Bird Dogs Afield host Paul Fuller is the gun dog columnist for Northwoods Sporting Journal. The Journal has granted permission to re-print Paul’s articles. Thank you Northwoods Sporting Journal.

Northwoods Sporting Journal

Best Dog Food

Our canine athletes require three ingredients for top performance: proper diet, hydration and conditioning. For most of us, the diet is the most difficult to understand.

For decades, there was very little written about dog food. My father subscribed to every fishing and hunting magazine that was published in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. I read them all and I recall only one advertisement for dog food…it was in Hounds and Hunting. And, the ad said something like: For a hard running dog, feed Big Boy Dog Food. There was no science or research quoted. What a difference from today’s ads for dog food.

However, with all the claims about research and science, what is the dog owner to believe? That’s a tough question. We have to keep in mind that most of the top selling dog foods are owned by huge corporations. Proponents of these foods will argue that the large corporations have the funds to do research that the smaller companies are not capable of funding. Opponents will argue that the bottom line is more important to these companies than the research. Let’s look at ways to separate the wheat from the chaff.

First, what is the reputation of the manufacturer? Talk to fellow dog owners; what foods have they been happy with. Although social media can be brutal, ask other hunting dog owners what dog food they prefer and why. About ten years ago, I was filming and hunting pheasants in South Dakota with two executives from Kent Feed Company. They told me if they put the same quality of products in their food (Native) as company X does, they could double their profit margin. They would rather produce a high quality food than a high profit food.

Next, check-out the Guaranteed Analysis on the packaging. This statement guarantees minimum levels of fat and protein.

And, don’t forget to check the ingredients listing. Watch for fat, protein, vitamins and minerals. They are listed in descending order by weight.

Now, what about those ingredients? The two ingredients I feel are the most important are protein and fat. At one time, amongst major dog food manufacturers, dog owners were restricted to one protein/fat level. It was often around a 25% protein level and a 15% fat level. While developing the Native Dog Food line, the scientists at Kent Feed Company recognized that energy needs are different during the dog days of summer and the high energy needs of hunting season. That’s when the level system of protein/fat were developed. And, it has been copied by most all of the major dog food manufacturers.

Quality protein supports tissue growth and replacement and is very important to the canine athlete. That tissue includes muscle, heart, lungs, skin and more. Whether it’s hunting season, field trial circuit or training in the prairies, your dog needs high grade protein. Our household feeds Native Level 2 during the off season. That’s a 26% protein level and 16% fat level. If you are strictly a weekend hunter, Level 2 is perfect. We switch to 30/20 about thirty days before hunting season. Especially if we’re hunting seven days a week the prairies in Montana. We probably all learned early in life that fat equals calories and calories equal energy. Fat that is not burned will result in heavier body weight and laziness. Fat that is burned will equal more calories and more energy.

A key point in all of this dog food discussion is quality of ingredients. I mentioned above the proponents of the big corporations being able to do in-depth research and the opponents crying that the profit margin is the most important. What I like about Kent Feed Company is that they are a large manufacturer but family owned. They were founded in 1927 by G.A. Kent by being the first to produce a high quality cattle food with no fillers. The company today is managed by grandson Gage Kent who still practices high-quality feeds with no cheap fillers.

I feel that other good manufacturers are Eukanuba and Kinetic. Keep your dog well fed and you’ll have a happy dog during hunting season.

Copyright 2021 Paul Fuller

Paul and his wife Susan are co-hosts of Bird Dogs Afield TV ( Paul can be contacted at