Merrick Classic Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Merrick Classic Dog Food earns the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Merrick Classic product line includes seven 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.

  • Merrick Classic Senior Recipe
  • Merrick Classic Large Breed Adult
  • Merrick Classic Small Breed Recipe
  • Merrick Classic Beef, Barley & Carrot
  • Merrick Classic Puppy Recipe (4 stars)
  • Merrick Classic Chicken, Brown Rice & Green Pea
  • Merrick Classic Lamb, Brown Rice & Apple (4 stars)

Merrick Classic Beef, Barley and Carrot was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Merrick Classic Beef, Barley and Carrot

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 34% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 41%

Ingredients: Deboned beef, pork meal, peas, salmon meal (source of omega 3 fatty acids), barley, brown rice, sweet potatoes, pork fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), oats, natural flavor, carrots, apples, flaxseed oil, blueberries, organic alfalfa, salmon oil, salt, minerals (dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, zinc amino acid complex, zinc sulfate, iron amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodide, cobalt amino acid complex, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3 supplement, niacin, riboflavin supplement, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, thiamine mononitrate), choline chloride, Yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis30%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis34%17%41%
Calorie Weighted Basis29%35%36%

The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Although it’s a quality item, raw beef 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 pork meal. Pork meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork.

The third 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 fourth ingredient is salmon meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The fifth 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 sixth 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 seventh 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 eighth ingredient is pork fat, a product from rendering pig meat.

Commonly known as lard, pork fat can add significant flavor to any dog food. And it can be high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.

Although it may not sound very appetizing, pork fat (in moderate amounts) is actually an acceptable pet food ingredient.

The ninth ingredient includes oats. Oats are rich in B-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 five notable exceptions

First, we find flaxseed oil, one of the best non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids — essential to a dog’s health.

Next, we find alfalfa, a flowering member of the pea family. Although alfalfa is high in protein (18%) and fiber, it’s uncommon to see it used in a dog food. This hay-family ingredient is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

In addition, 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, 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 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 Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Merrick Classic 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 34%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 41%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 32% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 49%.

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

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

Bottom line?

Merrick Classic is a plant-based kibble using a notable amount of poultry, pork or lamb meals 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.

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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.

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

05/05/2015 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ As Nature Intended
  • aquariangt

    Who doesn’t want you to provide links…? We certainly have links to data all over on this site

  • aimee

    I suppose that is your choice to not provide any peer reviewed data that supports what you claim but then why should anyone trust that any information you provide is actually valid?

  • Crazy4dogs

    I guess you can count me as another one of the several people. You comment on very old posts and yet your response to my questioning this was that the post date was irrelevant. I feel that only someone with a specific agenda to promote would post to a year old post. Your style could use a bit of adjustment.

  • Pitlove

    If my name is important to you, it’s Krysta. Not that that changes anything.

    I never said I make up the whole forum, as I obviously don’t and that would be an assinine thing to say. Hence why I said SEVERAL people INCLUDING myself.

    I don’t think you read what people have wrote to you in the past about your approach to swaying people towards raw because you continue to use the same abrassive and disrespectful language when talking to kibble feeders. Oh and just as an fyi, we ALL started out nicely telling you to calm down with your approach.

    I have every right to advocate for raw even if I CAN’T feed raw right now. I would think that for YOU it wouldn’t matter whether I feed raw or not as long as I’m telling the world about how good raw is for your dogs.

    My apologies for “dragging” you down.

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ As Nature Intended

    Good point. Thank you for the heads up. I’ve edited… You never know who’s behind a name!!

  • DogFoodie

    Don’t for one minute condemn someone for not using their real name here. I used to use my real name but stopped as there are seriously crazy people / trolls here who meet the legal definition of stalkers.

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    At least I take pride and use my real name and not hide behind a pretend one. Several people including yourself?.. Yes I noticed that you make up the whole forum!, lol.

    How can one advocate raw if you don’t support it or practice it?

    Do I just choose not to read what people write or do I just simply not care? WT@ is that meant to mean?.. I could say the same for you…oh of course, yes, I have all the time in the world to sit here and read EVERY post…Your going to judge over one sentence?
    I realise people live different lifestyles and every pet is different, I’m not that stupid!

    Go find someone else to drag down to your level because I won’t, I’m over you

  • Pitlove

    Karen- Do you just choose not to read what people write or do you just simply not care?

    I think several people on here including myself have repeatedly told you that your approach to convincing someone to feed raw is wrong and abrassive at best and you won’t get many willing to listen because of that.

    I have done plenty of research and I’m not ignornant on the benefits of raw. What YOU seem to be ignornant to is peoples lifestyles and that it doesnt work for everyone. You can’t save the whole world. Trust me. Just because I’m not shoving raw down peoples throats who clearly can’t or don’t want to feed raw it does not mean I don’t advocate for it. It means I’m more of an understanding person than you are.

    Telling people they are killing their pets is the absolute WRONG and RUDE way of helping people become aware of the benefits to feeding a raw diet.

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    I’m not suppose to provide links.. pot luck that I have got away with it in some posts

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    Hi C4D,
    My initial intention for coming on this site was a part of my research.
    After visiting a few times, I could see that there were a lot of people with pets with medical and health issues, some ongoing for years. Why continue with something if all you get is the same result?. In my experience I have seen and hear of dramatic improvements in pets who have made the transition to a natural raw diet.
    It’s hard to sit back and read all these sad stories and not offer any help or guidance. I’ve had a lot of people come from here to join the group and are grateful for it. You don’t have to do anything, that’s your choice. You should’t fault anyone who is doing what they can with the resources they have.. I’m doing all I can to help, which is done in my group, or PM.
    If my posting on old posts is a problem, for you then that’s the least of my concern… it’s you that has the problem, not me or anyone else. I’m not harming anyone. I’m don’t mean to come across as offending, if i do, I apologise. I’m sincere and care enough to promote where I can. I don’t ever look at the date of any of the posts.. these are irrelevant.

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    Hi, The group agrees that it applies to the whole lifestyle. The intention of the group is for “pets”

  • Crazy4dogs

    I’m all for feeding raw, if it works for the person’s lifestyle, economic situation, etc. I’m also in favor of helping people who are asking for advice. The problem is you are coming on this site and often posting on very old posts in an effort to promote your FB page. It seems your only reason for being here is to get people to join your FB page, which, IMO, definitely represents a vested and self serving interest.

  • el doctor

    Hi Karen

    I took a look at your FB page, does the name “As Nature Intended” apply to just the food a dog eats, or does it apply to the whole lifestyle of a dog?

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    And you have a problem with that??

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    Of course they will. Then when their best friend is on their death bed 10 years earlier that it should be, they’ll have regrets. Lets hope they open their mind, eye’s and hearts before it’s too late

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    Firstly, I’m not yelling. IF I WAS YELLING, I WOULD BE DOING IT LIKE THIS. I THINK IT’S VERY RUDE TO YELL AND I WOULDN’T.
    If you took the time to research the canines anatomy, stomach etc, the history of commercial pet food and it’s ingredients, what happens to the nutrients once heated under pressure etc, you would know where I was coming form and more probably an advocate yourself. Then you would know where I’m coming from.

    LOL’ing @ people like that is a sign of ignorance. I do sometimes accuse people of ignorance, but in this case there is no need for it.
    Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn. ~ Benjamin Franklin

  • Pitlove

    Yeah I really do understand that it could be the food thats causing the problems for the OP, but instantly blaming Purina because of the buyout is a little ridiculous.

  • Crazy4dogs

    I do agree too often people blame the companies on bad bags when there are so many distribution and/or storage issue possibilities as well as the many health related issues. :-/

  • Pitlove

    I agree and you make a good point. I find it unlikely that the sale went down months and months before we knew, but it is possible. I find it more unlikely given Susan Thixon’s involvement in the industry and her ability to obtain information.

    We also have no idea how long the bag of food that the OP bought was sitting on the shelves of the distribution center or the shelves of the pet store. All of which factors into her thinking that Purina made a change to the food that is causing her dogs to have GI upset.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Well, it is possible. I’m playing the devil’s advocate here and this is pure conjecture, but no one in the general public knows when Purina stepped in or when negotiations actually began. It is kind of curious that Merrick came with a LOT of new formulas just a few short months before it was sold.

  • Pitlove

    I did not say Purina can’t or won’t make changes to the food, I said that it is impossible for the bag of food you have to be effected because when you bought the food Merrick had not been bought out yet and no formula changes have occured to Merrick. I would suggest buying the same product from a different store or order online and see if your pets have the same issue. Or maybe switch foods and see if the same issue presists. If so, see a vet if they continue to have diaherra.

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    Thank you Marie :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    A balance of raw 80% meat/muscle, 10% offal, 10% vegetable matter, along with fruit, seeds, oils, herbs and spices. No processed foods. The eldest is 6 years, young one is 2 years. Both been on natural raw since they were 8 weeks. Never been to the vets. At least I know what they are eating. :)

    I’ve been researching for 6 years now. I run a Facebook group, “As Nature Intended” where people from all walks of life, professionals, pet carers, cancer researchers and people who have taken on the challenge of researching the RAW diet themselves are members. People who have made the transition successfully or have been feeding their pet on raw for years don’t need to worry about all this commercial stuff.

  • InkedMarie

    I’m not her but she feeds raw.

  • InkedMarie

    What Pitlove means is that the buyout just happens; any possible chnge hasn’t happened yet. Something might be “up” with the bag of food but it has nothing to do with Purina buying out Merrick because it’s too soon.

  • HonestlytheBriard

    Then might I ask what food do you feed?

  • HonestlytheBriard

    Remember when Iams was the top food? before they were bought out, the owner was told to change the formula. NestlĂ© purina has enough pull in the world to do as they please. Wouldn’t surprise me if the same thing happened here. So yes in my opinion I believe it can happen.

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    Yes, make the change to an raw diet!! You will never look back and your pets will be much better off, believe me! Need guidance etc?

  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/324599134386758/ Karen Mitchell

    Strange? It’s a common reaction for all pets. When fed commercial pet food, they are all a walking time bomb. This food is not good for them. They are not meant to consume it!!!

  • Pitlove

    Hi- It is impossible for the buyout (which only happened a few weeks ago) to effect your current batch of food. That being said, it does not mean that there is not something wrong with the particular batch of food that you have. What I mean is that with the timeline, it is impossible for Purina to be at fault.

  • HonestlytheBriard

    I have 5 dogs and 4 cats that all eat merrick. I find it very strange that since the buyout all of my animals have had some form of diarrhea. I haven’t changed formulas or anything else. I also have been feeding merrick for years without any problems. Sad day :/ I will be finding another food.

  • Dori
  • AHK

    We were just at SuperZoo in Vegas talking to the Merrick reps and district managers when we heard of the buyout by Nestle (i.e. Purina). I expressed my sadness at this news and they assured me – and our business – that Nestle bought them out and now they have more money backing them. Merrick will continue to make their own food and have their own recipes without “help” from Nestle’s people in their kitchens. They assured me that they were only getting more money to help them make quality food.

    I take that with a grain of salt. I’m sure when it’s your job you’ll say just about anything because people know how horrible Purina dog food is. I really hope they continue to provide quality food so we don’t have to take it out of our stores.

  • Pitlove

    Karen- There is a difference between being helpful and trying to beat the idea of raw into someones head. I read your posts you make on here and they are very aggressive and in your face. That’s not really an approach that works for most people. Raw does not work for everyone for a variety of reasons and trust me, on this website, if someone is interested in feeding raw, they will 100% ask for advice and help usually on the forums side.

    I think what most people on here who have confronted you about your approach to convincing people raw is better (which I agree with btw), is that you need to tone it down a notch and not be so aggressive and belittling when trying to convince people they need to feed raw. They also might litsten to what you have to say instead of passing your post up like I see most doing.

  • Karen Mitchell

    Don’t you?

  • Pitlove

    Lol @ the Karen Mitchell comment. She comments on all of these reviews yelling at everyone to switch to raw before they kill their dog. I don’t disagree that raw is healthy, but not everyone can/wants to feed raw.

    Merricks quality control issues have been brought up on here. My cat eats their Whole Earth Farms line of canned food and I notice that every place I get cans they are different. Sometimes the pate is sticking to the top of the lid, sometimes its not. Best of luck in finding a new kibble! Take a look at Nature’s Logic. The kibble is pretty small and it’s an all life stages food for any breed. It’s also only one of 2 foods that does not have a premade vitamin pack. All the vitamins and minerals come from natural sources and they had to go through a feeding trial and pass to be approved for all life stages, which they did! I have my large breed dog on this and he’s doing well very.

  • jill815

    I’d been thinking about switching my Chihuahuas off Merrick in recent months. Though their coats are pretty, they’re at good weight and don’t have eye stains or any digestive problems on Merrick, there seems to be a quality control problem. I always get the small breed kibble, but in the past 6 months or so, nearly every other bag has had a bigger dog kibble. Merrick has promptly sent a coupon for a free bag once I sent them pictures of the difference in size, but I got tired of emailing them that it had happened yet again. Now that Purina is in the picture, I’ve decided it’s time to go. Now to find a replacement. And sorry Karen Mitchell, I’m not going to do raw, for reasons I will not discuss with you.

  • jill815

    You don’t stop do you? I haven’t looked, but I’m willing to bet you post on all the premium dog food reviews.

  • Ziggy

    I am so disappointed to hear the latest on Merrick. I do believe it was a high quality dog food UNTIL recently. Merrick has been bought out by Purina. Check out their ratings and reviews and what will that mean for Merrick. Down with quality! Very sad!

  • Guest

    Heartbroken! Newsflash! Merrick Pet Care has sold to Nestle Purina! Changes are coming…

  • Heather Champagne

    Just so you all are aware, Merrick is selling out to Purina very soon so expect a drop in quality if you still choose to feed it.

  • aimee

    Thanks Karen,

    I look forward to the answer. The more data we have the better!

  • Karen Mitchell

    How would I know? I’m not him lol. I will ask him though because I would like to know as well….

  • aimee

    Hi Karen,

    I did read the link when you originally posted it. It lacks references to any published research to support what he wrote. Where did he get the information from in regards to gastric pH being higher in kibble fed dogs? Maybe he just made it up!

    Here is a link to a study which used dry dog food and the measured pH was quite low,.1.08 and 1.26 for the different amounts fed.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19177514

    This study compared dogs on kibble vs meat based diets. In both groups the pH was higher than other studies I’ve read. The fasted pH was similar for both groups and the pH at 8 hours was not different between the two groups. There were some differences in the meat based and cereal based gastric pH at the 2 and 4 hour sampling with the meat based being a bit lower.
    http://www.2ndchance.info/rawdiet-Banta1978.pdf

    These published research studies do not support the information in the link you posted which is why I’m asking you for links to studies that support what he wrote.

    Thanks!

  • Karen Mitchell

    They will be fine for the first half of their life. Come the second half and you will be taking them to the vets often. You had better get some pet insurance!

  • Karen Mitchell

    That won’t happen

  • Karen Mitchell
  • Karen Mitchell

    Even though they may be old, sometimes people can relate to them and thus learn someone thing from the comments.. Besides, it’s not as if it’s illegal, or that I’m wasting space or paper now is it?

  • Sunstar

    Finally found a food my 9.5 year old Cocker/Poodle mix loves and doesn’t stir up any skin issues. Adopted her a little over a year and a half ago, she was found with severe ear, eye, skin, and nail infections. The yeast problem didn’t start until last July, skin scrapes showed it was bacterial AMD fungal. In November we found out she had extreme hypothyroidism and now, just year later, she is finally clear (after a couple rounds of antifungals & a summertime regiment of antihistamines, as well as a strict bathing schedule). Wish I could still be feeding her exclusively raw but I’m on a limited budget and even for a 25-lb dog it’s not exactly the most cost-effective. But she does get honest kitchen Verve in the AM and Merrick Beef, Barley, & Carrot in the PM (feeding both makes everything go a long way). Sad to read of all the adverse effects various readers’ dogs have had as a result of eating this food, especially after seeing that my dog has made tremendous strides on it. I’ve tried over a dozen high quality brands and this is the one that seems to be a big hit with me and her.

    Also: I work with dogs everyday and know the benefits of raw food…and it certainly helped in the early stages of her skin issues. But again, very expensive.

    Sorry for the rambling but despite everything else…I do believe this to be a good food.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Karen Mitchell, why are you continually replying to some very old posts on this Merrick review? This post is 2 years old!