Merrick Classic Dog Food (Canned)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Merrick Classic canned dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Merrick Classic product line includes 19 canned 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.

  • Merrick Classic Turducken All Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Puppy Plate All Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Brauts-N-Tots All Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Senior Medley All Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Cowboy Cookout All Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Grammy’s Pot Pie All Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Working Dog Stew All Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Smothered Comfort All Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Wingaling All Breeds (4.5 stars)
  • Merrick Classic Turducken Toy and Small Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Mediterranean Banquet All Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Thanksgiving Day Dinner All Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Wild Buffalo Grill All Breeds (4.5 stars)
  • Merrick Classic Wilderness Blend All Breeds (4.5 stars)
  • Merrick Classic Cowboy Cookout Toy and Small Breeds
  • Merrick Classic Venison Holiday Stew All Breeds (4 stars)
  • Merrick Classic Grammy’s Pot Pie Toy and Small Breeds
  • Merrick Classic French Country Cafe All Breeds (4.5 stars)
  • Merrick Classic Thanksgiving Day Dinner Toy/Small Breeds

Merrick Classic Cowboy Cookout was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Merrick Classic Cowboy Cookout

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 47% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 29%

Ingredients: Deboned beef, beef broth, sweet potato, carrots, green beans, apples, peas, dried egg product, natural pork flavor, potato starch modified, blueberries, canola oil, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, salt, sodium phosphate, vitamins (choline chloride, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, niacin, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin, thiamine mononitrate), carrageenan, cassia gum, olive oil, flax oil, minerals (zinc amino acid complex, iron amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodide, cobalt glucoheptonate, sodium selenite), natural caramel color, Yucca schidigera extract, lecithin

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis9%3%NA
Dry Matter Basis47%16%29%
Calorie Weighted Basis41%34%25%
Protein = 41% | Fat = 34% | Carbs = 25%

The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is beef broth. Broths are nutritionally empty. But because they add moisture to a dog food they are a common finding in many canned products.

The third ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The fourth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The fifth ingredient includes green beans, a healthy vegetable notable for its vitamin, mineral and natural fiber content.

The sixth ingredient is apple, a nutrient-rich fruit that’s also high in fiber.

The seventh ingredient includes peas. 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.

The eighth 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 four notable exceptions

First, we find canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.

Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.

Next, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

In addition, olive oil contains oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat. It’s also rich in natural antioxidants and carotenoids.

And lastly, this food 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.

Merrick Classic Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Merrick Classic canned dog food looks like an above-average wet 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 47%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 29%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 47% and a mean fat level of 22%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 23% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

Above-average protein. near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.

Even when you consider the mild protein-boosting effect of the peas, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Merrick Classic is a grain-free meat-based canned dog food using a significant amount of various named species as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

Merrick Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.

Dog Food Coupons
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A Final Word

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

The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

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.

However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

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

Notes and Updates

07/15/2015 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • Amateria

    Well it’s nice to know that no one reads anymore… I seriously check every analysis and ingredient list of every new and old food for myself, because I have to keep myself within some certain limits or I become itchy and super foggy brained and due to a lack of lactase I’m having a lot of food intolerances, its to be honest getting really tiring, instead of curing the stuff I already have my body continues to add new things >.>

    It’s weird though that people wouldn’t know that chicken parts have bones in them, but to be honest it’s not surprising either.

    I also think that if they have the Internet to write a comment they should first google the bones, there’s a lot of info of people talking about them and to make a decision after you’ve read what people have said instead of flying into a rage and immediately posting their disgust about it, without even having to have bothered to read the can or google.

    I opened your links and your right they do mention them, maybe it’s a new thing? I don’t remember them been mentioned like 1-2 years back and the one I looked at must of been the seasonal one cause I couldn’t find any info of a bone if I tried.

  • Crazy4dogs

    I think the problem is that people don’t read the can. It says so right on the side of the can. It also says whole chicken wings on the front of the can. It is pretty obvious. It also says so right on the website, on the recipe overview.
    Winglaling:
    http://www.merrickpetcare.com/dogs/products/recipe?id=267

    Smothered comfort says real chicken thighs:
    http://www.merrickpetcare.com/dogs/products/recipe?id=31

    Gameday Tailgate is a seasonal item and has the same disclaimers on the can, but isn’t quite as expletive in the description:
    http://www.merrickpetcare.com/dogs/products/recipe?id=31

    Unfortunately, there might be too many people who don’t realize that a real chicken wing and thigh actually contain bones because they buy processed food for themselves.

  • Amateria

    I’m also very sure that copy and pasting most of the same thing 5 times won’t get you much more help than just doing it one time, your spamming the recent comments box and making some of us loose valuable older comments.

  • Amateria

    Would also be nice to know what a “decinigrate” is 😛 Google knows of no such thing!

  • LabsRawesome

    Yes. You are overreacting. The bones are supposed to be there.
    The cooking/ canning process makes the bones safe to eat.
    The bones are so soft that they will decinigrate if you rub them between your fingers. A dog with no teeth could eat this food.

  • Amateria

    Wherever the info for the bones is located on the can should be in a more obvious place as I’ve read so many comments all over the place of people throwing out cans due to the bones because they didn’t think to read the entire can before proceeding to trash it.

    I noticed they don’t mention it on their website either, I think the wing one they do but the other one I wasn’t able to find any info of a bone in the mix and that’s how you create problems, really should be more open about it.

  • Crazy4dogs

    The cans specifically state that there are bones included in the Smothered Comfort, Wing a Ling and Gameday Tailgate. I don’t have a can on hand right now or I’d snap a picture of it for you. I feed these on a very regular basis to large and very small (under 10 pound) dogs who eat very fast. I have done this for several years with no problems.

    I think you might be overreacting, but if you are uncomfortable feeding this food the easiest thing to do is either crush the bones with a spoon before you feed them or not purchase the product. They are very soft and crush in your fingers as well. I do this so all the dogs get some of the bones.

  • sandy

    I have small dogs and I just cut the bone pieces up with a spoon before serving. The recipe “Wingaling” has whole wings in it as well.

  • Crazy4dogs

    I crush them with a spoon before I feed them and divide them between my dogs

  • Laura Blanton

    Yesterday, I bought two tins of “Merrick Smothered Comfort” grain-free dog food. The tin is shown below. The label says: All Lifestages-All Breeds. (see pictures)

    Here’s the problem: This “flavour” has large cooked chicken thigh bones cut in half in it. (see picture)

    The good news: they are pressured cooked, and the sharp edges do “crumble” if your dog happens to chew their food.

    The bad news: small to medium dogs and food “Hoover” dogs could be injured.

    My beagle doesn’t chew her food. The only breed/age I would feel safe with these chicken bones is an adult “bully breed” who is known to chew their food well before swallowing.

  • Laura Blanton

    Yesterday, I bought two tins of “Merrick Smothered Comfort” grain-free dog food. The tin is shown below. The label says: All Lifestages-All Breeds. (see pictures)

    Here’s the problem: This “flavour” has large cooked chicken thigh bones cut in half in it. (see picture)

    The good news: they are pressured cooked, and the sharp edges do “crumble” if your dog happens to chew their food. They would be safe for certain dogs.

    The bad news: small to medium dogs and food “Hoover” dogs could be injured. My beagle doesn’t chew her food much. If I give her this food, I’m asking for a medical emergency!

    The only dog I would feel safe giving this to would be an adult “bully breed” that doesn’t gulp his/her food.

  • Laura Blanton

    Yesterday, I bought two tins of “Merrick Smothered Comfort” grain-free dog food. The tin is shown below. The label says: All Lifestages-All Breeds. (see pictures)

    Here’s the problem: This “flavour” has large cooked chicken thigh bones cut in half in it. (see picture)

    The good news: they are pressured cooked, and the sharp edges do “crumble” if your dog happens to chew their food.

    The bad news: small to medium dogs and food “Hoover” dogs could be injured.

    Yes, the bones are “chewable”. But to sell this as “All life stages– All breeds” is completely irresponsible. I would only give it to an adult “bully” breed that chewed rather than inhaled his/her food!
    My beagle doesn’t chew moist food with gravy.

  • Laura Blanton

    Yesterday, I bought two tins of “Merrick Smothered Comfort” grain-free dog food. The tin is shown below. The label says: All Lifestages-All Breeds. (see pictures)

    Here’s the problem: This “flavour” has large cooked chicken thigh bones cut in half in it. (see picture)

    The good news: they are pressured cooked, and the sharp edges do “crumble” if your dog happens to chew their food.

    The bad news: small to medium dogs and food “Hoover” dogs could be injured.

    The store I returned it to was great, and promised to speak to the Brand rep. Am I over-reacting?

  • Laura Blanton

    Yesterday, I bought two tins of “Merrick Smothered Comfort” grain-free dog food. The tin is shown below. The label says: All Lifestages-All Breeds. (see pictures)

    Here’s the problem: This “flavour” has large cooked chicken thigh bones cut in half in it. (see picture)

    The good news: they are pressured cooked, and the sharp edges do “crumble” if your dog happens to chew their food.

    The bad news: small to medium dogs and food “Hoover” dogs could be injured.

    The store I returned it to was great, and promised to speak to the Brand rep. Am I over-reacting?

  • k white

    My chihuahua is only 6 months old and he has very bad gas after eating this. It smells so bad 🙁 Ive been buying the grain-free cans since he was a baby. I give him a scoop of dry food (Orejen brand) in the morning, and half a can at night. After I read this article I was shocked but happy I found it. Luckily we live in L.A. cuz my sister just showed me that we have a chain of doggie restaurants called ‘Just Food For Dogs’..we went in today and she showed me how they make the food right in front of you and its all REAL meat and real veggies. No gravy or sick stuff. No hearts or tongues or disgusting muscle tissue like I just read about Merricks. Most importantly, humans can consume it. (If we cant consume it, your dog shouldnt either. But nowhere on Merricks cans does it say “not for human consumption”, so I figured they were top quality since most dog food brands DO state that on their packaging.) JFFD packages their food carefully in air tight bags to keep all the nutrients safe, and we can buy it frozen..it can stay frozen for up to a year. OR you can buy it fresh. If you buy it fresh, its pricier and only lasts a couple days. But IDC about the price, I want real fresh food for my dog and I am DEF. switching now that I see that theres a couple “controversial” ingredients in Merricks wet. So if youre in the L.A area and concerned like me, just do what Im gona do: Tmrw Im loading up on JFFD’s and getting a refund for my last wet cans. It is better to be safe than sorry! How does Merricks get 5 stars if its not 100% safe? Its so disgusting how people think its ok to compromise on our dogs health. I will never let my baby eat that sh*t again. I had no clue it was owned by Purina! I feel so guilty and stupid. I truly thought Merricks was safe and healthy. Sorry I typed so much lol, Im just a psycho about the quality of my dogs food and toys. Its extremely important to me. (:

  • Sadie

    My moms dog eats this and today she had blood in her stool. The vet could not determine the cause and now I wonder if it could be this food and the fact thatpurina owns it.

  • Diane Cooper

    Yes, we have experienced the same reaction just recently. I thought it might be due to his age.

  • JC Shareef

    I just fed my dogs the Merrick’s Southern Comfort and it was awesome,, they absolutely loved it!! It has chicken thighs along with bones that is perfectly safe for the dogs!!! I barely ever give my dogs wet food but I sometimes treat them on the weekends!! I have a chiwawa and cocker spaniel and they both loved it…

  • Just me

    Has anyone’s dogs been experiencing any changes lately when eating Merrick canned? My girls eat mostly Pappy’s Pot Roast and Colossal chicken dinner, and have been on it for a long time. ( but some of the other varieties as well.) Lately they seem to get a little gassy and belchy after eating. Not sure it is the food, who knows what it could be, but I wanted to just check to see if anyone else feeding the wet food has started having this issue? Better safe than sorry. 🙂

  • Crazy4dogs

    The chicken bones in Merrick are pressure cooked and safe. Those were my favorite formulas from Merrick. They are perfectly safe and will crumble with a spoon or between your fingers. Sandy is correct. It’s stated on the cans that they contain bones.

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