Black Gold Explorer Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 4 stars.
The Black Gold Explorer product line includes 6 dry dog foods.
Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.
Click the links below to compare prices at an online retailer.
- Black Gold Explorer Mature 7+ [M]
- Black Gold Explorer Puppy (4 stars) [A]
- Black Gold Explorer Chicken Meal and Brown Rice [A]
- Black Gold Explorer Original Performance Formula [U]
- Black Gold Explorer Beef Meal and Barley (3 stars) [A]
- Black Gold Explorer Ocean Fish Meal and Oat (3 stars) [M]
Black Gold Explorer Original Performance Formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Black Gold Explorer Original Performance Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Beef meal, corn meal, ground wheat, corn gluten meal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), brown rice, dried beet pulp, chicken by-product meal (source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), natural flavors, brewers dried yeast, potassium chloride, salt, malted barley, dried chicory root, vitamins (vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), choline chloride, calcium propionate (preservative), minerals (zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate monohydrate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast culture, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||20%||43%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||24%||40%||36%|
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 cornmeal, a coarsely ground flour made from dried corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.
The third ingredient is wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).
The fourth ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.
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 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 brown rice, a complex carbohydrate that (once cooked) can be fairly easy to digest. However, aside from its natural energy content, rice is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The seventh ingredient is beet pulp. Beet pulp is a controversial ingredient, a high fiber by-product of sugar beet processing.
Some denounce beet pulp as an inexpensive filler while others cite its outstanding intestinal health and blood sugar benefits.
We only call your attention here to the controversy and believe the inclusion of beet pulp in reasonable amounts in most dog foods is entirely acceptable.
The eighth ingredient is chicken by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of a slaughtered chicken after all the choice cuts have been removed.
In addition to organs, this item can also include feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs and almost anything other than prime skeletal muscle.
On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The quality of this ingredient can vary, depending on the caliber of the raw materials obtained by the manufacturer.
After the natural flavors, we find brewers yeast, which 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.
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 four notable exceptions…
First, we find malted barley. Malting is a process in which a cereal grain is allowed to sprout and to then be dried into a coarse flour.
Malted barley is more commonly used to make beer, whisky and other malted foods and beverages.
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.
In addition, 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 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.
Black Gold Explorer Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Black Gold Explorer Dog Food looks like an 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 29% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 45% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the corn gluten meal and brewers yeast, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
However, with 40% of the total calories in our example coming from fat versus just 24% from protein, some recipes may not be suitable for every animal.
Black Gold Explorer is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.
However, those concerned about the presence of menadione in this recipe may wish to ignore our rating and look elsewhere for another product.
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.
Black Gold Dog Food
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.
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Important FDA Alert
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A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
03/12/2018 Last Update