Darwin’s Natural Selections (Raw Frozen)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Darwin’s Natural Selections Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Darwin’s Natural Selections product line includes five raw frozen 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.

  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Beef and Vegetable
  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Duck and Vegetable
  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Bison and Vegetables
  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Turkey and Vegetable
  • Darwin’s Natural Selections Chicken and Vegetable

Darwin’s Natural Selections Duck and Vegetable recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Darwin's Natural Selections Duck and Vegetable

Raw Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 46% | Fat = 27% | Carbs = 19%

Ingredients: Ground duck meat (including bone), duck gizzards, duck hearts, duck livers, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, celery, romaine, parsley, apple cider vinegar, organic kelp meal, organic ground flax seed, sea salt, inulin (extract of chicory), zinc, copper and iron amino acid chelates, vitamin E

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.8%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis12%7%NA
Dry Matter Basis46%27%19%
Calorie Weighted Basis35%50%15%

The first ingredient in this dog food is duck. Duck is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of duck”.1

Duck is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

In addition, this particular item is inclusive of bone, which is, of course, an excellent source of natural calcium.

The second ingredient is duck gizzard. The gizzard is a low-fat, meaty organ found in the digestive tract of birds and assists in grinding up a consumed food. This item is considered a canine dietary delicacy.

The third ingredient is duck heart. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing to us humans, heart tissue is pure muscle — all meat. It’s naturally rich in quality protein, minerals and complex B vitamins, too.

The fourth ingredient is duck liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fifth ingredient is carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is squash. Squash is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

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 is 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, we note the inclusion of inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and typically sourced from chicory root.

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 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.

Darwin’s Natural Selections Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Since this recipe contains a number of organic ingredients, we feel compelled to grant this line a more favorable status as we consider its final rating.

That’s because organic ingredients must comply with notably more stringent government standards — standards which significantly restrict the use of any synthetic pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, hormones or antibiotics.

With that in mind…

Judging by its ingredients alone, Darwin’s Natural Selections looks like an above-average raw 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 46%, a fat level of 27% and estimated carbohydrates of about 19%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 50% and a mean fat level of 28%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 15% for the overall product line.

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

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a raw product containing an abundance of meat.

In addition, the company claims all Natural Selections products include free-range meats.

For those looking to mimic a dog’s natural ancestral diet, Darwin’s makes an excellent choice.

Bottom line?

Darwin’s Natural Selections is a meat-based raw frozen dog food using an abundant amount of various named species 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 and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

For even more raw diet suggestions, be sure to visit the Advisor’s Recommended Raw Dog Foods summary page.

A Final Word

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

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

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

Notes and Updates

06/27/2014 Last Update

  1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor from the official definition for chicken published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  • el doctor

    Hi Shawna

    I used to recommend Darwin’s before they changed their formulas. When they started using meats with a higher fat content I felt they were moving in the wrong direction from the Ancestral Diet, they talk about on their website.

    When you add up the numbers for their Natural Selection line the distribution of calories is on avg;

    Protein 39.2%
    Fat 55.2%
    Carbs 5.7%

    Their Natural Selection line has moved away from the Ancestral Diet with lower protein and higher fat and that is exactly what I thought would happen when they started using meat with a higher fat content.

    So now I encourage people to prepare a homemade diet using pasture raised, grass finished meats (if possible), that is much less expensive AND much closer to a dog’s Ancestral Diet than Darwin’s

  • theBCnut

    Hi Shawna
    Not James, but remember way back when he asked me to call him? Part of our discussion was that they were, at that time, in the process of implementing new procedures to guarantee that the grass fed animals would be fed alfalfa while waiting for processing rather than grain.

  • Shawna

    Hi James,

    I was wondering if you could tell me if the Natural Selections “free range” meat are from grass or grain finished livestock?

    Thanks for any clarification you can provide.