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Orijen Puppy Food Review 2024: Recalls, Pros & Cons

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

Orijen Puppy Food Review HEP

Review Summary

Our Final Verdict

We give Orijen Puppy Food a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. 

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Orijen Puppy Food is produced by Champion Pet Foods, a Canadian company known for its premium, protein-heavy recipes. Orijen focuses on creating what they call “biologically appropriate” pet food, heavy on fresh or raw animal protein.

While the recipes used to be primarily grain-free, they’ve recently introduced grain-inclusive meals in response to concerns over the link between heart disease and grain-free diets. Because it uses an unusually high number of whole fish and meat ingredients, Orijen Puppy Food is one of the most expensive non-prescription diets on the market. It’s quality food but not necessarily healthier than other, less pricey diets. Buy it if you can, but don’t feel guilty if you can’t afford it!


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At a Glance: The Best Orijen Puppy Food Recipes

Rating Image Product Details
Our Favorite
Orijen Amazing Grains Puppy Dry Food Orijen Amazing Grains Puppy Dry Food
  • Grain-inclusive
  • Made with free-range poultry and wild-caught fish
  • Includes fiber, probiotics, and nutrients for eye and brain development
  • Second place
    Orijen Amazing Grains Puppy Large Breed Dry Food Orijen Amazing Grains Puppy Large Breed Dry Food
  • Grain-inclusive
  • 90% of protein from animal sources
  • Includes glucosamine for joint health
  • Third place
    Orijen Grain-free Puppy Dry Food Orijen Grain-free Puppy Dry Food
  • Grain-free
  • Includes organ meat
  • 85% animal ingredients
  • Orijen Puppy Large Grain-free Dry Dog Food Orijen Puppy Large Grain-free Dry Dog Food
  • Contains legumes
  • 85% animal ingredients
  • Freeze-dried coated kibble
  • Orijen Puppy Food Reviewed

    Who Makes Orijen Puppy Food and Where Is It Produced?

    Orijen Puppy Food is made by Champion Pet Foods, which also manufactures Acana brand diets. Champion was founded in Alberta, Canada, in 1985. The company has two production facilities, one in Alberta and one in the U.S. state of Kentucky.

    Which Type of Dog Is Orijen Puppy Food Best Suited For?

    Orijen Puppy Food is best suited for active, high-energy, future working dogs due to its high protein content. It’s ideal for puppy owners who can afford to spend more on food and prioritize feeding diets made with free-range meat, non-GMO ingredients, and whole fruits and vegetables.

    Which Type of Dog Might Do Better With a Different Brand?

    Puppies with sensitive skin and stomachs or early food sensitivities should consider a recipe without chicken, like Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Salmon and Brown Rice. Puppy owners looking to spend less on quality nutrition should consider Purina ProPlan diets.

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    Discussion of the Primary Ingredients (Good and Bad)

    Chicken and Turkey

    Chicken is the first protein in all four Orijen puppy recipes, specifically free-range birds, with turkey also featured prominently. The company’s meals contain both fresh and dehydrated poultry. Chicken is the most common protein source in pet food but also a common trigger for food allergies.

    Mackerel, Salmon, Herring

    All four Orijen puppy foods feature whole fish as part of their animal ingredients. Fish is a good source of lean protein and beneficial fatty acids. Just like humans, puppies should avoid eating fish with too much mercury. One mackerel species, king mackerel, is not considered safe for dogs, but Orijen does not specify whether that species is used in their food. Orijen uses wild-caught or sustainably farmed fish. Farm-raised fish are considered less safe for pet food, especially in countries with minimal safety regulations.

    Chicken Liver, Turkey Giblets (Gizzard, Liver, Heart)

    Orijen believes in feeding a “WholePrey” diet, which includes muscle and organ meat in its food, based on the notion that wild canines consume the whole animal after hunting. Organ meat is considered more nutritious than muscle meat. One interesting fact to note is that these parts of the bird are technically considered “by-products,” meaning anything left behind after processing for human consumption. Many dog owners avoid purchasing food with “chicken by-products” in the ingredients, believing they are less healthy.


    Eggs, both whole and dehydrated, are used in all Orijen puppy food recipes. The ingredient is considered safe and nutritious for dogs, providing protein, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids.

    Whole Grains (Oats, Millet, Quinoa Seed, etc.)

    The two grain-inclusive puppy recipes contain various whole grains, including oats, millet, quinoa seed, and flaxseed. Whole grains are a good source of energy, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Dogs are considered omnivores rather than true carnivores and can digest and utilize nutrients from plant sources.

    Legumes (Peas, Lentils, Chickpeas, Beans, etc)

    Orijen grain-free puppy food contains multiple legumes, including peas. The FDA continues to investigate the ingredients to determine whether they are linked to the development of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a serious heart condition.

    Fruits and Vegetables

    All Orijen puppy recipes contain various fruits and vegetables, such as butternut squash, apples, pears, and cranberries. Most fruits and veggies are safe for dogs and serve as a source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

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    A Quick Look at Orijen Puppy Food

    • High in whole meat and fish protein
    • Non-GMO, free-range, mostly wild-caught ingredients
    • Grain-inclusive, pea-free recipes available
    • Grain-free recipes contain legumes
    • Expensive
    • All recipes contain chicken, not allergy-friendly

    Recall History

    Orijen has never issued a recall in the United States or Canada. They issued one recall for cat food in Australia in 2008, based on a dispute over a quirk in Australian pet food safety regulations. As we mentioned previously, Orijen (and Acana) were both named among the 16 grain-free brands linked to cases of DCM, likely prompting the introduction of grain-inclusive options.

    Champion Pet Foods is also the subject of a class-action lawsuit, claiming its pet food contains unacceptable levels of heavy metals, including mercury. The company has denied this claim.

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    Reviews of the 3 Best Orijen Puppy Food Recipes

    Here’s a quick look at 3 of the best Orijen Puppy Food Recipes in more detail:

    1. Orijen Amazing Grains Puppy Dry Food

    Orijen Amazing Grains Puppy Dry Food

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    Made with whole fish and meat as the top five ingredients, Amazing Grains Dry Food clocks in at a whopping 38% protein. It’s manufactured using non-GMO ingredients and appeals to those who prefer a smaller carbon footprint. Although it’s grain-inclusive and free of legumes, it contains chicken, a common allergen. It’s also (like all Orijen recipes) higher-priced than most over-the-counter dog food.

    • High in animal protein
    • Non-GMO ingredients
    • No legumes
    • Contains chicken, a potential allergen
    • Expensive

    2. Orijen Amazing Grains Puppy Large Breed Dry Food

    Orijen Amazing Grains Puppy Large Breed Dry Food

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    Amazing Grains Puppy Large Breed is formulated for large breed puppies and contains 38% protein but dials back the fat content slightly. It also contains glucosamine and fatty acids to support the joints of heavier dogs. With both muscle and organ meat included, this recipe takes the “WholePrey” concept seriously. It is not the food for puppies that need limited ingredients without chicken.

    • Less fat than regular puppy recipe
    • Contains nutrients for joint health
    • No legumes
    • Expensive
    • Contains chicken
    • Not limited ingredients

    3. Orijen Grain-free Puppy Dry Food

    Orijen Grain-free Puppy Dry Food

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    Orijen Grain-free Puppy Food is nutrient-dense, with 85% animal ingredients, and features raw-coated kibble for extra flavor. It is a grain-free diet, which is not necessary for all puppies. Legumes, including peas, feature heavily on the ingredient list. The recipe includes fatty acids and fresh or wild-caught meat and fish ingredients.

    • 85% animal protein, fresh and free-range or wild-caught
    • Includes fatty acids
    • Tasty flavor
    • Contains legumes
    • Expensive

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    What Other Users Are Saying

    Curious what other pet owners have to say about Orijen Puppy food? Here’s a quick round-up of user reviews for these products:

    Chewy – “My puppies love this food…clean the bowl every time”

    • “Worth the high price”
    • “So excited to see Orijen release a grain-inclusive recipe”
    • “Kibble is big and pretty hard”

    Reddit “Love everything about it except the price”

    • “I avoid it because of the DCM issue”
    • “My dogs love Orijen”

    Amazon – Amazon reviews can be a good source of information for pet owners. You can read these by clicking here.

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    Made with heavy doses of animal protein, Orijen is a quality option for active puppies, especially since it now produces grain-inclusive recipes. The high price point of the brand won’t be a good match for every budget, however. The inclusion of chicken in every recipe makes the recipes a poor choice for pups with food allergies.

    While humans may think that whole fish and meat ingredients sound tastier, dogs can remain perfectly healthy on less expensive, less ad-worthy ingredients like chicken meal and rice. A higher price doesn’t equal better nutrition, and many lower-priced brands are produced by companies that invest heavily in research and feeding trials to back the nutritional claims of their recipes.

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