Exclusive Dog Food gets the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.
The Exclusive Dog Food product line includes eight kibbles, six claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance abd two for all life stages (puppy formulas).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review:
- Exclusive Lamb and Rice Adult
- Exclusive Chicken and Rice Adult
- Exclusive Chicken and Rice Senior
- Exclusive Chicken and Rice Reduced Fat
- Exclusive Chicken and Rice Puppy (4 stars)
- Exclusive Chicken and Rice Large Breed Adult
- Exclusive Chicken and Rice Large Breed Puppy
- Exclusive Chicken and Rice Performance Formula (4 stars)
Exclusive Chicken and Rice Large Breed Adult dog food was chosen to represent the others in the line for this review.
Exclusive Large Breed Adult Chicken and Rice Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal (a natural source of glucosamine and chondroitin), cracked pearled barley, whole grain brown rice, ground white rice, corn gluten meal, oatmeal, chicken fat preserved with mixed tocopherols (a form of vitamin E), beet pulp, natural chicken flavor, egg product, flaxseed, fish meal, potassium chloride, salt, salmon oil (a source of DHA), choline chloride, dried chicory root, glucosamine hydrochloride, l-carnitine, Yucca schidigera extract, 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, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D supplement, folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||14%||50%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||31%||44%|
The first ingredient in this dog food lists 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 is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The third ingredient lists barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. Unlike grains with a higher glycemic index, barley can help support more stable blood sugar levels.
The fourth item is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fifth ingredient is white rice, a less nutritious form of rice in which the grain’s healthier outer layer has been removed.
The sixth ingredient mentions 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 seventh ingredient is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.
The eighth ingredient lists 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 lists 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.
After the natural flavor, we find 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 next ingredient is 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.
Fish meal is another protein-rich 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
Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.
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, the manufacturer appears to have applied friendly bacteria to the surface of the kibble after cooking. These special probiotics are used to enhance a dog’s digestive and immune functions.
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.
Exclusive Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by all but one of its ingredients alone, Exclusive Dog Food appears to be an above-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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 47% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Yet when we take into account the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below-average amount of meat.
However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include corn gluten meal to enhance the protein content in its recipes. For without this less costly meat substitute, we’d have been compelled to award this product a higher rating.
Exclusive Dog Food is a grain-based dry kibble using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
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
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Notes and Updates
03/15/2010 Original review
10/15/2010 Review updated
02/06/2011 Review updated (no changes)
11/11/2012 Review updated
03/25/2013 Review updated
03/25/2013 Last Update