Merrick Dog Food Reviews: The Ultimate Guide

Merrick Pet Care is a famous brand of pet food. People often encounter this brand when looking for premium dog food formulas.

This pet food brand offers a variety of products suited for different kinds of dogs. They all have high levels of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

Even though Merrick dog foods cost more than average kibble, the company offers high-quality food at affordable prices. When a prominent industry leader recently purchased a small brand, their formulas remained primarily unchanged.

Keep reading this Merrick dog food review to learn more about the company, its product lines, and its start.

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About Merrick

Merrick has been around for a long time and is known for making high-quality pet food.

The company guarantees that you or your dog will have a positive experience with their pet food. If not, they will refund your purchase.

Merrick only uses ingredients that are fit for human consumption in their pet food recipes. And they never source any of their ingredients from China.

Merrick dog food does not have corn or soy in it. They have both grain-inclusive and grain-free formulas. Merrick is a smaller pet brand, but several product lines still exist.

The company's most popular dog foods are based on your pet's evolutionary diet. The two brands, Backcountry and Healthy Grains, focus on this. Merrick also offers limited ingredient diets for dogs who suffer from allergies, which can be helpful for some pets.

Who Makes Merrick and Where is it Produced?

Merrick Pet Care is a family-owned business that Garth Merrick started in 1988 in Amarillo, Texas. After making homemade food for his family pet, Merrick became inspired to start the company.

The brand's focus on providing good, healthy food helped them become a leading company in the industry. As a result of their success, Nestle-Purina decided to buy the Merrick Pet Care brand.

Some dog owners were worried that the new ownership would negatively change Merrick's products. But, most of the original formulas have stayed the same. The most significant changes following the purchase involved different canning techniques learned from Purina.

To this day, all Merrick recipes are created and tested in the original Merrick kitchen in Hereford, Texas. The company uses fresh, whole-food ingredients from American farmers. And all Merrick foods are manufactured in the United States.

Merrick recipes do not have preservatives, fillers, or artificial additives. The brand also avoids using additives commonly found in other Purina recipes.

Castor & Pollux, Whole Earth Farms, and Zuke's are all brands that are related to Merrick pet foods.

Merrick Dog Food Product Lines

Merrick offers several unique product lines that are designed to meet the specific needs of your furry best friend. Always consult your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog's diet.

Merrick Grain Free Dog Food

Merrick's grain-free product line includes a variety of wet and dry dog food formulas that are suitable for all life stages and breed sizes.

These recipes contain protein from up to 84% animal sources. In addition to eliminating grain, Merrick's Grain-Free formulas also limit plant-based ingredients to maximize the bioavailability of nutrients.

Some foods, like blueberries and sweet potatoes, are especially good for your health because they contain essential nutrients that help to balance your diet.

The first ingredient in our recipes is deboned fish, meat, or poultry. If your dog is sensitive to a specific type of animal protein, we have several recipes with alternative meat sources.

Some recipes are specialized for large breeds, senior dogs, overweight dogs, and other special needs. But all of these recipes have skin, coat, and joint support from high levels of omega fatty acids and glucosamine.

Some dogs with gluten sensitivities do well on a grain-free diet. However, it is not recommended for dogs with heart health concerns because there is a potential link to DCM.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

The issue is evident far in advance of your dog becoming blind. This disorder is also preventable by routine exams.

Merrick Backcountry Dog Food

The Merrick Backcountry range of products uses exotic proteins to create premium dog food formulas based on the ancestral canine diet.

This line contains recipes with both grain and grain-free ingredients. But both varieties have a raw meat coating that helps boost the nutritional content. This natural coating allows your pup to benefit from a raw diet in the commercial formula.

Like other Merrick products, all Backcountry recipes contain deboned meat as the primary ingredient. If your dog is sensitive to grains, you may want to try one of the grain-free formulas. But all of the recipes have healthy whole grains that provide extra fiber for healthy digestion.

Grain-free Backcountry recipes can also benefit dogs at risk of developing heart conditions as they do not contain any peas or lentils.

Many pet parents say that Merrick dog food recipes have improved their dog's overall health. They feel that the recipes are worth the higher price tag.

Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet Dog Food

The Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet offers comprehensive nutrition from less than ten main ingredients. This diet is best suited for adult dogs.

Dogs that have food sensitivities should eat a limited ingredient diet. It will help them avoid common allergens in food. The diet will also be fortified with vitamins and minerals to ensure the dog gets all the nutrients they need.

Many dogs with food intolerances do well on a grain-free diet. But this product line also features recipes that include grains.

Some dog foods use a single source of animal protein as the first ingredient. The recipes for these foods use either salmon or chicken. If your dog has a chicken allergy, consider an alternative wet food.

Merrick recipes do not include corn, soy, wheat, or artificial additives. These ingredients can cause problems for some dogs.

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dog Food

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains recipes offer a selection of healthy, grain-inclusive formulas for dogs who benefit from whole grain ingredients. These formulas are well suited for small breeds, puppies, and adults.

These recipes have a balanced level of animal proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Ancient grains and other whole grain ingredients offer high levels of carbohydrates and fiber.

Dogs with heart concerns may need to avoid eating peas, lentils, and potatoes. Dog foods in this product range will not include any of those ingredients to improve the dog's heart health. The primary carbohydrate sources will be barley, quinoa, and brown rice.

Adding omega fatty acids to your diet helps boost your immune system and keeps you healthy. Plus, glucosamine and chondroitin help relieve pain from joint conditions.

People who have pets that eat Merrick dog food say that these formulas are appealing options for picky eaters.

Merrick Lil' Plates Dog Food

The Merrick Lil' Plates line has recipes explicitly designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of small breed dogs. These formulas are breed-specific and suitable for all life stages.

Small breeds have fast metabolisms that require dense nutrition with adequate energy levels. Even though they need more energy, they can only eat a small serving size. And generic dog food with average-sized kibble may not fit in their little mouths.

Merrick Lil' Plates formulas have a high concentration of quality protein for increased digestibility and energy. Toy breeds also need a consistent source of carbohydrates from their diet to prevent hypoglycemia.

Grain-Free Lil' Plates recipes use vegetables as a source of carbohydrates. At the same time, Healthy Grains options feature whole grains as a source of carbohydrates easy to digest.

These formulas also have a high concentration of omega-fatty acids from sunflower oil and flaxseed. Fat is an excellent source of energy for small dogs. Omega-3 fatty acids help support a healthy coat.

Merrick Full Source Dog Food

Merrick Full Source recipes use meat-based ingredients from the entire animal. This whole-prey approach is a sustainable way to produce food that is high in protein and nutrients.

Almost all the protein in Full Source dog foods comes from meat. It includes cartilage and organ meats, good sources of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

Some Full Source recipes do not include grains. Instead, they use sweet potatoes as a source of digestible carbohydrates. Other Full Source recipes include oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice for extra fiber.

Merrick's Backcountry range also has a product line that features freeze-dried raw-coated kibble. This addition combines the benefits of raw meat with the safety of a commercially available recipe.

Dogs used to eat their prey to get the natural vitamins and minerals they needed. But now, there are dog food formulas that don't need as much fortification because they contain many nutrients from whole animal protein.

This product line is only available at Pet Supplies Plus, Petco, and independent retailers.

Ingredient Quality

Merrick outperforms other Purina-owned dog food brands regarding the quality of ingredients. Merrick uses premium deboned animal protein as the first ingredient in their recipes. The company prioritizes using real meat as the base for all of its formulas.

Dogs need animal protein to digest their food. Dogs are omnivores, which means that they eat both meat and plants. Animal proteins have a greater nutrient bioavailability than plant proteins. It means that the nutrients in animal proteins are more accessible for dogs to absorb and use.

Although plant protein is more difficult to digest, whole fruits and vegetables can also be valuable in dog food recipes. Merrick formulas use fruits and veggies as rich sources of vitamins and antioxidants, which help keep your dog healthy.

One way to help support healthy digestion in your dog is to give them fiber from whole, fibrous foods. Fiber acts as a prebiotic, meaning that it helps to nourish the good bacteria in your dog's gut.

Many budget pet food manufacturers use ingredients that come from other countries. Some people are concerned about where these ingredients come from, especially if they come from China.

Merrick uses local farms for their ingredients. They also use other sources, but those have to meet very high standards from the FDA and USDA. Using responsible sourcing helps make sure that this dog food brand only uses the best ingredients.

Many Merrick recipes include nutraceuticals. These ingredients provide complete nutritional support for common issues and help to complement the other whole food ingredients used in each recipe.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin are nutraceuticals that protect joints. Good bacteria are put into the digestive system by probiotic cultures. And high levels of omega-3 fatty acids help keep inflammation at a healthy level.

What is not on the ingredient list is just as important as what is on it. Merrick dog foods do not contain artificial ingredients like preservatives, colors, or flavors. The company uses botanicals to make their food appealing to picky pups.

Merrick Dog Food Recall History

Merrick Pet Care has had a history of recalls for their dog food products. However, the company remains dedicated to continually improving the safety of its products so they meet its high standards. And most of their recalls involve dog treats, not recipes for dog food.

Here are the most recent recalls of Merrick dog products.

  • May 2018 – Merrick Pet Care announced a voluntary recall of three flavors of Merrick Backcountry treats because they might have too much beef thyroid hormone.
  • August 2011 – The FDA recalled Merrick Doggie Wishbone treats with a best-by date of January 30, 2013, in lot #11031 because of a potential for salmonella contamination.
  • January 2011 – The FDA recalled Merrick Jr. Texas Taffy pet treats because there was a possibility that they were contaminated with salmonella bacteria.
  • The FDA recalled Merrick Texas Hold Ems Pet Treats with a best-by date of May 6, 2012, and Merrick Beef Filet Squares 10 oz packs with a best-by date of March 24, 2012.

Salmonella is a harmful bacteria that can cause severe illness in humans and dogs. There have been no recalls of Merrick dog food due to salmonella concerns since 2011. Most Purina-owned dog food brands perform regular testing for the bacteria.

Merrick Dog Food Review

With Merrick dog food, a high-end animal protein source is always the first on the ingredients list. It's usually supplemented with whole grains or veggies, enhanced with minerals and vitamins. The variety of recipes is seemingly endless, fit for any breed size, life stage, and individual food sensitivity. I've done the homework for you to help you find the perfect formula for your pup. I'm ready to present my findings, starting with a quick overview of six best-selling recipes.

Which Merrick Sub-Brand Is Right for You?

Here are the six most popular sub-brands made by Merrick. We'll talk about what makes each one unique below. So you can pick the food that your dog likes best.

1. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains

Merrick Classic is for those who prefer traditional dry dog food made with grain.

  • Contains no BHA or other high-risk preservatives
  • Healthy grain-inclusive formula
  • 13 recipes (ratings vary)

2. Merrick Grain-Free Dry

Merrick Grain-Free is ideal for those seeking dry food made without grain.

  • Merrick's most popular sub-brand
  • It contains no corn, wheat, or rice.
  • 14 recipes (ratings vary)

3. Merrick Grain-Free Cans

This sub-brand has the best-selling grain-free wet recipes from Merrick. Some are only available at some times of the year.

  • No corn, wheat, barley, or rice
  • Chunky or fine-ground options
  • Ten recipes (ratings vary)

4. Merrick Backcountry Raw Infused Grain-Free

  •  Freeze-dried, raw-coated kibble is used as the base for backcountry recipes. Then, mix freeze-dried pieces of raw meat, fish, or poultry.
  • Grain-free. Sweet potato is in it.
  • All Contain new proteins, like those from a rabbit, deer, or duck.
  • 5. Merrick Limited Ingredient Grain-Free

  • Merrick Limited Ingredient Diet is kibble that doesn't have any grains in it. It can help dogs who are sensitive to or allergic to certain foods.
  • For easier digestion, you only need nine key ingredients.
  • It contains fiber-rich sweet potato.
  • Five recipes (ratings vary)
  • 6. Merrick Lil' Plates Wet Dog Food

  • Lil' Plates is a line of wet food from Merrick that is grain-free and made for small dogs.
  • It has no corn, soy, or grains in it.
  • Prebiotics and probiotics are used to help digestion.
  • Eight recipes (ratings vary)
  • Who Makes Merrick Dog Food?

    All of Merrick's dog food is made in the United States. Most of the dry and wet recipes for the brand are made at one of the company's three facilities in Hereford, Texas. Merrick owns its cannery, which is different from most pet food brands.

    Castor and Pollux Natural Petworks is also owned by Merrick (a quality brand known for certified organic dog and cat foods). He produces Whole Earth Farms pet foods, too.



    Start your acquaintance with Merrick with this well-balanced, highly nutritious formula enhanced with skin, coat, and joint health supplements.

    Merrick chicken dog food is an all-time classic, with deboned chicken as the prime ingredient and the core protein source. This kibble is accessible on a sensitive tummy, coupled with easily-digestible carbs from potatoes and sweet potatoes instead of grains. And the added benefits of Omegas, taurine, chondroitin, and glucosamine translate into a shiny coat, dandruff-free skin, and flexible joints for small, medium, and large breeds.

    In case your pup is sensitive to poultry, digestive issues may occur. To replace chicken with fish-derived protein, consider switching to other recipes, like Merrick Salmon and Sweet Potato Dog Food. And remember that Merrick recipes are free of artificial flavors, so fussy eaters may take a while to get used to the new kibble.


    • Calories: 388 kcal/cup
    • Crude protein: 34% min
    • Crude fat: 17% min
    • Crude fiber: 3.5% max
    • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes


    • Type: Dry food
    • Breed size: All breeds
    • Life Stage: Adult
    • Weight: 4, 10, 22, 30-lb bags


    • Over 80% of protein is animal-based
    • Enhanced with Omega fatty acids, chondroitin, and glucosamine
    • Packed with healthy whole food ingredients
    • The transparent ingredient list and nutritional info


    • Fussy eaters remain unimpressed
    • Chicken allergy may cause digestive issues



    Keep your pup's sensitive tummy happy with this lamb-based formula free of poultry, grains, and artificial nasties packed with skin and joint health supplements.

    You have to love this Merrick Lamb Dog Food simply because it's only ten core ingredients mixed with health supplements. The sole source of animal protein is lamb, so there's minimal risk of allergic reactions. The rest of the components provide a balanced combination of fat and carbs to keep the puppy fit and energetic. There are even Omega fatty acids for a shinier coat and joint-supporting chondroitin and glucosamine.

    The most surprising thing about this recipe is the lack of negative Merrick dog food consumer reviews. Most buyers are super happy, with no complaints from picky eaters. Sunflower oil may be the only bone to pick with this formula, as it could become an inflammatory agent for some canines. Otherwise, it's an ideal solution for allergy-prone pups sensitive to grains and poultry.


    • Calories: 371 kcal/cup
    • Crude protein: 23% min
    • Crude fat: 14% min
    • Natural fiber: 4.5% max
    • Deboned lamb, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and peas are the first five ingredients.


    • Type: Dry food
    • Breed size: All breeds
    • Life Stage: Adult
    • Weight: 4, 12, 22-lb bags


    • Lamb is the sole source of animal protein
    • Only ten core ingredients + vitamins and minerals
    • Skin and joint health supplements included
    • No artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors


    • Grain-free diet may not be suited to all canines
    • Sunflower oil may become an inflammatory agent



    Keep your tiny furball happy with this traditional chicken-based formula chock-full of protein, healthy fat, and carbs to support the lightning-fast metabolism.

    If you're not a fan of the grain-free trend in pet nutrition, this Merrick Classic Dog Food will be right up your alley. It's formulated with real chicken (No1 on the ingredients list) and whole grains, like brown rice and barley, to support cardiac health and clockwork digestion. Adding whole veggies and fruits makes the kibble even healthier and more flavorful. And taurine, Omega fatty acids, chondroitin, and glucosamine support coat and joints health.

    While this formula works great for many canines, fussy eaters can ignore the new kibble, as it's free of artificial flavor enhancers. Besides, grains may cause digestive issues, including vomiting and soft stool. Keep an eye out for these symptoms and consult the vet if any occur. They might be a sign of grain allergy and a cause for switching to a grain-free diet.


    • Calories: 404 kcal/cup
    • Crude protein: 27% min
    • Crude fat: 16% min
    • Crude fiber: 3.5% max
    • Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, and turkey meal are the first five ingredients.


    • Type: Dry food
    • Breed size: Toy, extra-small, and small breeds
    • Life Stage: Adult
    • Weight: 4, 12-lb bags


    • Calorie-dense formula high in protein
    • Whole grains instead of legumes and potatoes
    • Kibble size is just suitable for small breeds
    • Zero synthetic preservatives, colors, and flavors


    • Possible digestive issues
    • Not for picky eaters



    Make sure your senior dog stays slim and fit with this protein-rich formula that is low in fat and high in health supplements to support the health of the dog's coat and joints.

    When your puppy enjoys the couch more than running outside, it's time to switch him to Merrick Senior Dog Food. This formula is tailored to older canines' reduced energy requirements and lower metabolism. The reduced fat content and the addition of L-carnitine support healthy weight, and the usual Merrick supplement complex supports skin, coat, and joint health. And your pup gets all these benefits in a classic combination of chicken and sweet potato flavor that satisfies most finicky eaters.

    As the sole grain-free recipe for senior canines, this recipe is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The kibble pieces are too large for small breeds. Moreover, the recent change of packaging (22 lbs instead of 25 lbs for the same price) and the lack of resealable closure made many Merrick fans mad.


    • Calories: 370 kcal/cup
    • Crude protein: 30% min
    • Crude fat: 12% min
    • Crude fiber: 3.5% max
    • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Turkey Meal


    • Type: Dry food
    • Breed size: All breeds
    • Life Stage: Senior
    • Weight: 4, 10, 22-lb bags


    • Reduced fat and calorie content for weight management
    • 77% of protein is animal-based
    • The grain-free formula prevents digestive issues
    • Supplemented with Omegas, taurine, chondroitin, and glucosamine


    • Non-resealable packaging
    • Kibble pieces are too large for small breeds



    Treat your pup to a delicious mix of raw-coated kibble and freeze-dried chunks of this poultry-free formula rich in protein and healthy fat, ideal for energetic canines.

    The Red Recipe is 100% poultry-free. Though it's not Merrick Rabbit Dog Food, the beef-first recipe includes a mix of animal protein sources, like lamb, salmon, pork, rabbit, and liver. This combination drives the protein content to an all-time high of 38%, making it an excellent choice for energetic dogs. The added chondroitin and glucosamine ensure your pup's joints remain strong and flexible throughout the long walks and games, and the Omega fatty acids guarantee a shiny coat.

    For all the marketing around the freeze-dried chunks inside every bag of Merrick Beef Dog Food, you'd expect more of those. However, the company is stingy with the raw chips, and they tend to gravitate to the top of the bag, leaving the lower portion of kibble free of the most delicious pieces. Moreover, the company has recently switched to non-resealable bags, so you'll need to find an airtight container for safe storage.


    • Calories: 392 kcal/cup
    • Crude protein: 38% min
    • Crude fat: 17% min
    • Crude fiber: 3.5% max
    • The first five components are deboned beef, lamb, salmon, sweet potatoes, and potatoes.


    • Type: Freeze-dried, dry food
    • Breed size: All breeds
    • Life Stage: Adult
    • Weight: 4, 10, 20-lb bags


    • Combination of raw-coated kibble and freeze-dried chunks
    • Extra high-protein poultry-free recipe
    • Calorie-dense formula perfect for active canines
    • Supplemented with Omegas, glucosamine, chondroitin
    • Barely 4% of raw chunks
    • The recent switch to non-resealable bags

    Final Thoughts

    This Merrick dog food review shows that this brand is suitable for pet owners looking for an affordable premium diet for their dogs.

    Merrick dog food uses high-quality ingredients from the USA to create a variety of dog foods. Even though Purina eventually bought this small, family-run company, their successful formulas have remained nearly unchanged.

    All Merrick dog food formulas have real meat as the first ingredient. Dog owners can choose between grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes to find the best diet for their dogs.

    Several product lines focus on ancestral diets and freeze-dried raw food to boost the nutrient content. And others have high-quality recipes with limited ingredients for sensitive dogs.

    If you want to give your dog a high-quality diet that is good for them, consider Merrick dog food.

    Frequently Asked About Merrick Dog Food Reviews

    Is Merrick Making Dogs Sick?

    Neither of the recalls caused any reported illnesses. However, in 2018 a wide variety of their beef treats were recalled because they might contain elevated levels of a naturally-occurring beef thyroid hormone. One dog got sick after eating the treats, but it recovered fully.

    Does Merrick Dog Food Source From China?

    Merrick's foods are made in the USA. Most ingredients are grown by local farmers, and none of the ingredients come from China. Nestle Purina is one of the nation's largest manufacturers of pet food and pet treat products.

    Is Merrick Dog Food Aafco Approved?

    All of our protein-rich diets are complete and balanced. They meet the nutritional guidelines set by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

    Is Grain Free Better for Dogs?

    Even though your dog needs carbohydrates to produce energy, too many of them can lead to obesity and a lack of energy. So, if a dog food is labeled "grain-free," but the grains are replaced with other ingredients, it might not be a healthier option for your dog.

    Does Merrick Dog Food Have Probiotics?

    Three Merrick Lil' Plate dry recipes include probiotics and prebiotic fiber for optimal digestion and glucosamine and Chondroitin for healthy joints. The small kibble size makes it easy for small breed dogs to pick up and chew, aiding in proper digestion.

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