Earling Brothers Grain Free (Dry)



Earling Brothers Grain Free Dog Food earns the Advisor’s second-highest rating of four stars.

The Earling Brothers product line lists two dry dog foods… each meeting AAFCO nutrient profiles for all life stages.

  • Earling Brothers Grain Free with Red Meat Protein
  • Earling Brothers Grain Free with White Meat Protein

Earling Brothers Grain Free with Red Meat Protein dry dog food was selected to represent both products in the line for this review.

Earling Brothers Grain Free with Red Meat Protein

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 33% | Fat = 14% | Carbs = 44%

Ingredients: Beef meal, tapioca, dried egg product, sweet potato, pumpkin, peas, pea protein, natural flavors, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), bison meal, alfalfa meal, carrots, brewers dried yeast, potassium chloride, choline chloride, salt, blueberries, cranberries, apples, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, spinach, dl-methionine, l-lysine, taurine, mixed tocopherols, rosemary extract, lecithin, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, folic acid, biotin, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, l-ascorbyl 2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C activity), zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, sodium selenite, cobalt carbonate, vitamin B12 supplement, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, amylase (Aspergillus oryzae), protease (Aspergillus oryzae), cellulase (Trichoderma reesei), lactase (Aspergillus oryzae), hemicellulase (Trichoderma reesei), lipase (Aspergillus oryzae)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis30%13%NA
Dry Matter Basis33%14%44%
Calorie Weighted Basis30%31%39%
Protein = 30% | Fat = 31% | Carbs = 39%

The first ingredient in this dog food lists beef meal. Beef meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh beef.

The second ingredient is tapioca. Tapioca is a natural extract made from the root of the cassava plant. It is a starchy carbohydrate that is not only grain-free… but also gluten-free.

The third ingredient lists dried egg product… a dehydrated form of shell-free eggs. Quality can vary significantly. Lower grade egg product can even come from commercial hatcheries… from eggs that have failed to hatch.

In any case, eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The fourth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a good source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in fiber, beta carotene and other healthy nutrients.

The fifth ingredient lists pumpkin. Pumpkin is a nutritious addition high in complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene and dietary fiber.

The sixth ingredient mentions peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas contain about 25% protein which must be considered when evaluating the total protein reported in this food.

The seventh ingredient is pea protein… what’s left after removing the starchy part of peas.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

This plant-based item is responsible for some of the total protein of this dog food.

After the natural flavors, we find canola oil. Most applaud canola for its favorable omega-3 content… while a vocal minority condemn it as an unhealthy fat.

Current thinking (ours included) finds the negative stories about canola oil more the stuff of urban legend than actual science.1

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, brewers dried yeast can be a controversial item. Although a by-product of the beer making process, this ingredient contains about 45% protein… and is rich in 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.

What’s more, a vocal minority insist yeast can increase the risk of developing the life-threatening condition known as bloat. However, this is something we’ve not been able to scientifically verify.

In any case, unless your dog is specifically allergic to it, yeast can be considered a nutritious additive.

Next, the manufacturer appears to have applied friendly bacteria to the surface of the kibble after cooking. These special probiotics are used to enhance a dog’s digestive and immune functions.

Thirdly, this food also contains chelated mineralsminerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

And lastly, this Earling Brothers product includes menadione… a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Earling Brothers Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Earling Brothers Grain Free looks to be an above-average dry dog food.

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 33%, a fat level of 14% and estimated carbohydrates of about 44%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 33% and a mean fat level of 14%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% for the overall product line.

Above-average protein. Below-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and pea protein, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

This is a very good dry dog food, indeed.

However, it’s unfortunate the company chose to include menadione in such an otherwise exceptional recipe. Without this controversial supplement (and maybe adding a bit more meat), we would have been compelled to award this brand our highest rating.

Bottom line?

Earling Brothers Dog Food is a grain-free kibble using a moderate amount of beef or chicken meals as its main sources of animal protein… thus earning the brand four stars.

Highly recommended.

Important FDA Alert

The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and a type of canine heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.

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.

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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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In any case, please be assured it is always our intention to remain objective, impartial and unbiased when conducting our analysis.

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

Notes and Updates

01/21/2011 Original review
04/21/2011 Product replaced by Brothers Complete Grain Free.

04/21/2011 Last Update

  1. Mikkelson, B and DP, Oil of Ole, Urban Legends Reference Pages (2005)

Reader Interactions


  1. ” (Richard) is an evil that masquerades as good. Like a Pied Piper this master illusionist can lead you to Hell all while making you feel flattered to be chosen to go there. Only when you wake up in Hell do you realize the real evil that existed in his fluted song. By then it’s too late; not only have you fallen victim, but most likely you have paid for the flute, as well.” ~Tigress Luv

  2.  dugitup, actually little fairies sprinkle pixie dust on Brother’s food. Then they deliver it on their flying unicorns to the land of OZ, where it is licked by the lollipop kids, then sent home to Richard’s doggy store by the good witch, with her wand. That’s why the food is so special. Seriously, GIVE IT A REST! Your 3rd degree is so 5 minutes ago. You add nothing to this site.

  3. dugitup – Canine fact checker – what purpose do you think you serve by constantly coming at Richard from every angle. if you don’t want to use Brothers – don’t.  You add no value here

  4. Richard

    Did your present animal nutritionist help in the formulation of this food?

  5. I started feeding my black lab Brothers three months ago. He had been eating Taste of the Wild and Great Life. He is a picky eater but he loves the Brothers. His coat is shinner, he has filled out in his back end, and he seems to be more satisfied throught the day. He also has had no digestive problems which I had seen with prior foods. No soft stools etc.. i would reccomend Brothers to every dog owner. We love it!

  6. Trying to figure out which large pet food company actually makes the Brother’s food but I can’t find that info. Anyone know if it is made by Diamond, Evanger’s, etc?

  7. Hi i just read your review on Earling brothers dog food. I just purchased my 1st bag from them. Freaked out after reading about the menodione. I just called the manufacturer he said they have taken it out and that they used the old label w/ ingredients due to cost issues. He assured me it was not in the food, food is produced in small batches. he also said he has spoken with you and you are aware of the change and will review…is this info correct? Your thoughts?

  8. good food cleared up my dogs allergies. they ship it to me form there store to texas in about 3 days. seems very fresh and flavorful.

  9. We are super picky about Bella’s food, our two year old Neopolitan Mastiff. She eats raw in the morning and Brothers Dry Food, Red Meat Formula in the evening. We mix it with a bit of water to soften and she eats happily. She never seemed to enjoy other dry foods. Bella is in great shape and has a lot of energy. She needs a food that does not slow her down and Brothers seems to fit the bill. We get our dog food delivered from the Doggy Store to NYC..and Bella is always eagerly awaiting her next care package. Keep up the Good Work, Earling Brothers!

  10. My dog eats Brothers now (he used to be on Publix dry, no joke!) and he’s had no problems with the transition whatsoever. Since we are obviously not dog food afficiandos in our family, I can’t argue the difference between many brands; but I can attest that Lou’s dog breath is much sweeter and his coat is nice and shiny. I’ve always found everyone at the Doggy Store to be so helpful but it sure sounds like Mike P has a bone to pick with them personally and it isn’t about “manning up”…Blogs should be for positive and negative feedback, using them for personal attacks is unseemly and I don’t need to be a dog food connoseur to know that.

  11. Nice job at manning up and taking care of Alan . Great job Pierre . The people on this site are sharp and nothing gets past them .


  13. I tried the chicken formula. Slowly switched from old food (Orijens). By 5th day this food made my dogs vomit and gave them a bad case of diarrhea. Reverted back to Orijens and problem went away quickly. Told owners of Doggy Store (Earling Brothers retail store), they didn’t seem to care. Sad. Look elsewhere!

  14. Jeeze, really? You would think they’d have done their homework about the dangers of synthetic vitamin k… and at that price, I would expect all meat protein… not peas.