Tuffy’s Gold Dog Food gets the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Tuffy’s Gold product line includes five dry dog foods, three claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance, one for all life stages and one for growth (Premium Puppy).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Tuffy’s Gold Premium Adult
- Tuffy’s Gold Premium Puppy
- Tuffy’s Gold Premium Maintenance
- Tuffy’s Gold Premium Performance
- Tuffy’s Gold Premium Lamb Meal and Rice
Tuffy’s Gold Premium Adult was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Tuffy's Gold Premium Adult
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, whole grain ground corn, whole grain ground wheat, poultry fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols [a source of vitamin E] and citric acid), natural flavors, beet pulp, dicalcium phosphate, brewers rice, dried egg product, flax seed, brewers yeast, yeast culture, fish meal (a source of fish oil), salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, chelated minerals (iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, cobalt proteinate, yeast fermentation solubles), vitamins (vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (a source of vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, rosemary extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||20%||43%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||40%||36%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the prime cuts have been removed.
In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except quality skeletal muscle (conventional meat).
On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
In any case, although this item contains all the amino acids a dog needs, we consider chicken by-products an inexpensive, lower quality ingredient.
The second ingredient is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is 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. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).
The fourth ingredient is poultry fat. Poultry fat is obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Poultry fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.
However, poultry fat is a relatively generic ingredient and can be considered lower in quality than a similar item from a named source animal (like chicken fat).
After the natural flavor, we find 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 seventh ingredient is dicalcium phosphate, likely used here as a dietary calcium supplement.
The eighth ingredient is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The ninth 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.
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 five 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, brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
In addition, we note the inclusion of fish meal, 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.
Next, this recipe includes yeast fermentation solubles, a by-product of commercial fermentation operations. This ingredient is most likely included in this recipe as a digestive enzyme.
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.
Tuffy’s Gold Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Tuffy’s Gold Dog Food looks like an 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 45% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 64%.
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the mild protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Tuffy’s Gold Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of chicken by-product or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 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
10/24/2010 Original review
02/21/2014 Last Update
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩