You’ve seen all the usual meat suspects on the dog food aisle: chicken, beef, turkey, and maybe even bison. But have you ever considered feeding your dog lamb?
Lamb is an excellent protein source, yet it’s often overlooked by consumers and manufacturers alike. It’s easier to tolerate than many other protein sources as well, making it an excellent choice for pups with food allergies.
If you want to give your dog something new, a lamb recipe may be just what the doctor ordered — but unfortunately, the quality of lamb dog foods can be all over the map.
In the reviews below, we showcase 10 of our favorite recipes, so you can be certain to give your dog something that’s both good and good for them.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient Formula Dry Dog Food||
|Best Value||I and Love and You Lamb & Bison Recipe Dry Dog Food||
|Best for Puppies||American Journey Lamb Dry Puppy Food||
|Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Lamb Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food||
|Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK Natural Open Range Dry Dog Food||
The 10 Best Lamb Dog Foods — Reviews 2020
1. Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food — Best Overall
There’s not much inside each bag of Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient, ingredients-wise, but what is in each bag is exceptional.
Lamb and lamb meal are the first two ingredients, ensuring that your dog will get every part of the animal. That means they won’t miss out on any essential nutrients, as the lamb meal provides vitamins and minerals that aren’t found in leaner cuts of meat.
There’s a ton of sunflower oil and flaxseed in here as well, which means your dog will get plenty of omega fatty acids. Peas and chickpeas are the primary veggies, and they both boast a robust nutritional profile.
The manufacturer included additional taurine, which is an amino acid that’s essential for heart health. The fact that this food uses relatively few ingredients means it’ll be as good for your pup’s tummy as it is for their ticker.
You’ll pay a premium for this recipe, but we feel that it’s worth it, which is why Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient is our favorite food in this category.
2. I and Love and You Naked Essentials Lamb & Bison Recipe — Best Value
While lamb is the first listed ingredient on each bag of I and Love and You Naked Essentials, it’s far from the only meat inside; in fact, we count six different animal sources.
That’s a tremendous amount of meat for a food in this price range, and it makes this kibble a no-brainer pick for best lamb dog food for the money. The overall protein levels are impressive too, at 30%. To be fair, though, some of that comes from pea protein, which dogs don’t digest that well.
That said, the price tag is even more impressive when you realize that the food contains exotic meat like bison, not to mention omega-rich fish meal.
The kibble isn’t just packed to the gills with meat either. You’ll find peas, chickpeas, lentils, sweet potatoes, and flaxseeds. You’ll also notice an array of probiotics at the end of the list.
Besides the pea protein, our only quibble is the salt content. It’s on the high side, but unless your dog has diabetes, that shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for I and Love and You Naked Essentials.
3. American Journey Lamb Puppy Dry Dog Food — Best for Puppies
If you have a little pup that you want to get started on a lamb-based food, American Journey offers a fantastic option for growing dogs.
It’s high in protein, which all puppies need, and there’s a large amount of fiber inside as well. The fat levels are lower than we’d like, however.
In addition to the lamb, you’ll find chicken and turkey meal, fish meal, and chicken fat. It’s the fruits and vegetables that make this food stand out, though, as it boasts blueberries, kelp, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, carrots, and more.
There are also quite a few added vitamins and minerals, like vitamin E, taurine, zinc, and niacin, all of which are important for puppies.
Of course, it’s not a great food for adult dogs, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better puppy kibble than this offering from American Journey.
4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Lamb Recipe Dry Dog Food
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula offers a well-balanced assortment of fruits and veggies to compliment the lamb, but we wish it had a little more protein inside.
The overall protein levels are a mere 22%, making it a better choice for aging dogs than active ones. That number is low despite the fact that this food has lamb, lamb meal, fish meal, and chicken fat inside, not to mention a dollop of pea protein (which we feel that they could omit entirely).
It also includes an impressive array of fruits and vegetables. You’ll find oatmeal, brown rice, kelp, sweet potatoes, carrots, flaxseed, and much more in each bag.
There are also LifeSource Bits sprinkled in, which are the company’s proprietary blend of vitamins and minerals. They provide a nice health boost, but be aware that many dogs don’t care for how they taste.
All in all, Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula is a good kibble, but it needs a little more protein if it wants to make the leap to great.
5. Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK Grain-Free Natural Open Range Recipe Dry Dog Food
Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK is a budget brand that packs the nutritional wallop of a much more expensive food. If it weren’t for their inclusion of a few ingredients, this kibble could have seriously challenged for the top spot.
Our biggest issues are the heavy-handed use of potatoes, which can give many dogs gas, and a reliance on pea protein. The kibble pieces are extremely large as well, so this may not be a great choice for smaller dogs.
Another reason that we dinged this food a couple of spots is the fact that it’s not purely lamb. Beef is actually the first ingredient, and you’ll also find fish meal, chicken meal, and venison inside. Still, lamb and lamb meal feature prominently on the ingredients list, and it all adds up to a large amount of protein — 30%, to be exact.
There’s beet pulp for fiber, flaxseed and fish meal for omega fatty acids, and cranberries for just about any other vitamin that you can think of. You’ll even find added vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, biotin, and niacin inside.
It all adds up to a great food at a great price. With a few tweaks to the recipe, Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK could find itself climbing this list in the future.
6. Natural Balance L.I.D. Lamb & Brown Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
Natural Balance L.I.D. is a limited-ingredient formula that’s excellent for dogs with sensitive digestive systems. Unfortunately, in trying to keep their ingredients list down, they neglected to add a few important components.
Lamb and lamb meal make up the first two ingredients, but despite that, the overall protein levels are a mere 22%.
Some form of rice takes up three of the top five spots, making us believe that they use a practice called “ingredient splitting.” This is where a manufacturer will call the same ingredient by different names in order to drive it down the list, making it look less plentiful than it is.
The fat levels are low as well, and there’s way too much salt inside.
There’s still much to like about this food, however. It should be gentle on your dog’s stomach, and there are a ton of added vitamins inside. We also like that the formula is gluten-free.
If you have a dog with a touchy tummy, Natural Balance L.I.D. may be a great way to go easy on their digestive tract. Otherwise, though, we think you can find a better food for the money.
7. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
Nutro Wholesome Essentials is another food that likely uses the ingredient-splitting technique to disguise how much lamb is actually inside it. However, it has enough going for it otherwise to earn a spot on this list.
Part of the reason we suspect ingredient splitting is that the first two ingredients are lamb and chicken meal, yet the protein levels sit at a paltry 21%. It’s hard to keep that number that low if real meat makes up most of your recipe.
After those two ingredients, you’ll find rice — a large amount of rice. There’s plenty of other grains as well, like oats and sorghum, with a dash of peas thrown in for good measure. That should make the formula easy to digest, but it may spike your dog’s insulin levels.
There’s little fiber in here, and we’d like to see more omega fatty acids. However, it is loaded with glucosamine and chondroitin, making it good for aging dogs or those with joint issues.
Overall, Nutro Wholesome Essentials is a decent food that seems like it should be better.
8. Purina O.N.E. SmartBlend Lamb Formula Dry Dog Food
Reading the ingredients list for Purina O.N.E. SmartBlend is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, as for every high-quality ingredient, there’s at least one of dubious merit.
Lamb is the first ingredient, and there must be quite a bit inside, as the overall protein levels sit at a respectable 26%. After the lamb, however, you’ll find a ton of corn, wheat, and soy — all cheap fillers that manufacturers use in place of better (and more expensive) ingredients.
Those fillers are also packed with empty calories and have little nutritional value, so they’re a great way to fatten your dog up without giving them much benefit in return. They may also upset your pup’s stomach.
The kibble uses chicken by-products, which are the nastiest bits of the bird that should’ve been thrown away instead of made into food. Rounding out the cavalcade of things that you don’t want your dog eating are chemicals like artificial liver flavoring and caramel coloring.
Purina O.N.E. SmartBlend is a decent enough option if you’re primarily concerned with the amount of protein that your dog’s getting, but there are other foods that can give them more protein, without the additives.
9. Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb Meal & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
The nutrient levels in this Nature’s Recipe food are low across the board: 20% protein, 12% fat, and 4% fiber. While the kibble doesn’t have much in the way of objectionable ingredients, at a certain point, all the high-quality foods in the world won’t matter much if they’re not providing enough nutrients for your dog.
In fact, there’s little in the way of ingredients in here, and this isn’t supposed to be a limited-ingredient food. It seems more like the manufacturer was trying to cut corners, because some of the foods inside — like tomato pomace — can be difficult for some dogs to digest.
What it has instead of real food is tons of vitamins and minerals. Again, that’s nice — up to a point. It’s always better for your dog to get their nutrition from actual food sources. Plus, all those added supplements give this food an odd odor that may be off-putting to some dogs.
Nature’s Recipe shows promise, but it needs more of everything if it wants to compete with the other foods on this list.
10. Iams ProActive Health Adult Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
Iams ProActive Health may be worth consideration for budget-friendly shoppers, but it uses far too many objectionable ingredients to earn a hearty recommendation from us.
Real lamb is the first ingredient, but it is followed immediately by chicken by-product, and further down the list, you’ll find wheat, corn, and artificial coloring. There’s no soy, but the food makes up for that by adding eggs, which often cause digestive problems in dogs.
The nutritional levels don’t justify feeding your dog all those questionable additives either, as they’re mediocre across the board. The recipe is grain-heavy as well, which can cause blood sugar spikes.
All of this adds up to a decent-but-not-good food. Iams ProActive Health will probably do in a pinch, but we’d recommend finding something healthier to feed your dog every day.
If you don’t know anything about feeding your dog lamb, it can be difficult to find one that’s suitable for feeding your pup. You may not even know why you should feed your dog lamb at all. In the guide below, we’ll tell you everything that you need to know about feeding your pup a lamb-based food.
Why Should You Feed Your Dog Lamb?
Lamb is a meat that’s high in protein and healthy fats yet gentle on sensitive stomachs. As a result, it tends to be a good choice for just about any pooch. Not only that, but dogs also usually love the taste. It makes for a nice respite from all the chicken and beef recipes out there, and many picky mutts will eat lamb after turning their noses up at other foods.
Despite all those advantages, it’s not as expensive as many other exotic meats. Most lamb-based foods are well within the average owner’s price range.
Are There Any Downsides to Feeding Your Dog Lamb?
Yes. For one thing, it’s not as popular as other meat sources, so your options will be more limited. It can be much harder to find a great lamb-based food than one made with chicken, for example.
Also, lamb is high in saturated fat. That’s not a huge deal if your dog is extremely active, but if you have an overweight pup, you may want to give them something less fattening.
Finally, lamb has little taurine in it. Taurine is essential for heart health, so you want to make sure your dog gets all that they need. If you’re switching to a lamb-based food, check to make sure it has enough taurine for your pup.
What Else Should You Look for in a Lamb-Based Food?
Lamb-based dog food is the same as any other dog food, for all intents and purposes. That means you should look for the same things on the label as you would a food that’s made with chicken or beef.
We recommend avoiding foods with cheap fillers like corn, wheat, and soy. These are packed with empty calories and bring nothing to the table in terms of nutrition; plus, many dogs have trouble digesting them.
Animal by-products are another big no-no. While they add protein to the recipe, they’re made with meat that belongs in the trash, not your dog.
Beyond that, check to make sure there’s enough protein, fat, and fiber for your pup. We also like to check the levels of important nutrients like omega fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin.
The ingredients label should be full of actual foods — preferably ones that you recognize as healthy. As a general rule, if it’s healthy for you, it should be good for your dog too. Look for high-quality fruits and veggies, and avoid anything that seems like it was put in merely to save the manufacturer a few bucks.
Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient is our favorite lamb-based kibble, as it’s gentle on sensitive stomachs while also being full of quality ingredients.
If you want something that’s more budget-friendly, try I and Love and You Naked Essentials. Despite its low price, it’s full of quality meat and veggies.
Finding a high-quality dog food is hard under the best of circumstances, but it’s especially difficult when you’re unfamiliar with the primary ingredient involved. We hope that these reviews have made it easier for you to find a lamb dog food that your pup will be happy to eat — and that you’ll be happy to buy for them.
Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Lamb Dog Foods — Reviews 2020
- 1. Zignature Lamb Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food — Best Overall
- 2. I and Love and You Naked Essentials Lamb & Bison Recipe — Best Value
- 3. American Journey Lamb Puppy Dry Dog Food — Best for Puppies
- 4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Lamb Recipe Dry Dog Food
- 5. Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK Grain-Free Natural Open Range Recipe Dry Dog Food
- 6. Natural Balance L.I.D. Lamb & Brown Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
- 7. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
- 8. Purina O.N.E. SmartBlend Lamb Formula Dry Dog Food
- 9. Nature’s Recipe Adult Lamb Meal & Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food
- 10. Iams ProActive Health Adult Lamb & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
- Buyer’s Guide