There are a variety of dog breeds that make excellent hunting dogs. The Labrador Retriever, Mountain Cur, Vizsla, and even the short Beagle, are a few examples of the perfect hunting companion. Although these dogs look completely different in color, size, and structure, they share the same instinctual nature: hunting. A hunting dog needs to have boundless energy to complete the tasks set by its owners. They need good muscle strength and strong bones to catch or retrieve game and walk long distances.
A hunting dog’s diet is vital for them to excel in their abilities and must include plenty of good nutrition. Always take your dog’s energy level, age, sensitivities, and weight into consideration when buying food.
We’ve listed a few great hunting dog food options below complete with in-depth reviews to help you in your search—but remember that due to their high protein and fat content, they’ll lead to weight gain if fed to an inactive dog. You may want to switch your dog’s food when out of hunting season.
A Glance at Our Winners in 2023
The 11 Best Foods for Hunting Dogs
1. Ollie Fresh Dog Food Beef Recipe Subscription Service – Best Overall
Hunting dogs work up quite the appetite in a day’s work. That is why it’s important to choose a hardy dog food that will satisfy their hunger while ensuring they receive the proper nutrients to maintain an active lifestyle. Ollie Fresh Dog Food Beef Recipe is our best overall pick for food for hunting dogs since this recipe is appealing, nutritious, and filling. With a limited ingredient list, starting with real meat proteins (also available in chicken, turkey, or lamb) and fresh vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, you can trust that your dog will be happy and healthy. Ollie’s meals are free of any byproducts or additives and are suitable for all life stages.
Once you complete a short questionnaire about your dog based on its age, weight, breed, and dietary needs, Ollie provides you with customized meal plans. You can also adjust the frequency of your deliveries, which eliminates the risk of running out of stock and last-minute trips to the store.
If you are looking for a dog food rich in antioxidants, that promotes healthy digestion and supports an active lifestyle, look no further than Ollie Dog Food.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food has three excellent first ingredients of water buffalo, lamb meal, and chicken meal, resulting in a high protein content of 32% for a low and affordable price, making this our favorite budget food for hunting dogs.
It has a fat content of 18% and contains complex carbs to give your hunting dog the energy they need while keeping them feeling full until its next meal. It contains prebiotics to improve your dog’s gut, resulting in less gas and healthier poop. The omega-3 improves their coat, leaving it soft and shiny. This dog food isn’t every dog’s pick, however, as some simply refuse to eat it.
Puppies need the best, and Adirondack’s dog recipe gives them just that, at an affordable price point. This puppy food is well-balanced and contains 30% protein and 20% fat to develop your pup into a strong and healthy dog that has lean muscles, ready for the hunting grounds.
This tasty meal is slow-cooked to preserve as many nutrients as possible and is free from fillers and artificial flavors. All the ingredients are from the USA and are of high quality. It’s suitable for pups with sensitive tummies and will pack the weight that they’ve lost back on in no time. Kibbles are small, which is great for pups but a struggle for bigger dogs.
Although expensive, ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is well-loved by both dogs and owners and has every reason to be at the top of our list as our premium choice. With beef, wild boar, goat, lamb, and lamb liver as the first few ingredients, you already know that this is a meal suited for a high-performance dog, with a 38% protein content. It includes essential vitamins and minerals, with the remaining 85% consisting of animal ingredients.
The kibbles are freeze-dried coated, locking in the fresh, tasty ingredients. Dogs on this kibble often experience better skin and a reduction in rashes and shedding. They often start smelling better, too—from their breath to their odor. The only downsides are the price, and that the bag isn’t resealable.
Specifically designed for hunting dogs is the Inukshuk Professional Dry Dog Food. Due to its 30% protein and 25% fat your dog will receive the high nutrition and high energy necessary for a high-performance lifestyle. It’s also packed with prebiotics and omega-3 fatty acids to keep your dog healthy and their coat flourishing, along with aiding in good joints for their activities.
This kibble is nutrient-dense and contains 578 kcal/cup, which means that you can give your dog everything they need in a smaller serving of food, which ultimately saves you money. Inukshuk is a family-owned business that cares about dogs, and they give you the option to buy straight from them too.
The VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food is another great dog food for hunting dogs. 88% of this dog food is made of meat protein, with some of its ingredients being beef meal, pork meal, and chicken meal, giving your dog plenty of nourishing proteins.
It’s also high in fat, with a crude content of 20%, giving your hunting dog the energy they need for high performance. It’s suitable for active puppies and adults, as well as lactating females. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals to maintain your dog’s health and is highly digestible.
All the ingredients in this product are sourced from the USA, with none of them containing gluten, corn, wheat, or grain. The kibble is small, though, and may prove challenging to eat for large dogs.
Even though the Wellness Core Grain-Free Original Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food is pricey, it’s highly worth it and acts as one of the best foods you can get for your hunting dog.
Since it’s made from human ingredients, it’s packed with nutritious value. Most dogs love this food and tend to get upset if you switch from it.
Overall, it’s good for your dog’s coat and gives them a strong muscle tone. If you have the budget for food of this quality, we highly suggest that you do.
Taking it even higher in price is the Purina Pro Plan 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food. We love this food as it is specially made for high-performance dogs, making it a perfect option for hunting dogs.
It’s a high-calorie food that will keep your dog energized and happy. The ingredients put focus on protein, which is the main reason why this food will keep an active dog energized. On top of that, it includes live probiotics that aid in your dog’s health.
Unfortunately, the food’s price has suddenly increased over the past while, leading many people to switch their dogs to something more affordable.
One interesting thing about the Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is that it comes in small kibble sizes. While this may make some dogs frustrated, it’s great for hunting dogs that tend to eat their food incredibly quickly.
We love that it includes healthy carbs in the ingredients from foods such as peas and sweet potatoes. It’s also made with real chicken to help your dog put on lean muscle.
If you do not want small kibbles, you can move on from this particular option but if you’re happy with the kibble size, your hunting dog is sure to love the taste of this food.
Nature’s Logic Canine Duck & Salmon Meal is dog food for puppies and adults that are active in hunting, working, and sporting. It has one of the highest crude protein levels on this list at 38% and contains ingredients such as duck meal, turkey meal, and salmon meal.
This recipe is natural, right down to the packaging that was produced with renewable electricity. There are a couple of kibble options to choose from, allowing you to change your dog’s food up a bit, never giving them the chance to get bored. The price has increased a lot recently, though, which has left a few consistent customers unhappy.
The Holistic Select Adult Health Lamb Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food is excellent for picky eaters. Sometimes, all the different flavors can be too much for a sensitive dog, and they may do better on this single-protein dog food. The first three ingredients are lamb meal, oatmeal, and peas, and the rest are made up of probiotics, antioxidants, omega-3, glucosamine, and taurine that protect your dog’s heart and body.
The protein content is less than other dog foods on this list at 23% and a fat content of 15%, but that can be enjoyed on off-seasons when they don’t require as much energy as on the hunting grounds require but enough to keep them active for hiking and other outdoor activities. The downside is that there have been a few quality-control issues around this particular dog food.
Buyer’s Guide: Buying the Best Dog Food for Hunting Dogs
All the dog foods listed above are good, but how do you know they’re good for your dog specifically? Well, you’ll need to make the decision based on your dog’s lifestyle, weight, health issues, and age. If your dog doesn’t have any health concerns, any of these foods will do them well. However, if you’re considering a different food option for your hunting dog, there are a few factors that you should take into consideration.
First and foremost, your hunting dog needs a high-protein diet. Protein builds strong, lean muscles that give them the force to run, catch, and retrieve game while hunting. Make sure that an animal-derived protein is first on the list of ingredients because it’ll indicate that it’s the most amount ingredient in the product, which is what your hunting dog needs.
Also, look out for dog foods that have the name of the meat at the start of its name, as this indicates that the product will have at least 95% of the ingredients in the product. Venison, chicken, fish, and lamb are good, tasty protein options.
Carbohydrates and Fat
Your dog food should contain around 20% carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide your dog with energy, but fats do too. Fats offer longer-lasting energy and contain lots of calories. The good fat content will give your hunting dog the energy and endurance they need, produce a healthy coat, and increase wound healing. However, they can increase the risk of obesity.
Many people have a negative understanding of by-products when it comes to dog food; however, most are completely safe and nutritious for your dog. Although they’re not suitable for people to eat, dogs will benefit from them as they come directly from an animal. By-products include the lungs, brain, liver, bone, intestines, etc., that aren’t dangerous to dogs.
Large amounts of fillers, on the other hand, should be avoided. They’re used in place of natural, high-quality ingredients and can lead to health issues, allergic reactions, and problematic weight gain. Most dog foods contain a few fillers, which is okay if they’re near the bottom of the ingredients list. Some fillers, such as rice, are considered “good” fillers, while you should always avoid MSG and syrups.
The number of calories you should serve your dog is going to depend on their weight and energy levels. During hunting season, your dog will burn more calories and will require more energy to perform well. Even the weather has an impact on their energy levels—if they’re hunting in the cold, they’ll be burning even more calories because their bodies will be working harder to keep them warm.
When your dog isn’t hunting, it won’t require as many calories because it won’t be burning as much energy. Feeding your dog the same number of calories as you fed them during hunting season may result in unhealthy weight gain.
A hunting dog burns more energy than a normal dog and, therefore, requires high-performance food, which differs from normal dog food with its higher protein and fat content.
At the top of our list is the Ollie Fresh Dog Food, thanks to the high meat protein and limited, human-grade ingredient list. The best budget dog food on our list is the Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food. It may be cheaper, but it doesn’t skimp on quality.
Remember to use these food options during hunting seasons as the high protein and fat content will cause weight gain if consumed the same way during off-seasons.
Featured Image Credit: Nadezhda Zaitseva, Shutterstock