Pedigree Little Champions Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2 stars.
The Pedigree Little Champions product line includes 14 pouched dog foods. However, since we’re unable to locate AAFCO nutritional adequacy statements for these dog foods on the Pedigree website, it’s impossible for us to report specific life stage recommendations for these recipes.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Pedigree Little Champions Butcher’s Stew
- Pedigree Little Champions Casserole Dinner
- Pedigree Little Champions Chunks in Gravy with Beef
- Pedigree Little Champions Chunks in Gravy with Chicken
- Pedigree Little Champions Grilled Flavors in Sauce with Beef
- Pedigree Little Champions Grilled Flavors in Sauce with Chicken
- Pedigree Little Champions Puppy Complete Nutrition with Chicken
- Pedigree Little Champions Meaty Ground Dinner with Beef (2.5 stars)
- Pedigree Little Champions Meaty Ground Dinner with Turkey (2.5 stars)
- Pedigree Little Champions Meaty Ground Dinner with Chicken (2.5 stars)
- Pedigree Little Champions Senior Complete Nutrition Morsels with Lamb and Rice
- Pedigree Little Champions Meaty Ground Dinner with Beef and Cheese (2.5 stars)
- Pedigree Little Champions Meaty Ground Dinner with Chicken and Beef (2.5 stars)
- Pedigree Little Champions Senior Complete Nutrition Morsels with Chicken and Rice
Pedigree Little Champions Grilled Flavors in Sauce with Beef was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Pedigree Little Champions Grilled Flavors in Sauce with Beef
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Sufficient water for processing, chicken (source of linoleic acid), meat by-products, beef, wheat gluten, wheat flour, liver, natural flavors, starch, dried tomato pomace, caramel coloring, salt, sodium tripolyphosphate, minerals (potassium chloride, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide), natural grilled flavor, sodium alginate, guar gum, vitamins (vitamin E, A & D3 supplements, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate [vitamin B1], biotin), iron oxide
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 8.3%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||44%||17%||31%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||38%||35%||27%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is water, which adds nothing but moisture to this food. Water is a routine finding in most canned dog foods.
The second ingredient is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1
Chicken is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The third ingredient is meat by-products, an item made from slaughterhouse waste. This is what’s left of slaughtered animals after all the prime striated muscle cuts have been removed.
With the exception of hair, horns, teeth and hooves, this item can include almost any other part of the animal.1
Although most meat by-products can be nutritious, we do not consider such vaguely described (generic) ingredients to be as high in quality as those derived from a named animal source.
The fourth ingredient is beef, another quality raw item.
The fifth ingredient is wheat gluten. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once wheat has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.
Compared to meat, glutens are inferior plant-based proteins low in many of the essential amino acids dogs need for life.
This inexpensive plant-based ingredient can significantly boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The sixth ingredient is wheat flour, a highly-refined product of wheat milling. Like corn, wheat is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider wheat a preferred component in any dog food.
The seventh ingredient is liver. Normally, liver can be considered a quality component. However, in this case, the source of the liver is not identified. For this reason, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this item.
After the natural flavor, we find starch. The source of this starch is unknown but it is most likely derived from corn or wheat. Without more information, it’s impossible to adequately judge the quality of this ingredient.
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 three notable exceptions…
First, we’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any dog food. Caramel is a coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.
In addition, iron oxide is a synthetic color additive used in industry to impart a reddish color to food — and paint. In its natural form, this chemical compound is more commonly known as “iron rust”.
Next, tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
And lastly, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.
Pedigree Little Champions Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Pedigree Little Champions Dog Food looks like a below-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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 42% and a mean fat level of 21%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 30% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 49%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the wheat gluten, this looks like the profile of a canned product containing a moderate amount of meat.
Pedigree Little Champions is a meat-based wet dog food using a moderate amount of chicken and chicken by-products as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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.
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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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Notes and Updates
11/09/2009 Original review
06/05/2010 Review updated
04/26/2012 Review updated
11/03/2013 Review updated
11/03/2013 Last Update