Victor Grain Free Dog Food (Dry)


Rating: ★★★★★

Victor Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s highest rating of 5 stars.

The Victor Grain Free product line includes four dry dog foods, 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.

  • Victor Grain Free Hero Formula
  • Victor Grain Free Ultra Pro 42 Formula
  • Victor Grain Free Yukon River Formula
  • Victor Grain Free Active Dog And Puppy Formula

Victor Grain Free Active Dog and Puppy Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Victor Grain Free Active Dog and Puppy Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 36% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 39%

Ingredients: Beef meal, sweet potato, chicken meal, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pork meal, alfalfa meal, dried egg product, flax seed (source of omega 3 fatty acids), potassium chloride, natural chicken flavor, yeast culture, montmorillonite, tomato pomace (source of lycopene), whole carrots, dried celery pomace, dried beet pomace, dried parsley pomace, dried lettuce pomace, dried watercress pomace, dried spinach pomace, monosodium phosphate, dried chicory root, salt, alfalfa nutrient concentrate, yeast extract, zinc amino acid complex, hydrolyzed yeast, vitamin E supplement, iron amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, l-carnitine, selenium yeast, vitamin B12 supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate, biotin, riboavin supplement, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, lecithin, choline chloride, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation product, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, Yucca schidigera extract, taurine, citric acid, rosemary extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.2%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis33%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis36%17%39%
Calorie Weighted Basis31%35%34%
Protein = 31% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 34%

The first ingredient in this dog food is beef meal. Beef meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh beef.

The second ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The third ingredient is chicken meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

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.

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 pork meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

Although pork meal contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork, it can also be high in ash — about 25-30%.

However, the ash content of the final product is typically adjusted in the recipe to allow its mineral profile to meet AAFCO guidelines.

The seventh ingredient is alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

The eighth ingredient is dried egg product, 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.

The ninth ingredient is flaxseed, 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.

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, 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.

Next, montmorillonite clay is a naturally occurring compound rich in many trace minerals. Montmorillonite has been approved for use in USDA Organic Certified products.

Reported benefits include the binding of certain mold-based toxins and even controlling diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In addition, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

Next, this recipe also contains alfalfa nutrient concentrate, a vitamin and mineral-rich extract made from alfalfa.

Even though it contains over 50% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And 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.

Next, yeast extract is the common name for a broad group of products made by removing the cell wall from the yeast organism.

A significant number of these ingredients are added as specialized nutritional supplements while others are used as flavor enhancers.

However, the glutamic acid (and its chemical cousin, monosodium glutamate, or MSG) found in a minority of yeast extracts can be controversial.

That’s because even though the Food and Drug Administration designated these food additives to be safe decades ago1, the agency continues to receive reports of adverse effects.

So, detractors still object to the use of yeast extract and other glutamic acid derivatives and blame them for everything from Alzheimer’s (in humans) to obesity.

In any case, since the label reveals little about the the actual type of yeast extract included in any recipe, it’s impossible for us to judge the quality of this ingredient.

We also note this food 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.

And lastly, this recipe also includes selenium yeast. Unlike the more common inorganic form of selenium (sodium selenite), this natural yeast supplement is considered a safer anti-cancer alternative.

Victor Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Victor Grain Free looks like an above-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 36%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 39%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 39% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 35% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

Above-average protein. Above-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, flaxseed and alfalfa, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Victor Grain Free is a meat-based dry dog food using a significant amount of beef, chicken and pork meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically 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.

Victor 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

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.

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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.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

06/22/2015 Last Update

  1. L-Glutamic Acid, FDA Select Committee on GRAS Substances
  • Crazy4cats

    Ok, I think that one is about the same as what used to be called Joint Health, but now called their Hero formula that I feed. Thanks for your response. Here are my two…

  • sammy1023

    I’ve always had him on the Active Puppy and Dog, the red bag. I thought of switching once but he’s always done so well on it I didn’t want to tempt fate.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi sammy1023-
    Your dog looks great. I also feed Victor kibble regularly. I have two large male dogs (golden/lab) and have fed grain free joint health and currently the healthy weight/senior formulas. I’m curious which formula/s you feed? Thanks for sharing your review and pic!

  • sammy1023

    Rocky (boxer/pitbull/lab) has been on Victor for a number of years, at 10 he is going strong. Looks and acts years younger. Love this food.

  • Karma_Grant

    Glad to see they didn’t drop in ratings. My boy (GSD mix) is allergic to chicken so the only Victor’s he can have is the Yukon and it’s been almost a year and half since it was in his rotation and planned on getting a bag this weekend. Happy to know my plans don’t have to change.

  • GSDgrl82

    I normally feed a prey model raw diet but my freezer recently died so I had to go back to kibble in the meantime until I get a new freezer. I have 5 dogs and my fridge freezer has nowhere near the space I need for their raw(pre made is waaay too pricey for large dogs). Anyways I normally use six fish Orijen when I need to feed kibble but decided to try Victor Yukon(my GSD is allergic to some things) and all of my dogs are doing great on it. Normal albeit much larger(ah I miss you raw poops) stool, shiny coats, etc. The only thing I noticed is more build up in their ears and more tarter build up(never have that issue with raw). Anyways I was impressed with this food!

    I’m surprised though that this doesn’t make editors choice but Wellness and Evo do??

  • Judy

    Thank you!