Darwin’s Dog Food Review

Dogs Reviews July 9, 2020

Darwin’s Dog Food Review

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Darwin’s Dog Food

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products offers specially crafted raw meals for dogs and cats.

Their recipes are uniquely formulated by experts to deliver complete and balanced nutrition, made with premium animal proteins and other wholesome ingredients. They are prepared, packaged, and shipped raw.

Though the idea of raw dog food may be strange to some pet owners, it is actually widely recognized in the veterinary community as one of the best options for pets.

Traditional commercial pet food is cooked at high temperatures which can destroy the nutrients in the food.

Processing the natural ingredients can also make them more difficult for your dog to digest which further limits the product’s nutritional value. Raw food is simple and nutritious for your dog and Darwin’s makes it easy to choose a raw food diet.

We tested a 10-pound order of Darwin’s raw dog food in different formulas to bring you this honest review of our experience.

At a Glance: Darwin’s Dog Food Review

Darwin’s Dog Food
Brand
Overall Score
Pros
  • Specially crafted raw meals for dogs, complete and balanced by nutritional experts.
  • Extremely nutritious alternative to dry kibble, made with 75% real meat and 25% vegetables.
  • Receive feeding recommendations customized to your dog with recurring shipments.
  • Made with fresh, wholesome ingredients in USDA food facilities.
Cons
  • Raw meat requires certain food handling procedures for safety.
  • May be more expensive than traditional kibble, especially for larger dogs.
  • Comes with more packaging than many fresh dog foods (but can be returned for reuse).
  • Products aren’t portioned according to dog’s calorie needs.
Pros
  • Specially crafted raw meals for dogs, complete and balanced by nutritional experts.
  • Extremely nutritious alternative to dry kibble, made with 75% real meat and 25% vegetables.
  • Receive feeding recommendations customized to your dog with recurring shipments.
  • Made with fresh, wholesome ingredients in USDA food facilities.
Cons
  • Raw meat requires certain food handling procedures for safety.
  • May be more expensive than traditional kibble, especially for larger dogs.
  • Comes with more packaging than many fresh dog foods (but can be returned for reuse).
  • Products aren’t portioned according to dog’s calorie needs.
Weekly Price
Ingredient Quality
Recipe Variety
Options for Customization
Environmentally Friendly

Overview of the Darwin’s Brand

The story of Darwin’s Natural Pet Products begins with Gary Tashjian and his dog, Max. When Max was 10, he began suffering from severe arthritis.

After trying the traditional approaches, Tashjian consulted a holistic veterinarian who suggested a raw food diet. Within 30 days on the new diet, Max was acting like his old self and Tashjian never went back.

Inspired by Max’s transformation, Gary Tashjian founded Darwin’s Natural Pet Products. The company is named after Charles Darwin, whose own work was “inspired by nature, informed by science.” That’s the motto Darwin’s pet food continues to follow to this day.

The Darwin’s pet food company operates with a strong desire to understand the natural and instinctive diet of pets, combining the latest scientific knowledge about pet nutrition with the highest quality natural ingredients to provide healthy, wholesome food for pets.

All of Darwin’s pet food products are raw, delivered frozen just weeks after being prepared in company-owned kitchens.

Where is the Food Made?

Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Darwin’s Natural Pet Products are manufactured in company-owned facilities.

Darwin’s has additional shipping facilities in Pennsylvania and Utah so the food can be kept as fresh as possible through the delivery process. They’ve been making raw dog food for 15 years.

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products
Darwin’s Natural Pet Products offers two lines of raw dog food, BioLogics and Natural Selections.

What Dog Food Products Do They Offer?

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products offers an assortment of raw food products for both dogs and cats. Their products are divided into three product lines:

  • Natural Selections – A grain-free line of raw dog food, these formulas feature free-range meats and organic veggies to deliver complete and balanced canine nutrition.
  • BioLogics – A more economical line of raw foods, these recipes use the same formulas as Natural Selections but are made with conventionally grown meat and veggies.
  • Intelligent Design – A line of veterinary meals for dogs, these recipes are formulated to support dogs with specific health problems and are available by prescription only.

All of Darwin’s dog food products are made with at least 75% real meat and 75% fresh vegetables without any grains or fillers.

Their recipes are complete and balanced, tested to meet or exceed AAFCO nutritional profiles and the NRC’s guidelines for dog nutrition.

Here is an overview of the raw dog food products Darwin’s has to offer:

RecipeProtein %Fat %Fiber %MoistureCalories/Oz.
Natural Selections Chicken Recipe13717436
Natural Selections Duck Recipe12917431
Natural Selections Turkey Recipe14617531
Natural Selections Beef Recipe14817136
Natural Selections Lamb Recipe131217144
BioLogics Chicken Recipe13717433
BioLogics Turkey Recipe14617531
BioLogics Beef Recipe14817136
Intelligent Design KS Kidney Support Formula1391.27143
Intelligent Design LS Liver Support Formula7727928
Intelligent Design CS Cancer Support Formula13917538
Intelligent Design JMS Joint & Musculoskeletal Support Formula13717631

When shopping from Darwin’s Natural Pet Products, you can provide basic information about your pet to determine how much food you’ll need. New customers get 10 pounds for just $14.95.

Is Their Packing Environmentally Friendly?

Our order from Darwin’s Natural Pet Products arrived in a standard cardboard box which we were able to recycle as usual. Inside the package we found Styrofoam lining and dry ice to keep the products frozen. Every precaution is taken to ensure the food arrives fresh.

It’s extremely important to keep raw pet food frozen, but we found the amount of packaging to be a little overwhelming. Many fresh food companies use biodegradable insulation, but Darwin’s used a great deal more plastic than we’re used to.

We did, however, appreciate that the order came with a printed return label and instructions to return the packaging for reuse.

The food itself was frozen in 1-pound patties with 4 individual packages held together with perforated plastic. The information about the products was printed on the top of each 4-pack which makes it a little tough to keep track of feeding instructions once you tear off one of the portions.

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products
Though Darwin’s uses more packaging material than some companies, they offer a return label so you can send back what you don’t need so it can be reused.

How Much Does It Cost?

Generally speaking, fresh dog food costs more than dry kibble. When it comes to raw food, you might expect it to be even more expensive still. We were surprised to find, however, that Darwin’s is actually very affordable as a fresh food and especially as a raw food.

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products prices their recipes by the pound and those prices vary depending on the product line and the protein choice.

The Natural Selections line ranges from $5.79/pound to $8.19/pound with the chicken being the cheapest and the lamb being the most expensive.

The BioLogics line of products is designed to be more economical. There are only three protein choices, but prices range from $4.69/pound to $5.89/pound.

The Intelligent Design line of products is the most expensive with the lowest price starting at $6.90/pound and the highest $8.90/pound.

Using only the Natural Selections and BioLogics product lines, the average price per pound for Darwin’s raw food is about $6.27.

Our 30-pound test dog Archie required about 6 pounds of food per week, about 0.9 pounds per day. To feed Natural Selections, it cost about $42.60/week and, for BioLogics, about $35.13/week.

Check below to see how Darwin’s Natural Pet Products stacks up against other dog food brands for cost:

Premium Dog Food Price Comparison

Food TypeBrandAverage PricePrice Per Pound/Oz.
Dry FoodCanidae PURE Grain-Free$64.99 for 24 pounds$2.70/pound
Wet FoodCastor & Pollux Organic$41.88, 12 (12.7oz) cans$3.49/can (12.7 oz.)
Freeze-Dried RawStella & Chewy’s$49.99 for 25 oz.$2.08/ounce
DehydratedThe Honest Kitchen$55.88 for 10 pounds$5.58/pound
Fresh FoodMy Ollie$47.83 for 1 week$47.83/week
Fresh FoodNomNomNow*$69.60 for 2 weeks$34.80/week
Raw FoodDarwin’s Natural Pet Products$35.13 for 1 week$6.27/pound

* Cost varies depending on subscription, lowest price = monthly deliveries

What Did Our Test Dog Think?

Once we got past all the packaging, we were very pleased with our first order of raw food from Darwin’s Natural Pet Products.

The shipment included detailed instructions on how to thaw and safely handle the raw food as well as tips for transitioning. It also came with a plastic lidded container for leftovers.

The first thing we noticed when digging into the box is that the food was COLD. Though we were a little concerned about the amount of packaging, it certainly did the job – the food was hard as a rock and we had to cover our hands with our sleeves to handle it.

After thawing a four-pack of patties, we were finally able to test the product. Archie didn’t seem concerned about the food being raw – he dug in right away and seemed to enjoy the food a great deal.

The only thing we didn’t like was that the product information is printed across the top of each four-pack, not on the individual patties, so once you separate them you don’t have the information to reference if you throw one of the packages away.

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products
Darwin’s raw food is frozen in 1-pound patties packaged in groups of 4 with perforated lining for easy separation.

Darwin’s Dog Food Recalls

Recalls are common in the pet food industry but many of the fresh food companies we’ve reviewed haven’t had any issues. This is likely due to the fact that these companies typically own and operate their own facilities, and they are committed to using high-quality ingredients.

The same is true for Darwin’s. The main difference is that Darwin’s food is raw and the FDA continues to suggest that raw food diets are dangerous because they are more likely to carry food-borne pathogens.

Here is an overview of recalls affecting the Darwin’s brand:

  • March 2019 (salmonella) – The FDA issued a recall for three raw dog food recipes in the Natural Selections product line due to potential salmonella contamination.
  • March 2018 (salmonella & e. coli) – The FDA issued a recall for 2-pound packages of ZooLogics and Natural Selections raw dog food for potential salmonella and e. coli contamination.
  • February 2018 (salmonella) – Darwin’s voluntarily recalled packages of ZooLogics Chicken and Vegetable Meal for Dogs and ZooLogics Duck and Vegetable Meal for Dogs due to potential salmonella contamination.
  • December 2017 (salmonella & listeria) – Darwin’s voluntarily recalled packages of Natural Selections Duck Meal for Cats due to potential contamination with salmonella and listeria.
  • September 2017 (salmonella) – Darwin’s voluntarily recalled packages of Natural Selections and ZooLogics meals for dogs due to potential listeria contamination.

Though it is certainly concerning to see so many recalls listed for Darwin’s, it’s important to understand the context. All five recalls were issued due to potential contamination with salmonella or other food-borne pathogens like listeria or e. coli.

What you need to know is that salmonella is common in raw poultry products and it doesn’t pose a threat to most healthy cats and dogs.

In regard to the two recalls issued by the FDA, Darwin’s took action immediately after being notified of salmonella in the test samples. They contacted their customers to clarify the test results and to provide guidance – the customers could either cook the food or discard it and get a refund.

Is Darwin’s Really Worth the Cost?

When shopping for pet food, many pet owners focus primarily on the price. What you need to remember, however, is that pet food manufacturers are businesses like any other and it is one of their top goals to make money. The cheaper the pet food, the cheaper the ingredients.

Raw dog food is one of the healthiest and most biologically appropriate dietary options for dogs, according to veterinary nutrition experts. Because it is raw, the nutrients haven’t been cooked out and the food is more digestible for your dog.

Darwin’s raw dog food may be more expensive than the average kibble, but it is well worth it. The higher the quality of your dog’s diet, the healthier he will be and that could add up to long-term savings when it comes to expensive vet bills for health problems related to malnutrition.

Feeding your dog the highest quality diet you can afford will support its health and wellness both in the short term and the long term.

Here are some additional benefits of feeding your dog premium dog food:

  • Improved and regulated digestion, less gas and diarrhea
  • Reduced stool volume and odor
  • Healthier coat with less shedding
  • Increased energy levels and vitality
  • Healthy weight loss (when needed for overweight dogs)
  • Improved dental health and oral hygiene
  • Better urinary health, reduced risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs)

The best thing you can do for your dog is feed him the best you can afford on a consistent basis. It may not be a premium raw food like Darwin’s, but you should at least consider it an option.

How Do You Order It?

When it comes to ordering Darwin’s raw food, the process is very easy.

You simply fill out some basic information about your dog and make your product selections. You can complete the entire process online or checkout by phone, if you prefer.

Here’s how you order Darwin’s raw dog food:

  1. Click the “Get Started” button in the center of the Darwin’s home page
  2. Fill in your dog’s name and select his body weight then provide your zip code
  3. Click “Add Another Pet” or “Save & Continue” to proceed
  4. Choose a product line – Natural Selections or BioLogics
  5. Accept the recipe recommendations or make your own selections
  6. Click “Add to Cart” and fill in your delivery and payment information

After you’ve submitted your order, you’ll start receiving automatic shipments of Darwin’s raw food. You can change or cancel your subscription at any time by logging into your account online.

Customer Service

Darwin’s does their best to make the ordering process quick and easy. You can find all the information you need on the website and starting a subscription is as simple as filling in your dog’s name and weight.

If you have trouble at any point during the process, you can talk to a Pet Food Advisor by phone or contact customer service by email.

Tips for Making the Transition

Dogs are notorious for having sensitive stomachs, so you should avoid making any sudden changes to your dog’s diet. Fortunately, Darwin’s includes transition instructions in each package of raw food.

Here are their recommendations:

  • Days 1-2: Feed 25% Darwin’s, 75% old diet
  • Days 4-6: Feed 50% Darwin’s, 50% old diet
  • Days 7-9: Feed 75% Darwin’s, 25% old diet
  • Day 10: Start feeding 100% Darwin’s

If your dog develops digestive upset at any point during the transition period, simply go back to the previous step for another day or two.

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products
Every order comes with a plastic storage container and instructions for handling and serving your dog’s raw food.

Pros and Cons

The quality of your dog’s diet is directly linked to his level of health and wellness. If you want your dog to feel his best, feed him the best. Darwin’s raw dog food is definitely near the top of the list when it comes to quality, simply because it is raw food made with wholesome, natural ingredients.

That being said, every dog food brand has its pros and cons. Here are some of the things you need to know about Darwin’s Natural Pet Products:

Pros for Darwin’s:

  • Specially crafted raw meals for dogs, complete and balanced by nutritional experts.
  • Extremely nutritious alternative to dry kibble, made with 75% real meat and 25% vegetables.
  • Receive feeding recommendations customized to your dog with recurring shipments.
  • Made with fresh, wholesome ingredients in USDA food facilities.

Cons for Darwin’s:

  • Raw meat requires certain food handling procedures for safety.
  • May be more expensive than traditional kibble, especially for larger dogs.
  • Comes with more packaging than many fresh dog foods (but can be returned for reuse).
  • Products aren’t portioned according to dog’s calorie needs.

As a dog owner, it’s your job to make a smart choice for your pet. If you’re looking for a high-quality and nutritious diet, Darwin’s is definitely an option to consider but you still need to think about the pros and cons before making your choice.

Darwin’s Natural Pet Products
Darwin’s raw dog food is made with real meat and wholesome veggies to provide optimal nutrition for your dog.

The Final Word

Overall, we were extremely pleased with Darwin’s and didn’t have any major complaints. We were pleasantly surprised by the price, though we can see how a large dog might cost significantly more than our 30-pound test dog to feed.

One of the things we appreciated most about Darwin’s Natural Pet Products is the amount of information they provide about their products.

Customers can view the ingredients list and an extremely detailed nutritional profile for each recipe which includes the guaranteed analysis and a nutrient analysis – it even includes the carbohydrate content in the guaranteed analysis.

We always like brands that make it easy to find this information.

If you’re considering raw food or you want to make a switch to maximize your pet’s nutrition, we heartily recommend Darwin’s Natural Pet Products.

Not only do they offer a wide variety of recipe choices, but they make the calculations for you, so you know exactly how much to order.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has Darwin’s ever been recalled?

Yes, Darwin’s has five product recalls in its history, all of which have occurred during the last several years (the first in 2017).

Is Darwin’s food grain-free?

Yes, all of Darwin’s raw food products are free from grains.

Is Darwin’s food organic?

Darwin’s offers two standard lines of raw dog food, Natural Selections and BioLogics. The Natural Selections line uses free-range meats and organic vegetables while the BioLogics line uses conventionally raised meats and veggies.

Is Darwin’s food raw?

Yes, all of Darwin’s dog food recipes are raw.

How many calories per cup for Darwin’s food?

The calorie content of Darwin’s raw food ranges from 28 to 44 calories per ounce, depending on the recipe.

Can I cancel my Darwin’s food subscription?

Yes, you can change or cancel your subscription at any time by logging into your account or contacting customer service.

Where can I buy Darwin’s food?

You can only purchase Darwin’s raw food online through the company’s website at this time.

Can you heat up Darwin’s food?

Darwin’s food is intended to be served raw and fresh.

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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