Born Free Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Born Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Born Free product line includes 2 dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

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

  • Born Free Salmon Recipe
  • Born Free Chicken and Turkey Recipe

Born Free Chicken and Turkey Recipe was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Born Free Chicken and Turkey Recipe

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 33% | Fat = 20% | Carbs = 39%

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, peas, potato, pea protein, turkey, tomato pomace, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried egg, fish oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), sweet potato, pea flour, cheese, flaxseed, carrots, celery, parsley, lettuce, spinach, potassium chloride, salt, chicory root extract, monosodium phosphate, Yucca schidigera extract, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Enterococcus faecium, vitamin A, D3, E, B12 supplements, choline chloride, niacin, pantothenic acid, ascorbic acid, riboflavin, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganous sulfate, copper sulfate, cobalt carbonate, calcium iodate, sorbic acid, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis30%18%NA
Dry Matter Basis33%20%39%
Calorie Weighted Basis28%40%32%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient includes chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The third ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

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 actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is turkey, another quality raw item.

The seventh ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.

Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.

Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.

The eighth 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 ninth ingredient is whole dried egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The tenth ingredient is fish oil. Fish oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, fish oil should be considered a commendable addition.

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, 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.

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.

And lastly, this food also 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.

Born Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Born 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 33%, a fat level of 20% and estimated carbohydrates of about 39%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 33% and a mean fat level of 20%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 39% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effects of the peas, pea protein and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Born Free is a plant-based grain-free dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken or ocean fish meal as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

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.

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, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit 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.

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Notes and Updates

07/26/2014 Last Update

  • Natalie Marie Alvarez Padilla

    I agree, it’s such a hassle to request information from all these companies, but it has to be done. I rather feed my dog a 3.5 star food that is made in the USA with non gmo ingredients, usda inspected and approved meat and wild fish than 5 star food with meat that isn’t human grade or gmo potatoes and chinese chicken.

  • Laurie

    Does anyone have a direct e-mail address or phone # for Born Free? Went on their website which only directs me to Contact Us and still have not heard anything from them. I wanted to know where their meat comes from – local farms or factory farms, where is it processed (especially chicken since the US is allowing China to process it). Is their fish wild caught or farm raised. It’s very important for me to feed my dogs quality food. And just because it may include high quantities of meat, poultry or fish does not mean it quality.

  • Holly

    Love this food. My dogs thrived on it for several years. While the kibble is small my 100# 33″ tall doby did very well on it and loved it.

  • Kathleen

    I tried this food, Born Free, and was terribly sorry. I have a small dog, approx. 10#. I noticed she was showing symptoms of constipation. She suffered for four days. I called my Vet. twice. I gave her 1 tbsp. of solid packed pumpkin, mixed with water twice a day, with less than 1/4 cup of my old dry choice. After three days she finally started to have stools. I wonder if the higher percent of protein could have been the problem for her.

  • Angelandbruno

    Does anyone know the amount of protien for this food. And the price

  • Lynnejack99

    the kibble is very small, about the size of a green pea or even less.

  • Deborah Korkosz

    The kibble is very small; would be great for a toy breed — at least the turkey/chicken version.

  • Brandy

    Does anyone know the kibble size of this food? I have very small dogs and have to make sure the kibble isnt too big.