This internationally-respected brand stands out from the competition with its commitment to using regional ingredients, biologically appropriate formulas, and innovative manufacturing processes. Over the course of the brand’s lifetime, it’s received more industry awards than any other pet food maker in the world. Most importantly, Orijen has a great reputation with customers – and their dogs.
In order to truly understand Orijen dog foods, let’s go deeper and take a look behind the brand.
Orijen is owned by Champion Petfoods. The company was founded in 1985 by Reinhard Mühlenfeld, an entrepreneur determined to become the first pet food manufacturer in the country. The company started small in Alberta, employing only two people – one making the food and the other packaging it. Their only customers were local farmers. Today, Champion Pet Foods is Canada’s largest pet food manufacturer and sells to 70 countries around the world.
Orijen production takes place in three kitchens. The company owns two manufacturing facilities in Canada and one in Kentucky. The Canadian kitchens serve the Canadian, European, and Asian market, while the Kentucky kitchen exclusively supplies products sold in the United States.
Let’s talk about what makes Orijen different from other dog food brands.
Champion Pet Foods’ manufacturing process is guided by their BAFRINO™ mandate.
BAFRINO stands for biologically appropriate, fresh regional ingredients, never outsourced. While this mandate could be little more than a marketing scheme designed to lure in conscientious consumers, the company appears to be genuinely dedicated to upholding these standards. This commitment is obvious throughout the manufacturing process and results in a uniquely high-quality dog food.
Here’s how the BAFRINO mandate influences Orijen foods:
Because they affect so much of how the foods are made, looking at how the BAFRINO principles influence the nature of Orijen foods will help us to understand what makes them different. This a strong starting point for assessing whether or not they’re a good choice for your dog.
Orijen’s Biologically Appropriate philosophy is broken down into five core principles.
1. Rich in Meat and Meat Protein
Orijen foods contain up to 90% real meat. This means that instead of nourishing through supplements, plant proteins, and other unnecessary ingredients, Orijen foods are packed with the species-appropriate nutritional power of meat.
2. Unmatched Fresh Meat Inclusions
Orijen uses truly fresh meat, ensuring greater nutritional value than you’d find in many other foods – including those sporting the enticing but ultimately meaningless “premium” label. The meats in Orijen’s foods usually travel from the farm or ranch to the kitchen within three days and are made into dog food within two days. This means that no preservatives are necessary and no preservatives are used. Two-thirds of the meat in Orijen foods is fresh or raw, while the remaining ⅓ is dehydrated at low temperatures not exceeding 200°F.
3. An Abundant Variety of Fresh Meats
Orijen’s foods contain a nature-inspired variety of fresh meat ingredients. Because in the wild, your dog might eat multiple unique animals over the course of a week or day, each recipe incorporates up to 8 different animal ingredients. You’ll find ingredients like flounder, chicken, lamb, bison, and boar.
4. WholePrey™ Meat Ratios
While many other dog food brands pack their foods with supplements, Orijen foods keep the list of additives short. To achieve this, these foods utilize the natural nourishment found in whole prey. Orijen dog foods contain meat, organs, cartilage, and bone in WholePrey™ ratios. This means that your dog gets the full nutritional value of real animal prey.
5. Carbohydrate and Glycemic-Limited
Low-quality carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, tapioca, and corn lead to blood sugar spikes and are linked to obesity. Orijen foods are made from about 20% low-glycemic carbohydrates. These ingredients are metabolized more slowly, keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Orijen partners with local farms, ranches, and fishermen, all of whom are carefully vetted and supervised to ensure consistent quality. Because regional ingredients are such an important part of the brand’s mission, Orijen foods manufactured in the Kentucky kitchen are made with different ingredients than those created in Alberta.
Orijen’s foods are all manufactured in their own facilities. These kitchens only produce Orijen and Acana foods. Acana is a slightly lower-priced brand from Champion Petfoods. The facilities meet the strictest safety standards, including those set by the FDA, USDA, Canadian Government, and the EU.
The following 20-minute-long demonstration provides an interesting look at the ingredients and manufacturing processes that go into Orijen foods.
Orijen has had one recall. While the recall only affected cats, it’s important to discuss. As you know, a company’s response to a recall is as significant as the cause of that recall.
In accordance with Australian law, all Orijen foods underwent gamma radiation before being distributed in the country. When this mandatory radiation treatment lead to serious illness and death in several cats living in the Sydney area, Orijen announced a voluntary recall of all of their Australian cat food products.
Since this incident, Orijen is no longer available in Australia.
Champion Petfoods is a member of the First Alert Pet Food Recall program. This is a coalition of pet food makers who have agreed to alert all subscribing pet guardians and concerned citizens in the event of a recall. This means that if you’re a part of the First Alert program, you’ll immediately receive a notification if Orijen foods are ever recalled again. To become a member of this program, you will need to contact Orijen and allow them to access your contact information.
What Types of Foods Does Orijen Offer?
Orijen offers dry and freeze dried food and treats for both dogs and cats.
Since you’re looking for dog food, let’s focus on their selection of dog foods. You can choose from eight different dry formulations and three freeze-dried diets. In addition to these mainstays, the brand also offers nine treat recipes.
Take a look for yourself. Here’s a current list of Orijen’s dog food offerings:
Dry Dog Food
- Puppy Large
- Six Fish
- Regional Red
- Fit & Trim
- Senior Dog
Freeze-Dried Dog Food
- Adult Dog
- Regional Red
Freeze-Dried Dog Treats
- Six Fish
- Regional Red
- Angus Beef
- Grass-Fed Lamb
- Free-Run Duck
- Wild Boar
- Kentucky Bison
What Customers Think
Reviews of Orijen dog food are overwhelmingly positive. Of over 1000 reviewers on Chewy, 93% said that they would recommend Orijen’s original grain-free formula.
That said, most complaints are about the recipe changes associated with the opening of Orijen’s new Dogstar kitchen in Auburn, Kentucky.
“The first two years we had our French Bulldog it was a fight to get her to eat. We tried a couple of brands and one the vet recommended, however, the only way we could get her to eat was if we added in canned food or chicken. A friend recommended Orijens and it was an instant success! She’s been eating it for four years now and we even put some in a special “treat” jar that she gets when she comes inside. I feel really good about the ingredients and she loves it!”
“We started our Labrador on this from 7 weeks old and have not regretted it since. He’s now 1.5 years old with a perfect bill of health, shiny coat, allergy free, at a perfect weight, and ample energy. I did my research on foods and Orijen is hands down the BEST product on the market. The manufacture CARES about their product and is not willing to compromise on cheaper ingredients, so I’m not willing to compromise for a “cheaper” food. We go through the 25lb bag in a month; $80/month; $20/week; roughly $2.50 a day to feed him and encompassing two feedings a day. If you can’t rationalize to feed your dog twice a day with top quality food for less than that Starbucks you get every morning, you should reconsider your priorities.”
Formula changes during the next year have affected the opinions of some customers, who complain that the new formula repels their dog:
“When the food changed, started coming from US, it smelled funnier and funkier and a bad fish like smell- not balanced and rich smelling like the old version- bye Orijen, you were good, time to move on!”
“Orijen is by far the best food on the market. Recently they changed their recipes and bag size. The bag got smaller, the price stayed the same. But what is worse – the recipe changed. My dog won’t touch the Adult Dog any more (used to be called original). He’s not picky at all. He’ll eat anything. And frankly – I don’t blame him. It smells like rotting fish. His bowls are by the door and I’ve had more than one guest come into the house and ask “Did you burn fish?” “Oooo time to take the garbage out” … But no. It’s Orijen’s new recipe.”
Where You Can Buy It
Orijen partners with select retailers and veterinary practices around the world to make Orijen dog food available both online and offline.
According to the Orijen site, these trusted partners have access to the freshest foods, offer the Champion Pet Foods 100% satisfaction guarantee, and deliver specialized support.
Non-authorized retailers include Chewy/Petsmart, Amazon, Jet, Walmart, Petco, and Ebay.
Orijen Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Review
First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Deboned Turkey, Yellowtail Flounder, Whole Eggs, Whole Atlantic Mackerel
Orijen Original is formulated to suit all life stages and breed sizes – meaning that your senior Komondor and your young Pomeranian can eat the same food.
In keeping with Orijen’s biologically appropriate promises, this recipe contains 85% animal ingredients like poultry, fish, and eggs. The remaining 15% is comprised of low-glycemic vegetables, fruits, and botanicals. Like all Orijen foods, this recipe is free of carbohydrates that could cause a blood glucose spike, including potato, tapioca, rice, and any grains.
The recipe is made without any artificial ingredients, preservatives, by-products, or rendered meats. Orijen Original is naturally rich in glucosamine and chondroitin, DHA and EPA from fresh fish, and amino acids. Because the food is so rich in naturally-appearing vitamins and minerals from real food, the only supplement used is zinc.
The original formula is made with six different animal ingredients. The recipe includes organs, meat, and cartilage from fresh or dehydrated free-run chicken and turkey, fresh or raw wild yellowtail flounder, fresh nest-laid eggs, fresh or dehydrated mackerel, and fresh, raw herring oil.
Orijen Original, like all Orijen foods, is on the high end of the price spectrum. But here’s a trend worth noting: because the food is so nutrient-dense, many reviewers observe their dogs eat less of it. This could make it an ultimately reasonable choice.
This dry dog food is available in four different bag sizes: 12oz, 4.5lb, 13lb, and 25lb.