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Orijen Dog Food Review 2020: The Biologically Appropriate Nutrition

Orijen Dog Food

When you look at a bag of Orijen dog food you will see the words “biologically appropriate” in big, bold letters. This is the hallmark of the company's brand and a description of their nutritional philosophy.

In their own words, they describe “biologically appropriate” pet food as meeting five key principles: rich in meat, meat freshness, meat diversity, reduced glycemic load, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Orijen also adheres to a “whole prey” philosophy which incorporates all of the richly nourishing meats, organs, cartilage, and marrow in authentic ratios inspired by the natural diet of wild dogs and cats.

Simply put, their products are meat-rich and carbohydrate-limited, made with the freshest regional ingredients available and manufactured to the highest standards for quality and safety.

You can feel good about feeding your dog any one of Orijen’s biologically appropriate diets.

Manufacturer Information

The Orijen brand is made by Champion Petfoods – this is the same company that produces the Acana brand of pet foods.

Champion Petfoods is based in Canada, though they operate manufacturing facilities in the United States as well. Champion Petfood products are sold throughout Canada and the United States as well as more than 70 other countries worldwide.

Made in the USA?

The Orijen brand is based in Canada, so that is where many of their products are made. Champion Petfoods recently opened a new manufacturing facility in Kentucky, however, so some of their products are made in these facilities instead.

If you check the label for Orijen products, you will find one of two statements: “Made in our Canadian kitchens” or “Made in our Kentucky kitchens”. Their Canadian kitchens can be found in the NorthStar manufacturing facility in Canada or in the new Dogstar facility in Kentucky.

Orijen Dog Food Reviews

When you look at the label for a bag of Orijen dog food, you may be surprised at the number of different meats used in each formula. All of their recipes are biologically appropriate which means that they are designed to mimic the natural evolutionary diet of wild wolves – a carnivorous diet comprised primarily of animal ingredients.

Orijen’s products adhere to a whole prey ratio of fresh meats, organs, cartilage, and raw bone to deliver the nutrients your dog requires without the need for excessive supplementation. All of their products are protein-rich and carbohydrate-limited which also makes them highly palatable, easily digestible, and nutritionally complete. Simply put, Orijen products are the best of the best.

1. Orijen Original Recipe Dry Food

This Orijen Original Recipe Dry Food is a biologically appropriate diet for dogs in all life stages. This recipe features free-run chicken and turkey as well as wild-caught fish and nest-laid eggs in a formula that consists of 85% poultry, fish, and egg ingredients with 15% fruits, vegetables, and botanicals.

Each 13-pound bag of Original Recipe contains 5 ½ pounds of chicken, organs and cartilage as well as 2 ¾ pounds turkey, organs, and cartilage. There is more than 1 pound each of whole Atlantic mackerel and whole Atlantic herring, with ½ pound each of wild yellowtail flounder and whole eggs. Simply put, this formula is protein-rich and loaded with natural flavor your dog won’t be able to resist.

The first ingredient in this recipe is, of course, deboned chicken. As you may already know, fresh meats like chicken contain up to 80% moisture by volume. When traditional pet foods are cooked, most of the moisture content is lost and that leaves the final volume of protein for that ingredient much lower than the original.

This won’t be a problem for this Original Recipe Dry Food for several reasons. For one thing, the moisture content of this formula is higher than for most dry foods – it is 12% rather than 10%. Second, deboned chicken is just one of more than a dozen protein-rich ingredients that appear on the ingredients list for this product.

Orijen Dog Food Review 2020: The Biologically Appropriate Nutrition 1

n fact, most of those protein-rich ingredients are listed before the first carbohydrate even appears. These meat ingredients supply more than just protein, however. They are also rich in healthy fats which help to support the condition of your dog’s skin and coat.

The main sources of carbohydrate used in this Original Recipe Dry Food are not grains – they are beans and legumes like whole green peas, whole navy beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, and green lentils. All of these are gluten-free and grain-free carbohydrates which makes them highly digestible for most dogs.

It should be noted that beans and legumes such as these do contain some plant protein, but with more than a dozen meat-based proteins listed before, they are unlikely to contribute significantly to the 38% crude protein content of this formula.

They do, however, contribute significantly to the 4% crude fiber content. Your dog will also get some fiber from the fresh fruits and vegetables that appear on the list. More importantly, though, these ingredients act as natural sources for key vitamins and minerals which minimizes the need for synthetic supplements.

The main source of fat in this Original Recipe Dry Food is chicken fat. While this may not sound like an appetizing ingredient to you, it is highly nutritious and a concentrated source of energy for dogs. This ingredient is supplemented by herring oil as well as the natural fat content of the fresh meats and organs.

All of these ingredients combine to create a crude fat minimum of 18% which includes a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The remaining ingredients in this recipe consist of seeds (supplementary sources of fats and fiber), botanicals (for flavor and nutrients), chelated minerals, and dried fermentation products.

Chelated minerals are mineral supplements that have been chemically bound to protein molecules – this makes them easier for your dog’s body to digest and absorb. Dried fermentation products act as probiotics to support your dog’s healthy and regular digestion.

This Original Recipe Dry Food has a guaranteed analysis as listed below:

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  • Crude Protein (Min) – 38%
  • Crude Fat (Min) – 18%
  • Crude Fiber (Max) – 4%
  • Moisture (Max) – 12%
  • Calcium (Min) – 1.2%
  • Phosphorus (Min) – 0.9%
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 3.3%
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Min) – 0.8%
  • Calorie Content – 3,940 kcal/kg (449 kcal/cup)

This Original Recipe Dry Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.

Dry Food Rating: 5/5 stars

Overall, this Orijen Original Recipe Dry Food is a high-quality source of protein-rich nutrition for dogs in all life stages. There are very few products on the market that include more than three or four sources of animal protein, let alone a dozen.

And there is more than just fresh meats included there are eggs, organ meats, and raw bones as well. This recipe contains a full 85% poultry, fish, and egg ingredients with just 15% fruits, vegetables, and botanicals – there are absolutely no grains, potato, or tapioca ingredients and no plant protein concentrates.

Simply put, it is hard to beat this Original Recipe Dry Food in terms of nutrition and quality – your dog won’t be disappointed!

2. Freeze-Dried Tundra Formula

This Orijen Freeze-Dried Tundra Formula was designed to follow nutrient-dense, whole prey ratios which includes fresh meats as well as organs and cartilage to provide a natural source of nearly every single nutrient that your dog needs. This particular recipe contains 90% ranch-raised venison, bison, and elk as well as free-run duck, quail, and steel-head trout.

With just 10% fruits, vegetables, and botanicals, this ingredient is protein-rich and carbohydrate limited – that makes it a biologically appropriate diet for dogs, if ever we saw one.

Orijen Dog Food Review 2020: The Biologically Appropriate Nutrition 2

Plus, because this recipe is freeze-dried it means that more of the natural nutrients in the raw ingredients are preserved which negates the need for a long list of synthetic supplements. This formula is all-natural in terms of nutrition and flavor.

The first ingredient in this recipe is venison which includes ground bone. Next comes duck (also with ground bone), followed by whole steelhead trout. The next three ingredients – bison, elk, and quail – all include ground bone.

After these fresh meat inclusions comes an assortment of organ meats including liver, tripe, heart, and kidney. Together, these ingredients provide plenty of meat-rich protein as well as healthy fats and essential vitamins and minerals. These ingredients are the reason why this Freeze-Dried Tundra Formula only needs three mineral supplements at the end.

Aside from all of those meat ingredients, this Freeze-Dried Tundra Formula also includes fresh fruits and vegetables as well as seeds and roots. These fresh fruits and vegetables provide carbohydrate energy (especially the pumpkin and squash) as well as natural sources for key nutrients.

The pea fiber along with the chicory and dandelion root act as supplementary sources of fiber, and the three chelated minerals help to ensure nutritional balance and completeness. You won’t find anything artificial in this list of ingredients – it is all-natural.

This Freeze-Dried Tundra Formula has a guaranteed analysis as listed below:

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  • Crude Protein (Min) – 37%
  • Crude Fat (Min) – 34%
  • Crude Fiber (Max) – 5%
  • Moisture (Max) – 4%
  • Calcium (Min) – 1.7%
  • Phosphorus (Min) – 1.4%
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids (Min) – 3%
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Min) – 1%
  • Calorie Content – 75 kcal/piece

This Freeze-Dried Tundra Formula is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles for growth and maintenance.

Freeze-Dried Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Overall, this Orijen Freeze-Dried Tundra Formula is positively packed with protein and natural flavor. Not only does this recipe list eight meat-rich proteins before the first vegetable even appears, but these proteins include ground bone as a vital source of key nutrients.

All of the ingredients in this formula are nutrient-rich and highly digestible which makes for a nutrient-dense recipe that any dog will enjoy. The only ingredient that some pet owners may find questionable is the pea fiber.

This is included as a supplementary source of fiber and it provides almost no nutritional value otherwise. Since this formula is already at the 5% maximum recommended fiber level, it would be better to simply omit this ingredient. All in all, however, this recipe is an excellent choice.

Orijen Dog Food Review 2020: The Biologically Appropriate Nutrition 3

Ingredient Sourcing

The Orijen brand is very serious about using the freshest ingredients available. They define fresh as, “never frozen and containing no preservatives”. This description applies primarily to their meat ingredients, though they also use an assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, and botanicals in their recipes.

Not only are their ingredients the freshest around, but their poultry, fish, eggs, red meats, and game are all table-quality and fit for human consumption, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

They source their ingredients locally and regionally whenever possible and all fresh meats travel from farm to kitchen in just 3 days and are made into Orijen pet food in 2 days. Some examples of their regionally sourced ingredients include angus beef and bison from Kentucky; fresh-caught fish from New England; fresh lamb from Alberta, and more.

Orijen promises that they do not source any of their ingredients from China.

Orijen Recall History List

Orijen owns and operates all of their own manufacturing facilities – they do not outsource their production like many pet food companies do. In addition to using only the freshest ingredients available, Champion Petfoods holds themselves to the highest standards for quality and safety when it comes to the manufacture of their products.

All ingredients are tested prior to use and their quality assurance systems go all the way down the ladder to their suppliers. As careful as they are about the production of their foods, there has been one recall in brand history but it only affected products made in Australia. Here are the details of that recall:

  • In November 2008, the company issued an alert about Orijen cat foods produced in Australia causing some cats to fall ill due to problems with mandatory gamma irradiation.


How expensive is their food?

The Orijen is a very high-quality brand which makes it one of the more expensive foods on the market. Just keep in mind that you get what you pay for and, with Orijen dog food products, you are getting the best.

Prices vary from one recipe to another, but generally a 28.6-pound bag of Orijen dry food will cost you between $75 and $135. For a 16-ounce bag of freeze-dried food you will pay $30 to $40 and 3.5-ounce bags of freeze-dried treats cost about $15.

List of their product line

The Orijen brand offers a fairly limited selection of products when compared to many other brands. Although their product offerings may not be very extensive, you can account on the fact that each and every recipe delivers the highest quality nutrition possible.

They offer only biologically appropriate diets which are formulated to mimic the natural evolutionary diet of wild wolves – that means that they are rich in protein and low in carbohydrates. In terms of the types of products they have to offer, they currently sell seven recipes for dry food and three recipes for freeze-dried food as well as an assortment of freeze-dried dog treats.

Dry Products


The Orijen brand offers an assortment of award-winning and biologically appropriate dry foods for dogs in all life stages. Each recipe starts with a premium-quality protein and is supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthy, balanced recipe.

Their dry foods do not include any high-glycemic carbohydrates or vegetable proteins and they include a very limited list of synthetic supplements. Here is a list of their dry recipes:

Dry Recipes:

  • Puppy Recipe
  • Puppy Large Recipe
  • Original Recipe
  • Six Fish Recipe
  • Regional Red Recipe
  • Tundra Recipe
  • Senior Dog Recipe

Freeze-Dried Products

The Orijen brand is unique from other brands in that they do not offer canned food products. They do, however, offer something even better – freeze-dried foods. There are three recipes to choose from and they are all biologically appropriate and made with high inclusions of fresh, regional meats. Here is a list of freeze-dried recipes:

Freeze-Dried Recipes:

  • Adult Dog Recipe
  • Regional Red Recipe
  • Tundra Recipe



In addition to an assortment of dry food and freeze-dried foods, the Orijen brand also offers a selection of freeze-dried dog treats. These are all protein-rich made with 100% natural meats, fish, or poultry -nothing else. Here is a list of freeze-dried dog treats:


  • Original Treats
  • Tundra Treats
  • Regional Red Treats
  • Angus Beef Treats
  • Alberta Lamb Treats
  • Alberta Bison Treats
  • Free-Run Duck Treats
  • Wild Boar Treats

Is Orijen best dog food?

For a brand that offers dog food designed to suit your dog's natural biological needs, our top choice is Orijen. Orijen dog foods are rich in meat and proteins. Each product contains up to 90% meat, which is is more than three times the amount used in conventional dog food.

Has Orijen dog food ever been recalled?

Inspired by a natural diet of whole prey animals, Orijen features unmatched and unique inclusions of meat, naturally providing everything your dog or cat needs to thrive. No Orijen pet food has ever been recalled in the United States or Canada.

Is Orijen better than Royal Canin?

Our analysis shows that Orijen guarantees 5.11% more fat than Royal Canin dry cat food recipes. If you look at the average percentages of crude fiber, you'll notice that Royal Canin typically guarantees 2.74% more fiber. This is a fairly small difference between Royal Canin and Orijen, but still worth mentioning.

Which is better Orijen or Acana?

If you've been paying attention, it's clear that Orijen foods are a slightly better quality that Acana. For instance, Orijen foods contain more meat, more of which is fresh. But, Acana is more affordable than Orijen, meaning there may be some owners who can't stretch to Orijen but can afford Acana.


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