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Black Gold is not one of the most well-known brands of premium pet food on the market, but it is definitely one worthy of notice. This company follows a simple, scientific approach to pet nutrition that starts with high-quality ingredients that nourish the bodies of pets from the inside out.
Black Gold products are always 100% complete and balanced, designed for optimal nutrition as well as optimal performance, especially in active and working dogs.
This brand ensures that all of their products are highly digestible and all-natural, plus they offer many recipes that are gluten-free and grain-free.
Black Gold dog food is not only great for your dog’s health – it is also full of natural flavor that he won’t be able to get enough of. This brand is also available at a surprisingly affordable price!
Read on for our full, comprehensive Black Gold Dog Food Reviews below.
Details on Manufacturing
The Black Gold Dog Food Company was Black Gold Dog Food Company was founded in 1995 by a pair of brothers – Don and John Allen – who have dedicated their lives to promoting the health and wellness of animals.
On Christmas Eve of 1995, these two brothers began formulating their own line of premium pet food products and they named it after one of their father’s favorite Foxhound Champions. The company was sold to ProPet, LLC in 2015 after being a family-owned and -operated company for nearly 20 years.
This change has led to an increase in distribution for Black Gold products as well as improvements in manufacturing safety and quality. ProPet, LLC is headquartered in St. Marys, Ohio with production locations in Ohio, Kansas, and Minnesota.
Black Gold Dog Food Review
The Black Gold brand markets itself as an affordable line of premium pet food products. While their recipes all have good-sounding names like “Performance Blend” or “High Energy Blend,” a quick review of several products reveals the use of sub-par ingredients.
Black Gold does use quality proteins like chicken meal and lamb meal, but they also use low-quality carbohydrates like corn meal. This brand makes heavy use of grains in general, many of which contain gluten which could be a problem for some dogs.
Black Gold Explorer Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula
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Black Gold Explorer Original Performance 26/18
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Black Gold Explorer Timber Ridge Formula
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Black Gold Explorer Puppy Formula
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Black Gold Explorer Mature 7+ Formula
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Black Gold Beef & Pepperoni Flavor Jerky
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The quality and nutritional value of Black Gold products varies significantly, so be sure to do your research before choosing a product for your dog.
- Black Gold Explorer Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula
- Black Gold Explorer Original Performance 26/18
- Black Gold Explorer Timber Ridge Formula
- Black Gold Explorer Puppy Formula
- Black Gold Explorer Mature 7+ Formula
- Black Gold Beef & Pepperoni Flavor Jerky
1. Black Gold Explorer Chicken Meal & Brown Rice
First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken Fat
This Chicken Meal & Sweet Potato recipe is formulated for dogs in all life stages – that includes normally active adult dogs, growing puppies, even lactating or pregnant females.
This recipe is naturally grain-free and protein-rich as well as being an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This Black Gold recipe features both prebiotics and probiotics for balanced digestion and it is supplemented with DHA for brain development and an optimal calcium/phosphorus ratio for bone and joint health.
Overall, this recipe is loaded with healthy and beneficial ingredients that will nourish your dog’s body from the inside out.
The first ingredient in this recipe is chicken meal, a high-quality source of animal protein. Before you start to worry about the word “meal” here, consider that meat meals are simply fresh meats that have been cooked to remove moisture.
Fresh meats contain up to 80% moisture by volume so when the product is cooked, most of that moisture is lost and the volume of the protein could be much lower. Because chicken meal has already been cooked, it contains up to 300% more protein by volume than fresh chicken.
After the chicken meal comes a few types of grains. These are grain sorghum, brown rice, pearled barley, oatmeal, and brewers rice.
There’s a bit of misinformation that some dog sites are putting forward, and that is that grain-free food is superior. That can’t be further from the truth.
Unless your dog is allergic to grains (and only less than 1% are), food mixed with grain ingredients are supremely beneficial. Grains are packed with carbohydrates, fat, and all the nutrients needed to support good skin, hair, and immune system.
Since dogs are omnivores, this means that they can eat both meat and starches. The best way to select the right dog food is to check for ingredients that look quality and those that are merely added as fillers.
Your dog also gets some fiber from the flaxseed meal, dried chicory root, and dried fruits and vegetables. These fruits and vegetables also act as natural sources for key nutrients to complement the use of synthetic supplements. Natural sources for nutrients are always more biologically valuable for dogs.
The remaining are made up of supplemental vitamins and minerals, fats (as a source of energy and omega fatty acids), and a few protein content boosters such as dried eggs, fish meal, and pea protein.
This is a pretty wholesome formula from Black Gold. It doesn’t skimp on quality ingredients and all are carefully selected to provide the perfect balance of nutrients that canines need. We like the inclusion of prebiotics into the mixture because these ensure an increased digestibility of the food.
If you like this, Black Gold has these other healthy recipes for adult dogs that also utilize grains:
2. Black Gold Explorer Original Performance 26/18
First 5 ingredients: Beef Meal, Ground Corn, Ground Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Fat
Rating: 4/5 stars
Dogs with high energy levels need high protein food that is able to keep up with all of their activities. High protein food can also help with dogs who need to lose a little weight. This Black Gold Performance Formula is named for its protein and fat content (26% and 18% respectively) that keeps stamina and endurance levels high.
The first ingredient and which makes up the most volume in the food is beef meal. Don’t worry about the meal word. It only means that the beef was processed to remove most of the moisture from it.
And because they weigh the meat by volume, beef meal will have even more protein content in it than fresh beef of the same weight (because most of the weight in fresh meat is made up of water).
Dogs with grain sensitivities, beware. There are a lot of grains here. But if your pet does not suffer any allergy to starches (less than 1% of dogs do), you should be happy that this recipe is full of nutritious ingredients that can help support your dog’s physical requirements.
The grain ingredients are as follows: corn meal, ground wheat, corn gluten meal, brown rice, and malted barley. Don’t listen to the misconception that corn is a filler ingredient. Fillers are food that have little to no nutritional value. Corn is quite the opposite because it has protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.
As for the brown rice, it’s filled with B vitamins, minerals, and of course, digestible carbohydrates. Malted barley, on the other hand, contains a surprising amount of minerals (copper, zinc, potassium, and selenium) and B vitamins. It can also improve the overall palatability of food.
Who can benefit from grains? Most pet dogs. Grains provide structural and nutritional value to pet food, most especially for its abundance of carbohydrates. Most of the cells in the body use carbs as their main source of energy. Growing puppies, reproducing females, and active dogs will be particularly helped by these.
Aside from the beef meal and grains, you can also find chicken fat, chicken by-product meal, prebiotics and a long list of added supplements.
The chicken fat, just like the carb ingredients, offers another source of concentrated energy. It is also much more calorie dense than carbs or proteins. Another benefit of fat is that it improves the taste of pet food a lot.
Chicken by-product meal is another source of protein. If you’re wondering what it is and how is it different from chicken or chicken meal, below is the explanation:
Fresh chicken is simply the muscle meat and skin, chicken meal is the same thing with moisture removed. Chicken by-product meal, on the other hand, refers to the other parts of the chicken such as necks, organs, undeveloped eggs, and feet ground and dried together. It’s not exactly a bad thing since organs contain plenty of nutrition, but neither is it considered “premium quality.”
Dogs who are performing long hours of physical activities or under stressful conditions need food that can keep up with their requirements.
This recipe provides that. It contains all the energy that dogs need along with support for their hardworking bones and joints (added glucosamine and chondroitin).
We’d just have to take a whole point off for its use of a by-product ingredient, but our overall scoring of the recipe remains high. It is functional, palatable, and affordable.
3. Black Gold Explorer Timber Ridge Formula
First 5 ingredients: Beef, Peas, Potatoes, Beef Meal, Pea Protein
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
For some dogs, grain-free is the only way to go. Your pet may need to control his weight, he might be allergic to grains, or the vet has prescribed it as a special diet.
Whatever the reasons are, this grain-free recipe by Black Gold fits the purpose with its strong emphasis on cognitive function and gut health.
There’s a strong presence of meat in this grain-free recipe. The first ingredient is fresh beef, and it is supported by beef meal, venison, lamb meal, and fish meal. Your dog will be amply supported in his quest for protein and a flavorful meal.
Because there are no grains, dogs must find their carb requirements somewhere else. The potatoes and sweet potatoes provide these. These two starchy veggies have high digestibility and are good sources of energy. They also provide fiber, essential vitamins (A, C, B6) and minerals.
Some ingredients add a little bit more protein to the mixture. If you don’t know yet, protein is a much-needed nutrient for controlling weight. It boosts the body’s metabolism while helping it maintain a healthy lean muscle mass. These ingredients are the peas, pea protein, pea starch, and dried eggs.
Because of all the meat and the protein boosters, the protein content of this formulation is pegged at a high 30%. Let’s also not forget one of the main nutrients that dogs need — fat. There’s a good amount of it here (16%). Dogs can get this through the chicken fat, salmon oil, and canola oil that Black Gold included for the recipe.
Why is fat important? Fat provides your dogs the necessary amount of cushioning, energy, and insulation that they need. It is even more important during the cold winter months.
How about oil? What does it do? Dogs get essential fatty acids from oils and these include Omega fatty acids that are critical to a healthy immune system, hair, skin, and cognitive function. A diet that has the right amount of fat and oil is a balanced one and is the key to perfect health.
To round off the meal perfectly, the brand added plentiful supplements plus a few superfoods such as spinach, carrots, blueberries, and cranberries.
Not only does Black Gold deliver a supremely nutrient-dense formula with this recipe, it gets major points for being a completely wholesome diet that contains no artificial color, chemical preservatives, or by-products. Every ingredient is classified as premium.
The Grain-Free range also has these two other flavors you can choose from:
4. Black Gold Explorer Puppy Formula
First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Chicken Fat, Oatmeal
Rating: 4/5 stars
Growing puppies need foods that are especially crafted with their developing bodies in mind. The Black Gold Explorer Puppy targets the specific areas that little ones need the most support in because growing up is hard work.
The first ingredient in this formula is chicken meal. This is excellent because pups need a lot of protein in their diet. They need to fill up on it along with calcium because the growth stage takes a lot of energy. And they will grow up fast in a matter of months.
To add support to the chicken meal, a few protein boosters were added — dried eggs, fish meal, and tomato pomace. Together, all of these contribute to help the food reach a high protein level of 30%.
Puppies need lots of carbohydrates to help them with their inexhaustible energy and love of play, so the multiple grain types found in the formula is very much necessary. There is brown rice, brewers rice, oatmeal, and brewers dried yeast.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of each. Brewers dried yeast packs a lot of amino acids that help build a dog’s muscles, coat, skin, organs, and blood. It can help calm down dogs and reduce their stress due to its B vitamin content, relieve dry skin and itchiness, and make their coats shinier.
Brown rice has the bran intact, unlike white rice. This is where many of its nutrients reside, nutrients such as fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamins B and D.
Oatmeal is great particularly for dogs who have bowel irregularity. Since it is full of fiber, it can help regulate waste movement and blood glucose levels a lot. It is also full of Omega-6, a linoleic acid that’s responsible for healthy skin.
The one thing we do not like much in the formulation is the brewers rice. Brewers rice are broken pieces of white rice. They give tons of energy but not much else.
It’s not a bad ingredient per se, but neither is it a quality one. And since the minerals it provides are very scant, it’s mostly a filler. In fact, it shouldn’t be in the third place in the list of ingredients.
But back to what we do like, there are quite a few vegetables and fruits in the mix, like carrots, spinach, tomato, cranberries, and blueberries.
Unless a recipe is called a limited ingredient one, we tend to look for vegetables and fruits too aside of course from the meat and animal protein. Fruits and veggies are natural sources of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. We’re happy to see that this recipe has these aside from a good helping of animal proteins.
What we do not like so much is the inclusion of what we feel is a filler product and which takes up space in the top 5 ingredients — brewers rice. It’s not a bad product, and it’s definitely not harmful, but we just don’t think that it should occupy as much volume as it does in the recipe.
5. Black Gold Explorer Mature 7+ Formula
First 5 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Pearled Barley
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Aging canine bodies need particular care to keep them healthy for many more years. The Black Gold Explorer Mature formula aids senior dogs in maintaining healthy joints, mobility, and strong cognitive functions in their twilight years.
Starting off this recipe is that animal meat favorite of many canines — chicken, in the form of chicken meal.
Chicken meal is a better alternative here to fresh chicken because seniors need all the protein they can get. Since fresh chicken is made up of mostly water and chicken meal is its dehydrated form, fresh chicken will naturally have less protein content than chicken meal when you weigh by volume.
To ensure that mature dogs will get enough protein, this recipe also included beef meal, fish meal, and dried eggs as support. All together, these ingredients bring up the protein levels up to 27%, a much higher amount than the average protein content of many other brands.
Of course, these animal proteins aren’t just there to boost up the nutrient levels. They add a distinctive meaty flavor to the meal and are aided even more by the inclusion of chicken fat. Chicken fat makes pet foods more palatable and enticing for dogs to eat. It also gives off tons of energy.
Your dog won’t lack energy because aside from chicken fat, another source of energy is carbohydrates and there are plenty here. The brown rice, brewers rice, pearled barley, oatmeal, and dried sweet potatoes all contribute carbs that dogs can convert into fuel for their physical activities.
Aside from fruits and veggies, a long list of supplemental vitamins and minerals, and all those mentioned above, there are also a few ingredients that are included that you may want to know about. These are dried beet pulp, flaxseed, brewers dried yeast, and chicory root.
Dried beet pulp is the material left over from beets after all the sugar has been removed. These make excellent sources for fiber that can help dogs maintain intestinal health.
Remember that senior dogs often suffer from constipation due to lack of movement or exercise so a healthy dose of fiber in their diets is crucial.
Brewers dried yeast is full of essential amino acids and B vitamins. Flaxseed is extremely helpful for dogs who need an immune system booster, because it’s full of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that help in keeping inflammation down. It can also protect against diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Lastly, chicory root is an excellent source of inulin, which is a prebiotic and type of dietary fiber. According to research, inulin can improve digestive health and increase calcium absorption — another important nutrient that seniors need for maintaining their bone density.
We’re not fans of brewers rice (they’re the small fragments that break off when rice is milled), because they’re not exactly what you’d call quality ingredients. We think these shouldn’t take up so much volume in a recipe (3rd slot), but we have to be clear that they’re not bad or harmful at all.
We also can’t deny that this formulation delivers all the essentials that mature dogs need in one affordable package. The rest of the ingredients are just what we’d expect from a high-quality dog food brand. So overall, this recipe gets our recommendation.
6. Black Gold Beef & Pepperoni Flavor Jerky
First 5 ingredients: Beef, Soy Flour, Wheat Flour, Pregelatinized Corn Flour, Corn Syrup
Rating: 4/5 stars
Who’s a good boy? Your dog, that’s who! And he deserves all the affection and well, treats, you can bestow upon him. Reward great behavior with tasty but healthy snacks.
These Black Gold jerky strips are made from real beef and it starts off with it too. Unlike other treats, these strips begin with a real meat ingredient to give dogs that full-bodied meaty taste. Beef is right up there with chicken when it comes to what meats dogs love.
It has a rich flavor that is matched by its biological value. It has a high protein, zinc, selenium, iron, and B vitamin(B3, B6, B12) content. It is also high in fat that dogs need for energy.
Three types of flour give these treats their chewy texture: soy, wheat, and corn flours. Soy might give you pause, but don’t be too concerned about what detractors say about it.
It should be noted that soy is commonly prescribed for dogs with canine allergies, those prone to bladder disease, and those with liver problems. Soy is perfectly safe and nutritious, even when your pet does not suffer from the above ailments.
So anyway, soy flour is high in folic acid, protein, essential amino acids, fiber, and fatty acids. Wheat flour, meanwhile, contains vitamin B9, vitamin E, manganese, iron, copper, fiber, carbohydrates, and selenium. As for corn flour, it acts as a thickener in dog food and is a source of protein, carbs, and linoleic acid.
The rest of the ingredients are made up of natural flavoring, preservatives, and these: gelatin, corn syrup, and hydrogenated soy oil. What are these?
Gelatin is made from the by-products of animals such as bones, cartilage, and tendons. It’s a good way to boost your dog’s appetite and give him much-needed nutrients.
Corn syrup is mostly sugar, and it can add palatability to your dog’s food. Too much, however, and your dog has to be on guard against diabetes and obesity. That’s why it’s important to give these treats sparingly.
Lastly, hydrogenated soy oil is a source of omega fatty acids, although it is reported to contain much more saturated fat than other types of vegetable oil.
And since it’s hydrogenated, it is considered a trans fat (turning unsaturated fat into saturated), which may lead to heart problems later.
These jerky treats provide plenty of additional protein to complement your dog’s full meals. We like how the protein content is up to 24%, fiber at 2%, and fat at 12%. The only thing that we can see is a bit problematic is the use of hydrogenated soy oil, so for that we’ll take a whole point off.
*Remember that treats are meant to be given sparingly. Too much of a good thing is bad and might lead to health problems.
If beef and pepperoni isn’t your dog’s thing, there’s another jerky flavor he might like:
Made in the USA?
Black Gold began as a family-owned and -operated company in the winter of 1995. As a small company, however, Black Gold struggled with distribution until they were bought out by ProPet, LLC in 2015.
ProPet, LLC has their corporate offices in Ohio with additional production facilities in Kansas City, KS and Owatonna, MN. All of Black Gold’s products are made in these U.S.-based facilities.
The Black Gold Dog Food Company markets itself as a brand of premium dog food that outperforms the competition. In order to achieve this goal, Black Gold uses only the best ingredients available.
Though the Black Gold website doesn’t provide specific information about where they get their ingredients, the ProPet, LLC website states that the company’s manufacturing sites are located in “the heart of the farming community where raw materials are produced”.
Black Gold makes an effort to develop relationships with local producers to ensure that their products are made with fresh, high-quality ingredients from natural sources.
Black Gold Dog Food Recall History
The Black Gold brand of pet food is currently produced by ProPet, LLC. The ProPet website provides some detailed information regarding the production and manufacture of their products in terms of the quality of their ingredients and the kinds of safety checks they employ.
Their facilities are regularly inspected by APHIS, the FDA, ASI Food Safety Consultants, and state departments of agriculture. Because Black Gold pays so much attention to ensuring the safety and quality of their products, it should come as no surprise that the brand has yet to be affected by a major recall.
The ProPet Company has one recall in their history, but it did not affect the Black Gold brand.
The Black Gold brand of dog food is surprisingly affordable for a premium pet food brand. The price for a 40-pound bag of Black Gold dry dog food ranges from about $30 to $65, depending on the recipe. Black Gold does not offer any wet food products but they do offer dog treats which sell for $8 to $12 for a 25-ounce bag.
The Black Gold dog food company only offers dry dog food products and a limited assortment of treats – they do not offer any canned food product. Black Gold dog foods are marketed as being “premium quality”, though an analysis of several products reveals the use of corn and wheat ingredients.
This brand does offer some gluten-free and grain-free options, however, and the brand is one of the more affordable options in so-called “premium” pet food.
Black Gold offers three different product lines for dry dog food — Performance, Life Stages, and Grain-Free. The Grain-Free range incorporates alternatives to grains, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Life Stages are the different recipes crafted for specific dog age groups, such as puppies, adults, and seniors. The Performance Line is dedicated to the strict dietary requirements of working dogs (or physically active ones).
Here is a list of the dry foods Black Gold offers:
Black Gold Grain-Free Blends:
- Game Bird with Turkey & Quail
- Ocean Catch with Salmon & Whitefish
- Timber Ridge with Beef & Venison
Black Gold Life Stage Blends:
- Adult Beef Meal & Barley
- Adult Chicken Meal & Brown Rice
- Adult Ocean Fish Meal & Oat
- Puppy Formula
- Mature 7+ Formula
Black Gold Performance Blends:
- Original Performance 26/18
- Super Performance 32/21 Formula
In addition to offering an assortment of dry dog food recipes, Black Gold also offers two types of dog treats. Black Gold Jerky Strips are made with real beef and natural pepperoni flavor. Black Gold Bak’n Strips are made with bacon and cheese flavors.
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