Taste of the Wild dog food is made by Diamond Pet Foods, Inc., owned by Schell and Kampeter, Inc. They are a U.S.-based pet food manufacturer with plants located in Meta, Missouri, Lathrop, California and Gaston, South Carolina. The company is a family-owned, privately-held enterprised, still managed by the Schell and Kampeter family. Taste of the Wild is a relatively new brand of dog food, debuting around 2007 to meet the market demand for premium "natural" dog foods and grain-free foods with better ingredients.
The headquarters for Diamond are in Meta, Missouri and the company was founded in 1970. At that time brothers-in-law Gary Schell and Richard Kampeter bought Milling Meta Co., a producer of livestock feed and dog food. Early distribution was limited to within 100 miles of Meta, Missouri and only about 5 percent of the company's production was dog food. Diamond expanded its manufacturing to include plants in San Joaquin County California in 1999 and Gaston, South Carolina in 2002.
The Taste of the Wild site gives no indication that the food is made by Diamond and many people who feed this food are unaware of the connection. Diamond has had a history of recalls due to aflatoxins, concerns about Salmonella, and production issues at least since around 1999-2000, including a large recall in 2005, and many consumers have lost confidence in the company and the products they produce. Nevertheless, Diamond manufactures or co-packs food for many other brands including Canidae, Solid Gold, Costco's Kirkland, Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance, Tractor Supply's 4Health, and NutraGold.
Since their earlier recalls, Diamond says today they use 151 quality checks to ensure the quality of their products. However, the company issued a recall in May 2012 for many of their products, including Taste of the Wild, after a Salmonella outbreak linked to their South Carolina plant.
Taste of the Wild dog foods feature grain-free formulas that are said to be made based on what dogs would eat in the wild. The foods emphasize better taste, highly digestible energy, and natural antioxidants to support a healthy immune system and overall health. They have four adult formulas available in dry and canned versions and two puppy formulas available in dry versions. The food has been very popular with pet owners seeking a premium grain-free food for their dog at a fairly reasonable price. Taste of the Wild also makes cat foods using the same philosophy.
Bison, lamb meal, chicken meal, egg product, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes, canola oil, roasted bison, roasted venison, natural flavor, tomato pomace, ocean fish meal, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, yucca schidigera extract, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product,dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid.
I chose the High Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison almost at random from the Taste of the Wild web site. All of the adult formulas seemed to be maintenance formulas with just different sources of protein and carbs/fiber. I have had samples of these foods and let my dogs try them. They loved them. But I haven't fed them long-term or bought them.
You can see from looking at the first five ingredients in this food that the emphasis is on animal sources of protein.
The first ingredient is bison. As I've written elsewhere, bison compares favorably to beef. It's very similar nutritionally, but it has slightly more protein and a little less fat.
Lamb meal is the second ingredient. At one time lamb was often recommended for dogs with allergies because it was a novel protein 25 years ago (I know - I had a dog with allergies at that time and I had to cook lamb for him every night). But lamb is such a common ingredient in dog foods today that its presence is not very remarkable. I'm not put off by the fact that this is lamb meal instead of whole lamb. Lamb meal is a concentrated version of the meat and, if the lamb is of good quality, it shouldn't be a problem. This is another ingredient with lots of protein.
The third ingredient is chicken meal. Again, this is a common ingredient in dog foods so if you have a dog with allergies, this food probably won't solve your problems, but this is a good ingredient. Like the lamb meal, chicken meal is a concentrated version of the whole chicken and high in protein. In these meals the water has already been removed so they are all meat.
The fourth ingredient is "egg product." Eggs are loaded with protein and good for dogs. "Egg product," according to AAFCO, means: "Product obtained from egg graders, egg breakers, and/or hatchery operations that is dehydrated, handled as liquid or frozen. These shall be labeled as per USDA regulations governing eggs and egg products (9CFR, Part 59). This product shall be free of shells or other non-egg materials except in such amounts which might occur unavoidably in good processing practices, and contain a maximum ash content of 6% on a dry matter basis." There is no specific AAFCO definition for "eggs," so in this case "egg product" seems to be fine to use.
The fifth ingredient is sweet potatoes. Even people who like a grain-free food should understand that it's virtually impossible to have a food that is free of carbohydrates. Dogs don't really need carbs in the same proportion that humans do - and they don't have the long gastrointestinal tract to break them down as completely as we do. The food that your dog eats goes through his system much more quickly than the food we eat. But dogs still can use some good quality carbs for energy. A good source of carbs such as sweet potatoes also adds fiber to the diet. In addition to dietary fiber, sweet potatoes contain vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and beta carotene. They are a complex carbohydrate they go on providing energy instead of releasing sugars in a quick burst, too.
There are lots of other interesting ingredients in the High Prairie formula. There is more meat with roasted bison and roasted venison - used for flavoring. There is also ocean fish meal. Taste of the Wild specifically states on their site that they source all of their protein meals from vendors who do not use ethoxyquin as a preservative. They only use natural preservatives. So that's a point in their favor. Taste of the Wild also says that all of their meats are bought from food grade suppliers and are certified hormone and antibiotic-free.
There are also a number or pre- and probiotics in the food to help in digestion. Along with dried chicory root, the food contains yucca schidigera extract, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product,dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract. All of these extracts and fermentation products work in your dog's gut to help him keep good bacteria and digest his food better. If you had to buy these products separately (and you can find most of them in health food stores or online for pets), they would cost a lot to add to your dog's food.
Finally, Taste of the Wild uses chelated minerals. Chelated minerals are better than just adding minerals to a food. With chelated minerals the minerals become attached to the proteins for better absorption in the digestive tract.
So, there are a lot of very good things in this list of ingredients.
The quality of the ingredients in Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison looks to be very good. There is very little to quibble with here.
The only issue I would note of concern is the presence of both tomatoes and tomato pomace. Tomatoes and tomato pomace do supply lycopene and beta carotene, as well as vitamin C, but most dog food companies use them as a source of soluble fiber. You will probably be seeing them more and more often in dog foods so they really aren't bad ingredients here.
One other thing rather puzzles me and that is the source of fat in the food. Canola oil is a good source of fat, albeit a plant source. The food lists 18 percent crude fat, minimum, so I'm wondering where the rest of the fat comes from in the ingredients. I suppose it could come from the protein meals which can contain skin. (That's not a bad thing. It's good for your dog.)
* Not recognized as an essential nutrient by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile.
Taste of the Wild® High Prairie Canine® Formula with Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for maintenance.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison provides a whopping 32 percent crude protein (Minimum), which is well above the government's recommendations (18 percent for adult dogs). Don't worry. This is not too much protein for a healthy dog. But if your dog has any kidney or liver problems, I would avoid this food. Otherwise, this should be a great food for active dogs. The 18 percent fat in Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison is well above the government's recommendations (9 to 15 percent for an adult dog), but good quality fat is good for your dog.
You should notice that the food's AAFCO statement is based on a nutrient profile for the food and not on feeding trials. Both nutrient profiles and feeding trials are acceptable to AAFCO, though feeding trials (which cost a lot more to carry out) are generally considered better from a consumer's standpoint.
Taste of the Wild has enjoyed a good reputation and pet owners have been delighted with it. However, people continue to be suspicious of Diamond Pet Foods. Lots of people who feed this food are unaware that it is made by Diamond and they might not feed it if they made the connection.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison & Roasted Venison, and probably the company's other formulas, appear to be very good foods and I would recommend them, especially if you are looking for a good grain-free food at a reasonable price.
Taste Of The Wild Dog Food has received our highest 5 paw rating.