National Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★½☆☆☆

National Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest tier rating of 1.5 stars.

The National Dog Food product line includes ten dry recipes.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

  • National Adult Formula [U]
  • National Puppy Formula (2 stars) [U]
  • National Training Formula Pelleted [U]
  • National Maintenance Formula (1 star) [U]
  • National Training X-tra Formula Pelleted [U]
  • National Puppy Formula Pelleted (2 stars) [U]
  • National Performance Plus Formula (2 stars) [U]
  • National Maintenance Formula Pelleted (1 star) [U]
  • National Competition Formula Pelleted (2 stars) [U]
  • National Competition X-tra Formula Pelleted (2 stars) [U]

National Adult Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

National Adult Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 46%

Ingredients: Poultry meal, kibbled corn (cooked), fish meal, extruded rice, flaked corn, pork fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), beet pulp, plain, dried, feeding oat meal, blood meal, sodium bentonite, corn oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), cane molasses, liver digest, flaxseed, vitamins and minerals

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis26%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%17%46%
Calorie Weighted Basis25%35%40%
Protein = 25% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 40%

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

Although the word poultry doesn’t clearly identify the species, poultry meal is most commonly sourced from chicken and turkey.

The second ingredient is kibbled corn, cracked corn that has been cooked under steam pressure and extruded from an expeller or other pressurized mechanical device.

Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.

The third ingredient includes fish 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

Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.

The fourth ingredient is extruded rice, a synthetic food product made from broken rice and other low-quality rice by-products.

This inexpensive component is designed to look like rice kernels and is more typically found in horse feeds.

The fifth ingredient is flaked corn, a by-product made from corn after the germ, oil and most of the protein have been removed.

This unusually low-quality cereal grain ingredient is more typically found in cattle feed. And it’s used by the distilling industry to make beer and liquor.

The sixth 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 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 feeding oat meal. Feeding oatmeal is a by-product of rolled oats “and consists of broken oat groats, oat groat chips, and floury portions of the oat groats, with only such quantity of finely ground oat hulls as is unavoidable in the usual process of commercial milling”.2

This inexpensive cereal grain by-product is only rarely used to make pet food and is more typically found in cattle and hog feeds.

The ninth ingredient is blood meal. Blood meal is a dry powder made from slaughterhouse waste and used to make high-protein (very low ash)animal feeds.

However, blood meal is only rarely found in pet food. It’s more typically used to make nitrogen-rich plant fertilizers.

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 seven notable exceptions

First, bentonite is a naturally occurring clay-like compound rich in many trace minerals. Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Next, although molasses can be rich in minerals, it’s also a less refined form of sugar with a glycemic index in humans similar to maple syrup.

Like table sugar (and in excessive amounts), molasses has the potential to raise a dog’s blood sugar.

In addition, we note the inclusion of corn oil. Corn oil has one of the highest (and most unfavorable) omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratios of any vegetable oil. Compared to almost any named animal fat, corn oil cannot be considered a quality ingredient.

Next, liver digest is made from the enzymatic breakdown of liver tissue. Digests are commonly used by pet food manufacturers as flavor enhancers.

Normally, a digest can be considered an acceptable ingredient. However, in this case, the digest is of lower quality — made from the organ tissue of an unnamed (generic) source species.

We also note the inclusion of flaxseed in this recipe. Flaxseed is 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.

Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

And lastly, the vitamins and minerals added to this product are not detailed sufficiently here to permit us to judge their quality.

National Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, National Dog Food looks like a below-average 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 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 46%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 32% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 42% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

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

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

Bottom line?

National Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a moderate amount of poultry meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1.5 stars.

Not 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.

National 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.

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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.

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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.

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

Notes and Updates

06/14/2016 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. As defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2012 Official Publication, p. 420
  • Jared Johnson

    I have to admit I’m confused by this review. National Dog Food has set the standard for Dog food for the last 130 years, and is fed to some of the finest dogs nationwide. I find it hard to believe so many Veterinarians would recommend it for Service and Working dogs if it is truly that bad for a dog. Just my $.02

  • Pattyvaughn

    Hi Dr Mike
    2 of the ingredients on here are plain and dried. Is it plain dried feeding oatmeal? Or is it beet pulp, plain dried? Either way it doesn’t sound appetizing, but I was still curious.