The best dog food for hunting dogs – High-Performance foods

Written by: Peter Laskay
Reviewed by: Amber LaRock
Last updated on:
Hunting dog food

This is my detailed guide about the best dog food for hunting dogs in 2021.

If you have a hunting dog, you are probably well aware of the dietary needs of these animals. In addition to the high-calorie content of these canines, the optimal ratio of fat to protein and the presence of the right micronutrients are also important.

I spent several days finding the best hunting dog food recipe.

I have found that the best dog food for hunting dogs is Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe. And since the nutritional needs of puppies are different, I also chose a product for them. And this is Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Food. These formulas contain enough calories and high-quality nutrients for your active pooch to get the real energy for hunting sessions.

In the rest of this article, you can read an overview of many other good-quality hunting dog foods and learn much useful information about these dogs.

What Are the best hunting dog foods for sporting breeds?

  1. Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato RecipeOverall Best Hunting Dog Food

  2. Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie with Ancient GrainsRunner Up Hunting Dog Food

  3. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus FormulaBest Affordable Hunting Dog Food

  4. ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Dog FoodPremium Hunting Dog Food

  5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Beef & Chicken GrillBest Wet Hunting Dog Food

  6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy FoodBest Hunting Dog Food For Puppies

  7. Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog FoodBest Hunting Dog Food For Large Breed Puppies

  8. Wellness CORE Canned Dog FoodBest Wet Hunting Dog Food For Puppies

  9. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog FoodBest Hunting Dog Food For Seniors

  10. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Senior Chicken DinnerBest Wet Hunting Dog Food For Seniors

Best Dog Food For Hunting Dogs

Dog FoodName And FeaturesPet Worshiper RatingWhere To Buy?
Overall Best
1. Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe
1. Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe

If you want a lot of energy, glucosamine, and healthy micronutrients for your pooch.

  • High protein content
  • High glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 content support joint health
  • High caloric content
  • Features added fruits, veggies, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics
9.8
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Runner Up
2. Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie with Ancient Grains
2. Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie with Ancient Grains

If the overall best option is out of stock.

  • Prebiotics help with proper digestion
  • The glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 content support joint health
  • Features added fruits, veggies, vitamins, minerals
  • High caloric and protein content
9.7
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Best Affordable Option
3. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula
3. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula

If you are on a tighter budget.

  • High-quality protein sources
  • Affordable
  • High protein and caloric content
  • Digestible ingredients
9.6
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Premium Option
4. ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Dog Food
4. ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Dog Food

If your furry friend really loves meat.

  • Air-drying process
  • High protein content
  • Contains animal parts and added micronutrients
  • High glucosamine and chondroitin content
9.8
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Best Wet Food
5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Beef & Chicken Grill
5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Beef & Chicken Grill

If your dog is really picky or has a dental problem.

  • Awesome taste
  • Great for picky dogs or dogs with dental problems
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids
9.7
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Best Puppy Formula
6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Food
6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Food

If you want to provide a complete diet for your active puppy.

  • Formulated for puppies
  • High protein content
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Features omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics
9.7
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Best For Large Breed Puppies
7. Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog Food
7. Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog Food

If you know well that your hunting puppy will grow big.

  • Formulated for puppies
  • Awesome taste
  • High protein content
  • Features omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals
9.7
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Best Wet Option For Puppies
8. Wellness CORE Canned Dog Food
8. Wellness CORE Canned Dog Food

If your active hunting puppy is a real gourmet.

  • Formulated for puppies
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Awesome taste
  • High quality protein content
9.7
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Best For Seniors
9. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
9. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

If your elderly dog ​​still has a high need for exercise.

  • Formulated for seniors
  • High protein content
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Features omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, and veggies
9.7
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Best Wet Option For Seniors
10. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Senior Chicken Dinner
10. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Senior Chicken Dinner

If your old hunting canine has a problem chewing.

  • Suitable for senior dogs
  • High-quality protein sources
  • Good for dental problems
  • Features vitamins and minerals
9.6
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Best hunting dog foods – Detailed Reviews

Adult, puppy, and senior hunting dogs need different foods. Because of this, I took my usual dog food advisor section into two parts. Let’s look at foods for adults first!

Best Recipes for adult hunting dogs

Adult hunting and game dogs need a lot of calories. All this means higher fat and protein as well as moderated carbohydrate content. Aim for 1 to 2 feeding times a day. By choosing the recipes below, you can ensure that your active pooch will get all the nutrients you need.

1. Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe – Overall Best

Key features:

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes
  • Calorie content: 388 kcal/cup
  • Omega-3 content: 0.8%
  • Ingredients quality: Natural ingredients with no artificial additives
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude protein 34.0%, Crude fat 17.0%, Crude fiber 3.5%, moisture 11.0%
  • Dietary information: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, High-Protein, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free
  • Life stage: Adults

Merrick is one of my favorite brands when it comes to a high protein diet.

This product contains high-quality sources such as Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, or Whitefish Meal. So you can see that you can provide your sporting dog with enough calories with this diet that also supports building and maintaining lean muscle mass.

In addition, the product does not contain vegetable protein, so you can be sure that your pup gets the essential amino acids from animal sources.

Carbohydrate sources are grain-free, so dogs sensitive to grains will thrive on this Merrick dry dog ​​food. Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, and Peas are not only well digestible, but their high dietary fiber content also promotes digestion.

The product has a very high glucosamine and chondroitin (1200 mg/kg) thanks to Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, and Whitefish Meal. These compounds are great for supporting the health of the joints of active dogs.

Chicken Fat, Fish, Flaxseed, and Sunflower Oil add a proper omega fatty acid profile to the recipe, which has a beneficial effect on the animals’ skin and coat. In addition, Chicken Fat makes the product’s taste even more irresistible; experience shows the same.

Ingredients include many vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics. These are all critical when it comes to maintaining the health of our dog’s overalls. Looking at the benefits of the formula, you can see why I decided it would be the best hunting dog food.

Pros

  • High protein content
  • High glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 content support joint health
  • High caloric content
  • Features added fruits, veggies, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics
  • Great taste

Cons

  • Kibble size may be too big for small dogs

Pet Worshiper rating for this hunting dog food: 9.8


2. Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie with Ancient Grains – Runner Up

Key features:

  • First 5 ingredients: Water Buffalo, Pork, Chicken Meal, Grain Sorghum, Millet
  • Calorie content: 422 kcal/cup
  • Omega-3 content: 0.6%
  • Ingredients quality: Natural ingredients with no artificial additives
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude protein 32.0%, Crude fat 18.0%, Crude fiber 3.0%, moisture 10.0%
  • Dietary information: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, High-Protein
  • Life stage: Adults

The Taste of the Wild Ancient Prairie recipe contains everything that provides enough nutrients for your hunting dog.

The high 32% protein content is given by meats like Water Buffalo, Pork, Chicken Meal, Roasted Bison, Roasted Venison, and Beef. These protein sources are rich not only in amino acids but also in glucosamine and chondroitin. Thus, strained joints also benefit from this recipe.

Ingredients include healthy grains such as Sorghum, Millet, Barley, Quinoa, and Chia Seed. These are great low glycemic carbohydrate sources that don’t throw away your dog’s blood sugar levels too much.

Chicken Fat, Salmon Oil, and Flaxseed are excellent sources of fat and give the recipe a balanced omega fatty acid profile. The latter is very good for the health of the skin and coat.

Fresh fruits and vegetables and added vitamins and minerals support regeneration and the functioning of the immune system. A similar purpose is served by various prebiotic fermentation products that make the digestive system more efficient.

Although most dogs are happy with the product’s taste, it is not suitable for really picky pooches. At least several online reviews reveal this.

Pros

  • High protein content
  • The glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 content support joint health
  • High caloric content
  • Features added fruits, veggies, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics

Cons

  • Not suitable for very picky dogs
  • Could be more glucosamine in it

Pet Worshiper rating for this hunting dog food: 9.7


3. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula – Best Affordable Option

Key features:

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef Meal, Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat, Pork Meal, Chicken Meal
  • Calorie content: 406 kcal/cup
  • Omega-3 content: 0.4%
  • Ingredients quality: Natural ingredients with no artificial additives
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude protein 30.0%, Crude fat 20.0%, Crude fiber 3.8%, moisture 9.0%
  • Dietary information: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, High-Protein, Gluten-Free, Pea-Free
  • Life stage: Adults

If you are on a tight budget, it may be a good idea to look for affordable dog food. In the case of the Victor Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula, a 40-pound package is in a similar price range as the 22-25 pound products of other brands. But let’s see if there are other benefits to this recipe.

The protein content is quite high at 30%. It all comes from protein sources like Beef Meal, Pork Meal, Chicken Meal, and Menhaden Fish Meal. These meat meals are excellent sources of energy and support the building of lean muscle mass.

Plus, their glucosamine and chondroitin content is also high, which favors the strained joints of active hunting dogs.

In addition to meals, the main source of fat is Chicken Fat, which not only gives the food an excellent fatty acid profile but is also delicious. Nevertheless, many customers complained that their picky dog ​​was not satisfied with the taste of this product.

The main carbohydrate sources are Grain Sorghum and Whole Grain Millet, highly digestible, nutrient and energy-rich grains.

But the benefits of the Victor recipe are not over yet. The manufacturer has added prebiotics to its product that greatly supports the digestive system of dogs. Numerous customers have confirmed in online reviews that their dog’s digestion has significantly improved with the use of the product.

And the added vitamins and minerals promote overall health.

Pros

  • High protein content
  • Affordable
  • The glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 content support joint health
  • High caloric content
  • Features added vitamins, minerals, and probiotics

Cons

  • Not suitable for very picky dogs

Pet Worshiper rating for this hunting dog food: 9.6


4. ZIWI Peak Air-Dried Dog Food – Premium Option

Key features:

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef, Beef Heart, Beef Kidney, Beef Tripe, Beef Liver
  • Calorie content: 312 kcal/level scoop
  • Omega-3 content: N/A
  • Ingredients quality: Natural ingredients with no artificial additives
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude protein 38.0%, Crude fat 30.0%, Crude fiber 3.8%, moisture 9.0%
  • Dietary information: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Limited Ingredient Diet, Grain-Free, Pea-Free, Non-GMO, High-Protein, GMO-Free, Natural
  • Life stage: Adults

If you want to provide your sporting canine with a high-protein, high-fat, low-calorie, low-carbohydrate premium diet, Ziwi Peak dog food will be a perfect choice. This company manufactures these high-quality products in New Zealand. The ingredients are air-dried to preserve all the nutrients and flavors.

Ingredients include real meat, organs, and bones. These are excellent sources of protein and, due to freeze-drying, provide your dog with a virtually raw diet, which can have many health benefits.

But the manufacturer has also included other special and vital ingredients in this dog food. New Zealand Green Mussel is not popular in the pet food industry but is an incredibly rich source of glucosamine and chondroitin. This will extremely support your dog’s joints that are otherwise strained during the long hunt.

The internal organs contain many vitamins and minerals, but the manufacturer added additional micronutrients to its formulations. Examples are magnesium, zinc, copper, vitamins E and D. If you want a perfect quality recipe, be sure to consider Ziwi Peak.

Pros

  • Air-drying process
  • High protein content
  • Contains animal parts, and added micronutrients
  • High glucosamine and chondroitin content

Cons

  • Pricey

Pet Worshiper rating for this hunting dog food: 9.8


5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Beef & Chicken Grill – Best Wet Food

Key features:

  • First 5 ingredients: Beef, Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Potatoes
  • Calorie content: 523 kcal/can
  • Omega-3 content: N/A
  • Ingredients quality: Natural ingredients with no artificial additives
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude protein 10.0%, Crude fat 9.0%, Crude fiber 1.5%, moisture 78.0%
  • Dietary information: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, High-Protein, Grain-Free, Pea-Free
  • Life stage: Adults

There may be several reasons why you want wet food for your dog. It could be a matter of taste, some dental problem, or you want to improve your pooch’s regular dry food with something. Whatever the real reason, you can count on this product from Blue Buffalo.

This formula is high in protein compared to other canned wet dog food, from sources like beef and chicken. Chicken liver is also among the ingredients in fourth place. These are easily digestible and nutrient-rich sources, and they are also delicious.

The perfect taste experience is enhanced because Chicken Broth gives the product its moisture content instead of water. According to online reviews, dogs outright love the taste of this formula.

Flaxseed is a great source of omega fatty acids, so that’s good news for your dog’s skin and coat. There are no other fat sources in the recipe, but a 9% fat content thanks to meat and flaxseed are plenty.

The product is extremely healthy as it contains added vitamins and minerals.

Customers are basically satisfied with this product, However, there are some complaints about the texture. It’s not like chopped food but rather resembles some mush.

Pros

  • Palatable taste
  • Great for picky dogs or dogs with dental problems
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids

Cons

  • Some are not happy with its texture

Pet Worshiper rating for this hunting dog food: 9.7


Puppy Foods for Hunting Dogs

High protein and calorie content are even more important for puppies. This is mainly because their bodies are almost constantly growing, evolving. Malnutrition can have serious consequences for bone and joint formation. However, large breed puppies also have special dietary needs as they need to avoid sudden growth. That’s why I collected an ideal recipe for them as well.

Most dog breeds are considered puppies until they are about one year old. In the meantime, you may want to feed them puppy formula and then gradually switch to adult food.

6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Food – Best Puppy Formula

Key features:

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Peas, Tapioca Starch
  • Calorie content: 423 kcal/cup
  • Omega-3 content: 0.9%
  • Ingredients quality: Natural ingredients with no artificial additives
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude protein 36.0%, Crude fat 16.0%, Crude fiber 5.0%, moisture 10.0%
  • Dietary information: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, High-Protein, Grain-Free
  • Life stage: Puppies

This Blue Wilderness formula is perfect for hunting breeds and has been developed specifically for puppies. This is also shown by the very high protein content of 36%.

Protein sources include Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein, Menhaden Fish Meal, and Dried Egg Product. I consider Pea Protein to be a somewhat controversial source of protein. However, since the rest is real meat and meat meal, I disregard that.

Carbohydrate sources are grain-free and easy to digest. Thus, puppies with sensitive stomachs can also eat this formula.

Fish, fish oil, and added flaxseed are excellent sources of omega-3. In young dogs, this is an important aspect for the proper development of the skin and coat and the proper development of the brain.

Blue Buffalo products are common to contain adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, fresh fruits, and vegetables. It’s no different with this Wilderness puppy recipe, either. This will greatly underpin your young gun dog’s immune system. And added prebiotics promote efficient digestion.

Pros

  • Formulated for puppies
  • High protein content
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Features omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and prebiotics

Cons

  • Contains plant protein

Pet Worshiper rating for this hunting dog food: 9.7


7. Instinct Raw Boost Dry Dog Food – Best For Large Breed Puppies

Key features:

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Peas, Egg Product, Tapioca
  • Calorie content: 485 kcal/cup
  • Omega-3 content: 0.9%
  • Ingredients quality: Natural ingredients with no artificial additives
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude protein 33.5%, Crude fat 18.5%, Crude fiber 5.0%, moisture 9.0%
  • Dietary information: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, High-Protein, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Raw, Natural
  • Life stage: Large Breed Puppies

I found this Instinct product to be the best when looking for a diet for large breed hunting puppies. This is because these dogs need plenty of high-quality protein, omega fatty acids, and the right proportions of vital minerals (such as calcium and phosphorus).

This recipe’s 33.5% protein content is given by chicken and chicken meal, but ingredients also include menhaden fish meal, chicken liver, chicken heart, and lamb meal. They taste excellent; in fact, kibbles also have freeze-dried coats, which further enhances the experience for your pup.

The product contains grain-free carbohydrate sources such as peas and tapioca. These plants are very digestible, and their fiber content supports the digestive system.

The omega fatty acid ratio of the product is ideal. This is due to fat sources such as chicken fat, flaxseed, and salmon oil. This provides enough omega-3, which is essential for puppies’ brain development.

The many added vitamins, minerals, fruits, and herbs further enhance the benefits of this formula. The price is not the best, but at such high quality, it is absolutely tolerable.

Pros

  • Formulated for puppies
  • High protein content
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Features omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals
  • Awesome taste

Cons

  • Pricey

Pet Worshiper rating for this hunting dog food: 9.7


8. Wellness CORE Canned Dog Food – Best Wet option for puppies

Key features:

  • First 5 ingredients: Turkey Broth, Turkey, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Ground Dried Peas
  • Calorie content: 449 kcal/cup
  • Omega-3 content: N/A
  • Ingredients quality: Natural ingredients with no artificial additives
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude protein 11.0%, Crude fat 6.5%, Crude fiber 0.5%, moisture 78.0%
  • Dietary information: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Grain-Free, Gluten-Free
  • Life stage: Puppies

Dental problems are very rare in puppies. However, you may want to make your young dog’s food varied and desirable with a little wet food. Don’t worry; I found the best recipe for you for this occasion as well.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Puppy Formula is very nutritious and contains excellent ingredients. You can simply be sure that your young hunting dog will get all the useful nutrients it needs to grow and stay active.

Turkey, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Herring, Dried Egg Product, and Chicken Meal are high-quality protein sources. They provide the amino acids needed for muscle building and are well digestible.

Flaxseed and Menhaden Fish Oil are perfect sources of omega-3 fats, thus supporting the health of dogs’ skin, coat, and brain.

The main source of carbohydrates is peas, which are also well digestible, healthy, and contain fiber.

Speaking of health: the added fresh fruits, vegetables, vitamins, and minerals are all included in the recipe to give maximum support to your pup’s immune system.

Customers say this product is very good. However, some very picky dogs may not be happy with the taste.

Pros

  • Formulated for puppies
  • High protein content
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Features omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals
  • Awesome taste

Cons

  • Not suitable for really picky dogs

Pet Worshiper rating for this hunting dog food: 9.7


Best dog foods for senior hunting dogs

Elderly dogs have a slower metabolism and, in addition, a less active lifestyle. However, if you have a hunting breed, it is easy to imagine that your old pooch will continue to be enthusiastic about sports, hunting sessions, and so on. In this case, I have gathered for you the best recipes you can give to such canines.

9. ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food – Best for seniors

Key features:

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Flounder, Whole Mackerel, Turkey Giblets
  • Calorie content: 414 kcal/cup
  • Omega-3 content: 0.8%
  • Ingredients quality: Natural ingredients with no artificial additives
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude protein 38.0%, Crude fat 15.0%, Crude fiber 8.0%, moisture 12.0%
  • Dietary information: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Grain-Free, High-Protein, Weight Control, Gluten Free, Natural, Raw
  • Life stage: Seniors

This is a perfect recipe for your old pooch. The animal parts (meat, fish, and internal organs) provide the necessary amino acids and other valuable vitamins and minerals. In addition, a wide variety of fish are excellent sources of omega-3, which is good news for the skin and coats of our dogs.

The various parts of the animal are rich in glucosamine, which is advantageous for maintaining the joints.

The product is low in carbohydrates, and the main sources of carbohydrates in it are legumes. Examples are lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, etc. They contain a lot of fiber, which contributes to normal digestion and weight management. That way, you don’t have to worry about your old furry friend getting obese.

The formula is very healthy as it contains many fruits, vegetables, prebiotics, and the natural ingredients mentioned above.

This is a premium product, so the price is higher than usual, but you have to accept this if you want the best for your pup.

Pros

  • Formulated for seniors
  • High protein content
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Features omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, and veggies

Cons

  • Pricey

Pet Worshiper rating for this hunting dog food: 9.7


10. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Senior Chicken Dinner – Best wet option for seniors

Key features:

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Peas
  • Calorie content: 396 kcal/cup
  • Omega-3 content: N/A
  • Ingredients quality: Natural ingredients with no artificial additives
  • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude protein 7.5%, Crude fat 4.5%, Crude fiber 2.0%, moisture 78.0%
  • Dietary information: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy
  • Life stage: Seniors

If you want to choose wet food for your old hunting dog, be sure to follow the Blue Buffalo Homestyle recipe. The quality of the ingredients is quite outstanding, but you will see this soon.

Chicken and Chicken Liver are excellent sources of protein that nourish your old pup, even during exercise.

Carbohydrate sources include Carrots, Peas, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, and Sweet Potatoes. This provides a fairly varied diet, plus your dog will get valuable nutrients.

You don’t have to worry about vitamins and minerals either. The manufacturer added these to the recipe.

Most buyers are happy with the product, although some don’t like the texture.

Pros

  • Formulated for seniors
  • High-quality protein sources
  • Features vitamins and minerals

Cons

  • Some customers are not happy with the texture

Pet Worshiper rating for this hunting dog food: 9.6


best dog food for hunting dogs

Buyer’s guide to choose the best dog food for hunting dogs

Below I will share information to help you provide the best possible diet for your active athlete pup.

What is High-Performance dog food?

 

High-performance foods are the best for those people who have working dogs, sporting dogs, gun dogs, bird dogs, or other very active canines. These animals need a lot of energy because they have to be active during the hunting season. But they are usually always active, not just then. (I will write later about exactly which breeds belong here.)

High-performance dog foods have more fat and protein than carbohydrates. This diet not only provides the right energy. It also supports lean muscle mass retention and buildup and also reduces recovery time.

Nutritionists, veterinarians, scientists, and other experts help prepare these foods. 

These formulations usually also contain omega oils, vitamins, and minerals, which support health, joints, and bones.

Keep in mind that normal dog food is unlikely to support the regeneration of your hunting dog. And you should also note, that you cannot give normal dogs performance food. That’s because they can become obese. 

If you have any questions about whether your chosen dog food is right for your dog, consult your veterinarian or a dog nutrition expert.

Normal vs High-Performance Dog Food

As I mentioned, high-performance dog foods have been developed for active dogs. This requires a lot of energy, which guarantees the right amount of protein and fat.

And what does this mean in practice? The ideal ratio of macronutrients is about 30% protein and 20% fat. The rest is carbohydrates, fiber, moisture, and other useful nutrients.

These foods promote your hunting dog’s performance, endurance, and mental and physical health.

Nutritional needs of hunting dogs

As I mentioned, the activity of These dogs can be much higher than that of other dogs. Because of this, these breeds may have different nutrient needs.

Calories

Due to the increased activity, and high energy levels, these dogs need more calories. Of course, it also depends on exactly how many times you go hunting with your pooch. 

It is best if the food you choose is rich in nutrients and dense in terms of calories. This way, your canine can get extra energy by consuming the same amount. Most hunting dog food has a chart to help you feed your hound. In my experience, the ideal caloric intake for these canines is a minimum of 350 kcal/cup.

Fat

Fat has a much higher caloric content than other macronutrients. Therefore, it can adequately supply hunting dogs with energy and provide them with sufficient endurance. However, the fat content should only be high if your dog is really moving a lot. If you rarely go hunting, choose food with lower fat content.

The right food for an active sporting dog contains a minimum of 16% fat. The quality of the fat is also an important consideration. Unsaturated omega fatty acids are not only delicious but bring valuable health benefits to your dog. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for skin and coat health and are well known for their anti-inflammatory effects.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate content is important and carbs should not be left out of a balanced diet. You should make sure that the sources are digestible. Examples are sweet potatoes or brown rice. These nutrients do not raise your dog’s blood sugar levels unnecessarily and they don’t burden your dog’s stomach.

Carbohydrate sources include grain-free and grain-containing. Well, if your dog doesn’t have allergies or intolerances, you don’t need to choose a grain-free diet for him.

Protein

We should definitely take care of our dogs’ protein levels. This is an essential nutrient for all dogs which provides essential amino acids. And even more important for these dogs. After all, to maintain high activity and lean muscle mass, dogs need to consume enough protein. Choose good quality protein sources like chicken, lamb, or fish.

Since dog food allergies are usually caused by proteins, you need to pay close attention to the quality of protein sources. The most common allergens include chicken and beef.

Water

Hydration is important for all living things. High-activity hunting dogs need a lot of water. When you go hunting, always have enough water with you. Some dogs do not want to drink enough. The best way for them is to put more water in their bone broth. This will ensure proper fluid intake.

Other micronutrients

A dog with an active lifestyle needs healthy micronutrients. Make sure you buy the best dog ​​food containing vitamins (e.g. vitamin E, C, A), minerals, and other beneficial healthy ingredients.

These nutrients are usually included in dog food recipes as supplements or fresh fruits and vegetables.

Other things to consider

  • Calorie requirements depend on the dogs’ activity levels: IYou have a hunting dog breed in vain if you don’t do enough exercise with him. Calorie requirement depends primarily on the level of activity. First and foremost, consult your veterinarian on this topic. If you only hunt with your dog sometimes, he won’t need a lot of calories.
  • Spaying and neutering affect the calorie needs too: These procedures can also affect how many calories your dog needs. Generally, spayed or neutered dogs need fewer calories. It is best to consult your veterinarian about this as well.
  • More fat, fewer carbohydrates, and protein: Hunting dogs have high energy levels, so they need to be provided with energy with fat than other dogs. Prefer carbohydrates that are slowly absorbed and easily digestible.
  • Meal once or twice a day: Hunting dogs perform better on an empty stomach. If you feed your dog after strenuous exercise, you can be sure that all the nutrients will be absorbed. Please note that if you have a deep-chested dog breed (such as Labrador Retriever), you should avoid feeding once a day. In these dogs, a double meal is recommended to avoid bloat, which can be a fatal condition.
  • Choose products with complete nutrition: You should strive for the best possible quality of food. If the product of your choice is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) then you are on the right way.

best hunting dog food

What ingredients you should avoid?

You already know which ingredients are valuable to feed your hunting dog properly. The following are sources, substances, and toxins to avoid. Of course, you should avoid these not only for sporting canines but for any breed.

Artificial ingredients

Artificial colors, so to speak, make food more beautiful. But why? Do you think your dog is interested in the look of the product? I help; the answer is no. In addition, these compounds can cause digestive problems.

The situation is similar to flavor enhancers; they are harmful to health. A good recipe contains ingredients that taste fantastic and don’t need outside help to make them tastier for dogs.

Artificial preservatives should also be avoided. BHA, for example, is a potential carcinogen.

Fillers

Fillers are the ingredients that manufacturers use to increase the volume of their products. Your dog will feel fuller. However, the nutritional value of fillers is lower than that of valuable ingredients. Moreover, some can even cause digestive problems. Avoid wheat, corn, soy, and their husk and hulls.

By-products

Do not get me wrong. By-products are not always bad. Meat by-products are generally excellent sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, which are beneficial for the joints of active hounds. However, make sure that these ingredients are named. For example, a chicken by-product meal is a better choice than a meat by-product.

Also, make sure that the by-products are not the main source of protein in the recipe of your choice. This is because their protein quality is much lower than that of meats or meat meals.

Should I give my hunting dog dry or wet food?

It is up to you to answer this question. You have to decide which one is better for you and your dog’s needs. There biggest difference between the two types is the water content. So if you choose dry dog food, be sure to provide the right amount of water.

The other important difference between the two is storage. Canned food is both more expensive and more difficult to store. After opening, it is worth consuming or putting in the refrigerator. 

Dry food is easier to store and you can buy it in bulk. So you can make a more cost-effective purchase in the long run. 

In terms of protein, dry food is usually a better choice. Of course not in all cases, but usually these foods have more protein content.

Avoid wet foods with unnecessary additives and fillers.

best hunting dog food

Is Raw Food A Good Option?

Since these dogs need a diet high in fat and protein, the question of whether a raw diet is good for them is legitimate. There are discussions among experts about this. The raw diet has clear advantages and disadvantages.

Raw meat and animal parts, organs retain all nutrients without processing and heat treatment. However, these protein sources can also contain harmful bacteria, microorganisms, and parasites. If you get raw meat from an uncontrolled source, it can be a danger to you and your dog as well.

You also need to keep in mind that if your dog has eaten commercial dog food all his life, a sudden change can be a problem. Anyway, all dog food changes should happen gradually. However, this is especially true when it comes to a raw diet.

And finally, a raw diet doesn’t just mean you put a slice of raw meat in front of your dog. This method can cause severe nutrient deficiencies. Your dog’s diet should include fresh fruits and vegetables, omega fatty acids, and fiber sources if needed.

Even before you misunderstand me: I’m not against the raw diet. I think it’s an excellent alternative if done correctly. But this diet needs to be properly planned. In many cases, veterinarians, animal nutrition experts, and other professionals help design commercial dog food. For safety, talk to your veterinarian about this topic.

Common diet related health problems in hunting dogs

Hunting dogs are basically very healthy because of their active lifestyle. However, some problems can occur with these breeds at times. Of course, these problems can be prevented and treated with the right diet.

Problems in the digestive system

Dog breeds with deep, narrow chests can have a condition called bloat. These breeds are, for example, Irish Setters. This disease is some physical change in the stomach. It can even be fatal.

Proper timing of feeding can help prevent bloat. It is not good to feed these animals less than two hours before the hunt or any strenuous exercise. If you choose a food that has at least the first five ingredients natural, that can also help.

Joint problems

Larger-bodied hunting dogs tend to suffer from joint-related health issues. In hip dysplasia, the bones of the hip do not fit together perfectly. This usually causes pain in these dogs. In more severe cases, a degeneration can also occur, which is called arthritis.

These problems are very often hereditary. However, an overly active lifestyle and wear and tear on the joints also contribute to this. Foods that contain glucosamine and chondroitin can help.

Another reason why these diseases can occur is obesity. If your dog is fat, his joints will have to suffer more strain. You need to adjust your pup’s calorie intake properly.

Infections

Hunting dogs spend a lot of time outdoors. Here, they can catch diseases and infections for which their body may not be prepared. Such are tick-borne infections such as Lyme disease. 

Foods developed for them help strengthen their immune system. Sufficient protein content, fiber, and antioxidants are beneficial. 

Types of hunting dogs

These dogs are practically the most active breeds. In addition to hunting, they have a high activity level, including various extreme sports such as trekking, climbing, running after animals, and so on. These breeds not infrequently also serve as working dogs. Below we look at exactly what types of hunting hounds there are.

Terriers

Rat Terriers, Boston Terriers, and Jack Russell Terriers. These are just a few examples. These dogs are small but extremely energetic. They are often used when hunting smaller animals, like squirrels, rabbits, foxes, and birds. But they are also very effective for backyard rodents.

Gun dogs

These are larger breeds than terriers. They are usually used to scare animals to be hunted and to retrieve shot game. These dogs include, for example, Labrador Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, or Golden Retrievers.

Hounds

These dogs have very good senses and are persistent with a lot of stamina. Their sense of smell is excellent, which is why they can sniff out the animals you want to hunt from afar. The most common hounds are Coonhounds, Bloodhounds, or Redbone Hounds.

best hunting dog food

F.A.Q. about high performance dog foods for hunting canines

Is higher protein dog food better?

In general, it is not the quantity of protein that matters, but its quality. Make sure the protein in your food comes from the right source. Digestibility is also important. The food should not contain any by-product meat. By the way, of course, the amount of protein also matters, as, with an active lifestyle, it is not good for your dog to have a low protein intake.

Should hunting dogs have a grain-free diet?

Many people believe that a grain-free diet is healthier. This is not currently confirmed by any research or study. On the other hand, grains can indeed cause digestive problems or allergies in many dogs. If your pup also has problems with these ingredients, choose the best grain-free dog food for him. In all other cases, a grain-containing recipe can also be perfect.

When should I feed my hunting dog?

The most perfect timing is the end of the hunting or training session. Food and nutrients will thus be utilized in much greater proportions. Studies have shown that these animals perform much better on an empty stomach. Studies have also shown that they gain energy from fat during exercise.

What do you feed your hunting dog?

The best food for hunting dogs is high in fat and protein. Of course, they should also contain carbohydrates, but in smaller amounts than average products. Avoid corn wheat or soy and other fillers.

How many times a day should you feed a hunting dog?

For most hunting breeds, it is best to feed them once a day. There should be as much time as possible between the feeding time and the hunt. On the one hand, hunting dogs perform better on an empty stomach, and on the other hand, you can avoid the risk of bloat. If your dog can’t bring in enough calories for a meal, increase the feeding times to two. However, it is also worth scheduling this after active exercise.

How many Calories Do Hunting Dogs Eat?

Basically, a hunting dog consumes more calories per day than other breeds. However, the exact amount of calories depends on many factors. What matters is your dog’s gender, age, and activity levels. For example, if your dog is old and no longer exercises as much, he will need fewer calories than active dogs. An all-day-couch dog needs about 1300-1400 calories. On the other hand, a dog that does hunting activities every day may need up to 2,000 calories. But usually, 1800 calories is the most ideal. Ask your veterinarian for advice and read the recommendations on the packaging of the products. Also, monitor your dog’s weight.

Should I feed my dog before hunting?

No, that’s absolutely a bad idea. For hunter breeds, a meal once a day is most ideal. Schedule feeding after the hunt. This will avoid potential health problems. In addition, the dog’s body will use the nutrients more efficiently. And he will be more active during the hunt.

What is the best dog food for hunting dogs?

I chose Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe as the best dog food for hunting dogs. And the best hunting food for puppies is Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Food

Final verdict

From my article, you can learn about the specific dietary needs of hunting dog breeds. All of the recipes I choose contain many high-quality protein sources, enough fat, and moderate, well-digestible carbohydrates.

I selected the list based on several criteria; however, Merrick Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe is the best. If you want the best for your sporting dog, choose this formula.


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Author:
Hey, my name is Peter, and I am the owner of this site. I have loved animals since I was a kid. I am constantly training myself; I recently obtained an accredited certificate in pet nutrition. But I am constantly learning about training, grooming for dogs and cats. I am currently a happy owner of two dogs, six cats, and two red-eared sliders. My goal is to provide my visitors with the most authentic information possible on any pet-related topic.
Amber LaRock
Reviewed By An Expert:

My name is Amber, and I am a licensed vet tech with 10 years of experience in the field. I spent the majority of my career working in emergency medicine but recently transitioned to creating accurate pet care information online. There is nothing more important to me than helping pet owners understand their furry friend’s health, and giving you the tools you need to offer your pet the best future possible!