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Blue Buffalo Wilderness vs. Blue Buffalo Freedom: Nutrition, Flavors, Cost & More

Are you comparing Blue Buffalo's Wilderness vs Freedom dog food lines before starting your pup's new nutrition plan? This comprehensive review compares their food lines by each life stage (puppy, adult, and senior) to help you find the perfect dog food formula for your canine companion.

Michelle Schenker

Last Updated: August 31, 2022 | 8 min read

2 bowls of Blue Buffalo dog food

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So, you’ve whittled down your dog’s diet to Blue Buffalo, but you’re now stuck between Wilderness and Freedom? Here in this nutritional versus guide, we run you through the brand in general, as well as get down to the dietary details of both Freedom and Wilderness.

Blue Buffalo is a big pet food brand in America. They began their journey as a small family-run business offering wholesome and natural pet food products. Because the company makes both lines, you can expect that they are similar. But because they are different product lines, they aim at different doggy audiences with different nutritional content and flavors.

So, let’s jump straight into this versus article and help you find out whether Wilderness or Freedom is the best option for Fido.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain with Bison
Our Rating

Best Nutritional

Blue Buffalo Wilderness

View at Chewy.com
Blue Buffalo Wilderness
Our Rating

Best Flavor

Blue Buffalo Wilderness

View at Chewy.com
Blue Buffalo Freedom
Our Rating

Best Value

Blue Buffalo Freedom

View at Chewy.com

Note: Clicking the above links take you to Chewy.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 History

Dog eating Blue Buffalo dog food
Blue Buffalo is a well-known and well-respected dog food brand.

The company was created in 2002 by the Bishop family in Connecticut soon after their family dog, Blue, passed away from cancer. They set out to create a well-balanced kibble that would better the health of all dogs. The company’s ethos is to ‘love them like family, feed them like family.’

Blue Buffalo creates wholesome food that is super tasty and nutritional. They also ensure that they provide options for all dogs with different health concerns and dietary needs, as well as options for small to large breeds and pups up to seniors. They are one of the biggest brands in America, and they have hundreds of products for you and your pooch to choose from.

Like most pet food brands, they have had to recall a few of their products. But considering how much pet food they produce, they have a good recall record. The only real issue that surrounded them was the lawsuit filed against them regarding the mislabelling of food. Although found guilty of false advertising, it was agreed that their manufacturer was to blame. They have since cut ties, highlighting that the safety of customers and their dogs are at the heart of their business.

They have seven lines in total. Wilderness is one of them, and it is their high protein line. Wilderness is their second biggest line by total products available. Freedom is their grain-free line that is free from grains, gluten, and artificial preservatives. Freedom is their fourth-biggest product line.

Nutritional Value Comparison

Blue Buffalo Food Ingredients
Blue Buffalo uses a variety of different high-quality ingredients in its food.

Feeding our beloved dogs the right nutrition is crucial to a healthy body and a happy life. So, it’s important that we know what we are putting into his bowl. Dogs need more than just meat. Good dog foods are fortified with all the goodness that dogs need.

Dogs need a well-balanced diet that provides them with protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The Association of American Food Control Officials (AAFCO) sets pet food standards that all pet food brands must meet. And you’ll be pleased to know that all Blue Buffalo products are AAFCO approved.

This affordable premium brand provides our pets with what they need. Below compares the average nutritional content of the most popular products:

 Small BreedMedium BreedLarge Breed
WildernessFreedomWildernessFreedomWildernessFreedom
Protein36%26%34%24%32%22.00%
Fat16%15%15%14%13%13%
Fiber5%5%6%6%7%6%
Kcal/cup425380409373377357

There are four significant components to look for when looking for a good quality dog food: protein, fat, fiber, and calories per cup. These are found in all pet food products ‘guaranteed analysis’ sections.

They help you to decide whether it is good quality and worth spending your money on. We are going to take a more in-depth look into the roles that protein, fat, and fiber play in Fido’s diet. As well as compare the nutritional content of these products.

Protein Content

This category is a little difficult to compare Wilderness and Freedom against one another. The Wilderness product line is their high protein range, so that it wouldn’t be a fair comparison. As you can see in the table above, each Wilderness product has an additional 10% protein compared to the Freedom size equivalent.

What is for sure is that even with the lower protein percentage, each of the Freedom options still exceeds the AAFCO standards. AAFCO states that puppies should eat a protein content of 22% and above, and adults should eat 18% and above.

Blue Buffalo promises to use meat as the first ingredient in each of their products, which is another sure sign of a good quality product. In both the products above, the first ingredient is deboned chicken, followed by chicken meal. Chicken meal is concentrated chicken, which is both nutritious and tasty.

Protein is crucial in all dog’s diets because it is full of amino acids. Amino acids are the essential building blocks that your pooch needs for a healthy body. Protein provides him with energy, muscle sustenance and repair, cellular regeneration power, and healthy skin and hair. Their foods deliver plenty of protein, and they are good quality protein sources too. No meat by-products here.

Fat Content

Fat is an essential part of all dogs’ diets, despite many thinking that it should be as low as possible. Fats make sure Fido’s body develops healthily and has plenty of energy. It also allows him to absorb the goodness of fat-soluble vitamins, as well as making his food much tastier.

Wilderness has 1% more fat in both their small and medium-sized products when compared to the Freedom equivalent. Their large product offers the same amount of fat as the Freedom product. AAFCO suggests that puppies should eat a kibble that provides at least 8% fat, and adults should eat a fat content of at least 5%. As you can see, each product exceeds the recommendation.

This doesn’t mean that they are too fatty, and this is similar to the fat content of many other premium brands. The fats are of good quality and ensure overall wellness. Healthy fats that are used include chicken fat, fish meals, and flaxseed. The extra fat in the Wilderness option is likely to come from the extra chicken meal, so this is only a good thing.

If you have an overweight pooch and are concerned about the fat content, Both offer weight management options too. They have a lower fat content and calorie count than the products compared above. They are successful in helping porky pooches to lose weight when needed.

Fiber Content

The fiber content is similar when it comes to the sizes and increases slightly with size. The only anomaly is that the large Wilderness product has 1% more than the Freedom equivalent. This brand tends to offer a higher fiber content than other premium brands. A diet with 2% to 5% is the average fiber content in most products, and anything above 6% is considered a high fiber diet.

Fiber is an essential part of Fido’s diet. Although it passes straight through his digestive system, without it, he would become very ill. Fiber has many benefits, such as aiding regular digestion, keeping his stools firm, assisting in the absorption of nutrients in his gut, and being a low-calorie ingredient.

If you’re looking for an above-average fiber diet, both do well in this area.

Winner

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain with Bison

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain with Bison
  • Real meat to help build and maintain lean muscle mass.
  • Grain-free dog food, made with healthy carbohydrates.
  • A precise blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals carefully selected by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support immune system health, life stage needs, and a healthy oxidative balance.
  • Contains NO chicken (or poultry) by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.
View at Chewy.com

Declaring the winner of the nutritional round is difficult because Freedom and Wilderness are both designed for the differing needs of dogs. Wilderness has more protein, fat, and calorie count per cup compared to the Freedom products. With the fiber content being almost the same.

So, this comes down to whether your pooch needs the extra protein and energy. If he does, Wilderness is the clear winner. If we had to choose, and your pooch could eat either, we would go with Wilderness. Only because it has more protein, higher energy, and more fats for his coat and joints, but whichever product you choose for your pooch, know that they are both nutritionally excellent.


Flavors Content

Like us humans, all dogs have different flavor preferences. And some dogs have intolerances to some meats. So, a brand needs to offer a variety of flavors. Both recipes include their exclusive LifeSource Bits, which are cold-formed pieces of kibble that are packed full of vital nutrients and seven superfoods.

Wilderness uses a variety of meats, such as chicken, beef, salmon, duck, buffalo, venison, and rabbit. Freedom offers a smaller range of flavors and sticks to the more staple meats, including chicken, beef, and lamb.

The Wilderness line also has a Rocky Mountain recipe that is made solely from red meats, and it is chicken and poultry free. Chicken and poultry are the most common protein ingredients used in dog products. Yet, many pooches are allergic to them. So, this flavor line is a fantastic option for pooches who are intolerant of these ingredients.

Winner

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Formula

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Adult Grain Free
  • Grain-free formula.
  • No by-product meals.
  • No corn, wheat or soy.
  • No artificial preservatives.
  • Rich in antioxidants & healthy carbohydrates.
  • 409 Calories per cup.
  • 34% Protein, 15% Fat, 6% Fiber.
View at Chewy.com

When it comes to flavor and other options, Wilderness offers a fuller range and uses a wider variety of meats. They also offer a chicken and poultry-free option, which is a big win for many sensitive dogs. We crown Wilderness the winner of this flavor round.


Cost

Budget is a significant consideration in anyone’s decision-making process. Although you don’t have to spend the earth to find a good quality kibble, you do get what you pay for. At the same time, it’s also important to recognize that good nutrition is an area that you shouldn’t scrimp on because good food can be the difference between a healthy dog and an unhealthy one.

Which line is better value for money? Let’s find out.

 WildernessFreedom
Bag Size10 lb22 lb4 lb11 lb24 lb
Approx Cost$41.99$69.99$22.99$38.99$66.99
Average Cost/lb$4.19$3.18$5.74$3.54$2.79

* Cost at time of publishing date subject to change.

Here you can see that in the pound for pound comparison, the more you buy, the more you save. It’s not apples for apples, though. The cost of the product depends on which flavor, which breed, and what size dog. While price is important, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor in picking a dog food. Go with what your dog’s nutritional needs are.

Winner

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-free Adult Formula

Blue Buffalo Grain Free Adult Freedom
  • Grain-free formula.
  • Gluten-free formula.
  • Chicken is the first ingredient.
  • No by-product meals.
  • Free of corn, wheat, and soy.
  • 373 Calories per cup.
  • 24% Protein, 14% Fat, 6% Fiber.
View at Chewy.com

Freedom is typically the less expensive option when it comes to both pound-for-pound comparison and cost per calorie. If the budget is a concern for you, Freedom is the lower-cost option.

However, you can see that if you can increase your budget slightly, Wilderness might be the better option. Considering that Wilderness offers more protein and fats, we would say that Wilderness provides better value for money.


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about Wilderness and Freedom product lines:

What is the main difference between Blue Buffalo Wilderness and Blue Buffalo Freedom?

Wilderness is the higher protein kibble, whereas Freedom is their kibble option that is free from grain, gluten, and artificial preservatives. If you’re interested in the Wilderness line, you should also take a look at their Carnivora line, which is even higher in protein and closer to a raw diet.

Does Wilderness or Freedom have any grain-inclusive options?

A: No, both Wilderness and Freedom are grain-free product lines only. If you are seeking a grain-inclusive option, you should consider Life Protection or Basics Limited Ingredient line. Both product lines have a mixture of grain-inclusive and grain-free options for you to choose from. There are several reasons to check with your vet before shifting your dog to a grain-free diet.

Which product line is a better value?

When it comes to value, although Wilderness is slightly more expensive than Freedom, if you have the budget for it, we suggest Wilderness. For a few cents extra per pound, you are providing Fido with much more protein, healthy fats, and taste. But if Wilderness is not an option for any reason, be that budget or Fido’s dietary needs, Freedom is still a fantastic option for your pooch and purse.

How many options are there in the Wilderness and Freedom range?

Wilderness has 26 dry food options with 26 matching wet foods. There are also Wilderness treats and meal toppers available too. Freedom has fewer options available. There are 12 dry and 10 wet food options. There are no treats or topper options in the Freedom range.


Pros & Cons

ProsCons
WildernessFreedomWildernessFreedom
Many flavors to choose fromCheaper optionHigher protein can be too rich for some dogsStandard protein content
High protein contentFree from grains, gluten, and artificial preservativesSlightly higher in priceStandard protein content

Final Thoughts

Blue Buffalo has earned itself a fantastic reputation because of its family ethos, natural and nutritional products, wide variety, and more. Wilderness and Freedom are just 2 of the brand’s product lines, both of which are grain-free and well-balanced.

Wilderness is the higher protein option, and it provides dogs with more protein, energy, and healthy fats. Higher protein or fats is not a diet that would suit all dogs, so it’s always important to put Fido’s needs first when making a decision. But if your pooch could eat either of the lines, we would personally pick Wilderness. Wilderness also has more flavors and complimentary wet foods, and it is only a tad more expensive.

But both product lines are nutritional, terrific value for money, and tasty. They are both tried, tested, and loved the world over. So, whichever line you choose to side with, know that you are making a fantastic choice for your pooch’s health.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety or care advice. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, insurance expert, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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