Solid Gold Sun Dancer (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Solid Gold Sun Dancer Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Solid Gold Sun Dancer product line includes one dry dog food claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance

Solid Gold Sun Dancer

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 33% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 43%

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, tapioca, peas, whitefish meal, quinoa, potatoes, canola oil, tomato pomace, sweet potato, chia seed, natural flavor, dried eggs, flaxseed, dried cranberries, dried pumpkin, dried carrots, dried apples, salt, calcium carbonate, fructooligosaccharide (FOS), salmon oil (source of DHA), taurine, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, choline chloride, manganous oxide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, sodium selenite, riboflavin supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, calcium iodate, folic acid, rosemary extract, turmeric

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis30%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis33%16%43%
Calorie Weighted Basis29%33%38%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.

After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.

The second ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The third ingredient is tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The fourth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

whitefish meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

Whitefish, is a marine or freshwater species native to Canada and the California coast.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

We are pleased to note that, unlike many fish meals, this particular item appears2 to be ethoxyquin-free.

The sixth ingredient is quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not a true cereal grain but a plant prized for its gluten-free seeds.

Compared to most other grain-type ingredients, it is high in protein (about 12-18%), dietary fiber and other healthy nutrients.

The seventh ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The eighth ingredient is canola oil. Many applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.

Much of the objection regarding canola oil appears to be related to the use of genetically modified rapeseed as its source material.

Yet others find the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.3

In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.

The ninth ingredient is tomato pomace. 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.

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, we find dried egg, a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries — from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

Next, flax seed and chia seed, are some of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax and chia seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein and chia seed contains about 17% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

In addition, this recipe contains fructooligosaccharide, an alternative sweetener4 probably used here as a prebiotic. Prebiotics function to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the large intestine.

Next, salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.

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.

Solid Gold Sun Dancer Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Solid Gold Sun Dancer looks like an above 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 33%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 43%.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, quinoa, flax and chia seeds, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Solid Gold Sun Dancer is a plant-based kibble using a notable amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Those looking for more kibbles from the same company may wish to visit our review of Solid Gold dry dog food.

Please note some products may have been given higher or lower ratings based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

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

06/11/2011 Original review
12/21/2012 Review updated
09/05/2013 Review updated
09/05/2013 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials
  2. Solid Gold Customer Service, 6/10/11
  3. Mikkelson, B and DP, Oil of Ole, Urban Legends Reference Pages (2005)
  4. Wikipedia definition
  • Kathy H

    We got a small bag of the wolf king line of this dog food for our German shepherd chowchow(or possibly shiba inu) mix. He loved it. As soon as we started pouring it into the dog food storage container he got excited! although we don’t buy it much because it’s so expensive, I’d highly recommend buying it as a treat or as something to mix in with his normal food.

  • Andrew

    Thanks Mike..BTW the Weston Price article was very interesting.. Thanks again!

    ar

  • Shawna

    My guess is (but it is just a guess) that the individuals found to be zinc deficient in the research cooked the rice..

    I do definitely agree that processed rice has less phytic acid but it is also far less nutritious. In human foods these processed grains are considered inferior and problematic. I would assume they are just as troublesome, if not more so, in the dogs diet.

    Soaking in an acid medium IS an effective way of eliminating or at least lowering the phytic acid in grains. Weston Price is a great source of info on sprouting, fermenting and soaking. They suggest using brown rice with the bran partially removed and then soaking in lemon juice (etc) for at least 8 hours. http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/living-with-phytic-acid

    Anyway, good luck with your pups!! You seem like a very concerned and caring dog dad!! They are very lucky to have you I am sure..

  • Andrew

    Seems like prepared rice, washed rice, and white rice may not be too problematic. I lifted the following from Wikipedia:
    “Phytic acid is found within the hulls of nuts, seeds, and grains.[2] In-home food preparation techniques can break down the phytic acid in all of these foods. Simply cooking the food will reduce the phytic acid to some degree. More effective methods are soaking in an acid medium, lactic acid fermentation, and sprouting.[17]”

    Perhaps a pre-soak in water with a bit of lemon juice followed by a good plain water rinse?

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman
  • Shawna

    Hi Andrew,

    I know your question was on mercury only but I wanted to comment on another aspect of your post. I hope you don’t mind!?

    You mention including a “beef-rice concoction” add to the kibbled diet. I am all for adding real food to a kibbled diet (I do the same), my concern is with the rice. In small amounts I don’t think there is much to be concerned about but in larger amounts fed frequently there could be.

    Rice and other grains have anti-nutrients (like phytates) and enzyme inhibitors. These anti-nutrients bind with minerals in the diet which prevents absorption and utilization by the body. A study was done demonstrating how too much (in this case) rice in the diet can cause a subclinical zinc deficiency (which in time could cause symptoms). http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/5/1378S.full Kibble manufactures, I’ve read, compensate for these anti-nutrients by adding extra minerals to the diet.

    The enzyme inhibitors in grains prevent the protein digesting enzymes in the intestines, like trypsin, from functioning properly which then will prevent adequate/full digestion of the protein in the food fed. The extrusion process likely inactivates the enzyme inhibitory affect of grains but not all forms of cooking does.

    Of course, you may not be feeding enough rice to cause a problem but I did want to mention the issues with doing so just in case.. :)

  • Andrew

    Scary Hg levels!! 0.1mg/Kg of fish! I assume it means that fish meal derived from tuna would have orders of magnitude higher levels than that!!!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Larger predatory marine fish (like tuna) can contain traces of mercury. And fed to a pet regularly, day after day, year-after-year, can be like any other toxin. The long-term build-up of mercury (and other industrial metals) in a dog’s tissues can eventually lead to toxic levels.

    Fortunately, most (but not all) of the named fish species products used in making dog food are relatively low in mercury. According to the American Heart Association, salmon has about 0.01 parts per million whereas tuna contains 0.12 ppm (12 times as much as salmon).

    Of course, when a fish component is not specified (like the generic phrase, “fish meal”), it’s impossible to know the actual mercury content of the ingredient.

    That’s just one of the many justifications for “rotation-style” feeding plans. Changing foods periodically can be a healthy idea. And not just for fish-containing recipes. Changing any formula once in a while can help prevent the build-up of any (unknown) toxin that could be present in a particular product.

    So, my thoughts would be to avoid feeding the same fish based dog food 100% of the time. Hope this makes sense.

  • Andrew

    Mike: What are your thoughts regarding the possibility of Mercury build up due to the reliance of fish / fish byproducts as the primary ingredient in this food. Although I’ve been feeding my two Border Collies this stuff for quite some time (plus a beef-rice concoction of my own) and they love it, I’m still concerned.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I would go with more salt and garlic.

    I’m a fan of NutriSource too. I love how it is easy to transition to, for dogs that aren’t used to switching foods. And like you, I have never heard a bad word about the company that makes it. The quality of the food seems to be pretty consistant too, at least I’ve never heard of someone complaining about their food not looking or smelling right.

  • Betsy Greer

    I appreciate your response!

    Like I said, I’m a big fan of NutriSource as well and your comment piqued my curiosity. I’m always looking to add information to my NutriSource recommendation arsenal. : )

    You’re definitely not being a smart a**! In fact, now that you’ve got me thinking, I’m going to do a little more digging into this myself. I’ll let you know what I find out.

    As for spices…, you might not even need them. Have you tried it yet? ; )

  • BlackonBlackCrime182

    Good question… I debated putting the “same source” statement in my comment because it’s been a couple years since I’ve worked in the pet food industry. The sales rep that would come into the stores would say that they’ve used the same farmers from (if I remember correctly, from a Kansas family farm for the last 10 years). Before I commented I did a few google, yahoo and altavista searches and I could not find any info on sourcing. But, even after my own (quick) research about sourcing of raw materials, I completely trust NutriSource with the foods my “furkids” eat. Below are a couple links about Nutrisrouce.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxMU65oBcFo

    http://www.nutrisourcedogfood.com/nutrisource/about_us

    I certainly don’t mean to be a smart a**. This is what the world needs, people asking others to “prove it”.

    Still, I trust NutriSource with my dog’s lives, and if Obamacare actually is actually implemented, I would eat NutriSource dog food to stay alive (looking for spice recommendations)

  • Betsy Greer

    I’m a fan of NutriSource as well. : )

    I’m curious about something you said about their having used the “…same source for their raw mterials for over a decade…” I’m curious about what you might specifically know regarding the source of their raw materials and how you know they’ve used that same supplier for over a decade.

    Thanks for the info!

  • BlackonBlackCrime182

    I (my dogs also) really like Nutri-Source. Solid Gold is great but it is expensive (it might be too awesome of a food). If you’re looking for a company that has used the same source for their raw materials for over a decade without a recall, family owned, and really do care about their customers and product they put out, I would check out NutriSource. Definitely not mass marketed food but also not ungodly expensive. New grain free line too.

  • Pamela ‘Yvonne’ Grimmett

    I have 2 Olde Boston Bulldogge, one of them had bladder stones, and had surgery, and was then required to be on a strict diet. He would not eat the Hill’s brand that I had to get a Rx for! A friend suggested I try Sundancer, it’s been two years, and they both love it, and the stones have not returned!!

  • Pattyvaughn

    I know this is old but…
    The use of chelated minerals is not really studied. It is assumed that they are absorbed better, but it is not actually known.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sybil.ward1 Sybil Ward

    Solid Gold is AWESOME

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  • ohnoesaz

    I have a new adoptee that I have been feeding Sun Dancer to since he arrived 3 weeks ago. He is eating his poop. This could be caused by a bunch of different things – stress, antibiotics, grain-free for the first time ever, etc etc. FYI, he has been on probiotics to help recover from the antibiotics. If you want to comment on that, feel free to.

    My question is should I care that the minerals in this food are not chelated? It’s strange, the other Solid Gold foods use chelated minerals, but not this one. Is it really super duper important?

  • Kahlua’s Mom

     I am a new customer of solid gold.  I have a 2yr old rescued
    female doberman with a skin problem.  Tried everything changed food, the last food was wellness, it did’nt seem to help.  Heard about solid gold, called the company, spoke with the owner, I was pleased with what I heard from her, she suggested sundancer, green tripe, seameal & flaxseed oil.  She told me it would take about 3 months to completely turn around.  It has been 3 weeks & I am seeing new hair growth where she was losing it.  She loves the food, I hope it works.  the food is expensive, but if it works it is well worth it, and I am not paying a determologist for meds. 

  • Jill Bement Lasater

     My yorkie loves it………it is about the size of an M&M but half the width.

  • Angel’s mommy

    Does anyone know the size of this kibble? Is it small enough for a pomchi? Thx.

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  • Jane

    Judy,here is not reasonable price for good healthy dog food.
    The best is “raw meat” and boiled potato and Seameal (grounded algae-Solid Gold) 1 full tsp. mix w/ warm water and add over the food 2x/day) otherwise for dry food I am using grain free Solid Gold “Sun Dancer” you cannot find any better food! I have many generation of Great Danes and all of them live longer life. (10y.+) By the way, I am not rich, and I always try to do best I can with the food. So, cook for them or go back to Solid Gold! Good luck!

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com Mike Sagman

    Hi Josh… In many ways, I agree with your assessment. That’s why I show canola as a controversial ingredient.

    Animal fats are indeed nutritionally superior to vegetable oils. And not all animal fats are created equal either. After all, there’s a notable difference in the nutritional quality of omega-3 fats (like fish oil) and omega-6 oils (like canola or sunflower oils).

    However, my point here is that much of the finger pointing singling out canola is exaggerated due to the information accompanying my footnote.

  • Josh

    Dear Mike,
    I find it unacceptable that you use this webpage and article Oil of Ole (http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/canola.asp) to back up your argument that canola is a favorable ingredient in dog food kibble.

    “The eighth ingredient lists canola oil. Most applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content… while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.

    Current thinking (ours included) finds the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.2″

    This article is poorly cited and directed towards human use and concerns cooking oil to in a frying pan not extruded kibble.
    First off, most of the current research comparing canola oil to animal fats with pets says that animal fats are a more digestible, easier to uptake for pets.
    Secondly, as stated in the article you cited rapeseed oil is GMO and that is also unappealing for many consumers, humans and dogs alike.

  • Bob K

    Judy – How about Kirklands at Costco or Diamond Natural at Menards to name a few 4 star foods that are affordable. Both brands also have cat food. Diamond Natural is on sale about once a quarter at Menards. The price for 40lb bag of Diamond Natural ranges from $27 – $34.00 depending on the specific formula and when its on sale it is discounted about 10%. I suspect thats much less than Royal Canin or Solid Gold. What is available near you? Any Farm and Fleets, TSC or farm and feed stores?

  • http://[email protected] judy spurr

    I find the dog food industry totally frustrating and misleading. I run a farm sanctuary and included are of course dogs and cats. Because we rescue we have to be careful on funds but of course we want the best, We have rescued two St. Bernards who I understand have digestive proplems – it was recommended Royal Canin but recently hear not a lot of good things and frankly very expensive. I have switched to Chicken Soup for the Dog Lovers Soul – we also have a small terrior and a recent dump of a Doberman cross puppy left in our outhouse. Have put our family of cats on this food as well. We use to give Solid Gold to our old dog but since has passed away. Please help why should I switch back to Solid Gold is there a better food for all my furry friends but reasonably priced?

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