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Wag vs Orijen Dog Food: How Do They Compare?

Learn all about these two well-known brands of dog food, Wag and Orijen. See which of their products are best for puppies, adults, and seniors, and discover the history and practices of each company.

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Last Updated: February 9, 2024 | 13 min read

Two puppies fighting for two bowls of dog food

Owners need to have all the facts and information when choosing dog food. We aim to provide all the facts about dog food so you can make the best choice for your sweet pup’s nutritional needs. We compare two well-known pet brands, Wag vs. Orijen. Get to know each of these brands and see if they appeal to your pocketbook and to your doggie.

Whether you are looking for new chow for Buddy or just want to know if your favorite brands make the grade, you are in the right place. The best thing owners can do is thoroughly research all foods they consider for their pets, and we are here to help.

We compare these two brands and discuss their history, recalls, ingredients, formulas, and more. One is a more budget brand, and the other is premium dog food that uses more diverse, higher-end ingredients. Let’s get into it and see what these two brands of dog chow can offer and how they compare.

Orijen Puppy Food Orange Bag
Our Rating

Best For Puppies

Orijen Puppy

Orijen Adult Formula Blue Bag
Our Rating

Best For Adults

Orijen Adult

Orijen Senior Formula Green Bag
Our Rating

Best For Seniors

Orijen Senior

Note: Clicking the above links takes you to Chewy.com and 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.

Brand History

Brands work extremely hard to be recognizable to customers and build trusting relationships with them. We look at the history of both brands to see what these two brands have to offer and where they came from. In most cases, when one researches a brand, its ethos, and practices, you can get a better idea if it is the right choice of sustenance for your beloved Buddy. Both brands offer dry food, wet food, and treats.

Wag

Dog food border with Wag dog food logo in the middle
This brand is not to be confused with the British pet food brand Wagg.

Wag is a newer (kind of) pet food brand owned by Amazon. The brand was first launched as Wag.com in 2011 by a company named Quidsi, which also owned Diapers.com and Soap.com. Amazon took over Quidsi, which ended up going under in 2017, and all its brands were dissolved.

Amazon bought Wag back in 2018 with a different approach, focused only on a few specific products, dog and cat chow. Wag claims to use all key ingredients, all-natural, with no added grains or fillers, and free of artificial colors and preservatives. Real meat is the “#1 Ingredient.”

All products are made in a family-owned California facility, though they use some ingredients sourced from other countries. Amazon is branding Wag as a well-balanced choice known for high quality. They also aim to be affordable, though recently, prices have increased. Wag is priced around $40 for a 30-pound bag and about $25 for a 12-pack of 12.5-ounce cans of wet food. 

Currently, Wag operates through Amazon and does not have an independent website. While they do not make the products themselves, Amazon does own the brand. The brand believes that “Your best bud is at his best when he feels best, which starts with what’s in his bowl.” Their recipes are designed with the help of veterinarians to benefit canine health and taste delicious.

Wag has also slowly increased its product line, now offering a variety of treats, training treats, dental chews, health supplements, and probiotics. They provide a range of wet, dry, and human-grade dog foods and treats. Most products, on average, get a solid four to four and a half star rating with an occasional 5 star. Wag is available through Amazon and is currently only for Prime members. Select products can be found on Walmart.com. Though they have only been around for a few years, Wag is quickly becoming a household name for pet owners.

Orijen

Orijen is a company that makes premium pet food and has been around for over 30 years. This brand is manufactured under the Canadian-based Champion Petfoods. Their products are high quality and on the pricier side. They are manufactured in two plants. One is located here in the U.S., in Kentucky, and the other in Alberta, Canada. Both plants have websites that share information about local suppliers used to make the products. Orijen supports small businesses and local farms in both areas. On average, this brand is pricier than many and can cost about $60 for a 13-pound bag. A 12-pack of 12.8 oz cans of food is $50 – $55. 

Orijen strives to make food that serves a dog’s (and cat’s) natural, historical needs. The company name Orijen is derived from the Latin term “origin.” The company bases its formulas on biologically appropriate nutrition. They focus on meat-based diets using natural ingredients cooked in real kitchens under the guidance of pet nutrition experts.

Orijen recipes reflect diets as close as possible to what our dogs’ and cats’ ancestors found and consumed in nature. Our recipes feature 85%-95% premium animal ingredients with a variety of animal ingredients. With high meat inclusions from superior quality meat, poultry, and produce, feeding ORIJEN means feeding your pet the best.”

Orijen is available through several retailers online and in-store worldwide. They offer a location finder and several resources for pet owners on their company website. They are very transparent about what goes into their products. The company also does not partake in outsourcing. All parts of the food-making process take place under their supervision. Orijen only makes products for itself and does sell to or under any other company’s names. Orijen has a very loyal customer base, with mainly outstanding reviews. The brand was established in 1985 and is sold in at least 70 countries.

Recalls

Food recall and head of broccoli
Dog (and cat) food recalls can happen for various reasons.

This is a critical area for pet owners to pay attention to. Recalls can be issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration, by the manufacturer themselves, or by suppliers. They can be for inferior quality, disease, or safety violations.

Wag

To date, Wag has not been a part of any recalls. Wag has not released the names of its suppliers or what company it works with to manufacture the products. So, this leaves a bit of an unknown. There are no known recalls or lawsuits against Wag currently. However, the dog-walking company Wag! has been the subject of a few lawsuits. Due to the similarity in name, there may be confusion there.

Orijen

Orijen has never had a recall. However, the company has been involved in some different lawsuits as part of its parent company, Champion Petfoods. A class-action lawsuit filed in 2018 in federal court in Denver, Colorado, claimed that the company and its brands Orijen, and Acana, made false claims on labels that were misleading. The company won that case. Also, in 2018, Champion Petfoods was part of a class-action lawsuit in California that claimed the company did not “disclose the presence of heavy metals and toxins” in its products, as well as the use of “negligent, reckless” practices and false advertising. That case was dismissed in 2020 for lack of evidence.

Orijen was also part of the FDA investigation into grain-free pet diets and how that might link to
canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). No link has been confirmed, and most healthy dogs will do well on a grain-free diet. Some even see health benefits. Orijen offers some healthy, gluten-free grains in their “Amazing Grains” Products that use things like oats, chia, and quinoa.

Food Ingredients

Bone treat and two bowls of pet food wet and dry with natural ingredients
No one wants to find out that what they were feeding their pet was bad for them.

Learning about the ingredients that go into pet products can give a lot of clues about the value and quality of the product. These labels are not always easy to understand. There are many misleading claims out there, so it is essential for owners to know what they are putting into their beloved pet’s bowls. The type of ingredients and where they come from play a vital role in the quality of dog chow, as well as the reputation and practices of a company.

Wag

Wag uses real meat in their products and always lists this as the first ingredient. Using real meat and natural meat products is a good sign of top-quality food. It is an excellent sign to see real meat at the start of any ingredient list. Wag uses salmon, lamb, beef, turkey, chicken, and some wild meats. Wag products have an average of 36% protein content across their products.

Originally, the brand only produced grain-free products. They now produce some grain-inclusive recipes. This means that more dogs can eat their offerings. Unlike many companies, Wag does not use wheat, soy, or corn. They use alternative grains like brown rice, barley, and millet, which can be gentler on the canine GI system.

The meat in Wag is all sourced in the United States. This brand is meant to be affordable, so they do not use higher-end or exotic ingredients. Their ingredient labels imply that they use high-quality ingredients. This is important to note, as many lower-priced dog foods will use low-quality ingredients. Finding one that is both budget-friendly and uses decent-quality ingredients is rare. Wag does use probiotics that help with digestion. Many brands of dog food quality and luxury alike do not include probiotics.

Along with meat being the first ingredient in their pet food formulas, Wag also uses high-quality fats such as salmon oil, flaxseed, and chicken fats. They also include many micro-ingredients, such as vitamins and minerals. Wag guarantees that all its ingredients are high quality and blended in a family-owned facility. They also say they test every batch to ensure it meets high brand standards.

Wag does source some products outside of the United States, and it is unclear which ones those are and where they come from. Most often, these products are things like vitamins and minerals, not the main ingredients that are in dog food. Wag also uses some filler ingredients, though their fillers include things like yeast and beet pulp rather than animal byproducts and other artificial fillers. Wag’s labels tend to have more ingredients than some other brands, so this is something for owners to consider.

Orijen

Origin has built its brand reputation using high-quality, local, fresh ingredients with no fillers and byproducts. They have been in business for 30 years and are sold worldwide, so this strategy has worked. Orijen is a premium, more high-end brand of dog food that pet owners rave about. 

This brand uses fresh meat products like chicken, turkey, flounder, mackerel, chicken liver, turkey giblets, herring, whole eggs, and dehydrated chicken. Dehydrated chicken is a high-quality meat concentrate that contains over four times the amount of protein as raw meat. This is a much better ingredient to use than chicken meal.

Orijen has a unique, extremely specific approach to their pet formulas. They strive to offer healthier options for grains, meats, and other ingredients. This is all part of their biologically appropriate approach. There are few other, if any, brands that formulate their pet products this same way. 85% of their dry dog food comes from animal-based proteins, and 15% is fruits, vegetables, botanicals, and other ingredients. They also work to ensure that 2/3 of their animal proteins are either raw or fresh to create the most nutrient-dense meal possible. The freeze-dried products offer 90% animal proteins and 10% fruits and vegetables.

This brand also uses no fillers and few grains, holding much of the kibble together using legumes. All recipes have balanced fat and carbohydrate levels. Orijen is one of the most high-quality dog foods on the market and has a high price tag to come with it. They include many elements in their unique formulas that no other dog food brands have. Customers have rave reviews. Some even say certain products, like the freeze-dried options, appeal to even the pickiest pups.

Range Of Formulas

Both brands use similar ingredients, though each has its unique formula and extra special ingredients they add. They offer meat-heavy recipes with high-quality meat products. Both offer grain-free dog foods but do have some grain-inclusive products. All dogs are different and will have unique dietary needs. Taste and preference for both pet and owner also play a role in picking dog food. Now that we have covered the ingredients in both Wag and Orijen dog foods, let’s look at each brand’s different formulas.

Puppy Formulas

Puppyhood is an especially crucial time in canine health and development, in particular nutrition, because it sets the stage for the rest of their lives. Picking the right puppy chow for them is a challenge, and owners want to know that what they are feeding their special bundles of joy will support their growth. Depending on size and breed, dogs will have different nutritional needs.

Orijen For Puppies

Orijen Puppy Food
  • Raw animal protein
  • 85% protein
  • More flavors
  • Extra vitamins and minerals
  • Grain alternatives
  • Custom created formula

Wag

Wag offers only two puppy formulas. One is grain-free; the other is grain inclusive. This is a significant improvement as a brand that started with only grain-free options. Both can be fed to large and small pups. They offer a chicken and lentil flavor and a Chicken/Salmon/Beef/Lamb and Brown rice formulation using egg, chicken meal, and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) to support growth. Additionally,

Wag also has a large breed dry puppy formula in its Wholesome Grains line. The protein content is about 27% for puppy formula. Fat content is higher than their adult kibble, about 16%. Their recipes are fortified with vitamins and minerals, all meeting the AAFCO guidelines.

Orijen

Orijen offers more variety with several puppy options to choose from. They have puppy kibble, Amazing Grains Puppy kibble and a large breed, and a large breed puppy formula. This premium brand also offers a high-protein puppy biscuit. Their puppy formulas are packed full of fresh and raw animal protein and hand-selected grains. They use wild-caught fish, including salmon. Their unique blend of oats, quinoa, chia, and other healthy grain alternatives are custom-created with no added preservatives to support a puppy’s growing nutritional needs. This brand of puppy formula is higher in protein and fats and can be particularly good for highly active puppies. Additionally, they include elements like glucosamine and chondroitin that help with joint health, a big concern for many breeds.

Puppy Winner

The puppy winner here is Orijen. They have more variety, more complete formulas, more reviews, and higher reviews overall. They also offer a more diverse formula, with unique elements that set these products apart from other brands. 85 % of their formula is protein, and they use locally sourced sustainable ingredients.

Adult Formulas

After the first year, dogs need to move on to a nutrient-rich, well-balanced adult formula. Moving up to a new food formula is important. Adult dogs have much more diverse needs than puppies and do not need as many calories, protein, or fat. Dogs can be very particular about taste and texture by adulthood.

Orijen Original Formula

Orijen Original Adult Food
  • 85% natural protein
  • The first 5 ingredients are fresh or raw proteins
  • Wild-caught proteins
  • Uses dehydrated chicken, high in healthy protein
  • Healthy fats like chicken fat
  • Wide selection of flavors
  • Made in the U.S.

Wag

Wag offers a long list of adult canine chow options. Currently, they offer 13 different choices. These include four different grain-inclusive choices and nine grain-free options that are made with lentils and sweet potatoes. They offer cage-free American chicken-based kibbles and chicken-free kibbles. These include salmon, lamb, and beef flavors. Wag also offers a small breed variety with chicken and brown rice and boosted protein. This option comes in a large breed and healthy weight formula. These kibbles also incorporate fruits like blueberries and strawberries, which contain probiotics and antioxidants.

Orijen

Orijen has a broad selection of adult dog food options. This can be extremely helpful as dogs can get tired of eating the same flavors and crave variety in their diets. The brand makes several Amazing Grains options along with their hard-to-beat original formula. They also offer specially developed varieties like Fit & Trim, Six Fish, and Regional Red (ranch-raised beef, wild boar, grass-fed lamb, wild-caught mackerel, and Boer goat, whole prey animals). Adult formulas are protein-powered with 85% natural protein, the first five ingredients are always raw meats and fish, and recipes include essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Orijen also offers freeze-dried foods and treats.

Adult Winner

The adult winner is once again Orijen. This is due to the selection and quality of ingredients, as well as the care and dedication they have taken to create specialized, unique formulas for different sizes and nutritional needs. There is more meat variety, and though both breeds get consistent 4.5 stars and above ratings, Orijen has the edge here. Orijen is simply better equipped to serve a larger variety of dogs. Though they are a tad pricier, it is worth the extra bucks. Additionally, Wag has recently increased its prices, making Orijen a better deal.

Senior Formulas

Senior dogs need extra special TLC, and this applies especially to nutrition. They can have many different nutritional needs and preferences. Dogs start to enter senior territory around seven years old. They begin to experience joint and mobility issues and have different energy levels. Canines, just like felines and humans, start to need more dietary support for bone, joint, digestive, and even coat health. They need fewer calories, fats, and protein than puppies and active adults. Most dogs will switch to adult formula at about seven years old.

Orijen Senior

Orijen Senior Dog Food
  • Custom senior formula
  • Freeze-dried options
  • Grain-free and grain-inclusive options
  • Reduced fats
  • 85% proteins
  • Softer kibble

Wag

Wag states that all their adult formulas can be used for any stage of canine life, including seniors. They did not offer a senior variety in the past. They have since added Wholesome Grains Senior Dry Dog Food in chicken and brown rice flavors.

Orijen

Orijen offers a custom formula created to support senior pups. These kibbles are protein-rich and designed to support the changing needs of older dogs. Orijen maintains the 85% protein formula, even in senior formulas. They offer reduced fats as senior dogs do not need as many and do not sacrifice quality or flavor. Senior kibble is smaller and softer than adult formula, as many older dogs have trouble with harder kibbles.

Senior Winner

There is a benefit to seniors for both breeds. In the end, though, Orijen takes the win here as well. Their senior formula is tried and true and goes above and beyond. They edge out Wag with more 4.5 and above ratings and a richer, fresher, higher protein formula for senior doggies. Wag also uses chicken meal, a lower quality choice than Orijen.

Wet Food

Kibble is usually a healthier choice for dogs, but not always. There are some benefits to mixing up their diets, including canned and wet foods. It has a higher moisture content and can keep canines hydrated. Wet food also has fewer carbohydrates than kibbles. Wet food is often picked for dogs with dental issues, digestive problems, overweight dogs, and dogs with underlying health conditions. It is also a nice treat and adds some assorted flavors to your pup’s diet.

Wag Wet Food

Canned Beef & Vegetable Stew
  • Wider variety
  • Grain-free and grain-inclusive options
  • Wet dog food toppers
  • Real meat #1 ingredient
  • Affordable

Wag

Wag offers several options for wet food. They have 11 options currently. These include grain-free and grain-inclusive choices. They have a small breed chicken and lamb pate cup, a chicken and beef in gravy cup, beef and vegetable stew, lamb and vegetable stew, turkey and sweet potato stew, and wet dog food toppers in chicken and lamb flavors, among others. Real meat is the number one ingredient.

Orijen

Origen offers a few wet food options. They have puppy poultry and fish pate, adult beef stew, chicken stew, tundra, regional red, and freeze-dried foods. Freeze-dried foods are a fantastic choice and are close to the best to offer a dog. These products are like making a fresh meal without all the cooking.

Wet Food Winner

The canned food winner is Wag due to their wide selection of products. Orijen does offer a puppy formula, which Wag does not, as well as freeze-dried. Canned food goes to Wag as a better deal and more variety.

Final Thoughts

Wag and Orijen have similar philosophies and want to make the best food possible for dogs. They both use natural meat products, though Orijen is more transparent about where their ingredients come from. Both brands use high-quality ingredients and have specialized formulas for distinct stages of life and the size of dogs. Orijen is a much higher-end brand than Wag, which is an Amazon brand. Orijen has a higher price tag. Both brands offer reliable, well-balanced food to support your dog’s health.

Overall, both these brands taste great, offer a variety of choices, and have options for varied sizes and ages. They both provide balanced nutrition and support canine health. Wag can be a little easier on the budget. Orijen may be a better choice for those who like to choose their food in person or want more variety. Just know that either of these brands is professionally managed, uses high-quality ingredients, and will satisfy your dog’s dietary needs and tastes. Both brands want the best for your pup and take great care always to keep their safety and health top priority.

The dog is waiting for food at the bowl with owner holding kibble in hands in the shape of a heart

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