Royal Canin Breed-Specific Adult (Dry)


Rating: ★★½☆☆

Royal Canin Breed-Specific Adult Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2.5 stars.

The Royal Canin Breed-Specific Adult product line includes 15 dry dog foods, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance.

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Royal Canin Pug
  • Royal Canin Boxer
  • Royal Canin Beagle
  • Royal Canin Bulldog
  • Royal Canin Shih Tzu
  • Royal Canin Chihuahua
  • Royal Canin Dachshund
  • Royal Canin Cocker Spaniel
  • Royal Canin Poodle (2 stars)
  • Royal Canin Golden Retriever
  • Royal Canin Yorkshire Terrier
  • Royal Canin Labrador Retriever
  • Royal Canin German Shepherd
  • Royal Canin Miniature Schnauzer
  • Royal Canin West Highland White Terrier (2 stars)

Royal Canin Yorkshire Terrier was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Royal Canin Yorkshire Terrier

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 18% | Carbs = 45%

Ingredients: Brewers rice, brown rice, chicken by-product meal, chicken fat, wheat gluten, corn gluten meal, corn, natural flavors, powdered cellulose, dried plain beet pulp, fish oil, grain distillers dried yeast, vegetable oil, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, sodium silico aluminate, fructooligosaccharides, sodium tripolyphosphate, salt, taurine, hydrolyzed yeast, vitamins [dl-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), inositol, niacin supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin A acetate, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement], dl-methionine, choline chloride, magnesium oxide, l-lysine, glucosamine hydrochloride, marigold extract (Tagetes erecta l.), trace minerals [zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, copper proteinate], tea, l-carnitine, chondroitin sulfate, rosemary extract, preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis26%16%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%18%45%
Calorie Weighted Basis25%37%39%

The first ingredient in this dog food is brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The second ingredient is brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The third ingredient is chicken by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken 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 (conventional meat).

On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

In any case, although this item contains all the amino acids a dog needs, we consider chicken by-products an inexpensive, lower quality ingredient.

The fourth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

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 some 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 corn gluten meal, another plant-based protein booster.

Although corn gluten meal contains 60% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

The seventh ingredient includes 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.

After the natural flavor, we find powdered cellulose, a non-digestible plant fiber usually made from the by-products of vegetable processing. Except for the usual benefits of fiber, powdered cellulose provides no nutritional value to a dog.

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 five notable exceptions

First, 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.

Next, we find grain distillers dried yeast, a by-product resulting from the fermentation of grains separated from distilling mash as a by-product of the production of ethanol (biofuel).

Even though it contains over 40% 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 meat content of this dog food.

In addition, we note the inclusion of vegetable oil, a generic oil of unknown origin. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in any oil is nutritionally critical and can vary significantly (depending on the source).

Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of an item so vaguely described. However, compared to a named animal fat, a generic vegetable oil cannot be considered a quality ingredient.

Next, this recipe contains fructooligosaccharide, an alternative sweetener1 probably used here as a prebiotic. Prebiotics function to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the large intestine.

And lastly, this food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Royal Canin Breed-Specific Adult Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Royal Canin Breed-Specific Adult looks like a below-average dry dog food.

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 18% and estimated carbohydrates of about 45%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 28% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 49% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

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

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the wheat gluten and corn gluten meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below-average amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Royal Canin Breed-Specific Adult is a plant-based dry dog food using a below-average amount of chicken by-product meal as its main source 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.

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.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

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

06/22/2014 Last Update

  • Pitlove

    Royal Canin; the masters of marketing dog food to uneduated people. This one is my favorite:

    edit: i really hope my sarcasm was noted.

  • pitlove

    Its funny how the breed specific formulas for other contries have different ingredients. you would think if it was specific to one breed they would contain the same ingredients. lol

  • pitlove

    The reason why most people who are in the vet field believe that RC, Science Diet and Purina are quality, nutrious and wholesome foods is because representitives from those companies are the people who are hired to teach nutrition classes at vet school. The students walk out believeing that dogs are omnivores and that they need “wholesome grains” (as beneful puts it) in their diet. They also come out believeing that dogs do not need a raw diet because they are domistic animals and not wolves. It is a brilliant way for these companies to market their food. It is sad but most vet’s have little to no actual nutrition knowledge about dogs dietary needs at all. Dr. Karen Becker is actually trying to raise money to be able to have holistic nutritional classes taught in vet schools as elective classes for students who want unbias information on dog nutrition. It’s really great what she is trying to do

  • mjfromga

    I think I saw a doggy Bistro in France or something serving their “doggy diners” Royal Canin. Thing is, despite this being so expensive, there’s no way I’d let my Nigredo eat any of this. He’s allergy prone and all that corn etc. is probably bad for him. Irrelevant to this article, my uncle was feeding his dogs Twin Pet dry food. Literally that stuff smells like cardboard.

  • peggy

    I agree! I have chihuahuas and they are hard to please. I feed the Royal Canine Chihuahua and they love it. Never had a problem health wise. To even things out I make all their treats and jerky!

  • Bobby dog

    Yes, some dogs take weeks or maybe months initially for transitions to new foods. Some may never transition well. Finding several foods your dog does well on is something to consider because recipes never remain the same or are discontinued.
    Also keep in mind a food may be marketed as “hypoallergenic,” however that term is misleading. It is only hypoallergenic to a dog if it does not contain a protein the dog is sensitive to; that is individual to each dog. A dog may be sensitive to any protein, fish, potato, peas the list could be simple or it could be endless.
    That’s good you are looking into possible environmental issues; sometimes that’s overlooked. Finding a food with a single protein might be a good place to start. Good luck!

  • Brandy

    Thank you, Susan!

  • Brandy

    Thank you, Bobby Dog! Great info! I’m reluctant to rotate his diet as he tends to have a sensitive tummy & intestinal tract. We thought it was environmental and it could still be.

  • Susan

    Hi Brandy try “Holistic Select” Grainfree Adult/Puppy health Salmon Anchovy & Sardine meal, the grainfree has potatos so if he’s still scratching try their other brands that don’t have starchy potatoes like their Adult Health Anchovy,Sardines & Salmon meal, you can then rotate with their Duck or Lamb as they are single protein kibbles & come under Hypoallergenic kibbles good for dogs with skin problems, here’s their site

  • Bobby dog

    Hi Brandy:
    I had skin issues with my dog that was partly due to fleas and a not so healthy diet. He was red, had allot of fur loss, licking, scratching, sores, and was smelly. My dog experienced allot of crying and waking up in the middle of the night because he was uncomfortable.

    I was feeding canned food and treats that had chemicals and dyes with a well rated GF kibble. To heal him I used a topical antibiotic from the Vet along with oral antibiotics to start the long road to recovery. I began a rotational diet with both kibble and canned foods. I believe the most beneficial part of getting him healthy again was bathing therapy and consistent grooming. It took lots of elbow grease and diligence on my part, eight months worth.

    I have found one protein that he might have a sensitivity to, duck. I am not sure because I want to try another brand to determine if duck might be an issue or if it was another ingredient in the food. After a week on the duck kibble he just became itchy and was rubbing up against anything he could to scratch himself. For all I know he could have gotten into something outside also. You need to consider that it may not be the food it could be environmental. Laundry detergents, floor/carpet cleaners, lawn fertilizer are common culprits.

    I now feed GF and grain inclusive foods, both kibble and canned in a rotation. I change the brand of food, protein, and carb source of the kibble after each bag and change toppers every one to two days. The variety provided by a rotational diet has been positive.

    Another factor that I believe made an impact on his health was the addition of lightly cooked fresh meats, vegetables & fruits, and commercial raw foods as toppers.

    If your Vet feels it is food related, an elimination diet is the only method to determine food sensitivities. Here’s some info on elimination diets:

  • Brandy

    I have a 95lb GS pup that is 23 mos old. Currently trying to find a food that will ease his itchy skin. Honestly, he will scratch until he whimpers!
    He was on Iams lrg breed puppy, until about 2 mos ago. Bender yo has no effect.
    We tried Iams Naturals, and are currently trying RC breed specific (vet’s recommendation & he loves it), but we are still experiencing excessive itching/scratching.
    I’m reading that maybe a grain free diet might be good for this, but I don’t know. It’s all subject to opinion & controversy?
    I’d love to hear from anyone who has had a similar issue & discovered a solution that provided relief.

  • sharron

    thanks – we are doing much better now with food – i had to switch back to RC from orijen and acana – i think lexee has a sensitivity to alfalfa – every time i feed her orijen or acana she starts licking her paws excessively – the alfalfa is the only ingredient that i can think that could be bothering her

  • theBCnut

    First and foremost, you have to do what works for your dog. The best food in the world is no good if your dog starves to death. All you can do is try to improve her diet. It is up to her to eat it. So if it’s RC, feed RC, but don’t give up on trying to give her little bits of fresh foods that will improve her diet. At least it’s not Pedigree or Beneful, those would kill her outright.

  • sharron

    i’ve been called an idiot and have been asked if i am trying to kill my dog by feeding her RC – this took pace at 2 different pet stores – i now buy her RC (moderate calorie) at the vet clinic – i have tried many other foods over the past 5 yrs and she won’t eat them – she likes RC and eats it without any fuss and is doing well on it – i have tried raw (hated it), have done home made twice (both times she brought it all up) and doesn’t like dehydrated

  • WeimyLife

    I work at a dog food store and RC is not my first pick when someone asks for guidance. The corn related ingredients right? Yuck. However, when someone comes to me with a very picky small breed.. RC! The corn gluten acts as an appetite stimulant. Small dogs tend to be finicky. Solves the problem every time!

  • triumph1

    In My German Shepherd that’s about right- much to my amazement.

  • Debra H

    I guess I am curious as to whether it is good for a food to be highly digestible if what is digested is not very high quality, such as brewer’s yeast? Not trying to be negative… but just wondering what is so great about intake of brewer’s yeast.

  • MagnoliaSouth

    I’m glad you like it. My daughter’s dog has done very well on it. However, I will say that ingredients do matter sometimes. Take for example corn or soy. Those are high allergens, which is unfortunate. I blame the entire dog allergy problem on the AKC. Breeding practices for beauty is never a good idea.

  • MagnoliaSouth

    I see nothing wrong with comments from those who support RC. I don’t know why it irritates some of you the way it does. Is it really all that necessary to be so vicious? That makes me think of a study that was done on humans who eat organic food. It has been scientifically proven that those who do, think they’re better than everyone for doing so. Go ahead and Google it. So any of you eat organic, by chance?

    My dogs eat Wellness Core Ocean. It’s a very high quality food and I will fully admit that their coats changed beautifully when I made the switch from many years of Nutro Natural Choice (grain free).

    My daughter recently switched to the RC diet and I was amazed at how much her dog’s coat improved. It’s even more luxurious than my dogs’ on Wellness. No kidding! She’s brighter, healthier, more energetic and overall happier.

    As a veteran human nurse for over 23 years, I can say with absolute and utter authority that sometimes actual nutrients are less important. What matters is what makes the patient a better, healthier patient overall. Do you know how many vegetarians still have heart attacks? Do you know how many organic food eaters are diagnosed with colon cancer? As you can see, the average isn’t always the norm.

    Please refrain from insulting those who appreciate this food, even if you don’t.

  • MagnoliaSouth

    As are you. Just saying.

  • MagnoliaSouth

    Clearly you seems to have your own attitude problem. Nothing is worse than a know-it-all with a holier-than-thou attitude. If you have something to say, then you should know that calling yourself “truly intelligent” and waving away opinions as someone “claiming to be a vet tech, or even only a vet asst” are the best ways to have people ignore you. Just saying. Kindness is key here.

  • theBCnut

    I would be perfectly happy for her to provide evidence of either, though I am aware of the fact that due to density issues volume could be less accurate.

  • theBCnut

    Yes, I know that they take their studies seriously. That was not in question. What was in question was if their food is 98% digestible, which is what was claimed. I didn’t see anything in your link that speaks to that.

    BTW: Their serious studies are to prove that a dog can survive on a food made of garbage, not necessarily to prove what is actually best nutritionally for a dog.

  • aquariangt

    “The people who create the food are experts in the field–vets, scientists, nutritionists. What other dog food can you say that about?”

    Most of them. Including but not limited to Beneful, which is about as garbage as you can get

  • Shawna

    It is apparent that you have no nutritional training or understanding. You say wheat gluten is used for protein as well as carbs and fiber. Yet per Bob’s Red Mill (manufacturer of human foods) wheat gluten has only 1gram of fiber and 4grams of carbohydrates. That’s pretty insignificant especially when you factor that they add actual grains and veggies for fiber and carbs. Plain and simple, wheat gluten is added to inexpensively increase the protein in the diet (wheat gluten has 23grams of protein).

    It might interest you to know that carbohydrates is not an essential nutrient for cats and dogs. A food can be 100% complete and balanced with zero added carbs — some canned foods are this way. In fact, the AAFCO has no minimum requirement for carbohydrates — none, zilch, zero.

    Fat and protein can be utilized for energy as well. HARD working sled dogs are fed a high FAT diet not a high carb diet..

    I’ve been feeding five of my dogs HIGH protein raw for up to 10 years and have had no issues. The other three get a high protein kibble with canned and raw toppers at every meal.

  • Jenna

    The RC company does not conduct the same type of food trials as other companies do. I have been to seminars showing photos and videos, had meetings with vets who worked for RC, and have worked with vets who have actually been to the facilities. They are unique and if you really care to delve into it, then I suggest you do some research on them.

    Not sure what you mean by “feather meal”? As far as you asking about wheat gluten, I do work in animal medicine but I am not a nutritionalist, but I can tell you that it is a highly digestible protein source that is used in conjunction with chicken meal for a balance of correct amino acids chains, carbs, and fiber. Meat alone has no fiber or carbs, so the wheat provides fiber for GI health and carbs that is essential for energy.

    I’ve been feeding all my dogs and cats RC/Waltham for the past 15 years and have had no issues.

  • Shawna

    A “home like environment” is not a home with the different variables that are in place from home to home.

    Veterinary Nutritionist Meg Smart (who TAUGHT veterinary nutrition for over 30 years) states this in an article on her website.

    “The validity of trials conducted on dogs and cats kept in a kennel or research facility is questioned, as these animals do not have the same freedoms and human bonding experiences of the pets kept within a home environment. Most nutritional trials on companion animals are only valid for that particular group, maintained under the same conditions, fed identical diets. Even the results from the relatively simple non invasive digestibility, palatability and feeding trials done in kennels or catteries specifically established and approved to conduct these trials have come under scrutiny when environment, previous diet, gender, breed and age differences are considered”

    An “expert” who feels feather meal, corn gluten meal or wheat gluten, just to name a few, are appropriate ingredients for a canine diet is laughable in my opinion. Please explain to me what necessary nutrient “wheat gluten” can provide in the diet that ANY meat source can’t.

  • Jenna

    Are you talking about weight or volume? You refer to both in your comments, though they are not the same measurements.

  • Jenna

    They actually take their studies and trials very seriously and their facilities can be toured. I have worked with vets that have toured the facility in France and they said it was outstanding. The animals used in their food trials are set up in a “home” like environment, lots of socialization and vet care. When they are done with their trials they are adopted out.

    The people who create the food are experts in the field–vets, scientists, nutritionists. What other dog food can you say that about?

  • LabsRawesome

    I know that’s right!!!!!

  • theBCnut

    Well, since no complete food is 98% digestable, I do already know the outcome, so does everybody else here.

  • Peppy’s Mom

    “But I already know the outcome”. That’s what started it, but no attitude here :)

  • theBCnut

    I brought them on myself by informing you that no dog food is 98% digestable. Oh my!! That surely deserved your attitude. What else did I say, until you started with your attitude?
    And you’re the one that said posting pictures would be gross. We’re all dog lovers here and when you own dogs, nothing is off limits, and poop is a fact of life. When you are discussing what to feed dogs, even more so. BTW, you posted that comment right after someone else posted pictures on another thread about what they found in their dog’s poop. We discuss that sort of thing here. We take our dogs’ health and nutrition very seriously.
    If you’re claiming to be a vet tech, or even only a vet asst, your not the only one, and if you do floats, directs, and send fecal matter off to the lab all day, every day, then you should be able to treat discussions of that nature as common place.

  • Peppy’s Mom

    Actually I “play” with poop on a daily bases checking for parasites and bacteria. Not to mention the blood and vomit too. So no, I’m not going to do that on my time off. I didn’t mean to offend you with the “snide” comments either. You brought them on yourself. Maybe I do need to let the door hit me on my way out now lol. People take things way to seriously. Have a nice life.

  • theBCnut

    You know what just struck me? With all that “experience,” why is she so squeamish about poop and why does she act like there is something wrong with me not being afraid of a little poop?

  • theBCnut

    You’ve insulted the intelligence of everyone on here and that’s not to mention your little snide comments.

    “Well you have fun playing with poop.”

    “Oh never mind, you already know it all.”

    “That’s nice that you know it all too.”

    I simply tried to point out that there is NO dog food that is 98% digestable. You’re the one that started getting nasty.
    Like Cyndi said, don’t forget to upvote your own post, then don’t let the door hit you in the butt.

    ETA: Nevermind, I see you already have.

  • Jennifer Kubler

    Very well said!

  • Jennifer Kubler

    Couldn’t agree more!

  • Cyndi

    Don’t forget to upvote your own comment like you do for all your other ones…

  • Jennifer Kubler

    Absolutely there is always more to learn about everything. I never said I was done. I was just putting my opinion about this food along with some facts about it as well. That’s what this forum is for. No food is perfect. Every animal has different nutrional needs based on age and lifestyle. I don’t need to insult anyone’s intelligence just to feel better about myself. It’s very evident here that’s what you enjoy and must have nothing better to do. I’m done wasting my time here.

  • Cyndi

    Very well said! Happy Independence Day “Party Animal”! 😉

  • theBCnut

    You and I both know that truly intelligent people always know there is always more to learn. If you think you have arrived, then you never understood the destination in the first place.

  • Cyndi

    I beg to differ. If you think RC is a good food, then I don’t believe you are qualified. I’d listen to BCnut about nutrition before I’d listen to someone who thinks rice and corn is a good meal for a dog. & I never claimed to “know it all”. You have a nice day too!

  • Jennifer Kubler

    Yes I only take the best 😉

  • Jennifer Kubler

    That’s nice that you know it all too. I have studied animal health and nutrition for years. I am very qualified to know what I’m talking about. Thank you and have a nice day.

  • Cyndi

    I guarantee she knows alot more than you!