Kirkland Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★☆

Kirkland Signature Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Kirkland Signature product line includes six dry dog foods. Although each appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we were unable to find AAFCO nutritional profile recommendations for these dog foods on the product’s web page.

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

  • Kirkland Signature Adult Chicken
  • Kirkland Signature Puppy (4.5 stars)
  • Kirkland Signature Small Dog (4.5 stars)
  • Kirkland Signature Adult Lamb (3.5 stars)
  • Kirkland Signature Mature Dog (4.5 stars)
  • Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight (3 stars)

Kirkland Signature Adult Chicken recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Kirkland Signature Adult Chicken

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 18% | Carbs = 45%

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and vitamin E), egg product, dried plain beet pulp, potatoes, fish meal, flaxseed, natural flavor, brewers dried yeast, millet, potassium chloride, salt, choline chloride, carrots, peas, dried kelp, apples, dried skim milk, cranberries, rosemary extract, parsley flake, dried chicory root, glucosamine hydrochloride, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, chondroitin sulfate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, 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
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis26%16%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%18%45%
Calorie Weighted Basis25%37%39%

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

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 pearled barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. The term “pearled” means the grain has been processed to remove its outer hull and bran, unlike whole barley. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fifth 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 sixth 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.

The seventh ingredient is 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 eighth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The ninth ingredient is fish meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

fish meal. Because it is considered a meat concentrate, fish meal contains almost 300% more protein than fresh fish itself.

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.

We are pleased to note that, unlike many fish meals, this particular item appears2 to be ethoxyquin-free.

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.

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

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, 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.

Next, peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

In addition, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

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.

Kirkland Signature Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Kirkland Signature looks like an above-average dry dog food.

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 18% and estimated carbohydrates of about 45%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% 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.

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

Bottom line?

Kirkland Signature is a plant-based dry dog food that uses a moderate amount of named meats and meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 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 lite kibble from the same company may wish to visit our review of Kirkland Healthy Weight Formula dog food.

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.

Other spellings: Costco, Kirklands

Notes and Updates

02/20/2010 Original review
09/24/2010 Review updated
06/19/2012 Review updated
01/11/2014 Review updated
01/11/2014 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Diamond Pet Customer Service via email, 7/7/2010
  • MJfromGA

    This happened to me, as well. My dog got sick with diarrhea. It went away after a bit… but he hasn’t been right since. His poops are larger and softer than normal, though the horrid diarrhea has stopped.

    I have put him on a probiotic and it seems to be helping. Some kind of grossness had to have been in the food and it destroyed the balance of bacteria in his gut.

    Poor quality control has turned me from a food I was once quite a fan of. I’ll be sticking to Pure Balance and Victor from now on. Glad to pay the extra, a sick dog is not worth it.

  • theBCnut

    If he isn’t usually picky, he may have smelled something wrong with the food. It is made by Diamond after all. But I feel compelled to ask, did you do a transition to the new food? Is your dog used to switching foods? How long was he on the last food?

  • Cary

    I used the Kirkland grain free a few months ago with no problem. I purchased a bag 1 week ago and my dog refused to eat it and started to lose weight. What he did eat made him sick with diarrhea.

  • Dori

    mkdogzzz. Andrew is on dogfoodadvisor. This is dogfoodadvisor.com.

  • Bob K

    Iams is rated from 2 – 3.5 stars, there are many products inferior to Iams that are rated lower. Stick to the facts please.

  • mkdogzzzz

    GET HIM OFF OF IAMS!!! IT IS THE WORST! (after Beneful or any other Purina product!) YOU WILL FIND OUT IN “LONG TERM RESULTS!” GO TO http://WWW.DOGFOODADVISORS.COM

  • Vesper

    I used Kirkland for a few months without issue. My dog liked it, and it seemed like high quality for a great price. Well, the last bag I fed caused intermittent diarrhea, and eventually vomiting. I returned the bag (Metro Detroit area) and switched when someone told me they supposedly changed their formula a couple months ago.

    It’s a shame, because I liked this food but it definitely started to make my dog very sick. Maybe it was just one bad bag, but I’m staying away for now.

  • MJfromGA

    And here we go. It’s a slow month for me, so I went with Kirkland and will go back to Victor next feeding period. MISTAKE! I gave him the food last night and he has had diarrhea all day long. He never gets it, and I always rotate his foods without slowly adding since healthy dogs don’t need this.

    Gave him some for lunch, and also gave some to our other dog, both dogs have had diarrhea. I think I’ve got a tainted bag. This food has been recalled a few times and this isn’t unheard of. Food is going back tomorrow and dogs will be monitored closely. Sad since he loved the food, but I’m worried.

    I got mine from the Morrow Costco in Atlanta. I’ve had the lamb before with no issues, went with chicken this time… and am very upset and disappointed. Take care when buying this food, their quality control is truly not good at all.

  • heather

    Started my 9 wk old puppy on kirkland puppy food after I’m sure she had only been eating very cheap low quality food, and the results are great! She is 5 months old now and growing very nicely. Soft smooth coat, great muscle tone and joints seem to be proportionate, not knobby. will stick with kirkland brand from here on out.

  • David Ramirez

    Which food your parents and you buy? Im also give my dog Kirkland,s dog food and got the same problem

  • Robert Modell

    Do you have any info on Costco’s Nature’s Domain Beef or their newer organic pea based dry kibble. Manuel, our 4 yr old Rottweiler loves the beef, but when we mixed it with the organic pea it produced some pretty bad diarrhea. Any hints or suggestions? (We put him back on the beef)

  • F_This

    Dog Food Adviser gave the kirkland lamb formula only 3 stars. All the rest of kirkland got 4.5 stars.

  • Betsy Greer

    It could also be that your dog was intolerant of an ingredient that wasn’t in the puppy food or the Iams.

    Instead of just going with the Iams, I’d be trying to figure out what the problem ingredient was and look for a better food for him.

  • Andrew O.

    My Old English Sheep Dog Remy is my girlfriend and my first dog as young adults. He is like our child and we wanted to feed him the best and had heard to avoid big brand name foods as they lack any real nutrition for dogs, low quality control, etc…. So after much research, including this website, we decided to buy him the Kirkland chicken and brown rice formula as it is highly rated, appropriately priced, and has what seems like a quality mix of ingredients.
    As many have noted here and on other websites, if you research this food, after switching him off his puppy brand to Kirkland, Remy had horrible gas, very loose stools, and occasional diarrhea in the house.
    But at first we didn’t put two and two together. We thought that he was just kind of a gassy guy. He has a thick coat and gets hot often so he always had chugged water and we contributed the looser stools to that. The diarrhea always happened when we left Remy home alone to go to work and assumed he was going in the house due to anxiety or anger over being left behind. However, Remy began to lose clumps of hair from his back end and so we finally went to the vet who believed he had some kind of GI bug, he prescribed antibiotics, a soothing medicated shampoo to use weekly, and suggested we should consider switching foods. We followed all recommendations, shampooed him, gave the antibiotics, and bought some cheap Iams at the supermarket. Remy started to grow back his hair but we also noticed he was suddenly less gassy, was drinking less water, his stools were much more firm and formed, and he wasn’t having any diarrhea accidents.
    As an experiment, we made the choice to buy the Kirkland food one more time, I kid you not, literally, and i mean literally, the night after he ate that evil food he had explosive diarrhea in our bedroom. So we had our answer, the whole time it was the costco food.
    We have been buying the Iams ever since and Remy has hardly any gas, no diarrhea, no loose stools, and is a happy happy guy. I wont believe the hype anymore that big brand names are terrible for your dogs. My parents had always bought regular dog food for our family dogs and they all lived long happy lives. I guess I just got exciting being a first time dog owner. I feel lucky that nothing more serious or life threatening happened. I would tell anyone to avoid the Kirkland brand at all costs.
    As a side note, the combination of those symptoms, (large water consumption, loose stools, diarrhea, loss of hair, fatigue and also vomiting) are associated with arsenic poisoning in dogs caused by tainted rice and chicken. I suspect this may be the case with Kirkland. Anyway, feed it to your dog at your own risk.

  • Dori

    Every dog is different. Some of us with our dogs needed to transition slowly, very very slowly. Other dogs can transition much faster. We are all different, so are our dogs. Depends on how sensitive their guts are or how healthy their guts are. Just follow your dogs lead and all will be well. Patience is what I have found to be the best for all involved.

  • Karwen

    I think every dog responds differently to different food. I think the critical part in switching foods is that it is very slowly or most dogs will have diarreah and bloody stool because of the abrupt change in their diet. I’ve read it could really put dog’s health at risk to change their diet so abruptly. I don’t know anything though about how everyone changes dog food. Some I read tell you to change over a course of a minimum of 2 weeks mixing a little of the new with the old and increasing every couple of days.

  • JRR McCarthy

    It was clear cause and effect. He started on Kirkland brand and got bloody stools. Went off Kirkland and the bloody stools stopped.

  • Kay

    Iams is junk food! Please don’t blame it on the Kirkland brand. My standard poodle is on this as part of a rotation diet and does great on it. Have you read the reviews on Iams?

  • Donna Histo

    what year was it that this happened?

  • MJfromGA

    My dog loved the Kirkland Lamb, Rice, and Vegetables food. I gave it a try after his Pure Balance ran out. He’s a Labrador cross 19 months old, 85 lbs, and is allergic to soy and though I don’t have tons of money for dog food, I must buy soy free.

    One thing I did notice while he was on the food (which he loved and ate eagerly) is that his coat, while still wonderfully shiny and in great condition (did not look different), did get a bit more coarse to the touch than usual.

    He also gained a lb. but he is not quite yet done growing and the horrible GA heat has us inside more as he’s crossed with some kinda mountain breed and gets hot moderately easily, so that is OKAY.

    I decided to switch foods. After peeking around, I’ve found that a local retailer is selling Victor dog food, which was highly recommended to me by members on this site. I bought him their High Energy Formula and he loves the taste of it and his coat is seemingly better, too. It was about $43 (with tax) for his 40 lb. bag. He’s one happy puppy!

    Like others have told me, if you can find this food locally, it’s worth a look. It costs more than the Kirkland, but you might find it’s worth it, like I have. THANK YOU to everyone who put us onto this food!!

    Here is his photo beside our feed station, with our new favorite dog food added to it! You’ll have to excuse the giant mess (we have many pets and also feed strays) and also his posture… he is very goofy and is 24″ ATS and 33″ from base of neck to base of tail so longggg back and not so tall ATS.

  • Crazy4cats

    They look pretty darn healthy to me. And super cute! :)

  • JRR McCarthy

    Our dog never had a problem again after switching back. Good luck to you and your pooch!

  • Jon

    I also switched to Kirkland brand “Puppy Chow”. My dog has developed bloody stools! Im switching off it immediately!

  • Richard Paisley

    Have had my 2 beagles on Kirkland’s chicken variety for 5+ and 7+ years and they are, according to their vet, healthy as can be. Never have been over or underweight and their coats stay nice and soft and shiny. They go in for their semi-annual vet checks without fail and the vet only has praise for their health and appearance. Two of the gentlest dogs I ever had the privilege sharing my life with. The only treats they get are cut up carrots, broccoli, and apples with an occasional piece of baked chicken or fish that I prepare. Tried Blue Buffalo one time on the older one when he was young and he hated it and had diarrhea with it. Switched back to Kirkland and he was good again. I used Kirkland’s Puppy food until the little girl grew up and then they both get the same thing. So as long as the vet keeps giving them glowing health reports, they keep on thriving and looking so well, and they keep full of their usual energy, I see no reason to change.

  • JRR McCarthy

    Hmm . . . We probably added it gradually, since that’s how we usually do things with our dogs, but that was at least 5 years ago, and I don’t remember for sure.

  • KatieBugLuv

    Did you switch them slowly by combing the two foods for awhile before going to Kirklands brand completely? Switching foods without transiting them will cause stomach upset and bloody stools. I’m curious because I feed mine Kirklands brand and it’s time for a another bag.

  • Natalie Marie Alvarez Padilla

    I agree. I am feeding right now Whole Earth Farms puppy formula, dry mixed with canned, but I’m thinking of switching to Kirkland puppy food or Adult food, once they reply to my inquiries about the origin of their ingredients. I am not sure what the calcium levels of any of these foods are. I am hoping to pick the one with highest protein content and lowest calcium and phosphorous levels.

  • theBCnut

    Adult dog foods list a calcium minimum, not a maximum, so just because the minimum listed is lower, it does NOT follow and there is no guarantee that the actual level of calcium is lower. It is quite often just the opposite.
    Control calories by controlloing portions not by using a different food.