The Cobber Dog Food Review: Tested & Evaluated 2023
Cobber is a classic Australian dog food brand that recently got a recipe makeover. But has it improved?
To find out, our expert team cooperated with other authorities and worked together for months to test and study this dog food in order to help you decide if buying this is worth it. In today’s ultimate Cobber dog food review, we’ll unfold the results of our research to analyse the ingredients and check if it’s nourishing enough for your active pup.
Related: The Best Dog Food Australia.
Related: How To Choose The Right Dog Food?
Related: How Is Australia’s Dog Food Industry Regulated?
Related: What is AAFCO? The Association of American Feed Control Officials.
Related: What Is the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA)?
Related: AAFCO vs PFIAA: Dog Food Standards Comparison Australia.
Related: Understanding Guaranteed Analysis Levels in Dog Food.
Related: Real Meat vs Meat Meal.
Quick Pick - Our Best Rated 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
Australia's Cobber Dog Food Review
Cobber - 1.5 Star Rating
- Ingredients: Working dog recipe: Meat and Meat By-Products (Chicken, Beef, Lamb and/or Pork), Legumes, Wholegrain Barley, Tallow, Wholegrain Wheat, Functional Fibres (Beet Pulp, Yucca and Chicory Root), Vitamins and Minerals, Original Diamond V XPC®, Antioxidant.
- Named Protein First: Yes (but barely…?)
- Dog Food Type: Kibble
- Recipe Range: Active dog, active senior, puppy.
- Suitable For: All ages.
- Cost: $
- Australian Owned: Yes.
Cobber Dog Food Review
Made by Australian company Ridley, Cobber dog food is marketed towards rural farmers. Their promo materials even say it’s “dog feed” instead of dog food. Cobber also holds seasonal promo events where working dogs compete (the “Cobber challenge”), which makes their food even more popular among Australian farmers.
After some critics regarding their food’s composition, Cobber had somewhat of an overhaul. Their packaging states they have “new and improved” recipes, with “more protein and fat”. Our experts will examine whether these improvements work!
Working dogs are hungry dogs, so it’s usual for pups to clean their bowls… regardless of its content. Cobber dog food is a brand mostly geared toward farmers, who don’t usually spend time writing reviews and comments online. As such, there is pretty much no information on whether picky eaters like this food or how popular it is among actual working dogs.
Unlike Petzyo, which is well-reviewed by its users from anywhere in Australia, you cannot observe and gather information about the taste of this brand's dog food to say that your dog will love this or to make sure that it lives up to its packaging. What you can do is buy their product and test it, which is what we have done to personally bring you this honest review.
What we can say is that this brand doesn’t disclose the compounds used for flavouring. As we’ve mentioned before, dog food in general and kibble, in particular, is full of palatants to add flavour. These can be natural or artificial. While most high-quality dog foods state they stay away from artificial flavours (which is a step in the right direction), this brand says nothing. This probably means they use whatever palatants they need to make the food taste better, regardless of the source.
We’re not opposed to palatants. They can be great to deal with picky eaters! The problem is that some common palatants used in dog food have been linked to chronic disease and a shortened lifespan. This is the case of MSG, which if consumed frequently has been shown to cause symptoms like headaches, nausea and heart palpitations in humans. MSG is also linked to faulty neurological responses to leptin, the hormone that signals you are full. According to studies cited by Veterinarian nutritionist Dr. Veneta Kozhuharova, MSG consumption in dogs can lead to seizures . A study by a Japanese research team found that MSG was directly linked to chronic liver inflammation, obesity and type 2 diabetes .
Suffice it to say, it’s better when brands disclose their flavourings and palatants.
Our dogs like the taste of this dog food, but since we do not know where their flavour is coming from, we do not recommend giving this, especially for those dogs who have sensitivities to artificial flavourings, to avoid possible health issues.
In Cobber’s case, we’re taking off two points because they don’t mention whether they chose to avoid artificial flavourings.
Here at Gentle Dog Trainers, we’re usually happy about shorter ingredient lists. If it’s good dog food, a shorter or medium-sized ingredient list usually doesn’t have a bunch of unknown additives. However, low-quality dog food often goes strongly in the other direction. Very short list, with very general ingredients, this is the case with Cobber dog food.
Meat and meat by-products (chicken, beef, lamb and/or pork) is the first ingredient listed, followed by legumes, wholegrain barley, tallow and wholegrain wheat. So, while technically the first ingredient is “meat”, it is actually just an unknown mix of rendered by-products.
For starters, we don’t love meat and meat by-products in our dog’s food. The problem with meat by-products is that there is no legal obligation to verify the contents belong to “chicken, beef, lamb and/or pork). There is no way of knowing the actual source of the meat. This category can also include road kill, poultry dead on arrival, and even dying livestock .
Unlike Eureka, which specifies the 90% meat content of their dog food, their meat sources are questionable, and we do not know what our dogs are getting when we give this dog food to them, so we do not recommend this to anyone.
On the other hand, out of the first 5 ingredients, 2 are cereals. In dog food, the first 2 to 5 ingredients make up the bulk of the food and are present in roughly the same proportions. So, manufacturers can rearrange those top ingredients as they please to make the food look better.
In Cobber dog food, if 2 out of 5 are cereals it means 40% of the food (at least) is cereal. If you add to that the legumes (peas, chickpeas, beans), it means around 60% of the food is carb-based, while the meat is still 20%. This makes the manufacturing process cheaper (since cereals are affordable compared to actual meat) but also lowers the overall quality of the food.
The relatively low meat percentage is common in dog food: kibble recipes need lots of starch to bind the product and bake it. However, we think a working dog needs a diet that is richer in proteins and fats, instead of prioritising starch.
Now, Copper dog food has been “reformulated”. According to the typical analysis (we’d rather see a guaranteed analysis), the recipe features 26% crude protein, 18% crude fat and a max of 4% crude fibre. We don’t love this composition.
The protein content is rather low for an active dog, particularly considering other options in the market that offer active dog formulas with 34% protein. Fat content should also be higher, and more diverse if possible . Calorie-wise, this food is definitely on the low end: 360 calories per cup, while other active dog foods in Australia pack up to 440 calories per cup.
We personally do not think that the ingredients we are getting are worth it. There are other brands in the Australian market that offers plenty of ingredients, and they are safer, too, because they have a detailed list of their ingredients to make sure that dog owners are aware if it is safe for dogs that have allergies or food sensitivities.
Overall, we don’t love the use of a meat by-product as the main protein, nor the high amount of starchy carbs. We’re giving this brand 2 out of 5 in this category.
Protein content 1/5
Protein-wise, this food is a bust. We weren’t surprised.
We already covered the reasons why we don’t love foods that have “meat and meat by-products” as main ingredients. But one last important note about this is that the use of this particular product signals the brand is prioritising cheap ingredients over quality ones. Of course, how else can they sell this amount of food for so little money?
The sole presence of meat by-products doesn’t define a dog food as good or bad but it does point out that it’s made with cheaper ingredients. And as we mentioned above, the choice of low price over quality spans all the components of this kibble.
On the other hand, it’s important to note that roughly 20% are legumes. This food type is relatively rich in proteins (up to 20% of the dried weight), although vegetable proteins are more difficult to absorb than animal ones. With this legume percentage, it’s safe to say a good chunk of the 26% protein on the typical analysis comes from legumes.
This means that not only is this food relatively low in protein for an active dog, but a good portion of that protein lacks essential amino acids and is more difficult to digest. Overall, a working dog won’t be getting the nutrition they need from this brand: it simply needs more fat and animal protein from quality sources.
When compared to Ziwi Peak, which does not contain any legumes but uses high-quality beef as its main ingredient for protein, this brand cannot provide enough protein for our dogs, and the nutrition they are getting from its other ingredients is also not good enough.
Considering all of this, we don't think that the protein content and source of this dog food are worth our pennies. You can find other brands with better protein ingredients that can satisfy your dog's needs.
We’re taking off 4 stars in this category.
For a dog food with such a short ingredient list, Cobber has plenty of additives. Besides the bulk ingredients, this food features:
We'll examine each ingredient on its own.
The so-called “functional fibres” are just a fancy way of naming regular inclusions in dog food. Beet pulp, yucca pulp and chicory root all add extra fibre, which prevents constipation and also creates more compact stools. Critics of these extras argue these ingredients are just cheap filler with almost zero nutritional value .
Vitamins and minerals as a single ingredient likely mean the manufacturer used a premix sourced from who knows where. Nevertheless, we appreciate that on the website there is a full table with the specific compounds and amounts per kilo of food. Nice to see!
Compared to Petzyo, where you can see what specific vitamins and minerals are included in the ingredients of each pack, dog owners will have to visit the brand's website in order to know what this dog food offers.
Next, there’s their proprietary “Original Diamond V XPC” compound. According to the manufacturer, this ingredient optimises your dog’s ability to digest their food and absorb nutrients. This is the ferment of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), used in many applications from beer- to wine-making, baking, and as an extra in animal feed. It’s just a fancy name for nutritional yeast, which can prevent gastrointestinal conditions like diarrhoea and can boost immunity. All in all, a nice addition.
Finally, there are “antioxidants”. This is our biggest issue in the additive category. Nowhere, on the packaging or website, does it says that the antioxidants or preservatives used come from natural sources. It also doesn’t mention what specific antioxidants are in the food. Although legal in the US and Australia, many food antioxidants have been strongly linked to tumours and cancer. Some common food antioxidants are even classified in Europe as a hormone disruptor .
While deemed as “safe” in “moderate quantities”, the problem is that dogs are fed the same food for years. This means most dogs are constantly ingesting antioxidants. This cumulative exposure increases the chances of negative consequences.
The Australian pet food industry is largely unregulated, so harmful antioxidants continue to be used without being disclosed. If a brand doesn’t specifically state they avoid artificial preservatives, or at least BHA/BHT (strongly linked to cancer), it cannot be considered safe.
With this consideration, we do not like how this brand does not indicate such additives, which can harm our dogs in the long run. If you can afford other dog foods which you can be sure are not using those mentioned additives, we recommend buying them instead of this one.
Looking at the recipe and the packaging, it’s very likely avoiding BHA and BHT is the least of the manufacturer’s concerns. Due to the important long-term damage, these antioxidants can cause, we’re taking off 4 stars in this category.
There’s not enough variety in these recipes, although are we really interested even if they had more variations?
As of the writing of this article, Cobber has 4 recipes: puppy, senior, active and working dog. The difference between active and working dogs is non-existent, so there’s that. The senior recipe we wouldn’t recommend on our worst enemy: it’s even lower on protein and fat than the original.
Compared to Petzyo, which has wide varieties but quality ingredients, this one does not offer that much, so there is not much options here to start with.
The puppy food is fairly low in fat (15%) for a very active pup, and only marginally higher in calories. There are way better options out there.
We are certainly not surprised by this, but it's worth noting that other than its low price, this brand does not have many advantages over other healthier dog foods.
We’re giving this brand 2 out of 5 in this category.
It’s likely the only good feature of this dog food, but at what cost? This food is ridiculously cheap, and you can buy a 20-kg bag for the price of a 7-kg bag from any mid-range brand.
Despite the savings, it isn’t worth it. You’ll be spending way more on vet bills once your working dog can’t work after a few short years.
Petzyo is not as cheap as this brand, but every penny is worth spending if you are getting the best dog food in Australia.
With the same price, we think it is better if you make your own dog's meal instead of wasting it on something that is potentially harmful to your dog's health.
We’re giving Cobber 3 out of 5 in this category.
Do Not Buy If…
We’re not big lovers of these recipes, so we’d recommend to staying away if you:
We love supporting Aussie businesses, but our dog’s health comes above all else. Regardless of the price, this isn’t a good dog food. We wouldn’t buy this, gift this, or recommend this to anyone. You’re better off making dog food yourself at home and it would be better than this. Stay away!
Want to read more dog food brand reviews? Check out the below:
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- Dog Food Advisor. The truth about animal by-products in dog food. https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/animal-by-products/
- Dogs Naturally Magazine. The Dangers of MSG for dogs. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/msg-dog-food-can-cause-brain-damage/
- Banerjee et al. Worldwide flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate combined with high lipid diet provokes metabolic alterations and systemic anomalies: An overview. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214750021000858
- PetCareRx. What to Look for in Active or Working Dog Food. https://www.petcarerx.com/article/what-to-look-for-in-active-or-working-dog-food/641
- All about dog food. Sugar beet in dog food. https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/dog-food-ingredients/0034/sugar-beet
- Doog Food Advisor. BHA — Does Your Dog’s Food Contain This Cancer-Causing Ingredient? https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/red-flag-ingredients/bha-in-dog-food/