Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro: Dog Food Brand Comparison

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 mums 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

Blue Buffalo Small Breed: Small Breed Grain Free Chicken & Peas
Nutro Small Breed: Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Rice
Blue Buffalo Medium Breed: Grain Free Chicken & Peas
Nutro Medium Breed: Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Rice
Blue Buffalo Large Breed: Large Breed Grain Free Chicken & Peas
Nutro Large Breed: Wholesome Essentials Chicken & Rice

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.

Comparing Brand Histories

Nutro vs Blue Buffalo Brand Histories
Comparing the brand history between Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro will help define their commitments to quality.

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.

Nutro History

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 have 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.

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.

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.

 
Blue Buffalo Small Breed
Nutro Small Breed
Blue Buffalo Medium Breed
Nutro Medium Breed
Blue Buffalo Large Breed
Nutro Large Breed
Protein
26%
24%
24%
22%
22%
21%
Fats
15%
15%
14%
14%
12%
13%
Fiber
5%
4%
6%
3.5%
6%
3.5%
Kcal/Cup
380
345
373
373
357
330

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 Content

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.

Fat Content

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 Content

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.  Whilst 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.

Cost Comparison

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.

 
Blue Buffalo Small Breed
Nutro Small Breed
Blue Buffalo Medium Breed
Nutro Medium Breed
Blue Buffalo Large Breed
Nutro Large Breed
Bag Size (Lbs.)
11 Lb.
15 Lb.
24 Lb.
30 Lb.
24 Lb.
30 Lb.
Average Cost/Lb.
$2.90
$1.99
#2.08
$1.66
$2.20
$1.00
Average Cost/Kcal
.15
.11
.11
.10
.12
.06

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.

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!

Q: Are both brands good quality?
A: 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.

Q: Which brand is the most trusted?
A: 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.

Q: Which brand is better value?
A: 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.

Q: Where are these brands manufactured?
A: 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.

Q: Which food tastes better?
A: 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 

BrandProsCons
NutroLocal Natural IngredientsSlightly Pricer than mid-tier Foods.
Budget Friendly ValueLower Fiber Content
Abundance of Recipes
Blue BuffaloNatural and OrganicHigher Average Price
Abundance of RecipesSome Recipes Are Rich
Brand Popularity

Final Thoughts

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.

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