Caliber Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Caliber Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest rating of 1 star.

The Caliber Dog Food product line includes four kibbles. Since we could not locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these products on the Caliber website, we’re unable to report life stage recommendations.

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

  • Caliber Ultra 26-18 Dog Food
  • Caliber Sport 24-20 Dog Food
  • Caliber Performance 21-8 Dog Food
  • Caliber Professional 22-12 Dog Food

Caliber Professional 22-12 Dog Food was selected to represent the others in the line for this review.

Caliber Professional 22-12

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 25% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 53%

Ingredients: Meat and bone meal, ground yellow corn, wheat middlings, ground wheat, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed tocopherols (source of vitamin E) and citric acid, dried beet pulp, animal digest, salt, fish meal, flax seed meal, potassium chloride, yeast culture, choline chloride, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, vitamin E supplement, niacin, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, menadione sodium bisulfate complex (source of vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, cobalt carbonate, folic acid, sodium selenite

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis22%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis25%14%53%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%30%48%

The first item in this dog food is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.1

Meat and bone meal can have a lower digestibility than most other meat meals.

Scientists believe this decreased absorption may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.2

What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. It doesn’t even specify the source animal.

Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this a quality item.

The second ingredient includes corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.

The third ingredient is wheat middlings, commonly known as “wheat mill run”. Though it may sound wholesome, wheat mill run is actually an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.

In reality, wheat middlings are nothing more than milling dust and floor sweepings — and an ingredient more typically found in the lower quality pet foods.

The fourth ingredient is wheat. Wheat is another problematic grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).

The fifth ingredient lists corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Compared to meat, glutens are inferior grain-based proteins lower in some of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.

This inexpensive plant-based ingredient can significantly 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 item is animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.

Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized livestock.

For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.

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.

The eighth ingredient is animal digest. Animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is usually sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste.

Following the salt, we find fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.3

Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.

What’s more, the controversial chemical ethoxyquin is frequently used as a preservative in fish meals.

But because it’s usually added to the raw fish before processing, the chemical does not have to be reported to consumers.

We find no public assurances from the company this product is ethoxyquin-free.

Without knowing more, we would expect to find at least a trace of ethoxyquin in this product.

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, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

Next, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.

And lastly, this dog food recipe also contains 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.

Caliber Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Caliber Dog Food looks to be a below-average kibble.

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 25%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 53%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 26% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 62%.

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

In addition, when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a modest amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Caliber Dog Food is a grain-based kibble using a modest amount of meat and bone meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

Not recommended.

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

09/24/2011 Original review
03/23/2013 Review updated
03/23/2013 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  2. Shirley RB and Parsons CM, Effect of Ash Content on Protein Quality of Meat and Bone Meal, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Poultry Science, 2001 80: 626-632
  3. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • texas hunter

    i don’t know folks i been feeding the caliber 24/20 for quite a while now and the dogs haven’t looked better . and these ain’t poodles either they are high powered hard worked stock dogs and hounds which are mainley used to hunt wild boar . a very tuff job done on a regular basis . dogs maintain their weight and energy level really well with this feed .

  • Shawna

    Good post Pam!!

    That kind of thing (like the car manufacturer) happens ALL the time.  DuPont, a well respected and very profitable company, did it with a chemical called PFOA.  The chemical is so pervasive that it is found in new born babies and polar bears who would have no direct contact.  It kills birds from the fumes, causes deformity in babies still in the womb etc.  DuPont actually lied to get the chemical passed for use.  The EPA found out and fined DuPont more money than any other company in the histroy of the EPA’s existance.  The EPA gave DuPont 10 years to get the product off the market.  But guess what, it’s still here…  AND it is lining many of the bags of kibble that we feed our dogs.  As well as french fry boxes, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, non-stick teflon frying pans etc…

    Something similar happened with aspartame..

    I KNOW this goes on all the time but I never really thought about how it could factor into our dogs’ lives on a daily basis (other than PFOA)…  Thanks for making me think :)…

  • Pam Casira

    I bet the dog food companies pay someone the big bucks to do number crunching (profit vs quality)–just like anything else.

    Take car manufacturers, for instance, they know when something is wrong. But if profit sufficiently exceeds the cost of potential lawsuits and other fees, they won’t recall or fix the problem…

    Also, there’s probably enough people out there that want to save a dollar or two OR they just don’t want to be inconvenienced OR they’re ignorant.

    That’s how people can continue making garbage for dogs. How much could it possibly cost to grind and mix together trash that no one else wants? Especially if you can turn around and sell it as “balanced” and “nutritious” and “your dog will love the taste…”.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninja Dog Food Ninja

    Wow. What Caliber handgun do you think would be more humane to just shoot your dog with versus feeding your dog Caliber dry dog food? I say .45 acp.

    Mike, where do you find some of these truly awful foods? I read an ingredients list and a review like this, and it seems like there can’t possibly be another one out there that’s as bad or worse, because you’ve reviewed sooo many. But then BAM! another hot bag of trash being marketed as “food”. So sad.

  • erin c.

    The gov’t needs to change their list of what can be used for food.

    Is there a list somewhere or someone who goes around and shows companies what they can put in pet food and still get approval?

    I can’t imagine people coming up with this garbage without help.