Earthborn Holistic Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Earthborn Holistic Grain Free 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.

Use links below to compare price and package size information at an online retailer.

Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Great Plains Feast was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Great Plains Feast

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 36% | Fat = 20% | Carbs = 36%

Ingredients: Bison meal, peas, pea protein, tapioca, dried egg, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), beef meal, pacific whiting meal, pea starch, chickpeas, flaxseed, Alaska pollock meal, natural flavors, pea fiber, blueberries, cranberries, apples, carrots, spinach, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, dl-methionine, l-lysine, taurine, l-carnitine, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, niacin, folic acid, biotin, manganese sulfate, copper sulfate, salt, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), zinc proteinate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, cobalt carbonate, vitamin B12 supplement, Yucca schidigera extract, rosemary extract, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.4%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis32%18%NA
Dry Matter Basis36%20%36%
Calorie Weighted Basis30%40%30%
Protein = 30% | Fat = 40% | Carbs = 30%

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

The second 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 third ingredient is pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

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

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 meat content of this dog food.

The fourth ingredient is tapioca, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The fifth ingredient is dried egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.

The sixth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.

Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.

The seventh ingredient is beef meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The eighth ingredient includes whiting meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.

Fish meal is typically obtained from the “clean, dried, ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish and fish cuttings” of commercial fish operations.1

The ninth ingredient lists pea starch, a paste-like, gluten-free carbohydrate extract probably used here as a binder for making kibble. Aside from its energy content (calories), pea starch is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

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 five notable exceptions

First, we find chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

Next, flaxseed is 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.

In addition, we note the use of pea fiber, a mixture of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber derived from pea hulls. Aside from the usual benefits of fiber, this agricultural by-product provides no other nutritional value to a dog.

Next, 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.

Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Earthborn Holistic Grain Free 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 36%, a fat level of 20% and estimated carbohydrates of about 36%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 33% and a mean fat level of 17%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 42% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 51%.

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, pea protein, chickpeas and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Earthborn Holistic Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a notable amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 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.

Those look for additional grain-free products may wish to check out our special report on grain-free dog foods.

Earthborn Holistic 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.

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Special 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

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Notes and Updates

03/13/2018 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials