Black Hawk Dog Food

The Black Hawk Dog Food Review: Tested & Evaluated 2024

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | Double B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 7th January 2024

Wondering how to provide the best nutrition for your dog while keeping costs down?

Then maybe Black Hawk dog food is right for you. This affordable brand has a fairly clean ingredient list and comes in large bags so you can save even more when buying in bulk. We know all owners want to give their dogs the best, with their wallet sometimes the only restriction. This brand might provide a budget solution without sacrificing nutritional value.

In today’s Black Hawk dog food review, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the brand so you can decide if you’d like to give it a try. We teamed up with canine nutritionists, veterinarians, and doggy parents alike to come up with this guide that tells you everything you need to know about Black Hawk dog food so you can make the most informed decision for your pup. 

  • Black Hawk has both grain-free and regular dry dog food available at a lower price than other premium brands.
  • The first ingredient in all their recipes is always animal protein.
  • They use animal protein meal instead of whole cuts.

A Timeline of Black Hawk Dog Food

2011

Black Hawk Pet Food was founded by an Australian breeder concerned with the ingredients in dog food. The brand set out to use Australian products and be locally manufactured.

October 31, 2014

Previously Australian-owned Black Hawk is purchased by Kiwi company Master Pet, in turn owned by EBOS Group. EBOS is specialized in medical, pharmaceutical products and animal care, and is the largest distributor of pharmaceutical material in Australasia.

October 25, 2016

Black Hawk launches first marketing campaign urging dog owners to join the “real food movement for dogs”

August 2018

A recall was issued on the Grain Free Salmon dog food after customers reported bloody diarrhoea among their pups. Black Hawk promptly ceased production and distribution of all salmon recipes.

January 16, 2020

Black Hawk Australia issues a voluntary recall for 5 types of puppy and adult dog food recipes due to mould growth. Recalled products have a “best before” date between February 2, 2021 and June 4, 2021. No dog illnesses were reported for this recall.

Current Day




Quick Pick - Our Best Rated Dog Food

Petzyo Dog Food

Our Number 1 Pick
Petzyo Dog Food

  • Ethically sourced Kangaroo, Chicken or Salmon, sweet potato & superfood extras
  • Iron-rich & low fat proteins
  • Three Omega 3 and 6 rich oils with a well balanced 11% fat content
  • Made in Australia

Young border collie eating food

Australia's Black Hawk Dog Food Review

Black Hawk - Overall 3.5 Star Rating

  • Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Ground Oats, Chicken Fat, Beet Pulp, Vegetable Oil, Chicken Flavour, Fish Meal, Egg Powder, Emu Oil, Linseed, Carrots, Blueberries, Peppermint, Rosemary and Vitamin D3. List of contents is not exhaustive, if you have concerns about allergies, contact the manufacturer.
  • Named Protein First: No (but chicken meal is OK).
  • Dog Food Type: Grain Inclusive & Grain Free.
  • Recipe Range: Kangaroo, Sweet Potato & Superfood Extras or Salmon, Ocean Fish & Green Lipped Muscles or Chicken, Turkey & Superfood Extras or Petzyo Raw Food Range.
  • Suitable For: Chicken or Australian Lamb or Tasmanian Salmon or Kangaroo or Ocean Fish + More.
  • Cost: $$$
  • Australian Owned: Yes.


Taste

Ingredients

Protein content

Additives

Variety

Price

Taste 4/5

Most pups absolutely love the taste of Black Hawk dry kibble. In fact, as my dog is one of the many that do, I can honestly claim that my pets scoff down his entire bowl as soon as it hits the floor. Since the main ingredient in all recipes is animal protein, it’s no wonder dogs like the flavour.

Nevertheless, since they have limited protein options available, this brand might not be the best choice for picky eaters. With my dachshund, I’m all too familiar with the polite sniff and, “No, thank you”. If your pup turns their nose up at chicken, fish, or lamb, then you should consider another brand. 

Due to the relatively low variety, compared to other brands available in the Australian market, we’re taking off 1 star.

Ingredients 3/5

In general, our expert panel agrees that Black Hawk dog food ingredients are pretty good, with plenty of nourishing extras to round out your pup’s nutrition. The main ingredient in all their flavours is always an animal protein, and among the first five ingredients, there’s usually an extra animal protein source like chicken fat. Another good sign is that the ingredient list comprises foods you’ve likely seen before.

According to the experts at VCA hospitals,

Select diets with real, recognisable, whole-food ingredients. If the majority of listed ingredients is unfamiliar to you, find another diet - VCA hospitals [5]

Although they use familiar ingredients, keep in mind Black Hawk has changed its recipes in the past without warning. For example, the lamb flavour previously only had lamb, and now it has chicken – this was never clearly advertised on the front of the bag. These changes were accelerated by the purchase of the company by New Zealand’s Masterpet. If your dog can’t eat or is sensitive to certain ingredients, it’s important you check the ingredient list carefully before purchasing a new bag. This is key even if you’ve been feeding them the same brand for a while!

While Black Hawk’s ingredients are healthy enough, our expert team is taking off 2 stars for the impromptu changes to recipes and the fact they don’t use whole animal protein sources, instead choosing a lesser quality meal-type protein.

Protein content 3.5/5

This dog food has a very high protein content, just above 30%. This is in line with official American Association of Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCO) recommendations that prescribe 18% minimum crude protein for adult dogs. Therefore, you can be sure your furry friend has adequate nutrition to stay strong and healthy.

However, keep in mind not all of this comes from animal sources and instead is supplemented with protein-rich veggies. All of Black Hawk’s grain-free flavours have peas within the first five ingredients, sometimes even placing second just below animal protein overall. While peas are healthy, they might account for a good chunk of the protein content.

Surprisingly, some products from their original line show three different animal proteins as the first ingredients [3], followed by rice and oats. Our panel is taking off 1.5 stars because of the high amount of peas in all grain-free flavours.

Additives 4/5

Despite their straightforward flavours, Black Hawk has plenty of extra goodies that make sure your pup gets all the micronutrients they need. Many of their dry kibble flavours contain salmon oil, blueberries, emu oil, dandelion, spinach, yoghurt powder and even peppermint tea!

We especially like the emu oil. According to PetMD, emu oil can help to keep their skin supple and irritation-free [1]. This is something especially important to me as the parent of a dog with sensitive skin. Not many dog food brands add it to their recipes, so Black Hawk stands out for this.

[…] more people are recognising the benefits of emu oil for pets for reducing inflammation or joint pain, moisturising skin & coat, soothing irritated skin, healing flea bites, and relieving allergy symptoms – Jeffers Pet [4]

Even better, this brand stays away from sulphites. These compounds were traditionally used in pet-grade food, but nowadays experts advise against them. In fact, RSPCA Australia states that sulphites cause dangerous vitamin B1 deficiencies and can even result in death.

 With such high risks, you should avoid them at all costs. Luckily, you won’t have to worry about sulphites with Black Hawk since they use naturally occurring tocopherols and rosemary extract to preserve the food.

PRO TIP: Remember to only buy dog food without sulphites, and those that strictly use human-grade proteins.

The only detail we don’t like, and we’re taking a star off because of it, is the listing of "natural antioxidants" as an ingredient, without specifying what those are. It’s important we know everything going into our dog’s system!

Variety 3/5

As our research team soon discovered this brand has two main ranges: original and grain-free. On top of that, they offer a limited range of wet food, although their staple product is traditional dry kibble.

While many of their products are chicken-based, Black Hawk also has recipes based around lamb, salmon, kangaroo, ocean fish and beef. Nevertheless, if your dog has intolerances to these mainstream proteins, Black Hawk might not be the best option since they don’t offer more niche flavours like venison or sardines.

Despite this, the brand is still a good choice when tailoring your dog’s diet to their size. Our expert panel wants to remind you that the nutritional needs of large and small breeds are vastly different, and we like that Black Hawk offers options that cater to those specific needs.

Both their original and grain-free lines have options for small and large breeds, albeit limited. Keep in mind that Black Hawk grain-free only has one flavour available for small and large breeds, the trusty chicken. If your dog doesn’t like chicken or is allergic, you won’t have a grain-free option tailored to their size. On the other hand, their original line only has lamb and rice available for small breeds, while large dogs get chicken and rice. Again, if your dog can’t eat those ingredients, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Finally, this brand also produces a special variety for working dogs, containing a higher protein and fat content than the rest of Black Hawk’s products. However, there is no grain-free option available. It also only comes in one flavour, so your border collie or Australian cattle dog had better enjoy the taste of lamb!

Considering their limited flavours, especially when it comes to specific age, size and working dog options, our panel has decided we're giving Black Hawk 3 stars in this category.

Price 5/5

Black Hawk is one of the more affordable quality dog foods in Australia, which I appreciate as a dog parent with several pups! Their puppy food is a particularly sweet deal when compared with other brands. This brand is also a great choice if you’re looking for an affordable grain-free option for your dog that doesn’t break the bank, which is a reality in my household. Plus, for the price, our experts all agree that it has a superior ingredient list to other dog foods within the same price range.

If you want to save even more, we recommend buying in bulk and through online retailers, as it will be easier to shop around and compare prices. Since this is still an affordable brand, and it’s available in large bags, we’re giving Black Hawk 5 out of 5 in this category.


Black Hawk Puppy Food Review

Labrador Retriever Puppy eating from his bowl

Our Black Hawk dry dog food review wouldn’t be complete without looking at their puppy options. Plus, since Black Hawk was one of our choices in our best puppy food roundup, I think it’s vital that we dive deeper into the brand’s puppy kibble options!

Black Hawk Puppy Flavours

Their original line has three puppy options available: all-breeds, small breed and large breed. The all-breeds puppy food comes in two flavours, lamb rice and chicken rice. In contrast, their size-specific puppy kibble only has one option per breed size: large breed puppies have chicken and rice, while small breed puppies have lamb and rice.

On the other hand, our testing panel was dismayed to see that their grain-free line only has one puppy option, ocean fish for all breeds. This is quite a small selection, especially if your puppy has an extra-sensitive stomach and can’t have lamb, chicken, or fish, or the flavour on offer doesn’t match with their size.

Ingredients and Recipe

Aside from their limited flavour options, I like the composition of their original large-breed puppy recipe. While it does contain rice, it’s also packed with other goodies that fit the needs of large and giant puppies. For example, it has both glucosamine and chondroitin to keep their joints healthy, and it’s also highly calorific to keep up with their fast growth.

All in all, our team of experts agree that Black Hawk puppy food is great if you’re looking for an affordable kibble for your large- or giant-breed puppy.


Black Hawk Dog Food Vs Royal Canin: How Do They Compare?

If you’re wondering if you should buy Black Hawk or Royal Canin dog food, it’s important to understand their similarities (and differences).

The main difference between Black Hawk and Royal Canin lies in their ingredients. While all Black Hawk products have animal protein of some kind as the first ingredient, Royal Canin’s first ingredient is always a carbohydrate, like rice or oats. Our team of canine nutritionists and vets were also quick to point out that Black Hawk always indicates the specific protein source – like chicken meal, or lamb meal – while Royal Canin simply mentions generic animal fats, animal protein or poultry protein.

PRO TIP: Royal Canin doesn’t specify their animal protein sources, and this can be a problem if your dog has allergies to certain proteins.

On the flip side, I appreciate how Royal Canin has an incredibly large flavour and nutrition profile variety. I have been able to find anything from breed-specific foods – for example, for rottweilers or retrievers – to age-specific options. They also have flavours made to keep their teeth healthy, lighter options for overweight dogs, hypoallergenic foods, and everything in between. However, I was disappointed to learn that they don’t have any grain-free options.

Despite the larger variety, Black Hawk’s protein sources are healthier, and they offer grain-free options if you want that for your pup. For this reason, our team of researchers recommend it over Royal Canin.


Do Not Buy If…

While Black Hawk is a good option for many pets, our canine pros point out that you might want to choose another brand in some circumstances. This is not the right choice if you:

  • Would rather feed your dog actual meat instead of protein "meals". Instead of plain protein cuts, Black Hawk’s main protein sources come in meal form. However, the choice between protein meal and pure meats is a bit controversial among pet owners. We want to give the best to our dogs, and that usually involves offering high-quality proteins. According to our team of experts, a good rule of thumb is looking for plain protein as the main ingredient (For instance, chicken, lamb, or kangaroo). Protein meal isn’t necessarily bad. However, you must ensure the fat to protein ratio isn’t off.
  • Want dog food that’s 100% Australian; while still being an Aussie company, as of October 2020 Black Hawk has been owned by Masterpet in New Zealand. While the brand originally stated their recipes wouldn’t change, owners have reported major differences, such as swapping sweet potatoes for tapioca and regular potatoes.
  • Have a diabetic dog; Black Hawk’s dog food recipes list peas, tapiocas, and potatoes within the first 5 ingredients, which means they form the base of the food. However, while healthy, all three of these veggies have a relatively high glycemic index. If your pup is diabetic or needs to control their glucose levels, our experts suggest that you should focus on finding a kibble that uses sweet potatoes or chickpeas as the food base instead.
  • Have a pup with sensitive stomach; in January 2020, Black Hawk voluntarily recalled several products due to mould concerns. While no dogs were reported to be severely ill, several owners complained of mould appearing in brand new packages and some pups suffered from bloody diarrhoea and vomiting. All products concerned displayed a best before date ranging from 2nd February 2021 to 4th June 2021. While only this specific batch was affected, you might want to stay on the safe side if your dog is prone to diarrhoea.

The Verdict

As you can see, Black Hawk is an excellent choice for those with a smaller budget that still want to give high-quality nutrition to their dogs. Of course, our panel of expert vets and nutritionists want to highlight the fact that there are other options on the market with even better ingredients and nutritional profiles, but they come with a hefty price tag.

If you have several dogs, a pup with a big belly to fill, or have a limited food budget, this brand is a great option to keep your dog healthy and nourished.

We hope today’s Black Hawk dry dog food review helps to inform your choice according to your personal needs!

References

  1. Curley, Kendall. May 8, 2018. How to Care for Your Wrinkly Dog. PetMD. Retrieved January 28, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/grooming/2how-care-your-wrinkly-dog
  2. Rao, Shoba. January 16, 2020. Black Hawk issues voluntary recall on pet food in Australia. Daily Telegraph. Retrieved January 28, 2023. https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/home-garden/black-hawk-issues-voluntary-recall-on-pet-food-in-australia/news-story/df0f498642edcab4d3ea09e49f13467f
  3. Black Hawk. Original dog food – lamb and rice. Ingredient list. https://blackhawkpetcare.com/au/dog-food/original-dog-food/dog-food-lamb-and-rice
  4. Jeffers Blog. October 7, 2019. What is Emu Oil? Jeffers Pet. Retrieved January 28, 2023. https://www.jefferspet.com/trending/content/what-emu-oil
  5. VCA Animal Hospitals. Nutrition - General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs. Retrieved January 28, 2023. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/nutrition-general-feeding-guidelines-for-dogs
  6. https://www.nzx.com/companies/EBO/announcements/257073
  7. https://www.masterpet.com.au/our-story/our-history/

Eloisa Thomas


Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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