Friday, June 12, 2015

Food Friday: Orijen Large Breed Puppy

Orijen Large Breed Puppy Food is a dry kibble specifically formulated for growing puppies. This is a very high-quality grain-free food made from chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, peas, and lentils. The ingredient are sourced from local farmers in Canada, and used fresh without being frozen or preserved in any way.

Many dog food companies like to offer a wide range of diverse products for different life stages. This is almost entirely marketing rather than science, though. The only nutritional profiles actually recognized and regulated are for growth (also known as "all life stages"), adult maintenance, and large breed growth. Foods advertised for these life stages must meet specific requirements based on large bodies of scientific evidence. Foods advertised for seniors, small breeds, weight management, etc do not have to meet any different or special requirements, the manufacturers are free to slap those labels on any of their foods.

Large breed puppies have special nutritional requirements that have been intensively studied since the 1970's, according to Dog Food Logic. For dogs that will grow to over 50 pounds, less calcium and fewer calories will reduce the risk of developing one disease. Large breed puppy foods are therefore lower in calcium than regular puppy food or foods labeled for all life stages. They also tend to be lower in calories so big puppies can eat more without getting too much.

Orijen is made by Champion Pet Foods, and is widely regarded to be The Best Kibble. It is produced in Champion's own facilities. I consider it to be the highest quality kibble on the market mostly because it is made out of meat, meat, and more meat.

That said, I do think that Orijen is guilty of using ingredient splitting to make their already impressive list even more amazing. Most pet foods can be assessed by examining the beginning of that list, usually the first seven ingredients. Orijen Large Breed Puppy Food's ingredient list looks like this:

Boneless chicken*, chicken meal, chicken liver*, whole herring*, boneless turkey*, turkey meal, turkey liver*, whole eggs*, boneless walleye*, whole salmon*, chicken heart*, chicken cartilage*, herring meal, salmon meal, red lentils, green peas, green lentils, chicken liver oil, chicken fat, sun-cured alfalfa, yams*, pea fiber, chickpeas, pumpkin*, butternut squash*, spinach greens*, carrots*, Red Delicious apples*, Bartlett pears*, cranberries*, blueberries*, kelp, licorice root, angelica root, fenugreek, marigold, sweet fennel, peppermint leaf, chamomile, dandelion, summer savory, rosemary, Enterococcus faecium

The first 10+ ingredients are all identified animal parts, that's awesome. The second ingredient on there is chicken meal, which contributes way more to the finished product that the uncooked meats. That's also awesome. But would the list be as impressive if we called all the non-meal chicken parts just "chicken"? Here's how it looks:

Chicken, chicken meal, chicken, fish, turkey, turkey meal, turkey, eggs, fish, fish, chicken, chicken, fish meal, lentils...

So the first seven ingredients end up being chicken, chicken meal, fish, turkey, turkey meal, eggs, fish meal...and not necessarily in that order. Actually it looks like Orijen is guilty of almost the opposite of ingredient splitting. Most companies use this tactic to make their lower-quality ingredients appear further down on the list, i.e. listing peas as "green peas, yellow peas, pea starch, pea fiber..." to make that ingredient appear lower on the list than their meat ingredients even if their food is, in fact, made almost entirely out of peas. This food has a ton of meat in it, and listing the specific parts of the animals doesn't make it look more impressive than it is. It's just that impressive.

I'm not currently raising a large breed puppy, but this is the food I would choose if I needed to grow a healthy Irish wolfhound or something. Who is the biggest dog you know?


  1. Hi, Rachel!

    I too think that Orijen is one of the best kibbles out there, hands down. But I think Wysong Epigen 90 in particular, and the Epigen series overall are a close second. They use no starchy binders. At all. I would love to see a review that you do on those.

    P.S. I have fed Orijen Adult to Bruno (small sample-sized bag) and he really liked it. I would love to have it in rotation after I rid myself of the kibble supply I have at the moment.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I do want to try Wysong's Epigen foods, but I need to either order them online or find somewhere local that carries the fish or venison varieties. Brisbane can't have the Epigen 90 with his poultry allergies. I was just looking at Wysong's website today and they had a big popup ad offering to send me a free sample pack. I filled out the form and then it said there was an error processing my request. Haven't figured out the problem, probably the free offer is just too good to be true.

    2. You're welcome! :)

      I knew he couldn't have the Epigen 90, but maybe some of the other Epigens he could? And they have sent me samples before, but I contacted them directly. I just saw the review on Orijen Large Breed puppy which Briz can't have either so I figured that maybe you can look at Epigen 90 anyway. Hope they send you the free samples though! I didn't see the popup just now. Maybe it is gone now.