Merrick Classic canned dog food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Merrick Classic product line includes 11 grain-free 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.
Click the links below to compare prices at an online retailer.
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Turducken [A]
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Brauts-N-Tots [A]
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Cowboy Cookout [A]
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Puppy Plate Beef [A]
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Grammy’s Pot Pie [A]
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Smothered Comfort [A]
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Wingaling (4.5 stars) [A]
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Puppy Plate Chicken [A]
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner [A]
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Wilderness Blend (4.5 stars) [A]
- Merrick Classic Grain Free Venison Holiday Stew (4.5 stars) [A]
Merrick Classic Grain Free Cowboy Cookout was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Merrick Classic Grain Free Cowboy Cookout
Canned Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned beef, beef broth, chicken broth, beef liver, peas, dried egg product, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, apples, pea protein, natural flavor, potato starch, calcium carbonate, sodium phosphate, salt, cassia gum, sunflower oil, potassium chloride, salmon oil, choline chloride, flaxseed oil, blueberries, guar gum, caramel color, minerals (zinc amino acid complex, iron amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodate, cobalt glucoheptonate, sodium selenite), xanthan gum, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, niacin, vitamin D3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin, thiamine mononitrate), Yucca schidigera extract
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.4%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||47%||16%||29%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||41%||34%||25%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Beef is defined as “the clean flesh derived from slaughtered cattle” and includes skeletal muscle or the muscle tissues of the tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus.1
Beef is naturally rich in all ten essential amino acids required by a dog to sustain life.
The next two ingredients are beef broth and chicken 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 fourth ingredient is beef liver. This is an organ meat sourced from a named animal and thus considered a beneficial component.
The fifth 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 sixth 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 seventh ingredient lists 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.
The eighth ingredient includes carrots. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, minerals and dietary fiber.
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 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.
Next, sunflower oil is nutritionally similar to safflower oil. Since these oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids and contain no omega-3’s, they’re considered less nutritious than canola or flaxseed oils.
Sunflower oil is notable for its resistance to heat damage during cooking.
There are several different types of sunflower oil, some better than others. Without knowing more, it’s impossible to judge the quality of this ingredient.
In addition, salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.
Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.
Next, we find caramel color. Caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.
However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.2
In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.
That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?
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 Classic Canned Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Merrick Classic canned dog food looks like an above-average wet 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 46% and a mean fat level of 23%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 23% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the pea products, this looks like the profile of a wet dog food containing a significant amount of meat.
Merrick Classic is a wet dog food using a liberal amount of named meats as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
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
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.
- Merrick Recalls Multiple Dog Treats (5/23/2018)
- Merrick Recalls Dog Treats (8/9/2011)
- Merrick Pet Treats Recall 2011 (1/30/2011)
- Merrick Expands Dog Treats Recall (8/16/2010)
- Merrick Expands Recall of Dog Treats (8/4/2010)
- Merrick Dog Treats Recall (7/6/2010)
- Merrick Dog Treats Recall 2010 (1/15/2010)
A Final Word
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For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.
Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
Notes and Updates
12/24/2018 Last Update