Retriever Dog Food Review (Dry)

Rating:

Retriever Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest-tier rating of 1 star.

The Retriever 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.

  • Retriever Hi Protein [U]
  • Retriever Mini Chunk [U]
  • Retriever Gravy Blend [U]
  • Retriever Puppy Blend [U]
  • Retriever Choice Chops [U]
  • Retriever Bites and Bones [U]

Retriever Hi Protein was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Retriever Hi Protein

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 31% | Fat = 17% | Carbs = 44%

Ingredients: Meat and bone meal, ground yellow corn, wheat middlings, ground wheat, soybean meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), corn gluten meal, animal digest, salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, color added (red #40, yellow #5, blue #2), l-lysine, zinc oxide, niacin, copper sulfate, vitamin A supplement, biotin, manganous oxide, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity), riboflavin supplement, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement, cobalt carbonate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%

Red denotes controversial item

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis27%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis31%17%44%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%36%38%
Protein = 26% | Fat = 36% | Carbs = 38%

The first ingredient in this dog food is meat and bone meal, a dry “rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents”.1

Meat and bone meal can have a lower digestibility than most other meat meals.

Scientists believe this decreased absorption may be due to the ingredient’s higher ash and lower essential amino acid content.2

What’s worse, this particular item is anonymous. So, the meat itself can come from any combination of cattle, pigs, sheep or goats — which can make identifying specific food allergens impossible.

Even though meat and bone meals are still considered protein-rich meat concentrates, we do not consider a generic ingredient like this to be a quality item.

The second ingredient is corn. Corn is an inexpensive and controversial cereal grain. And aside from its energy content, this grain is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.

For this reason, we do not consider corn a preferred component in any dog food.

The third ingredient includes wheat middlings, commonly known as “wheat mill run”. Though it may sound wholesome, wheat mill run is actually an inexpensive by-product of cereal grain processing.

Unfortunately, the variations in nutrient content found in wheat middlings can be a critical issue in determining their suitability for use in any dog food — or even livestock feeds.3

In reality, wheat middlings are nothing more than milling dust and floor sweepings — and an ingredient more typically associated with lower quality pet foods.

The fourth ingredient is wheat. Wheat is another cereal grain and subject to the same issues as corn (previously discussed).

The fifth ingredient is soybean meal, a by-product of soybean oil production more commonly found in farm animal feeds.

Although soybean meal contains 48% 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 actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient includes animal fat. Animal fat is a generic by-product of rendering, the same high-temperature process used to make meat meals.

Since there’s no mention of a specific animal, this item could come from almost anywhere: restaurant grease, slaughterhouse waste, diseased cattle — even (although unlikely) euthanized pets.

We do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.

What’s worse, this fat is preserved with BHA, a suspected cancer-causing agent.

The seventh ingredient is corn gluten meal. Gluten is the rubbery residue remaining once corn has had most of its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.

Although corn gluten meal contains 60% 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 actual meat content of this dog food.

The eighth ingredient is animal digest. Animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is usually sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste.

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’re always disappointed to find artificial coloring in any 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?

Next, we find no mention of probiotics, friendly bacteria applied to the surface of the kibble after processing to help with digestion.

In addition, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually associated with higher quality dog foods.

And lastly, this food contains menadione, a controversial form of vitamin K linked to liver toxicity, allergies and the abnormal break-down of red blood cells.

Since vitamin K isn’t required by AAFCO in either of its dog food nutrient profiles, we question the use of this substance in any canine formulation.

Retriever Dog Food Review

Judging by its ingredients alone, Retriever Dog Food looks like a below-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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 31%, a fat level of 17% and estimated carbohydrates of about 44%.

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 49%.

Near-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 soybean and corn gluten meals, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Retriever is a dry dog food using a moderate amount of named and unnamed by-product meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.

Not 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.

Retriever 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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Dog Food Coupons
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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

11/09/2018 Last Update

  1. Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2008 Edition
  2. Shirley RB and Parsons CM, Effect of Ash Content on Protein Quality of Meat and Bone Meal, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Poultry Science, 2001 80: 626-632
  3. Wheat Middlings as defined in an article by Wikipedia