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MERRICK SOLD OUT!! It's Nestle-Purina now (formerly There is only ONE fair way to rate Dog Food.)
on March 1, 2014
UPDATE!!!: Merrick sold out to Purina in July 2015. I am currently using Orijen Adult formula, which I think is an excellent food (I think all Acana and Orijen, made by Champion are top notch), though more expensive. Probably my review of this Merrick food is no longer valid. Usually when a small high quality brand is bought out by a giant, cheaper ingredients are substituted. I have no idea if that's the case here, but be careful!! I am still using Merrick canned food for stuffing Kong toys and haven't noticed a change there, but it's not always obvious.
I am changing my review from 5 stars to 1 star until Nestle-Purina offers complete disclosure of changes to their formula and discloses their ownership on the bag. In fairness, in 2010 Merrick was purchased by an investment fund focused on growing the brand, so it's not like this wasn't inevitable.
--------- OLD REVIEW ------
Let's be honest. Customer Dog Food reviews pretty much all have a big lie. Would you review a steak dinner based on how your hair looks a week later? It didn't give you the runs? Pretty crude standards. You can't know how good a dog food is.
Unless you taste it. You have to taste lots of dog foods. Otherwise, you better look for a good dog psychic.
Lucky you. I tried it for you. And Merrick Real Buffalo and Sweet Potato is definitely right up there. In fact, if I had to eat a dry dog food as actual food, I'd pick Merrick hands down. Lower class dog foods often have a cardboard like non-food texture and little flavor beyond maybe a mild sweetness (from the sugar and corn maybe). Really top end stuff - like Orijen Regional Red - have a beef bouillion quality. Actually too densely flavorful for human food, but wow do dogs go for it (I use that for dog treats. Too $ for every meal).
Merrick tastes kind of like a beefy wheat cracker. Maybe like meat flavored wheat thins. Really not bad. It doesn't have the sweetness and saltiness of a human snack food, but if you added salt & sugar, this stuff would sell!
Of course, you can't go just by human taste alone. In fact, the Orijen is probably a higher quality food than the Merrick, but is less human palatable. And many dog foods add scent just for owners. But I think you do get a sense of the richness and quality of the ingredients. A really good dog food just tastes like there's more stuff in that little bit 'o kibble.
Merrick has other things going for it too: I think the ingredients are better than in many dog foods. The Buffalo in this food is Bison (American Buffalo), according to Merrick, as opposed to some that are actually Indian Buffalo (as in Calcutta not Native Americans). It's relatively low fiber. For my dog, if I feed him as much of some brands as he needs, it goes right through him because of the higher fiber content. Fiber has a turbo effect on dogs because of their shorter intestines. After switching to Merrick, I could increase his calories with no problem.
Merrick is a premium food, but not as expensive as some. And I think you would have to pay about 20% more to get the same protein content in a food with the same quality of ingredients. The Amazon price (currently 49.99 on 3/1/14) seems good to me. As good as I can get anywhere local - and with free (prime) shipping.