The Merrick Dog Food product line earns The Advisor’s overall rating of 4.5 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 or adults. The recipe is reviewed on this page in the section below.
Marrick Backcountry Raw Infused is a unique, grain-inclusive dry recipe that contains real pieces of freeze-dried meat at the head of its ingredient list. Multiple formulas and flavors available.
Merrick Grain-Free is a popular dry kibble with a significant amount of its protein derived from plant-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 tier rating of 4.5 stars.
The Merrick Classic product line includes 5 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 sizes at an online retailer.
- Merrick Classic Puppy Recipe (4 stars) [G]
- Merrick Classic Small Breed Recipe (5 stars) [M]
- Merrick Classic Real Beef, Peas with Ancient Grains [M]
- Merrick Classic Real Lamb, Peas with Ancient Grains (4 stars) [M]
- Merrick Classic Real Chicken, Peas with Ancient Grains (5 stars) [M]
Merrick Classic Real Beef, Peas with Ancient Grains was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Merrick Classic Beef, Peas with Ancient Grains
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned beef, pork meal, peas, brown rice, barley, pork fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), lamb meal, natural flavor, pea protein, oatmeal, quinoa, beef liver, salmon meal, carrots, apples, flaxseed oil (source of omega-3 fatty acids), blueberries, chia seed, organic dried alfalfa meal, salt, choline chloride, 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), Yucca schidigera extract, 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), 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||34%||17%||41%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||29%||35%||36%|
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 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 fourth 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 fifth 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 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 lamb meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
After the natural flavor, 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.
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 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.
Next, we find alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
In addition, chia seed is 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.
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.
Merrick Classic Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Merrick Classic 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.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 32% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% 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.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, pea protein, quinoa, alfalfa and chia seed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.
Merrick Classic Dog Food is a plant-based dry product using a notable amount of named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 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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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between diet and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
Notes and Updates
06/23/2018 Last Update