Barking Heads is now one of the UK's leading natural dog food brands but as the anti-grain movement gains momentum, they, like many cereal based producers, are having to go back to the drawing board or risk getting left behind.
The launch of the three grain-free foods from Barking Heads - Quackers, Fish'n'delsih and Turkey Delight has been hotly anticipated for some time so let's see how they compare with the other grain-free foods on the market.
First off, apart from the meat source, the three varieties are almost identical - the same proportions of the same ingredients which would make switching between them very easy to provide a bit more variation in your dog's diet.
Each variety contains 50% meat and while that might not seem like that much compared to all of the 70% and 80% meat foods out there, it is important to note that unlike many foods that advertise a certain percentage of 'meat ingredients' which often includes the added fats, digests and so on, the 50% meat in Barking Heads is all from good quality, real meat sources. Having said that, over two thirds of this is fresh meat - an excellent quality, highly palatable ingredient but since it contains lots of water which is lost during processing, the proportion of meat left in the finished product will be considerably less than the 50% that went in at the start. By our calculations, the 'dry matter' meat content of Barking Heads Grain Free is only about 29% which is quite a lot less than many competitor brands.
The carb source in Barking Heads Grain Free is a mix of sweet potato, peas and lentils, all of which provide a wide array of natural nutrients without any of the problems often associated with some grains. Sweet potato in particular is one of the best carbohydrate sources available to dogs.
Although we'd like to see a few more natural nutritious ingredients like fruits, vegetables and/or herbs to help ensure a broad spectrum of natural nutrients, the few that Barking Heads does contain are excellent choices: Lucerne and seaweed are packed full of all sorts of nutrients and the joint care pack will be great news for many owners of at risk dogs like large breeds and older dogs.
The one area where Barking Heads really falls down is the price. £60 and up for 12kg of food puts it right at the top end of the dog food price range and with several less expensive, arguably better grain-free foods already available in the UK, Barking Heads may have there work cut out.
Conclusions: Slightly low meat content and could use a bit more ingredient diversity but overall a very good food for the millionaires amongst us.