Merrick Backcountry Grain Free Stews (Canned)

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Rating: ★★★★★

Merrick Backcountry Grain Free Stews Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.

The Merrick Backcountry Grain Free Stews product line lists 5 canned 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.

  • Merrick Backcountry Hearty Beef Stew [A]
  • Merrick Backcountry Hearty Salmon Stew [A]
  • Merrick Backcountry Hearty Chicken Thigh Stew [A]
  • Merrick Backcountry Alpine Rabbit Stew (4 stars) [A]
  • Merrick Backcountry Hearty Duck + Venison Stew (4 stars) [A]

Merrick Backcountry Hearty Salmon Stew was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Merrick Backcountry Hearty Salmon Stew

Canned Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 47% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 29%

Ingredients: Deboned salmon, turkey broth, deboned turkey, turkey liver, dried egg product, potatoes, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, pea protein, calcium carbonate, salt, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, niacin, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin, thiamine mononitrate), sodium phosphate, canola oil, potassium chloride, flaxseed oil, guar gum, xantham gum, choline chloride, minerals (zinc amino acid complex, iron amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodide, cobalt glucoheptonate, sodium selenite)

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 15.8%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis9%3%NA
Dry Matter Basis47%16%29%
Calorie Weighted Basis41%34%25%
Protein = 41% | Fat = 34% | Carbs = 25%

The first ingredient in this dog food is salmon. Salmon is an oily marine and freshwater fish not only high in protein but also omega 3 fatty acids, essential oils needed by every dog to sustain life.

The second ingredient is turkey broth. Broths are of only modest nutritional value. Yet because they add both flavor and moisture to a dog food, they are a common addition component in many canned products.

The third ingredient is turkey. Turkey is considered “the clean combination of flesh and skin… derived from the parts or whole carcasses of turkey”.1

Turkey is naturally rich in the ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.

The fourth ingredient is turkey liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.

The fifth ingredient is 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 sixth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

The seventh ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.

The eighth ingredient lists 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 ninth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

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, pea protein is 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.

Next, this recipe contains 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.

In addition, we also find flaxseed oil, one of the best non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids — essential to a dog’s health.

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.

Merrick Backcountry Grain Free Stews
Canned Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Merrick Backcountry Grain Free Stews looks like an above-average canned 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 47%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 29%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 45% and a mean fat level of 20%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 27% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 43%.

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

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas and pea protein, this looks like the profile of a canned dog food containing a significant amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Merrick Backcountry Grain Free Stews is a meat-based canned dog food using a significant amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.

Enthusiastically 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.

Merrick 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

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.

We rely entirely on the integrity of the information provided by each company. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the specific data a company chooses to share.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

We rely on tips from readers. To report a product change or request an update of any review, please contact us using this form.

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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

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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

09/27/2017 Last Update

  1. Adapted by the Dog Food Advisor and based upon the official definition for chicken published by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, Official Publication, 2008 Edition
  • Diane

    I won’t either. I just started using Koha. Check out their webpage. They do not use anything controversial. So far so good and one of the few foods I can find without carageenen and guar gum.

  • clarify

    I won’t feed my dog anything with canola oil or carageenen. Both are controversial. Unfortunately many Merrick’s contain these (most dog foods seem to). I hate that they were bought by Purina

  • IJ

    Does anyone knows if the formulas is changed in Merrick Backcountry Grain-Free Hearty Salmon Stew Canned Dog Food, after Purina bought the company os that still trusted? Any thoughts?

  • Woodstock Marine

    You better withdraw your rating for this product until 1. Cooked chicken bones are not judged safe to be included in canned dog food. 2. The help line at the provider does not refer to our vets as crackpots because we call them with not only our concerns bur vets..

  • LabsRawesome

    I’ve bought this before. The bones are safe because they are so soft that you can easily smash them with your fingers.

  • Jenny

    My pups love the wings. And they are mushy. You can squash them with your fingers easily.
    Each of the cans that has the bones specifies in the description on the front. I think it says wing or thigh.

  • PW

    I purchased Hearty Chicken Thigh Stew – there was a bone in the food. According to their site and their FAQs – it’s ok for the bone to be in there because it’s cooked so soft. I bought the food for a 13 yr old Sheltie who has issues with eating. Thank heavens I found the bone or he could have choked on it. If they want to include bones, then for pete’s sake write it in large letters where you can clearly see it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETem8C6fGx8