Retriever Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest-tier rating of 1 star.
The Retriever 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.
- Retriever Hi Protein [U]
- Retriever Mini Chunk [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
Ingredients: Meat and bone meal (source of beef flavor), ground yellow corn, wheat middlings, ground wheat, soybean meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), corn gluten meal, natural flavors (source of chicken flavor), salt, potassium chloride, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, added color (red #40, yellow #5, and blue #2), niacin, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, calcium iodate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 4.5%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||31%||17%||44%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||26%||36%||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 next 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 is 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 just about anywhere: salvaged roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat… even dead, diseased or dying cattle.
For this reason, 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.
And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that can’t be ignored when judging the actual meat content of this product.
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 Retriever product.
With 3 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.
And lastly, 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.
Retriever Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Retriever Dog Food looks like a below-average dry product.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 26% and a mean fat level of 13%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 54% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 49%.
Which means this Retriever product line contains…
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 just a moderate amount of meat.
Retriever is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using a moderate amount of named and unnamed by-product meals as its dominant source of animal protein, thus receiving 1 star.
Retriever Dog Food
The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to Retriever. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.
- Sunshine Mills Recalls Multiple Dog Food Brands (6/3/2021)
- 15 Pet Food Brands Recalled Due to High Levels of Aflatoxin (10/9/2020)
- Sunshine Mills Recalls Multiple Dog Food Brands Due to Aflatoxin (9/3/2020)
- Sunshine Mills Recalls Nature’s Menu Dog Food (8/25/2020)
- Dangerous Levels of Vitamin D Discovered in Several Dog Food Brands (12/7/2018)
- Evolve, Sportsman’s Pride, and Triumph Dog Food Recall (11/28/2018)
- Giant and Martin’s Recall Nature’s Promise Dog Food (11/21/2018)
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, 2008 Edition ↩
- 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 ↩
- Wheat Middlings as defined in an article by Wikipedia ↩
05/10/2020 Last Update