I think it is important to say this: I am not advertising for RC. I'm not endorsed or compensated in any way. In fact, I only know who the regional rep is because I got a blanket email from her saying thanks for using RC. I am a member of the Breeder's Club, which enables me to get the product at a slightly reduced price delivered to my door. I was a member of a similar "club" at Purina, as well.
Here's the rub. I know of a great dog food that does everything I want it to do. It's high energy, low stool volume, super for the coat and the dogs attack the dry kibble. The problem is the price. I pay $46/37.5# bag. I can drive 50 miles and pay $36, but if I'm going to feed this product, I will buy it at my local feed store. I've tried Loyal Performance, by Nutrena. The price is better, the dogs love it and the energy level is high, but their coats are dull. I tried Black Gold. Price is good and the dogs like it, but the stool volume is large and the quantity to feed is much more than the premium feed.
So, I went to the Internet and Googled "the best dog food"..wow, that was a lesson! Every brand had a DVM testifying to the greatness of the product. Every page had do's and don't's in feeding dogs. Every site said to beware of all the other guys! Chicken meal ain't real chicken, only diseased animal innards are sent to dog food, dogs need meat and offal and... fresh is best!
C'mon my friends, in all the vet schools we have in this country, someone has researched the best way to feed hunting dogs. What is the answer? I guess the fact that it is a multi-Billion dollar industry doesn't help the flow of usable information......
What do you feed? Are you happy with it? Would you recommend it?
After much research and trials and first hand investigation, after being satisfied with one brand and then seriously disappointed with yet another recall on that brand, I've settled on a brand I think incorporates all the features I think are important. Royal Canin. For my dogs, Brittanies, I feed Royal Canin Medium. I've had them on this feed for the last two hunting trips and all the field trials this year. I put them on the high powered feed RC Endurance (I think) for one hunting trip, but for the cost and hassle of getting it, I went back to the Medium, which I can get a the local PetSafe Store. None of the stuff is cheap, but with my four main dogs, I think it is OK. The result is healthy dogs with healthy, shiny coats, less tartar on the teeth, small stools. And, I'm only feeding them between 2 and 3 cups, depending on size....per day!
Now, having put a full year of travel, hunting, trialing and training on my dogs while feeding Royal Canin Medium, I can say with affirmation this is an excellent kibble. I did notice the coat sheen, the endurance and the small stools. For my dogs, I feed between 2 and 3 cups per day- a little more on trips. I travelled nearly 15,000 miles on hunting trips and perhaps half that for field trials. Through it all, they loved the kibble and it kept them going- with no additive. I say all that to say this: Royal Canin may not be the best fit for you, but don't settle for the cheapest stuff. Do the homework and find them a good quality feed that will keep them energized and add years to their life!
It's been two years with my dogs solely on the RC Medium Adult. The results are the same- great energy level (for competition and hunting), coats are glossy, endurance is excellent. I have changed my formula somewhat, in that on hunting trips where the dogs are running hard 2-3 hours per day in heat, snow, rain and over rough and vertical terrain, I will feed them the Puppy Blend for medium dogs. "Medium" doesn't mean anything other than the size of the grown dog. The Puppy formula is 30/20 blend, which I think has more energy available. Interestingly, I think the RC vets would challenge me and say the RC medium has everything they need and the Puppy kibble may not have the best balance of minerals and vitamins, etc. (I went to a meeting with the RC development team and vets, and that was the message. The feed is specific and complete.) However, I wanted the extra energy and I didn't want to use any additives and my dogs are only on the puppy kibble for the duration of the hunting trip- usually 2-3 weeks- and then they are back on the Adult. I don't feed any additives. I don't water the feed. I wait 20 minutes after feeding and then give them all the fresh, clean water they want. (Apparently, that is the best method for the dogs to obtain all nutrients. Actually, research has shown that if the dog is fed within 30 of completion of exercise, he will get 90% of the nutrients in the feed. The numbers may be off some, but you get the drift. That is not practical for me as I feed at the end of the day- 5 dogs at once, but it is the best way.)
I've also learned this. There are MANY good dog foods out there. This one works for me. If anyone tells you there is only one way to feed your dog, be skeptical. A very good, not too expensive, feed is Purina. They also are one of the only companies with their own research and development department. They can afford it. A lot of the research in to athletic dogs and their nutrition comes from Purina. I have 8 dogs- 5 are athletes. I can afford to feed whatever I want, so I'm willing to pay more. Many, not all, times you get what you pay for. I'm watching the price of feed skyrocket. I'm convinced a lot of that price increase is due to increased demand due to increased awareness by the consumer. In other words, if it's trendy and a "hot" item, the cost per pound will increase. Notice I said "cost per pound". Purina and RC started inching the price up AND decreasing the size of their bags. Originally, with Purina, at least, they were using a 50# bag. It's down to 37.5# now. RC is down to a 30# bag (35# for the Breeder's Club). Like I said though, if you find a good feed that does what you want and your dogs THRIVE on it, go ahead and get it.