There is an abundance of mythology and folk lore surrounding what constitutes a good dog food. Modern marketing strategies take advantage of this by leveraging our biases, and ignorance. Most likely, just as you have done, I have looked over all dog food comparison websites in search of the most stars or dog bones a particular website will honor a kibble with. About eight years ago I found The Dog Food Project when I was living in Spain and this is where I learned most websites use flawed grading systems to honor kibble with stars or dog bones as they see fit. In short, effective marketing equals popularity. Popularity drives demand and demand drives price. Meaning popular doesn't mean better or more cost effective. So how do you avoid buying the Ol' Roy and Beneful's of the dog food world, which are considered by most experts to the worst dog food ever produced? Just as important, how to avoid the Gold Plated and Hyper-priced dog foods, like ZiwiPeak and K9 Natural that really aren't worth the extra money - in our case feeding those diets would cost us over $3,000 per month to feed our brood! We spend about $40 p/month to feed our five Drents.
Selecting a good dog food really comes down to a few things, and it requires some time and energy on your part. So here is what The Dog Food Project has taught me:
1) Understand the Label
2) Know what to Avoid
3) Recognize the good stuff
Now you know, not all of the "bad" ingredients aren't as bad as we have been "taught" and not all the "good" ingredients aren't as good as we have been "taught". You have the basics down, it is time to read some labels and make some choices. Has your dog shown sensitivity to an ingredient? Can you be sure it was actually the ingredient you think it was? The FDA recently published an article which strongly suggests grain-free diets are not what they are cracked to be are linked to certain health problems! What is your budget? How many dogs do you need to feed? What is their activity level? and so on. You will learn there are a number of very affordable high-quality kibbles hiding in plain sight.
and no, we aren't sponsored by Kirkland...I wish though...
I'm just a guy suffering with an infatuation with gundogs since childhood. Forty some odd years later this is what you get.