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Acana vs. Orijen: Which Dog Food Brand is Better?

Emma Braby

Last Updated: June 6, 2020 | 10 min read

Acana vs Orijen

Considering Acana vs. Orijen as the dog food of choice for your pup? With hundreds of brands, and thousands of products with endless flavors, how do you make the right decision between these brands or others? It isn’t easy if you aren’t a canine nutritionist, but hopefully with this guide we will help you understand the nutrition basics and point you in the right direction when it comes to your pooch’s food. By placing two heavyweights of the dog food industry side by side we can show you how they stack up against one another, and ultimately, who is better.

In this article we will look at Acana and Orijen to see who comes out on top. We will walk you through which brand might be best for your pooch, important things and ingredients to look for and who gives the best value for money. This detailed comparison will show you their strengths and weaknesses, nutritional value, brand history, pricing, ingredients and more.

It is slightly different to our previous comparisons as these two brands have the same parent company Champion Pet foods LP, and as such have the same backstory and history. They do not offer a full range of size-specific food varieties, which is how we usually compare brands, so we will compare their popular like for like products, namely their puppy food, original adult food and their fit and healthy recipe food to see which one is worthy of your hard earned cash. So, let’s get straight into it.

Foods Comparison at a Glance: Acana vs. Orijen

Acana Puppy & Junior: Acana Puppy free-run Turkey & Chicken
Orijen Puppy: Orijen Puppy free-run Chicken & Turkey
Acana Original Adult: Free-run Poultry Formula
Orijen Original Adult: Free-run Chicken & Turkey
Acana Light & Fit: Light & Fit Formula

Orijen Fit & Trim: Fit & Trim Formula

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to Amazon.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.

Brand Histories

Comparing Acana vs Orijen Brand HIstories
Comparing Acana vs. Orijen’s brand histories will help show how each brand is committed to dog nutrition.

Acana and Orijen have both been around for a long time.  Before you jump in and find what food is right for your dog, it’s proper to do a little research on both brands so you can understand how committed they are to your dog’s health.

Because Orijen and Acana are both well known dog food manufacturers, they are often compared against each other for many different breeds.  Orijen happens to be one of our favorite foods for Great Danes, as well as one of our top food picks for German Shepherds.

Acana

Both Acana and Orijen are brand names created and manufactured by Champion Pet Foods LP founded by Reinhard Muhlenfeld in 1985. His ethos was to create food that was biologically appropriate, which means to mirror what dogs would eat in the wild. As such, their recipes include lots of meat, and usually upwards of 30 to 40% protein in their dry dog foods. They both work with regional farmers, fishermen and ranchers in Canada to source their ingredients, and have done for over 30 years.

The Acana brand name is a mix of the words ‘Alberta’ and ‘Canada’ and it was Champion’s first branded product. It turned 25 years old in 2016 but has been a premium pet food since its inception due to its high-quality. Acana is well known as a premium dog food for boxer owners, and it’s one of our favorites for the breed. 

Orijen

Orijen launched later in 2005, and it is an intentional misspelling of the Latin word ‘Origin’, and it is pronounced the same way. Champion states that their brand embodies the meaning of the word, as it nourishes dogs as nature intended to.

Champion is a world leader in terms of quality and market share. While they are not nearly as big as the likes of Purina and Royal Canin, Orijen generally gets positive reviews. They are also challenging these bigger brands for a big slice of the international market as well as the home turf in Canada and the USA. They both pride themselves on the fact they create, cook and package inhouse and never outsource. This means that they can be certain what goes into their products and have full control over the production line, from inception to customer delivery. They are also commonly compared to other brands like Taste of the Wild and premium options like Fromm.

Nutritional Values

Nutrition is vitally important to all living things, and good nutrition leads to good health, which means that we can enjoy our beloved pooch’s company for as many years as possible. To that end it is imperative we learn what our pets require to stay healthy, happy and active.

A complete and balanced diet is just as essential as clean fresh water to maintain your dog’s health and vitality. This means that he must have the right balance of protein, fats, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates in order to stay in tip top condition.

Dogs, being developed omnivores, require much higher levels of protein than us humans do, so be sure to feed him high-quality food made for his size, age and energy requirements.

In the following table we take the three products from each brand and compare the nutrient breakdown into the three biggest components; protein, fat and fiber. That way a side-by-side comparison will show you who has the most beneficial balance for your pup.

 
Acana Puppy
Orijen Puppy
Acana Original Adult
Orijen Original Adult
Acana Light & Fit
Orijen Fit & Trim
Protein
31%
38%
29%
38%
33%
42%
Fats
15%
20%
17%
18%
10%
13%
Fiber
5%
5%
6%
5%
8%
8%
Kcal/Cup
369
391
359
356
315
322

In order to fully understand the importance of these nutrients, let us recap why the above nutrients are so important for your pup and a word or two about who wins in the battle of nutritional balance.

Protein Content

Protein is calorie rich without being fatty and detrimental, which benefits your pup by boosting energy levels. It will keep your doggo fueled for hours, and then when he is finished exercising it will also provide him with the amino acids needed to repair and rebuild, and it is this process that allows him to become healthier and stronger. High-quality proteins will also encourage healthy skin and a shiny coat, whereas poor-quality proteins can lead to problems such as itchy and irritated skin.

In the protein comparison we can see that both brands offer an exceptionally high protein content on all their foods compared to other brands. The clear winner here Orijen, as we can see that all three foods have a protein content up into the high thirty and early forty percentiles, meaning there is an abundance of protein ingredients. 

Fat Content

The fats in your pooch’s diet are mainly derived from rendered animal fats, seed oils from various plants, and any added sugars. Fats are the most calorific ingredients in food and as such provide the most concentrated source of energy in his diet. Fatty ingredients play an important role within a dog’s diet as they supply essential fatty acids carrying important fat-soluble vitamins that aid in cell structure and function. Certain fatty acids are also highly beneficial for dog’s skin and coat to remain healthy and shiny. A lack of essential omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are commonly associated with poor eyesight and impaired cognitive ability.

As we can see the fat content between both brands is similar, with Acana having a slightly lower amount to help balance it against the lower protein content. Both are within the recommended amount for a balanced diet.

Fiber Content

Fiber is not an essential nutrient in your pup’s diet, but it is very beneficial for his health which is why it is in pretty much every dog food out there. Whilst it doesn’t provide any energy or vitamins it does help to improve colon health, weight management, and prevents and remedies tummy troubles such as diarrhea, constipation, and diabetes mellitus.

So, if your pooch is experiencing any of these problems take a minute to think about whether he is getting enough fiber in his diet, and if not, speak to your Veterinarian about changing his food or supplementing fiber in his diet. It is a great way to re-establish intestinal balance and movement and can be beneficial to dogs young and old.

Here we can see that both Acana and Orijen provide similar and high proportions of fiber, which is great for digestive systems and will help pooches to digest the rich protein content. You can see these when looking at Acana’s formulas in our in-depth Acana dog food review.

Flavors

As Forest Gump famously said, ‘life is like a box of chocolates’, and this is particularly true when it comes to us humans and our nutritional choices thanks to easy access to a wide variety of food. But the same cannot be said for our pooch and his food, and often dogs are given the same food day in and day out for our ease and because their digestive systems prefer routine.

Dry kibble can sometimes be a bit boring for dogs, and some will even turn their nose up and only eat it if there is nothing else on offer (my spoilt English Bull Terrier being the biggest culprit of them all!) Whilst we don’t advocate constantly offering an alternative as this promotes fussy eating, sometimes switching it up a little bit can add fun and digestive strength to his routine.

Luckily most brands will offer their food in multiple flavors, which is great because it means a choice for your pup’s preferences and intolerances. Both Acana and Orijen, whilst not offering the largest selection of flavors amongst pet food creators, do have a handful of flavors for each product, so your doggo should be happy with his meal times should you choose to add a little variety to it.

Cost

Value for money is usually at the top of many pet owners lists when it comes to buying food, especially if you have a big eater such as a Mastiff or Rottweiler. A general rule of thumb for most things is to concentrate on quality not quantity, as you get what you pay for, but bear in mind that the most expensive doesn’t always mean the best. Sometimes, like human products, you can be paying for the name not the quality.

Prices can vary wildly for effectively the same food, so it is important to know how to sort the wheat from the chaff.

To  do this you first need to know what type of diet your pooch needs and why. For example, smaller dogs with high energy will burn a lot of calories so a food with a higher calorie content per cup is best, compared to a sedentary old timer who will need less calories and more in the way of beneficial vitamins and glucosamine. Then when you have identified your pooch’s needs, you can narrow it down to a few good-quality foods. Then it becomes a simple calculation of value for money and who gives you better quality protein ingredients, calories and vitamins for the least amount of money.

This table offers a quick comparison of the average cost of both brands on their most popular grain free size specific and weight management dry food.

 
Acana Puppy & Junior
Orijen Standard Puppy
Acana Original Adult
Orijen Original Adult
Acana Light & Fit
Orijen Fit & Trim
Bag Size (Lbs.)
25 Lb.
25 Lb.
25 Lb.
25 Lb.
25 Lb.
25 Lb.
Average Cost/Lb.
$2.56
$3.56
#2.56
$3.64
$2.64
$3.76
Average Cost/Kcal
.14
.18
.14
.20
.17
.23

On a pound for pound basis Acana comes out considerably cheaper than Orijen by over a dollar per pound which directly correlates to the price breakdown per calorie. While Orijen does have a much higher protein content, the price would appear to be disproportionately higher on a percentage-based cost comparison.

For example, you get approximately 10% more protein but the price increases by over 30%. Calories are slightly higher per cup with Orijen, but not enough to warrant the extra price, so here, we feel that Acana offers better value for money.

Pros and Cons

BrandProsCons
AcanaLocal Sourced IngredientsSlightly pricier than average products
Higher than average protein content
Packaged in house for quality control
OrijenNatural and OrganicPriced highly compared to other leading brands
Abundance of Recipes
Brand Popularity

Frequently Asked Questions

As with all products there will be questions that are not answered by nutrition content alone.  We get many of these questions every week here at Love Your Dog, so we’ve done our best to outline them for you below.  If we’ve missed anything, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section.

Q: Are expensive dog foods worth it?
A: We believe that paying for good food is worth the extra cost in the long run. A good quality food will make your pup healthier and help to stave off a lot of health conditions that can be caused by poor diet and dog food ingredients. That being said, you should balance cost and benefits in regards to your budget.

Q: Where can I buy Acana and Orijen?
A: Both brands are readily available in most pet stores and easily purchased via online marketplaces such as Amazon. So finding and trying it will be easy enough, just be sure to start with the smallest bag before spending a bunch of money, because if for whatever reason it doesn’t sit well with your pup, you’ll end up chucking it in the bin or better yet, donating it to a shelter.

Q: How do I know which has better nutritional content for my dog?
A: As we discussed in this article there are certain things to look out for when purchasing food. A good balance of protein and fat is the main one. There are also ingredients we want to avoid such as unnamed meat sources and artificial flavors and preservatives, but thankfully both of these brands offer high-quality ingredients and nutritional content.  

Q: Which brand is better for picky eaters?
A: Both brands do pretty well because they both have a variety of different flavors made by each manufacturer.  Siberian huskies are notoriously picky eaters, and Orijen has some food flavors that do well with this breed. Dog foods made of bison meat have also been known to satisfy pups with food-specific food preferences.

Final Thoughts

Comparing Acana vs. Orijen is a very popular comparison to make due to their ‘as nature intended’ ethos. They use high quantities of good-quality meat to produce their kibble. They are both dedicated to sourcing local and finest quality ingredients which means that their food is both tasty and nutrient-dense for your pup. Coupled with their variety of flavors and formulas aimed at different ages, sizes and energy levels, their products are certainly deserving of their premium reputation.

If you are looking for a senior kibble, then Orijen wins as Acana doesn’t offer this option, and this is the only real criticism we have of Acana. However, Acana offers better value for money, and this is important to us and our readers, and on that front.  With that being said, this verdict is truly a toss-up.  Both brands offer great value for the money, and you really can’t go wrong with either food.

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