most important factor to having a healthy pooch. There are many dry dog foods out there with questionable ingredients, along with new trends of grain-free, high protein, and organic recipes hitting the market, making choosing the right food for your pooch an overwhelming and confusing experience.
Luckily, we’re here to help! We rounded up some of our favorite dry dog foods, complete with in-depth reviews, so you can choose the best dry food for your canine companion. Let’s get started!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain||
|Best Value||Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken & Rice||
|Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe||
|Purina Pro Plan Puppy Dry Dog Food||
|Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula||
The 10 Best Dry Dog Foods
1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food — Best Overall
|First listed ingredients:||Water buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal|
|Crude protein:||32% min|
|Crude fat:||18% min|
|Caloric content:||422 kcal/cup|
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food contains novel proteins like roasted bison and venison and is our top choice for the overall best dry dog food. The food is grain-free and instead, uses healthy vegetables like peas and sweet potatoes as a digestible energy source for your pooch. It also contains blueberries for antioxidant support, dried chicory for prebiotic support and healthy digestion, and chelated minerals and essential vitamins. Lastly, this food is free from grains and artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors, and it’s made in the U.S.A. from trusted and sustainable local and global sources.
While this food does have a high protein content that comes mostly from novel sources, some of the protein content also comes from the included peas.
2. Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken & Rice Adult Formula Dry Dog Food — Best Value
|First listed ingredients:||Chicken, rice flour, corn gluten meal|
|Crude protein:||26% min|
|Crude fat:||16% min|
|Caloric content:||383 kcal/cup|
Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken & Rice recipe is the best dry dog food for the money, coming in at a highly affordable price but still being packed with all the nutrients that your pooch needs. The food has chicken as the first listed ingredient, giving it a natural source of glucosamine to help support healthy joints. It has an antioxidant blend of vitamins E and A and minerals zinc and selenium to help support a healthy immune system. The food includes essential omega-6 fatty acids, which are great for the health of your dog’s skin and coat. While it does contain grains, they are healthy whole grains that are easier to digest.
This food has a fairly low protein content at 26%, and it contains rice flour and corn gluten as the second and third ingredients.
3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food
|First listed ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas|
|Crude protein:||34% min|
|Crude fat:||15% min|
|Caloric content:||409 kcal/cup|
If you’re looking for premium dry food for your pooch, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe is a great option. The grain-free recipe contains deboned chicken as the first ingredient and has a high protein content overall at 43%. The included menhaden fish meal is a great natural source of essential omega fatty acids that will help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy and shiny, and we love the addition of Blue Buffalo’s “LifeSource Bits,” an antioxidant-rich blend of vitamins and minerals selected by holistic veterinarians to support immune health. The food is free from by-product meals, grains, and artificial flavors, and preservatives.
The only issue we found with this food is that the kibble is on the small side, making it difficult for large dogs to eat properly.
4. Purina Pro Plan Puppy Dry Dog Food — Best for Puppies
|First listed ingredients:||Chicken, rice, poultry by-product meal|
|Crude protein:||28% min|
|Crude fat:||18% min|
|Caloric content:||456 kcal/cup|
Purina Pro Plan Puppy is our favorite choice for puppies. The food has chicken as the first ingredient for a healthy protein source for growing pups, includes fish oil rich in essential omega fatty acids to aid in the development of a healthy and shiny coat, and has live probiotics to aid in digestion and antioxidants to help grow your puppy’s immune system. It’s also packed with calcium and phosphorous to build strong teeth and bones in your pup and is free from artificial colors and flavors.
Several customers reported this food causing gas and even diarrhea in their puppies, and it does contain many grains, including corn, wheat, and soy.
5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dry Dog Food
|First listed ingredients:||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice|
|Crude protein:||24% min|
|Crude fat:||14% min|
|Caloric content:||377 kcal/cup|
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Dry Dog food contains real, deboned chicken as the first ingredient, as well as healthy, energy-sustaining carbs like oatmeal, peas, and potatoes. It contains a blend of calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones and teeth, chicory root to aid in digestion, and glucosamine for joint health and mobility. It also contains Blue Buffalo’s “LifeSource Bits,” which are a healthy blend of antioxidants, chelated minerals, and vitamins for immune health. Lastly, the food is free from corn, wheat, soy, and chicken or poultry by-product meals.
There are plenty of reports of this food crumbling easily, leaving unusable power at the bottom of the bag. Also, some dogs avoid the LifeSource Bits and only eat the kibble, resulting in an unbalanced diet.
6. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
|First listed ingredients:||Deboned salmon, chicken meal, turkey meal|
|Crude protein:||32% min|
|Crude fat:||14% min|
|Caloric content:||390 kcal/cup|
American Journey has long been a trusted brand among dog owners, and this Grain-Free Salmon and Sweet Potato recipe is a popular choice. The food has real deboned salmon as the first ingredient for a natural source of quality protein for muscle growth and essential omega acids for healthy skin and a shiny coat. It’s also packed with healthy carbs, like sweet potatoes and chickpeas for sustained energy, and other healthy fruits and vegetables, like blueberries, carrots, and kelp for natural antioxidant, fiber, and phytonutrient benefits.
Several customers reported that this food gave their dogs diarrhea, and it caused nausea in some dogs too.
7. Purina ONE True Instinct With Real Turkey & Venison Adult Dry Dog Food
|First listed ingredients:||Turkey, chicken meal, soy flour|
|Crude protein:||30% min|
|Crude fat:||17% min|
|Caloric content:||365 kcal/cup|
Purina ONE True Instinct Real Turkey and Venison Adult Dry Dog Food contains real turkey as the first listed ingredient and healthy venison for a protein-packed formula. The food is highly digestible with whole grains and oats and natural sources of glucosamine for joint and mobility support. It’s also free from poultry by-product meals and artificial flavors and preservatives and contains added calcium and phosphorous for strong teeth and bones.
This food is pricey and tends to break up easily, leaving a ton of powder at the bottom of the bag. Also, the kibble is a bit too large for small breeds.
8. Rachael Ray Nutrish Real Beef, Pea & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
|First listed ingredients:||Beef, beef meal, soybean meal|
|Crude protein:||25% min|
|Crude fat:||14% min|
|Caloric content:||326 kcal/cup|
Racheal Ray Nutrish Real Beef, Pea & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food has real beef as the first ingredient to support healthy organs and lean muscle mass. It contains healthy carbohydrates, like peas and rice, for sustained energy and healthy digestion, along with essential omega acids 3 and 6 for healthy skin and a vibrant coat. The food is also packed with vitamins A, E, and B12 and minerals like calcium and phosphorous for bone and dental health. We love that the food is made without artificial flavors and preservatives and is free from by-product meals.
This food is expensive, though, and contains grains like corn and wheat, and a handful of customers reported their dogs did not enjoy the recent recipe change. Also, the food is oily, so much so that it saturates the bag.
9. Iams Adult MiniChunks Small Kibble High Protein Dry Dog Food
|First listed ingredients:||Chicken, ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum|
|Crude protein:||25% min|
|Crude fat:||14% min|
|Caloric content:||380 kcal/cup|
Iams Adult MiniChunks Dry Dog Food contains real, farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient, along with crushed whole grains that are easy for your pooch to digest. The food also contains premium fiber sources and prebiotics to further aid in digestion and flaxseeds to give your pooch the essential omega fatty acids that they need for healthy skin and a vibrant coat. It’s also packed with immune-supporting antioxidants to help promote a healthy immune system, and it has small-sized kibble that makes it easier for your pooch to eat. The kibble is free from artificial flavors and colors.
This food has a comparatively low protein content, and the fiber content from the grains reportedly caused gas, loose stool, or diarrhea in some dogs.
10. Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Roasted Chicken Dry Dog Food
|First listed ingredients:||Ground whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal|
|Crude protein:||21% min|
|Crude fat:||10% min|
|Caloric content:||309 kcal/cup|
Pedigree Adult Complete Nutrition Roasted Chicken Dry Dog Food is packed with essential nutrition and has a delicious roasted chicken flavor. It has B vitamins and zinc and is loaded with essential omega fatty acids for a healthy coat. The included vitamin E will give your dog’s immune system the antioxidant boost that it needs for optimal function, and the high fiber from the whole grains is great for your dog’s digestion. The food is made in the U.S.A. and is free from artificial flavors.
This food has corn as the first listed ingredient, which is disappointing, and the food contains other dubious ingredients, like chicken by-product meals and colorants. It’s also low in protein, and some customers reported that the kibble is very hard, too hard for small dogs to crunch up.
Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Dry Dog Food
In order for your pooch to live a long and happy life, you’ll need to give them the best nutrition possible, and this is why choosing the right food for your dog is so important. But how do you choose the right food for your pup, and what exactly makes dry dog food high-quality?
Good dog food contains a balance of all the essential nutrients that your pooch needs to thrive and should be free from filler ingredients and artificial colors, preservatives, or flavors. Dogs are not obligate carnivores, so they need more than just high-quality protein in their diet. They also need foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Let’s look at a few of the factors to consider when choosing the right food for your pooch.
Unfortunately, the ingredient list on your dog’s food will not tell you the quality of these ingredients or where they came from, so this is why choosing a reputable brand is important. Ingredients are crucial to consider, though, and learning to read the ingredient list properly is important.
A quality protein source should be the first listed ingredient and should be sourced from an animal, such as chicken or beef. Being the first ingredient on the list ensures that this is what constitutes the majority of the food, so you’ll ideally want it to be animal-based. At least one of the first three ingredients should be from an animal source. It can get tricky, though, as whole meats tend to have a large amount of water content by weight, which is reduced after processing. Meat meals actually contain more whole meats overall due to having less water weight. It’s a good idea to check the overall protein content, but even this can be skewed by other proteins within the recipe, which is why it’s a good idea to go with a trusted brand.
You’ll also want the food to contain a complete balance of nutrients, like omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, and healthy fruits and vegetables, like whole grains, sweet potatoes, carrots, and blueberries.
Lifestage and breeds
Some dry dog foods are made for dogs of all ages and breeds, while others are specifically catered toward small or large breeds, puppies, seniors, or dogs with specific health issues. Puppy food has a different nutritional profile than adult food, so you’ll want to stick to these foods if you have a puppy. Also, foods formulated for small breeds have small kibble that is easy to chew. Try to stick to foods made for your dog’s breed, age, and size.
How much should you feed your dog?
With canine obesity becoming such a widespread problem in the United States, it’s vital to avoid overfeeding your pooch. It helps to avoid free-feeding your pooch, as few dogs can regulate their food intake. While it’s a good idea to follow the guidelines on the food packaging, those are just that — guidelines. The amount of food that you give your dog will also depend on their age, activity levels, and size. You’ll need to use the guidelines and your discretion to determine the correct amount and then adjust accordingly.
We recommend splitting your dog’s meals into two, as this can help avoid bloating caused by fast eating or overeating.
While any of the foods on this list would be great for your pooch, Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is our top choice of dry food overall. The food is grain-free and contains novel proteins like roasted bison and venison, healthy vegetables like peas and sweet potatoes, blueberries for antioxidant support, and chelated minerals and essential vitamins.
Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken & Rice Recipe is the best dry dog food for the money and has chicken as the first listed ingredient. It also has an antioxidant blend of vitamins E and A and minerals zinc and selenium and includes essential omega-6 fatty acids and healthy whole grains that are easy to digest.
If you’re looking for premium dry food for your pooch, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe is a great choice. The grain-free recipe contains deboned chicken as the first ingredient and “LifeSource Bits” and is free from by-product meals, grains, and artificial flavors and preservatives.
We know how difficult it can be to choose the right food for your pooch among the sea of available options. We hope that our in-depth reviews have helped you narrow down the options to choose the best dry dog food to suit your canine companion!
Featured Image Credit: O_Lypa, Shutterstock