Black Gold Ultimate Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Black Gold Ultimate Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Black Gold Ultimate Grain Free product line includes two dry dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

  • Black Gold Ultimate Grain Free Salmon Meal and White Potato [A]
  • Black Gold Ultimate Grain Free Chicken Meal and Sweet Potato [A]

Black Gold Ultimate Grain Free Chicken Meal and Sweet Potato was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Black Gold Ultimate Grain Free Chicken Meal and Sweet Potato

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 31% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 45%

Ingredients: Chicken meal, sweet potato, dried peas, dried potato, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), brewers dried yeast, dried egg product, dehydrated alfalfa meal, natural flavors, flaxseed meal, dicalcium phosphate, potassium chloride, salt, lecithin, choline chloride, dried chicory root, l-carnitine, dried kelp meal, dried carrots, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, Yucca schidigera extract, ascorbic acid, minerals (zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, zinc oxide, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast culture, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.1%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis27%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis31%16%45%
Calorie Weighted Basis27%34%40%
Protein = 27% | Fat = 34% | Carbs = 40%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The second ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The third ingredient includes dried peas. Dried peas are a good source of carbohydrates. Plus they’re naturally rich in dietary fiber.

However, dried peas contain about 27% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is dried potato, a dehydrated item usually made from the by-products of potato processing. In most cases, dried potato can contain about 10% dry matter protein which can affect our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.

The fifth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

The sixth ingredient is brewers yeast, which can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.

Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.

Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.

In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.

In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.

What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The seventh ingredient is dried egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The eighth ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

After the natural flavor, we find flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With three notable exceptions

First, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

Next, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

And lastly, this food includes menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.

Black Gold Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Black Gold Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 31%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 45%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 34% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 40% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.

Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the dried peas and potato, brewers dried yeast, alfalfa and flaxseed meals in this recipe and the potato protein contained in the other recipe, this looks like the profile of a dry product containing a notable amount of meat.

However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in its recipes. Without this controversial supplement and plant-based protein boosters, we would have been compelled to award this brand a higher rating.

Bottom line?

Black Gold Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a notable amount of chicken or salmon meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

However, menadione phobics may wish to ignore our rating and look elsewhere for another product.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

Black Gold Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

10/22/2016 Last Update

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  • Zoekat

    This seemed like an excellent food and very affordable so we were hoping it worked out. Our dogs loved the taste of both flavors, but after a month we’ve decided not to use it anymore. Both our chihuahuas had more stomach issues then usual, and pooped around 5 times a day while on this food.

  • Dog Food Ninja

    And, come on, Black Gold… everyone knows to avoid menadione now. Hell, even Nutro got rid of it.

  • Dog Food Ninja

    A side note about lecithin… most of the time, it is derived from GMO soy. I have to watch out for lecithin in my 85% cacao bars. They like to sneak that in as an emulsifier. Avoid all forms of soy and soy derivatives.

  • Storm’s Mom

    They thought a food with menadione would get a 5 star rating?!?! Seriously?!?!

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Maybe they didn’t realize there’s a bit more that goes into making a five star food than just removing the grains. Can’t fool the dog food advisor. I will give them props for making their first decent food though, big improvement.

  • Pattyvaughn

    They thought they could fool Dr Mike into giving them a better rating.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Well I guess Black Gold was a bit off in their anticipated rating. Months before this food actually came out there was an announcement about it on their website and the announcement said that the food would receive a 5 star rating on Dog Food Advisor. lol.