Pioneer Naturals Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3 stars.
The Pioneer Naturals 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 sizes at an online retailer.
- Pioneer Naturals Chicken Recipe [U]
- Pioneer Naturals Buffalo Recipe [U]
- Pioneer Naturals Grain-Free Venison Recipe [U]
- >Pioneer Naturals Grain-Free Chicken Recipe [U]
- Pioneer Naturals Grain-Free Pork Recipe (4 stars) [U]
- Pioneer Naturals Grain-Free Whitefish Recipe (3.5 stars) [U]
Pioneer Naturals Grain-Free Chicken Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Pioneer Naturals Grain-Free Chicken Recipe
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Chicken meal, lentils, peas, chickpeas, tapioca starch, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pea flour, natural flavors, flax seed, dried tomato pomace, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), salt, dicalcium phosphate, monosodium phosphate, pumpkin meal, dried kelp, glucosamine hydrochloride, green lip mussel powder, chondroitin sulfate, dried spinach, turmeric powder, dried papaya, dried carrots, dried kale, dried blueberries, dried zucchini, dried dandelion, couch grass extract, marigold powder, vitamin E supplement, ascorbic acid, niacin supplement, organic dried kelp, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, biotin, vitamin B 12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin A acetate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, citric acid, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, iron sulfate, zinc sulfate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper sulfate, zinc oxide, manganese sulfate, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, manganous oxide, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, dried fermentation product (dried l. Casei fermentation product, dried l. Acidophilus fermentation product, dried b. Animalis fermentation product and dried l. Reuteri fermentation product)
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||28%||13%||51%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||25%||29%||46%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
It’s important to note that the next 3 ingredients included in this recipe are each a type of legume:
Although they’re a mixture of quality plant ingredients, there’s an important issue to consider here. And that’s the recipe design practice known as ingredient splitting.
If we were to combine all these individual items together and report them as one, that newer combination would likely occupy a significantly higher position on the list.
In addition, legumes contain about 25% protein, a factor that must also be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fifth ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The sixth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The seventh ingredient is pea flour, a powder made from roasted yellow peas. Pea flour contains as much as 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
After the natural flavors, 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.
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, we notice tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
Next, the recipe includes salmon oil. 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.
In addition, 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 also 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.
Pioneer Naturals Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Pioneer Naturals dog food looks like an 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 26% and a mean fat level of 12%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 54% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.
Below-average protein. Below-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the lentils, peas, and chickpeas, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.
Pioneer Naturals is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3 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.
Pioneer Naturals 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.
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Important FDA Alert
The FDA is investigating a potential link between grain-free diets and heart disease in dogs. Click here for details.
A Final Word
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Notes and Updates
08/24/2018 Last Update