Naming Names: We’ve Updated Our Approved Dog Food List

This year, we’re not just telling you how we select the best dog foods, we’re identifying some of our top picks.


For years, I’ve told you what attributes to look for (and look out for) when choosing a food for your dogs. This often leads people to ask me what companies or products I like best, or what I feed my dogs. I’ve always declined to answer, because what’s right for my dogs (and time and budget), may not suit you or your dogs at all. But to heck with it: This year, I’m naming names – not the names of what I feed, but what foods and companies I admire the most, and what products I would point you toward if I accompanied you to the pet supply store (see “What’s the Best Dry Dog Food?”). Of course, you have to select what works best for your dogs – just like us, they can’t all eat the same thing and still thrive – but I hope it helps you understand how I use WDJ’s food selection criteria to narrow down the abundant options.

Speaking of the wealth of options: There are more than 1,100 good dog foods represented on our list of “Approved Dry Dog Foods for 2023,” which is available to subscribers only. This is a far cry from the couple-dozen products that met the same selection criteria when WDJ was launched 26 years ago. It’s a great thing to have so many healthy options today, even if it can be overwhelming.

Also in this issue: When I first read trainer Kathy Callahan’s article (“Don’t Bring Your Dog to Every Gathering!”), I immediately thought of something that happened shortly after I graduated from high school. My parents once threw a big country barbecue party. There was an entire pig cooking in a pit in a firepit, a band playing in a tent in the pasture, and hundreds of people all over the property. At the time, I had a Kelpie-mix named Tavi, who had the run of the place thanks to his training and usual good behavior. But late in the afternoon, I heard a bunch of people yelling and the unmistakable sound of a dog fight. I ran straight for the ruckus, where three or four people, including a family friend who was a professional musician, were trying to separate the combatants: Tavi and our next-door neighbor’s dog, who had gotten into our pasture somehow. In the melee, my musician friend got bitten – a redirected snap that punctured the back of his hand. This not only led to a trip to the emergency room, but several return visits to a doctor, because the bite (which got infected) damaged a nerve in my friend’s hand, and left him unable to play the guitar for about a year.

Talk about guilt; I feel terrible about it to this day. Why hadn’t I locked up my dog for the party? The answer is partly that I was young and dumb and confident in my dog’s training – but the real answer is that I had never heard of trigger-stacking. Read Kathy’s article, and avoid my mistake!