Best Grain Free Dog Foods

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The best grain-free dog foods typically contain more protein than those made with grain.

But many are made with grain-substitutes that can upset the nutrient balance of the finished food. That’s because the 2 most common ingredients used to replace the corn, rice and other cereal grains found in other dog foods include…

  • Potatoes
  • Legumes (peas, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, etc.)

Although both are suitable grain substitutes… legumes are also rich in protein… which is a good thing.

Yet unlike meat-based protein… plant protein can be deficient in certain essential amino acids.

Which is why we recommend the 10 grain-free foods below… where meat remains the dominant source of protein… in each formula.

The following dog foods are listed in random order. Each was chosen because it meets or exceeds our selection criteria. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a referral fee. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.

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The Best Grain-Free Dog Food
for September 2021

Here are The Dog Food Advisor’s top 10 best grain-free dog food brands for September 2021:



Wellness Core Ocean Formula Grain-Free Formula

Wellness Core Grain-Free Kibble

Rating:

Wellness Core Ocean Formula is one of 12 dry recipes included in our review of the Wellness Core product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Whitefish, herring meal, salmon meal, menhaden fish meal, peas
  • Other recipes: Adult, weight loss, small breed, large breed, puppy, large breed puppy, senior
  • Price: $$
  • See all 12 available recipes

This Wellness formula derives most of its meat protein from fish and fish meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 38% protein, 17% fat and 38% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.

An exceptional protein-rich option.

Sample buyer review… “My dog absolutely loves this food! She’s not really a fussy eater, and she’s never “rushed” to eat her food, but from the moment I put this food in her bowl, she started eating it right away! She seems very excited at meal time! I think I’ve found her “furever” food!”

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American Journey Dog Food Review

American Journey Grain-Free

Rating:

American Journey Beef and Sweet Potato is one of 14 dry recipes included in our review of the American Journey product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned beef, chicken meal, turkey meal, peas, chickpeas
  • Other recipes: Puppy, large breed, senior, healthy weight
  • Price: $$
  • See all 14 available recipes

This American Journey formula derives most of its meat protein from beef and chicken and turkey meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 16% fat and 41% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 44%.

We also note the inclusion of salmon oil, which is rich in healthy, omega-3 fatty acids. The formula also contains both “pre” and probiotics to support optimal digestion. Highly recommended, especially when you consider the budget pricing.

Sample buyer review… “This is my go to dry food. I have a very picky dog. When we first adopted him he would not eat anything. He went for 2 days and did not eat anything! A friend recommended this and he ate a little bit. Over the next week he ate a little more each day. Now it is his daily food and I use other American Journey flavors and mix the two every now and then just for variety.”

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Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry

Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dog Food

Rating:

Taste of the Wild High Prairie is one of 9 dry recipes included in our review of the Taste of the Wild product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas
  • Other recipes: Puppy, adult, small breed, and more
  • Price: $
  • See all 9 available recipes

Taste of the Wild High Prairie derives most of its meat protein from buffalo, lamb meal and chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

A superior choice for your dog. Heartily recommended.

Sample buyer review… “My fur babies love it, I bought the bag before I finished off their other food and they would inspect the bag. As soon as I cut it open and fed them, they won’t touch their other food. They know which is which and they prefer Taste of the Wild over all their food. Glad they’re happy.”

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Orijen Six Fish Dog Food

Orijen Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Rating:

Orijen Six Fish is one of 8 dry recipes included in our review of the Orijen product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Whole Atlantic mackerel, whole Atlantic herring, monkfish, Acadian redfish, flounder
  • Other recipes: Large breed puppy, adult, senior, puppy, weight loss
  • Price: $$$
  • See all 8 available recipes

Orijen Six Fish derives the bulk of its animal protein from whole Atlantic mackerel and herring, as well as monkfish and redfish. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 43% protein, 21% fat and 28% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.

A solid grain-free product line. Enthusiastically recommended.

Sample buyer review… “I have always fed my German Shepherds Orijen, so when my boyfriend and I got an 11mo German Shepherd I went straight for this food again. It is the best food on the market! My dogs have always had wonderful coats and teeth with this food. The 6 fish even helps with the shedding. Our dog is protection trained and is in training for competitions so he need a high protein food to keep up with him and this brand does the trick. I love this food!!”

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Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dry

Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Dry

Rating:

Instinct Raw Boost with Real Duck is one of 14 dry recipes included in our review of the Instinct Raw Boost product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Duck, chicken meal, peas, egg product, turkey meal
  • Other recipes: Adult, weight loss, puppy, skin and coat, large breed puppy, small breed, senior
  • Price: $$$
  • See all 14 available recipes

This Instinct recipe derives the bulk of its meat protein from fresh duck and chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 38% protein, 23% fat and 31% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 61%.

A protein-rich recipe. Confidently recommended.

Sample buyer review… “This was a first for me in ordering this product, but WOW, I am glad that I did. My Chow Chow is a picky eater, so I was a bit skeptical about whether or not she would eat it; but it turns out that she LOVES the stuff, and she loves taking out the small raw pieces, and eating them as if they were a treat! I am pleased with this purchase, because it is nutritious for my pet, and she loves it!”

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Dr Tims Salmon and Pork RPM Grain-Free Dry Food for Dogs

Dr. Tim’s Grain-Free Dog Food

Rating:

Dr. Tim’s Salmon and Pork RPM is one of 2 dry recipes included in our review of the Dr. Tim’s product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Salmon meal, pork meal, dried white potatoes, dried field peas, tapioca
  • Other recipes: Several grain-inclusive formulas
  • Price: $$
  • See both available recipes

Dr. Tim’s Salmon and Pork RPM derives the majority of its animal protein from salmon and pork meals. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% estimated carbs… which yields a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

A quality, grain-free brand. Readily recommended.

Sample buyer review… “We have tried everything on the market. Our oldest female had really awful skin allergies. Then we were talking to a friend of our’s that recommended this food to us. We researched it and found out it would be great for our girl and her skin allergies PLUS we have sporting retrievers that needed a good food for the protein/energy and carbs. This food has been wonderful for it all. We have raised several young dogs on this food and they did really well on it too. I cannot say enough good things about this food and what it has done for our dogs. We have 4 Labradors, an Aussie, and a small rescue dog. They all love this food! Thank you Dr. Tim’s!”

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Canidae Pure Real Lamb and Pea Food for Dogs

Canidae Grain-Free Pure

Rating:

Canidae Grain-Free Pure Real Lamb and Pea Recipe is one of 12 dry recipes included in our review of the Canidae Pure product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Lamb, turkey meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans
  • Other recipes: Adult, puppy, weight loss, senior
  • Price: $$
  • See all 12 available recipes

Canidae Pure Real Lamb and Pea Recipe derives the majority of its animal protein from lamb and poultry meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

A superb selection free of grains.

Sample buyer review… “My dog has always been a picky eater even when she was little. Because of that, she wasn’t in her proper weight category for her age and breed. I decided to make a switch to a higher quality brand of dog food than what I was feeding. This specific dog food ranks 4.5 / 5 on a popular dog food rating site. It has really good ingredients and actually costs less than most other dog food brand with the same ones. My dog absolutely loves this food. I have never seen her more excited to eat (other than for cheese or boiled chicken).”

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Farmina Grain-Free Dog Food

Farmina N&D Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Rating:

Adult Fish Medium Dog Formula is one of 10 dry recipes included in our review of the Farmina N&D Grain-Free product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Herring, dehydrated herring, sweet potatoes, herring oil, dried whole eggs
  • Other recipes: Adult, small breed, large breed, puppy
  • Price: $$$
  • See all 10 available recipes

This Farmina recipe derives the greatest portion of its meat protein from fresh and dehydrated herring. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 41% protein, 20% fat and 32% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 49%.

Omega-3 herring oil for healthy skin and free of all pea protein concentrates. An excellent grain-free selection.

Sample buyer review… “I had never heard of Farmina until getting my newest puppy and the breeder suggesting it as what he fed. This stuff is amazing! It smells good enough that my 10-year-old daughter wanted to know if it was for us instead of the puppy. And baby Malachite thinks it’s yummy, happily eating it up with a dollop of yogurt. His eyes are bright and his coat fluffy soft and the ingredient list is exactly what I want in terms of healthy, clean food. Can’t wait to watch him grow!”

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Ollie Fresh Turkey Recipe

Ollie Fresh Grain-Free Turkey Recipe

Rating:

Ollie Fresh Turkey is one of 4 wet recipes included in our review of the Ollie product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Turkey thigh, pumpkin, turkey liver, turkey heart, carrot
  • Other recipes: Beef, chicken, lamb
  • Price: $$$
  • See all 4 available recipes

This Ollie formula derives the bulk of its animal protein from fresh turkey and turkey organ meat. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 39% protein, 25% fat and 28% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 64%.

The company designs each custom feeding plan based on your dog’s age, weight, activity level and other feeding factors… and then recommends a measured portion size, based on the number of calories needed to keep your dog at ideal weight.

The fresh, customized diet is delivered to you on a flexible schedule. It should be stored in your freezer… and then thawed (as needed) in your refrigerator.

An exceptional, grain-free option… ideal for those who want to feed a scientifically balanced diet that’s as close to homemade as you can get… yet without all the tedious work. Not cheap. Highly recommended.

Sample buyer review… “Our 10 year old GSD had skin issues & was refusing to eat his dry food. We made the switch to Ollie & the changes have been amazing. Dexter is no longer scratching all the time and he looks forward to his breakfast & dinner every day. He’s also perkier and runs around like a puppy. We are so happy with Ollie!!”

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Merrick Grain Free Real Salmon and Sweet Potato Recipe

Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Rating:

Merrick Grain-Free Real Salmon with Sweet Potato is one of 14 dry recipes included in our review of the Merrick Grain-Free product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned salmon, salmon meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes
  • Other recipes: Puppy, adult, weight loss, senior
  • Price: $$
  • See all 14 available recipes

Merrick Grain-Free Real Salmon with Sweet Potato derives the bulk of its animal protein from salmon and salmon meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 38% protein, 16% fat and 38% estimated carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 41%.

A great option with multiple formulas. A top grain-free pick.

Sample buyer review… “My Goldendoodle wasn’t really eating his other new food that I transitioned him to from puppy to adult … read great things about Merrick and gave it a shot. My pup loves it and eats it all.”

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More Grain-Free Recommendations

Nulo Freestyle Salmon and Peas Dry Kibble

Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Dog Food

Rating:

Nulo Freestyle Adult Salmon and Peas is one of 8 dry recipes included in our review of the Nulo Freestyle product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned salmon, turkey meal, menhaden fish meal, whole peas, sweet potato
  • Other recipes: Puppy, small breed, adult, senior and others
  • Price: $$$
  • See all 8 available recipes

Nulo Freestyle Adult Salmon and Peas derives the bulk of its meat protein from salmon, turkey meal and menhaden fish meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 33% protein, 18% fat and 41% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 53%.

Enthusiastically recommended.

Sample buyer review… “I’m a big fan of Nulo food for my four babies. Compared to other foods in the same price range it rates high. It’s nevef had a recall and it’s an award winning food. My babies love it. The kibble is small for their small mouths and they clean up every bite. No grains and all wholesome ingredients make this a winner…”

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Weruva Funky Chunky Chicken Soup Wet Dog Food

Weruva Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Rating:

Weruva Funky Chunky Chicken Grain and Gluten-Free is one of 14 wet recipes included in our review of the Weruva product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, pumpkin, carrot, green pea
  • Other recipes: Several different meat sources
  • Price: $$$
  • See all 14 available recipes

Weruva Funky Chunky Chicken derives most of its animal protein from chicken. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 64% protein, 10% fat and 18% estimated carbs… which results in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 15%.

An exceptional, grain-free wet dog food.

Sample buyer review… “We recently switched wet food because our pup was having digestive issues and the nutritionist recommended removing grain. This was definitely the perfect choice. It looks like real people food, it smells delicious and our dog loves it. Two big thumbs up!”

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A Final Word

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Important FDA Alert

The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.

References