Great Life Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Great Life Dog Food earns the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.

The Great Life product line includes four dry 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.

  • Great Life Buffalo
  • Great Life Chicken
  • Great Life Wild Salmon
  • Greate Life New Zealand Lamb

Greate Life New Zealand Lamb was selected to represent the othr products in the line for this review.

Great Life New Zealand Lamb

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 24% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 53%

Ingredients: Lamb, whole barley, whole brown rice, oatmeal, sun cured alfalfa meal, yams, blueberries, cranberries, freeze dried raw ingredients: (lamb, lamb liver, pumpkin, squash, parsley, papaya, sprouted chia seed, sprouts, broccoli sprouts, barley sprouts, inulin), enzymes: (amylase, protease, cellulase, pectinase, lipase, phytase, xylanese, hemicellulase, alpha-galactosidase, invertase), probiotics: (Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product dehydrated, Lactobacillus rhamnosus fermentation product dehydrated, Lactobacillus casei fermentation product dehydrated, Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product dehydrated, Bifidobacterium thermophilum fermentation product dehydrated, Bifidobacterium longum fermentation product dehydrated, Enterococcus faecium fermentation product dehydrated, Bacillus subtillus fermentation product dehydrated), wild salmon oil, parsley, articoke, rosemary, vitamins: (lecithin, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, niacin supplement, folic acid, biotin), dl-methionine, minerals: (calcium pantothenate, zinc amino acid chelate, iron amino acid chelate, copper amino acids chelate, manganese amino acids chelate, cobalt amino acids chelate, selenium)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis22%13%NA
Dry Matter Basis24%14%53%
Calorie Weighted Basis22%31%47%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb 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 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 third ingredient 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 fourth 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 fifth ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

The sixth ingredient is yams. In much of North America, the word yam can be used interchangeably with the term sweet potatoes.

So, assuming this item is indeed sweet potatoes, it can be considered a good source of complex carbohydrates. In addition, yams are naturally rich in fiber, beta carotene and other healthy nutrients.

The seventh ingredient is 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 three notable exceptions

First, salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.

In addition, 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 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.

Great Life Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Great Life 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 24%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 53%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 24% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 53% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.

Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Free of any plant-based protein boosters, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a modest amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Great Life dog food is a plant-based kibble using a modest amount of lamb, salmon, chicken or buffalo as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.

Recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

A Final Word

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

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.

To learn how we support the cost of operating this website, please visit our public Disclosure and Disclaimer page.

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

Notes and Updates

10/13/2011 Original review
04/11/2013 Review updated
04/11/2013 Last Update

  • Karen Scholz Leibfred

    My foster dogs wouldn’t eat this food. I don’t blame them as it smells horrible. The one dog that did eat it threw up until he was switched to another brand.

  • muddy paws k9

    great life pet food has been a staple in my 2 stores for many years.that being said every pet food company has had issues that get put on the back burner,,so great life is no worse then anyone else. that is why they wont deal with zealots,usually who do not use their products,we at the retail level are well notified of ongoing issues,and would never put our customers pets in harms way!!. by the way a couple of notes ,they use freezed dried meats {much better then meal, and no refridgeration needed. they have stood by our stores whenever there was any concerns. thank you great life

  • Awileycoyote

    Dog Food Advisor pays great attention to: protein, fat, carbs and rightly so. However, the number of ingredients should also be evaluated. I gave my dogs Great Life dry food several years ago and one dog, after several months, got very sick from it. There are an enormous amount of ingredients, gathered from all corners of the world, concocted to do everything imaginable and it is WAY too much. It is too rich and too complicated. My dog ended up with serious pancreatitis even though Great Life is relatively low fat. Now both dogs have been raw for over two years on Darwins raw food. The jury is still out on that but the ingredients are high quality and few in number. Less is more.

  • Dog Food Ninja

    beware any dog food that has a moderate to high amount of protein yet claims to use no meals.  It’s not possible to have enough meat-based protein in a dog food kibble without using a meal, so the protein is either plant-based, or they are lying about not using meals.    

  • Alex

    I believe what you say, this is ridicilous that Great life claims it is real meat while it is a meal. Because I thought they use real meat that is why I purchased it. They also have told us that their cans are BPA free made by Evanger while Evanger told me that all of their cans, including made for Great life, have BPA in them, same thing, very dissappointing. When you point it out then they were not interested in finding out the truth/becoming clean but got all mad, while obviously they are not truthful in their statements and advertising, which is actually a federal law violation.

  • Alex

    I have had similar experiences with Great life over the phone. Instead of addressing the issues, they kep downplaying problems and actually being untruthful to me. I don’t believe the labels are accurate and what they say is accurate, so I was forced to go back to Fromm. I have used the food for years, and they are the only company I know who has been consistent, I found, in their statments and quality. I’m right now also trying Verus and Annaemat.

  • Peter K.

    I have had similar experiences with Great life! They told me before I purchased the cans that Evanger makes them BPA free, but then Evanger has told me that this is incorrect and they cannot get any BPA free cans. Then I found what appeared to be hair and bones in the Salmon knibbles, and the way they handled the issues is far from great costumer service. They kept arguing with me over the phone and claiming that Evanger told them their cans are BPA free, even though this is not even possible. Also I found on their website that they claim certain ingredients, such as seawead would be in certain foods, but then you look at the ingredients, and it is not in it. Also they told me that their lamb is from NewZealand and on their website it states it is US lamb. It appears to me they feel bothered doing any kind of costumer service, while costumers have legitimate question and this company lacks transperancy and integrity!

  • Yentl

    There is a lot of controversy on Great Life right now.
    The bags of vet preferred in stores say venison on the label and not venison meal. The oil you mentioned is also missing from the label. They have a hard time keeping their labels accurate. With so many quality foods out there I would stay away from Great Life!

  • Jack Jones

    Update on Great Life:

    I called Great Life on Monday and spoke with the office manager, he told me that all Great Life dry foods contain real meat and not meat meals.
     I asked him how that is possible without Pied Piper having refrigeration. He told me Dr Harvey would call me back.

    Yesterday I called Great Life and spoke with Ellliott Harvey the owner/founder. He told me that all Great Life kibble except the vet preferred line contains real meat and not meat meal. I have the pork and venison varieties of the vet preferred kibble and the label reads venison and pork not venison meal and pork meal. I told Elliott this and he said “it has been taken care of”. I said: so the labels are wrong? He said again “it has been taken care of”
    I then asked him how it is possible that Pied Piper makes your food with real meat when they do not have any refrigeration at their plant. He told me that they have off-site refrigeration and he hung up on me.

    Today I called Pied Piper and I asked them if Great Life’s dry foods contain real meat and they told me that all of Great Life’s dry foods contain meat meal and not real meat. They told me they cannot make a dry food that contains real meat and that all the dry foods they make contain meat meals not real meat.

    So for years now Great Life has been lying to consumers about what type of meat is in their dry foods.

    Here is the contact information for Great life and Pied Piper:

    Great Life Performance Pet Products
    420 E. Easy St. Unit 2
    Simi Valley, CA 93065

    Phone (805) 577-9663
    Fax (805) 577-6618
    Email- [email protected]

    Pied Piper Pet & Wildlife, Inc.505 East Lake Drive  Hamlin, TX 79520-4240Phone (325) 576-2277 (manufacturing dept)

  • LindaH

    Great Life has some new foods, it looks like. What would it take for you to do some new reviews. I am interested, but I can’t help but wonder where the oil is???

    Anyone know anything about these. It looks like it might be something I could feed my allergy boy.

    One of the is  “Vet Preferred Grain Free Venison”
     Vet Preferred Brand
     
    US Grain Free Venison with Nutrient Coating

    % Basis
    Crude Protein(min) 29
    Fat (min) 14
    Fiber(max) 4
    Moisture(max) 10
    Ash 7.33
    Calcium 1.49
    Phosphorus 1.07
    Carbohydrates (min) 
     
    Vitamins
    Carotene MG/KG 1.40
    Vitamin A IU/KG 13235
    Vitamin D IU/KG 974
    Vitamin E IU/KG 125
    Vitamin K MG/KG 0.94
    Ascorbic Acid MG/KG 50
    Thiamine MG/KG 17.05
    Riboflavin MG/KG 8.52
    Pantothenic Acid MG/KG 21.92
    Biotin MG/KG 0.54
    Folic Acid MG/KG 0.44
    Choline MG/KG 3058
    Vitamin B12 MG/KG 0.09
    Vitamin B6 MG/KG 5.4
    Niacin MG/KG 68.38
    Iodine MG/KG 3.7
     
    Amino Acids
    Methionine-Cystine .937
    Methionine 0.577
    Cystine 0.25
    Lysine 1.26
    Tryptophan 0.24
    Threonine 1.02
    Isoleucine 1
    Histidine 0.53
    Valine 1.58
    Leucine 2.52
    Arginine 1.32
    Phenylalanine-Tyrosine .92
    Taurine 0.036
     
    Minerals
    Sodium 0.36
    Potassium 0.63
    Chlorine 0.61
    Magnesium 0.279
    Sulfur 0.2585
    Manganese MG/KG 91
    Iron MG/KG 422
    Copper MG/KG 12.03
    Zinc MG/KG 251.64
    Selenium MG/KG 0.5171
     
    Essential Fatty Acids: Omega 3 1.97%,Omega 6 0.3985 % and Arachidonic Acid .0736%
     
    ME KCAL/Cup   434
    ME KCAL/LB     1737Suggested Feeding Directions: Dog Weight                Puppies                   Adult                     Light/Senior 2 – 10lbs                   1/2 – 1 cup              1/2 – 3/4 cup             1/4 – 1/2 cup10 – 25lbs                 1-1/2 – 2 cups         3/4 – 1 cup                1/2 – 3/4 cup 25 – 50lbs                 2 – 4 cups                1 – 1-3/4 cups           1 – 1-1/4 cups50 – 75lbs                 4 – 5 cups                2 – 2-3/4 cups           1 – 1-3/4 cups75 – 100lbs               5 – 6                        3 – 4 cups                  2 – 2-1/2 cups100 – 125lbs                                             4 – 4-3/4 cups           2-1/2 – 3 cups
    IngredientsVenison Meal, Yams, Freeze Dried Sweet Potato, Freeze Dried Pumpkin, Blueberries, Bok Choy, Zucchini, Squash, Kale, Freeze Dried Papaya, Cranberries, Freeze Dried Chia, Parsley, Inulin, Enzymes: (Amylase, Protease, Cellulase, Pectinase, Lipase, Phytase, Xylanese, Hemicellulase, Alpha-galactosidase, Invertase), Probiotics (Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Bifidobacterium Thermophilum Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Bifidobacterium Longum Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product Dehydrated, Bacillus Subtillus Fermentation Product Dehydrated), Kelp, Parsley, Artichoke, Salmon / Herring Oil. Vitamins (Dl-methione, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamone Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin), Minerals (Calcium Pantothenate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acids Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acids Chelate, Cobalt Amino Acids Chelate).% BasisCrude Protein(min) 29Fat (min) 14Fiber(max) 4Moisture(max) 10Ash 7.33Calcium 1.49Phosphorus 1.07Carbohydrates (min)  Vitamins Carotene MG/KG 1.40Vitamin A IU/KG 13235Vitamin D IU/KG 974 Vitamin E IU/KG 125Vitamin K MG/KG 0.94 Ascorbic Acid MG/KG 50 Thiamine MG/KG 17.05Riboflavin MG/KG 8.52Pantothenic Acid MG/KG 21.92 Biotin MG/KG 0.54Folic Acid MG/KG 0.44Choline MG/KG 3058Vitamin B12 MG/KG 0.09Vitamin B6 MG/KG 5.4 Niacin MG/KG 68.38Iodine MG/KG 3.7 Amino Acids Methionine-Cystine .937Methionine 0.577Cystine 0.25Lysine 1.26Tryptophan 0.24Threonine 1.02Isoleucine 1 Histidine 0.53Valine 1.58Leucine 2.52 Arginine 1.32 Phenylalanine-Tyrosine .92Taurine 0.036 Minerals Sodium 0.36Potassium 0.63Chlorine 0.61Magnesium 0.279Sulfur 0.2585Manganese MG/KG 91 Iron MG/KG 422Copper MG/KG 12.03Zinc MG/KG 251.64Selenium MG/KG 0.5171 Essential Fatty Acids: Omega 3 1.97%,Omega 6 0.3985 % and Arachidonic Acid .0736%  ME KCAL/Cup   434ME KCAL/LB     1737