Unable to Locate Complete Label
Data on Company Website1
Shep Dog Food receives the Advisor’s lowest rating of 1 star.
The Shep product line includes one dry dog food, a recipe claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient guidelines for all life stages.
Shep Complete Nutrition Formula
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn germ meal, corn distillers dried grains with solubles, wheat middlings, animal fat preserved with mixed tocopherols, rice bran, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, animal digest, calcium carbonate, salt, choline chloride, added color (red #40, yellow #5, blue #2, yellow #6), vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement (source of antioxidant), niacin, zinc sulfate, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement, calcium iodate, sodium selenite
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.1%
Red denotes controversial item
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||24%||11%||57%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||22%||26%||52%|
The first ingredient in this dog food 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 second ingredient 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”.2
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.3
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 third ingredient is corn germ meal, a meal made from ground corn germ after much of the oil has been removed. Corn germ meal is a protein-rich by-product left over after milling corn meal, hominy grits and other corn products.
However, the protein found in corn germ meal (about 25% dry matter basis) must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient lists corn distillers grains with solubles, a by-product of the ethanol (bio-fuel) industry. This low quality ingredient is frequently found in cattle feed and only rarely used to make pet food.
The fifth 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.4
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 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 almost anywhere: roadkill, spoiled supermarket meat, dead, diseased or dying cattle — even euthanized pets.
For this reason, we do not consider generic animal fat a quality ingredient.
The seventh ingredient is rice bran, a healthy by-product of milling whole grain rice. The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer of the grain containing starch, protein, fat as well as vitamins and minerals.
The eighth 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 ninth ingredient is poultry by-product meal, a dry rendered product of slaughterhouse waste. It’s made from what’s left of slaughtered poultry after all the prime cuts have been removed.
In addition to organs, this item can also include feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs and almost anything other than prime skeletal muscle.
On the brighter side, by-product meals are meat concentrates and contain nearly 300% more protein than fresh poultry.
The quality of this ingredient can vary, depending on the caliber of the raw materials obtained by the manufacturer.
We consider poultry by-products slightly lower in quality than a single-species ingredient (like chicken by-products).
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, animal digest is a chemically hydrolyzed mixture of animal by-products that is typically sprayed onto the surface of a dry kibble to improve its taste.
Next, 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?
In addition, 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.
Shep Dog Food Review
Judging by its ingredients alone, Shep 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.
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 corn germ meal and soybean meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a limited amount of meat.
Shep is a grain-inclusive dry dog food using a limited amount of meat and bone meal as its main source of animal protein, thus earning the brand 1 star.
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 ratio.
Shep 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.
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
- “Last Update” field at the end of this review reflects the last time we attempted to visit this product’s website. The current review itself was last updated 6/26/2016 ↩
- 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 ↩
06/08/2019 Last Update