Whole Earth Farms Grain Free (Dry)


Rating: ★★★★☆

Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4 stars.

The Whole Earth Farms Grain Free product line includes six 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.

  • Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Small Breed [A]
  • Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Healthy Weight Adult [A]
  • Whole Earth Farms Grain Free with Turkey and Duck# [A]
  • Whole Earth Farms Grain Free with Pork, Beef and Lamb [A]
  • Whole Earth Farms Grain Free with Salmon and Whitefish [A]
  • Whole Earth Farms Grain Free with Chicken and Turkey (4.5 stars) [A]

Whole Earth Farms Grain Free with Pork, Beef and Lamb was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Whole Earth Farms Grain Free with Pork, Beef and Lamb

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 29% | Fat = 15% | Carbs = 48%

Ingredients: Pork meal, dried potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes, pork fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), natural pork flavor, pork, beef, lamb, yeast culture, organic alfalfa meal, salt, salmon oil, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A acetate, vitamin B12 supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3 supplement, niacin, riboflavin supplement, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, thiamin mononitrate), minerals (zinc sulfate, iron amino acid complex, zinc amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, potassium iodide, cobalt amino acid complex, sodium selenite), dried blueberries, choline chloride, cinnamon, rosemary, sage, thyme, Yucca schidigera extract, 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 items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Guaranteed Analysis26%13%NA
Dry Matter Basis29%15%48%
Calorie Weighted Basis26%31%43%
Protein = 26% | Fat = 31% | Carbs = 43%

The first ingredient in this dog food is pork meal. Pork meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh pork. Yet it can also be high in ash — about 25-30%.

However, the ash content of the final product is typically adjusted in the recipe to allow its mineral profile to meet AAFCO guidelines.

The second ingredient is dried potato, a dehydrated item usually made from the by-products of potato processing. In most cases, dried potato can contain about 10% dry matter protein which can affect our estimate of the total meat content of this recipe.

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 includes sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

The fifth 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.

After the natural flavor, we find pork. Although it’s a quality item, raw pork contains about 80% 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 next two items include beef and lamb, additional quality raw ingredients inclusive of water.

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, although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

Next, 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 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.

Whole Earth Farms Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Whole Earth Farms Grain Free looks like an above-average dry dog food.

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 29%, a fat level of 15% and estimated carbohydrates of about 48%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 29% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 48% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the dried potato, peas and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Whole Earth Farms Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of various named meat meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly 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.

Whole Earth Farms 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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A Final Word

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Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.

However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.

For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".

Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

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Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

09/23/2016 Last Update

  • Darrell Lemke

    We started feeding all of our dogs Whole Earth Farms Grain Free and they all have increased their water consumption, but they have also started eating dirt and their pee smells foul. I have had to take one of ours to the vets once a month now.with bladder issues. Needless to say, I am switching foods.

  • Angela Scarpone

    i thought it had to do with the peas and higher fiber. on american journey, she was going 4 times per day on the weekend, and three during week, but that’s only because i’m at work all day. if i was home, she’d probably be going 4 times per day every day. i worry about the extra poops because i work all day, and she is home for a while. i feel bad if she is uncomfortable or holding it. i might take her off of grain free, but not sure yet… she poops about 3 times per day on average with this food whole earth farms, but sometimes 4.

  • haleycookie

    Probably all the fiberous ingredients that are so high on the list, peas, potatoes, can sometimes cause more poops. I dog sit a family members dogs sometimes. He’s on blue freedom and life protection. Can switch easily between the two and only goes poop in the am and poop in the pm. That’s it. My cats are also on grain free high protein food, they poop once a day very small non scented poop. It might just be this food. If you don’t like the extra poops maybe try a different brand? Was he ok on American Journey? Why did u change?

  • Angela Scarpone

    i feed my dog whole earth farms chicken and turkey recipe. ever since she went grain free, she poops MORE. she was on american journey before this. anyone else’s dog poop MORE on grain free? she went from 2-3 times per day to 3-4 times per day

  • Allie

    Thanks for your reply. This started happening when she was a year old and the only change was food. I’m happy your dogs are doing well on it, but without a doubt in my mind, this food made my dog extremely ill. She was and is fully vaccinated and up-to-date on all shots. She tested negative for parvo, worms, parasites and other GI disease at the time of the illness. I would have never switched her off of a limited, grain-free diet of the high end food, but I lost my job and unfortunately my income was limited. She’s been back on the canidae pure sea and zero issues. Seems other people have been in my boat.

  • kaisha harper

    That sounds more like a case of early stage Parvovirus honestly. I’ve seen a puppy that reacted the same exact way, bloody stools, blood ridden vomit, lethargy etc. I’ve been feeding my 8 puppies and 2 adults Whole Earth since I found out about it when the pups were 2 months old. I haven’t have issues with diarrhea or vomiting.

    But you do know that Pit Bulls well all dogs can have allergic reactions to certain ingredients found in most dog foods. If you had her on a limited grain free then why change. I found out the pups father was prone to allergic reactions when I switched him from Merrick to Purina SmartBlend Lamb and Rice. He refused to eat his food, was vomiting, having diarrhea and started pebbling out in hives.

    I switched him to Whole Earth Farms before I found out it was Merrick. No problems. I know he likes potatoes. No vomiting etc. I get the all life stages since I’m feeding more than one right now. If the pups show any signs of allergies to the potatoes in the product they go directly back to Merrick Puppy.

  • Dropthepuck!

    Wellness Core is a good brand but it is pricey. My son’s dog loves it.

  • haleycookie

    Merricks contract with purina actually stated they couldn’t touch the food or what went into it for two years so the first two years it was strictly still merrick making the food under their own say. However from what a purina rep has told me they intend on letting merrick make their own desisions on what and how they make their foods and the main thing that’s going to be different is purina will be sharing canning tech with merrick otherwise it will be the same as well purina acquired zukes dog treats they will remain making most the desicions themselves.

  • Gail Rose

    Purina purchased Merrick in July, 2015. Nothing on the bags I could find. I would think being over 2 years now it’s all purina. My Walter got better immediately after switching food.

  • Obvious Poster

    Can you identify anything on the packaging that indicates the new purina bags? I want to avoid the new ones for as long as i can

  • Obvious Poster

    You could also add broth or water to the dry food to soften it enough for your pup.

  • anon101

    The annual exam. Some vets recommend checkups every 6 months for seniors.
    Dental issues can occur suddenly and escalate into something serious, quickly.
    I am saying this because I have been through it with my dogs.

  • Rea Cline-Schell

    He goes once a year for his dental.

  • anon101

    “He has a few fractures in a couple of his teeth. This food does not seem to agree with him too well, plus he doesn’t really like it due to how hard the kibble is”.
    I would make it a priority to take him to the vet for a dental (if you haven’t done so already)
    Fractures can be painful and lead to infection. Periodontal disease is common in seniors, it can cause systemic disorders.

  • haleycookie

    Just remember that every dog is different and will react to different foods differently then the next dog will. Wellness core is good as well. Also don’t take into account every personal review you read, like I said every dog will behave different on different foods so what you’re reading in the reviews here are just a small amount of the people that have tried these foods. It’s all about trial and error. If you’d like to switch to canidae I’d give it a shot if you’re worried about the diamond thing you can always call canidae. I’m not really even sure if they use diamond as a co packer anymore but I’ve also heard they pack two or three varieties there but if you give them a call or shoot them an email they should be able to tell you which varieties are packed by diamond. If you want to stay in a comfortable place with something that works chicken soup isn’t an awful food either. It’s really up to you and what your comfortable with and what works for you pup.

  • Rea Cline-Schell

    Thank you. I replied in the discussion. Don’t know how this works yet.

  • Rea Cline-Schell

    Yes I can switch back. Just didn’t know if I should change to Canidae since he has been on Chicken Soup for so long. I’ve always tried to feed a decent food but being new on here I found that I really didn’t know as much as I thought about dog food. The recalls a very concerning. And to find out that Chicken Soup, and Canidae were both affected by the Diamond recall…. Those are the 2 foods I would switch back and forth. I’ve been on here looking at many other foods, and to be honest, I’ve really not made any progress in a decision. Every food I look at with 4 or 5 stars looks to be good until I start reading reviews. Wellness Core was another that’s always at the top of the list and it seems to have a lot of concerning issues as well. Just looking for a good all around food for my baby. I just want the best for him. I know he’s getting older and it worries me a bit. Sorry for the babble…

  • haleycookie

    Can you not just go back to chicken soup it’s not grain free but if he was doing well on it I don’t see why there’s a reason to change. It’s likely that you switched to abruptly to the whole earth and that’s what’s giving him the gas. As for the hardness of the kibble you could always add some warm water to the kibble. Wherever you buy the chicken soup at ask if they have a shipping program so if they’re out of stock they can just ship it to you. Or you can check out chewy.com, they carry the mature chicken soup.
    If you’re looking the switch entirely the mature canidae pure is a good food so if you wanted to go ahead and just try that you totally could just keep in mind that a hard quick switch will likely still cause gas and and upset stomach and potentially diarrhea. Good luck