Royal Canin Breed-Specific Puppy (Dry)

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Rating: ★★½☆☆

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

The Royal Canin Breed-Specific Puppy Dog Food product line includes seven dry recipes, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for growth and reproduction.

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

  • Royal Canin Chihuahua Puppy
  • Royal Canin Bulldog Puppy (3 stars)
  • Royal Canin Shih Tzu Puppy (3 stars)
  • Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy
  • Royal Canin German Shepherd Puppy 30
  • Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Puppy 33
  • Royal Canin Yorkshire Terrier Puppy 29 (3 stars)

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 30% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 46%

Ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, brewers rice, wheat gluten, corn, chicken fat, brown rice, wheat, corn gluten meal, natural flavors, powdered cellulose, dried beet pulp, fish oil, sodium silico aluminate, vegetable oil, potassium chloride, psyllium seed husk, fructooligosaccharides, sodium tripolyphosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, taurine, hydrolyzed yeast, vitamins [dl-alpha tocopherol (source of vitamin E), inositol, niacin, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), d-calcium pantothenate, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin A acetate, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement], choline chloride, monosodium phosphate, glucosamine hydrochloride, monocalcium phosphate, l-lysine, 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), l-carnitine, chondroitin sulfate, rosemary extract, preserved with natural mixed tocopherols and citric acid

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.9%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis27%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis30%16%46%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%33%41%

The first ingredient in this dog food 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 second ingredient 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 third 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 fourth ingredient 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 fifth 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 sixth 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 seventh ingredient is wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).

The eighth ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Compared to meat, glutens are inferior grain-based proteins lower 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.

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, powdered cellulose is 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.

Next, 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.

In addition, vegetable oil is 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 Puppy Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Royal Canin Breed-Specific Puppy 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 30%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 46%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 32% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 43% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 54%.

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

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

Bottom line?

Royal Canin Breed-Specific Puppy is a plant-based dry dog food using a below-average amount of chicken or chicken by-product meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2.5 stars.

Not recommended.

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, our rating system is not intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in specific health benefits 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

01/23/2010 Original review
08/27/2010 Review updated
04/11/2012 Review updated
10/13/2013 Review updated
10/13/2013 Last Update

  • Boxer mom

    Our dogs (boxers) have always had Royal Canin for boxers their entire lives. They are 11, 6, and 1and half years old. They recently have lost interest In eating. :( I though it could have been that bag of food. Well, We bought a new bag and same thing. We are searching for a good food for them. Being Boxers they are very sensitive to many things. Any suggestions? Thanks so much.

  • Kristen Michelle Kuehl

    oh my goodness. What a DOLL! Love the face.

  • Melissaandcrew

    Lol. This is mine-

  • Kristen Michelle Kuehl

    thanks! so do we <3

  • Melissaandcrew

    Love the pup!!!

  • Kristen Michelle Kuehl

    my sisters bullie is the same. eats what we consider dog food “junk food” and is perfectly fine with it… not ALL of them will not be able to tolerate it but its common enough to say that its a trait… I guess. =) you know…. reading some of the above posts I notice how HOSTILE people can get when discussing a dogs (pets) diet. hehehe its okay, we are all here because we love our pets. no need for name calling. Especially if you are a “professional” lets maintain the title.

  • Melissaandcrew

    Interesting. My bulldog eats chicken a lot and no issues with it.

  • David Tudor

    From The Inside: I just (very) recently left a great job with RC to move to another State, Ohio. I was what they call a “nutritional advisor”. My 12 years as a Human nutritionist and my medical experience meant nothing to my job relating to Dogs and Cats. I realize my background was beneficial yet highly useless when relating to an omnivore (dog) and carnivore (cat) diets of animals. This post may seem a “company man” rant, let me assure you I am not intending to be that. I LOVE animals and know what I speak of.

    I am amazed daily by the ignorance of Humans who believe their pet must be exactly like them: “I’m a vegetarian, so my dog must be vegan.” I don’t LIKE corn, so my dog is allergic to corn.”

    Seriously, I know for a FACT that the breed specific RC diets are studied, tested and researched for over two years with 100% success before release. If they fail by 1-2% after the study, they start over. PERIOD.

    The more generalized Size and group specific diets are equally scrutinized.

    My Doggie: I am proud to tell you that my Maltese had her 1 1/2 year check up at her Vet. He told me: “in 23 years, I have never seen a more perfect specimen of a Maltese. This is Best of Show Material. Perfect Heart, bones, eyes, teeth, coat… My goodness what are you feeding her?”

    I told him she has only had Royal Canin, and no table food.

    “That must be it,” he said.

    I corrected, “Actually, she has never had tap water, only filtered; NOT distilled. Plus daily exercise and grooming with lots of love.”

    So, in my humble opinion, MY DOG does great on the food. She eats the X-Small Adult, (With the Pappillion on the bag) and loves it. As a realist, I know that dogs are all different and have different needs. The breed specific is great for most of its specified breed, but nothing is perfect for the 90 million different dogs. I am sad to read the “internet bullies” comments, but hope you get some insight from someone on the inside.

    It works for me, and I know many people who swear by it. I also know some (who don’t know what they are talking about) who are put in positions to criticize without merit. Just my opinion.

  • Kristen Michelle Kuehl

    I used the bulldog puppy blend for our bulldog and it tore his digestive and intestinal tract up. Poor guy. I did some research before getting our bulldog and they have a common tendency to have a real intolerance to chicken (and I assume its all poultry maybe). In some bulldogs it can be an actual allergy. I was surprised to see what my vet considered a “really good dog food” special for bulldogs, with chicken as the meat product. Bastogne is our problem child when it comes to diet but I am determined to find whats right for him. As a puppy the nutro ultra lamb and rice puppy, was perfect for him. Finding an adult blend has been a challenge since he turned a year. I am about to try canidae limited ingredient. (its food #3 for trials)

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  • Judy T

    I have noticed the Bulldog Royal Canin has different ingredients than the other puppy food.  Would this make it hard to make a decision regarding your dog if you did not own a Shepherd?

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  • http://[email protected] Louise NOËL

    How I came to use Tee Tree Oil to prevent ear infections (otitis) in my dog

    I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. In 2002 I had a 6 and a haft years old female golden retriever named Fanny. I got her in April 1996, at the age of seven weeks. In May 1996, a few weeks after her first vaccine, she developed an ear infection, which came back many times during that summer and every summer since then, except for the last summer. The triggers seem to be the vaccine she receives or swimming, either in soft or salt water. I have been told that dog with falling ears are more subject to develop ear infections because their ears are less exposed to the drying quality of air. The inside of ears stays constantly humid and this environment is favourable to recurrent ear infections. The hot and humid temperature of summer increases this situation which could explain why all of Fanny’s ear infections have happened in the summer. It seems that after a dog has had a first ear infection, she is more susceptible to have more, even if the first was well treated with antibiotics.

    Until spring of 2002, each time Fanny had an ear infection, I treated her with the antibiotic prescribed by the veterinary. This medication is excellent to cure ear infections. However it can’t be use as prevention and it has a disadvantage: it is an oily product that stick to the hairs of the dog’s ears and then spread to the hairs of the head and neck. When the dog plays outside, dust and dirt also stick to this oily stuff. After a few days the dog’s head gets very dirty and must be wash. I have tried alcohol to clean the hairs with little success. Moreover the repetitive use of an antibiotic (in Fanny’s case: 2 – 3 times each summer!) seems to me questionable, without taking into account the cost implied. It is know that bacteria develop with time a resistance to antibiotics. I am afraid that this antibiotic being use very often will become less and less effective. And anyhow, I think preferable on the medical and social perspective to limit as much as possible the utilisation of antibiotics: they become less and less effective, they must be replaced constantly and this is dangerous for the animal as well as the human health.

    For all the reasons mentioned before, I was very happy when I came upon an article by Jonathan Margolis titled L’huile miracle (The Miracle Oil) in an issue of the October 2001 Reader’s Digest (French Canadian edition, pp.: 96 – 100). This article described the antiseptics effects of Tee Tree Oil for a variety of infections. I decide to try it as prevention for Fanny’s recurrent ear infections.

    Many companies produce Tee Tree Oil and it comes in various presentations.
    After a research on Internet, I chose a company which produces are available in the health stores of the city where I live: Montreal (Quebec, Canada).
    I then e-mailed this company to ask if this produce could be useful in Fanny’s case or, in the contrary, if it could be harmful. In their answer they cited Cynthia Olsen in her book First Aid Handbook – 101 Plus ways to use Tee Tree Oil who recommend this produce for ear infections. (Note that I do not know Ms Olsen and that I have not read her book.)
    Ms Olsen suggest mixing pure Tee Tree Oil with olive oil before putting it in the ear. However I did not want to use oil because I did not want to use a produce that would make the hair oily (See the part: How I tried to solve this problem until spring of 2002.)
    Since I was afraid that the use of pure Tee Tree Oil would cause irritation in the ears, I chose a Water soluble solution with 15% Tee Tree Oil with lavender (Optional – lavender also has antiseptics qualities):
    Being water-soluble this lotion can be mix with the liquid that I use regularly to clean Fanny’s ears. This liquid does not make the hairs oily.
    With lavender, this lotion has a very pleasant odor. Without lavender, the Tee Tree Oil odor is good too.
    This solution is offered in two size: 10ml (about 6.75$ Canadians) and 50ml (about 13.45$ Canadians). So it was possible to try it at minimum cost.

    How I used it
    In a small dark glass bottle,
    I put about ⅓ (1 volume) of tee Tree Oil,
    For ⅔ (2 volumes) of cleaning liquid (Bought from the veterinary).
    The result is a lightly milky liquid. It is important to use a dark glass bottle to protect the mix from the light. Jonathan Margolis in his article mentioned that Tee Tree Oil can lose it’s efficacy if it is not sold in dark glass containers, kept out of light’s way in the house and rapidly used once open.

    Since what I wanted was a preventive effect and that one of Fanny’s ear infections trigger is the vaccines she receive each spring, I started the application of the mix about two weeks before she received those vaccines, in the beginning of April 2002.
    I applied the mix every two days.
    I applied the content of about one dropper in each ear.
    Since swimming is another trigger, I applied the mix every evening of the days where Fanny went swimming.
    In August, we spent two weeks at the lake and during this period she swam every day. I cheeked her ears every day and, when I saw some redness, I applied the mix twice a day.
    Back from those vacations, for one or two weeks, I had to continue the twice a day application.
    In October 2002, I was back to an application every two days.
    Note that I have tried to use the Tee Tree Oil lotion by itself. The result was not as satisfactory. The mix of the Tee Tree Oil with the cleaning liquid is better because the ears stay cleaner.
    On the other hand the cleaning liquid alone does not prevent ear infections in Fanny. I have tried it before with no success.

    Results
    NO EAR INFECTIONS THREW ALL SUMMER!
    The ear hairs do not become oily or dirty.
    I am completely satisfied.
    I have use this process until Fanny’s death in January 2010 at 14 years old with the same good result. I did not have to use antibiotics for this problem again.

    Warning
    I am a dog owner only. I have no formation in veterinary medicine or in any other allied sciences. I have tried the 15% Tee Tree Oil water-soluble solution with lavender and it worked on my dog the way I have described in this text. I did not observed any negative secondary effect on my dog. This is not a guaranty that this produce will function for other dogs with the same problem. Also, this is not a guaranty that this produce could not be detrimental.

    I am very happy to have found this way to prevent ear infections in my dog and I am please to share it with you. However, if you decide to try this produce yourself, It will be at your own risks. I decline all responsibility.

    I have no financial or other interest in this produce or in the companies mentioned here.

    Louise Noel

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Sandra… Have you tried going grain-free? You may want to read my previous post about “Dangerous Canine Diseases Linked to Grains in Dog Food“. Be sure to read the whole article… especially the part about mites and their causal relationship to atopic dermatitis.

    If you decide to make the switch, be sure to do so very gradually and with your pet’s blessing. Hope this helps.

  • Sandra Kay

    As you may remember our “Eli Red” standard poodle puppy is now 10 months old. For the past 2-3 months he has had an on-going (comes and goes) ear infection. The same condition occured in our last (2) standards during this same time of life. The groomer sterilizes the ear hair pulling equipment between each dog. It seems to me that the Vet doesn’t use enough or the right kind of treatment ($150 per visit) to get ride of the ear infection (fungus and bacteria) until it lingers. I believe they don’t want to use drugs over a prolonged period of time, cut treatment off after a week or two and the infection re-surfaces, even though the ears are being kept clean and dry each day.
    This last visit the Vet suggested that it might be the food we are feeding (a mixture of dry and canned Ultra Puppy and Wellness puppy/turkey/chicken/sweetpotatoe). I don’t want to switch to a lower quality food. Our Vet also sells the Science Diet products, so I am suspecious of a suggestion to switch foods as a potential cure.
    With our other (2) dogs we feed them junk grocery store food because we didn’t know any better and they had the same ear infection problem from 7-12 month of age.
    Any suggestions?