The Merrick Dog Food product line earns The Advisor’s overall rating of 4 stars. The following dry sub-brands are reviewed on this website:
- Merrick Classic Dog Food (Dry)
- Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Dog Food (Dry)
- Merrick Grain-Free Dog Food (Dry)
- Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dog Food (Dry)
- Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet (Dry)
Merrick Classic is a grain-inclusive product with a number of dry recipes, each made for either puppies (including large breed puppies) or adults. This product line is free of peas, potato and lentils. The recipe is reviewed on this page in the section below.
Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused is a unique, grain-free dry product that contains real pieces of freeze-dried raw meat at the head of its ingredient list. Multiple formulas and flavors are available.
Merrick Grain-Free is a popular dry kibble with a moderate amount of its protein derived from animal-based sources. Most of these recipes are suitable for all life stages… but senior and weight loss formulas are not appropriate for puppies.
Merrick Lil’ Plates boasts a grain-free design and is specifically targeted for smaller breeds.
Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet contains a small, controlled number of recipe items to provide complete and balanced nutrition for dogs with food sensitivities.
Merrick Classic Dog Food Review
Merrick Classic Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest rating of 4 stars.
The Merrick Classic product line includes the 5 dry dog foods listed below.
Each recipe includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Use the links to compare price and package sizes at an online retailer.
- Merrick Classic Puppy Recipe (4.5 stars) [A]
- Merrick Classic Small Breed Recipe (4.5 stars) [M]
- Merrick Classic Real Beef + Brown Rice [M]
- Merrick Classic Real Lamb + Brown Rice [M]
- Merrick Classic Real Chicken + Brown Rice [M]
Merrick Classic Real Beef + Brown Rice recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Merrick Classic Beef + Brown Rice Recipe
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned beef, pork meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal, pork fat, salmon meal, natural flavor, lamb meal, quinoa, flaxseed, salt, sunflower oil, organic dehydrated alfalfa meal, potassium chloride, choline chloride, carrots, apples, minerals (iron amino acid complex, zinc amino acid complex, zinc sulfate, sodium selenite, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodide, cobalt proteinate, cobalt carbonate), taurine, chia seed, Yucca schidigera extract, mixed tocopherols for freshness, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A acetate, d-calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, niacin, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride), citric acid for freshness, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.9%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||29%||17%||46%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||35%||40%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is beef. Although it’s a quality item, raw beef contains up to 73% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second ingredient is pork meal. Pork meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork.
The third ingredient 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 next ingredient is barley. Barley is a starchy carbohydrate supplying fiber and other healthy nutrients. However, aside from its energy content, this cereal grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The fifth item is oatmeal, a whole-grain product made from coarsely ground oats. Oatmeal is naturally rich in B-vitamins, dietary fiber and can be (depending upon its level of purity) gluten-free.
The sixth ingredient is pork fat, a product from rendering pig meat.
Commonly known as lard, pork fat can add significant flavor to any dog food. And it can be high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life.
Although it may not sound very appetizing, pork fat (in moderate amounts) is actually an acceptable pet food ingredient.
The seventh ingredient is salmon meal, another protein-rich 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
After the natural flavor, we find lamb meal, yet another high protein meat concentrate.
The next ingredient is quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not a true cereal grain but a plant prized for its gluten-free seeds.
Compared to most other grain-type ingredients, it is high in protein (about 12-18%), dietary fiber and other healthy nutrients.
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 7 notable exceptions…
First, 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.
Next, although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feed.
In addition, 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.
Next, we note the inclusion of chia seed, an edible seed nutritionally similar to flax or sesame. Provided they’re first ground into a meal, chia seeds are rich in both omega-3 fatty acids as well as dietary fiber.
However, chia seeds contain about 17% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
We also note the use of taurine, an important amino acid associated with the healthy function of heart muscle. Although taurine is not typically considered essential in canines, some dogs have been shown to be deficient in this critical nutrient.
Additionally, this recipe includes dried fermentation products. Fermentation products are typically added as probiotics to aid 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.
Merrick Classic Dog Food Review
Based on its ingredient panel, Merrick Classic looks like an above-average dry product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 45% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 61%.
Which means this Merrick product line contains…
Near-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to other dry dog foods.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the quinoa, alfalfa, flax and chia seeds, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Merrick Classic is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meat meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.
Merrick Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to Merrick. 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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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
Notes and Updates
- Association of American Feed Control Officials ↩
03/03/2020 Last Update