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If I gave you five seconds to guess, could you name which dog food brands that stand out among the rest because of their quality, variety, and consistency?
Come on, time’s almost up!
As a responsible dog owner, you want the best for your four-legged friend, and that means you should learn more about the food they are eating!
If you’re going to be giving your dog a particular food twice a day for years on end, you want to make sure it’s of good quality and will offer appropriate nutrition. But, it can be overwhelming to check out multiple sources and determine if a food is right for your dog.
The good news is, we’ve done the legwork for you:
This Merrick dog food review will tell you everything you need to know about the company, ingredients list, recall history and more. Then, you simply have to decide whether it’s the best option for your canine companion or not.
At a Glance: 3 Formulas Featuring Heavily in our Merrick Dog Food Review
- Grain Free Real Chicken and Sweet Potato Recipe
- Classic Real Chicken, Brown Rice and Green Pea Recipe
- Backcountry Great Plains Recipe
Contents & Quick Navigation
- Who Makes Merrick Dog Food and Where is it Made?
- Video Summary
- Merrick Dog Food Ingredients
- Discussion of Most Important Ingredients – Good and Bad
- Merrick Dog Food Guaranteed Analysis
- Merrick Dog Food Recall History
- Formulas Merrick Offers
- Flavors Merrick Offers
- Sizes Available
- What Dogs Is Merrick For or Suited to?
- What Dogs Might do Better with A Different Brand?
- Merrick Dog Food Reviews
- What Others are Saying
- Our Merrick Dog Food Rating
- Top Picks For Our Dogs
If you’re looking for a good quality dog food, you’re barking up the right tree with Merrick.
This trusted brand has been going since 1988 and has developed a good name for itself as a premium pet food company. Although Merrick’s food is certainly premium in quality, it’s relatively affordable compared to some high-end brands.
Human Grade Food
Merrick uses human-grade ingredients in its food, which we appreciate. If it’s unsafe for human consumption, then why should we be feeding it to our pets?
There are plenty of grain-free options, but the company hasn’t gone totally grain-free. There’s nothing inherently wrong with feeding grains to dogs, and some thrive on grain-based foods, so we think this shows good common sense and that they’re not totally jumping on the grain-free bandwagon.
The brand prides itself on providing good nutrition, so we think this is a healthy food for most dogs. Of course, there are a range of foods available and not all will be suitable for every dog.
Looking at customer reviews and other internet commentaries, Merrick seems to be a trusted brand that provides good quality foods.
We at LTHQ would recommend Merrick foods for most dogs.
Who Makes Merrick Dog Food and Where is it Made?
Garth Merrick founded Merrick Pet Care, Inc. back in 1988, in Amarillo, Texas. Up until recently, it was still a family owned and run business.
However, in 2015, Merrick was bought out by Nestle-Purina.Despite this, Merrick has promised to keep production the same as before, and continue making their foods in Hereford, Texas.
At the time of writing, there seem to be some reports that the formulas have changed slightly since the takeover. Either way, some people who were looking for an alternative to buying from pet food giants are disappointed and have switched to a different brand.
This video from Merrick introduces you to the company’s founder and tells you a little bit about the philosophy behind its dog foods.
Merrick Dog Food Ingredients
Quoted from the manufacturer’s website: MerrickPetCare.com
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Peas, Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Salmon Meal (source of Omega 3 fatty acids), Flaxseed Oil, Apples, Blueberries, Organic Alfalfa, Salmon Oil, Salt, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Amino Acid Complex, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Thiamine Mononitrate), Choline Chloride, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Rosemary Extract.
Discussion of Most Important Ingredients – Good and Bad
Here we’re going to take a closer look at the first ten ingredients in Merrick Grain Free Chicken and Sweet Potato recipe.
- Deboned chicken. It might sound good that a fresh meat product is the first ingredient on the list, but because this is a dried food and fresh meat has a high water content, the finished product actually ends up with a lot less fresh chicken in it, percentage wise, after processing.
- Chicken meal. According to The Dog Food Project, meat meals can be of either high or low quality, and it’s really not possible to tell unless the brand wants to be completely transparent. The good thing about chicken meal (and other meat meals) is that it contains significantly more protein compared to fresh meat.
- Turkey meal. This is much the same as chicken meal, above, but with turkey.
- Sweet potatoes. These are a good source of carbohydrates that are both gluten-free and grain-free. They contain plenty of fiber, as well as beta-carotene.
- Potatoes. Regular white potatoes sometimes get a bad rap, but as well as being a healthy source of carbohydrates, they contain all kinds of nutrients, including antioxidants, fiber, vitamins such as B6; B3 and C, potassium and iron.
- Peas. These legumes contain about 25 percent protein, as well as decent amounts of carbohydrates and fiber, plus a range of vitamins and minerals.
- Natural flavor. This is added to make the food taste more palatable to your dog. While there shouldn’t be anything particularly harmful in it, this flavoring could be almost anything. It could come from meat, dairy or plant-based sources and can be particularly frustrating if your dog has a food allergy.
- Salmon meal. Like the other meat meals above, this is a concentrated form of salmon and is rich in protein. Salmon contains plenty of good fats and essential oils.
- Flaxseed oil. This is a healthy form of dietary fat and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Apples. Fruits and vegetables are healthy for dogs, and apples contain a decent amount of vitamin C and some fiber.
It’s also worth noting this dog food contains chelated vitamins and minerals which are more easily absorbed from the food. This will help your dog have a balanced diet and get all the nutrients they need.
It also contains various probiotics — including Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product and Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product — which aid digestion and promote a healthy digestive system.
Merrick Dog Food Guaranteed Analysis
Quoted from the manufacturer’s website: MerrickPetCare.com
- Crude protein (min.) 38.00 %
- Crude fat (min.) 17.00 %
- Crude fiber (max.) 3.50 %
- Moisture (max.) 11.00 %
- Omega-6 fatty acid* (min.) 4.80 %
- Omega-3 fatty acid* (min.) 0.40 %
- Glucosamine Hydrochloride* (min.) 1200 mg/kg
- Chondroitin Sulfate* (min.) 1200 mg/kg
* If an item has an *, this nutrient is not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Nutrient Profiles.
Merrick Dog Food Recall History
Unfortunately, Merrick has had a few recalls with its pet foods and treats.We’ve listed all known recalls below:
The most recent occurrence was back in August 2011, when the FDA announced a recall of Merrick Doggie Wishbone pet treats, Lot #11031, Best by Jan. 30, 2013. The reason for this was due to potential contamination with salmonella.
In January 2011, the FDA announced a recall of Merrick Jr. Texas Taffy pet treats with all lot numbers up to and including 10364 (no “best before” date given). The reason for this was due to potential contamination with salmonella.
In July/August, the FDA recalled two Merrick products: Merrick Beef Filet Squares, 10 oz., Lot #10084TL7, Best by March 24, 2012 and Merrick Texas Hold’ems pet treats, 10 oz., Lot #10127, Best by May 6, 2012. Again, this was due to a potential for salmonella.The good news is Merrick hasn’t had any recalls since 2011, so they must done something to rectify the problem, such as changing suppliers or procedures.The vast majority of manufacturers have the odd problem like this, so we don’t think it’s a valid reason not to trust the brand on the whole.
You might also be interested in:
- Earthborn Dog Food Review
- Is Taste of the Wild Dog Food Any good?
- Wellness Dog Food Reviews, Ingredients, Recall History and Our Rating
- Review of Canidae Dog Food, Including Ingredients and Recall History
- Review of Diamond Naturals Dog Food, Including Ingredients and Recall History
Formulas Merrick Offers
If you’re looking for choice, you’ll find a lot of different formulas offered by Merrick:
- check-circle-o Backcountry: This has a range of raw infused and freeze dried foods, most are for adult dogs but there’s one puppy recipe.
- check-circle-o Grain Free: This range of grain-free dog food includes one puppy food and one lower calorie food for dogs that need help maintaining a healthy weight, alongside others for adult dogs.
- check-circle-o Limited Ingredient Diet: The foods from this range contain minimal ingredients and are designed for dogs with food allergies and intolerances or simply with sensitive stomachs
- check-circle-o Classic: This is the original range of Merrick dry dog food choices that aren’t grain-free or for special diets. It includes a puppy formula and a formula for small breeds.
Flavors Merrick Offers
Here we have a list of all the dried food flavors available from Merrick:
- Merrick Classic Small Breed Recipe
- Merrick Classic Beef, Peas with Ancient Grains
- Merrick Classic Lamb, Peas with Ancient Grains
- Merrick Classic Chicken, Peas with Ancient Grains
- Merrick Classic Puppy Recipe
- Merrick Classic Real Chicken, Brown Rice and Green Pea
- Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe
- Merrick Grain Free Real: Rabbit and Chickpeas; Venison and Chickpeas; Lamb and Sweet Potato; Duck and Sweet Potato; Turkey and Sweet Potato; Buffalo and Sweet Potato; Salmon and Sweet Potato; Chicken and Sweet Potato; Texas Beef and Sweet Potato
- Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight Recipe
- Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free: Duck and Sweet Potato; Turkey and Sweet Potato; Lamb and Sweet Potato; Salmon and Sweet Potato
- Merrick Backcountry: Big Game Recipe; Game Bird Recipe; Pacific Catch Recipe; Great Plains Red Recipe; Puppy Recipe
Merrick Grain Free and Classic varieties come in bags of 4lbs, 12lbs and 25lbs, whereas the Limited Ingredient Diet and Backcountry varieties come in bags of 4lbs, 12lbs and 22lbs. Some flavors of Merrick Classic also come in 15lb and 30lb bags.
What Dogs Is Merrick For or Suited to?
Merrick has a wide range of foods available, to suit a variety of dogs. Some formulas are going to be suited to particular dogs, however.
- arrow-circle-right Healthy adult dogs: The majority of Merrick foods will be suitable for a healthy adult dog, excluding those made for puppies or for weight loss.
- arrow-circle-right Dogs with allergies: The Grain-Free and Limited Ingredient Diet formulas may be especially suited to dogs with allergies or with sensitive stomachs.
- arrow-circle-right Athletic or working dogs: The high protein content of the foods in the Backcountry range would be good for athletic or working dogs.
- arrow-circle-right Puppies: Look out for the Classic Puppy Recipe, the Backcountry Puppy Recipe and the Grain Free Puppy Recipe.
- arrow-circle-right Overweight dogs: The Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight Recipe is designed for dogs who need to shift a few pounds of those who have a tendency toward weight gain.
- arrow-circle-right Small breeds: The Merrick Classic Small Breed Recipe was made with the smaller breed in mind.
- arrow-circle-right Picky eaters: The Limited Ingredient Diet range may appeal to picky eaters as fewer ingredients means fewer to object to.
What Dogs Might do Better with A Different Brand?
Not every dog food brand is right for every dog. These are some dogs that Merrick might not suit.
- Senior dogs: There’s no specific senior dog food from Merrick. Not all seniors need a senior formula, but if they’re getting stiff or they’re putting on too much weight, they may benefit from a food designed specially for older canines.
- Pregnant or lactating dogs: Pregnant and lactating dogs have different dietary requirements, so it may be worthwhile consulting your vet to see what food would best suit their needs.
- Large breed puppies: Large breed puppies grow more slowly than their smaller counterparts. Therefore a food specifically designed for plus-size pups might be beneficial.
Merrick Dog Food Reviews
Here are just three of our favorite foods from Merrick’s extensive range.
Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken and Sweet Potato Recipe
This grain-free formula contains 70 percent meat ingredients and 30 percent plant-based ingredients and vitamins.
The main bulk of the carbohydrates come from sweet potatoes, which are both healthy and flavorful, whereas the meat is a mixture of chicken meal and fresh chicken.
It contains plenty of the healthy fats a dog needs to stay in tip-top condition and is rich in omega fatty acids like Omega 6 and Omega 3 as well as Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
- The small kibbles are good for smaller breeds, as well as large.
- Its grain-free formula may be good for dogs with sensitive stomachs or who have allergies.
- Made in the USA from quality ingredients.
- Contains chelated vitamins and minerals to help give your dog a balanced diet.
- While it’s advertised as made in the USA, it’s not necessarily made from American ingredients.
- Some customer reviews indicate dogs have been sick or had loose stools after switching to this food, but this is a minority.
Merrick Classic Real Chicken, Brown Rice and Green Pea Recipe
Merrick Classic Real Chicken, Brown Rice and Green Pea Recipe is composed of 60 percent meat products, 20 percent fruits and vegetables and 20 percent whole grains.
We like the addition of brown rice as the main source of carbohydrate. Rice is a good high fiber ingredient and is less likely to cause any kinds of reaction in sensitive dogs, compared to wheat and other gluten-containing ingredients.
- Contains quality human grade ingredients.
- The chelated vitamins and minerals are more easily absorbed than non-chelated varieties.
- The first ingredient is fresh meat.
- Contains a decent amount of protein from plant and animal sources.
- Some customers have complained of rising prices and shrinking package sizes.
Merrick Backcountry Great Plains Recipe
This food is marketed as a “raw infused” formula, which basically means it’s a mixture of dry kibbles and freeze dried raw chunks.
This is beneficial for someone who likes the idea of feeding raw, but doesn’t necessarily want to go the “whole hog,” literally or figuratively
.At 38 percent protein, this might not be the ideal food for all dogs. Unless your dog is very active, it may be overkill.
- This is a good compromise between feeding raw and feeding kibble.
- Dogs like the freeze-dried meaty chunks.
- More affordable than fully raw foods.
- The grain-free formula will suit dogs with sensitive stomachs.
- The protein content may be a bit high for some dogs.
What Others are Saying
Ultimately, it’s not just our opinion that matters. Here’s what customers and other experts in the field have been saying.
Dog Food Advisor:
Dog Food Advisor generally considers Merrick to be a good quality brand with healthy ingredients that will suit the majority of dogs. They’ve rated the Classic range 4.5 stars out of 5, the Grain Free range 5 stars, the Backcountry range 5 stars and the Limited Ingredient Diet range 4 stars.
Dog Food Guru:
Dog Food Guru highly recommends Merrick’s “simplistic, yet innovative selection of all-natural dog food recipes.” They like that the foods contain quality ingredients and are free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. The total rating given to Merrick is 8.8/10. However, it’s worth noting, the main place they lost points was on price, not quality.
We think it’s always worth checking out Amazon for its real customer reviews from previous buyers and current users. Using the grain free recipe as an example, you can read customer ratings and comments by clicking here.
Our Merrick Dog Food Rating
Now that you’ve read this article, we think you’ll agree that Merrick foods are a good choice for the majority of dogs.
There is a wide range of options to suit all kinds of dietary requirements and needs, so we think it’s only the slim minority of dogs that won’t get on well with this brand.
That said, it doesn’t cater specifically for seniors or large breeds (although most large breed adults will be fine on a regular adult food), which we think is an oversight. It’s also not the cheapest of choices, so it will be out of budget for some folks.
We give it a total rating of 4.5 out of 5.
Dog food image credits: © Chewy.com
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Top Picks For Our Dogs
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Calmeroos Puppy Toy w/ Heartbeat and Heat Packs - Perfect for new puppies. Helps ease anxiety in their new home.
- BEST DOG CHEW
We Like: Bones & Chews Bully Sticks - All of our puppies love to bite, nip, and chew. We love using Bully Sticks to help divert these unwanted behaviors.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Crazy Dog Train Me Treats - One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.
For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the PuppyInTraining.com blog.
Great overview! I just wanted to let you know that Merrick does have a Grain Free Chicken and Sweet Potato kibble for Senior dogs. It might be new, I just switched over to it for my dogs and they are doing well so far :)
I opened a can of Merrick and spoon got stuck on what turned out to be a whole, intact. Hi Ken thigh bone. There were also pieces of chicken skin in same can. Merrick told me the bone was supposed to be there and that they were pressure cooked to break up. I sent them video of me hitting the bone with a knife and it didn’t make a dent. Despite them telling me they had good quality control I don’t think so and was ignored when I asked them to look into their quality control procedures. This stuff is expensive and nothing is too good for my 12 year old Lab but I’m not paying for skin and bone that could and probably would have harmed my girl if I hadn’t caught it.
I,too was shocked to find slimy chicken skin in clobs in this in bone chicken canned dog food. Outrageous! Pancreatitis could be a result which can be very expensive! I returned all the cans to PetsMart. Merrick was bought by Nestle Purina-that says it all.
I was feeding my cat and dog Merrick. My dog thrived on the Grain Free Pork and Sweet Potato formula but they stopped making it after the company change over. I had to start feeding her something else entirely. Fromm for the last couple years and now trying EArthborn because she just doesn’t like anything as much as she did that Merrick formula. My cat stayed on the Perfect Bistro GF wet food and dry. Low and behold I noticed she started to not be as playful and her coat was starting to look kind of dull. I checked the ingredients for her dry food and the formula completely changed. I was shocked to see things like “whey protein” added to the list. I switched her to Earthborn for dry food and she has never looked better. Unfortunately, she is extremely picky about wet food and won’t eat anything other than the Merrick for now. Hopefully, their canned formulas do not change too much. I really loved the brand before it really started changing.
I loved Merrick. Before Purina bought them out in 2015 I recommended this food to everyone. The # 1 thing I liked is the grain free, meat + sweet potatoes recipes are considered meat based diets according to dog food advisor. I have no idea why a carnivore species= dogs should be given a plant based diet. After, the buy out I immediately called Merrick and was reassured that the ingredients would not change and it would still remain being processed in Texas. I have lived in fear for I absolutely do not trust Purina. Sure enough the recipe or the source of ingredients has changed. Dogs do not want to eat it. It looks different and it smells different. I 100% agree Erin a previous commenter, it’s different and like her I have had my cats on the Bistro Salmon. I’m back to searching for quality at a price I can afford. Most of all trusting a dog & cat food company with the lives of my animals! Switched to Nature’s Logic but it’s a plant based diet. It does have high levels of meat protein. Can’t afford any above the $65 for 25lbs of food. We have 2 German Shepherds and 3 cats. Once I make a final decision on what to feed the dogs, I’ll switch the cats.
I feed my lab Merrick I also called when purina bought them they said they did not change so he lloves it I will call again if they did change I will change food
I have been buying Merrick Grain Free dry dog for my two dogs for at least 8 years, and I’ve been very happy with the quality and the fact that my dogs really seem to enjoy it. Unfortunately, when the family owned company was sold a few years ago I started to notice that there were coarse hairs in the kibbles that sort of resemble small sections of thin fishing line. I didn’t think too much about it since there were only a few that I would notice, but recently it has been so common that I see them in almost every scoop. From what I’ve been reading there has been a lot of issues with Purina and they have been explaining it away as pig hair. Needless to say, I believe I will be changing brands after all this time, and giving Blue Buffalo a try. Disappointed…
Have great results with Blue Buffalo dry foods while adding people chicken and beef. Looking for Merrick’s training treats and cannot find them anywhere. Looks as if Purina discontinued them. Good Luck with Blue.
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Purina is a company that doesn’t care about any animals, (it’s all about the buck & mass production of the product) buyer beware, they are not honest & reliable to stick to their word as to keeping the original ingredients that original owner of Merrick used in his foods.
I have been buying Merrick for my 2 Belgian Malinois dogs & my cats for 15+ years. Just left Petco complaing of quality control issues with Merrick for last few years & then googled Merrick in order to complain. That’s how i just found out why it’s so disgusting now. Company sold out to the crap food makers ive been paying out so much in ordercto avoid them. Smaller cans, raised can prices by 50 cents over time & i continually receive half full cans, gross looking gravy & chicken fat, some cans totally dried out, some no chicken whatsoever, etc. I buy tons of cases for my animals & break the bank to now receive this crap. The ingredients are now lousy…anything saying “meal” could be total crap & from what I’ve researched could come from anything including dead animals, road kill, etc., etc. Thats it for me!! I am SO DISAPPOINTED & now will search for SOMETHING good but probably have to go back to cooking fresh for them again so i know what I’m feeding my babies… this SUCKS!!
The recipe completely changed for their Limited Ingredient Diet – I have a pitbull with a very sensitive stomach; he was on the LID Salmon & Sweet Potato and all of a sudden the recipe changed to Salmon and Chickpeas which had a HUGE impact on my pup. Broke out in hives EVERYWHERE. $600+ vet bill later the vet told us to change food immediately. It was very disappointing because he was doing so well on that food and never had any issues until the switch… the worst part is that no one said ANYTHING. Not the distributors, not the company, etc. I just kept receiving my shipments/orders per usual, the bag looked almost IDENTICAL and didn’t notice until the pups hives were so bad we had to go to the vet.
It looks like now they’ve switched back to a “New & Improved Formula” of Salmon and Sweet Potato (I believe because so many people complained about the new formula with chickpeas). They have since removed all of the old reviews including ones posted after the switch and anything resembling food with chickpeas – it’s now all back to sweet potato.
HOPEFULLY, this is a good thing and will stop making dogs sick, because I know I was not alone with that complaint.
I too have been feeding my 2 older Boston’s the LID Salmon & Sweet Potato until recently they changed it to Salmon & Chickpeas. I said I would give it a try. Maybe a month after the switch my male Boston threw up a few times after his dinner. Undigested food. He was okay next few days on rice & chicken. Blew it off to upset stomach, eating too fast, etc. Now last night he threw up again 4 times and 2 hours after that my female Boston threw up 2 different times. They’ve not been into anything, not fed anything else different. Common denominator- the Merrick LID Salmon and Chickpeas. I’m tossing it and giving the Nulo. I should have known once Nestle got their hands on it there would be issues.
I would like to question Merrick about their Smothered Chicken canned food. My two dogs love it and we feed them a half a can usually once or twice a week. However, the thighs, that used to be plenty to feed the two, are recently TINY. Previously, sometimes we would even get TWO thighs per can, and needless to say our Aussies were happy with that. Is there no quality control any more? Is it the change to Purina, or something else?
I’ve been buying Merrick canned for years. Well over the last several months I’ve opened cans that look rancid, terrible color. I just opened two this evening. One was half filled and the Thanksgiving Dinner had black spots on the top. Yesterday I opened one of their beef no grain and it’s normally light pink. The meat looked gray, until I got half way through the can, then it looked normal. So I did a little checking and found they sold out to Nestle Purina. So then I wasn’t shocked. I’ll be finding a new brand tomorrow.
My 5 yr old lab gets hydrolyzed protein kibble due to a allergy/ previous dihareah provlem. We supplement this diet with real meat or Merrick grain free beef lamb and bison canned food. All of the comments and articles I’ve read are by people on kibble. Do any of you use canned Merrick food, specifically beef lamb and bison? We haven’t had any issues.