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Orijen Dog Food Review

Dog Food Nutrition March 12, 2020

Orijen Dog Food Review

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Orijen dog foods have long been considered some of the top foods available for dogs. Owned by Champion Petfoods, a Canadian company, Orijen was one of the first pet food companies to focus on the idea of “biologically appropriate” pet foods.

However, in 2019 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration named Orijen (and another brand made by Champion Petfoods – Acana) as one of the foods most closely linked to producing dilated cardiomyopathy in the cases they had studied. Should you be buying Orijen for your dogs? Read more with our unbiased review.

Orijen Dog Food – Top 3 Recipes Reviewed

Product NameFood TypeProteinkcal/Cup/Medallion
Orijen OriginalDry38%449 kcal/cup
Orijen Freeze-Dried TundraDry37%75 kcal per medallion
Orijen Six Fish Formula Dry Dog FoodWet38%445 kcal/cup

Brand Score

Orijen Dog Food
Brand
Overall Score
Pros
  • Orijen has very good ingredients and provides information about sourcing
  • The company makes their own foods in their own facilities
  • Orijen dog foods appear to have lots of animal protein
Cons
  • Orijen foods use lots of legumes which may be problematic considering the FDA’s investigation into dietary dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
  • Not all dogs need extremely high levels of protein and fat as found in Orijen foods
  • The idea of ancestral diets for dogs is open to debate
  • Orijen foods are very expensive
Pros
  • Orijen has very good ingredients and provides information about sourcing
  • The company makes their own foods in their own facilities
  • Orijen dog foods appear to have lots of animal protein
Cons
  • Orijen foods use lots of legumes which may be problematic considering the FDA’s investigation into dietary dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)
  • Not all dogs need extremely high levels of protein and fat as found in Orijen foods
  • The idea of ancestral diets for dogs is open to debate
  • Orijen foods are very expensive
Ingredients
Overall Quality
Customer Experience
Recall History
Formulation
Nutritional Standards
Research
Price

Our reviews are based on extensive research and years of professional knowledge of dog food brands. In order to remain objective, we do not accept gifts of free products or write sponsored posts on this site.

We’ve looked at Orijen closely and graded it according to the PupJunkies.com standard. Our criteria include ingredients, quality, customer experience, recall history, working with veterinary nutritionists to formulate the food, nutritional standards, research, and price.

About Orijen

Champion Pet Foods, the makers of Orijen, is headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The company was founded in 1985 by Reinhard Muhlenfeld.

Today the company’s brands are sold in more than 80 countries. They currently have two manufacturing facilities which the company refers to as “kitchens.” One is located in Alberta, Canada, and one is in Kentucky in the United States.

Champion recently opened a new kitchen in Acheson, Alberta, Canada. Champion only makes kibbles and freeze-dried foods and treats – which they make themselves. They do not make canned foods at this time.

Orijen and Champion Pet Foods use fresh, regionally-sourced ingredients which are explained in great detail on their web site.

Orijen espouses the idea that dogs are carnivores and require a great deal of protein in their diets. All of their foods have a high percentage of protein and include many kinds of animal protein.

There is frequent mention of the whole prey diet which refers to diets developed by people that feed their dogs a raw diet and the diet of the dog’s ancestor, the gray wolf.

Champion Pet Foods has received many awards as a community leader in Alberta. They have also earned awards for their pet foods.

Sourcing and Manufacturing

Orijen is very clear about the sourcing of their ingredients. They use fresh, regional ingredients which arrive at their kitchens quickly and which are used in their foods quickly.

They make their own pet foods in their own facilities in Canada and the U.S. Champion Pet Foods does not make any foods for other brands and no one else makes their foods.

Recall History

Orijen had a limited recall of dog food in the U.S. 2003 related to the beef in the food. Per the FDA information at the time, the beef may have been affected with BSE.

The recall was limited to one state in the western United States. Orijen cat food was recalled in Australia in 2008.
In 2011, Champion Pet Foods had a recall for some of their Acana foods.

What kinds of dog food does Orijen offer?

Orijen makes dry kibbles, freeze-dried foods, and freeze-dried treats for dogs. They currently produce six kibbles, nine freeze-dried treats, and three freeze-dried dog food formulas.

They make food for puppies, large breed puppies, their original formula, the six fish formula, regional red (a meat formula), tundra (meat and fish), a fit and trim formula, and a senior dog food.

Champion recently announced that they will be launching a new Orijen Small Breed formula in the spring and summer of 2020.

“The company’s new small breed dog food, ORIJEN Small Breed, is designed to support immune system health and joint mobility. The formula includes poultry animal proteins, including free-run chicken, turkey and quail, as well as three kinds of whole, wild-caught fish, the company says.”

All of Orijen’s foods are high in protein and relatively high in fat. Most of them feature several kinds of lentils.

Orijen Dog Food: Top Three Recipes Reviewed

We’re taking a look at three of the top-selling Orijen dog foods as found on Amazon.com.

Orijen Original Dry Dog Food

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein – 38% Min
  • Fat – 18% Min
  • Fiber – 4% Max
  • Moisture – 12% Max

Ingredients:

Orijen Original Dry Dog Food is Orijen’s first recipe. This formula is made in Kentucky for U.S. customers. This is a grain free dog food made for all life stages.

Here are the ingredients in this formula:

Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, Atlantic flounder, cage-free eggs, whole Atlantic mackerel, chicken liver, turkey liver, chicken heart, turkey heart, whole Atlantic herring, dehydrated chicken, dehydrated turkey, dehydrated mackerel, dehydrated chicken liver, dehydrated egg, whole red lentils, whole pinto beans, whole green peas, chicken necks, chicken kidney, whole green lentils, whole navy beans, whole chickpeas, lentil fiber, chicken fat, natural chicken flavor, pollock oil, ground chicken bone, chicken cartilage, turkey cartilage, mixed tocopherols (preservative), whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, freeze-dried chicken liver, dried kelp, zinc proteinate, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, whole carrots, whole apples, whole pears, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, thiamine mononitrate, D-calcium pantothenate, copper proteinate, chicory root, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, althea root, rosehips, juniper berries, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product.

As you can see, this formula has numerous legumes (lentils, beans, peas, etc.). Legumes have been associated with some of the problems related to the dietary form of dilated cardiomyopathy. Orijen (as well as Acana, also made by Champion) is one of the brands singled out by the U.S.

Food and Drug Administration as most often being fed to dogs that developed dietary DCM in the cases they have examined.

This research has not yet found a definitive cause of dietary DCM and the FDA has not suggested that people stop buying grain free dog foods. However, they have suggested that dog lovers use caution about buying dog foods that have large amounts of legumes.

While it looks like this food contains a lot of animal protein because it lists 17 kinds of animal protein in various forms before a fat is even named (chicken fat, in this case), this could be deceptive.

Most kibbles list 4-7 ingredients before a fat is named and these make up the bulk of the weight of the food before cooking.

The fact that there are 17 animal protein ingredients named before the fat in this food might suggest that there are only small amounts of each of these proteins, even though they sound impressive.

It’s likely that the chicken and turkey make up most of the meat protein.

According to the dry matter basis (DMB), this food has 43.2 percent protein, 20.5 percent fat, 4.5 percent fiber, 23.9 percent carbohydrates, and 449 kcal/cup. It is very high in both protein and fat.

Our rating for this food is 4 out of 5 stars.

Orijen Freeze-Dried Tundra

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein – 37% Min
  • Fat – 34% Min
  • Fiber – 5% Max
  • Moisture – 4% Max

Ingredients:

Orijen Freeze-Dried Tundra is made without cooking. According to Champion Pet Foods, their kitchens are equipped to flash-freeze foods with nitrogen at extremely low temperament so the food retains its nutrients. During a slow, 18-hour freeze-drying process, the frozen water in the food is converted to vapor, leaving behind the food in a concentrated form.

Here are the ingredients in this formula:

Venison, duck (ground with bone), flounder, lamb meat, duck liver, herring, lamb liver, wild boar liver, wild boar, goat meat, pea fiber, whole pumpkin, collard greens, carrots, apples, wild boar bone, lamb kidney, lamb tripe, wild boar heart, goat liver, goat tripe, goat kidney, duck heart, dried kelp, zinc proteinate, potassium chloride, manganese proteinate, copper proteinate, calcium pantothenate, vitamin E supplement, mixed tocopherols (preservative).

This is a rich, concentrated food that probably would not be suitable for dogs unless they get plenty of exercise.

This food has 38.5 percent protein and 35.4 percent fat, according to the dry matter basis (DMB). It has 5.2 percent fiber and 11.5 percent carbohydrates.

Contains 75 kcal per medallion with 30 medallions in a one-pound package. Add warm water to make a meal for your dog. The reconstituted guaranteed analysis of this food, per Orijen, says it has 13 percent crude protein, 12 percent crude fat, and 2 percent crude fiber, based on a moisture content of 65 percent.

Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Orijen Six Fish Formula Dry Dog Food

Guaranteed Analysis:

  • Protein – 38% Min
  • Fat – 18% Min
  • Fiber – 5% Max
  • Moisture – 12% Max

Ingredients:

Orijen Six Fish Formula Dry Dog Food contains both fresh-caught and dried, concentrated fish to provide more fish protein. Some of the fish are added to the food raw in a flash-frozen form. The first six ingredients in the food are fresh or raw/flash-frozen.

Here are the ingredients in this formula:

Whole Atlantic mackerel, whole Atlantic herring, monkfish, Acadian redfish, flounder, whole silver hake, mackerel meal, herring meal, blue whiting meal, sunflower oil, whole red lentils, whole pinto beans, cod meal, pollock meal, safflower oil, whole green peas, whole green lentils, whole navy beans, lentil fiber, natural cod flavor, whole chickpeas, pollock oil, freeze-dried cod liver, whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, mixed tocopherols (preservative), kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, whole carrots, whole apples, whole pears, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried kelp, zinc proteinate, D-calcium pantothenate, copper proteinate, chicory root, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, althea root, rosehips, juniper berries, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product.

As with other Orijen dog foods, this Six Fish formula contains lots of legumes of different kinds. At least here they come after the first named fat (sunflower oil). Still, if you add up all of these different legumes, they form quite a large amount of your dog’s food. You are paying a lot of money for food that contains so many beans and lentils.

The fish in the food look good but you have to wonder why a dog food needs to have so many different kinds of fish. Most dogs are probably happy to have just one kind of fish.

Two or three is great. But all of these different kinds in one food? There are lots of good dog foods that use fish and cost a lot less, since this is an unbiased review.

“Biologically appropriate” is one thing, but no dog (or wolf) in nature is going to get lucky enough to haul in all of those different kinds of fish in one day for a meal – and he’s probably not going to want to eat those pinto beans either.

According to the dry matter analysis for this food, it has 43.2 percent protein, 20.5 percent fat, 4.5 percent fiber, 23.9 percent carbohydrates, and 445 kcal/cup. It is very high in both protein and fat.

Despite our questions, this does appear to be a good dog food. Our rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

How much does Orijen Dog Food cost?

Orijen is probably the most expensive dog food sold.

What do customers think of Orijen Dog Food?

Many customers are in love with Orijen and believe it’s the best dog food available. Other customers have doubts. Some customers have been disgruntled since Champion built their second kitchen in Kentucky and began selling foods made there to American customers.

There is some belief that the Kentucky-made foods are not as good as the foods made in Canada. They can have different ingredients, in order to use “regionally-fresh” foods. Some customers just don’t like the American-made dog foods.

Some other customers have been unhappy since Champion pulled their products from Chewy.com when Chewy.com was sold to PetSmart in 2017.As for Orijen and the food’s connection to dietary dilated cardiomyopathy, few customers seem to be aware of the issue.

Overall, is Orijen Dog Food a good choice?

Orijen does use good ingredients and they have always been a good pet food manufacturer. However, we have been following their brands for many years and noticed that they frequently change the formulas of their dog foods.

While they have long been grain free, at one time they used some less common and even some fruits and vegetables to take the place of grains in their foods.

It was only in recent years that they began using more and more legumes and it seemed like their quality suffered. It is good to see a slight reduction in some of the legumes in their foods, though it would be nice to see them disappear completely.

Yes, Orijen is a good dog food though you will have to consider your budget to decide if you want to spend this much money on dog food.

Where is Orijen Dog Food sold?

You can buy Orijen dog foods from Amazon.com and other online retailers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Has orijen dog food ever been recalled?

Orijen had a limited recall of dog food in the U.S. 2003, in Australia in 2008 and In 2011, Champion Pet Foods had a recall for some of their Acana foods.

Is orijen the best dog food?

Yes, Orijen is a good dog food though you will have to consider your budget to decide if you want to spend this much money on dog food.

Is orijen original dog food grain free?

Orijen Original Dry Dog Food is Orijen’s first recipe. This formula is made in Kentucky for U.S. customers. This is a grain free dog food made for all life stages.

Carlotta Cooper

Carlotta Cooper is a long-time contributing editor for the weekly dog show magazine DN Dog News. She's the author of The Dog Adoption Bible, a Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) award winner. In addition, she is an American Kennel Club Gazette breed columnist and is the author of several books about dogs. She has been reviewing pet foods and writing about dog food for more than 10 years.
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