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Merrick Dog Food Review 2023: Recalls, Pros & Cons

Review Summary

Our Final Verdict

We give Merrick Dog food a rating of 4.75 out of 5 stars.

Introduction

Garth Merrick founded Merrick Pet Care in 1988 out of a desire to create homemade food for his dog, Gracie. He crafted his recipes in Hereford, Texas, where the company still has offices. Merrick prides itself on producing food in the U.S. and sourcing ingredients directly from farmers. One of the brand’s most popular recipes, Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato, supports the state’s ranchers.

Merrick is a premium pet food brand that offers an impressive array of recipes. There is a formula to fit almost any dog’s dietary needs. Merrick is known for its charitable contributions to organizations like K9s for Warriors and Austin Pets Alive!

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At a Glance: The Best Merrick Dog Food Recipes:

Merrick has dozens of high-quality recipes, often adding to their line-up. It wasn’t easy to choose our five favorites which are listed below.

Image Product Details
Our Favorite
Winner
Merrick Classic Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Merrick Classic Real Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
  • Real deboned chicken as first ingredient
  • Includes essential vitamins and minerals
  • Healthy grains
  • Second place
    Merrick Classic Small Breed Recipe Merrick Classic Small Breed Recipe
  • Smaller kibble size
  • Contains probiotics
  • Made in the U.S. with domestically sourced ingredients
  • Third place
    Merrick Backcountry Grain-Free Dog Food Merrick Backcountry Grain-Free Dog Food
  • Contains 96% beef
  • Contains beef broth, not water
  • Made in the U.S.
  • Merrick Senior Recipe Dry Dog Food Merrick Senior Recipe Dry Dog Food
  • Deboned chicken as its first ingredient
  • Support hip and joint health
  • Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids
  • Merrick Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato Merrick Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato
  • Available in several bag sizes
  • Made in Hereford, Texas
  • U.S. sourced ingredients
  • Merrick Dog Food Reviewed

    If you consider switching to Merrick dog food, you might have questions about the brand. Let’s take a closer at the company’s history, recalls, and ingredients.

    Who Makes Merrick Dog Food and Where Is It Produced?

    Nestle Purina acquired Merrick in 2015, but the company continues to operate as an independent business.

    Merrick manufactures all its food and treats in the U.S. Most wet and dry dog food recipes are produced at the company’s three Hereford, TX facilities. Merrick partners with veterinarians and animal nutritionists to create delicious and nutritious pet food.

    Which Type of Dog Is Merrick Dog Food Best Suited For?

    Merrick has eight lines of dog food: Full Source, Backcountry, Grain Free, Healthy Grains, Lil’ Plates, Limited Ingredient, Puppy, and Slow-Cooked BBQ. There is a formula to meet almost every dog’s nutritional needs.

    Merrick is a premium brand, and their pet food is priced accordingly. The company will impress owners who want ingredient transparency. Many dog food brands at the same price point do not source their own ingredients as Merrick does.

    Which Type of Dog Might Do Better with a Different Brand?

    You may need to look elsewhere if your dog requires a novel protein. Merrick’s Limited Ingredient line of dry food has options containing beef, chicken, salmon, and lamb. You’ll need to find another brand if your dog can only tolerate single novel proteins like bison, venison, or duck.

    australian shepherd dog eating, steel bowl
    Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

    A Closer Look at Some of Merrick’s Primary Ingredients

    Many owners want to make an informed decision about what food to feed their dogs. There is a lot of misunderstanding about some ingredients or why they are included in dog food. We cover some of Merrick’s most commonly used ingredients below.

    “Deboned” meat such as chicken, turkey, or beef is the flesh and skin with the bones removed.

    Dehydrated alfalfa meal is a source of several nutrients, including vitamins B5, B7, and K.

    Meat “meals” create confusion among pet owners. Beef meal, chicken meal, salmon meal, etc., make use of animal parts left over from the butchering industry. These ingredients are ground up, then cooked at a high temperature. The end product is a high-protein, dry powder. Meat meal is easy to transport and store since it does not require refrigeration.

    Natural flavor is one ingredient we’d like to see more information about. The FDA’s definition of “natural flavor” is quite lengthy. Briefly, natural flavors are “flavoring constituents” derived from plants or animals “whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

    Salt (sodium chloride) acts as a flavor enhancer and natural preservative. It is safe for healthy dogs to consume in low quantities. Your vet may place your dog on a sodium-restricted diet if they have certain health conditions.

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    A Quick Look at Merrick Dog

    Pros
    • Made in the U.S.
    • Most recipes are produced at Merrick’s Hereford, TX facilities
    • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
    • Ingredients sourced directly from U.S. farms
    Cons
    • Some recipes contain unspecified “natural flavors”
    • Expensive

    Recall History

    Merrick voluntarily recalled some of their Backcountry beef dog treats in 2018. There was concern over elevated levels of a naturally occurring beef hormone.

    There were also treat recalls in 2010 and 2011.

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    Reviews of the 3 Best Merrick Dog Food Recipes

    Let’s take a closer look at three of Merrick’s dog food recipes:

    1. Merrick Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food

    Merrick Grain Free Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food

    Merrick pays homage to their home state’s beef industry with this popular dog food. The recipe is grain-free and poultry-free. It contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin.

    The protein content is high, with a minimum of 34%. Research shows that foods with a protein content over 30% may not provide any health benefits to your dog.

    Check with your vet before switching to this or any grain-free dog food. Most dogs tolerate grains just fine. The top three food allergies for dogs are actually protein sources: beef, dairy, and chicken.

    Grain Free Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato’s main ingredients are deboned beef, lamb meal, salmon meal, sweet potatoes, and potatoes. Pork fat, whitefish meal, and beef liver also contribute to the meaty flavor. Superfoods like blueberries, flaxseed, salmon oil, and probiotics round out the ingredient list.

    Merrick’s Grain Free Real Texas Beef and Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food comes in 4, 10, 22, and 30-pound bags.

    Judging by the number of online reviews, this is one of Merrick’s most popular dry food recipes.

    Pros
    • Available in several bag sizes
    • Made in Hereford, Texas
    • U.S. sourced ingredients
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Some dogs don’t need more than 30% protein
    • Relatively expensive
    • Not all dogs will benefit from a grain-free diet

    2. Merrick Small Breed Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food

    Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed

    Merrick didn’t forget about the littlest pups. Their Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe contains deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, and turkey meal. This formula is nutritionally balanced for adult dogs weighing 3 pounds and up. The smaller kibble pieces are perfectly sized for the tiniest dogs. The added probiotics can help digestion.

    Merrick’s Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe is sold in 4 and 12-pound bags. Like all of Merrick’s dog food, this recipe is made in the U.S.

    Pros
    • Smaller kibble size
    • Contains probiotics
    • Made in the U.S. with domestically sourced ingredients
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Relatively expensive
    • Contains unspecified “natural flavor”

    3. Merrick Grain-Free Real Beef Dinner Canned Dog Food

    Merrick Backcountry Grain-Free

    The main ingredients in Backcountry Grain-Free 96% Real Beef Dinner are deboned beef, beef broth, beef liver, dried egg product, and natural flavor. While many canned dog foods contain water as a primary ingredient, Merrick uses beef broth. This ingredient adds a flavor and protein boost. Consider this canned food if your vet recommends a grain-free diet and your dog loves beef. Merrick produces and sources all of its food in the U.S.

    Pros
    • Contains 96% beef
    • Contains beef broth, not water
    • Made in the U.S.
    • No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
    Cons
    • Not all dogs benefit from a grain-free diet
    • Relatively expensive

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    What Other Users Are Saying

    You’ll find it helpful to know what other customers have to say about Merrick. Here are some of the more helpful reviews we’ve found.

    • Chewy – “Our almost-thirteen YO rescue has never liked kibble. She has terrible teeth, a ridiculously sensitive stomach, advanced arthritis, and thinks she’s a cat. Not an easy dog to feed. Ever. But she needs the fiber for her digestion, so I kept trying—high-end, low-end, grain-free, potato-free, rice-based, legume-based, etc. ad nauseam. You name it, I bought it and she hated it. FINALLY, I found this. And, hallelujah, she eats it, sometimes preferring it over her wet food. Bonus points that it doesn’t upset her stomach.” (By KarmaKeeper on Sep 5, 2021)
    • Chewy – “I am very pleased with this food. After trying several small breed foods that have smaller kibble I ran across this. All of my dogs love it. My elderly pug mix who is missing teeth handles it well.” (By Karin on Dec 23, 2021)
    • Amazon – As fellow dog owners, we always double-check with Amazon reviews from buyers before we buy something. You can read these by clicking here.

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    Conclusion

    Garth Merrick founded the company in 1988 when he created homemade food for his dog, Gracie. All of Merrick’s dog food recipes are made in the U.S., mainly in Hereford, Texas. Merrick dog food does not contain artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The company is now owned by Nestle Purina but continues to operate as an independent business.

    Merrick dog treats were recalled in 2010, 2011, and 2018. Merrick appeals to dog owners willing to pay a premium price for domestically sourced ingredients. Some buyers also appreciate the company’s charitable donations to organizations like K9s for Warriors and Austin Pets Alive!

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