Tuffy’s Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-lowest tier rating of 2 star.
The Tuffy’s Dog Food product line includes three kibbles, each claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Tuffy’s Golden Chunks
- Tuffy’s Classic Hi-Pro Dog Food
- Tuffy’s Professional 26/18 (2.5 stars)
Tuffy’s Golden Chunks was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Tuffy's Golden Chunks
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Whole grain ground corn, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, wheat middlings, poultry fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), natural flavors, salt, yeast culture, brewers yeast, fish meal, flax seed meal, choline chloride, minerals (zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, sodium selenite, manganous oxide, mineral oil, calcium iodate, cobalt carbonate), vitamins (vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex(source of vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement)
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%
Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||24%||11%||57%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||26%||52%|
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 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 third ingredient is poultry by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from 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).
We consider poultry by-products slightly lower in quality than a single-species ingredient (like chicken by-products).
On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh poultry.
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.1
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 natural flavor, 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 seven 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 note the inclusion of fish meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.2
Unfortunately, this particular item is anonymous. Because various fish contain different types of fats, we would have preferred to have known the source species.
In addition, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
Next, although we can’t be certain, mineral oil is apparently used in this recipe as a stool softener.
However, the inclusion of this additive can be controversial. That’s because the European Food Safety Authority has expressed some concern as to the long term health effects of using mineral oil in human food.3
We find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.
Additionally, 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.
And lastly, this food also contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.
Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.
Tuffy’s Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Tuffy’s 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 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 54%.
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 soybean meal, brewers yeast and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a below-average amount of meat.
Tuffy’s Dog Food is a plant-based kibble using a below-average amount of poultry by-product meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 2 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.
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
10/26/2010 Original review
02/20/2014 Last Update
- Wheat Middlings as defined in an article by Wikipedia ↩
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
- EFSA News Story dated 6/12/2012 ↩