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Home > Dogs > Retriever Dog Food Review 2023: Pros, Cons and Recalls

Retriever Dog Food Review 2024: Pros, Cons and Recalls

Retriever Dog Food - Featured Image

Review Summary

Our Final Verdict

We give Retriever dog food a rating of 3 out of 5 stars. 

Introduction

There are many smaller dog food brands that get overlooked and are rarely discussed—and Retriever dog food is one of those. Their recipes are produced in the United States and have been around for a good number of years. However, their products are mostly sold at Tractor Supply Co., which has kept them limited and on the down low.

Many dog owners are happy customers of Retriever and have seen more energy in their dogs and healthier coats since starting them on the food. It’s an excellent dog food choice for owners on a budget or who have fostered many dogs to keep them off the street and properly fed. Although named “Retriever,” this brand isn’t limited to one breed and can be enjoyed by puppies and adult dogs that are active in play or training.

However, this dog food isn’t for everyone, especially those looking for a premium option or dogs who require a specialized diet or grain-free formulas. This is an intriguing brand that is both recommended and rejected by many. Keep reading to see which side you’re on.

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At a Glance: The Best Retriever Dog Food Recipes:

Image Product Details
Our Favorite
Winner
Retriever All Life Stages High-Protein Recipe Retriever All Life Stages High-Protein Recipe
  • High in protein
  • The first ingredient is a meat and bone meal
  • Good fat content fuels your active dog
  • Second place
    Retriever Choice Chops Beef Recipe Retriever Choice Chops Beef Recipe
  • Contains 23 vitamins and minerals
  • Supports muscle strength
  • Helps maintain smooth skin and coat
  • Third place
    Retriever All Life Stages Chicken Dry Dog Food Retriever All Life Stages Chicken Dry Dog Food
  • Affordable
  • Ideal for multi-dog households
  • Great option for dogs with animal protein sensitivities
  • Retriever Bites and Bones Chicken Recipe Retriever Bites and Bones Chicken Recipe
  • Meets the nutritional needs of active dogs
  • Meat and bone meal as top ingredients
  • High-quality source of protein
  • Retriever Puppy Chicken Blend Dog Food Retriever Puppy Chicken Blend Dog Food
  • Affordable
  • Made for pups
  • High in fiber
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    Retriever Dog Food Reviewed

    Who Makes Retriever and Where Is It Produced?

    There isn’t a lengthy paper trail following Retriever but what we do know is that the brand is made by Sunshine Mills in the United States and is sold by Tractor Supply Co. However, where the ingredients are sourced from isn’t clear, but it’s believed that they’re sourced locally as well as internationally to keep costs low.

    Which Type of Dog Is Retriever Best Suited For?

    Retriever is best suited for dogs that require more stamina for playing, training, or working. It has 387kcal per cup and is high in protein and fat to provide your dog with the energy they need while keeping them lean, which is ideal for Retrievers and other large breeds. Large breeds should be fed lean meats to prevent them from becoming overweight and putting too much pressure on their joints.

    Retriever is a good dog food option for dog owners on a budget or who have multi-dog households.

    two fluffy dogs eating from the triple stainless steel feeders

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

    Retriever certainly isn’t suitable for any dog. They don’t offer a large variety of dry dog food options and don’t have any specialized diets for specific breeds or health problems. There are no specific recipes for senior dogs, but there are recipes for puppies and adult dogs. All their recipes are grain-inclusive, which is excellent for adding fat, carbohydrates, and antioxidants to the food but not ideal for dogs with grain sensitivities.

    Although a good option, Retriever isn’t a premium dog food and won’t be the type of top-quality option some dog owners are looking for as they don’t list real meat as their first ingredient and, unfortunately, have many controversial ingredients.

    A few brands that may suit other types of dogs better are:

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    Discussion of the Primary Ingredients (Good and Bad)

    Retriever has a handful of dog food recipes, with only beef and chicken flavors to choose from. The formulas are all similar, so we’ll discuss the most popular of their recipes for this discussion, the High-Protein Beef Recipe. However, some ingredients differ from recipe to recipe.

    Golden Retriever eating
    Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

    Meat Meals

    Meat and bone meat meal is the first ingredient in this recipe. Meat meals are concentrated and are high in protein; however, the meat isn’t named. Due to the recipe flavor, we assume that the meat and bone are from cattle, but we cannot be sure as it could be made up of numerous types of mammals.

    Real animal protein is the easiest protein for dogs to digest, but that isn’t present in this recipe. The meat meal and bones may cause stomach upset in dogs with sensitive stomachs because it’s not an easy ingredient to digest.

    For a recipe with a crude protein content as high as 27%, we’d have liked to have seen more animal protein in this recipe.

    Corn Items

    Ground yellow corn is the second ingredient in this recipe. Although corn is beneficial for energy and digestion as well as coat and immune health, it is a cheap, low-quality ingredient that should rather be found lower on the list of ingredients.

    Corn gluten meal is also listed as an ingredient in this recipe and is a large contributor to the overall protein content. However, it holds less nutritional value than meat protein.

    What is it Lacking?

    This recipe can be quite harsh on sensitive stomachs, and there are no probiotics included. Dogs are omnivores and need a balanced and complete diet made up of meat, grain, fruits, and vegetables. However, there are no high-quality, whole fruits or vegetables present.

    Soybean meal is the fifth ingredient and provides your dog with omega fatty acids, but it’s a legume that is a highly controversial ingredient because it’s under investigation by the FDA due to potentially being linked to heart problems in dogs.

    The minerals found in this recipe aren’t described as chelated and, therefore, have a lower absorbency. This is common among low-quality dog foods.

    Lastly, named animal protein and fat are very obviously missing from these recipes, which shows a lack of transparency from Retriever. Pet owners may find it difficult to build loyalty and trust towards a company with so many controversial and “secret” ingredients.

    labrador retriever eating dog food
    Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

     

     

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    A Quick Look at Retriever Dog Food

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • US-based
    • High in protein
    • Great for active dogs
    • Options available for puppies and adult dogs
    • Grain-inclusive
    • Few recalls
    Cons
    • Little information about the company and where its ingredients are sourced
    • Real meat isn’t the first ingredient
    • Too many controversial and unnamed ingredients
    • No specialized diets
    • Not widely available

    Recall History

    Retriever had one of its products recalled in April of 2020. Their Bites and Bones Adult Complete Nutrition Savory Chicken Flavor dog food was recalled due to too high levels of aflatoxin, which results from certain types of mold.

    A high level of aflatoxin is dangerous because it can cause liver damage in your dog, which can be fatal. Symptoms of these toxins are tiredness, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and a yellowy tint to the eyes or gums of your dog.

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    Reviews of the 3 Best Retriever Dog Food Recipes

    Although Retriever doesn’t have many recipes, the ones they do have are high in protein and super tasty. Below, we’re going to review two all life stages recipes, as well as their single puppy recipe.

    1. Retriever All Life Stages High-Protein Beef Recipe

    Retriever All Life Stages High-Protein Beef Recipe Dry Dog Food

    First on our list is the Retriever All Life Stages High-Protein Beef Recipe Dry Dog Food, with a crude protein content of 27% and a crude fat content of 15%. The first ingredient is meat and bone meal which is high in protein. Both the soybean meal and corn gluten meal contribute to the high protein content in this recipe. However, both the meat and fat types are unnamed.

    Loaded with several vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids, dog owners have seen suppler skin and shinier coats in their dogs. They’ve also seen higher energy levels. The pellet size is small, but that makes it enjoyable for both small and large breed dogs.

    Pros
    • High in protein
    • The first ingredient is a meat and bone meal
    • Good fat content fuels your active dog
    • Suitable for all breeds
    Cons
    • Meat and fat are unnamed

    2. Retriever All Life Stages Mini Chunk Chicken Dry Dog Food

    Retriever All Life Stages Mini Chunk Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Check out Retriever All Life Stages Mini Chunk Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food, which is available in a 50-pound bag for an affordable price—a perfect option for dog owners on a budget, multi-pet households, and pet foster parents who have many mouths to feed.

    A few of the primary ingredients are ground yellow corn, meat and bone meal, and soybean meal. We’d prefer to see meat and bone meal listed as the first ingredient instead of ground yellow corn because dogs don’t need such a large quantity of corn in their food and would do better on a larger quantity of meat ingredient instead. However, many dogs with sensitive stomachs and skin do well on this recipe because many allergic reactions are caused by the animal protein in foods.

    This option is suitable for all breeds, from extra-small to extra-large, but customers have complained about stock running out every now and then, which is a problem because it’s Tractor Supply Co.’s brand, and you can’t easily find it elsewhere.

    Pros
    • Cheap
    • Ideal for multi-dog households
    • A great option for dogs with animal protein sensitivities
    • Suitable for all breeds
    Cons
    • Stock is occasionally unavailable
    • Too much corn

    3. Retriever Puppy Chicken Blend Recipe

    Retriever Puppy Chicken Blend Recipe Dry Dog Food

    For an option specially made for pups, consider Retriever Puppy Chicken Blend Recipe Dry Dog Food. This recipe has a crude protein content of 27% and a crude fat content of 12%, which are suitable for growing puppies. It’s high in fiber to aid in good digestion.

    Although we’re not thrilled about the amount of ground yellow corn in this recipe, we are happy to see chicken by-product meal listed near the top of the primary ingredients. The kibble is small enough for pups to chew on comfortably. This product meets the AAFCO standards and is recommended by many dog trainers.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Made for pups
    • High in fiber
    • Recommended by dog trainers
    Cons
    • Kibble might be too small for large breed puppies
    • Too much corn

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    What Other Users Are Saying

    Retriever has been given many five stars from very happy customers who highly recommend this dog food. Many customers claim that this brand is the only dog food their picky eaters enjoy, and they’ve noticed a shinier coat since starting on it. Owners of multi-dog households say that Retriever dog food is a staple in their homes and that their dogs of different ages and breeds all do well on it—even those with sensitive stomachs. Their only common complaint seems to be the lack of availability of this product. They suggest that you order in it advance before your dog food runs out because it takes a while for it to arrive.

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    Conclusion

    Retriever dog food is an affordable product that is recommended by many happy customers. Their recipes are high in protein and are grain-inclusive. Unfortunately, there’s little information about the company and where the ingredients are sourced. You can find this product at Tractor Supply Co., which limits its availability, and when there is no stock, it’s difficult to find it anywhere else. However, it’s an excellent option for active dogs in multi-pet households that don’t have any food sensitivities.

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