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Most Expensive Dog Food Brands: 11 Pricey Pup Eats

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Dog Food By Ben Team 25 min read July 11, 2023 4 Comments

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Dog food prices vary pretty significantly.

But while most sit in the middle of the price range, there are outliers.

Some foods are suspiciously inexpensive and seem like they can’t possibly contain actual, edible dog food, and others carry price tags that would send Warren Buffett looking for coupons.

We’re going to focus on these super-expensive dog food brands today.

Many owners choose to go after expensive dog food brands believing that spending more guarantees they’ll receive high-quality food, and while this can certainly be true in many cases, it’s not a given.

Don’t worry — we’ll try to help make sure you only choose a pricey dog food that is worth that extra cash!

We’ll list some of the most expensive dog food brands, explain why they’re priced above the market mean, and point out some of the features a few extra dollars will yield.

Hopefully, this will help you decide whether these premium pupper foods are worth coughing up a little extra cash.

Read on to learn more about the most expensive dog food options!

The Best of the Most Expensive Dog Food Brands

most expensive dog food

There are many pricey pupper foods on the market, but we’ve tried to assemble the best options among the most expensive dog food. So, if you want to give your dog the top food money can buy, consider picking up one of the following.  

1. Ollie

Best Overall Expensive Dog Food
Ollie Fresh Dog Food
A customized fresh food made with human-grade ingredients and portioned to your pup's needs.
Special Discount: We've cut a deal with Ollie -- new customers can get 50% off!
Buy Now (Get 50% Off) Read Our Review

New customers get 50% off their first order — no code needed just click here!

About: Ollie is a fresh dog food with a higher price tag than most, but this customized canine cuisine delivers in quality and personalization, as your mutt’s menu is catered to a quiz you complete covering his age, body condition, activity levels, and more. Best of all, this meat-rich dish has a taste and texture most dogs adore and is shipped right to your home.

Features:

  • Each recipe features fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Contain no artificial flavors, preservatives, or dyes
  • All Ollie recipes are vet-formulated or vet-approved for balance
  • Made in the USA with human-grade ingredients

Options:

  • Beef Dish with Sweet Potatoes
  • Chicken Dish with Carrots
  • Turkey Dish with Blueberries
  • Pork Dish with Apples
  • Lamb Dish with Cranberries

Ingredients (Beef Dish with Sweet Potatoes):

Ingredients List

Beef, Carrots, Beef Kidneys, Potatoes, Peas,...,

Sweet Potatoes, Beef Livers, Chickpeas, Spinach, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salmon Oil, Salt, Taurine, Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulphate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Potassium Iodide

Pros

  • Hard to top the quality of human-grade ingredients
  • Customized to your dog’s unique dietary needs
  • Several owners report improved stool quality

Cons

  • Since this is fresh dog food, it requires room in your refrigerator
  • Not the most portable food if you need to feed your floof on-the-go

2. Nom Nom

Best Tasting Expensive Dog Food
Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food
A premium fresh dog food using US-sourced ingredients in a delicious meaty mash.
Special Discount: New customers can get 50% off!
Buy Now (Get 50% Off) Read Our Review

New customer? Score 50% off your first Nom Nom order. No code needed — just click here!

About: Taste isn’t lacking with Nom Nom, a fresh dog food made with human-grade ingredients, including scrumptious proteins and vitamin-rich vegetables. It comes in pre-portioned bags and is shipped in insulated packages right to your front door for maximum convenience.

Features:

  • Subscription-based, but you’re allowed to determine the frequency of meal deliveries
  • Meals are customized to your dog based on his age, breed, and more
  • Grain-inclusive and grain-free recipes are available
  • All recipes are formulated by board-certified animal nutritionists and made in the USA

Options:

  • Turkey Fare
  • Beef Mash
  • Chicken Chow
  • Pork Potluck

Ingredients (Chicken Cuisine):

Ingredients List

Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Water Sufficient for Processing, Spinach, ...,

Sunflower Oil, Canola Oil, Natural Flavor, Vinegar, Dicalcium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Fish Oil, Salt, Choline Bitartrate, Taurine, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Manganese Gluconate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Cholecalciferol (Source of Vitamin D3), Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement

Pros

  • Most dogs appear to love the taste of Nom Nom
  • Several pet parents note improvement in canine energy levels, coat conditions, and stool quality
  • Pre-portioned nature makes feeding time more convenient

Cons

  • Pricing is a drawback, as this is no cheap dog food at about $1 per pound your dog weight per week
  • As a fresh food, refrigeration is required

You can learn even more by reading our full Nom Nom review here!

3. The Farmer’s Dog

Best Eco-Friendly Expensive Dog Food
The Farmer’s Dog
A vet-developed premium fresh dog food made using eco-conscious practices.
Special Discount: With K9 of Mine, you can get 50% off your first order!
Buy Now (Get 50% Off) Read Our Review

Get 50% off your first order! No code needed — just click here.

About: The Farmer’s Dog uses greener methods than many fresh dog food providers, including eco-friendly packaging and utilizing local farms to reduce carbon emissions. The brand carries recipes for dogs of every age, from precocious puppies to snazzy seniors.

Features:

  • All meals are cooked gently to temperature before being frozen for shipment
  • Pre-portioned for easier feeding
  • Customized to your dog’s age, activity level, and more to keep him in a healthy body condition
  • Vet-developed recipes are made in the USA in USDA kitchens

Options:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Pork

Ingredients (Chicken):

Ingredients List

USDA Chicken, Brussels Sprout, USDA Chicken Liver, Bok Choy, Broccoli,...,

Fish Oil, TFD Nutrient Pack [Tricalcium Phosphate, Sea Salt, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Taurine, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Potassium Iodide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid

Pros

  • Eco-friendly packaging and the use of local farms are more earth-conscious than other fresh food options
  • Shipped fresh frozen to arrive at peak flavor and quality
  • Simple recipes ideal for dogs with food sensitivities

Cons

  • Need a subscription to purchase
  • Requires room in your refrigerator

4. The Honest Kitchen

Best Dehydrated Expensive Dog Food
The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Turkey Dehydrated
A dehydrated dog food packed with protein and whole grains that's made in the USA. Enjoy 30% off your first order by entering code K930!.
Buy at The Honest Kitchen Our Review

Use code K930 at checkout to enjoy a 30% discount!

About: The Honest Kitchen is a dehydrated dog food that you prepare on an as-needed basis with grain-free and grain-inclusive options available. Made with “human-grade” non-GMO ingredients, this recipe provides the kind of flavor and nutrition most owners would want for their pup.

Features:

  • Easy to feed: measure out the proper amount of dehydrated mix, add water, let sit, and serve
  • Can be fed as your pup’s sole food or as a delicious mix-in for kibble
  • Recipes contain lots of fruits and vegetables for natural fiber and nutrients
  • Made in the USA without artificial ingredients

Options:

  • Whole Grain Beef
  • Whole Grain Chicken
  • Whole Grain Turkey
  • Whole Grain Fish & Oat
  • Grain Free Chicken
  • Grain Free Turkey
  • Grain Free Beef
  • Grain Free Fish
  • Gourmet Grains Chicken & Duck
  • Gourmet Grains Turkey & Fish
  • Gourmet Grains Beef & Salmon
  • Limited Ingredient Chicken
  • Grain Free Limited Ingredient Turkey
  • Grain Free Limited Ingredient Beef
  • Grain Free Limited Ingredient Fish
  • Grain Free Limited Ingredient Duck

Ingredients (Whole Grain Turkey):

Ingredients List

Dehydrated Turkey, Organic Oats, Dehydrated Potatoes, Flaxseed, Dehydrated Carrots,...,

Dehydrated Cabbage, Dried Apples, Dehydrated Honey, Dried Organic Kelp, Dried Garlic, Minerals [Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Potassium Iodide, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Sodium Selenite], Taurine, Vitamins [Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement]

Pros

  • Most dogs love the taste and texture of the mash once rehydrated
  • Excellent mix of options, including grain-inclusive, grain-free, and limited-ingredient recipes
  • Lightweight boxes are easier to carry and store than large bags of kibble

Cons

  • Serving can be more time-consuming and messier compared to other dog food
  • More exotic protein options would be ideal

5. Open Farm

Best Expensive Dry Dog Food
Open Farm Pasture-Raised Lamb & Ancient Grains
A dry dog food made with humanely-raised proteins and sustainably-sourced grains and produce.
Buy on Open Farm

About: Quality ingredients shine in Open Farm, a canine kibble containing zero artificial flavors and preservatives in their meat-forward recipes. Superfoods are also plentiful in this crunchy cuisine, with fiber-filled pumpkin and coconut just some of the awesome inclusions.

Features:

  • Meat is always the first ingredient in Open Farm recipes (except for the plant-based recipe)
  • Grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes are available
  • All recipes meet the AAFCO nutrient profile for all life stages
  • Made in the USA with humanely-raised proteins and locally-sourced produce

Options:

  • Wild-Caught Salmon & Ancient Grains
  • Homestead Turkey & Ancient Grains
  • Harvest Chicken & Ancient Grains
  • Pasture-Raised Lamb & Ancient Grains
  • Puppy Chicken, Salmon & Ancient Grains
  • Grass-Fed Beef & Ancient Grains
  • Catch-of-the-Season Whitefish & Ancient Grains
  • Farmer’s Table Pork & Ancient Grains
  • Small Breed Chicken, Turkey & Ancient Grains
  • Kind Earth Insect Recipe
  • Kind Earth Plant Recipe
  • Grain Free Grass-Fed Beef
  • Grain Free Homestead Turkey & Chicken
  • Grain Free Wild-Caught Salmon
  • Grain Free Puppy Chicken & Salmon
  • Grain Free Pasture-Raised Lamb
  • Grain Free New Zealand Venison
  • Grain Free Senior Turkey & Chicken
  • Grain Free Catch-of-the-Season Whitefish
  • Grain Free Farmer’s Table Pork
  • Grain Free Small Breed Chicken & Turkey

Ingredients (Pasture-Raised Lamb & Ancient Grains):

Ingredients List

100% Animal Welfare Certified Humanely Raised Lamb, Garbanzo Beans, Ocean Whitefish Meal, Field Peas, Herring Meal,...,

Coconut Oil, Red Lentils, Green Lentils, Pumpkin, Natural Flavor, Carrots, Coconut Meal, Apples, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Cranberries, Dried Chicory Root, Salmon Oil, Sun Cured Alfalfa, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Selenium Yeast, Calcium Iodate, Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Rosemary Extract

Pros

  • High-quality ingredients like lean protein and fiber-rich pumpkin support sniffers from head to tail
  • Ethically-sourced meat is a win for owners concerned with animal welfare
  • A large variety of proteins and recipes to choose from

Cons

  • Mixed proteins may be an issue for dogs with food sensitivities
  • The inclusion of lentils and peas in some recipes may not sit well with pet parents concerned about DCM

6. Spot & Tango UnKibble

Best Air-Dried Expensive Dog Food
Spot & Tango UnKibble
An air-dried crunchy alternative to kibble and fresh food made with human-grade ingredients.
Special Discount: Get 50% off your first order when you use code K9OFMINE50
Buy Now (Get 50% Off)

Use code K9OFMINE50 at checkout to get 50% off your first order!

About: Add a satisfying crunch to your fur kid’s bowl with Spot & Tango, an air-dried food that offers the quality of human-grade ingredients often found in fresh food in a shelf-stable, mess-free format. Sold via subscription, this tasty food is delivered right to your door.

Features:

  • All recipes are veterinarian-developed and meet the AAFCO profile for all life stages
  • Portioned to meet your dog’s dietary needs, plus comes with a customized scoop
  • Organ meats are a nutrient-rich addition
  • Made in the USA without artificial colors or flavors

Options:

  • Chicken & Brown Rice
  • Beef & Barley
  • Cod & Salmon

Ingredients (Chicken & Brown Rice):

Ingredients List

Chicken, Brown Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Apples,...,

Kale, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Sunflower Seeds, Ginger Root, Kelp, Salt, Mixed Tocopherols (natural source of Vitamin E), Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Sea Salt, Fish Oil, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, L-Tryptophan, L-Threonine, Organic Zinc Proteinate, Rosemary Extract and Mixed Tocopherols, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Organic Selenium Yeast, Vitamin E Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Beet, Tomato, Broccoli, Carrot, Spinach, Orange, Cherry, Cranberry, Strawberry, Apple, Blueberry, Pumpkin, Riboflavin, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxin Hydrochloride, Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid

Pros

  • While still pricey, UnKibble’s a more affordable spin on fresh dog food
  • Shelf-stable nature doesn’t require room in your refrigerator
  • Most pups like the taste and pet parents love the customized nature

Cons

  • Limited protein options
  • Requires a subscription to purchase

7. Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food

Best Freeze-Dried Raw Expensive Dog Food
Instinct Freeze-Dried Raw Meals Grain Free Recipe

An American-made freeze-dried raw meal of real meat, fruit, and vegetables.

Buy on Amazon Buy on Chewy

About: Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food is a raw, frozen diet available in a variety of flavors and styles. But no matter whether you prefer “patties,” “medallions,” “small bites,” or “chubs” (somewhat similar to a ground meat product), they’ll be shipped to your home in a frozen state to preserve freshness.  

Features:

  • Made with 85% meat and organ meat
  • Contains non-GMO fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals
  • Doesn’t contain corn, soy, wheat, legumes, or grains
  • Made in the USA with proteins sourced from the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Mexico

Options:

  • Beef  
  • Chicken  
  • Lamb  
  • Pollock

Ingredients (Beef):

Ingredients List

Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Spleen, Carrots,...,

Apples, Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash, Ground Miscanthus Grass, Montmorillonite Clay, Ground Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Salt, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Calcium Iodate), Blueberries, Spinach

Pros

  • Great option who want a more convenient way to serve a raw food diet
  • Taste is a hit with most four-footed eaters
  • Organ-rich recipe dense in nutrients

Cons

  • As a grain-free formula, this isn’t the ideal choice for dogs who digest grains well
  • May be too rich for some dogs’ systems

8. Orijen

Best Multi-Protein Expensive Kibble
Orijen
A protein-rich dry dog food featuring 85% animal ingredients from turkey, chicken, and fish.
Buy on Amazon Buy on Chewy

About: Orijen is a somewhat typical dog kibble, but make no mistake: It’s packed with awesome stuff for your pooch. Each recipe comes with multiple meats, organ meats, and meat meals to provide your pup with the protein she needs, as well as a variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables.

Features:

  • Grain-free recipes use alternative carbohydrate sources like lentils, beans, peas, and chickpeas
  • Fruits offer natural sources of vitamins and minerals
  • Trio of probiotic strains supports doggo digestion
  • Made in the USA

Options:

  • Orijen Original
  • Orijen Senior
  • Orijen Puppy
  • Orijen Puppy Large
  • Orijen Six Fish
  • Orijen Regional Red
  • Orijen Fit & Trim
  • Orijen Tundra

Ingredients (Orijen Original):

Ingredients List

Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, Whole Herring, Chicken Liver,...,

Dehydrated Chicken, Dehydrated Turkey, Dehydrated Chicken Liver, Dehydrated Egg, Dehydrated Sardine, Chicken Fat, Whole Red Lentils, Whole Pinto Beans, Whole Navy Beans, Whole Green Lentils, Whole Chickpeas, Whole Peas, Turkey Giblets (Liver, Heart, Gizzard), Eggs, Natural Chicken Flavor, Dried Apple Pomace, Pollock Oil, Chicken Heart, Vitamin E Supplement, Whole Pumpkin, Whole Butternut Squash, Collard Greens, Whole Apples, Whole Pears, Whole Cranberries, Dried Kelp, Salt, Zinc Proteinate, Mixed Tocopherols (Preservative), Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Copper Proteinate, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Dried Chicory Root, Turmeric, Sarsaparilla Root, Althea Root, Rosehips, Juniper Berries, Citric Acid (Preservative), Rosemary Extract

Pros

  • Contains an impressive list of high-quality meats
  • Many pet parents report pups looking and acting healthier after switching to the food
  • Most dogs appear to love the taste

Cons

  • Grain-free nature isn’t ideal for dogs without grain intolerances
  • Some dogs had trouble digesting such a rich food (may be able to mitigate these issues by switching your dog’s food properly)

9. Nulo Freestyle

Best Chicken-Free Expensive Dog Food
Nulo Freestyle Adult Dog Food

A chicken-free crunchy kibble featuring salmon and peas, suiting dog's with sensitivities.

Buy on Amazon Buy on Chewy

About: Nulo Freestyle is a premium, all-natural dog food formulated with a variety of ingredients to keep your dog healthy and without any unnecessary additives. It is also a completely chicken- and egg-free food, making it a great option for dogs with allergies to these super-common ingredients.

Features:

  • The first three ingredients are all proteins
  • Grain-free recipes rely on yellow peas, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes for carbohydrates
  • Small kibblets (smaller than a dime) ideal for petite pups
  • Made in the USA

Options:

  • Nulo Freestyle Lamb
  • Nulo Freestyle Salmon
  • Nulo Freestyle Turkey
  • Nulo Freestyle Puppy & Adult Limited
  • Nulo Freestyle Senior
  • Nulo Freestyle Small Breed
  • Nulo Freestyle Puppy
  • Nulo Freestyle Adult Trim

Ingredients (Salmon):

Ingredients List

Deboned Salmon, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Whole Peas, Sweet Potato,...,

Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols & Citric Acid), Chickpeas, Deboned Turkey, Lentils, Pea Fiber, Natural Flavor, Yeast Culture, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Blueberries, Dried Apples, Dried Tomatoes, Dried Carrots, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Iron Proteinate, Niacin, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Source of Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Source of Vitamin B6), Sodium Selenite, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract

Pros

  • Chicken and egg-free recipes perfect for pups with known poultry allergies
  • Grain-free nature suits dogs with grain allergies
  • Many pet parents report improvement in pupper potty breaks

Cons

  • Mixed proteins can be an issue if your dog has a sensitive stomach
  • Grain-free recipes aren’t a great fit for every four-footer

10. Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends

Best Expensive Mix-In or Topper
Stella & Chewy Freeze-Dried Mixers
A made-in-the-USA meal mix-in made with grain-free, freeze-dried bits of meaty goodness.
Buy on Amazon Buy on Chewy

About: Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends are designed as “toppers,” meaning that you add them to your pup’s regular kibble. According to the packaging, these grain-free packets actually meet the AAFCO’s nutritional levels for all life stages, so you can use them as your pup’s primary food. 

Features:

  • Contains nutrient-rich organ meats and ground bone for calcium
  • Includes a bounty of vegetables like blueberries, broccoli, and squash
  • Unlike many dog food toppers, Stella & Chewy Meal Mixer Superblends features probiotics to support your doggo’s digestive system
  • Made in the USA without Chinese ingredients

Options:

  • Duck
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Chicken (small breed)

Ingredients List

Duck with Ground Bone, Turkey, Turkey Liver, Goose, Turkey Gizzard...,

Organic Bananas, Organic Blueberries, Organic Strawberries, Pumpkin Seed, Potassium Chloride, Organic Cranberries, Organic Spinach, Organic Broccoli, Organic Beets, Sodium Phosphate, Organic Carrots, Organic Squash, Organic Apples, Choline Chloride, Dried Pediococcus acidilactici Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium longum Fermentation Product, Taurine, Tocopherols (Preservative), Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Proteinate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin B12 Supplement.

Pros

  • Taste is a high point with doggy diners, making it a great mix-in option for pickier pups
  • Grain-free recipe suits dogs with known grain allergies
  • Each recipe contains a great mix of fruits and vegetables

Cons

  • Lack of grains is not ideal for every dog’s dietary needs
  • Some dogs experienced loose stools, so remember to stick to small portions at first

11. Ziwi Peak

Best Novel Protein Expensive Dog Food
ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Dog Food
An air-fried dog food available in novel proteins like venison for dogs with allergies to common meats.
Buy on Amazon Buy on Chewy

About: Novel proteins like venison help Ziwi Peak stand out from the pack, giving dogs allergic to common proteins like chicken something scrumptious to eat. All proteins are ethically sourced, too, making this food a win for those concerned about humane harvesting practices.

Features:

  • Real meat is always the first ingredient, followed by nutrient-dense organ meat
  • Recipes contain superfoods like green-lipped mussels for glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Collagen and healthy fats support your dog’s skin and coat
  • Made in New Zealand

Options:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Mackerel & Lamb
  • Tripe & Lamb
  • Venison
  • Beef, Chicken & Lamb

Ingredients (Venison):

Ingredients List

Venison, Venison Tripe, Venison Heart, Venison Lung, Venison Liver,...,

Venison Kidney, New Zealand Green Mussel, Venison Bone, Lecithin, Parsley, Dried Apple Pomace, Inulin (from Chicory Root), Venison Cartilage, Minerals (Dipotassium Phosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Iron Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Selenium Yeast), Dried Organic Kelp, Salt, Preservative (Citric Acid, Mixed Tocopherols), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid)

Pros

  • Available in novel proteins like venison for dogs with allergies to common picks like beef and chicken
  • Organ-rich recipes contain heaps of essential vitamins and minerals like iron
  • The flavor is a favorite of many floofs

Cons

  • Can be too rich for some pups’ tummies
  • Some mixed-protein recipes can be an issue for dogs with sensitivities

Is Expensive Dog Food Better than Low-Priced Dog Food?

most expensive dog food

As is the case in most markets, high-quality dog foods usually cost more than low- or average-quality options.

So, while it is impossible to make sweeping generalizations about dog foods based on nothing more than price, expensive dog foods are usually better than their budget-priced counterparts.

But it is important to understand that slapping an expensive price tag on an average-quality product is a time-tested marketing technique.

High prices can sometimes increase the perceived value of a product. This means that in almost every market, some manufacturers will be putting a premium price tag on a run-of-the-mill product, which doesn’t cost any more to make and isn’t necessarily a healthier dog food than your standard kibble.

But don’t worry — we’ve tried to weed out these impostors below.

Just remember that you should pick a dog food that best suits your pet’s specific needs (and you should do so in consultation with your veterinarian).

Some dogs may have specific needs that are only served by the most expensive foods around, while others may live long, healthy lives fueled by a relatively typical recipe. 

What Do You Get by Paying More for Dog Food?

dog foods made by sustainable companies

Setting aside the “cheaters” who place exorbitant price tags on typical dog foods, most pricey foods give you more value for your dog-food dollar.

Some of the things that distinguish high-priced dog foods from others include:

Increased Protein Content

The proteins used in a given pet food are generally the most expensive ingredients included. Chicken, for example, costs more than rice, corn, or potatoes.

So, manufacturers are generally able to include more protein in expensive foods than cheap ones. And, when all other things are equal, dog foods with high protein content are usually preferable to those with moderate protein levels.

The protein used may also affect the price of a dog food. Generally speaking, proteins vary in the following way:

  • Cheapest Proteins: Chicken
  • Mid-Priced Proteins: Beef, Pork, Turkey
  • High-End Proteins: Salmon, Seafood, Duck
  • Ultra-Expensive Proteins: Quail, Kangaroo, Emu, Bison

The rarer the protein, the more expensive the food will often be.

Higher-Quality Ingredients

In addition to containing more protein, many high-priced dog foods feature higher quality ingredients than budget-priced options.

For example, high-priced dog foods often contain more real meat than cheap foods, which depend primarily on meat meals.

There is nothing wrong with (properly labeled and identified) meat meals, but we generally like to see a whole protein at the top of a food’s ingredient list.

Similarly, high-priced dog foods typically contain higher-quality grains too. For example, instead of featuring relatively low-quality carbs like brewer’s rice, many premium foods contain things like whole brown rice or oatmeal.

High-priced dog foods often contain an array of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables too, and some even contain truly premium ingredients like cheese.

Helpful Dog Food Supplements

In addition to high-quality ingredients, many pricey dog foods are fortified with important supplements. This includes things like:

  • Glucosamine and ChondroitinGlucosamine and chondroitin are two supplements that may help protect your dog’s joints and provide some relief from things like osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia. Some foods only contain one or the other, but because they’re thought to be most helpful when used together, you should ideally look for a food fortified with both.
  • Probiotics – Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that may help promote proper digestion and ease many mild gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation or diarrhea. There are a variety of different probiotic strains available, and scientists are working to analyze the ways different ones work. In the absence of more concrete data, we generally recommend that owners opt for foods that feature several different probiotics.  
  • Prebiotics – The probiotics some dog foods provide are living organisms – this means they gotta eat too! Prebiotics are fibrous ingredients that provide food for the bacteria you’re trying to establish in your dog’s gut. Many expensive dog foods not only contain probiotics but prebiotics too.
  • Omega-3-Rich Ingredients – Omega-3 fatty acids are helpful for reducing inflammation. This means they can help to soothe skin and coat issues, and they can also help reduce the inflammation associated with many joint problems. There are a variety of omega-3 sources available, but some are better than others (for dogs). Typically, high-priced dog foods contain some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil and salmon oil.

Fewer Unnecessary Additives

Not all additives are bad. After all, things like dog vitamin and mineral supplements, probiotics, and natural preservatives are additives. But it is usually best to select a food that contains as few additives as possible and leaves out completely unnecessary things, such as artificial colors.

Typically, expensive dog foods contain fewer of these unnecessary additives than cheaper foods do.

What Should You Look for in an Expensive Dog Food?

most expensive dog food

Even among foods at a given price point, some will provide better nutrition, taste, and value than others. So, you should make sure to scrutinize expensive foods just as much as you would more affordable options.

A couple of the most important things to look for include:

A Whole Protein at the Top of the Ingredient List

acana-ingredients

Carbs, fruits, vegetables, and fats are all important for your dog’s diet, but you’ll want to start by considering the proteins included. And this usually means looking for one that features something like whole chicken breast, pork, or salmon at the beginning of the ingredient list.

On a head-to-head basis, properly identified meat meals are often just as nutritious as whole proteins are (and they actually contain more protein per unit of measure than whole proteins do). And, there is nothing wrong with including (properly identified) meat meals in a dog food.

However, the presence of a whole protein at the top of the ingredient list is often a good sign that the manufacturer has tried to maximize the food’s taste, nutrition, and value. Plus, dogs often appear to find them tastier.

High-Quality, Whole Grains

good-grains-for-dogs

Different dog food manufacturers incorporate different carbohydrate sources in their foods. Some utilize grains, such as corn, rice, or wheat, while others take a grain-free approach and use things like potatoes, sweet potatoes, or chickpeas to provide the food’s carbohydrate content.

In light of the recent correlation found between some grain-free foods and dilated cardiomyopathy, we recommend sticking to grain-inclusive options unless your dog has a specific grain allergy or intolerance or your vet recommends feeding a grain-free food.

The vast majority of dogs digest grains well, and high-quality grains represent an excellent source of calories, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

But with all that said, it is important to note that not all grains are created equally — some are much more nutritious than others. In general, whole grains that haven’t been processed very much are the best, while partial, heavily processed grains are less impressive.

No Artificial Flavors, Preservatives, or Colors

artificial colors in dog food

As we explained above, it is usually a good idea to pick foods that don’t contain anything unnecessary or that don’t contribute some type of value to the food. This means avoiding most foods that contain artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, or artificial colors.

Foods made with premium ingredients shouldn’t need any artificial taste enhancers, and natural preservatives can be used in lieu of their artificial counterparts.

Artificial colors are likely the least useful additives of all, as your dog simply doesn’t care what color his food is – these colors are added to make you think the food tastes better.

Manufactured in a Country with High Safety Standards

Made in the USA dog food

Given the complexities of the dog-food manufacturing process, problems can occur during the cooking of any dog food. There’s just no getting around this. So, try to focus on picking dog food made in a country with safety mechanisms and protocols in place to help minimize these types of problems.

This essentially means picking a food manufactured in one of the following locations:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Most Western European Countries

Most Expensive Dog Foods FAQ

emergency dog food

Have more questions about the most expensive dog food options? Unsure about the costs or something else? We’ve tackled the most frequently asked questions about expensive doggo eats below.

What is the most expensive food for dogs?

The most expensive dog food types are customized fresh food and meat-rich or specialty kibbles.

Why is Ziwi Peak so expensive?

Ziwi Peak’s steep pricing is the result of its protein-dense recipes of real meats from free-range farms and other ethical sources, plus exotic options like venison. These carefully sourced items are more expensive than standard meats and meat meals.

Are expensive dog foods worth it?

It depends. Sometimes, a high price tag is merely a feature of boutique food with fancy packaging, but other times, it’s the result of a recipe rich in premium ingredients like real meat and vegetables. Veterinary diets and other specialty foods also tend to be pricier. If your pup has special dietary needs, these foods are worth their weight in gold.

Why is Wellness CORE so expensive?

Wellness CORE is made with high-quality ingredients like deboned meats and real produce, plus bonuses like probiotics. Unfortunately, these ingredients come at a higher cost than run-of-the-mill ones.

Does expensive food help dogs live longer?

Feeding expensive dog food doesn’t necessarily mean your dog will live longer than a pup who dines on cheaper eats. While pricey pupper cuisine is usually made with higher-quality ingredients, genetics, environment, and many other aspects affect a dog’s overall lifespan.

   

Have you found a pricey but perfect food for your pup? Do you have a favorite premium option we missed? Let us know all about it in the comments below! We’d also be interested in hearing from our readers who’ve tried any of the foods mentioned above.

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the managing editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his beautiful wife, their Rottie, and their Pyr.

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Mara

Thanks for this. I would be interested to see you compare Nulo Freestyle to Nulo Frontrunner, which contains grains. You don’t recommend that dogs eat grain-free foods unless they are allergic, so I am curious why you didn’t include the Frontrunner line, which my puppy liked pretty well. I am still searching for a food he consistently loves; he seems to get tired of foods pretty fast. So far the ones he likes the most are two very expensive brands you don’t mention: Farmina (ND canned food and Ancestral Grains dry) and Ziwi Peak. Ziwi Peak doesn’t have a line just for puppies, so I am not sure how much I should rely on that in his first year, although he loves it. It also doesn’t contain grains, but the Farmina dry food I give him does, so I am wondering if the two would be adequate in combination.

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Ben Team

Hey there, Mara.
It isn’t clear yet whether it is the absence of grains or the inclusion of the ingredients often used in place of grains that causes the problems some dogs experience. And for that matter, it hasn’t even been demonstrated that these foods are causing the problem — we just know that there’s a correlation.
All of this is to say that it isn’t clear whether combining a grain-free and grain-inclusive product will work — we simply need more research.
Best of luck in your search for a perfect pupper food!

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JAMES DRISCOLL

How about blue preventive, I have found to be the best my dogs have eaten, the chicken and brown rice, they have more zip and the shedding has been almost non existent, and she’s a mut that looks a little like a G S D AND LAB, WITH THR MARKINGS OF a shepard .

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Ben Team

Hey, James.
You mean Blue Buffalo Life Protection?
I’m a big fan — I feed my Rottie the large breed version.
Thanks for reading!

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