Great Canadian Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.
The Great Canadian product line includes six dry recipes. Since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the company’s website, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Great Canadian Lamb and Rice
- Great Canadian Premium Canine
- Great Canadian Canine Maintenance
- Great Canadian Performance (3 stars)
- Great Canadian Country Maintenance (2 stars)
- Great Canadian Holistic Chicken and Brown Rice (3.5 stars)
Great Canadian Lamb and Rice was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Great Canadian Lamb and Rice
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Lamb meal, rice, wheat middlings, wheat shorts, poultry fat, corn gluten meal, poultry meal, liver digest, calcium carbonate, phosphoric acid, salt, garlic powder, all the essential vitamins and minerals
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||26%||16%||51%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||33%||45%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.
The second ingredient is rice. Is this whole grain rice, brown rice or white rice? Since the word “rice” doesn’t tell us much, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.
The third ingredient is wheat middlings, commonly known as “wheat mill run”. Though it may sound wholesome, wheat mill run is actually an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.
The fourth ingredient is wheat shorts, the fine particles of wheat bran, wheat germ, wheat flour and other processing waste from what’s known as the “tail of the mill”.
Similar to wheat middlings, wheat shorts are nothing more than an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.
In reality, wheat middlings and wheat shorts are nothing more than milling dust and floor sweepings — and are ingredients more typically found in the lower quality pet foods.
The fifth 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).
The sixth ingredient is 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 includes poultry meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
Although the word poultry doesn’t clearly identify the species, poultry meal is most commonly sourced from chicken and turkey.
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 four notable exceptions…
First, we find liver digest which is made from the enzymatic breakdown of liver tissue. Digests are commonly used by pet food manufacturers as flavor enhancers.
Normally, a digest can be considered an acceptable ingredient. However, in this case, the digest is of lower quality — made from the organ tissue of an unnamed (generic) source species.
Next, garlic can be a controversial item. Although most experts favor the ingredient for its numerous health benefits, garlic (in rare cases) has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.1
However, the limited professional literature we surveyed provided no definitive warnings regarding the use of garlic — especially when used in small amounts (as it likely is here).
Then, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
And lastly, the vitamins and minerals added to this product are not detailed sufficiently here to permit us to judge their quality.
Great Canadian Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Great Canadian Dog Food appears to be a below-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 27% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 50% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 55%.
Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal as well as the soybean meals found in other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a moderate amount of meat.
Great Canadian is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of lamb, pork and poultry meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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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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".
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Notes and Updates
08/08/2012 Original review
03/04/2014 Last Update
- Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005) ↩