Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

Merrick Dog Food Review

Dog Food Nutrition March 13, 2020

Merrick Dog Food Review

This page contains affiliate links. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post through our independently chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn More

Merrick Pet Care produces many popular dog and cat foods. Today Merrick produces foods under the Merrick brand as well as Castor & Pollux, Whole Earth Farms, and Zuke’s.

Merrick was purchased by Nestle Purina PetCare in 2015, though the company appears to operate independently.

Merrick is one of the companies that has been singled out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for producing some of the foods fed to dogs that developed dietary dilated cardiomyopathy in the cases investigated by the FDA.

Does Merrick make good foods?

Wondering if you should feed Merrick to your dog?

Read our unbiased review to find out more.

Merrick Dog Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

Brand Score

Our reviews are based on extensive research and years of professional knowledge of dog food brands. In order to remain objective, we do not accept gifts of free products or write sponsored posts on this site.

We’ve examined Merrick dog foods closely and graded the brand according to the PupJunkies.com standard. Our criteria include ingredients, quality, customer experience, recall history, working with veterinary nutritionists to formulate the food, nutritional standards, research, and price.

Merrick Dog Food
Brand
Overall Score
Pros
  • Merrick makes a multitude of dog foods for dogs of all sizes and ages
  • The company uses USDA-certified meats and fresh-caught fish, along with fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Merrick makes its foods in its own facilities which meet SQF and HACCP guidelines
Cons
  • Many of Merrick’s foods contain peas and pea protein, often listed in the first five ingredients
  • Merrick is vague about their ingredients
  • The web site refers to the company’s “team” but never explains if they have veterinary nutritionists on staff or exactly who formulates their foods
Pros
  • Merrick makes a multitude of dog foods for dogs of all sizes and ages
  • The company uses USDA-certified meats and fresh-caught fish, along with fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Merrick makes its foods in its own facilities which meet SQF and HACCP guidelines
Cons
  • Many of Merrick’s foods contain peas and pea protein, often listed in the first five ingredients
  • Merrick is vague about their ingredients
  • The web site refers to the company’s “team” but never explains if they have veterinary nutritionists on staff or exactly who formulates their foods
Ingredients
Overall Quality
Customer Experience
Recall History
Formulation
Nutritional Standards
Research
Price

About Merrick

Merrick Pet Food was founded in 1988 in Hereford, Texas, near Amarillo. They began with natural dog treats and expanded to pet foods. Merrick also owns Castor & Pollux, Zuke’s, and Whole Earth Farms pet foods.

In July 2015, Merrick was purchased by Nestle Purina PetCare. It appears that Merrick and the other companies have continued to operate with a high degree of independence from Purina, despite fears from some customers that Purina would make changes to the brand.

Merrick is one of the brands singled out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as being fed to multiple dogs in the cases they have been examining for dilated cardiomyopathy. The raw data appears to show that various Merrick recipes were involved

You can read Merrick’s response here. Merrick has been introducing some formulas that do not contain legumes in recent months.

The FDA has not arrived at a definitive cause of the dietary DCM problem and it has not advised dog lovers to stop feeding grain free diets to their dogs.

The FDA has suggested that you avoid dog foods that use legumes (in some form) as main ingredients. Per the FDA, “We generally consider a ‘main ingredient’ to be the first 10 ingredients listed in a food’s ingredient list before the first vitamin or mineral ingredient.”

You should also be cautious about dog foods that “split” ingredients and use multiple legumes lower in the ingredient list since if they are combined they will make up a large amount of the food.

Sourcing and Manufacturing

Merrick says that they source most of their ingredients from the United States unless a consistent, quality supply of an ingredient is not available (such as for lamb, which is obtained from New Zealand). However, they don’t provide details about where individual ingredients are obtained.

This response comes from a customer service reply on Chewy.com: “None of Merrick’s ingredients are sourced from China. Those not found in the USA meet Merrick’s own rigorous quality standards in New Zealand, France, Canada, and Germany.

The ingredients are tested upon arrival, samples are tested throughout production, and all pet food is tested before its released for sale.”
Merrick has manufacturing operations in Hereford and Amarillo, Texas; and Evanston, Illinois. They have organic certification under the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) for all of their Texas manufacturing facilities, presumably to make Castor & Pollux foods.

Recall History

Merrick had six recalls for dog/pet treats in 2010 but this was at a time before they built their own manufacturing facility. Since that time they have only had one recall in 2018.

There were reports in 2013 of mold in Merrick cat food but no recall was issued.

What kinds of dog food does Merrick offer?

Merrick has multiple product lines, each with various recipes. At this time Merrick lists 139 dog food products on their web site. Most of them are grain free. Here is a list of the product lines they are currently manufacturing:

Dry (Kibble)

  • Merrick Grain Free
  • Backcountry Raw-Infused (some are grain free and some have grains)
  • Lil’ Plates
  • Limited Ingredient Diet
  • Classic (with grains)

Wet

  • Grain Free Chunky
  • Grain Free Real
  • Grain Free
  • Backcountry Grain Free
  • Backcountry Chunky
  • Lil’ Plates
  • Lil’ Plates Grain Free
  • Limited Ingredient Diet Grain Free

Merrick also makes various meal mixers and treats.

Merrick’s foods are made for dogs of different sizes and ages so check the label to see more about the food that interests you.

Merrick Dog Food: Top Three Recipes Reviewed

We’re taking a look at three of the top-selling Merrick dog foods as found on Chewy.com.

Merrick Grain-Free Texas Beef Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein – 38% Min
  • Fat – 15% Min
  • Fiber – 3.5% Max
  • Moisture – 11% Max
  • Caloric Content – 3585 kcal/kg, 380 kcal/cup

Ingredients:

Merrick Grain Free Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food is Merrick’s bestselling kibble on Chewy.com. It is grain free and gluten-free. It has no corn, wheat, or soy. Merrick uses no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Here are the ingredients in this formula:

Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Salmon Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Pork Fat, Natural Flavor, Beef Liver, Beef Stock, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Flaxseed, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Apples, Blueberries, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for Freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitre, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Citric Acid for Freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

Beef, lamb, and salmon are all good animal proteins for dogs. The FDA has suggested that it is best if peas are not used as one of the “main” ingredients in dog foods.

Peas as the fourth ingredient would qualify as a “main” ingredient. Pea protein is also the eighth ingredient. “Natural flavor” is a vague term that could mean a lot of things including a form of monosodium glutamate (MSG), the flavor enhancer.

Merrick says that they don’t use MSG but there are some forms of it that are known by other names.

According to the dry matter basis (DMB), this food has 42.7 percent protein, 16.9 percent fat, and 4 percent fiber. This formula has 22.62 percent carbohydrates according to Chewy.com customer service.

According to our calculations, that makes the ash content for the food about 10 percent which is extremely high.

The industry average for kibble is reckoned to be 7 percent. (This is still the best explanation I have read after years and years of reading about pet foods.) This food has 380 kcal/cup.

The fact that the ash content in this food is so high could indicate that Merrick is using lower quality meat and less desirable ingredients, though we also have to consider that beef has a higher ash content than chicken or fish.

Our rating for this food is 3 out of 5 stars.

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Chicken + Brown Rice Recipe with Ancient Grains Adult Dry Dog Food

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein – 26% Min
  • Fat – 16% Min
  • Fiber – 3.5% Max
  • Moisture – 11% Max
  • Caloric Content – 3711 kcal/kg, 393 kcal/cup

Ingredients:

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Chicken + Brown Rice Recipe with Ancient Grains Adult Dry Dog Food is the bestselling Merrick kibble with grains on Chewy.com. This formula is pea-free and contains no corn, wheat, or soy. Grains/cereals used in the food include brown rice, barley, oatmeal, and quinoa.

Here are the ingredients in this formula:

Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Turkey Meal, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat, Quinoa, Salmon Meal, Natural Flavor, Flaxseed, Salt, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Carrots, Apples, Sunflower Oil, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Chia Seed, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols For Freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride), Citric Acid For Freshness, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product.

Chicken and chicken meal, along with turkey meal and salmon meal, provide good sources of animal protein for dogs. The grains and cereals used are good sources of dietary fiber.

Most dogs should be able to eat them without problems. Chicken fat is a good named fat for dogs. This food does contain “natural flavor” which is a vague term that can sometimes refer to flavor enhancers that include a form of monosodium glutamate (MSG).

This food has 29.2 percent protein and 18 percent fat, according to the dry matter basis (DMB). It has 4 percent fiber. According to Chewy.com the ash content is 8.76 and the food has 32.5 percent carbohydrates on an as fed basis.

Our calculations showed 34.64, and using 8.76 as the ash content, came out to 38.92 DMB for the carbohydrate percentage. It contains 393 kcal per cup.

Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Merrick Chunky Grain-Free Big Texas Steak Tips Dinner Canned Dog Food

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein – 8% Min
  • Fat – 3% Min
  • Fiber – 1.4% Max
  • Moisture – 82% Max
  • Caloric Content – 978 kcal/kg, 352 kcal/12.7 oz can

Ingredients:

Merrick Chunky Grain-Free Big Texas Steak Tips Dinner Canned Dog Food is Merrick’s bestselling canned/wet food on Chewy.com. This food contains no corn, wheat, or soy and it is grain free and gluten-free. It contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Here are the ingredients in this formula:

Deboned Beef, Beef Broth, Vegetable Broth, Beef Liver, Dried Peas, Natural Flavor, Potato Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Phosphate, Agar-Agar, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Dried Celery, Choline Chloride, Caramel Color, Salmon Oil, Cumin, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Minerals (Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Potassium Iodate, Cobalt Glucoheptonate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate), Cinnamon, Garlic.

Beef and beef liver are good animal proteins for dogs. Owners will also appreciate the salmon oil in the food which is a good source of omega-3 fatty acid that dogs can use for their skin and coat health.

This food does contain dried peas as the fifth ingredient which can be problematic. “Natural flavor” is a vague term that can contain flavor enhancers such as a form of monosodium glutamate (MSG). We would consider caramel color to be an added coloring for the food.

The coloring is produced from carmelized sugar. Your dog doesn’t really need the pretty caramel color or any added sugar in his food.

According to some sources, caramel coloring is a toxic additive, though this is a controversial subject. The addition of garlic to your dog’s food could also raise some eyebrows.

As the last ingredient, this amount of garlic is unlikely to harm your dog, but it’s questionable why it is added here.

Some people will have problems with the various gums used in this food.

Gums such as guar gum and xanthum gum are used to gel or stabilize some foods, such as wet dog foods, salad dressings, and ice creams.

Some research indicates that these ingredients cause gastric upset. These ingredients are widely used in canned dog foods and it can be difficult to find foods that don’t contain any of them.

According to Chewy.com, Merrick doesn’t use any BPA in their cans. The cans are tin-coated steel (inside and outside) with an organic coating over the tin on the inside of the can.

According to the dry matter analysis for this food, it has 44.4 percent protein, 16.7 percent fat, 7.8 percent fiber, 14.4 percent carbohydrates, and 352 kcal per 12.7 ounce can.

Our rating for this canned/wet food is 3.5 out of 5 stars.

How much does Merrick Dog Food cost?

Merrick dog foods come in a range of prices from moderately high (Backcountry Raw Infused) to moderate (Merrick Grain Free and Merrick Lil’ Plates) foods.

What do customers think of Merrick Dog Food?

Merrick has many fans though some customers have recent complaints about a change in the size of the packaging (while charging the same price).

There have also been complaints because the kibble bags no longer have a resealable top. As for the food itself, we will post some reviews below.

Merrick Grain-Free Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Tried and True

By Meow

Been using various flavors of Grain free Merrick for years. My male Springer Spaniel had a terrible skin condition and persistant ear infections.

Switched to Merrick Grain free and everthing stopped. I do have to give both my Springers Scoot bars because the grainfree sometimes isn’t enough fiber for their back end glands. My Springers are 11 and 13 and are unbelievable healthy! Good muscle tone and energy! Highly reccommend Merrick!

Read the label

By Linda

My 2 labs loved the food. I started buying recently because of all the allergies they have for protein items. They were doing great on it. Unfortunately Merrick changed their ingredients to also include Salmon meal as its third ingredient.

My last purchase was suppose to be the original as the new was not in stock but was sent the new version. After 3 days my dogs are once again licking themselves and scratching.

Now must find another product besides Whitefish. Should have read the label. Going to the store to see if older version is still on shelves so I can wean them onto a new food.


Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Chicken + Brown Rice Recipe with Ancient Grains Adult Dry Dog Food

My dog loves this!

By Gracie

Our vet recently recommended switching our 2 yr old lab mix out of an exclusive grain free diet to a diet with grains. We’ve only fed our pup Merrick products and she’s done very well, so switched her to a grain version.

She absolutely loves it. No issues, no problems whatsoever.

Highly recommend if you’re switching from grain-free and have worries.

Highly rated but not by my Shih Tzu

By Flagirl16

Purchased this food because it was highly rated as one of the best dry foods for dogs. I put a scoop down for my Shih Tzu to try and she rolled in it. What’s up with that? Needless to say, this one didn’t work out for us.


Merrick Chunky Grain-Free Big Texas Steak Tips Dinner Canned Dog Food

Merrick can food

By Boball

I have been buying Merrick canned food for years. Don”t know what happened buy the last couple of years I never know how full the can will be.

Some may be full, some may be 80% down 60% full. Called Chewy numerous times as well as Merrick. Both was more than Willing to reimburse me but it became to much of a hassle so I switched to Weruva.

Thee Best for my fur children

By Merrickchunky

I have tried so many different wet dog food and this one here is the one my fur children love the most.

Overall, is Merrick Dog Food a good choice?

Yes, Merrick dog foods can be a good choice for your dog. However, we think that you need to look carefully at their labels and consider ingredients.

Like some other companies, Merrick appears to be in the process of making changes to some of their ingredients and introducing some new products that have fewer or no peas.

If you like Merrick, we suggest that you give some of these pea-free foods a try for your dogs.

Where is Merrick Dog Food sold?

You can Chewy.com and other online retailers as well as many pet stores.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine DN Dog News. She's the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, a Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) award winner. In addition, she is an American Kennel Club Gazette breed columnist and is the author of several books about dogs. She has been reviewing pet foods and writing about dog food for more than 10 years.
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *