The Boreal Original Grain Free product line includes 4 dry dog foods.
Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage:
Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.
Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.
- Boreal Original Grain Free Lamb [A]
- Boreal Original Grain Free Turkey [A]
- Boreal Original Grain Free Salmon [A]
- Boreal Original Grain Free Duck Small Breed (4 stars)[A]
Boreal Original Grain Free Lamb formula was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Fresh lamb, lamb meal, peas, dried whole eggs, pea starch, canola oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols, source of vitamin E), northern white pea bean, dehydrated alfalfa, flaxseed, natural lamb flavour, salt, vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, lecithin, zinc methionine, mannanoligosaccharides, chicory root (fructooligosaccharides), dried whole fruits & vegetables (apple, carrot, cranberry, spinach, sweet potato, tomato), calcium carbonate, zinc sulphate, ferrous sulphate, digestive pack (probiotic bacteria – Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus licheniformis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Enterococcus faecium, digestive enzymes – papain, bromelain, Aspergillus oryzae fermentation product), herbal pack (blueberries, cranberries, green tea extract, barley grass, spirulina), taurine, copper sulphate, manganese sulphate, niacin, calcium pantothenate, vitamin A supplement, riboflavin, vitamin B12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 3.3%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
Dry Matter Basis
Calorie Weighted Basis
The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb contains up to 73% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second ingredient is lamb meal. Lamb meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh lamb.
The third ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fourth ingredient is whole dried egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The fifth ingredient is pea starch, a paste-like, gluten-free carbohydrate extract probably used here as a binder for making kibble. Aside from its energy content (calories), pea starch is of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
The sixth ingredient is canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.
Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.
The seventh ingredient includes white pea beans. Beans are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, pea beans contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The eighth ingredient is dried alfalfa. Although alfalfa is high in protein (18%) and fiber, it’s uncommon to see it used in a dog food. This hay-family ingredient is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
The ninth ingredient is flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With two notable exceptions…
First, this recipe contains mannanoligosaccharide (also known as MOS), a nutritional supplement likely included here as a prebiotic. Prebiotics function to support the growth of healthy bacteria in the pet’s intestinal tract.
And lastly, with the exception of zinc, the minerals listed here do not appear to be chelated. And that can make them more difficult to absorb. Non-chelated minerals are usually associated with lower quality dog foods.
Boreal Original Grain Free Dog Food The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Boreal Original Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 31%, a fat level of 20% and estimated carbohydrates of about 41%.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 32% and a mean fat level of 19%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 41% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.
Above-average protein. Above-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, beans, alfalfa and flaxseed, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.
Boreal Original Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.