Born Free Dog Food (Dry)

(4 / 5)
Born Free Dog Food (Dry)

The Born Free product line includes 4 grain free 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.

  • Born Free Cutter’s Creek Adult [A]
  • Born Free Garrison’s Glen Adult [A]
  • Born Free Redwood Ranch Adult [A]
  • Born Free Dakota Den Puppy (4.5 stars) [G]

Born Free Garrison’s Glen Adult recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein 30

Fat 18

Carbs 44

Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, peas, lentils, chickpeas, pea flour, turkey, tomato pomace, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), dried whole egg, pea protein, sweet potatoes, duck, salmon oil (preserved with mixed tocopherols), potatoes, cheese, quail, guinea hen, flaxseed, monocalcium phosphate, alfalfa meal, carrots, parsley, broccoli, spinach, potassium chloride, calcium sulfate, salt, chicory root extract, Yucca schidigera extract, sodium selenite, folic acid, sorbic acid (preservative), vitamins [vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, choline bitartrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate, riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, biotin], minerals [zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganous sulfate, magnesium sulfate, copper sulfate, cobalt carbonate, calcium iodate, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, magnesium proteinate, cobalt proteinate], dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium longum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Pediococcus acidilactici fermentation product

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.7%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
Method Protein Fat Carbs

Guaranteed Analysis

27% 16% NA

Dry Matter Basis

30% 18% 44%

Calorie Weighted Basis

26% 37% 38%

The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% 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 chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The third ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

The fourth ingredient lists lentils. Lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, peas and lentils contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient lists chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is pea flour, a powder made from roasted yellow peas. Pea flour contains as much as 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

It’s important to note that a number of ingredients included in this recipe are each a type of legumes:

  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Pea flour
  • Pea protein

Although they’re a mixture of quality plant ingredients, there’s an important issue to consider here. And that’s the recipe design practice known as ingredient splitting.

If we were to combine all these individual items together and report them as one, that newer combination would likely occupy a significantly higher position on the list.

In addition, legumes contain about 25% protein, a factor that must also be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The seventh ingredient is turkey. Although it is a quality item, raw turkey contains about 80% 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 eighth ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.

Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.

Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.

The ninth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.

Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.

The tenth 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.

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 five notable exceptions

First, we find pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

Next, flaxseed is 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.

In addition, we note the inclusion of alfalfa meal. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

Next, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Born Free Dog Food The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Born 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 30%, a fat level of 18% and estimated carbohydrates of about 44%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 30% and a mean fat level of 18%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 44% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 59%.

Near-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 pea products, lentils, chickpeas, flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Born Free is a grain-free plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4 stars.

Highly recommended.

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.