Breeder’s Choice Active Care Healthy Joint (Dry)


Rating: ★★★★☆

Breeder’s Choice Active Care Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Breeder’s Choice Active Care product line includes two dry recipes.

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.

  • Breeder’s Choice Active Care Chicken Meal Formula [U]
  • Breeder’s Choice Active Care Lamb Meal Formula (3.5 stars) [U]

Breeder’s Choice Active Care Chicken Meal Formula was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Breeder's Choice Active Care Chicken Meal Formula

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 28% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 48%

Ingredients: Brown rice, chicken meal, brewers rice, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), chicken cartilage (source of chondroitin sulfate & glucosamine), natural flavor, flax seed (source of omega 3), alfalfa meal, dried tomato pomace, dried egg product, salt, potassium chloride, kelp meal, vitamins (choline chloride, a-tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), pyridoxine hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), thiamine mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, biotin, folic acid), minerals (zinc sulfate, zinc amino acid chelate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, manganese amino acid chelate, copper sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), rosemary extract, sage extract, pineapple stem (source of bromelain), papain, green tea extract, dried Bacillus subtillis fermentation product, dried Aspergillus oryzae fermentation product

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis25%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis28%17%48%
Calorie Weighted Basis24%35%41%
Protein = 24% | Fat = 35% | Carbs = 41%

The first ingredient in this dog food 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 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 brewers rice. Brewers rice is a cereal grain by-product consisting of the small fragments left over after milling whole rice. Aside from the caloric energy it contains, this item is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The fourth 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 fifth ingredient is chicken cartilage, a source of both glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate — natural substances believed to support joint health.

After the natural flavor, we find 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 eighth 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 ninth 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.

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, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.

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.

Breeder’s Choice Active Care Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Breeder’s Choice Active Care 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 28%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 48%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 26% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 51% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Breeder’s Choice Active Care is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken or lamb meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly 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.

Breeder’s Choice 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

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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

07/25/2016 Last Update

  • mahoraner niall

    i read a story on here once that someone spent tons of money on hills prescription diet (the w/d one) for their dog, and instead of loosing weight, he actually gained weight, then she put him on something else (i think it was fromm) and he actually lost weight and it was way lower price

    just by what i remember, i cant remember which review it was on, but it was somewhere on here.

    but i would try supplements before i went anywhere near hills, royal canin, iams, and i would NEVER go near purina.

    i would try adding omega 3 to their diet or this supplement i found:

  • dchassett

    If you have a dog that has been diagnosed with joint and arthritic issues than you need to add a glucosamine chondroitin supplement. I have a dog with those issues right now and I can say in all my years of research and experience with dogs, that there is no dog food on the market presently that will give your dog the amount of glucosamine chondroition that she needs to be taking. It’s nice that they have some in the food but it’s not enough to make a difference in a dog with joint problems. I have no idea whether the food has enough to maintain healthy joints but typically when an owner is looking for a food with this particular supplement it is usually because the dog is already displaying problems.

  • Pattyvaughn

    A 50 lb dog needs about 1000mg of glucosamine and as much as 2000mg for a severe problem, but should only eat 2-3 cups of food, not the aproximately 4 1/2 -9 cups that they would need to eat of this food. I can’t account for changes in growth for your pups to tell if that is why it has worked so well for you. During growth, it is possible that the joints actually inproved from having what they needed to repair themselves.

    The important thing is that your pups are doing well. I just wish that if they are going to market for joint support that they actually gave you every bit as much joint nutrition as you think they are. That makes it a marketing gimick, in my book.

    I’m really glad you are very conscious of their weight since that is the biggest controllable factor in how much joint damage is done over time.damage is

  • mike

    we hae 2 bichons about 13 lbs dont overeat (at least arent overwieght) and foods like this have kept them from half crippled as puppies to pain free for 10 yrs now. never measured what they eat tho sry

  • Pattyvaughn

    Have you looked at what size dog that would be a proper dose for versus the amount of food that that size dog should actually eat?

  • mike

    this food has 2000mg/kg!!!! all other so called joint formula foods i looked up tend to have like 400! just fyi

  • Pattyvaughn

    Even the joint Rescue Formula probably doesn’t have a theraputic dose of any joint supplement. You are better off feeding what you want to feed(including this food) and adding a joint supplement. Most joint formula foods would have to be fed at double or triple the suggested amount to get the theraputic dose, and the your dog would be obese, and that’s bad for the joints.

  • sophia

    Thanks ,to share this one. I also agree as you said breeders choice products are the best remedy for joint pain relief this is one more Joint Rescue Formula it Helps maintain and support healthy joints.

  • Pingback: Active Care Chicken & Brown Rice Formula 13.6kg « Pet product price comparisons Pet product price comparisons()

  • sHaDoWoLf

    I am feeding this food to my 1 year old Doberman, he his allergic to Bet Carotene. So this means no Wild Salmon, Carrots, Pumpkin, Squash, Beets, Sweet Potato etc. 

    Sweet potatoes, Carrots are popular in the majority of all the grain free dog foods and I have been having a hard time finding a dog food that my boy can have. If he comes in contact with any of these foods he breaks out in hives. 

    I found a couple of brands but I don’t want to feed him one flavor all his life so I have been researching really hard and have found at least 5 that he can eat without breaking out and this brand is one of them.

    He has no gas at all, he has no problem eating it. The only problem I have is that it makes him super lean and I have to add some canned food to add some weight but this is only because he is a show dog and needs to have a little bit more weight. Aside from from that I think that this product is fairly rated. It has no red ingredients, and it is honest in their ingredient placing as I agree with one of the guests and Mike Sagman about ingredient splitting. 

  • sHaDoWoLf

    Well said

  • Bevpeeples

    I just replaced my dog’s Diamond Naturals with Active Care-glad I found a quality food at a reasonable price from a company with NO history of recalls! Hope it stays that way. Thanks for info on the upgrade and I agree it was deserved.

  • Hi Sandy,

    Due to the shady technique of ingredient splitting, nearly any dog food can place meat as the first ingredient.

    This one happens to be more honest.

    If instead of rice this kibble designer had cut the precooking weight of the rice in half and added corn in its place, the chicken meal would have moved to the first position on the list.

    Even though the amount of chicken meal would have remained exactly the same, it’s easy to deceive us into thinking there’s more meat in one recipe versus another.

    I rarely pay attention to that rule. The Guaranteed Analysis is a better place to start any analysis.

  • sandy

    Even with 4 stars, I still would not buy a food that starts with rice as the first ingredient.

  • Hi Guest,

    I agree with your assessment.. After re-visiting this product I’ve upgraded my rating to 4 stars.

    Thanks for taking the time to present a polite and reasonable argument.

  • Guest

    This seems like a 4 star food to me.  The protein and carbs seem right in line with other 4 star foods.  Plus, their is no red ingredients at all.

    It seems the only reason it isn’t a 4 star food is that the grain isn’t being split with other grains, therefore brown rice is the first ingredient.  

    Splitting the brown rice with some barley and white rice wouldn’t make this food any better, in my opinion, but that’s the only difference between this and many of the 4 star foods.

  • Gordon

    Nice to know that this food helped your dog, Lynne. Stick with it.

  • I started giving my 11 year old Aussie/Heeler mix this food over a year ago because she started having problems going up and down stairs. Vet gave us meds to help, but I don’t like giving her those. Over the past year, she’s improved so much. Her weight is down (due to diet) and she’s running around without the need of meds. The vet said she looked great during her last visit. She loves the food. I’ve had her on California Natural before this because of a nervous stomach and she’s been fine with this.
    Love this site. Very helpful. Thanks for providing the information. I’ve had two Rotties with cancer and diet is very important to their treatment. This is exactly what a pet owner needs to know to help their furry family members.

  • Hi Marjorie… To keep food as fresh as possible, keep it dry and away from air (which causes oxidation of the nutrients). Some folks use large storage bins with airtight lids. However, as the food is used up, the amount of air in the container increases causing the food to age quicker. I would recommend that kibbles remain in their original packaging to retain lot numbers and manufacturing dates (in case of a recall). Simply roll down the bag and squeeze out the air. Then you could place the bag inside a container.

    Maybe some other readers can share their ideas, too.

  • Marjorie

    Just a question? I moved up to a very humid area, noticed that foods get stale a lot faster. What is the best way to keep dry dog food fresh?

    Oh, Sadie has been eating this for only 3 days now and already loves it! Still in the mixing process of her old food, but dont think it will be a big deal when it is on its own.

  • Marjorie

    My 1-1/2 yr old lab mix has hip displaysia since 6 mths of age, the vet recomemded remidyl- I already had a dog on that and dont want to do it again. Trying to find a good dog food to help her with this problim. She is also a very picky eater, a pet store offered a free sample of Active Care Healty Joint Formula and she loves it! Going to try it with her and see what happens.

  • Gina

    This food doesn’t seem to be very popular, I think I will change her to something else when this bag is gone 🙂

  • Gina


    I just recently (5 days ago) slowly started giving this food to our 5 year old intact female Lab. She has a very strong stomach, and I could have switched her cold turkey (she has been eating Ol’ Roy for the last couple years (please don’t bash!) so I wanted to get her off it as soon as possible after coming here and reading about it!!), but I was good and decided to do it the right way! On the second day of having this food, I noticed her shedding like crazy. I realize that it is the time of year to shed, but in all of her 5 years she has never shed this bad.

    I started looking for a better dog food, and I was talked into this one at a local pet store because we have a 5 month old puppy, and are very active with our dogs, so the pet store owner recommended this one since it has the joint supps. and it is for all life stages.

    I came home and looked for reviews for it, and found this website. I was kind of annoyed that it is only 3 stars, but paid the same for it as some 4 stars. It’s my fault, I should have done research first. I decided to put my puppy (Border Collie) on Kirkland puppy food, and I already see an amazing difference in his coat, much more shiny and softer.

    If she keeps shedding like this, how long should I wait until I would know if it is the food that is causing it? Is she maybe shedding so bad now because she was on such a horrible food, and now her coat needs to make room for the good hair to grow in?

    Thank you for this amazing website, it is so informative, and so easy to navigate.


  • Roger Prows

    Donna- contact Breeder’s Choice. Also, take the food back, Breeder’s choice garauntees their foods 100%

  • Hi Donna… Since each dog responds to a particular food (or even a different batch of that same food) in its own unique way, it’s impossible for me to give you reliable advice. Wish I could be more help.

  • Donna Daisey

    My Dog is 8 year old doberman with hip dysplasia has been on this product active care for 7 years. However the last bag I bought she got diarrhea and I noticed the food was lighter in color. Can you give me your feed back? I was going to buy a different bag of the active care ???

  • Hi Becky… Unfortunately, it would be impossible to give such a detailed and personalized analysis for every reader. That’s why I created the Advisor blog. To help you (and all my readers) make a more informed decision when choosing dog food . Please consider using our website to find a food you feel your pet would like. First decide whether you want a dry or canned food and then look for a product rated 3, 4 or 5-stars. Hope this helps.

  • Becky Weatherwax

    I am using the Active Care Breeders #1 Choice Lamb & Brown Rice.. for the above dogs now. What do you think of this food?

  • Becky Weatherwax

    Looking for best dog foods for 13 yr. old lab/husky/ rott. female, 11 yr. old lab, 1 yr. old Shepperd/lab/min. pincer
    Would like healthiest, easy to digest, joint healthy, least chemical additives, most holistically healthy