Blue Seal Life Stages Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Blue Seal Life Stages Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.

The Blue Seal Life Stages product line includes eight dry dog foods, four claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages and four for adult maintenance.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Blue Seal Life Stages Senior Dog Formula
  • Blue Seal Life Stages Low Calorie Formula
  • Blue Seal Life Stages Pork and Barley Flavor
  • Blue Seal Life Stages Puppy Formula (4 stars)
  • Blue Seal Life Stages Adult Dog Formula (3 stars)
  • Blue Seal Life Stages Active Dog Formula (4 stars)
  • Blue Seal Life Stages Lamb and Rice Flavor (3 stars)
  • Blue Seal Life Stages Performance Dog Formula (4 stars)

Blue Seal Life Stages Pork and Barley Flavor was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Blue Seal Life Stages Pork and Barley Flavor

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 27% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 50%

Ingredients: Pork meal, ground rice, ground barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea protein, rice bran, ground beet pulp, natural flavor, ground flaxseed, yeast culture, grounds oats, sweet potatoes, dried chicory root, blueberries, vitamin E supplement, taurine, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, niacin supplement, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium iodate, folic acid, biotin, selenium yeast, sodium selenite, dl-methionine, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis24%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis27%16%50%
Calorie Weighted Basis23%33%44%

The first ingredient in this dog food is pork meal. Pork meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork. Yet it can also be high in ash — about 25-30%.

However, the ash content of the final product is typically adjusted in the recipe to allow its mineral profile to meet AAFCO guidelines.

The second ingredient is ground rice, another name for rice flour. Ground rice is made from either white or brown rice and is considered a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour.

The third ingredient is ground barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is rice bran, a healthy by-product of milling whole grain rice. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals.

The seventh ingredient is beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.

Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.

We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.

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 four notable exceptions

First, although yeast culture is high in B-vitamins and protein, it can also be used as a probiotic to aid in digestion.

Next, 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.

In addition, 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 recipe also contains selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.

Blue Seal Life Stages Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Blue Seal Life Stages Dog Food looks like an 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 27%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 50%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 50% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.

Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea protein, flaxseed and yeast culture in this recipe and the corn gluten meal in others, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Blue Seal Life Stages is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of pork, lamb or chicken meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.

Recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

Those looking for a wet product from the same company may wish to visit our review of Blue Seal canned dog food.

Special Alert

Rice ingredients can sometimes contain arsenic. Until the US FDA establishes safe upper levels for arsenic content, pet owners may wish to limit the total amount of rice fed in a dog's daily diet.

A Final Word

The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits for your pet.

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

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

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

Notes and Updates

04/12/2010 Original review
11/12/2010 Review updated
03/11/2014 Last Update

  • theBCnut

    Dogs that have eaten the same thing for long periods of time do tend to have a difficult time transitioning to new foods and quite often get gas and other issues. This is likely due to their body not being used to producing the enzymes necessary to digest the new nutrient levels in their food, such as higher protein. Also, keeping them on one food limits the number of different strains of probiotics that thrive in the gut and, as well as boosting the immune system, probiotics also aid digestion.

  • Linda

    I have been feeding Natural 26 to my 3 year old dog, since the beginning because he was on it before I got him, and I wanted him to have the same thing. He does well on it, but it is only rated 2.5 stars and below average on this site. The Blue Seal Pork and Barley Flavored has a higher rating and is “recommended”. I tried feeding this food, after transitioning to it slowly by mixing with the old food. Once he was just eating the Pork and Barley, he had an extremely foul smell coming out of him – it was terrible, I went back to the Natural 26. It is concerning that I am feeding a food that has a below average rating. But everytime I try to go to a better food, he doesn’t tolerate it, or this last time – the strong bad smell. I do feed a 5 star rated (on this site) canned dog food, also, It is locally available – Dave’s 95% Premium Beef. Maybe this will even it out… feeding a bad kibble and a good canned food. I am pretty confused at this point, but my Vet said to keep with the Natural 26.

  • Tim C

    We have been using Blue Seal dog food products for over 22 years. Most of the time on the Natural 26 and the last 2 years using the Adult dry food. We Started out way back when on Eukanuba for a couple of year then to Royal Canin. The best move for us was moving the dogs on to Blue Seal. We feed the recommended amount and the dogs (German Shepherds) look and act great.

  • JD

    Tomorrow we welcome a one-year old big American Bulldog to our family. After much searching, I bought a 30 lb bag of Pure Balance Chicken & Brown Rice dry food for $30 at Walmart. It has 3.5 stars, like this does, but seeing that I can get lamb & rice dry food from Blue Seal at 40 lbs for just $2 more from a ocal retailer, I will indeed be going with that for future purchases.

  • beornn52

    I inherited a Siberian that had been diagnosed by a vet as having intestinal problems and constantly had the runs. I put her and the other dogs on the Blue Seal Pork and Barley and her medical issues went bye-bye. The price is fine too.

  • pat

    I was using Iam’s for the longest time. as compared to other food it was better for my pups. My son tried Blue seal for his girlfriend’s dog and it immediately stopped diarrhea and she gained good weight. So i switched, my 2 pups are doing well have given them pork & barley, lamb & rice and adult formula.. just to change off .They are doing well and the only thing I find is the cost in Me. is higher than other places. On sale its $36 reg. $38 +. Going to try Natural 26 its on sale this month hope it works well. My grandad used blue seal feed for livestock many yrs ago so quality is constant & worth using. Thanx B S

  • Susanwhelan2002

    I have a senior JR who had been on Chicken Soup kibble for years until he developed violent allergies to just about everything.  Tried Orijen, was disgusted when the vet insisted I try their digestive brand (with corn!) and nothing helped this poor dog until I tried the BS Pork and Barley.  He’s been on it for three years now, along with my standard poodle and the two of them do very well on it.  Like most dog owners, I’ll pay more to feed my dogs than to feed myself, but in this case, the price is reasonable and the benefits are priceless.  I know he wouldn’t have lived through another year of the severe diarrhea he was suffering from every other food I had tried.

  • bdzl

    We have a lot of Borzois (more than 15) and I have been feeding Blue Seal foods for at least 20 years. At this time I feed a mixture of the Natural 26 and the Pork and Barley. I purchase 2000 lbs at a time from a local wholesaler (R H Rohrer in PA). We have had a very low incidence of bloat and torsion with the Blue Seal. Some dogs that have had skin problems have done much better on the Pork and Barley than on specialized “derm” prescription diets. We also feed Blue Seal in our boarding kennel and the dogs who get it while they are here have not shown digestive upsets or loose stool when transitional onto the Blue Seal. According to the company representative several years ago the food is sourced from American sources for its ingredients.   I do not know if this is still the case since the Kent group took over.

  • Kidra1940

    I noticed that too….it was once rated 4 stars because it does not contain any corn products, but since this last update, it stays on the 3 star rating and not sure why

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  • KatelynnRiedel

    My family has always fed our dogs Natural 26. Yes it cost a lot but it has never had a recall that I know of. I have 4 dogs a Great Pyrenees/Saint bernard mix, Black Lab/Bullmastiff mix, Full-blooded Yorkie and a Full-blooded Bullmastiff pup. 

  • 167bunkerhill

    Hey Mike & All whom Help,  Thanks for the awesome work you do for man/dog-kind.  It appears the Blue Seal “Pork & Barley” didn’t get picked up on the 4-star list of Dry foods.

  • Puppyluv 6

    I have been feeding my 7 goldens BLue Seal Pork and Barley since Feb. 2012.  My dogs love it and they look great!  I am happy there is no corn in the Pork and Barley, I have two dogs allergic to corn. I love the ingredients, the bag volume…a true 40 lbs., and especially the price $30 for a 40 lb. bag.  I was paying almost $60 for the so-called better brands, and hardly got 30 Lbs.  I didn’t like most of the better brands, not just because of the price, but my dogs look better being on Blue Seal.  The only thing I am hoping for is that they don’t sell out to a bigger company.  Thank you Blue Seal for the Pork and Barley food. My dogs love it!

  • Scottie

    My dogs do better on Blue Seal Adult Dog than they do on a 5 star grain-free diet. I have two labs
    who tend to be low energy and overweight. When I switched to a grain
    free diet (Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream, for six weeks), they were
    bloated, had loose stool, seemed constantly hungry (one stole a bunch of
    bananas off the counter), and gained weight. Blue Seal Adult Dog seems
    to keep them active, sleek, and satiated (as much as a lab can be). Note: they did not do well on Blue Seal Weight Loss. I’m not saying “grain free” is worse for all dogs, but maybe some.

  • Heidi

    I tried Blue Seal for about a month on my kennel of 15 dogs. I fed the recommended amounts on the bag for their weights. They liked the taste of it and ate it all right away, but they all acted like they were starving and some lost a lot of weight. The reason I switched to it was because I was supposed to be able to feed half the amount that I was previously feeding. It just didn’t work for me.

  • Sally

    I have just purchased (adopted) to mini long hair doxie’s. The breeder has been raising mini doxies for 30yrs and uses Blue Seal which she recommands to all her new parents. I will be bringing the new little ones home the end of the month and plan on using Blue Seal. I will leave my comment as to how I like the product. I always used store bought food in the past.

  • Meagan

    Your welcome! and let us know how your puppy likes it.

  • Jennifer

    Thanks Mike and Meagan;

    the information was very helpful and once my little guy gets settled in maybe in a few months we’ll switch him over to the Pork and barley formula once he’s a little older and if my local store can get it in.

  • Meagan

    Jennifer-The pork and barley formula is for all life stages, which is meant for puppies also.
    http://www.blueseal.com/canine/LifeStages/PorkAndBarley.php

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Jennifer… When you see the warning “not for lactating females, puppies or active dogs” it means the food is for adult maintenance only. For a puppy, you need a food rated for growth and reproduction. For more information about these ratings, please visit our FAQ page and look for the topic, “AAFCO Nutrient Profiles”.

    As far as the rating for each specific product in the line, you’ll need to read the feeding instructions on each bag. Or contact the manufacturer. Hope this helps.

  • Jennifer

    Hi,

    I have a 10 week old puppy who started out on Blue Seal Puppy food and I was always a little concerned because his stool was always quite soft. Never runny, or diarrhea, it’s just soft. Is that something that is common for this brand of food? I’d love to switch him to this Pork and Barley formula. My concern with that is the bag of dog food for Lamb and Rice formula specifically says “not for lactating females, puppies or active dogs” is that the same case for the Pork and Barley formula? or which would be better for a puppy the puppy formula or the Pork and Barley?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Timmy… Unfortunately, due to the biological uniqueness of each pet, I cannot provide customized reviews and product comparisons for each reader. For more help, please check out my reviews and visit our FAQ page. Look for the topic, “Help Me Choose a Dog Food”. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers.

  • Timmy

    I love my 2yellow labs {sometime’s more then my kid} and it sounds like all of these people love there dogs just as much.My queston is that i feed my dogs Blue Seal by Nature and my dogs are doing good on it but still not sure it is the best 4 my dogs and i take your opion in high regaurd and i’m wondering if this highbrid of Blue Seal is as good as i think it is?I don’t mind spending money on my dogs for good food but i want it to be Great for them. Just to let you know my 2 yr old is on active and my 10 yr old is on adult. thank you

  • melissa

    Rhendy-

    Under your circumstances, I would have no problem feeding Blue Seal products. Here in NY, Blue Seal is “big” with many folks, especially for their variety in products

  • ed

    If you grew up in the Northeast, you know Blue Seal very well even if you don’t have a dog.

    The Pork and Barley formula is a great food, even for puppies.

  • Rhendy

    I moved to Puerto Rico a year ago and found this food at a local grocery store. I was worried b/c it’s only $5 a bag, but I liked the barley one b/c it didn’t have corn meal. I’ve tried to find better food and even ordered from Petco the Blue Buffalo one time from the States, but that was just too expensive and inconvenient. I have been worried that I was feeding my baby girl inferior food b/c dogs are just not viewed like family members here so there are no pet shops and therefore I can only find dog food at the grocery store. Bit now that I’ve read these reviews I feel good about feeding her Blue Seal. I think I will just get some Kefir to give her every now and then for the probiotics.

  • ed

    The Pork & Barley formula is a great formula. It is an East Coast food though, regional availability.

    Blue Seal makes By Nature Pork & Sweet Potato and that is available national but is far more expensive and almost the same food really.

  • melissa

    Yes, the price is very reasonable, but you have to pick and choose between the brands. The professional 26 has huge feedings requirements on the bags to begin with, and my dogs needed that plus some!

  • Meagan

    Thanks Ed thats not bad at all for such a good food!

  • ed

    It is about $30 and the 12th bag is free.

  • Meagan

    Just wondering if anyone can tell me how much is this food for the biggest bag of the Pork and Barley?
    Thanks

  • ed

    These foods are a real bargain and very good quality, especially the Pork & Barley formula.

    Excellent for the vast majority of companion animals and pets.

  • Melissa

    Hi Amanda-

    Blue Seal and Kent are “one in the same companies” now, and I have fed Blue Seal and the Kent Native-Currently feeding the Native and have wonderful results with it for all my dogs. We use the By Nature 95% meat as their topper(alternating with other brands) and they love that as well-even the most picky ones gobble that up!

    A thing to note-I was told by the Blue Seal company in our area of NY that there was going to be a price increase, effective today, and he thought it was going to be in the neighborhood of $1-$1.50 per bag for the Blue Seal line-he was not sure about the Native line. Blue Seal does offer a frequent buyer program for all dog owners(not just breeders) which is buy 12, get 1 free.

    Way back when I tried the Professional 26 and despite feeding MORE than the huge amounts reccomended on the package, my dogs lost lots of weight.

  • http://www.muddyfeetaussies.com Amanda

    One point, a lot of NH people feed this food as we do have a plant right here!..talk about fresh, I live about 30min from the plant!.. and been feeding it for quite a while with frankly really good results,,, Although yup, do seem to get a bit of gas with some of the fourmulas.. only down side so far..

    One thing about this food, and a lot of the blue seal items.. it is one of the most price approperate foods on the market, unlike several of the “name” brands and even designer new foods on the market. High price, not always good ingredients.. It may not be a 5 star, but it still offers darn good nutrition at a very low and approperate price.. this is one of the few dog foods that shows a legitimate price diffrence that equals what is IN the food..The by nature line, a bit higher, the basic classic Blue seal (more grains) less and the Blue seal lifestages (this review) in the middle.. It is intresting to note it is about 2/3 and even 1/2 the price of many other diets on the market with the same or lower ratings!..
    Not that cost is everthing, but shows something about a company when they approperatly price something, and you can see why something may cost more.. or less..
    When a price is determined on what the owner will pay with a fancy package, trendy terms.. or other marketing hype.. seems nutrition may not really be what the company cares about..

  • Jeannine

    i have a 1 year old golden retriever and have been giving it blue seal puppy formula since it was a baby. and every night my dog has really smelly gas from it. i dont know why…maybe the heavy corn content in it??? she dosnt have any other problems just really bad gas

  • Anne Marie

    Our dog’s breeder (she’s a chocolate labrador) recommended Blue Seal and she has thrived on it for 10-1/2 years. No allergies, no diseases, shiny coat and always a good digestive system. She is just starting to show signs of slowing down (probably due to possible arthritis) and it was suggested by her vet to try a prescription brand diet. We are so happy with Blue Seal that we’re looking to see if Blue Seal offers a comparable diet!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Fran… Yes, like every recipe in our database, this dog food is different than its siblings. And you’re right. In this case, Blue Seal Pork and Barley kibble is better than the others in that it doesn’t contain corn or corn gluten meal (a notable improvement).

    However, it still has many similarities and not enough for what we think of as a true “outlier” (which would give it the right to its own special report). For example, its protein content (27% dry matter) and fat (16%) suggest a probable meat content only average for the overall Blue Seal product line. In our opinion, these improvements are not enough to single it out and give exposure to this particular recipe.

    We’re in the process (over the next few days) of re-visiting the entire Blue Seal brand. And (thanks to your suggestion), we’re considering giving this particular product an upgraded star rating (but not creating a separate review for it). Thanks for your thoughtful suggestion.

  • Fran

    Please consider evaluating Blue Seal Pork and Barley separately from these other feeds. It does not have corn in it’s ingredient list, and I’d like to know how it stacks up on its own. Our 10 dogs are doing great on it, and we’re pretty picky dog people!

  • Effie

    We were feeding our dogs Blue Buffalo Large Breed Adult Chicken & Rice formula for almost a year even though they had diarrhea constantly that food was rated so highly that we continued to feed it to them. After the recent Blue Buffalo recall we put them back on Blue Seal Pork & Barley formula and the diarrhea disappeared instantly and they seem so much healthier, their stools are now firm and their coats are glossy and soft again. Blue Seal has a great reputation in our local area, I think it is made locally. A breeder friend of my husband recommended it to us.

  • Clara

    my 4 month old great dane mix LOVES blue seal. it does not look greasy, nor does it have dairy products which were present in some cheaper brands. I bought him a generic brand puppy food that has a dark colour and greasy look to it. He would not touch the food. I also like the fact that Blue Seal is processed only an hour away from where we live. My friend who owns a farm and is a retired vet feeds all of her animals Blue Seal, from horses to ducks and including her house pets. It has never given my pup trouble and he gobbles it up!