Wellness Core Dog Food (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Wellness Core Dog Food earns the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Wellness Core product line includes seven dry dog foods, six claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and one recipe for growth (Puppy Formula).

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

  • Wellness Core Puppy Formula
  • Wellness Core Ocean Formula
  • Wellness Core Original Formula
  • Wellness Core Wild Game Formula
  • Wellness Core Reduced Fat Formula
  • Wellness Core Original Small Breed Formula
  • Wellness Core Original Large Breed Formula

Wellness Core Large Breed Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Wellness Core Large Breed Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 38% | Fat = 13% | Carbs = 41%

Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, potatoes, peas, tomato pomace, dried ground potatoes, ground flaxseed, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural chicken flavor, pea fiber, potassium chloride, spinach, broccoli, vitamin E supplement, carrots, parsley, apples, blueberries, kale, sweet potatoes, taurine, l-carnitine, mixed tocopherols added to preserve freshness, zinc proteinate, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, zinc sulfate, calcium carbonate, niacin, ferrous sulfate, iron proteinate, beta-carotene, vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganese sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride, chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, calcium iodate, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract, green tea extract, spearmint extract

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.7%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis34%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis38%13%41%
Calorie Weighted Basis34%29%37%
Protein = 34% | Fat = 29% | Carbs = 37%

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 turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The fourth 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 fifth 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 sixth 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.

The seventh ingredient includes ground dried potatoes, a dehydrated item usually made from the by-products of potato processing. In most cases, dried potato can contain about 10% dry matter protein which can affect our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.

The eighth 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.

The ninth 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.

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 three notable exceptions

First, we find pea fiber, a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no other nutritional value to a dog.

Next, 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.

And lastly, 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.

Wellness Core Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Wellness Core Dog Food 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 38%, a fat level of 13% and estimated carbohydrates of about 41%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 38% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 37% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.

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 legumes and flaxseed in some of recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Wellness Core is a grain-free, meat-based dry dog food using a notable amount of poultry, lamb and named fish 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.

Those looking for a wet grain-free product from the same company may want to read our review of Wellness Core Canned Dog Food.

Wellness 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.

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.

However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

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

Notes and Updates

05/17/2015 Last Update

  • NR

    I don’t think it’s a quality food either. My dog started peeing every 3 hours on that food. That’s not a good sign.

  • Jack

    Lots of reasons dogs don’t chew properly. I had to use a labyrinth bowl to slow down one of mine because she was pretty much just inhaling it. Like the other poster suggested, it could also be due to the food being too hard. If you can figure out the problem, you’ll be able to address it – possibly without switching foods.

  • Jack

    It isn’t “like eating vitamins all day” (which wouldn’t actually be healthy anyway.) It is a decent food I guess, but it’s far from the best and it makes some dogs sick. I’m glad it’s working for yours, though.

  • Jack

    Yes… My dog began pooping twice around mealtime (usually before and right after eating.) Never had this before.

  • Jack

    I transitioned my chihuahua to Wellness Core Ocean Formula after reading this article. He loves the taste, but he has started having severe stomach pain after eating (this after eating it for a couple of weeks.)

    He’s the 2nd chi I’ve tried Wellness on and neither responded well. I transition them very slowly, so that’s not the problem. Based on reading a lot of other reviews, I think Wellness uses ingredients that make some dogs sick. They aren’t outright toxic ingredients, but they aren’t exactly universally safe for dogs either, or I doubt there would be so many people reporting problems.

    I’m done with Wellness products. I’m going to try Nature’s Logic Rabbit Feast instead.

  • NR

    My dog just turned one about a month ago and I switched him from Halo, which we didn’t have any problems with. After the switch, the dog started pooping more times a day. And about a week or two ago, he started to wake up in the middle of the night to pee. I’m thinking to switch my dog back to Halo or Merrick. Did anybody else’s dogs experience similar symptoms on Wellness Core?

  • Adrian Blong

    I’m in Melbourne & my boy has been scratching the last 2 months & is on PredX (steroid) too. Food not so likely as he had the same issue on E brand or the previous 5 years with me. We’ve nailed it down to spring. Pollens, even more possibly the paspallum grass (actually a weed). Vet has agreed I was right in the end LOL

  • cbw7

    My dogs love this food! I have 3 Labs, The male is almost 11 years old, the females are 7 and 5 1/2. All of them are doing great. Their coats are beautiful. No itchy or allergies at all. If your dog has skin allergies also can be caused by the shampoo you use, if it is a thick fur dog, be sure you wash the shampoo very well.
    I have tried many dry dog food brands. After doing some research and years of giving it to my 3 dogs I can say that Wellness Core Grain-free for Large Breeds is great food! . I highly recommend it!

  • Burke’sMom

    Several of the Core have had ingredient changes – though not additions that I’ve seen, but changes in prominence of secondary ingredients. Below is a comparison of the Large Breed Core (as reviewed
    here) with the New Formula. Other Wellness Cores that have new formulas include Oceans and Wild Game formulas that I’ve noticed.

    Wellness Core Large Breed
    Old formulation: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, potatoes, peas, tomato pomace, dried ground potatoes, ground flaxseed, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural chicken flavor, pea fiber, potassium chloride, spinach, broccoli,
    carrots, parsley, vitamins [vitamin e supplement, beta-carotene, niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin a supplement, riboflavin, vitamin d3 supplement, vitamin b12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), biotin, folic acid], apples, minerals [zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, iron proteinate, ferrous sulfate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate,
    manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate], blueberries, kale, sweet potatoes, l-carnitine, mixed tocopherols added to preserve freshness, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, taurine, chicory root extract, yucca schidigera extract, dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried
    lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract, green
    tea extract – this is a naturally preserved product

    New formulation: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkeymeal, potatoes, peas, tomato pomace, dried ground potatoes, ground flaxseed, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural
    chicken flavor, pea fiber, potassium chloride, spinach, broccoli, vitamin e supplement, carrots, parsley, apples, blueberries, kale, sweet potatoes, taurine, l-carnitine, mixed tocopherols added to preserve freshness, zinc proteinate, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, zinc sulfate, calcium carbonate, niacin, ferrous sulfate, iron
    proteinate, beta-carotene, vitamin a supplement, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganese
    sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride, chicory root extract, yucca schidigera extract, riboflavin, vitamin d3 supplement, biotin, calcium iodate, vitamin b12 supplement, folic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), dried lactobacillus
    plantarum fermentation product, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract, green tea extract, spearmint extract

  • Burke’sMom

    Several of the Core have had ingredient changes – though not additions that I’ve seen, but changes in prominence of secondary ingredients. Below is a comparison of the Large Breed Core (as reviewed here) with the New Formula. Other Wellness Cores that have new formulas include Oceans and Wild Game formulas that I’ve noticed.

    Wellness Core Large Breed

    Old formulation: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey
    meal, potatoes, peas, tomato pomace, dried ground potatoes, ground
    flaxseed, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural
    chicken flavor, pea fiber, potassium chloride, spinach, broccoli,
    carrots, parsley, vitamins [vitamin e supplement, beta-carotene, niacin,
    d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin a supplement, riboflavin, vitamin d3
    supplement, vitamin b12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine
    mononitrate, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), biotin, folic acid], apples,
    minerals [zinc proteinate, zinc sulfate, iron proteinate, ferrous
    sulfate, copper sulfate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate,
    manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate], blueberries, kale,
    sweet potatoes, l-carnitine, mixed tocopherols added to preserve
    freshness, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, taurine,
    chicory root extract, yucca schidigera extract, dried lactobacillus
    plantarum fermentation product, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation
    product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried
    lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract, green
    tea extract – this is a naturally preserved product

    New formulation: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey
    meal, potatoes, peas, tomato pomace, dried ground potatoes, ground
    flaxseed, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural
    chicken flavor, pea fiber, potassium chloride, spinach, broccoli,
    vitamin e supplement, carrots, parsley, apples, blueberries, kale, sweet
    potatoes, taurine, l-carnitine, mixed tocopherols added to preserve
    freshness, zinc proteinate, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin
    sulfate, zinc sulfate, calcium carbonate, niacin, ferrous sulfate, iron
    proteinate, beta-carotene, vitamin a supplement, copper sulfate,
    thiamine mononitrate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, manganese
    sulfate, d-calcium pantothenate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine
    hydrochloride, chicory root extract, yucca schidigera extract,
    riboflavin, vitamin d3 supplement, biotin, calcium iodate, vitamin b12
    supplement, folic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), dried lactobacillus
    plantarum fermentation product, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation
    product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried
    lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, rosemary extract, green
    tea extract, spearmint extract

  • Whyugotta Bechittinme

    Off topic, but I’ve always had a ‘dog crush’ on the Schipps. Any chance you could put a pic up?

  • hpyhikn

    Wellness dog food is fantastic. I have a chihuahua and I feed her this dry food so she gets a balanced meal plus whatever meat or chicken we have as a family. I love this food. Even picky dogs (and I doubt there is a more picky dog than a Chi) like it. Its like eating vitamins all day. I’m so happy and relieved with this company. I don’t feed my dog the wet food because it is so expensive but the dry food — great stuff.

  • http://theuglypugglyboutique.com/ sandy

    You might check out Core Semi-Moist food, FreshPet Nature’s Fresh and Waggers Tendermoist. Those are semi-soft. I haven’t checked the prices on all those.

  • Colleen Edgington

    I have an elderly dog about 14 years old that has 2 teeth left. One day I saw him vomit the kibble that he must have inhaled. The kibble was not even chewed. I went to Petsmart looking for a more easily digestible food. My dog likes the grain free CORE food and on more vomiting but the price of this food is horrible, $30 for a 2 lb bag. If you want your dog to eat this food look and buy the largest bag online for better value.

  • lana

    It just may be that Wellness doesnt agree with your dog. My dog does well on it. Good appetite, keeps him (thankfully he doesnt overeat), nice stools, and the smell is “normal poop smell”. On the other hand, TOTW does NOT agree with my dog at all, whatsoever. I wouldnt say totw is bad tho (i decided to try it because its a decent/good brand imo), but for my dog it’s a no. He loved it at first then began to pick around it and his stool was terrible and smelled ATROCIOUS!

    So for your dog, I think it may be the same thing – it just doesnt work for him.

  • Crazy4dogs

    Hi AAP,

    Do you rotate between the Wellness formulas or have you only fed one formula? Are you feeding the Core? It’s hard to say if they’ve developed an intolerance to an ingredient or if it’s something else. You could call Wellness to see if there has been an ingredient change.

  • AAP

    I have two Australian Shepherds they are three years old. They have been on wellness since 8/9 weeks old. In the last month one in particular has bees itching and scratching been on steroids for it and now both are itching/scratching. I’m wondering if wellness has changed any ingredients?

  • Holly Addair

    Ichanged to wellness core grain free original dry dog food 1 month ago and this food is total crap. My dog that has only had 1 UTI in her 6 yrs of life was diagnosed with bilateral ear infections, bladder stones and UTI today and my other dog has been having formed stools but at the end of her poop, yellowish-brown liquid. I don’t know what is going on with this dog food. I kept seeing 5 stars but since their illness began I have read that this food is very high in protein hence the stones. I’m not sure if something is wrong with this food or if my cockers are having a allergic reaction but I’m very disappointed with Wellness. I recommend changing dog foods!!!

  • Pitlove

    Best of luck!

  • Stacey D

    Thanks. I will definitely buy from another store. My fogs love it and I love what it has done for them.

  • Stacey D

    Thanks. I will try another store. I really like what the foods has done for my two. And they love it as well.

  • Pitlove

    Hi Diana- So sorry to hear about your trouble with your pup. I haven’t heard anything from the customers at the small pet store I work for about WellnessCORE so maybe the store you buy from got an unlucky bad batch.

    What kind of pup do you have?

  • Diana

    I have a ten week old puppy. Started him on Wellness Puppy dry food. He has developed diarrhea and is sick. It was recommended by a friend not to use the food. I called the store where I had just purchased a new bag to see if I could return it. They asked the brand and I told them. They said a lot of people had been returning it because it was making their dogs sick. I am done with this brand!

  • Pitlove

    I second what C4D said. I talked to my boss (small family owned pet store) about what someone on here had said about a few bags of Orijen they got (had bugs or something) and she said most likely it was a distributor problem. See if you can find out who they use as their distributor and try another pet store and find out if they use a different one. We have never been asked that question before, but I wouldn’t imagine we couldn’t give the info out if we were asked about it.

  • Susan

    The wellness Core kibbles are very potato heavy, Wellpet makes Wellness, Holistic Select & Eagle Pack, have you looked at Holistic Select Grain free kibbles, Salmon, Anchovy & Sardine meal adult/puppy health or their Deboned Turkey & Lentils recipe adult health http://www.holisticselect.com/recipes.aspx?pet=dog

  • Crazy4dogs

    I would try a different store. They might be having storage or distributor issues. :(

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