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Royal Canin vs. Hill’s Science Diet: Dog Food Comparison

Comparing Science Diet versus Royal Canin to see which brand is best for your pup? Take a look at our favorite picks by brand as we compare price, quality & more.

Emma Braby

Last Updated: June 15, 2020 | 9 min read

Royal Canin vs Science Diet

Every aspect of your pooch’s physical and mental wellbeing can be affected positively or negatively by a good or poor diet, so it is fair to say that getting his nutrition right is possibly the single biggest responsibility that you have as a pet owner. The nutrients your pup eats from day dot can affect his health, character and his whole life. In this article, we compare two dog food giants in Royal Canin vs. Hill’s Science Diet.

There are literally hundreds of different dog foods on the market, but Royal Canin and Science Diet make some of the best.  In this guide, we will compare these contenders in several different categories and give you everything you need to know about why they could be the answer you are looking for, and which one might be better for you and your pooch.

After reading this side by side comparison guide, you’ll have a clear understanding of each brand and their history, what their strengths and weaknesses are, the nutritional values and common ingredients that they use, pricing and much more. Our goal is to provide you with as much information as you need to figure out which brand is best for your pup. Let’s get straight into it!

Foods Comparison: Royal Canin vs. Science Diet

Royal Canin Small Breed Food
Our Rating

Small Breed Pick

Royal Canin Small Breed

View at Chewy.com
Science Diet Medium Breed Adult
Our Rating

Medium Breed Pick

Science Diet Adult

View at Chewy.com
Science Diet Large Breed
Our Rating

Large Breed Pick

Science Diet Large Breed

View at Chewy.com

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to Chewy.com, where you can get additional product information and customer reviews. If you make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Comparing Brand Histories

Comparing Royal Canin vs Science Diet
Getting to know about the brands history will help you compare both Royal Canin and Hill’s Science Diet.

Before we can give each one of these foods a fair shake, we need to look at the background of each brand and what their histories can tell us about their manufacturing processes.  Anytime you are thinking of making a long term change for your dog’s diet, it’s important to get a deeper look into what you will be putting into your pup’s body.

The good news is that both Royal Canin and Science Diet are both top tier brands, and have well respected histories.  They have similar manufacturing processes, and their food is highly regarded by pet parents of just about every breed.  Royal Canin is known for creating breed-specific foods (like the Yorkie, the boxer, or the Shih Tzu) with a high success rate, and Science Diet is also known for producing high quality kibbles for many different sizes of dogs, from small to medium, large and even food for giant breeds like the Dane.

Royal Canin History

Royal Canin was founded by Veterinarian Jean Cathary in 1968 in France, as he saw that many skin problems in dogs were caused by poor diet. He first created his first recipe, appetizingly called yellow soup, which allowed him to monitor how this affected the condition. After documenting its success, he went on to create his first cereal based dry food that has been the basis for most dry foods for the past 50 years and more.

In 1972 Royal Canin was bought by the Guyomarc’h Group, who had already established nutritional expertise in specialized canine diets, and with their resources they expanded the range and sold their products across Europe. In 1980, they released the first-ever puppy recipe for large breeds, and for over a decade it was the reference food for developing nutrition for dogs and cats. Exports increased to the USA in 1985, and shortly after the Paribas Group purchased the Guyomarc’h Group who then expanded the brand worldwide.

Their philosophy is unchanged and ingrained the world over, which is ‘to make a better world for pets’.  Royal Canin continues to cement their place as the world’s leading authority on pet nutrition by winning awards for their pet encyclopedias, creating obesity clinics for animals and continuing to produce world-class food.

Science Diet History

A traveling promoter for guide dogs for the blind, known as Morris Frank, was the catalyst that started Hill’s Science Diet range. His guide dog, Buddy, was suffering from kidney failure so he enlisted the help of a Veterinarian by the name of Dr Mark Morris with the hope of improving his health and prolong his life. Dr Morris had already researched the impact of poor diet on dogs and believed this to be the root cause of Buddy’s kidney problems, and so he designed specific food for Buddy.

It quickly became apparent that he was right and many other dog owners purchased and used the food as a health supplement to ease, and sometimes cure, certain health conditions. In the late 1940’s, demand for his food increased so much that Dr Morris partnered with the Hill packaging company to produce and package his foods. Overtime Dr Morris’ son turned this into what is now known as Hill’s Science Diet, and it now includes over 50 different pet foods for every life stage and special needs in pets.

The company is now owned by the Colgate-Palmolive group and is available in 86 countries worldwide, with more Veterinarians worldwide using it for their own pets than any other brand. Hills are to this day world renowned for producing the highest quality pet nutrition available.

Nutritional Value Comparison

We all know that our pooches can have sensitive tummies when it comes to food, and their allergies and bowel trouble can flare up if we don’t pay attention to what their bodies will tolerate, or not as the case maybe. Understanding their essential needs their and daily dietary requirements should be the basis for what we feed them and how we find that food.

Food will both nourish and sustain a dog’s body and mind, and in order to do so it needs to contain the building blocks their body needs such as protein, fat, fiber and calorie content. In order to compare each brands nutritional value we have looked at their popular size-generic kibble, and the table below compares the average nutritional components.

 
Royal Canin Small Breed
Science Diet Small Breed
Royal Canin Medium Breed
Science Diet Medium Breed
Royal Canin Large Breed
Science Diet Large Breed
Protein
27%
23.8%
25%
23.8%
27%
24.3%
Fats
16%
16.7%
14%
16.7%
17%
16.4%
Fiber
1.3%
1.7%
1.2%
1.7%
1.3%
1.7%
Kcal/Cup
360
370
350
370
361
363

All brand packaging will have the regulated and required information about the contents of their food as set by the Association of American Food Control Officials (AAFCO), with the three major components being protein, fat and fiber.

Whilst this information it is important for you to make a sound nutritional choice for your pooch, you need to know exactly what they are and what they mean for your pooch. So, here’s a recap as to what benefits your pooch takes from these components, and which brand comes out on top.

Protein Content

Just like humans, dogs do not create enough amino acid to provide the body with the building blocks it needs to grow and repair itself, as such their dietary intake of this protein is very  important in order to create energy, regenerate damaged cells, build strong muscles and keep hair, skin, and ligaments in tip top condition. It also provides usable energy that will keep your pooch sustained throughout the day, and they won’t cause your pooch to become obese unlike too many carbohydrates.

From the table above we can see that Royal Canin comes out on top in all size categories for protein content, with an average of 3% more protein per product. The required amount of protein for each breed and size differs, so be sure to ask your local Veterinarian or consult an online Veterinarian’s guide as to what your dog’s needs are.

Fat Content

Fat is another essential compound for dogs as it delivers energy and fat-soluble vitamins as well promoting good blood pressure and a healthy and strong body. Dependent on your pooch’s weight and energy levels his fat intake will change but be sure to monitor it so that he does not become overweight which will put unnecessary stress on his joints and organs.

We can see in the table that the difference between the two brands appears to negligible in the side by side comparison, but there is a truth here that needs to be addressed. Science Diet has a higher fat to protein ratio, only a small one but it should be noted. The higher the fat to protein ratio dog food has, the more chance there is of your pooch absorbing the calories rather than nutrients, which could lead to them gaining weight quicker and becoming unhealthy due to a lack of nutrients.

Fiber Content

Higher fiber content can assist to satiate a dog’s appetite keeping them feeling fuller for longer as it is an easier way to bulk out food without adding calories. Fiber is also an aid to digestion and keeps your dog’s bowel movements regular and healthy. Fiber in the gut assists with the breakdown of food and allows the body to absorb more of the nutrients and vitamins. When it comes to the fiber content, it is clear to see that Science Diet has almost 0.5% more fiber than Royal Canin across all three size products.

Flavor Choice Comparison

As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, and this holds true diet. Not all dogs like the taste of Chicken, and some dogs even have Chicken allergies, so it is important that brands offer their clients variety and both Royal Canin and Science Diet offer different flavors and recipes.

While Science Diet offers a choice of either Chicken or Lamb flavored kibble with brown rice and barley, Royal Canin only offers one flavor. However, both do offer a gravy pouch with meat chunks with the same nutrient balance per dog size. So, should you wish to give your pup a treat you can mix the two to make it more appealing, or just add a little water to the kibble to create a gravy-like texture to it.

If you need to transition your pooch from one flavor to another for whatever reason, be sure to do it slowly as advised on the package, because despite being from the same product family the ingredients can still be different enough to upset his tummy.

Cost Comparison

Cost is an important factor to consider when choosing a kibble for your pooch. Whilst you certainly pay for what you get, you do not have to spend hundreds on a bag of kibble or buy the most expensive one. Decide on your budget and dependent on what nutritional needs your pooch has, choose between kibbles that fall into your budget.

So, to make things simple for you we have compared the cost of the Royal Canin and Science Diet products above by both weight and calorie content in a like for like comparison. This way it is a simple calculation of value for money, in that the more food you get per dollar the better value it will be in the long run.

 
Royal Canin Small Breed
Science Diet Small Breed
Royal Canin Medium Breed
Science Diet Medium Breed
Royal Canin Large Breed
Science Diet Large Breed
Bag Size (Lbs.)
14 Lb.
33 Lb.
30 Lb.
33 Lb.
35 Lb.
33 Lb.
Average Cost/Lb.
$2.63
$1.75
#1.79
$1.75
$1.67
$1.58
Average Cost/Kcal
.14
.094
.102
.094
.092
.087

Overall, Science Diet appears to be cheaper across all three size-specific products. Not only are you getting more food for your dollar, you have more change in your pocket for other treats and toys for him. So, Science Diet takes the value for money crown.

Frequently Asked Questions

Although most questions have been covered about how these branded products stack up and compare, there are some other wider issues that can create further questions. So, just in case you are wondering, here are some of the most commonly asked nutrition questions:

Q: Is the protein in these products from meat?
A: Like most brands both Royal Canin and Science Diet list Chicken, Lamb and Turkey as protein sources, however, when you delve into the ingredient list you see that the meat within contains a moderate amount of meat meal and meat by-product meal i.e. Chicken meal and Chicken by-product meal.

Meat ‘meal’ is a concentrated form of meat that is higher in protein than fresh meat, because it contains bones, cartilage and organs which are high in nutrients and glucosamine. By-product meals contain undisclosed ingredients, such as beaks, claws, eggs, etc., and as such aren’t necessarily meat and aren’t nutritionally great. Unfortunately, both Royal Canin and Science Diet use by-product meals in some of their recipes.

Q: Are these brands grain free?
A: The short answer is no. Most of Royal Canin’s and Science Diet’s recipes do contain grain-based products to boost protein and fiber, much like a lot of other dog foods. Both brands do offer specific grain free products for dogs that have intolerances. The wider question regarding the health benefits and detriments of grain in a dog’s diet are still under scrutiny.

Q: Which brand is better value?
A: Both brands are considered average dog food producers in terms of ingredient quality by several aggregator websites. However, both have a good track record of providing a well-balanced healthy diet for dogs that ease ailments and promote healthier pooches. Pound for pound Hill’s Science Diet is the cheaper of the two, which often means it is better value.

Q: How do I know which product I should buy for my pup?
A: Both brands are heavily endorsed and recommended by Veterinarians as a healthy balanced diet product for dogs that is value for money. Both brands developed their range in consultation with Veterinary professionals, but because your pup’s nutritional needs are unique your own Veterinarian is best placed to assess your pup’s needs and recommend the best food from the range.

Pros and Cons

BrandProsCons
Royal CaninProven HistoryHigher Average Price
Ease of DigestionLimited Flavors
Grain Free RecipesUses Some By-Products
Science DietProven HistoryLower Protein Levels
ValueUses Some By-Products
Grain Free RecipesProtein Boosted With Non-Meat Ingredients

Final Thoughts

While comparing Royal Canin vs. Science Diet, you’ve seen that they have incredibly similar backstories, and both pride themselves on their drive to produce balanced and healthy pet food that is specifically tailored to size, breed, illness or all the above. Their popularity and success prove that a lot of what they produce does what it is supposed to and helps dogs that may suffer from digestive intolerances or other health issues.

While there are other brands out there with more exotic food ingredients, these brands produce quality food at a reasonable price based on the research and development that goes into them. So much so, that it is incredibly hard to separate them in terms of which brand is better and therefore this versus article is declared a draw. It really is dependent on your dog and his unique dietary requirements and preferences.

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