Royal Canin vs. Blue Buffalo

Royal Canin vs Blue Buffalo Dry Dog Food Review

Yesterday I picked up another bag of prescription dog food from my vet office.

Sophie and Calvin have severe food allergies and require a hypoallergenic prescription diet.

We are currently paying $3.63 per pound of food, which gets pretty expensive for three dogs.

To make things easier, I’ve always just fed all the dogs the same food, but recently I’ve considered changing Ginger’s kibble since she doesn’t require a special diet.

I’m not considering putting her on “cheap” food but instead trying a food that is high quality yet less expensive.

I’ve not made the transition yet, as I am still in the research phase. I want to keep Ginger on a food that contains grains until more information is discovered regarding the grain-free diet’s impact on heart disease.

Ginger is 7-years old, reasonably active, and maintains a healthy weight. She had surgery on her femur when she was nine months old. So, early arthritis is almost guaranteed.

The food I am looking for should include Omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, and chondroitin, as well as being rich in healthy lean proteins to promote healthy muscles.

Can either Blue Buffalo or Royal Canin provide the food my dog needs?

Blue Buffalo’s Company History

Blue Buffalo brand review comparison with Royal Canin which has higher qualityBlue Buffalo was inspired by a dog named, you guessed it, Blue.

Blue was Bill Bishop’s beloved Airedale.

Mr. Bishop’s interest in dog food was prompted after Blue had been diagnosed with cancer.

Though Blue Buffalo grew into a large pet food company, it remained a family-owned business until 2018 when General Mills purchased the company.

Blue Buffalo’s 3 Best Sellers:

  1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
  2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein
  3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed
Interested in learning more about Blue Buffalo? Check out our other comparisons against Purina Pro Plan, Nutro, Fromm, Taste of the Wild, and Merrick as well as our review of their brand in general. 

Royal Canin’s Company History

Royal Canin best for breed specific dog foods Adult Shih TzuRoyal Canin was established in France in 1968 by a veterinarian Jean Cathary.

During Cathary’s career, he came to believe that food greatly impacted an animal’s health.

The first recipe created by Cathary was called “yellow soup[1]“, which was a canine formula.

Over the years, Royal Canin was purchased multiple times, continuing to grow and becoming a global brand.

As Royal Canin expanded, so did the variety of foods they offered.

In 2002 they joined the MARS team and still remain a part of that company.

Royal Canin’s 3 Best Sellers:

  • Royal Canin Health Nutrition Small Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Mini Puppy Dry Dog Food
  • Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Medium Adult Dry Dog Food
Interested in learning more about the Royal Canin brand? Check out our other comparison against Acana as well as our review of their Urinary SO dry dog food

Recalls

Both brands have recalled some of their dog food products, for various reasons.

Royal Canin RecallsRoyal Canin Blue Buffalo recalls dog food contamination history

In the last 12 years, Royal Canin had 2 recalls in 2007, both about melamine contamination.

Since 2007, Royal Canin has not had any other recalls.

Click the plus symbol for a complete list of Royal Canin’s recalls.

Royal Canin Recall List

May 2007

There were eight Sensible Choice dry dog foods and six Kasco dry dog foods impacted in this recall. The recall was initiated due to melamine being found in the food, “…from tainted Chinese rice protein concentrate provided to the company by domestic ingredient supplier Cereal Byproducts, headquartered in Illinois[2]”.

Sensible Choice Foods impacted in the recall:

  • Chicken and Rice Adult (Dry Dog Food)
  • Chicken and Rice Reduced (Dry Dog Food)
  • Lamb and Rice Reduced (Dry Dog Food)
  • Chicken and Rice Puppy (Dry Dog Food)
  • Chicken and Rice Large Breed Puppy (Dry Dog Food)
  • NATURAL BLEND Adult (Dry Dog Food)
  • NATURAL BLEND Senior (Dry Dog Food)
  • NATURAL BLEND Puppy (Dry Dog Food)

KASCO Foods impacted in the recall:

  • Chunks (Dry Dog Food)
  • Hi Energy (Dry Dog Food)
  • Maintenance (Dry Dog Food)
  • Mealettes (Dry Dog Food)
  • Mini Chunks (Dry Dog Food)
  • Puppy (Dry Dog Food)

April 2007

There were seven dog foods related to this recall, two of which were prescription foods[3].

The recall was due to melamine found in the rice protein they use in the foods.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Dry Dog Food:

  • Canine Early Cardiac EC 2
  • Canine Skin Support SS21

Sensible Choice Dry Dog Food:

  • Chicken Meal & Rice Formula Senior
  • Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Puppy
  • Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Adult
  • Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Senior
  • Rice & Catfish Meal Formula Adult

 

Blue Buffalo Recalls

Blue Buffalo has had seven recalls in the last 12 years.

Click the plus symbol for a complete list of Blue Buffalo’s recalls.

Blue Buffalo Recall List

March 2017

Only one wet food was included in this recall, which was due to high levels of beef thyroid hormones in the food[4].

  • Blue Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat Dinner Wet Food

February 2017

Only a single variety of canned dog food was involved in this recall. The recall was initiated due to possible aluminum contamination[5].

  • Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Healthy Weight, Chicken Dinner with Garden Vegetables, 12.5 ounce can

February 2017

This recall was based on a packaging error[6].

The foil tops of these foods had quality issues.

There were 13 Blue Devine Delights in the 3.5 oz cup and 4 Blue Wilderness Trail Trays affected.

Blue Divine Delights impacted in the recall:

  • Filet Mignon Flavor in Gravy
  • New York Strip Flavor in Gravy
  • Prime Rib Flavor in Gravy
  • Rotisserie Chicken Flavor in Gravy
  • Filet Mignon Flavor
  • Porterhouse Flavor
  • Grilled Chicken Flavor
  • Top Sirloin Flavor
  • Angus Beef Flavor
  • Roasted Turkey Flavor
  • Bacon, Egg, and Cheese
  • Sausage, Egg and Cheese Flavor
  • Steak and Egg Flavor

Blue Wilderness Trail Trays impacted in the recall:

  • Duck Grill
  • Beef Grill
  • Chicken Grill
  • Turkey Grill

May 2016

Blue Buffalo voluntarily recalled one of their Life Protection formulas due to high moisture and possible mold content[7].

Life Protection Formula Impacted:

  • 30 lb Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Fish & Sweet Potato

November 2015

Only one lot of one dog chew variety was impacted in this recall, which was due to possible salmonella contamination[8].

  • Cub Size Wilderness Wild Chews Bones

October 2010

Three dog food varieties were part of this recall, which was due to a possible excess of Vitamin D[9].

Dry Dog Foods impacted in the recall:

  • 5 lb, 11 lb, 24 lb Blue Wilderness Chicken Flavor dry dog food
  • 11 lb, 24 lb Blue Basics Limited Ingredient Formula Salmon and Potato Recipe dry dog food
  • 30lb Blue Life Protection Formula Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Large Breed Adult dog food

April 2007

This recall is the same one that impacted Royal Canin, due to melamine contamination[10].

All of Blue Buffalo’s Canned Dog Foods, as well as the Blue Dog Treats, were recalled.

 

What’s Important When Choosing a Dog Food?

Specific to your Dog

  • Health – GI issues such as chronic pancreatitis or irritable bowel disease, Heart or Kidney Disease, Allergies, and so onRoyal Canin many varieties puppy German Shepherd brand pros cons
  • Weight
  • Taste
  • Age
  • Size
  • Energy Level

Specific to the Dog Food

  • Price
  • Availability
  • Ingredients
  • Dog food company’s reputation
  • Where the ingredients are sourced
  • Where the food is manufactured

Comparison of Blue Buffalo vs Royal Canin

Ingredients

  Winner: Blue Buffalo   

Blue Buffalo best ingredients LifeSource Bits Wilderness superfood recipe high proteinBlue Buffalo wins because the company offers multiple protein options.

Additionally, Blue Buffalo’s recipes contain superfood ingredients like kelp, blueberries, and turmeric.

Many of Blue Buffalo recipes have also been enhanced with probiotics to improve digestive health.

Royal Canin is a chicken and grain focused food.

Though it lacks in protein variety, it does contain essential ingredients such as beet pulp, fish oil, and glucosamine.

Variety

  Winner: Royal Canin   

Royal Canin has both retail and veterinary food lines.

As for the retail options, there is a specific recipe for:

  • Specific breeds
  • Size
  • Age
  • Special needs like weight management, digestive sensitivities, and stress support

Each category contains several options. There are over 80 retail varieties.Dog food brand with most variety Royal Canin many choices Golden Retriever

Blue Buffalo also has a wide variety of food lines, including a veterinary line:

  • BLUE Life Protection Formula
  • BLUE Freedom
  • BLUE Basics
  • BLUE Wilderness
  • BLUE Carnivora
  • BLUE Natural Veterinary Food

But Blue Buffalo lacks breed-specific varieties and some other options Royal Canin covers.

Price/Value

  Winner: Blue Buffalo (Almost a Tie)   

It was close, but Blue Buffalo came out on top, despite averaging $2.21/pound.

Though the per pound price is slightly higher, the superfoods added to the recipes put this one on top.

Royal Canin is a well-priced food averaging $2.09/ pound.

Royal Canin is high-quality food, but there is a lack of superfoods on the ingredient list.

Availability

  Winner: Blue Buffalo   

Both foods are equal when it comes to online shopping.

However, Blue Buffalo can be found at all large pet stores, pet boutique shops, large hardware stores, and grocery markets.

Royal Canin can be seen in most pet stores, both large and boutique, but it is not a brand found in non-pet retail stores.

Taste

  Winner: Royal Canin   

This was another close competition, but Royal Canin was the winner.

No one snubbed Blue Buffalo, but when given the option between the two, my dogs chose Royal Canin.

X-Factor

  Winner: Blue Buffalo   

Blue Buffalo is the clear winner.

Blue Buffalo is involved in four community programs.

  • Pet Cancer Awareness[11]
  • Sierra Delta Service Dogs for Heroes[12]
  • Canine Cancer Genome Project[13]
  • Shelter Stars/Home 4 the Holidays[14]

Overall

  Winner: Blue Buffalo   

Overall best dry dog food brand Blue Buffalo wins over Royal CaninBlue Buffalo is the overall winner; it is well priced and available at far more retailers than Royal Canin.

Although Royal Canin won the variety category, Blue Buffalo still has more options than many other dog food lines.

However, there are few other situations I felt it is worth mentioning that one food would be more optimal than the other:

  • Breed Specific Winner: Royal Canin
  • Giant Breed Winner: Royal Canin
  • Non-Prescription Hypo-Allergenic Food Winner: Blue Buffalo

Final Thoughts

Both foods have their strengths and are commonly well received.

However, the number of recalls associated with Blue Buffalo gives me pause.

There haven’t been any recalls in the last two years, but they do carry more recalls than several other companies. This is not to say they are a bad company, but it is noteworthy.

Royal Canin is a brand carried by most veterinary clinics, which makes me more comfortable with this brand.

However, the lack of a variety of proteins and the overall ingredient list makes me wonder if it is the best choice.

Rarely is protein the first ingredient on the list, which is reflected in a lower protein percentage.

At this point, neither of the foods is precisely what I am looking for, so it appears I will need to continue my search.

Resources

  1. https://www.royalcanin.com/us/about-us/our-history
  2. http://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170112162939/http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2007/ucm112196.htm
  3. http://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170112130545/http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2007/ucm112172.htm
  4. https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/blue-buffalo-voluntarily-recalls-one-lot-blue-wildernessr-rocky-mountain-recipe-tm-red-meat-dinner
  5. https://bluebuffalo.com/about-us/whats-new-at-blue/bb-homestyle-recipe-letter/
  6. https://www.ohiovma.org/news/?p=3399
  7. https://www.seattletimes.com/life/pets/blue-buffalo-recalls-batch-of-dog-food/
  8. http://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170112071547/http:/www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2015/ucm474573.htm
  9. http://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170112111823/http:/www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2010/ucm228986.htm
  10. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2007/04/pet_food_recall33.html
  11. https://petcancerawareness.org/
  12. https://www.sierradelta.com/
  13. http://acfoundation.org/ccgp/
  14. https://animalcenter.org/home-4-the-holidays
About the author

Jessica Mabie

Jessica and her husband share their lives with four amazing high energy Brittanys and one very awesome cat. You’ll rarely see her without her 4 pack, they go everywhere with her, including most vacations. So, if you see her out and about with her family don’t hesitate to say “Hi!”, (You’ll know it’s her since few are so daring as to have 4 Britts).