There are several dog food grading systems out there with their own nuances.
We use the AKC’s own grading system, but feel free to use another if you’d like.
Without getting lost in the details, the main goal of any food grading system is to ensure that your dog is getting a balanced, nutritious diet from food sources that actually benefit your pooch, rather than the cheapest and most readily available ingredients.
Whether you own a Labradoodle, a Goldendoodle or one of our other Doodle breeds, dogs deserve great, safe, healthy food—just like people. Whenever you’re weighing the pros and cons of a particular brand, use this grading system to see which one has the edge. Your Doodle will thank you later! =)
First of all, start with a score of 100. After that, you’re going to subtract points for the following:
Now that we’ve gotten the bad stuff out of the way, let’s move on to the good stuff. Add points for the following:
The scale for grading dog food is a little different than what you might expect, since some of the best brands will score well over 100. As a general rule of thumb:
>93 = A
86–93 = B
78–85 = C
70–77 = D
<70 = F
This isn’t an exhaustive list of dog food, but 3 of the top-rated dog food brands according to the AKC’s grading system are:
There are a few things to consider when using this grading system that you should be aware of.
For starters, some dogs have unique dietary restrictions and needs that this system simply cannot account for. If your pup is one of those dogs, adjust accordingly—this list should not be treated as law.
Second, dog food companies are changing their recipes all the time. Some of these changes are for the better (see below), some are for the worse. Be sure to check the ingredients yourself before you buy!
Third, nutrition science is hardly set in stone for humans, and it’s certainly not set in stone for our four-legged friends, either. Just think of how many times scientists have recommended eating eggs over the past few decades, only to backpedal and say that eggs should be eaten in moderation.
Do your best with the information you currently have available, and don’t sweat the small details. Your dog is not a frail little thing that will collapse because he gets a few grams of protein too many or eats chicken instead of lamb (barring dietary restrictions, of course).
Using this guide will already put you miles ahead of your standard pet store brands. After all, if you’ve found your pup through our puppy finder, he or she is backed by a health guarantee, too!