Wellness Core Dog Food (Dry)


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 one recipe for growth (Puppy).

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

  • Wellness Core Ocean Formula
  • Wellness Core Puppy Formula
  • Wellness Core Original Formula
  • Wellness Core Large Breed Formula
  • Wellness Core Small Breed Formula
  • Wellness Core Reduced Fat Formula
  • Wellness Core Wild Game Formula (4.5 stars)

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, 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

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.7%

Red items when present indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis34%12%NA
Dry Matter Basis38%13%41%
Calorie Weighted Basis34%29%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 includes 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 is 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 two notable exceptions

First, 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 peas, dried potatoes and flaxseed (as well as the pea and potato proteins, chickpeas and lentils contained in other recipes), this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Wellness Core is a 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.

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

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content.

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

11/18/2009 Original review
06/15/2010 Review updated
07/07/2010 Review updated
06/07/2011 Review updated
06/08/2012 Review updated
11/12/2013 Review updated
11/12/2013 Last Update

  • JC77

    I used to feed my one year-old pug Wellness CORE, but then I switched to Acana. Both are great high-quality food, but with Acana my pug’s fur looks better and is a lot softer.

  • Karissa Dreese

    Why is the Wellness Wild Game given only 4.5 stars?

  • JudyandSam Simpson Norris

    You could try Innova Natures Table or Prime, I think its called now. Or Castor & Pollux Untramix Grain Free or Fromm Grain Free. My cocker, Abbie, had really bad skin issues until I changed her to Castor & Pollux and Fromm Grain Frees.

  • JudyandSam Simpson Norris

    Mine have been on Fromm Grain Free for awhile and love it. My Abbie has skin allergies too and has done well on the Fromm Grain Free. I go to Hollywood Feed and they will give you samples, if they have them. They have also had Castor & Pollux Grain Free and love it too. I swap up every so often as they get tired of the same thing over and over. Wellness seems to be rated high here so I may try it too.

  • JudyandSam Simpson Norris

    As you have probably seen on here by now, if you checked out the rating, Beneful is garbage. If you care about you dog, feed him good food.

  • c.vonM

    Over the past several daysI have transitioned my 4 mo. old miniature poodle to wellness core puppy from royal canin. She is now drinking tons of water, much more than she had been. Is that normal? It is interfering with her almost house-trained status since she now needs to urinate very frequently.

  • Bobby dog

    My dog loves this food and does very well on it. I have not fed it in a couple of months, but it is part of my rotation diet for my dog. I feed the regular gf because he is a medium sized dog, 40 lbs, with a topper for added moisture. I also found I needed to feed less than the recommended serving which was just another bonus.

  • cbw7

    I am using Wellness CORE Grain-Free Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food By Wellness. My thre labs love it and they are very healthy. I did a research about this food, I compared it with other brands and with the other options from Welness grain-free as well, and I chose this one. I would like to know what do you think about this food? Thanks

  • Karen

    My Havanese does great on this food. Her coat is shiny, no digestive issues or skin problems and her eyes shine. I just recently found out that Wellness also advertises they are Non – GMO! Yay!

  • Pattyvaughn

    I can’t say about the 1 month per year part since my pup came to me at 8 weeks old with issues and the 2 1/2 months it took to get him straightened out happened before his first birthday, but otherwise I completely agree, especially about having patience with the healing process. The damage didn’t happen in a day, so don’t expect it to clear up that fast either.

  • Anie Bananie

    Good points, we estimate, when you get a really good diet going after ruling out conditions, or identifying them, keep going patiently, but we have found that it takes approximately 1 month for every year of feeding abuse on average. It may take longer depending on the specifics. You need to find a good vet that listens and does not push all their products on you, but will consider natural things as well as medications when absolutely necessary. Also avoid vaccines that are not mandatory, Dr. Pitcairn reviews these as well as other vets. Remember every med/vaccine is to help, but with the help their are side effects, the question is if it is necessary or if the benefits outweigh the risks. Best of luck on the journey to wellness.

  • Anie Bananie

    We switched to this brand, plus we use Dr. Pitcairn’s natural recommendations, an absolute plus is codliver oil, his book breaks everything down for you to make it easy. Welness in the am and raw foods later in the day. Dogs systems were designed for raw, but we get how that is not always practical or affordable. We have turned 12 year old dogs around, their skin, teeth, coat and eyes now need limited attention or none at all. 2 dogs had serious hair loss, and even the 14 year old with a heart condition improved tremendously. Most of these 5 star foods are good, but we believe like humans no 2 dogs are exactly the same but they all need the basics. Don’t forget some of your daily foods are good for your pup too. Again Dr. Pitcairn’s books are a great guide on the foods and supplements. Watch out for all those meds and especially the pest controls put on dogs or given to them, they are poison and when on a good diet they naturally repel these pests. The best to you on your journey!

  • Pat C.

    Itchy skin problems…..try Vet Solutions Universal Medicated Shampoo (can get at Amazon). Cleared it right up after trying various other things that didn’t work over the course of a year. My dog was losing hair and bloodying herself where she would bite the itchy spots. I and my dog were so relieved when this stuff worked. I keep mentioning this when I read about other dog’s skin problems because I don’t want others to suffer needlessly like we did and waste money on other shampoos, meds and foods that did not fix the problem.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Keep in mind that starch sources have proteins in them too, so dogs can be allergic to them too. Keep ingredient lists and make notes on what your dog does well on and doesn’t do well on. Hopefully, by comparing ingredient lists, you will be able to figure out what your dog is reacting to.
    Allergies do not reflect on the quality of the food. One of my dogs is allergic to some of the best foods around.

  • Guest

    I was gradually transitioning my dogs to this and one of them developed an anal gland rupture which the vet thinks might be due to an allergy, especially as his ear are somewhat inflamed. So even though the food may sound good in theory, it may not be right for every dog. There are so may ingredients that I don’t know which one might be the problem for this dog. I think I will keep them on a single protein source. The one they are on now was chicken based.

  • jay

    Oh its nice too see that someone has the same breed as me! Can i see pics of him i need to upload pics of my boy . And i put him on wellness core for puppies and will change him to small breed maybe mines will like it? Or if not ill put him on tje reg pne cause he likes the puppy one! And do you boil the egg and cook the meat? I thought human food was bad for dogs :/

  • Bianca

    I’ve been feeding my shih tzu/papillon mix wellness core since he was about 5-6 months old. His bowel movements weren’t healthy until he started eating wellness core. Now, his bowel movements are regular and healthy and he continues to maintain a healthy weight, beautiful teeth, high energy and mood and his coat is beautiful! He is almost a year and a half now. I came back to find another food for him for really no other reason except he’s been eating this for a while. I throw in an egg, veggies, or meat into his bowl a couple times a week, and nothing seems to upset his stomach anymore!! Ps, I feed him the original. The small breed upset him a little bit. Good luck! I never reply to these things, but you’re the first person I’ve seen with the same mix as me! They’re the sweetest pups around!

  • Akari_32

    Anything is better than Beneful, so its a great idea. Wellness CORE is my favorite food to feed my dogs, and is the best available in my area.

  • Ollie

    Many many dogs have died or gotten really sick on benefull any Purina product is the worst to feed. Don’t feel to bad about feeding it because I did to ,not knowing what it was doing to dogs till mine threw up a lot. Im not sure if small puppies need a certain puppy formula or not and I haven’t used this food but it’s definitely better than the beneful which is under 1 star food review so you can look at it if you want. You could repost the question under off topic discussion and could get more response back. Hope this helps .

  • jay

    i just got a 6month old shih tzu/papillon mix and he is currently on beneful for puppies i am thinking about changing him to wellness core puppies is this an ideal food for him?

  • Eric Bowman

    Can you delete her comments she is doing cyberstalking.

  • Shelby girl

    My shorkie has been put on Urinary SO by Royal Canine…because of possible kidney issues….however she has had a time with yeast ever since I put her on this…any suggestions? HELP!

  • Bryce Martin

    Just mix the dry kibble with enough water to get the consistency you would like. Once you add the water let it sit for a minute or two and the kibble will soften up.

  • Gena Hail

    I have 2 new rescues shih Tzu mixes. One has extreme food allergies but is also very picky. I have tried all of the grain free dog foods and he doesn’t like any of them. I’m on this one now it seems too hard to chew. Is there anything I can add besides mixing with canned dog food the expense is more than I can handle with my job shutting the doors to the business.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I agree, benedryl should only be given on the advice of your vet, so I wouldn’t tell people what the dosage instructions should be, as if I’m inviting them to use it anyways.

  • Caroline Capobianco

    Thanks Betsy! I had no clue. I just googled it. They’re beautiful dogs! Definitely large breed! lol!

  • Betsy Greer

    Hi Caroline,

    I believe she must have a Native American Indian Dog which would definitely be considered a large breed with a weight anywhere from 55 lbs to 120 lbs.

  • Caroline Capobianco

    Hi Jeanette. What is a NAID? If you have a large breed puppy, they have specific dietary needs like lower calcium levels when they are puppies. Wellness Core Puppy is a really good food and is appropriate for large breed pups. Here is a list of other foods for large breed puppies: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BwApI_dhlbnFTXhUdi1KazFzSUk/edit. You could try transitioning him to Wellness Core Puppy. Fromm doesn’t agree with every dog. Mine never did that well on it and one just wouldn’t eat it.

  • Jeanette

    I also need help I have a new baby he is a NAID. I really think he getting diarrhea from his puppy food lg breed puppy From Gold. Please help me with this food stuff I’m really going insane please thank you for your time

  • Dizzydog10

    Benedryl should only be given on the advice of your Vet. My Chihuahua takes it 2x’s a day. The average dose, for a small dog is 1 mlg.Childrens Benedryl liquid per pound. When I had my Australian Shepard Mix, she was 50 pnds, she was on 1 25 mlg adult tab every 12 hours. This is only if your vet has ruled out any other problem.

  • Pattyvaughn

    Please don’t tell people to use 4 tab of benedryl a day on their dog without even mentioning the size of your dog or how often you give how much. Overdose on benedryl does happen. OTC drugs are the ones most likely to be used wrong, especially on pets and still need a vets advice on dosing.
    Fortunately, the usual first sign of benedryl overdose is vomiting and that gets rid of some of it, but not always.

  • Dog..Bahama

    Try Wellness Core And add extra omegas to the diet. My dog had similar issues so I also took her off grains. I add salmon oil for extra fatty acids and it seems to be cleaning up.

  • wendy

    My dog is 7, and I just went through the same thing, including about $500 in medications. Hair loss, pimples, massive red skin etc…We have no flees either and the vet made me put her on a very expensive flee control (no difference there), so I took her off. The meds cleared up most of the hair loss and cracking skin. I was told she had a food allergy (after all these years). I switched her to the vet recommended Natural Balance. HOWEVER, she now smells like cat pee (so does my new puppy, both on NB sweet potato and bison)and she still has some pimples which I put neosporin on to clear up. I just read how bad NB has become and that it does cause that smell issue in some dogs. Many bad review on NB and also on Blue Buffalo. i guess they were both recently bought out by others, and quality of food is not the same. Not sure what dog food to try next. The thing that works best for my dog after many $ and vet visits is Benedryl. Up to 4 tabs of 25mg per day. It does not have the same tiring effect on dogs as on humans. This keeps the sores and red skin at bay without the expensive meds with side effects.Hope this helps.

  • InkedMarie

    I agree with Patty.

  • http://DogFoodAdvisor.com/ Mike Sagman

    Hey Guys,

    The Dog Food Advisor community encourages “courteous critiques, polite debate and calm disagreement”.

    Unfortunately, recent remarks here compel me to remind all involved to adhere to Our Commenting Policy which states:

    “… we delete comments that exceed the boundaries of courteous behavior. This includes remarks that are rude, profane, mean-spirited, disrespectful, lack good manners or otherwise unrelated to the topic at hand.”

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  • Pattyvaughn

    Sorry, you’re right. That should have said lower meat protein.

  • sue66b

    Another one that has to add her 2c.

  • sue66b

    Which Wellness Core is Moose on, is it the original, as my boy suffers from IBD & Colitis & he’s on the Eukanuba Intestinal this has help him, excellent poos but some days after eating especially mornings he does his licking his lips like he feels sick then wants his grass the vet has said to try & not let him have grass as this will irritate the bowel then this makes his Colitis come back.. Do u know if the Wellness core kibble dissolves easy when put in hot water, as my boy cant digest some hard kibbles, the kibble just sits in his stomach then when he’d spew it still was whole 8 hours later, that was the Royal Canin Hypoallergenic, the Eukanuba Intestinal breaks down as it a low residue kibble..I cant seem to find another Low residue kibble they all seem very very hard,, there has to be another kibble out there that my boy can digest easily..

  • Pattyvaughn

    See if you can find the Natural Balance LID foods somewhere near you. They are not the best food out there and I wouldn’t want to put a dog on them forever, but they are a good tool to start getting a handle on what your dog is reacting to.

    When my dog was still eating a food that he reacted to and I switched him to a food that was a good match for him, I could tell within 1 week that he was getting better, but it took about 2 1/2 months for all the symptoms to go away completely.