Canidae Grain Free Pure (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Canidae Grain Free Pure Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Canidae Grain Free Pure product line includes four dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.

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

  • Canidae Grain Free Pure Sea
  • Canidae Grain Free Pure Sky
  • Canidae Grain Free Pure Elements
  • Canidae Grain Free Pure Land (4 stars)

Canidae Grain Free Pure Elements was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Canidae Grain Free Pure Elements

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 36% | Fat = 20% | Carbs = 36%

Ingredients: Lamb, turkey meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, peas, chicken fat, menhaden fish meal, potatoes, suncured alfalfa, natural flavor, minerals (iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), choline chloride, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, mixed tocopherols (a natural source of vitamin E)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis32%18%NA
Dry Matter Basis36%20%36%
Calorie Weighted Basis30%40%30%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb 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 is turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.

The third ingredient is chicken meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth 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 meat content of this dog food.

The seventh 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 eighth ingredient is menhaden fish meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate..

Menhaden are small ocean fish related to herring. They’re rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. What’s more, in their mid-depth habitat, menhaden are not exposed to mercury contamination as can be typical with deep water species.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

We are pleased to note that, unlike many fish meals, this particular item appears2 to be ethoxyquin-free.

The ninth 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.

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, alfalfa is a flowering member of the pea family. Although alfalfa is more commonly associated with cattle feeds, it can still provide healthy nutrients to any dog food.

Next, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.

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.

Canidae Grain Free Pure Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Canidae Grain Free Pure 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 36%, a fat level of 20% and estimated carbohydrates of about 36%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 34% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 40% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.

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 chickpeas, peas and alfalfa, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Canidae Grain Free Pure is a meat-based dry dog food using a notable amount of named meats and meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically 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 quality wet food from the same company may wish to visit our review of Canidae Grain Free 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, 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.

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

12/06/2009 Original review
07/17/2010 Review updated
11/09/2010 Upgraded (ethoxyquin free)
04/12/2011 Review updated (major product line change)
12/07/2012 Review updated
11/02/2013 Review updated
11/02/2013 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Canidae website
  • Jordie

    Lab Mom here with upside down pic :)
    PLEASE READ ALL ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE WITH TRYING CANIDAE BISON AND LAMB!!!!!!
    Switched my lab from wellness to CANIDAE.
    MY DOG IS ILL…SERIOUSLY I’LL AS I TYPE THIS.
    severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, nausea, listless,
    I have had 2 emergency hospital visits. And 4 visits to my regular vet.
    ALL AFTER FEEDING CANIDAE BISON AND LAMB
    SEVERAL X-RAYS, LAB WORK, BARIUM STUDY AND WE STILL DO NOT HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON.
    Gastritis????? Ulcer?????? Intestinal cancer???!

    I have an appt. with my vet this morning August 18th2014
    Was at the ER yesterday again.

    THIS HAS ALL HAPPENED AFTER FEEDING CANIDAE.
    MY Lab Gracie is very sick…

  • LabLover

    Yep, I rotate each month between these foods. I tend to mix the Dr Tims together, Annamaet together, etc.. I never have to worry about bags taking too long to go through with three big dogs.

  • Crazy4cats

    I think it is perfectly fine to mix dry dog foods to get a good balance for your dogs. Just make sure, like Storm’s mom suggested, that you get through them quickly enough to avoid either going rancid. Also make sure you switch the two foods you are mixing from time to time. You don’t want to feed the same thing forever. There are a couple of regulars that feed that way also. It does, however make it tougher to know which food is causing an issue if there are any that come up. But if it’s working and it makes it more affordable to mix in a higher quality food, I say go for it!

  • LabLover

    Sorry, I know this isnt the best place to ask questions, but I cant seem to post in the forums for some reason.
    I do rotate quite often between Dr Tims, Annamaet, and Victor. I have one dog (Whitney) that does great on grain free foods. She has spay incontinence and if she eats grain free or mix of grain and grain free, she doesnt leak. It sounds weird but it works and she doesnt need any Proin. I have one (Nala)that does better on grain free but doesnt need to really eat it. I have noticed her belly isnt as gassy (no farting LOL) if she eats a grain free food or a mix like my other dog. My third dog (Apollo) can eat anything.

    So I was wondering if I mix the grain and grain free two together (Which I have done) is really causing any issues? Im not one to think every dog needs grain free but two of mine do better eating it. I guess it comes down to money I suppose because going through three bags of grain free is a little pricey for me and if I can buy a regular bag and add it in, I can save a little money. I have three Labradors and they are very active. They eat 3.5 cups a day. Ends up pretty close to 30lbs in 10 days with three dogs

  • Storm’s Mom

    Yes it’s technically “ok”, BUT.. so many questions that would be helpful to know when providing you the best answer! Why are you wanting to mix rather than, say, go entirely grain-free? (if it’s budget, there are some very budget-friendly grain-free options, if you’re interested in recommendations) How big are your dogs? Are we talking big bags or small bags of kibble?

    If this is just a temporary or short term thing (to transition, etc) then I would say it’s fine, but if you’re thinking of this as a long term feeding strategy, I would get concerned about 2 things in particular. First being rancidity – if you have 2 bags of kibble open at the same time, it would take your dogs longer to go through each bag, increasing the likelihood of one or more kibble becoming rancid.

    Two chicken based kibbles aren’t going to provide you with as much variety, either. On the other hand, if they are 2 very different kibbles that you are feeding together over a long period of time, then if an intolerance pops up it could be a nightmare trying to figure out which ingredient is the problem (it still could be with 2 different chicken kibbles depending upon how different they are).

    IMHO, it would be better to stick with one kibble (at a time..I’m all for rotating kibbles every bag, etc) and mix in random canned toppers for variety.

    I do know that there are some on here who do mix in two or more kibbles consistently and regularly so their dogs are always eating 2 different kibbles at any given time, but as I said, personally I would (and do) stick with one kibble at a time, rotate through a few very different kibbles, and add in a random canned topper. It’s way less risky on a whole bunch of fronts.

  • PrivacyInA9M80

    Did Canidae drastically reduce its protein content over the past year in its PureLand recipe? There are missing ingredients, as well.

    (My English Shepherd w/allergies has always done (and still does) great on the PureLand.)