If you’re searching for Fido’s next food, and you’re stuck between Blue Buffalo and Royal Canin, you’re in luck. We take you through all the foodie details that you need to know about to help you make the best nutritional decision for your pooch. These two brands are very popular, and many dog owners have a hard time choosing between them. But they are very different and have varying takes on doggy nutrition.
Thankfully, this makes your decision easier. All you have to do is spend a few minutes reading through this concise guide, and you should find the answer you’re seeking. We cover it all — from brand history and food recalls to ingredients and the range of formulas.
Finding the best nutrition for your pup is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make for him. So, let’s get down to doggy business and begin comparing these two popular food brands.
Foods Comparison: Blue Buffalo Vs. Royal Canin
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Comparing Brand Histories
Building a brand takes lots of time, effort, and expertise. And these two brands have a history full of stories and success. Learning about a brand’s history also helps you to understand its mission and back story. Let’s compare them and see which brand appeals to you the most.
Blue Buffalo History
Blue Buffalo was established in 2003 by the Bishop family, and they are based in Wilton, Connecticut. Jackie and Bill Bishop owned an awesome Airedale Terrier, ‘Blue,’ but sadly, Blue died due to cancer. After his death, they decided to create a healthy, well-balanced line of dog food as a legacy for their Blue. Blue Buffalo was born out of research into the link between nutrition and certain types of cancer.
The Blue Buffalo mission is to ‘love them like family, feed them like family.’ The food they create is packed with antioxidant-rich food to keep dogs healthy and ailments at bay. Blue Buffalo uses natural ingredients. The rise in the popularity of natural canine diets has meant they have become extremely popular in America. Blue Buffalo is currently only sold in America, Canada, Japan, and Mexico.
Royal Canin History
Royal Canin is a much older brand compared to Blue Buffalo, and they were established in 1968 in France. A leading veterinarian named Jean Cathary led important research into how a deficient diet often led to poor skin health. Over the decades, Royal Canin was bought by several companies and banks, eventually landing in the hands of Mars, Inc in 2001. Mars, Inc is a huge brand, and Royal Canin is also sold in most countries worldwide.
Royal Canin designed and released the first-ever large breed puppy recipe in the 1980s. And ever since that breakthrough recipe, they have always been regarded as an innovative and leading brand. Royal Canin’s mission is to make a better world for pets by improving their health through nutrition. Royal Canin has won many awards for its top nutrition and specialized animal clinics. A huge reason why veterinary practices sell this food.
Now that you know a little more about Blue Buffalo and Royal Canin’s history let’s focus on a particular part of their history. Looking at a brand’s food recall past is important because it can show you how safe their process is and how they deal with any safety problems after that. When products are removed from the market for safety reasons, it is known as a food recall.
Food recalls are generally regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Recalls are typically made in three ways: by the company themself, by FDA request, or by FDA demand under statutory authority. Let’s see how Blue Buffalo and Royal Canin’s recall history compares and how well they dealt with any problems.
Blue Buffalo has suffered from several recalls. In October 2010, Michigan State University found that a number of sick dogs had high levels of vitamin D in their blood. Many of these dogs were fed a Blue Buffalo Wilderness chicken recipe, so these were recalled. Next, March 2017 saw the voluntary recall of canned Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner due to heightened levels of thyroid hormones in the beef. Within the same month, Wilderness Trail Trays were recalled because there was a defect with the foil seal.
It’s worth mentioning that several lawsuits have been filed against Blue Buffalo because of false advertising. Most of the cases were unfounded. However, they admitted to using meat by-products despite claiming not to. Blue Buffalo was quick to deal with the issue, and it was agreed that their supplier was at fault, showing that they take our beloved pet’s safety seriously.
Royal Canin has been around for much longer than Blue Buffalo, which means there are sure to be more recalls, right? Actually, no. Royal Canin has been subject to two food recalls, which is less than Blue Buffalo. Royal Canin recalled a handful of their products in 2007 regarding melamine contamination. This was a country-wide problem that affected many pet food brands, not just Royal Canin. After much investigation, the source of the issue was ingredients sourced from China.
Just a year earlier saw the first product recall, which affected Royal Canin alone. They voluntarily recalled select canned food batches that were sold exclusively at vet clinics. It was suspected that these products contained elevated vitamin D levels. Royal Canin dealt with the issue swiftly and transparently, proving that they take the safety of our dogs seriously. Vet Dr. Bryce Fleming gave an interview stating that all companies should learn from Royal Canin and this exemplary, textbook example of handling a product recall.
You now know that both of these companies take the safety of our pups seriously, so it’s time to dig a little deeper into their ingredients lists. Both brands claim to use the best quality ingredients only. But how true is this? Let’s take a look at their differing approach to ingredients.
Blue Buffalo only uses the best, natural ingredients in all of their ranges. They use no preservatives, by-products, fillers, or artificial flavors. Blue Buffalo also does not use corn, soy, or wheat as these ingredients are known to trigger allergies in a few dogs. Blue Buffalo has a wide range of both grain-inclusive and grain-free kibble too. The grain-inclusive recipes often use brown rice and oatmeal.
They always list real meat as the first ingredient, usually the first two ingredients in many of their recipes. They use a wide range of meats, including chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, salmon, duck, rabbit, and trout. All fussy pups are taken care of. Meat meals are a great source of glucosamine, and most recipes are high in healthy omega fats too.
Most recipes list a wide range of fruit, veggies, and antioxidant-rich ingredients such as blueberries, cranberries, and dried kelp, as well as added supplements for an extra immunity boost. Most recipes are also fortified with probiotic ingredients to help with digestive health. The only criticism that Blue Buffalo faces is that they use many separate pea ingredients, which boost the protein content.
Royal Canin is similar in that they also claim to use only the best ingredients. But unlike Blue Buffalo, they do not use only natural ingredients, and they take a more scientific approach to their formulas. If their research dictates that a non-natural ingredient should be used, they use it for the betterment of the dog’s health.
Royal Canin uses real meat on occasion, but they mainly use meat by-products and by-product meals. It’s not entirely clear what goes into their by-products. Still, they claim that it is safe and nutritionally beneficial for dogs. For example, animal organs are often used, and although it might sound revolting to you and me, Fido should love it. And it is rich in nutrients too.
They also use corn, wheat, and soy in many of their recipes. Although this can irritate some dogs’ digestive systems, most dogs are completely fine with them. This is why their products are highly rated and trusted by vets around the world. Their recipes are always boosted with vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure that their immune systems are boosted. And sources of healthy omega fats are always found in their recipes too.
Range of Formulas
Now it’s time to take a closer look at their range of formulas and what they offer our beloved besties. All dogs are different and have various dietary needs. Plus, puppies, adults, and seniors have different nutritional needs, so there should be options for all three life stages. So, let’s see how Blue Buffalo and Royal Canin’s formula ranges compare.
Royal Canin English Bulldog Puppy
- Made for dogs up to 12 months of age.
- Made specifically for the bulldog’s muzzle.
- Antioxidants for immune system health.
- Wave-shaped kibble is easier to pick up.
- Calcium boost for bones and joints.
- 338 calories per cup.
- 28% Protein, 15% Fat, 4% Fiber.
Our developing canine pups need all the help they can get when growing into a healthy adult. And most of that help starts with what we put into their bowls. The puppy’s life stage is arguably the most important because it lays the healthy foundations needed for the rest of their lives. Puppy kibbles are optimized for healthy development and puppy growing fuel. Plus, pups come in different shapes and sizes.
Blue Buffalo offers a total of 18 puppy options across five different product lines – Life Protection, Basics, Freedom, Wilderness, and Carnivora. This means there are high protein options, limited ingredient options, grain-free options, and a general recipe to suit most dogs. All of these picks use different meats, plus a mixture of grain-inclusive and grain-free options. Small, medium, and large, all have an option too.
Royal Canin offers a total of 23 puppy products. Many of these options are breed-specific. If you have a common breed such as a Poodle, Chihuahua, Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, or Labrador (plus many more), there are tailored breed options. There is an option for every size, including toy and giant breeds. Plus, there is a veterinary option for pups struggling with their digestive health.
The puppy formula award goes to Royal Canin. They have five more options to choose from, plus there’s an option for toy/indoor pups and breed-specific nutrition. However, Blue Buffalo has a wider range of flavors to choose from. If you have a fussy pup on your hands, you might have more success with a Blue Buffalo option.
Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight
- Budget-friendly formula.
- Contains high-quality protein.
- L-Carnitine for muscle retention.
- Glucosamine supports your pup’s joints.
- No corn, wheat, or soy.
- 326 Calories per cup.
- 20% Protein, 9% Fat, 10% Fiber.
Adulthood is usually the longest stage of a dog’s life and typically lasts between one and seven years of age. Adult dogs need less energy and protein because they have completed most of their growing by now. Let’s see how Blue Buffalo and Royal Canin compare in the adult competition.
Blue Buffalo offers a total of 73 adult kibbles across eight different food lines. Across the entire range, there are 13 options for toy and small breeds and 15 choices for large breeds. There are also two picks for small dogs who need smaller, easier-to-chew kibble pieces. No matter what size pup you have, there is a multitude of different flavors to choose from.
Blue Buffalo doesn’t just stop there. They also have grain-inclusive and grain-free options, as well as weight management kibbles for those who are struggling to stay lean and healthy. We also love that Blue Buffalo offers chicken and poultry-free options for dogs allergic to these commonly used ingredients.
Royal Canin offers a slightly larger variety of 96 kibble options. However, 40 of these options require a veterinary prescription, so they aren’t available to all dogs. This is why Royal Canin is sold in many vet practices worldwide because it specializes in treating ailments and health concerns.
Nonetheless, all-sized dogs have options, including toy breeds up to our wonderful gentle giants. The main protein options are chicken, fish, and beef. But there are also other flavors up for grabs, including duck, kangaroo, rabbit, veggie, and venison.
The winner of the adult formula round goes to Blue Buffalo. Ultimately, they both offer a great range of options for all adults. However, Blue Buffalo offers a wider range of flavors. Plus, a large chunk of the Royal Canin adult options is only available on prescription, limiting the options for most adult dogs.
Royal Canin Medium Adult 7+
- Precise nutrition is specifically made for older dogs.
- Supports natural defenses for immune support with a blend of antioxidants and prebiotics.
- Maintains healthy skin and coat health with optimal levels of EPA and DHA.
- Promotes healthy digestion with easy-to-digest proteins and a balanced supply of fiber.
- Exclusive kibble design encourages chewing and has a palatability dogs love.
Senior dogs have different nutritional needs than adults, mainly because they need less energy and more supplements to keep them feeling sprightly. Plus, they should not be as rich. Otherwise, you risk troubled digestion. And they also need higher levels of glucosamine for their joint health, especially in larger dogs. Let’s see how Blue Buffalo and Royal Canin compare.
Blue Buffalo offers seven senior-specific kibbles from four product lines – Life Protection, Basics Limited, Freedom, and Wilderness. There are options for small and large pups across their lines and grain-free and grain-inclusive options too. Blue Buffalo offers larger dogs with achy joints much more glucosamine than standard-sized dogs, which is crucial for their health.
Royal Canin offers 11 senior-specific kibbles. They ensure that small, medium, and large-sized dogs are catered for in their senior years. There are two breed-specific kibbles and two veterinary prescription diets. We also like that there are options for senior dogs of all ages. There are options for dogs aged 8+, 10+, and 12+, which is great considering they experience gradual nutritional need changes as they age.
We crown Royal Canin as the winner in this senior formula round. Not only do they have more options, but they also concentrate on different ages. As you can imagine, the energy needs of a seven-year-old are much higher than that of a 12-year-old or even older. So, this is a big selling point of Royal Canin’s senior offerings.
Blue Buffalo Grain-Free Canned Food
- Beef, chicken, and chicken liver provide high protein.
- Contains tasty chicken broth.
- Flaxseed and folic acid keep skin and coat healthy.
- Fortified in vitamin and mineral supplements.
- Uses potatoes.
Some dogs cannot, or refuse to, eat dried kibble on their own. Some dogs need extra moisture because they are fussy or struggle to chew down on the hard biscuits. And some dogs need extra help keeping hydrated, which wet food offers. Brands also need to offer a selection of canned, wet foods. Let’s take a closer look at what Blue Buffalo and Royal Canin offer here.
Blue Buffalo offers a whopping selection of 101 wet food options. Some options complement the ranges spoken about in the dried section. And some are brand new options offering extra flavors and experiences. All sizes are catered for, and there are also grain-free and grain-inclusive options. The wet food options use a selection of meats and recipes too.
Royal Canin offers a total of 73 wet food options. As you might expect, 24 of these options require a veterinary prescription, so they aren’t an option for most dogs. Royal Canin ensures that puppies, adults, and seniors are all catered for. And like before, there are also breed-specific options. The primary canned food flavors are chicken, pork, and beef.
This time we crown Blue Buffalo as the winner. They have more options, and no one is left out here.
Blue Buffalo and Royal Canin are both very popular food brands that offer options for all types of dogs and their differing needs. But they target very different audiences, so the brand you choose probably depends on where you stand on this debate:
- Royal Canin sticks to the premise of science-based ingredients and formulas to improve the health of its consumers.
- Blue Buffalo believes in the power of all-natural ingredients to soothe health problems.
But you also need to consider Fido’s needs. If your pooch has a particular health problem, you might opt for the more scientific approach of Royal Canin that is trusted by vet clinics around the world. Or, if your pup prefers intense meats and flavors, Blue Buffalo is the clear winner. Ultimately, both of these brands are well-trusted, safe, and nutritionally well-balanced for your four-legged bestie.
September 12, 2022 at 6:22 pm
Having had/have 3 small dogs (!2-21 lbs) over these past32 years I have chosen Blue Buffalo to feed each of these dogs.
Our first dog lived to be 17 years old. She had a few problems from the start of our rescue but she did pretty dang well for 17 years.
We now have 2 more small rescues Molly and Benji and they are JUST getting in the senior years, 12 and 8. Today I have again decided to choose Blue for their senior feedings and experiences speaks for me. Their vet called with their senior blood work and all is well and she was quite impressed.
If they have a problem that would cause me to switch that Blue food lines don't address I certainly would switch but until that time I say Blue has by their daily health examples and blood work been a great choice.
Molly and Beni's Mom and Dad
August 31, 2022 at 12:44 pm
The was a very comprehensive dog food comparison, and very mush appreciated. I have a Vet that I trust implicitly and they have advised me to use the Royal Canin. However, I have a trainer that I also hold in high regard, and she says, read the labels - no by products, preservatives, or fillers; these are found in Royal Canin. This is a dilemma, but I am leaning towards the Blue Buffalo, since as you mentioned, there are none of these ingredients.