Doggie Designer is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

10 Best Dry Dog Foods in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

Coon Hound Eating

Dry dog food is one of the most popular ways to feed companion dogs. As you probably know, there are tons of dry dog foods on the market. Some of these are extremely high-quality and some use USDA, human-grade meat – and lots of it. Others are designed to be as inexpensive as possible, which usually means that they include plenty of grains and cheap veggies.

Just like us, dogs are what they eat. It is vital to choose a high-quality dry dog food. Otherwise, your furry friend may not be their best self.

In this article, we’ll help you determine the best dog food for your canine. Our reviews below go over some of the best options on the market, while our buyer’s guide will help you determine the best option for your canine specifically.

thematic break

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • Feature iconOmega fatty acids
  • Feature iconAdded antioxidants
  • Feature iconHigh in protein and fat
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Purina ONE SmartBlend Adult Formula Dry Dog Food Purina ONE SmartBlend Adult Formula Dry Dog Food
  • Feature iconOmega-6s
  • Feature iconInexpensive
  • Feature iconChicken as the first ingredient
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Dry Dog Food Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Dry Dog Food
  • Feature iconInexpensive
  • Feature iconWhole grain included
  • Feature iconFormulated for large and giant breeds
  • American Journey Grain-Free Dry Dog Food American Journey Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
  • Feature icon32% protein
  • Feature iconAntioxidants included
  • Feature iconSalmon oil and flaxseed
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food
  • Feature iconWhole grain included
  • Feature iconFarm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
  • Feature iconFree from fillers, artificial colors, and preservatives
  • The 10 Best Dry Dog Foods – Reviews 2021

    1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Best Overall

    1Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Out of all the dry dog foods we reviewed, Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is the best option for most canines. It is grain-free and is made with real buffalo as the first ingredient. It also includes a variety of other protein-rich ingredients as well, including roasted venison and beef. We loved that this food included a variety of protein sources, as this increases the variety of nutrients your dog gets and reduces the chance of food allergies.

    This food also includes added vitamins and antioxidants. The ingredient list includes many real fruits and veggies, as well as added omega fatty acids for a healthy coat. A probiotic blend is included to improve your dog’s gut health and help them get the most from this nutrient-packed food.

    Taste of the Wild does not included any grain, wheat, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. You’ll love that this food is made in the USA using scientific food safety protocols. This reduces the odds of dangerous recalls.

    Furthermore, this food is very high in protein at 32%. Fat is also high at 18%, which is exactly what you want from a dry dog food.

    Pros
    • High in protein and fat
    • Variety of protein-rich ingredients included
    • Added antioxidants
    • Probiotic blend included
    • Omega fatty acids
    • Free of grain, wheat, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives
    Cons
    • Includes pea protein, which artificially raises the protein content
    thematic break

    2. Purina ONE SmartBlend Adult Formula Dry Dog Food – Best Value

    2Purina ONE SmartBlend Chicken & Rice Adult Formula Dry Dog Food

    Purina dog food is significantly less expensive than other options on the market. However, there food is still decently high-quality and suitable for most canines. If you’re on a budget, we recommend the Purina ONE SmartBlend Adult Formula Dry Dog Food as the best dry dog food for the money. This dog food is very inexpensive when compared to other options. However, it is also full of many high-quality ingredients and nutritionally complete.

    Real chicken is used as the first ingredient. Chicken is the main protein source of this dog food and is included a few times throughout the ingredient list. However, other vegetable and grain sources do add a little bit of protein content to this food. While grains are used in this food, they are whole grain, which makes them nutritious. Omega-6 fatty acids are included, as is glucosamine. Both of these ingredients support your dog’s health.

    This food does have a lower protein content at only 26%. Fat is lower than other options as well at 16%. This is one of the main reasons this food is less expensive than other options; it simply includes less meat, which is an expensive ingredient. However, despite this, most dogs will still thrive on this food.

    Pros
    • Chicken as the first ingredient
    • Omega-6s
    • Natural sources of glucosamine included
    • Inexpensive
    Cons
    • Low in protein and fat
    thematic break

    3. Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Dry Dog Food – Best for Puppies

    3Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    Puppies need a specially designed dog food. They need specific nutrients to help in their growth that adult dog foods just don’t included. Some dog foods are suitable for all life stages. However, the majority of them are not. You need to buy a specific puppy dog food in most cases, such as Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Dry Dog Food. This puppy food is formulated to support the growth of even large breeds and giant breeds, which require even more nutrition than your average puppy.

    This dog food includes farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient, which is an inexpensive and nutrition-rich protein source. It includes 22 key nutrients that your growing puppy needs, including omega-3 DHA. All of these ingredients are vital for your puppy’s healthy growth, so it is vital that they consume the appropriate amounts.

    This food does include grain. However, it utilizes whole grain, which means it contains many vitamins and minerals. Whole grain is actually quite nutritious and shouldn’t be avoided unless yoru dog is allergic to grains, which is quite rare.

    Pros
    • Formulated for large and giant breeds
    • Includes 22 key nutrients growing puppies need
    • Inexpensive
    • Whole grain included
    Cons
    • Only 14% fat
    thematic break

    4. American Journey Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    4American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    There is a lot to like about the American Journey Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. Unlike most dog foods on this list, it uses salmon as its primary dry dog food. The first ingredient is deboned salmon. Chicken and turkey are included as well, on top of a variety of vegetable-based proteins. As a result, this dog food is pretty high in protein at 32%. Fat is only at 14%, which is a little bit lower than you might have expected. However, you have to remember that much of the protein comes from vegetables and therefore, not as high-quality as other options.

    We did like that this food includes a variety of different fruits and veggies. Blueberries, carrots, and dried kelp are all included. These ingredients contain a many different nutrients, like antioxidants and phytonutrients, which help with your dog’s immune system and overall health. Salmon oil and flaxseed are also included. These oils are high in omega fatty acids and support a health coat.

    While all of these are great additions, this food is a bit expensive. For the high price, you’d expect this food to be perfect. However, it does not contain much fat in the least. This is the major reason we rated it at #4.

    Pros
    • 32% protein
    • Antioxidants included
    • Salmon oil and flaxseed
    • Salmon as the first ingredient
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Low in fat
    thematic break

    5. Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food

    5Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Veggies Recipe Dry Dog Food

    The Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food isn’t a bad dog food. However, it is extremely expensive and isn’t worth the extra money. It does not include extremely high-quality ingredients and is not particularly better than other, cheaper dog foods. This is why we rated it at #5. Your dog will probably thrive on it, but your wallet would be happier with something else.

    It includes farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient. You’ll like that it is free from by-product meal, fillers, wheat, artificial colors, or preservatives. It does include some grain, but all the grain included is whole grain. This grain is full of many nutrients, making it a perfect option for dog food. Peas and carrots are also included. Peas are a lower-quality veggie and may be linked to some heart conditions in dogs, likely because they affect how the body uses taurine – an important nutrient for heart health. However, studies are still ongoing.

    This food contains added poultry fat. This is not necessarily a bad ingredient despite some of the common misconceptions, as it is a natural source of omega fatty acids.

    Pros
    • Free from fillers, artificial colors, and preservatives
    • Whole grain included
    • Farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Low in protein at only 26%
    thematic break

    6.  VICTOR Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food

    6VICTOR Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food

    Victor is known for making high-quality dog food. However, their dog food is also quite expensive. If you have the extra money to throw around, you may consider purchasing the VICTOR Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food. However, otherwise, you could probably find a food of about the same quality for cheaper. Just look at the foods we’ve previously reviewed.

    This dry dog food does include a variety of different protein sources, including beef, chicken, and pork. It is designed for dogs with high physical needs. It is full of protein to help dogs build muscle while maintaining to healthy physic. However, even if your dog isn’t particularly active, this food may still be suitable for them. It is also great for all life stages, including puppies.

    At 30% protein and 20% fat, the macronutrient content of this food is awesome. It is one of the best on the market, in fact, but you are going to be paying quite a bit for it. This food is not grain-free and includes grain sorghum as the second ingredient. This means it includes quite a bit of grain.

    Pros
    • Large variety of protein sources
    • 30% protein and 20% fat
    • Grain-free
    Cons
    • Very expensive
    • Grain sorghum as the second ingredient
    thematic break

    7. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food

    7Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    We generally recommend not purchasing Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dry Dog Food in most circumstances. Blue Buffalo has a relatively high occurrence of serious recalls. In fact, it is one of the companies with the highest amount of recalls currently selling dog food. Because of this, it is generally less safe than the other dog foods on this list. Since we can’t recommend an unsafe dog food, we had to rate this food quite low at #7.

    Besides that, though, this food isn’t terribly bad. It includes deboned chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients. Both of these are decently high-quality. Brown rice is included as the third ingredient. While we like to see grains as low on the ingredient list as possible, brown rice is whole grain, making it one of the better-quality grain options out there.

    This food is somewhat low in protein at only 24% and only includes 14% fat as well. This makes it generally lower-quality than many of the other options on this list. The protein and fat content that our dogs need to thrive just isn’t there.

    Pros
    • Deboned chicken as the first ingredient
    • No corn, wheat, or soy
    Cons
    • Low in fat and protein
    • Recalls are common
    thematic break

    8. Diamond Naturals All Life Stages Dry Dog Food

    8Diamond Naturals Chicken & Rice Formula All Life Stages Dry Dog Food

    Diamond Naturals All Life Stages Dry Dog Food is formulated for all life stages. This means it is suitable for adults as well as puppies. However, it is not suitable for large and giant breed puppies. It is made with cage-free chicken and a few other protein sources as well, including chicken meal and a few grain products. There are quite a few added vitamins, including things like antioxidants and fatty acids. It is made with absolutely no corn, wheat, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. You’ll also like that it is made in the USA by a family-run company. The follow strict food standards in their factories, decreasing the odds of recalls.

    Our main problem with this food is that it is only moderately high in protein and fat. Protein is at only 26% while fat is at 16%. For the price, you would expect it to be quite a bit higher. This food also includes quite a bit of grains. Whole grain brown rice is including as the third ingredient, while cracked pearled barley is included as the fourth ingredient.

    Pros
    • Chicken as the first ingredient
    • Formulated for all life stages
    Cons
    • High in grain
    • Not suitable for large breed puppies
    thematic break

    9. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Natural Dry Dog Food

    9Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Adult Farm Raised Chicken

    Nutro Wholesome Essentials Adult Natural Dry Dog Food is specifically formulated for large breed, adult dogs. Farm-raised chicken is included as the first ingredient, which is a high-quality option for most dogs. Chicken is one of the most common allergens, however, so this food is likely not suitable for dogs with food allergies. You’ll like that this food contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, which help with your dog’s joints. Since larger dogs often have joint problems, this is a significant benefit. Essential ingredients like vitamin E are also included, which supports your dog’s immune system.

    This dog food is a bit more expensive than other options, however. It also includes less-than-stellar ingredients like brewer’s rice and split peas. Furthermore, the protein and fat content are both very low. The protein content is only at 21%, which is far lower than most of the other dog foods on this list. Fat content is only at 13%. Dogs need fat to thrive. This food doesn’t have it.

    You may not like that this food includes a decently high amount of grain. This isn’t a problem for most dogs. However, some may have a problem with it.

    Pros
    • Includes farm-raised chicken
    • Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin included
    Cons
    • Little protein and fat included
    • Includes low-quality ingredients
    • High amount of grain
    thematic break

    10. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dry Dog Food

    10Hill's Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Hill’s Science Diet is a popular brand – and often one that is considered high-quality. However, we find that most of their foods are not worth the high cost in the least. Furthermore, most of their foods are much worse than other options on the market. The Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dry Dog Food is one such low-quality food.

    Real chicken is included as the first ingredient. However, the other ingredients are quite low-quality. Cracked pearled barley, whole grain wheat, and whole grain corn are included very high in the ingredient list. As you might imagine, this is a lot of grain for a dog to consume. While grain is not necessarily bad for dogs and can actually be helpful in some situations, you don’t want yoru dog consuming mostly grain.

    The protein and fat content are extremely low in this food, mostly because of the high amount of grains included in this food. Protein is only at 20%, which is one of the lowest on the market. The fat is at 11.5%. This is also extremely low, even when compared to very inexpensive options.

    Pros
    • Includes chicken as the first ingredient
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Lots of grain
    • Low protein and fat
    thematic break

    Buyer’s Guide

    Dog food can be surprisingly complicated. You have to consider the ingredients, macronutrient content, vitamins, and taste. It can be overwhelming. However, when some basic background information, you can be choosing the best dry dog foods out there for your pooch in no time.

    Macronutrient Content

    Macronutrients include protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Every animal needs a certain ratio of macronutrients to thrive. Typically, when left to their own devices, animals are pretty good at consuming a ratio that helps them thrive the most. However, when we start feeding our dogs commercial dog food, the responsibility of choosing the right macronutrient content falls on us.

    According to one study, dogs need a diet that is high in protein and fat. Therefore, you should choose a dog food that matches this ratio. Sadly, this can be difficult to do in the current market. Many are high in carbohydrates, because grains are cheaper than most other ingredients. Grains aren’t necessarily bad for dogs, but they are low in protein and fat. A little bit is okay, but you don’t want all of your dog’s diet to be made up of grains.

    Checking the protein and fat content of dog food is easy. All you have to do is check the back of the bag. All dog foods are required to list their guaranteed analysis, which includes protein and fat. The higher these levels, the better. It’s that easy.

    Ingredients

    Preferably, any dog food you choose should have a high amount of meat. Some form of meat should be the first ingredient. Preferably, animal products should be the first five ingredients listed. However, this can be difficult to find, so don’t let it be a deal breaker.

    The type of meat doesn’t matter unless your dog has an allergy.  If your dog is allergic to chicken, you obviously don’t want to feed them a food that contains chicken. Dogs develop allergies to ingredients they have eaten a lot. To avoid allergies, you should choose a food that contains a variety of meat sources and switch your dog’s food every few months.

    Grains aren’t necessarily bad. Many quality dog foods include a variety of different grains. However, grains should not be a major component and they should be whole grains. Whole grains do have some nutritional value. However, this is not true for processed grains. They aren’t nearly as nutritionally dense as other ingredient options.

    Added Vitamins

    If your dog has certain health conditions, you may want to consider looking for foods that contain added ingredients and vitamins that may help with those conditions. For example, omega fatty acids are helpful for a dog’s skin and coat. So, if your dog has skin problems, added omega three fatty acids may be extremely helpful.

    Vitamins like glucosamine and chondroitin are both helpful for joints. If your dog is bigger or prone to joint problems, these added nutrients may be helpful.

    Divider 2Conclusions

    There are many different factors you need to consider when choosing a dry dog food. Hopefully, our reviews helped you make an educated decision.

    Out of all the foods we liked, Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is by far the best. It includes a lot of meat and is high in protein. We also liked the Purina ONE SmartBlend Adult Formula Dry Dog Food as a budget option as well. It is decently high-quality despite also being very cheap.

    thematic break

    Featured image credit: SillyDogPhotos, Shutterstock