Pedigree Little Champions (Canned)

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Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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

Protein = 44% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 31%

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
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis8%3%NA
Dry Matter Basis44%17%31%
Calorie Weighted Basis38%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, slaughterhouse waste. This is what’s left of slaughtered animals after all the prime cuts have been removed.

With the exception of hair, horns, teeth and hooves, this stuff can include heads, ovaries or developing fetuses.1

What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. It doesn’t even specify the source animal. So, this meat can come from almost anywhere, even diseased or dying livestock.

Although meat by-products can be high in protein, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this a quality item.

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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 44%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 31%.

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.

Bottom line?

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.

Not recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

Special Alert

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.

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

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

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • RLawt0n

    How would this compare to Cesar Savory Delights and Mighty Dog Canned Food? I feed my chihuahua Premium Edge but every Sunday I mix in Cesars so he could have something tasty.

  • Slyk Willy

    my lhasa opso maggie pictured here is 5 years old and she has been fed Pedigree Dog Food since birth, she now has a 50% chance to live and if she makes it she will have to have daily insulin injections. If you love your dog spend the money and buy the best dog food for your pet ans dont feed them this crap…

  • Shawna

    Shawnas 47% protein diet is proven wrong I could sing a song.

  • Jenny

    All the reasons why I give my sweet little Checkov-he’s my puppy-the food that I eat and the food that I cook, because you can be sure that I didn’t put anything disgusting in my own food.
    It’s made up primarily of rice(or some other carbohydrate), then ,I put meat(like porkchops or some chicken or stuff like that), then I put some veggies(some, because dogs like meat), then I top it of with a bone or two.
    And remember, I ate those stuff too, well all except the bones, because I don’t have dog teeth.

  • Shawna

    Well said Jonathan!!!!

  • Jonathan

    Jay, that is without a doubt the most ignorant thing I’ve had the displeasure of reading in quite some time. It’s not “what” the by-products are, it’s how they are handled. It’s how they are denatured with creosote or citronella and industrial dye. It’s the fact that they can be rotten crap from road kill or tumour-ridden diseased cattle. Oh and nice way to use God as an excuse for subjugating your own beloved pet. I thought most Christians were under the impression that dogs are a gift and should be cared for. What else is funny is that you say “except the bones”… there usually are ground up bones in most meat meals. Now, there is nothing wrong with giving a dog a fresh bone. But there is everything wrong with giving your dog a food that potentially contains the femur of an old lab that had to be put down for hip dysplasia. Not a pleasant thought, is it? I don’t think God would approve.

  • Jay

    IT’S A DOG!!! The food we don’t want should not be an issue for dog consumption. Granted as long as it’s not poison then it should be fit for a DOG! People really need to get this in thier heads. I have a beautiful Boxer and I feed him this with his dry food & he likes it just fine. God gave us dominion over these creatures so if I decide to give my dog my left over that I don’t want except bones then it is fine.

  • http://www.drianbillinghurst.com Gordon

    Pedigree Little Champions should be renamed “Pedigree Little Champions of Long Term Cancer Culprits”.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Ryo… When you see the generic words “meat” or “animal” used to describe meals and fats, I can assure you the ingredient can contain diseased or dying livestock, dead zoo animals, road kill and euthanized pets from public animal shelters.

    For example, some states and municipalities prohibit (by law) discarding these items in a public landfill and instead mandate their disposal at commercial rendering facilities.

    Low grade ingredients like anonymous meat meals containing these horrific source animals can come from almost any country… even from the United States.

  • “Ryo”

    I randomly stumbles upon this, but it actually is possible for dogs and animals commonly referred to as ‘zoo animals’ to end up in meat by-products as they are raised for slaughter in some parts of the world, and trust me, you never know with pet food companies. So yes, there is a possibility that these animals can be found in meat by-products…. it’s just a slim chance.
    Even if the food is made in the US, Canada, northern Europe, etc. the by-products can come from anywhere. The term ‘made in -country here-’ means nothing… but the phrase ‘-country here- sourced ingredients’ does. Just wanted to clear some things up! :)

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Aimee… I’m already aware of this error. And since August 2010, newer reviews no longer contain this wording.

    Thanks to your tip, I’ve now corrected this review of Pedigree Plus to reflect the newer phrasing I now use to describe this lower quality ingredient.

    You can see the corrected sentence by re-reading this article or any other one posted or updated since last August (the edit dates appear at the bottom of each review).

    I’ll continue to update the few affected articles still remaining on my website as they’re brought to my attention. Thanks again for the tip.

  • aimee

    Mike,

    Just reading though some reviews and I noted something puzzling to me.

    AAFCO defines meat by products as ” Meat By-Products – the non rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals…….” I’m sure you’ve seen this definition before.
    What is striking me as odd at this late hour is that the definition specifies the animal has to be slaughtered. By definition then, how can meat by products include road kill, dead zoo animals and euthanized dogs and cats as those animal are already dead??

    It seems to me this statement can not be correct.
    “What’s more, since the source animal is not named, the meat can come from anywhere. Road kill, dead zoo animals, diseased or dying livestock… even euthanized cats and dogs.

    If it has to be from slaughtered animals I’d think the more likely sources would be cattle, pigs, sheep, goats as those are the animals that commonly go to slaughter.

    I know this doesn’t change that you consider by products “slaughterhouse waste” But if from a slaughter house….. it has to be alive first to be slaughtered.

    Now rendered meal and bone meal is a different story and theoretically could contain those unsavory sources no matter how unlikely that is.