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Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro: Dog Food Brand Comparison

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Last Updated: May 9, 2024 | 10 min read | 13 Comments

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A balanced diet for your furry best friend is paramount to his ongoing health and 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. Let’s compare two high-quality dog food titans Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro.

Being dog parents, we don’t just want any old food for our fur babies. We want the best for them. It can be challenging to know what is best when so many different foods are 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, we have researched these two championed big brands, 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 pup. So, let’s take a closer look at Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro.

Foods Comparison At A Glance: Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro

American Journey Senior Dog Food Formula
Our Rating

Top Pick For Puppies

Blue Buffalo Puppy

Canidae Under the Sun
Our Rating

Top Pick For Adults

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

Merrick Grain Free Puppy Formula
Our Rating

Top Pick For Seniors

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior

Comparing Brand Histories: Nutro vs. Blue Buffalo

Nutro vs Blue Buffalo Brand Histories
Comparing the brand history of Blue Buffalo vs. Nutro helps define both companies’ commitment 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 to understand each brand’s history. It’s always helpful to evaluate a dog food brand based on its company’s history, which will help determine its commitment to nutritional excellence.

Both Nutro and Blue Buffalo are reputable food manufacturers and have many advocates that sing praises of both brands. Both brands carry grain-free and 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 1920s by an unnamed Englishman who sold it in 1927, and it was then established and renamed Nutro somewhere between 1931 and 1937 in Santa Monica.

Over time the brand 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 has always used natural ingredients and still does to this day, and each element 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. The Blue brand caters to recipes for many life stages and needs of dogs and has seen unprecedented growth since its conception. They are one of our favorite brands for large-breed puppies.

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. Because of their popularity, Blue Buffalo is often compared to big brands like Wellness and other competitors.

Nutritional Value Comparison

Proper nutrition facilitates your pup’s bodily needs of maintaining muscle tone, developing strong teeth and bones, and performing 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 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, 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, supporting the immune system, supporting healthy hair, and making hormones, antibodies, and enzymes. This protein is also the primary source of calories to fuel dogs’ energy levels. A complete and well-balanced food that provides your pup’s protein needs will help keep him strong, healthy, and ready to go when it comes to playtime.

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 canine’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 well-being. 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 a protein content 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 fiber quality 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 various 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 while 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 has 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 daily. 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 as they can every day without fail. Some dogs, like humans, have taste preferences, and some dogs also have specific meat intolerances, and as such, flavors dictate what recipes they can and can’t eat.

Luckily for you and your pooch, Nutro and Blue Buffalo both have multiple flavors for each product line they offer, so you will never have an issue with finding a flavor for him. While Nutro has around a dozen varieties, Blue Buffalo has well over fifty across their dry food range, so Blue Buffalo wins this round, hands down.

Cost Comparison

For some of us, the cost can be the deciding factor when it comes to feeding our pups. The average monthly cost 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. The price 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 and online. While 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. This is often reversed regarding 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.

Puppy Formulas

Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo offers 19 dog food products designed specifically with puppies in mind. You can sort based on your needs, including breed size, unique formulas, recipes, flavors, and product lines.

Most of their puppy chow options are grain-free, though they offer numerous high-protein diets that feature chicken, brown rice, and vegetables.

Nutro

Nutro offers a total of 9 puppy formulas. 5 of these are from their Wholesome Essentials line, 1 from the Ultra range, 1 grain-free option, and 2 Max options. There are also different flavors for your pup to choose from.

Small puppies need smaller-sized dry kibbles to fit in their tiny mouth. Large-breed puppies can be a little more flexible but should be eating puppy food specifically made for large breeds. Luckily, Nutro has formulas for both and can meet both needs with differently formulated dog food options.

Winner

Blue Buffalo offers a more significant number of choices with more protein options and better ingredients overall for puppy food. Their numerous Life Protection and Wilderness product lines ensure fantastic health benefits for puppies of any size or age.

Blue Buffalo Puppy

Blue Buffalo Wet Food
  • All-natural small breed puppy food.
  • Real meat is the first ingredient.
  • No meat by-products.
  • No fillers or artificial ingredients.
  • Contains blueberries, peas & carrots (fiber).
  • Antioxidant-rich formula includes sweet potatoes.
  • Smaller size kibble for puppy jaws.

Adult Formulas

Blue Buffalo

Blue Buffalo features an astounding 76 products in their adult dog food line, from Life Protection to Wilderness. Their unique formulas include digestive care, high protein, food sensitivity, prey feeding, grain-free, and weight management options.

Their Life Protection formula features:

  • Only real chicken, no by-products
  • No corn, wheat, or soy
  • No artificial flavoring or preservatives
  • Notable boost to immune system health
  • Healthy oxidative balance

On top of the wide selection of formulas, Blue Buffalo offers several proteins, from duck and lamb to rabbit and salmon, along with all of the usuals, like chicken and beef.

Nutro

Nutro offers a total of 42 adult kibbles. There are offerings from each line, which all include breed sizes, flavors, and healthy weight options. There are a variety of recipes and flavors for your pooch to choose from, including a handful of grain-free options.

Winner

Blue Buffalo takes the cake with its extensive adult kibble offerings. Pet owners who want options — over 76 adult dog food products — enjoy the selection and chance to customize what their pet eats daily. If your adult dog requires a special diet, you can be sure Blue Buffalo has something in their lineup to suit.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Dog Food
  • Wide variety of flavors and types.
  • Comes in 7 protein types.
  • Real meat is the first ingredient.
  • No wheat, corn, soy or poultry by-product meal.
  • Smart blended with other high-quality ingredients.
  • Has Omega-6 and other nutrients for adult dogs.
  • Joint & mobility support with Glucosamine.

Senior Formulas

Blue Buffalo

In comparison, Blue Buffalo offers fourteen senior dog food products, with their Life Protection Formula leading the pack. But Blue Buffalo realizes the importance of care and bolstering the health of an aging dog. This is why their Natural Veterinary Diet line features weight management, mobility support, kidney support, food intolerance, and gastrointestinal support formulas for any ailment for any size or breed of dog in your home.

Nutro

Nutro offers 8 senior kibbles that meet the nutritional needs of aging dogs. There are 4 Wholesome Essentials, 2 Ultra products, 1 grain-free, and 1 Max option. There are options for both small and large breeds, as well as offering different flavors.

Their senior products have glucosamine and chondroitin for joints and extra vitamins and minerals for immunity.

Winner

Once again, Blue Buffalo astounds with the sheer number of choices and formulas explicitly designed with aging pups in mind. Their Natural Veterinary Diet wins us over, allowing pet owners to keep caring for their beloved four-legged friend, even with dietary restrictions, without worry.

Before choosing a dietary dog chow, remember to consult your veterinarian beforehand. Your dog may require a specialized diet or care instructions.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior

Merrick Grain Free Puppy Formula
  • Grain-free.
  • High protein formula.
  • Made with antioxidant-rich veggies.
  • Deboned chicken is the first ingredient.
  • Sweet potato aids digestion.
  • 387 Calories per cup.
  • 30% Protein, 12% Fat, 7% Fiber.

Frequently Asked Questions

We get many questions about both brands here at Canine Journal, so we’ve compiled a list of the ones we encounter most frequently. Below you’ll be able to get a good overview of quality, brand trust, and more. If we’ve missed anything, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section.

Are both brands good quality?

Yes, they offer high-quality ingredients and by-product-free recipes that provide good value for money. They both score highly on third-party review sites.

Which brand is the most trusted?

Both brands have excellent 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 that they are a much bigger company. So, both can be trusted to do the right thing should their products have a problem.

Which brand is a better value?

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.

Where are these brands manufactured?

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.

Which food tastes better?

While we aren’t in the habit of tasting dog food ourselves, both brands have been known to satisfy the tastes of extremely picky canine 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 dogs, means 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 your and your pup’s circumstances. Nutro comes in at an incredibly low cost, so this often is better for those families on a tighter budget, but Blue Buffalo provides 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.

Dog eating Nutro Food

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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 advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, 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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