Retriever Dog Food (Canned)

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

Retriever canned dog food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.

The Retriever product line includes seven canned dog foods.

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.

  • Retriever Puppy Blend [G]
  • Retriever with Beef Chunks [A]
  • Retriever with Chopped Beef [A]
  • Retriever with Beef Cuts in Gravy [A]
  • Retriever Country Chicken Dinner [A]
  • Retriever with Chicken Cuts in Gravy [A]
  • Retriever with Beef, Bacon and Cheese [A]

Retriever with Beef Chunks was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Retriever with Beef Chunks

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 41% | Fat = 23% | Carbs = 28%

Ingredients: Water sufficient for processing, meat by-products, chicken, beef, textured soy protein product, poultry by-products, soybean meal, tricalcium phosphate, guar gum, salt, potassium chloride, added color, carrageenan, vitamins (vitamin E, A, B12, D3 supplements, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, riboflavin supplement), minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, copper proteinate, manganous sulfate, potassium iodide, sodium selenite), choline chloride, natural flavor, sodium tripolyphosphate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.8%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis9%5%NA
Dry Matter Basis41%23%28%
Calorie Weighted Basis33%44%23%
Protein = 33% | Fat = 44% | Carbs = 23%

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 includes 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

What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. So, the meat itself can come from any combination of cattle, pigs, sheep or goats — which can make identifying specific food allergies impossible.

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 third ingredient is chicken. Chicken is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of chicken”.1

The fourth ingredient is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1

Both chicken and beef are naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The fifth ingredient is textured soy protein, a plant-based meat substitute containing as much as 70% protein. TSP (as it is commonly known) consists of inferior plant-based proteins lower in their nutritional and biological value.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably 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 item lists poultry by-products, or slaughterhouse waste. This is what’s left of slaughtered poultry after all the prime cuts have been removed.

In addition to organs (the nourishing part), this stuff can contain almost anything — feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs — anything except quality skeletal muscle (real meat).

Although this item contains all the amino acids a dog needs, we consider poultry by-products slightly lower in quality than a single species item (like chicken by-products).

The seventh ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably 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 eighth ingredient is tricalcium phosphate, a beneficial source of calcium and phosphorous. In addition, this additive is used in canned foods as an emulsifier — an agent designed to disperse a food’s fats more evenly in water.

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, carrageenan is a gelatin-like thickening agent extracted from seaweed. Although carrageenan has been used as a food additive for hundreds of years, there appears to be some recent controversy regarding its long term biological safety.

Next, we’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any pet food. That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?

And lastly, with the exception of copper, 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.

Retriever Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Retriever canned 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 41%, a fat level of 23% and estimated carbohydrates of about 28%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 42% and a mean fat level of 22%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 28% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 53%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical wet dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the soy products in this recipe and the wheat gluten in some others, this looks like the profile of a wet product containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Retriever is a meat-based canned dog food using a moderate amount of meat by-products or chicken as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 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.

Retriever 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.

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A Final Word

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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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Notes and Updates

09/01/2016 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  3. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  • JAMES HALL

    I have used this dog food for 10 or 15 yrs. IT IS GREAT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MY DOG IS A 600.00 DOG AND HE LOVE IT .