Royal Canin is one of the most popular super premium foods on the market, not just here in the UK but across Europe and beyond. They have taken customised nutrition to new heights and now have specific foods for dozens of different sizes and ages of dogs as well as a wide range of foods for individual dog breeds and a veterinary range for targeting particular health problems. Everything about Royal Canin screams quality - the pristine packaging, the well-above-average price tag, even the name itself all communicate excellence but does the food itself live up to the hype?
In short, no.
Firstly, there's no evidence to suggest that different breeds, sizes or even ages of dogs necessarily benefit from specialised diets. Fortunately, Royal Canin seem to agree as the ingredients of the majority of their foods are more or less the same, confirming the widely held suspicion that their vast range is more about appealing to customers and occupying shelf space than actually serving any nutritional purpose.
Virtually all of the Royal Canin range is based heavily on poultry meal, white rice, maize and wheat, none of which are particularly desirable in a dog food. Poultry meal is ok but it is always best to look for meats with named animal meat sources (like chicken, turkey, duck etc.); white rice is little more than a starchy filler while maize and wheat have both been consistently linked to dietary intolerance and digestive problems.
The other problem is that no percentages are provided for any of the ingredients making it very difficult to gauge the true quality of the food and also allowing the ratio's of the ingredients to change from batch to batch.
Looking specifically at the Medium Adult variety, there are also a number of other concerns. First off, although a meat ingredient may come first, suggesting that it is the most abundant ingredient, it is almost certainly only there because of a controversial practice known as 'grain splitting'. Ingredients have to be listed in order of their amount so the nearer the top, the more there is. By splitting a grain into two components - in this case maize and maize flour and also wheat and wheat flour, the grains drop down the ingredient list making it appear that meat is the first ingredient. In reality, it's likely that the real ingredient list would read 'maize, wheat, dehydrated poultry protein...' which is hardly the mark of a super premium food.
Further down the list we find more controversial ingredients: unspecified animal fats and hydrolysed animal proteins but most worrying of all are the un-named antioxidants. The term 'antioxidant' includes all sorts of additives, from natural vitamin E to some of the most contentious chemicals found in pet foods like BHA and BHT. As always, our advice where information isn't given is to assume the worst.
In pet food, price and quality don't always go hand in hand and nowhere is that more true than with the Royal Canin range. At nearly a pound a day to feed an 18kg dog but ingredients more inline with many budget foods, you wouldn't have to look far to find a food to give you more bang for your buck.
Conclusion: a budget food at a premium price.