Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dog Food receives the Advisor’s top rating of 5 stars.
The Blue Wilderness product line includes 13 dry dog foods, eleven claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and two recipes for growth (Puppy).
The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.
- Blue Wilderness Senior
- Blue Wilderness Small Breed
- Blue Wilderness Healthy Weight
- Blue Wilderness Adult Small Bite
- Blue Wilderness Duck Recipe Adult
- Blue Wilderness Large Breed Puppy
- Blue Wilderness Salmon Recipe Adult
- Blue Wilderness Chicken Recipe Adult
- Blue Wilderness Chicken Recipe Puppy
- Blue Wilderness Chicken Large Breed Adult
- Blue Wilderness Large Breed Senior (4 stars)
- Blue Wilderness Chicken Recipe Adult Toy Breed
- Blue Wilderness Salmon Large Breed Adult (4.5 stars)
Blue Wilderness Chicken Large Breed Adult was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.
Blue Wilderness Chicken Large Breed Adult
Dry Dog Food
Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content
Ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, peas, tapioca starch, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), tomato pomace (source of lycopene), natural chicken flavor, dried egg, potatoes, flaxseed (source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), alfalfa meal, potato starch, whole carrots, whole sweet potatoes, blueberries, cranberries, apples, blackberries, pomegranate, spinach, pumpkin, barley grass, dried parsley, dried kelp, taurine, Yucca schidigera extract, l-carnitine, l-lysine, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, turmeric, oil of rosemary, beta carotene, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), d-calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), folic acid (vitamin B9), vitamin B12 supplement, calcium ascorbate (source of vitamin C), vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, iron amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, manganese amino acid chelate, copper amino acid chelate, choline chloride, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, salt, caramel, potassium chloride, dried yeast (source of Saccharomyces cerevisiae), dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product
Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 7.8%
Red items indicate controversial ingredients
|Estimated Nutrient Content|
|Dry Matter Basis||40%||14%||38%|
|Calorie Weighted Basis||36%||31%||33%|
The first ingredient in this dog food is chicken. Although it is a quality item, raw chicken contains about 80% water. After cooking, most of that moisture is lost, reducing the meat content to just a fraction of its original weight.
After processing, this item would probably account for a smaller part of the total content of the finished product.
The second ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.
The third ingredient is turkey meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.
The fourth ingredient includes peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.
However, peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.
The fifth ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.
The sixth ingredient is chicken fat. Chicken fat is obtained from rendering chicken, a process similar to making soup in which the fat itself is skimmed from the surface of the liquid.
Chicken fat is high in linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid essential for life. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing, chicken fat is actually a quality ingredient.
The seventh ingredient is tomato pomace. Tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.
Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.
Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.
After the natural chicken flavor, we find dried egg, a dehydrated powder made from shell-free eggs. Eggs are easy to digest and have an exceptionally high biological value.
The tenth ingredient is potato. Potatoes can be considered a gluten-free source of digestible carbohydrates. Yet with the exception of perhaps their caloric content, potatoes are of only modest nutritional value to a dog.
From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.
But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.
With five notable exceptions…
First, flaxseed is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.
However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.
Next, although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.
Next, caramel is a natural coloring agent made by caramelizing carbohydrates. It’s used by pet food manufacturers to impart a golden brown tint to the finished product.
However, the concentrated version of this ingredient commonly known as caramel coloring has been more recently considered controversial and found to cause cancer in laboratory animals.1
In any case, even though caramel is considered safe by the FDA, we’re always disappointed to find any added coloring in a pet food.
That’s because coloring is used to make the product more appealing to humans — not your dog. After all, do you really think your dog cares what color his food is?
In addition, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.
And lastly, this food also contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dog Food
The Bottom Line
Judging by its ingredients alone, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.
But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.
As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 37% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 39% for the overall product line.
And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 41%.
Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.
Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, flaxseed and alfalfa meal in this recipe, and the pea protein contained in some other recipes, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a significant amount of meat.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness is a meat-based dry dog food using a significant amount of chicken and turkey meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 5 stars.
Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.
A Final Word
The descriptions and analyses expressed in this and every article on this website represent the views and opinions of the author.
The Dog Food Advisor does not test dog food products.
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Each review is offered in good faith and has been designed to help you make a more informed decision when buying dog food.
However, due to the biological uniqueness of every animal, none of our ratings are intended to suggest feeding a particular product will result in a specific dietary response or health benefit for your pet.
For a better understanding of how we analyze each product, please read our article, "The Problem with Dog Food Reviews".
Remember, no dog food can possibly be appropriate for every life stage, lifestyle or health condition. So, choose wisely. And when in doubt, consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.
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Notes and Updates
12/05/2014 Last Update