A balanced diet for your furry best friend is paramount to his ongoing health, and it is integral to your pup’s cell maintenance and growth. Special needs, illness, and health deficiencies aside, your pooch will be able to get all the necessary nutrients from all high-quality dog foods. In this article, we will compare two high quality dog food titans in Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro.
Being dog moms and dads we don’t just want any old food for our fur babies, we want the best for them. But how do we know what is best when there are so many different foods available for every kind of age, lifestyle and nutritional provision? While there are set guidelines for pet foods, as always, some end up better or more loved than others.
Well, worry not reader, in this comparison series we have taken many championed big brands and pitted them against another, informing you of their strengths, weaknesses, value offering and background, so that you can make an educated decision as to what is best for you and your pooch. So, let’s take a closer look at Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro.
Foods Comparison at a Glance: Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro
Note: Clicking the above links 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.
Comparing Brand Histories
Before we can jump in and really examine the details of each type of food, we need to dive in a little deeper so we can understand the history of each brand. It’s always helpful to evaluate a dog food brand based on the history of their company, which will help determine their commitment to nutritional excellence.
Both Nutro and Blue Buffalo are reputable food manufacturers and have many advocates that sing the praise of both brands. Both brands carry grain free formulas, as well as grain inclusive formulas depending on which side of the grain vs no grain debate you fall on. Nutro is one of our featured foods for Golden Retrievers, while Blue Buffalo is one of our favorites for senior German Shepherds.
The origins of Nutro are somewhat unclear, but it is believed to have been established in its infancy in the early 1920’s by an unnamed Englishman who sold it on in 1927, and it was then established and renamed as Nutro somewhere between 1931 and 1937 in Santa Monica.
Overtime it changed hands again and again, but it is now owned by Mars Incorporated, who have taken Nutro from strength to strength and similar to Royal Canin, their headquarters are now based in Tennessee.
Nutro has always used natural ingredients, and still do to this day, and that each ingredient has a purpose. They strive to help pets live happier and healthy lives through their nutrition.
Blue Buffalo History
Headquartered in Wilton, Connecticut, Blue Buffalo was founded in 2003 by the Bishop family following the untimely death of their beloved Airedale terrier ‘Blue’. They had one simple mission – to create healthy and natural food for dogs and cats, including wet, dry, and treats. They cater recipes for many life stages and needs of dogs and have seen unprecedented growth since their conception. They are one of our favorite brands for large breed puppies.
Their motto has always been ‘treat them like family, feed them like family’. Promising all-natural ingredients and no meat by-products they quickly gained popularity as the food of choice for many pet owners. They were bought out in 2018 by General Mills, after having a record year in 2017, for about $8 billion, and they have a wide range of products. Because of their popularity, Blue Buffalo is often compared to big brands like Wellness and other competitors.
Nutritional Value Comparison
Proper nutrition facilitates your pup’s bodily needs of maintaining muscle tone, developing strong teeth and bones, and to perform normal daily activities. Dogs, like humans, depend on a balance of certain nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water in their daily intake of foods to stay healthy and active.
Balanced nutrition doesn’t happen naturally though, domesticated dogs are developed omnivores like us, so their food intake is developed and monitored by nutritionists – with this in mind, pet food manufacturers work tirelessly to create exact recipes that provide everything our beloved pooches need. While the table below doesn’t include dog food for specific ages like older dogs, both brands do offer formulas for common conditions like aching joints. We’ve decided to break down the nutrient balance in both Blue Buffalo and Nutro’s popular essential recipes by the size of your pup in the chart below.
There are various components to a dog’s recommended nutrition. The three main energy providing and essential ones are protein, fat and fiber, as these assist daily function and health maintenance, and so we have compared these for each brand.
Protein keeps your dog’s body functioning properly by providing the essential amino acids he needs for healthy muscle development and tissue repair, as well as supporting the immune system, supporting healthy hair, making hormones, antibodies and enzymes. Protein is also the main source of calories to fuel dog’s energy levels. A complete and well-balanced food that provides your pups protein needs will help to keep him strong and healthy and raring to go when it comes to play time.
In this category we can see a clear winner. Blue Buffalo provides more protein across all three product categories here. The protein is also good quality with real Chicken as the first ingredient and no by-product meal.
A doggo’s metabolism relies on fat for energy during rest, and light to moderate exercise. Fat is not only good for energy, it also provides vitamins A,D,E and K as they are fat soluble and dogs need them for their overall wellbeing. Other essential fats are omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and linoleic acid, which form part of skin cells and will lead to nourished skin and a shiny coat.
We can see from the table that both foods have a healthy recommended percentage of fat in the recipes, not more than 15%, balanced with the protein content that is well above the 18% minimum recommended amount. So, no clear winner on the fat front.
Fiber is surprisingly beneficial to our dogs, but many owners overlook this simple component. It comes from plant-based ingredients such as sweet potatoes, peas and green beans. The quality of the fiber is important, so make sure it comes from sources such as whole fruits and vegetables, not from corn or other unhealthy fillers. For example, the ingredient labeled “cellulose” might sound innocent, but it can come from all sorts of different places, including shredded paper.
Fiber is made up of both soluble and insoluble fiber which breaks down into fatty acids which promote good intestinal health, and it regulates bowel movements by encouraging muscle contractions whilst not producing gas.
We can see in the comparison table that both brands have a healthy amount of fiber in their foods, but Blue Buffalo have almost double the amount in their food, so they win this round.
Flavor Choice Comparison
Dog lovers often wonder if their pooch gets bored of the same food every day. The simple answer is yes, and no. Some dogs, when they smell the same food each day, will become bored, but others will eat as much of it as they can every day without fail. Some dogs, like humans, have taste preferences, and some dogs also have certain meat intolerances and as such flavors dictate what recipes they can and can’t eat.
Luckily for both you and your pooch both Nutro and Blue Buffalo have multiple flavors for each product line they offer, so you will never have an issue with finding a flavor for him. While Nutro have around a dozen varieties, Blue Buffalo have well over fifty across their dry food range, so Blue Buffalo win this round hands down.
For some of us, when it comes to feeding our pups, cost can be the deciding factor. The average cost per month for owners can be anywhere from $50-$300 depending on the size of your pooch and how much food they need daily. In order to keep this cost in check it is important we get value for many where their kibble is concerned. Cost will also come into play based on the size of your breed. If you are feeding a mastiff higher end dog food, costs will be higher than if you are feeding a Chihuahua food that’s medium grade.
Prices for what can appear to be identical food can vary wildly in supermarkets as well as online. Whilst there is some truth to the principle of ‘you get what you pay for’, it is still important to check what is in the food you buy to make sure you are getting quality ingredients, as some product labels are far more generous than they should be, and sometimes somewhat misleading.
Once you know what your pup needs in relation to amount, frequency and nutrient requirement pricing then becomes a simple calculation of value for money i.e. the more you get for the same amount the better, as long as it is good quality of course. This table offers a quick comparison of the average cost of both brands on their most popular grain free size specific dry food.
|Bag Size (Lbs.)|
As you can see, on a pound for pound comparison, Nutro is considerably cheaper than Blue Buffalo across all three products. Often this is then reversed when it comes to cost per calorie, but not in this comparison. We can see that the cost per calorie is also considerably lower, however, there is also much less protein in their kibbles compared to Blue Buffalo, so this explains why it is much cheaper.
Blue Buffalo offers 19 dog food products designed specifically with puppies in mind. Like Victor, you can sort based on your needs, including breed size, unique formulas, recipes, flavors, and product lines.
Most of their puppy chow options are grain-free, though they offer numerous high-protein diets that feature chicken, brown rice, and vegetables.
Nutro offers a total of 9 puppy formulas. 5 of these are from their Wholesome Essentials line, 1 from the Ultra range, 1 grain-free option, and 2 Max options. There are also different flavors for your pooch to choose from.
Small puppies need smaller sized dry kibbles to fit in their tiny mouth. Large breed puppies can be a little more flexible, but should eating a puppy food specifically made for Large breeds. Luckily, Nutro has formulas for both, and can meet both needs with differently formulated dog food options.
Blue Buffalo offers a more significant number of choices with more protein options and better ingredients overall for puppy food. Their numerous Life Protection and Wilderness product lines ensure fantastic health benefits for puppies of any size or age.
Blue Buffalo Puppy
- All-natural small breed puppy food.
- Real meat is the first ingredient.
- No meat by-products.
- No fillers or artificial ingredients.
- Contains blueberries, peas & carrots (fiber).
- Antioxidant-rich formula includes sweet potatoes.
- Smaller size kibble for puppy jaws.
Blue Buffalo features an astounding 76 products in their adult dog food line, from Life Protection to Wilderness. Their unique formulas include digestive care, high protein, food sensitivity, prey feeding, grain-free, and weight management options.
Their Life Protection formula features:
- Only real chicken, no by-products
- No corn, wheat, or soy
- No artificial flavoring or preservatives
- Notable boost to immune system health
- Healthy oxidative balance
On top of the wide selection of formulas, Blue Buffalo offers several proteins, from duck and lamb to rabbit and salmon, along with all of the usuals, like chicken and beef.
Nutro offers a total of 42 adult kibbles. There are offerings from each line, which all include breed sizes, flavors, and healthy weight options. There are a variety of recipes and flavors for your pooch to choose from. As well as there being a handful of grain-free options too.
Once again, Blue Buffalo takes the cake with its extensive adult kibble offerings. Pet owners who want options — over 76 adult dog food products — enjoy the selection and chance to customize what their pet eats daily. If your adult dog requires a special diet, you can be sure Blue Buffalo has something in their lineup to suit.
Blue Buffalo Life Protection
- Wide variety of flavors and types.
- Comes in 7 protein types.
- Real meat is the first ingredient.
- No wheat, corn, soy or poultry by-product meal.
- Smart blended with other high-quality ingredients.
- Has Omega-6 and other nutrients for adult dogs.
- Joint & mobility support with Glucosamine.
In comparison, Blue Buffalo offers fourteen senior dog food products, with their Life Protection Formula leading the pack. But Blue Buffalo realizes the importance of care and bolstering the health of an aging dog. This is why their Natural Veterinary Diet line features weight management, mobility support, kidney support, food intolerance, and gastrointestinal support formulas for any ailment for any size or breed of dog in your home.
Nutro offers 8 senior kibbles that meet the nutritional needs of aging dogs. There are 4 Wholesome Essentials, 2 Ultra products, 1 grain-free, and 1 Max option. There are options for both small and large breeds, as well as offering different flavors.
Their senior products have glucosamine and chondroitin for his joints, as well as having extra vitamins and minerals for his immunity.
Once again, Blue Buffalo astounds with the sheer number of choices and formulas explicitly designed with aging pups in mind. Their Natural Veterinary Diet wins us over, allowing pet owners to keep caring for their beloved four-legged friend, even with dietary restrictions, without worry.
Before choosing a dietary dog chow, remember to consult your veterinarian beforehand. Your dog may require a specialized diet or care instructions.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior
- High protein formula.
- Made with antioxidant-rich veggies.
- Deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
- Sweet potato aids digestion.
- 387 Calories per cup.
- 30% Protein, 12% Fat, 7% Fiber.
Frequently Asked Questions
We get many questions about both brands here at Love Your Dog, so we’ve compiled a list of the ones we encounter most frequently. Below you’ll be able to get a good overview on quality, brand trust and more. If there’s anything we’ve missed, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section!
Are both brands good quality?
Yes, they offer good quality ingredients and by-product free recipes that offer good value for money. They both score highly on third-party review sites.
Which brand is the most trusted?
Both brands have very good reputations and are very popular. If you google product recalls and legislative cases brought against each, you will see that Blue Buffalo has had more than Nutro, but many were settled as unfounded or dealt with immediately, and it is also important to remember here that they are a much bigger company. So, both can be trusted to do the right thing should there be a problem with their products.
Which brand is better value?
It goes without saying that both brands produce good quality nutritional foods that are great value for money, but as our cost comparison shows Nutro is considerably cheaper. However, if you are seeking a brand that offers much more protein, then for the slightly higher cost Blue Buffalo would be the much better option for you and your pooch.
Where are these brands manufactured?
Both companies originated in the US and have their headquarters based here. They both source local ingredients from across the US and create and package their foods in house at their own purpose-built plants. So, you can be sure that none of their ingredients come from China or less quality-driven countries.
Which food tastes better?
While we aren’t in the habit of tasting dog food ourselves as human beings, both brands have been known to satisfy the tastes of extremely picky eaters.
Pros and Cons
|Nutro||Local Natural Ingredients||Slightly Pricer than mid-tier Foods.|
|Budget Friendly Value||Lower Fiber Content|
|Abundance of Recipes|
|Blue Buffalo||Natural and Organic||Higher Average Price|
|Abundance of Recipes||Some Recipes Are Rich|
Both companies have a credible and solid reputation for producing good quality well-balanced and affordable food. Made from locally sourced natural ingredients that ensure your pup gets everything he needs from his diet, including big meaty flavor, real meat and whole source ingredients. This taken into consideration with their wide choice of flavors and formulas designed to assist all types of dog mean they are both a great choice for your pup.
Price aside this was a closely fought contest between Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro, with both offering positives dependent on yours, and your pup’s, circumstances. Nutro come in at an incredibly low cost so this often is better for those families on a tighter budget, but Blue Buffalo provide much more protein and fiber than Nutro, and dogs that need such a diet would be better off with Blue Buffalo. So, we would call this one a draw.
March 23, 2022 at 6:28 pm
Blue Buffalo in the U.S. and Nutro in Canada
March 24, 2022 at 12:19 pm
While Nutro might have a Canadian office, the company's international headquarters is in the US in Franklin, Tennessee. You can read more about their HQ and manufacturing locations here: https://nutro.com/faq under the header "Where is the NUTRO™ brand located?"
October 30, 2021 at 3:51 pm
This is a great article, as long as you are comparing the "Walmart brand" of each of these producers.
I am intrigued to see the comparison with Nutro Ultra and Blue Buffalo's higher end food.
November 1, 2021 at 12:24 pm
Thanks for the question. While we have not dug into that specific review yet, you can find a review of Nutro Ultra here and Blue Buffalo's products here.
September 14, 2021 at 10:26 am
We have started fostering a 12-year-old Shih Tzu with Seborrhea and Malassezia. She is on a pill called Apoquel and it is helping. What dry food would be best for her? Whichever food we switch her to I will need to transition all my other senior small dogs to since I have open feeding for them. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
P.s. she is on Hills Physician dry food now and none of my other dogs will eat it.
Apiffany Gaither Billings
September 14, 2021 at 1:19 pm
We use this food for our dog who has allergies and skin issues. We would recommend discussing this with your vet. There are other options and your vet can help with this transitions or supplements to add.
July 20, 2021 at 2:54 am
Very insightful article. I’ve toggled between both dog food brands for some time. My dog just recently passed away at 21+ years old (pretty good for a 48 lb dog!) and he had been fed mostly Nutro throughout his life. Thank you!
July 21, 2021 at 3:36 pm
Sorry to hear about your pup, Jessica. I appreciate you stopping by to share your experience with Nutro!
May 24, 2021 at 7:16 pm
Great information. Well presented!
May 24, 2021 at 9:28 pm
Thanks, Mike! We appreciate it very much!
May 24, 2021 at 3:07 pm
My dog has been eating Nutro chicken rice sweet potato small breed senior. They recently changed their packaging but stated the food was the same. Opened new bag, food is slightly darker, plus no sweet potato, plus apple & blueberries, added more rice& oatmeal.
Found also that the FDA is investigating the company for making dogs very ill. Please give me your input on this current info. I am thinking seriously about changing my dog food, concerned for my dog.
May 24, 2021 at 6:50 pm
Hi Mary Lou - I'm not aware of any FDA investigation specifically with Nutro, other than the one that was in 2009, which is over 10 years ago.
If you are referring to the grain-free investigation with a link to DCM, that is still ongoing to my knowledge and applies to many different manufacturers. There isn't enough data on that yet, based on what I've read. As always, I recommend talking with your veterinarian and having your pup examined before making a diet change if you have concerns. Good luck!