As a dog owner, you want to provide your pet with the best food you possibly can. You want a food that is delicious, nutritious, packed with high-quality ingredients, and, to the extent possible, affordable.
Fortunately, there are a few different manufacturers that make exactly these types of foods. But while it is nice to know that there are several great options available, it can be difficult to decide which one is best suited for your dog.
We’ll try to help you do exactly that below, as we compare two of the very popular dog food brands in the business – Taste of the Wild vs Blue Buffalo. Both brands are unquestionably among the highest rated, but they do differ in a few key ways. We’ll try to help you understand the important differences between the two, so you can make the best choice for your pet.
We’ll start with a few quick recommendations and compare the two most popular recipes for each brand, and then will move on to a more in-depth analysis.
Note: We will be restricting our analysis to the dry foods produced by these two manufacturers at this time, as the majority of owners feed their pets kibble-based foods. We’ll examine the canned options produced by each of these brands at a later date.
In case you are standing in the pet store aisle trying to make a decision, or your mouse is hovering over the “Buy Now” button, we’ll try to help you out by providing a few quick recommendations.
Both of these brands produce very high-quality dog foods.
As long as you select a recipe that is appropriate for your pet, you and your dog will likely be happy with your choice. Nevertheless, the following owners and dogs will be best served by making the following choices:
|If you want:||Then you should choose:|
|The most affordable option||Taste of the Wild|
|A grain-free food||Both brands offer grain-free options|
|A food with plenty of fruits and vegetables||BLUE Buffalo|
|A weight-management food||BLUE Buffalo|
|Premium proteins||Taste of the Wild|
|Several protein sources||Taste of the Wild|
|A senior recipe||BLUE Buffalo|
|A large-breed dog recipe||BLUE Buffalo|
|A small-breed dog recipe||BLUE Buffalo|
|A food for dogs with food allergies||Taste of the Wild|
|A GMO-free food||Taste of the Wild (PREY formulas)|
We’re primarily interested in comparing the entire product lines of Taste of the Wild and BLUE Buffalo, but it is also helpful to compare two representative recipes directly. We’ll look at one of the most popular recipes from each brand below.
|Taste of the Wild High Prairie Adult Venison & Bison Recipe||BLUE Buffalo Life Protection Adult Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe|
|First 5 Ingredients||Buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas||Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, oatmeal|
|Calcium||No information provided||1.0%|
|Phosphorus||No information provided||0.7%|
|Zinc||150 mg/kg||No information provided|
|Selenium||0.35 mg/kg||No information provided|
|Vitamin E||150 IU/kg||No information provided|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||2.8%||2.25%|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||0.3%||0.75%|
|Glucosamine||No information provided||700 mg/kg|
|Chondroitin sulfate||No information provided||500 mg/kg|
|Total Microorganisms (Probiotics)||80,000,000 CFU/lb.||No information provided|
|Calorie count||370 Calories/cup||377 Calories/cup|
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Adult Venison & Bison Recipe Ingredients: Buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas, potatoes, canola oil, egg product, roasted bison, roasted venison, beef, natural flavor, tomato pomace, potato protein, pea protein, ocean fish meal, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, Yucca schidigera extract, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid.
BLUE Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken and Brown Rice Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Tomato Pomace, Peas, Flaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Potatoes, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Potato Starch, Dried Chicory Root, DL-Methionine, Caramel Color, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Garlic, Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Yucca schidigera Extract, L-Lysine, Parsley, Dried Kelp, Blueberries, Cranberries, Apples, Spinach, Blackberries, Pomegranate, Pumpkin, Barley Grass, Turmeric, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Copper Sulfate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Nicotinic Acid (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Taurine, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Manganese Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, L-Carnitine, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Beta Carotene, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
Despite being one of the fastest-growing dog food brands in the world, Taste of the Wild only came into existence in 2007. Although the company is owned by the family-run Schell and Kampeter, Inc., their foods are manufactured in the USA by Diamond Pet Foods Inc.
Taste of the Wild foods are designed to mimic the ancestral diet of dogs (which essentially means they resemble the diet of wolves). Taste of the Wild accomplishes this by incorporating premium meats, nutritious carbohydrates and an assortment of fruits and vegetables into each one of their recipes. They also leave out things like artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, as well as corn, wheat and other grains.
Taste of the Wild has had a very good history of producing safe and healthy foods, but Diamond Pet Foods Inc. (the company who manufacturers the brand’s foods) was involved in a very broad recall that took place in 2012.
This recall involved a very large number of brands that are manufactured by Diamond Pet Foods, Inc., and it was initiated in response to concerns about Salmonella contamination. The recall affected all varieties of Taste of the Wild made in a particular plant, over a 4-month period.
Unfortunately, many dogs were sickened by the affected foods. A class action lawsuit was settled in 2014, which entitled owners of dogs sickened by the foods to monetary compensation.
Taste of the Wild produces three different basic formulas, including their standard recipes for both adults and puppies, as well as their PREY Formula, which includes a few limited-ingredient diets. In total, Taste of the Wild currently offers 12 different recipes. These include:
There are a number of things to like about Taste of the Wild Foods – that’s part of the reason they’re so highly rated by customers and popular among pet owners. Some of the most noteworthy benefits and selling points provided by the brand include:
Every batch of BLUE Buffalo produces seeks to embrace a simple principle: “Love them like family, feed them like family.” Created in 2002 by Bill Bishop and his sons, the company was named for the family’s Airedale terrier, who fell ill at 7 years of age when he developed cancer.
The company was created, in part, to help improve the quality of food available to dog owners. Accordingly, each recipe in the company’s lineup is made with only the finest ingredient available, including whole meats and any of several different high-quality carbohydrates. Additionally, each recipe features BLUE Buffalo’s patented LifeSource Bits, which contain a proprietary blend of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
BLUE Buffalo was bought by General Mills in February of 2018.
BLUE Buffalo has enacted a few recalls since 2009.
In 2010, BLUE Buffalo initiated a voluntary recall of several products that were found to contain excessive levels of Vitamin D. Sixteen different dogs suffered minor symptoms after eating the affected foods, but they all recovered after switching diets. The foods affected by the recall included several specific production runs of Wilderness Chicken-Dog, Basics Salmon-Dog and Large Breed Adult Dog products.
Additionally, BLUE Buffalo has recalled a few of their treats too. This includes one batch of their Cub Size Wilderness Wild Chews Bones, which were recalled in November of 2015 due to Salmonella concerns. No dogs are thought to have become ill due to these products, and the recall was initiated voluntarily by BLUE Buffalo in response to troubling findings obtained during routine product testing.
The only recent recall that involved any of the kibble-based formulas discussed here occurred in May of 2016. In this case, the problem was moisture and mold and the affected food was a small batch of BLUE Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula Dog Food Fish and Sweet Potato Recipe. This was a very limited recall, which only affected foods manufactured during a two-hour window. We couldn’t find any reports of dogs falling ill due to the affected foods.
In February of 2017, BLUE Buffalo initiated another recall. This time it involved a few production runs of BLUE Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight. The problem, in this case, was reported to be possible aluminum metal contamination. No dogs are thought to have been harmed by these products.
In March of 2017, BLUE Buffalo initiated a voluntary recall of 17 different varieties of their BLUE Divine Delights and BLUE Wilderness Trail Trays. BLUE Buffalo indicated that the recall was in response to quality-control issues with the foil seals on these food containers. No dogs are thought to have fallen ill due to the problem.
Around the same time (March of 2017), BLUE Buffalo also initiated a recall of one production lot of their BLUE Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner Wet Food for Adult Dogs. This recall resulted from the possibility that these foods had excessive levels of naturally occurring beef thyroid hormone. One dog was reported to have fallen mildly ill after eating the contaminated food, before recovering completely.
BLUE Buffalo produces six different formulas, including Life Protection Formula, BLUE Formula, BLUE Freedom Formula, BLUE Basics Formula, BLUE Wilderness Formula and BLUE Natural Veterinary Diets. The majority of their recipes are part of the Life Protection or BLUE Wilderness Formulas, and they produce 83 different recipes in total.
But while you should certainly compare the different products against each other to arrive at the best choice for your pet, they are all extremely well formulated and any of them should satisfy your dog and keep him healthy.
BLUE Buffalo’s product line contains a high number of individual recipes, so it is difficult to make broad generalizations about many of the characteristics of these foods. However, this variety is a selling point in itself, as it gives owners who like the brand more options from which they can choose.
And at the end of the day, all of BLUE Buffalo’s recipes are well-conceived, nutritious and delicious, despite minor differences between the individual products. Some of the most common selling points and benefits provided by the food include:
We’re going to go ahead and say that both Taste of the Wild and BLUE Buffalo are fantastic foods, which will suit most dogs quite well. So, we’ll compare a few key characteristics and features of the two below, but just keep in mind that you’ll essentially be choosing between two of the best options available.
Dogs require a nutritious protein source to remain healthy, and you should typically look for a whole protein (rather than a meat meal or byproduct) at the beginning of any dog food’s ingredient list. In fact, this should be one of your first criteria when selecting a food.
Fortunately, both Taste of the Wild and BLUE Buffalo satisfy this need and include a whole protein at the top of their ingredient lists. However, there are clear differences between the two brands, and we’d give the edge to Taste of the Wild.
Every one of Taste of the Wild’s kibble-based recipes features a whole meat at the top of the list. However, many of their recipes take things a step further, by incorporating super-premium meats like roasted venison, smoked salmon or roasted lamb.
Most BLUE Buffalo recipes are built around a relatively work-a-day protein like chicken, but several of the foods in their BLUE Wilderness line incorporate similar, high-end proteins, such as trout, quail or rabbit.
Winner: Taste of the Wild
The inclusion of several different protein sources helps to ensure your dog gets all of the amino acids he needs to remain healthy. Both brands satisfy this criterion, but once again, Taste of the Wild is clearly the superior product.
For example, their High Prairie Canine Recipe with Roasted Bison and Roasted Venison – one of Taste of the Wild’s most popular recipes – contains seven different proteins, including buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, roasted bison, roasted venison, beef and fish meal.
Once again, BLUE Buffalo’s BLUE Wilderness line comes closest to matching Taste of the Wild, and some of the recipes in this line provide a collection of high-end protein sources that is probably just as nutritious. But because most Taste of the Wild recipes provide an array of great proteins, while only a handful of BLUE Buffalo’s do, the former once again comes away with the win.
Winner: Taste of the Wild
Many modern dog owners like to provide their dog with a grain-free diet, as things like corn and wheat are often associated with skin and coat problems. Additionally, grain-free recipes (which are rich in complex carbohydrates) typically provide dogs with long-term, sustained energy, rather than the rapidly fluctuating energy levels foods containing corn, enriched wheat and other carbohydrates usually provide.
Both brands provide grain-free options for owners, but while several BLUE Buffalo products contain grains, every one of the Taste of the Wild recipes is entirely grain free. Instead, their recipes rely on things like garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and other legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and peas to provide the necessary carbohydrate content.
If you like BLUE Buffalo products but want a grain-free option, take a look at the BLUE Freedom recipes, as well as a few of the recipes in the BLUE Wilderness product line.
Winner: Taste of the Wild
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your dog’s intestines, where they help foster proper digestion and protect against intestinal upset, by outcompeting some types of harmful bacteria. Many premium dog foods are made with probiotics, and the best typically feature several different bacterial strains. This is thought to provide better protection than a single bacterial strain can.
Both brands incorporate a number of different probiotics in their recipes.
For example, most Taste of the Wild recipes include the following five probiotic strains:
On the other hand, most BLUE Buffalo recipes include the following:
Unless you have a specific reason to suspect that your dog needs Bifidobacterium animalis rather than Aspergillus niger, or he will respond better to Trichoderma longibrachiatum than Lactobacillus plantarum, there’s very little reason to select one brand over the other.
Accordingly, we’ll declare this one a tie. Either brand will likely help encourage good digestion and promote proper, regular elimination for your dog.
Antioxidants help to protect your dog’s cells from damage and boost his immune system, so he can better fight off illness and stay healthy. Boldly colored fruits and vegetables are some of the best sources of antioxidants, so many of the best foods incorporate them in their recipes.
These types of fruits and vegetables also help improve the flavor of a food, so dogs often enjoy foods containing things like blueberries, carrots and apples. This makes them doubly valuable for your pet.
Many Taste of the Wild recipes contain blueberries, raspberries and tomatoes, but BLUE Wilderness is the clear winner in this category. As mentioned earlier, all of their recipes contain LifeSource Bits which are fortified with antioxidants. Additionally, they contain several antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, including things like kelp, blueberries, cranberries, apples, spinach, blackberries, pomegranate and pumpkin.
Winner: BLUE Buffalo
Some dogs will require a food that helps to treat or prevent a health problem or physical trait. Big dogs, for example, will often benefit from a food specifically designed for large breeds. Conversely, small breeds will usually benefit from a food designed specifically for their physical traits and needs. Other dogs may require a food designed to foster weight-loss or digestive problems, and still others may require a limited-ingredient diet to help eliminate food allergies.
Both Taste of the Wild and BLUE Buffalo offer recipes designed to address these issues (neither produces a recipe designed to foster proper digestion, as all of their recipes seek to do so). However, we’d give BLUE Buffalo the edge here, as they offer many more options that address these types of dog- and breed-specific concerns.
They offer foods designed for small breeds, toy breeds and large breeds, as well as dogs with food allergies or weight-control issues.
Winner: BLUE Buffalo
Both of these brands produce very nutritious foods that are made in the USA from premium ingredients. They both ensure that their recipes meet the appropriate AAFCO guidelines, and most dogs appear to find the various recipes available to be tasty. Accordingly, owners should feel confident selecting either brand.
Nevertheless, we’d probably give Taste of the Wild the higher overall rating, given that the recipes are more affordably priced, include premium meats in each recipe, and all of their recipes are made without grains.
However, the difference between the two brands is relatively subtle.
Do you feed your dog foods manufactured by either of these brands? We’d love to hear about your experiences and impressions of the products. Let us know what recipe you feed your dog and all of the things you like about it, as well as those things you don’t in the comments below.