Rancher’s Choice Champions Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest-tier rating of 1.5 stars.
The Rancher’s Choice Champions product line includes four dry dog foods.
Although each appears to be designed for a specific life stage, we were unable to find AAFCO nutritional profile recommendations for these dog foods on the product’s web page.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Rancher’s Choice Champions Puppy Formula
- Rancher’s Choice Champions Wholesome Blend
- Rancher’s Choice Champions Adult Maintenance
- Rancher’s Choice Champions Active Dog Formula
Rancher’s Choice Champions Adult Maintenance formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Rancher's Choice Champions Adult Maintenance Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Ground yellow corn, distillers dried grain with solubles, porcine (pork) meal, wheat middlings, poultry fat (preserved with BHA), poultry liver flavors, salt, potassium chloride, brewers yeast, vitamins and minerals
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||23%||10%||59%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||23%||55%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is corn. 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 second ingredient is distillers dry grains with solubles, also known in industry as DDGS. DDGS is a by-product of the ethanol (bio-fuel) industry. This low-quality ingredient is typically found in cattle feeds and only rarely used to make pet food.
What’s more important is that DDGS contains about 31% protein1, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
The third ingredient is pork meal. Pork meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork. Yet it can also be high in ash — about 25-30%.
However, the ash content of the final product is typically adjusted in the recipe to allow its mineral profile to meet AAFCO guidelines.
The fourth ingredient is wheat middlings, commonly known as “wheat mill run”. Though it may sound wholesome, wheat mill run is actually an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.
Unfortunately, the variations in nutrient content found in wheat middlings can be a critical issue in determining their suitability for use in any dog food — or even livestock feeds.2
In reality, wheat middlings are nothing more than milling dust and floor sweepings — and an ingredient more typically associated with lower quality pet foods.
The fifth ingredient is poultry fat. Poultry fat is obtained from rendering, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Poultry fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.
However, poultry fat is a relatively generic ingredient and can be considered lower in quality than a similar item from a named source animal (like chicken fat).
What’s worse, this fat is preserved with BHA, a suspected cancer-causing agent.
After the poultry liver flavors, we find salt (also known as sodium chloride). Salt is a common additive in many dog foods. That’s because sodium is a necessary mineral for all animals — including humans.
However, since the actual amount of salt added to this recipe isn’t disclosed on the list of ingredients, it’s impossible to judge the nutritional value of this item.
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 three notable exceptions…
First, brewers yeast can be a controversial item. Although it’s a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient is rich in minerals and other healthy nutrients.
Fans believe yeast repels fleas and supports the immune system.
Critics argue yeast ingredients can be linked to allergies. This may be true, but (like all allergies) only if your particular dog is allergic to the yeast itself.
In addition, a vocal minority insists yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is a claim we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.
In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can still be considered a nutritious additive.
What’s more noteworthy here is that brewers yeast contains about 48% 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.
Rancher’s Choice Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Rancher’s Choice Champions Dog Food looks like a below-average dry 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 26% and a mean fat level of 12%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 53% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 46%.
Near-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the brewers yeast and distillers dried grains in this recipe and the corn gluten meal in the puppy product, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing only a modest amount of meat.
Rancher’s Choice Champions is a plant-based dry dog food using a modest amount of pork or pork by-product meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1.5 stars.
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
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Notes and Updates
05/13/2010 Original review
03/29/2014 Last Update
- Xinyi E, Hemicellulose Fiber Gum from Distillers Grain: Isolation, Structure and Properties, Kansas State University, 2010 ↩
- Wheat Middlings as defined in an article by Wikipedia ↩