Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★½☆

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s mid-tier rating of 3.5 stars.

The Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free product line includes 12 dry dog foods, nine claimed to meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for adult maintenance and three for growth (puppies).

The following is a list of recipes available at the time of this review.

  • Freedom Grain Free Adult Lamb
  • Freedom Grain Free Senior (2 stars)
  • Freedom Grain Free Large Breed Beef
  • Freedom Grain Free Large Breed Lamb
  • Freedom Grain Free Adult Beef (4 stars)
  • Freedom Grain Free Adult Chicken (4 stars)
  • Freedom Grain Free Puppy Chicken (4.5 stars)
  • Freedom Grain Free Small Breed Chicken (4 stars)
  • Freedom Grain Free Large Breed Chicken (4 stars)
  • Freedom Grain Free Healthy Weight Chicken (3 stars)
  • Freedom Grain Free Large Breed Puppy Chicken (4 stars)
  • Freedom Grain Free Small Breed Puppy Chicken (4.5 stars)

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Adult Lamb recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Adult Lamb

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 24% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 52%

Ingredients: Deboned lamb, turkey meal, tapioca starch, potatoes, peas, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), chicken meal, tomato pomace (source of lycopene), potato starch, flaxseed (source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids), natural flavor, pea protein, alfalfa meal, potassium chloride, canola oil (source of omega 6 fatty acids), choline chloride, dried chicory root, salt, calcium carbonate, caramel, dl-methionine, sweet potatoes, carrots, mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative), garlic, parsley, kelp, blueberries, cranberries, barley grass, Yucca schidigera extract, turmeric, vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, iron amino acid chelate, zinc amino acid chelate, zinc sulfate, oil of rosemary, l-carnitine, l-lysine, l-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), copper sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, nicotinic acid (vitamin B3), taurine, calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), biotin (vitamin B7), manganese sulfate, vitamin A supplement, manganese amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), dried yeast, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, folic acid (vitamin B9), calcium iodate

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 6.7%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis22%14%NA
Dry Matter Basis24%16%52%
Calorie Weighted Basis21%33%46%
Protein = 21% | Fat = 33% | Carbs = 46%

The first ingredient in this dog food is lamb. Although it is a quality item, raw lamb 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 turkey meal. Turkey meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh turkey.

The third ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The fourth 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.

The fifth 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 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 chicken meal, another protein-rich meat concentrate.

The eighth 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.

The ninth ingredient is potato starch. Potato starch is a gluten-free carbohydrate 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 eight 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, this recipe includes pea protein, what remains of a pea after removing the starchy part of the vegetable.

Even though it contains over 80% protein, this ingredient would be expected to have a lower biological value than meat.

And less costly plant-based products like this can notably boost the total protein reported on the label — a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

In addition, 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, this recipe contains canola oil. Unfortunately, canola can be a controversial item. That’s because it can sometimes (but not always) be derived from genetically modified rapeseed.

Yet others cite the fact canola oil can be a significant source of essential omega-3 fatty acids.

In any case, plant-based oils like canola are less biologically available to a dog than fish oil as a source of quality omega-3 fats.

Additionally, chicory root is rich in inulin, a starch-like compound made up of repeating units of carbohydrates and found in certain roots and tubers.

Not only is inulin a natural source of soluble dietary fiber, it’s also a prebiotic used to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in a dog’s digestive tract.

We also note the inclusion of caramel, 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?

Next, this food also lists garlic, which can be a controversial item. Although many favor the ingredient for its claimed health benefits, garlic has been linked to Heinz body anemia in dogs.2

So, one must weigh the potential benefits of feeding garlic against its proven tendency to cause subclinical damage to the red blood cells of the animal.

And lastly, this food 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 Freedom Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free 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.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 24%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 52%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 26% and a mean fat level of 15%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 51% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 57%.

Near-average protein. Near-average fat. And above-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

When you consider the protein-boosting effect of the peas, flaxseed, pea protein and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a moderate amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a moderate amount of chicken or turkey meals as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 3.5 stars.

Recommended.

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.

Those looking for a canned version in the same product line may wish to visit our review of Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free canned dog food.

Blue Buffalo Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

Get free dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. Subscribe to The Advisor’s recall notification list.

Dog Food Coupons
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Or click the buying tip below. Please be advised we receive a fee for referrals made to the following online store.

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.

We rely almost entirely on the integrity of the information posted by each company on its website. As such, the accuracy of every review is directly dependent upon the quality of the test results from any specific batch of food a company chooses to publish.

Although it's our goal to ensure all the information on this website is correct, we cannot guarantee its completeness or its accuracy; nor can we commit to ensuring all the material is kept up-to-date on a daily basis.

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.

In closing, we do not accept money, gifts or samples from pet food companies in exchange for special consideration in the preparation of our reviews or ratings.

However, we do receive a fee from Chewy.com for each purchase made as a direct result of a referral from our website. This fee is a fixed dollar amount and has nothing to do with the size of an order or the brand selected for purchase.

Have an opinion about this dog food? Or maybe the review itself? Please know we welcome your comments.

Notes and Updates

08/12/2016 Last Update

  1. Consumer Reports February 2014
  2. Yamato et al, Heinz Body hemolytic anemia with eccentrocytosis from ingestion of Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) and garlic (Allium sativum) in a dog, Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 41:68-73 (2005)
  • Bill Hammer

    Having been a breeder/owner of Boxers my entire life, I have found that almost every brand of dog food on the market has it’s share or complaints and claims that it caused all kinds of diseases and sickness in their dogs. Most of these review pages are put up by attorneys, who work for a particular company. My recommendation to you is to take these complaints with a grain of salt. Use your common sense and don’t rely on some Internet person to help you make your decisions. You really have no idea who you are talking to, yet most of you believe the person who is telling you to do this or do that. That is very foolish. Do some research and call the company you are thinking of trying. They have no reason to not give you the best information available on their product. If you choose not to use it, you are not going to be the cause of the company’s collapse. Be a smart consumer. Not one who believes everything they read on the Internet. Good Luck!

  • Bill Hammer

    You stated that you also fed it to your granddaughter’s Border Collie. Yet, nothing happened to her/him. If the dog was diagnosed with Acute Food Poisoning, it would have also affected the other dog.

  • Teresa

    Just a heads up, Darwins Raw is an excellent food. Delivered right to your door

  • Teresa

    actually blue is no longer all US products. it was explained to me that some comes from china but that it is sent to another country then to canada then into the US and therefore does not have to be labeled. my puppy died from a bag it ate her entire digestinal track up. this is from a neuoscopy

  • Rosa Curtis

    Sorry you loss a furbaby. what did the test show??

  • InkedMarie

    They’re wrong.

  • Teresa

    I am now feeding this brand and so far so good

  • Teresa

    The Blue Buffalo company said this site as well as others are actually fake, that lawyers ect make up these sites to try to get people to sue the dog food companies

  • Teresa

    No it was tested and the puppy sent for a neuroscopy. I have several dogs from various sizes and none of them ate the food, also ruled out anything else as my yard is fenced with all having access.

  • Rosa Curtis

    Its not the Blue Buffalo or your Border Collie would have passed also.. and to die 3 hrs after eating?? Sounds like a miss diagnose from the vet. Vets can make mistakes..I know it has happened to me.

  • theBCnut

    For kibble, my favorite is Brothers Complete, but I use Annamaet, Acana, Earthborn, Nature’s Logic, and a number of others. I just tried Dr Tim’s for the first time and it’s added to my rotation, too. I mostly feed raw. I have my own sheep, goats, and steer and I order different things from Hare Today, then I add in the extras depending on what type of protein it is and what day of the week it is. I have a dog with multiple food sensitivity issues and he used to be able to eat Acana Singles Pork and Butternut Squash, but since they opened the Kentucky plant and changed the recipe, he can’t eat that either. After I finish what I have of it, he is on completely homemade food.

  • Babslynne

    This is why
    http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/4health-dog-food-canned/
    Tractor Supply sells the 4Health brand of canned stews that are 5 star rated for only $1 a can.

  • chacha711

    Kool, so what/who’s recipes do u use kibble n wet can do u buy? I’m just now starting with Dr Beckers cookbook n am switching back frm Blue Buffala Wilderness Adult Lge Dog Chkn as tooo hi protein n chicken may not agree with his GI tract/loose stools tho he seems to like It, so back to ACANA Lamb n apples frm Canada or may try NULO Lge Breed Adult a smaller privately held company from TX for my 2yr old GSP the same breed that finally won Best of Show @Westminister 2016 n now used in many TV Commercials n TSA Sniffer dogs, tho he’s just an active good pet!
    Sent from my iPad

  • theBCnut

    I also make homemade food and buy super premium food from Chewy, but that doesn’t mean I can’t tell the difference between utter garbage foods and just not great foods.

  • chacha711

    Thx, but I always try to buy or make ( ie see Dr Karen Becker DVM Book at Library or Amazon “Real Food for Dogs & Cats) the BEST/HEALTHIEST DOG FOOD at decent promo/sale prices ie thru CHEWY.COM w/extra 20% off with autos hip n FREE Shipping deals, not to mention most Dog Food Mfgs willing to send you free trial COUPONS upon request to use at retail stores if u call them
    Sent from my iPad

  • theBCnut

    I don’t buy dog food from Tractor Supply, but have you ever been in one? They aren’t a tractor store. They are farm supplies, including horse, cow, pig, goat, sheep, cat, and dog foods. While they certainly carry the cheapest crap food, they also carry some halfway decent foods, only halfway though, nothing better.

  • chacha711

    I know, OK but many people today need to know this, ke best dog diet is Fresh Whole Natural Foods u cook n prepare n cook for yourself/dog, ie see Dr Karen Becker DVM book “Real Food For Dogs & Cats” avail at Library n or Amazon or DVD $20′ I’m integrating this with NULO Metals Large Breed Adult Dog Dry Kibble or ACANA Lamb & Apple mfg by Champion in Canada &USA with 50/50 servings daily, works very well for my dog’s health!!!
    Sent from my iPad

  • Azul

    You replied to a comment that is three years old.

  • chacha711

    Daaa, would u buy n eat food from a Tractor Store/company? Me n my dog wouldn’t!,,

  • chacha711

    Both not good for dogs!

  • chacha711

    No, not family owned anymore, got bought out by big corp like Nestles, LOL!,

  • chacha711

    NO. MMars bought out Innova n then disc it! Blue Buffalo,is a PUBLIC Traded/owned as BluBuf!!!

  • chacha711

    Daaaa FYI, Blue Mountain is not a Blue Buffalo Food Product!!! An totally diff company!

  • Ashley

    My dog LOVES this food. After a few weeks of eating it, his itching has went away. His coat is better and he’s so much happier and so much more active.

  • C Watson

    BBs ethical standards has come into question quite a few times and I decided personally it’s no longer a top quality food like it used to be. I don’t want any food that’s been recalled and in the news for controversial reasons.
    Here’s a link that might help you.
    Im trying a new food called under the sun. Hope it helps. http://iheartdogs.com/company-researches-2200-dog-food-formulas-and-finds-only-119-to-be-satisfactory/

  • Crazy4cats

    Thank you for posting that very informative video. I’m so glad the dog was saved. How very scary. Now, I know exactly what to watch for. I’m going to share it with my friends and family with big dogs.

  • DogFoodie

    Did you get your dog to the vet right away, Gabriela? You should address this as soon as possible with a medical professional. True bloat is a life threatening condition for a dog.

    It also sounds as though she might have been overfed. Overfeeding is the primary cause of loose stool. One cup seems like a large portion for a 9 week old Corgi to eat all at once.

  • Gabriela

    I have a 9 week old pembroke welsh corgi pup and she ate 1 cup of the puppy dry food (lamb and oatmeal) and was soooo bloated she was nearly twice her natural size! not to mention thatbit made her throw up and gave her severe gas and loose stools. This food is POISON! DO NOT FEED YOUR PETS THIS BRAND OF FOOD!

  • Shane McCann

    I fed this to my pug, he’s almost 12 years old, very frail, with some chronic health conditions. It made him very gassy, and give him diarrhea so bad that he was in and out of the house all day long. He wouldn’t eat and barely wanted to move (except to go outside). I had to give him pepto, he was so bloated and gassy, and very whiny from stomach discomfort. Not a good day!

  • Tipper Cassidy

    Tried this after remembering hearing such good things. Fed it to my almost 1yr old Jackrussell for dinner and it went well. To the next day having him not wanting to finish his bowl, had very loose urgent stool and to throw up afterwards. Worried that it was something about the food I googled the brand only to come across many many others who went through the exact same with their pups. Will definitely be returning the bag of food. Not recommended at all. Treats by them aren’t ever an issue with my guy but the food I recommend others to go a different route.

  • Crazy4cats

    Yes, we all have to keep our ears and eyes open no matter what we feed. It’s a good idea to sign up for recall alerts on this site. Have fun with that pup!

  • Liz

    Thanks for your response. I hope they did fix it. I have an eye out for anything usual. She should reach no more than 30 pounds.

  • Crazy4cats

    The lawsuit wasn’t about harmful ingredients. It was about the food containing byproducts that are not on the ingredient panel. One of their big claims is that their food does not contain any byproducts when in fact it was proven that they do. They may have fixed the issue now. I’m glad your puppy is doing well! How big will it get?

  • Liz

    I have a 10 week old spaniel. I bought BB Puppy food since we picked her up from the breeder to wean her off their puppy food. I chose this brand not only for the high reviews but of the ppl in the aisle when I bought it who swore their dog improved skin issues with this food. I have not had any issues with BB and it actually has made her coat shinier. She potties normally and shows no aversion to it. The vet didn’t raise an alarm either. I didn’t come to hear about the lawsuit until about a week ago and am a little weary but from experience can’t say it has been negative in any way.

  • Pitlove

    glad to hear it. what did you end up switching the food to?

  • Teresa

    I opened that bag that morning so only fed them once. She still has a soft stool but getting better.

  • Pitlove

    Good, I’m glad you are testing the food. Let us know what the test yields. I’d be really interested. I personally don’t and won’t use Blue anymore. My dog didn’t do well on it. Again I’m so sorry for your loss. How is the Border Collie doing?

  • Teresa

    It is made here but sources of filler and some protein are being shipped in.

  • Teresa

    My vet is talking with the NC department of agriculture and they are wanting it tested. I have a fenced yard and 8 little dog’s. Some as old as 14. My girl of almost 18 was in that area her entire life. No other dog’s got sick except her and my granddaughters border collie. Theven border collie was over 30 lbs bigger so did not affect her as bad.

  • Pitlove

    Very sorry for your loss. Have you had the food tested? Puppies are known for getting into anything and everything. Is there any chance she ate something else outside or inside your house she wasn’t suppose to eat? Our chocolate lab went out of his way to dig up PVC piping that my boyfriends father had put under the ground in the yard that had rat poison in it and ate it.

  • Pitlove

    That was a rumor and is not true

  • Teresa

    from what i am finding out Blue Buffalo has just sold out to the Mars company, I had feed it for yrs as well

  • Teresa

    my 7 month old dachshund died from bb puppy

  • Teresa

    I had a 7 month old Dachshund puppy, perfect health all vetting done. Opened a new bag of Blue Buffalo Grain Free Puppy Food Sept. 3 feed her and my granddaughters Border Collie puppy.. IN 3 HOURS MY DACHSHUND HAD PASSED AWAY. Sent her for a Nescropy, She has been diagnosed with acute food poising and BLUE BUFFALO IS the only food she had had from when I got her at 10 weeks of age. THIS IS A DAMN SHAME. I am devastated, I have 10 dogs and purchased 3 large bags a month NEVER AGAIN.

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