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
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.
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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.
- 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
- 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):
Beef, Carrots, Beef Kidneys, Potatoes, Peas,...,
- Hard to top the quality of human-grade ingredients
- Customized to your dog’s unique dietary needs
- Several owners report improved stool quality
- 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
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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.
- 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
- Turkey Fare
- Beef Mash
- Chicken Chow
- Pork Potluck
Ingredients (Chicken Cuisine):
Chicken, Sweet Potatoes, Squash, Water Sufficient for Processing, Spinach, ...,
- 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
- 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
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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.
- 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
USDA Chicken, Brussels Sprout, USDA Chicken Liver, Bok Choy, Broccoli,...,
- 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
- Need a subscription to purchase
- Requires room in your refrigerator
4. The Honest Kitchen
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.
- 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
- 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):
Dehydrated Turkey, Organic Oats, Dehydrated Potatoes, Flaxseed, Dehydrated Carrots,...,
- 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
- Serving can be more time-consuming and messier compared to other dog food
- More exotic protein options would be ideal
5. 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.
- 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
- 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):
100% Animal Welfare Certified Humanely Raised Lamb, Garbanzo Beans, Ocean Whitefish Meal, Field Peas, Herring Meal,...,
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
- Chicken & Brown Rice
- Beef & Barley
- Cod & Salmon
Ingredients (Chicken & Brown Rice):
Chicken, Brown Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Apples,...,
- 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
- Limited protein options
- Requires a subscription to purchase
7. Instinct Raw Frozen Dog Food
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.
- 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
Beef, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Spleen, Carrots,...,
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
- Orijen Original
- Orijen Senior
- Orijen Puppy
- Orijen Puppy Large
- Orijen Six Fish
- Orijen Regional Red
- Orijen Fit & Trim
- Orijen Tundra
Ingredients (Orijen Original):
Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, Whole Herring, Chicken Liver,...,
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
- 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
Deboned Salmon, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Whole Peas, Sweet Potato,...,
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
- Chicken (small breed)
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
- Mackerel & Lamb
- Tripe & Lamb
- Beef, Chicken & Lamb
Venison, Venison Tripe, Venison Heart, Venison Lung, Venison Liver,...,
- 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
- 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?
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?
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.
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 Chondroitin – Glucosamine 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?
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
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
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
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
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:
- New Zealand
- Most Western European Countries
Most Expensive Dog Foods FAQ
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.