Horizon Complete (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Horizon Complete Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Horizon Complete product line lists four dry dog foods, three claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and one for growth (Large Breed Puppy).

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Horizon Complete All Life Stages
  • Horizon Complete Large Breed Adult
  • Horizon Complete Large Breed Puppy
  • Horizon Complete Senior and Weight Management (4 stars)

Horizon Complete All Life Stages was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Horizon Complete All Life Stages Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 48%

Ingredients: Chicken meal, whole grain barley, whole grain rye, chicken, whole grain oats, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea fibre, flaxseed, egg product, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), alfalfa meal, carrots, apples, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, blueberries, l-lysine, calcium carbonate, dicalcium phosphate, choline chloride, salt, dl-methionine, fructooligosaccharides, Yucca schidigera extract, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Aspergillus oryzae fermentation extract, pineapple, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium bifidum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), ferrous sulphate, iron proteinate, zinc sulphate, zinc proteinate, manganous oxide, manganese proteinate, copper sulphate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, magnesium oxide

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis26%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%16%48%
Calorie Weighted Basis25%33%42%

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

The second ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The third ingredient is rye, a cereal grain nutritionally similar to barley.

The fourth ingredient is 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 fifth ingredient is oats. Oats are rich in B-vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The sixth 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 seventh ingredient is pea fiber, a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no nutritional value to a dog.

The eighth 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.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The ninth ingredient is egg product, an unspecified (wet or dry?) 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 four 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.

Next, although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

In addition, this recipe contains fructooligosaccharide, an alternative sweetener1 probably used here as a prebiotic. Prebiotics function to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the large intestine.

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.

Horizon Complete Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Horizon Complete 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 29%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 48%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Horizon Complete is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

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

Those looking for a higher-rated grain-free kibble from the same company may wish to visit our review of Horizon Legacy Dog Food.

Special Alert

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

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, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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

07/14/2010 Original review
05/07/2012 Review updated
11/15/2013 Review updated
11/15/2013 Last Update

  • CG

    we just got a Anatolian Shepard/Irish Wolf Hound puppy and he is maybe 10lbs…my husband bought a bag of the horizon large breed puppy food for him. The feeding chart on the bag starts at 20lbs…how much food should I be feeding him?and how often?

  • InkedMarie

    It depends on what you want for your dog. This food has a moderate amount of meat which is not enough for my dogs but I can’t answer that for you. I look for foods that have a significant/generous/abundant amount of meat.

  • Hound Dog Mom

    Hi K –

    This food definitely isn’t too high in meat (it’s actually on the low side – imo). Protein doesn’t affect large breed growth so you don’t need to be concerned about meat levels being too high. It would be fine to add additional meat to this food, just be sure to keep it to 20% or less of the meal so you don’t throw of the nutritional balance. What you should be concerned about is the level of calcium. Excess dietary calcium has been linked to developmental orthopedic disease in large breed puppies. And, unfortunately, you can’t trust that a food contains appropriate levels of calcium just because it says “large breed puppy” on the bag. On Horizon’s website they only list the minimum level of calciu, (1.1%). If the food actually contained this amount it would have 3.04 g/ calcium per 1,000 kcal. which would be an acceptable level (you should be looking for 3.5 g. per 1,000 kcal. or less). However, I’ve found that many companies list the minimum and their actual levels are much higher. I’d recommend contacting Horizon is inquiring about the actual calcium levels in the food.

    There’s a lot of info on large breed puppy nutrition here:

    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/large-and-giant-breed-puppy-nutrition/

  • K

    Just bought the large breed puppy food today and am transitioning my pup onto it. Just a bit concerned because I’m wondering if the meat content is high enough? I know it says the meat content is average, but should I be adding high quality meat or something else to this food? Or is it good the way it is?

  • bill

    I coult not beleive how much our dog loves this food! She never ate IAMS like this.

  • LabsRawesome

     Goalenw1, sorry, I do not know what the percentage is, you will have to contact the manufacturer for that info. I can tell you this though, when my dogs were on kibble, they drank soooo much more water than they do now. They are on canned and fresh food exclusively now, and don’t drink that much water anymore. Which makes perfect sense, because canned /fresh foods are moisture rich. And kibble has no moisture at all. So kibble fed dogs are always fighting dehydration.

  • Goalenw1

    Since starting on the Horion for large breed puppy our puppy has had an insatiable thirst. I noticed salt and sodium are mentioned in ingredients but no percentage. Can you tell us the percentage ?

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  • Donna

    Horizon appears to be very good dog food. The idea that suggests to me that it is a good product to be feeding your dog is that because it is not filled with fillers, my dog does not go to the bathroom steady and also appears to have a healthy, shiny coat and to also only eat until he is full. The only eating until he is full demonstrates to me that he is getting all of the nutrients required for his age as he is only 2.5 months old. Yes it is more expensive, but over the long term money is actually being saved and my dog appear to be very healthy!