Nutrition

Merrick vs. Blue Buffalo: Dog Food Brand Comparison

Emma Braby

Last Updated: March 23, 2020 | 12 min read

As responsible dog lovers we are all aware of how important nutrition is for a healthy pooch, and it is the undeniable key to great physical health in our canine companions. In the same way that humans can transform their bodies, state of mind and physical health through diet and exercise, so too can our beloved pooches. This is why we compare our favorite dog food brands, as in this case with Merrick vs. Blue Buffalo.

Easier said than done though, right? With the hundreds of brands, products and ‘award winning’ recipes we are bombarded with in both supermarkets and online, it’s no easy feat to pick one. This is why we have sorted the wheat from the chaff, and in this article, we put two heavyweights of the dog food world head to head. So, if you are trying to decide between Merrick and Blue Buffalo, all you need to do is read this guide and decide which brand ticks most boxes for your pooch and their lifestyle.

Throughout this article we will answer questions such as ‘what food brand is best for my pooch?’ and ‘what do I need to look out for when picking a brand’ by exploring Merrick and Blue Buffalo in a detailed side by side comparison showing you their strengths and weaknesses, nutritional value, brand history, pricing, ingredients and more.

Foods Comparison at a Glance: Merrick vs. Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo Small Breed: Grain Free Chicken & Peas
Merrick Small Breed: Lil Plates Recipe
Blue Buffalo Medium Breed: Grain Free Chicken & Peas
Merrick  Medium Breed: Grain Free Chicken & Sweet Potato
Blue Buffalo Large Breed: Grain Free Chicken & Peas
Merrick  Large Breed: Grain Free Chicken & Sweet Potato

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

Comparing Merrick and Blue Buffalo Dog Food
Learning about Merrick and Blue Buffalo’s history is good to understand their commitment to dog health.

Before we can give either one of these foods a deeper look, it’s important to understand the brand histories so you can understand their commitment to your pup’s wellbeing nutritionally.  Anytime you are thinking of making a change to your pup’s diet, you’ll want to give a very thorough look over as to what kind of ingredients these manufacturers are putting into your dog’s body.

Both Merrick and Blue Buffalo have loyal followings, and their products are very well thought of in the dog community.  Both Blue Buffalo have some of our favorite foods for different dog breeds, including foods for the Boxer, German Shepherd kibble or foods for the picky Siberian Husky.  Let’s get a quick overview before comparing different foods for each brand.

Merrick History

Created by a pet lover, Garth Merrick, Merrick food has been around for some 30 years after the company was started in the family kitchen in Hereford, Texas. The first venture into the industry was oral cavity and breath freshening treats called flossies. That success lead to Merrick moving into all-natural, canine and feline food, for which they have received numerous awards. The operation went from strength to strength and now their product range includes hundreds of recipes and flavors.

In the early 2000’s Merrick began producing grain-free food and a range of foods catering to dogs and cats with special dietary needs. This skyrocketed their popularity as the demand for 100% natural pet food became a huge deal for many pet owners. 

Merrick also has a 5 point promise on all their dog products.  This five-point promise ensures that all ingredients are locally sourced.  They only use real whole foods.  Meals are prepped and packaged in FDA approved human kitchens.  Meals have a high meat and complex carbohydrate ratio.  All products provide a balanced diet. On top of this they also guarantee your money back if any product fails to deliver on their promises.  Because they’ve made advancements in quality over the years, and are used by many breeders, Merrick is a food of choice that many will recommend.

Blue Buffalo History

Blue Buffalo was born in Wilton, Connecticut in 2012, and they were inspired by the early passing of their beloved family pooch ‘Blue’, an Airedale Terrier, who lost his battle with cancer. The family decided to take a keen interest in many health issues that could be prevented or eased by a good diet, and now they produce both dog and cat products in an array of forms.

The Bishop family, in conjunction with a leading Veterinarian and animal nutritionist, created a food brand made from natural and healthy ingredients starting with real meat. The brand’s mission statement is simple, “love them like family, feed them like family.”

With a resolute approach to premium food creation that does not compromise on quality or safety, it’s easy to see why the brand has gained popularity. It’s wide variety of recipes and flavors mean Blue Buffalo is a premium brand of good standing in the nutrition arena, even compared against other higher priced brands.

Nutritional Value Comparison

The core function of food intake, for both us and our pooches, is to both nourish and sustain our bodies and minds, and for food to do this we need to know what we need and whether we can find it in the food we eat. A big part of being a responsible dog owner is knowing that they can have sensitive dispositions when it comes to food, and that some ingredients can cause illness and health issues.

Even the most formidable-looking dog can have a sensitive stomach or specific dietary requirements, so it is essential that you understand their needs from a nutritional perspective and deliver their dietary requirements. The table below compares the average nutritional components of Merrick and Blue Buffalo’s most popular standard food for size specificity.

 
Blue Buffalo Small Breed
Merrick Small Breed
Blue Buffalo Medium Breed
Merrick Medium Breed
Blue Buffalo Large Breed
Merrick Large Breed
Protein
26%
34%
24%
34%
22%
31%
Fats
15%
14%
14%
14%
12%
15%
Fiber
5%
4.5%
6%
4.5%
6%
3.5%
Kcal/Cup
380
352
373
379
357
372

The three major components of food products that are measured as nutritional content are protein, fat and fiber. These are the most important for a healthy balanced diet for good reason, so let’s just recap the why of how they are so important for your pup.

Protein Content

Protein supplies our pups with amino acids, and these are critical for energy, cellular regeneration, muscle production and repair, as well as healthy hair, skin, and ligaments. Without it our hairy hounds will soon become malnourished and unhealthy. Like humans, canines cannot create enough amino acids naturally, so their dietary intake of this superfood is of the utmost importance.

In this category we can see a clear winner. Merrick hands down have included more protein within their food for all sizes of pooch. The protein is also good quality with no chicken by-product meal.

Fat Content

The advised protein to fat ratio is universally agreed to be approximately 2:1. The reason being is that a gram of fat has roughly 2 to 2 ½ times the energy content of a gram of protein. So, the closer a dog food gets to this magic ratio the better, as your pooch’s body will gain the nutrients from the protein before heading to the fat for extra energy. If his nutrition gets this ratio the wrong way around, your dog will absorb more energy and less nutrients, leading to weight gain and health concerns.

Fat gets a bad rap as it is always referred to in conjunction with obesity problems, however, it is essential to your pooch’s diet. It delivers a host of food and health benefits, including the much-needed energy and fat-soluble vitamins, as well as adding a punch to the taste. There is a mixture of fat percentages in the Merrick and Blue Buffalo products here, so this is negligible.

Fiber Content

Fiber is an essential part of a dog’s diet needed to aid digestion and keeps your pooch’s bowel movements regular and healthy. Like humans, a lack of fiber in your doggos diet can lead to constipation and lack of vitamin absorption. A highly fibrous diet is also used for obese dogs trying to shake off a few pounds as it satiates their appetite for longer, and reduces their food begging tendancies.

From looking at the table you might think that Blue Buffalo have come out on top on this aspect, and yes while there is more fiber in their food compared to Merrick, it is quite often used as a filler to bulk out dog food that has a lack of better ingredients. Given that Merrick’s food has a better protein to fat ratio producing about the same amount of calories, it would suggest that the extra fiber has been used as filler somewhat, although not excessively. So, Merrick wins here with better quality fiber ingredients that are nutritionally more beneficial.

Flavor Choice Comparison

Do you enjoy the exact same foods and flavors as your best friend? No? Well not all dogs have the same food preferences, just as they also suffer from a wide variety of allergies and intolerances, so it is important to find a recipe that caters to his needs and preferences.

Fear not, both Merrick and Blue Buffalo have a plethora of flavors in both dry and wet foods that will have your pups taste buds tingling and never bored. Plus, with both brands priding themselves on their all-natural ingredients and flavors, you don’t have to worry about any harmful flavoring additives. 

Both Merrick and Blue Buffalo pretty much tie in this category.  Blue Buffalo has a number of flavor blends, which includes salmon, venison, fish, and other meats mixed with sweet potatoes, peas, and other vegetables.  Merrick is well known for their use of brown rice in most recipes, and also has chicken, turkey, beef and other meats mixed in.  Neither brand made our list for food that’s popular with picky eaters.

Cost Comparison

Cost is the biggest deciding factor for a lot of owners. Prices vary wildly for what can appear, on the surface, to be effectively the same food. Our guiding principle here is that whilst you get what you pay for, the most expensive brands are not always the best quality or the right nutrition for your pooch, so it is important to research and compare kibbles.

In order to decide what food to buy you first need to decide what type of diet you want for your pooch and why. For example, a high energy working dog may need a high protein and high calorific diet due to the amount of energy they burn daily. Once you have identified your pooch’s needs, you can narrow down your choices to a few good-quality reputable brands that fit the criteria.

Pricing then becomes a simple calculation of value for money. If the brands offer the same nutrient breakdown and benefits, you simply choose the one that gives you more food for less money. With this in mind, you will quickly see which brands are priced on name and gimmick, versus those that deliver balanced nutrition. 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
Merrick Small Breed
Blue Buffalo Medium Breed
Merrick Medium Breed
Blue Buffalo Large Breed
Merrick Large Breed
Bag Size (Lbs.)
11 Lb.
20 Lb.
24 Lb.
25 Lb.
24 Lb.
25 Lb.
Average Cost/Lb.
$2.90
$2.74
#2.08
$2.39
$2.20
$2.39
Average Cost/Kcal
.15
.15
.11
.12
.12
.12

As you can see, on a pound for pound comparison, Blue Buffalo appears to be cheaper for the medium and large sizes. But look a little closer, and per calorie they are almost identical cost wise in a side by side like for like comparison of foods. This is because Merrick pack more calories into the same amount of dry food.

Therefore, cost per calorie is a better way to work out which foods are better value for money. Merrick and Buffalo are equal here, but taking into account Merrick has slightly better quality ingredients we would say Merrick wins in terms of value for money.  Brands like Wellness can also hang in there too when making a cost comparison.

Frequently Asked Questions

Just like most dog owners on the hunt for the best nutrition, there are a few burning questions they need answering before they decide.  We get inquiries here at the site when it comes to picking the right dog food, so we’ve preemptively tried to answer those questions for you below.

Q: Protein punch or protein tickle, which has the most?
A: Blue Buffalo falls behind Merrick in this area, with around 9% less protein on average for the dry food we looked at in this comparison.

Q: Which brand is the tastiest to dogs?
A: Blue Buffalo has the most lip smacking flavors at 85 in dry dog food and 101 for wet dog food. Merrick has a competitive 37 dry dog food recipes and upwards of 65 wet flavors. So, either way you are spoiled for choice, but Blue Buffalo has more variety.

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, and as our cost comparison shows they are both equal value wise, but Merrick has better quality ingredients so therefore better value.

Q: How do I know which has a better nutritional content for my dog?
A: As detailed throughout the article there are things to look out for when purchasing food for your pup. The protein to fat ratio is a big one, and here we are looking for a ratio of 2:1, which also helps us to identify how much of the kibble is packed with filler ingredients. Then there are ingredients we want to avoid such as meat by-products, as these are the nastier parts of leftover animal carcasses that are of no real nutritional value to your pup, and lastly we need to be aware of the calorie content for each cup of food so we know how much to feed him.

Pros and Cons

BrandProsCons
MerrickLocal Natural IngredientsHigher Average Price
FDA Approved Test KitchensSome Grainy Formulas
Abundance of Recipes
Blue BuffaloNatural and OrganicHigher Average Price
Abundance of RecipesSome Recipes Are Rich
Brand Popularity

Final Thoughts

Both companies have shown incredible dedication to producing the finest quality food made from the most natural ingredients that ensure your beloved pooch gets everything he needs and more. Coupled with the incredible variety of recipes and formulas for every kind of dog, age and ailments alike, these two brands really are powerhouses in the market.

So, as the price of the products on offer are about the same give or take a few cents, this came down to who produced the better-quality food for the cost? We’d have to say it really comes down to your budget when comparing Merrick vs. Blue Buffalo for a winner.  While Merrick provides more protein, a better balance of ingredients, Blue Buffalo is very close but wins on price. If budget is a concern, stick with Blue Buffalo.  If you can afford the Merrick Cost, it’s a sensible choice for your pup.

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