Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Earthborn Holistic product line lists five dry dog foods. But because of its unique higher quality formula, Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural is reviewed here in its own special report.

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural is claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 42% | Fat = 22% | Carbs = 28%

Ingredients: Turkey meal, chicken meal, potatoes, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), whitefish meal, dried egg product, tomato pomace, peas, blueberries, cranberries, apples, carrots, spinach, potassium chloride, choline chloride, dl-methionine, l-lysine, taurine, beta-carotene, l-carnitine, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, folic acid, biotin, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, salt, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, cobalt carbonate, vitamin B12 supplement, Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 2.8%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis38%20%NA
Dry Matter Basis42%22%28%
Calorie Weighted Basis34%44%22%
Protein = 34% | Fat = 44% | Carbs = 22%

The first ingredient in this dog food is turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.

The second ingredient lists chicken meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The third 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 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 whitefish meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

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

The sixth ingredient is dried egg product, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

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 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 ninth ingredient lists blueberries. Blueberries are a good source of 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 two notable exceptions

First, 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 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.

Earthborn Holistic
Primitive Natural Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural 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 42%, a fat level of 22% and estimated carbohydrates of about 28%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 53%.

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.

For those looking to mimic a dog’s natural ancestral diet, Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural at least begins to approach this noble goal.

Bottom line?

Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural is a meat-based dry dog food using a significant amount of turkey and chicken meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning this recipe 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.

Earthborn Holistic Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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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.

However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

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

Notes and Updates

07/05/2016 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • Txgemni

    The pie chart is color/labeled incorrectly

  • Vid

    Hi,
    I just checked on the website for Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural, under Guaranteed analysis, it mentions that – Earthborn Holistic® Primitive Natural™ is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages, except for growth of large size dogs (70 lbs. or more as an adult).
    Any idea what this disclaimer means?
    I have a 75 pound german shepherd 1.5 yr old. Can I give him this food?

  • theBCnut

    ALS foods are puppy foods, so in that respect you should be fine. The biggest issue I can think of is that being pregnant is like being an endurance athlete, so your dog may actually need more carbs, but this food isn’t exactly low carb, just low carb for a kibble, so I think it will be fine.

  • Latinegro Marlito

    HI my bully is 30 days pregnant today I know I’m supposed to switch to puppy food butt since this is all stage dog food I’m just keeping her on this one or should I switch to one of the puppy food?

  • ChrissyW

    Did she lose weight? Thank you!

  • Sanz

    Okay, that clarifies it for me.

    That explains why it’s lower. I like Dr. Mike’s methodology.

    What do you feed your dogs?

  • theBCnut

    Not necessarily. If they have not had a formula change, then Dr. Mike will look at all the info and determine that it is the same and the review will stay the same, but it will be up to date.

    BTW, another reason for the difference in carb level may be because the company is reporting only the carb content that is actually usable, while Dr. Mike’s estimate of the carbs includes the fiber, since indigestible fiber is still legally counted as a carb. Also Dr. Mike uses an estimate for ash content which may be different than the actual ash content especially in a high protein diet.

  • Sanz

    Will the update mean higher in percentage of carbohydrates? No longer 28%?

  • Sanz

    Thanks a lot for the information, theBCnut.

  • Sanz

    Thanks a lot for the information, Bojangles.

  • bojangles

    Hi theBCnut,

    I didn’t mean to step on your toes with my comment!

  • bojangles

    Hi Sanz,

    It’s because the Guaranteed Analysis on dog foods always list the protein (38%) and the fat (20%) as minimums. When you calculate the carb content based on the minimums you come up with about 28%.

    A lot of dog foods under report the fat by 5 or 10 percent (or more) because they don’t want a “high fat food”. They tend to not under report the protein as much because they would rather have their food considered high protein than high fat.

    So in reality the fat content of this food is maybe 28% while the protein is around 40%, this would put the actual carb level at the 17.5% that is reported on their website.

    Hope this helps!

  • theBCnut

    You are welcome.

  • theBCnut

    Dr. Mike converts everything to dry matter basis. That way you don’t have to wonder about the different amounts of moisture in different foods in a comparison. Here, you are comparing what the different foods would be like with 0% moisture. Also, this review is to be updated very soon. It has been a while since it was written and the formula may have changed some.

  • Sanz

    On Earthborn’s website for this product, I see that carbohydrates is 17.5% where here it’s 28%. Could anyone please tell me how Earthborn’s calculation is lower than the one here at Dogfoodadvisor?

  • Sanz

    Thanks.

  • Sanz

    Thanks for the informative response.

  • theBCnut

    Pea fiber has the digestible starch removed so it is just fiber, no energy. Potato is most likely whole potato(almost pure starch) including the green layer that is actually poisonous, but may be deactivated be the cooking process that kibble goes through. I wouldn’t say that one or the other is better or worse, barring a food intolerance, just that it is like comparing completely different things. I wouldn’t want either one being a huge part of my dog’s diet, but I don’t completely cut out either one.

  • Pitlove

    Peas are higher in fiber than potatoes, so when looking for a lower fiber option a grain free food with potatoes is better.

  • Sanz

    Thanks for the response.

    If I may ask, is pea fiber better than regular potatoes?

  • theBCnut

    Since we know that potatoes are high carb food and the carbs in this food are about 28% including fiber, I don’t think this food has a ridiculous amount of potato in it, unless your dog has issues with too much starch, then pretty much all kibbles will be problematic.

  • Sanz

    I noticed that potatoes is the third ingredient. Does this mean that the food contains a big percentage of potatoes?

  • ShadiLady

    Try Earthborn Weight Loss,. It was what I fed my diabetic dog.

  • Brooke

    I feed my dogs primitive natural and it’s the food they’ve done best on. They have not had any problems, their coat looks awesome all the time.

  • Sally Olson

    We were giving our dog the seafood blend & he has awful smelly gas. We switched to a different flavor & the gas lessened. We went on vacay & couldn’t find this brand. We used another brand of holistic-grain free food & he refused to eat it.(we knew we were running low on his preferred food & mixed it w/ the new brand, but the little **** tossed out the new brand & only ate the primitive brand) When we got home we found a partial bag of this food. He was fine, no gas. This week we bought a bag of the seafood blend & he is totally fine. I don’t know what the issue was…perhaps it was just a single batch.

  • Stephanie Blurry

    Good to know, thank you!

  • Dana Skawinski

    My dog has been on the primitive formula for over a year. She recently had similar symptoms. I took her to the vet and she got a hefty dose of antibiotics. Judging by the symptoms, my vet believed she had a bacterial infection in her gut. He said it was likely picked up from her doggy daycare but the food couldn’t be ruled out either. After she finished her antibiotics, she was all better. No problems since and she’s still eating the same food. This was over a month ago so I don’t think it was the food in our case. If your pup hasn’t seen your vet yet – make an appointment. A bacterial infection might be brewing.

  • Stephanie Blurry

    Has anyone had any issues with this food recently? My dog developed bad gas and diarrhea on the salmon and I thought it was the protein so I switched to the primitive. I “reset” her GI if you will, with boiled carrots and rice and fed the primitive and I’m back to diarrhea again. I’ve never had a problem with this food with her in the past so I’m wondering if there was a formula change or if my dog has developed a gastrointestinal bacteria.

  • Pati Kane Pinard

    thanx for replying. diabetes is her only issue right now. She’s currently on what’s called Authority. It’s a petsmart exclusive, and I add some canned science diet light. She likes it and it’s affordable. I’d really like to get her on a high quality food. I’m going to see if our year old husky likes this also. It’s worth a shot.

  • Hi Pati Kane Pinard, Welcome to DFA!

    Carbs would be my biggest concern in any food for a dog with diabetes. This food has a pretty low carb content for a kibble, and the fat content might be ok for your pup.

    What are you currently feeding, and does your pup have any other health issues besides diabetes, such as pancreatitis?

    I wish you and your precious pup the best 😉

  • Pati Kane Pinard

    I have a diabetic dog, and this food has a high fat content. Does anyone here also have a diabetic and uses this food?

  • Melissa Vazquez Carrera

    Thank you so much! I will do that. I have to say since we change her skin cleared no itching. Just have the diarrhea. But we Just switch. Thank you

  • WheresMyReacharound?

    It’s been my limited experience that any change in feed brings on diarrhea, If you can, mix in 20% a day for 5 days (until switched). It won’t cure it, but it does make it better more quickly.

  • Melissa Vazquez Carrera

    I have an Aussie she is 21 weeks old and before this she ate merricks puppy food. But her skin was getting a rash. But her stool was solid. An so we bought this. But she has had diarrhea this whole week. Did your dog do this? Or should I mix something in her food. I bought the 28lb bag. And I don’t want to give up on this cause it is such a good dog food. Is this normal. Or does it take a while For her to get use to it?

  • WheresMyReacharound?

    Fantastic product. Our Aussie has been fed this almost exclusively all 5 years of her life. She’s healthy, active and full of energy. Every time we see her vet for checkups we’re told ‘don’t change her feed’ (and no, the vet doesn’t sell it).

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