Orijen Puppy Food: An In-Depth Review


Biologically-appropriate diets aren’t necessary for every dog, but if you’re choosing one of these formulas for your puppy, you want the best. Orijen is a company committed to providing a diet that is the closest to nature that they can offer, with a formula based on what dogs would eat in the wild. You can be confident that a variety of whole-meat ingredients are used in this food, giving your puppy diversity in the vitamins and minerals available to them. If you are sick of a synthetic list of vitamins and minerals on your dog’s food, you’ll appreciate the whole ingredients listed on Orijen’s products. In this article, “Orijen Puppy Food: An In-Depth Review,” I looked deeper into the products that Orijen offers to see if it’s the right biologically-appropriate puppy food for your dog.

Things to consider before buying a biologically appropriate puppy food

You love your puppy and you want to provide the best for them, so you are choosing high-quality, biologically-appropriate puppy food, even though it isn’t your cheapest option. Here are some things to consider to make sure you choose the best food for your puppy.

Formulated for puppies

Many diets advertise that they are appropriate for dogs of all ages and life stages. While this might be true, you want to give them your puppy something made specifically for them.  Choose a biologically-appropriate dog food formulated specifically for puppies. You’ll want it to contain high levels of protein and relatively high-fat content that can support their growing bodies and minds. 

Whole animal protein

People generally prefer muscle meats when we choose to eat meat, but your dog needs more than one type of meat product to be healthy. Choose a biologically appropriate puppy food that contains other parts of meat, including internal organs such as the heart and liver, as well as bone and cartilage. This will help ensure that your dog gets a balanced source of meat.  Ideally, animal protein will come from a variety of sources, not just one. Your puppy is likely not yet displaying any food allergies, so it is best to provide them with a wide variety of different sorts of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from various meat sources. 


If you are fascinated by the biologically-appropriate mindset, then you want to feed your puppy something as close to nature as possible. There is no point in using high-quality animal and plant ingredients if all the goodness is cooked out of them.  Choose a puppy food that offers very fresh ingredients without preservatives. Also, look for options without an extended cooking process. If you can find a product that even provides raw ingredients, you know that your puppy will have a diet as close to the wild as possible.

Orijen Puppy Food: An In-Depth Review

Orijen puppy food is a biologically appropriate diet for your pup, which offers the best of nature in a bag. A whopping 85% of this food is composed of high-quality whole animal ingredients. The other 15% is made of vegetables and other botanicals,  leaving no room for grain or fillers.  Significant portions of the ingredients are dehydrated, fresh, or raw, so you know that the goodness hasn’t been sucked away. This food isn’t cheap, but if you are trying to set your puppy up for a healthy, biologically appropriate life, it may be the ideal food. Pros
  • Biologically appropriate diet from animal and plant ingredients
  • A significant portion of ingredients are either dehydrated, fresh, or raw
  • 85% of ingredients come from animal and 15% come from plants
  • Infusions of freeze-dried turkey and chicken liver to enhance the flavor
  • Appropriately balanced for your puppy’s nutrition, with 38% protein and 20% fat
  • Made from regional ingredients in the USA
  • Far from the cheapest food on the market, even when you are limiting your considerations to biologically appropriate foods
  • Relatively low-fiber content means that some dogs experience digestive upset, especially gas 
  • Biologically appropriate diets may not be the best for all dogs to grow up with, especially large breed dogs, so do your research before choosing a product like Orijen

Biologically appropriate

The dogs of today don’t look much like the wolves they descended from, but they still have a lot in common. Your puppy’s ancestors were hunters. Just like their wild cousins, their jaws, teeth, and digestive system are all adapted for diets rich in meat. Orijen offers a biologically appropriate diet that mirrors what dogs and wolves may eat in the wild, including 85% meat. This diet is formulated with 38% crude protein from meat and 20% crude fat, to give your dog all the energy that they need to run, play, and grow.

Protein from meat

Your puppy needs a lot of protein to grow up big and strong. Protein is essential for the proper development of every part of your puppy’s body, from the tip of their nose to the end of their wagging tail. Protein is especially important for building muscle.  Muscles enable your dog to not only grow up big and strong, but also to support the joints. Adequate muscle development can delay the symptoms of joint problems like hip dysplasia and luxating patella. At best, it can prevent your dog from ever developing symptoms. Meat is a natural source of protein for your dog and the protein Orijen provides from meat sources is highly available and digestible.

1/3 animal ingredients are dehydrated

Dehydrated chicken and turkey are dried at a very low temperature from a fresh state. This slow, gentle dehydration process preserves vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. As such, it provides a concentrated source of the protein that your dog needs.

2/3 ingredients are fresh or RAW

Fresh ingredients are free of preservatives. These ingredients pack whole sources of vitamins and minerals as well as moisture, making up for anything your dog is lacking from eating dehydrated or cooked food. Raw ingredients are flash-frozen and don’t contain any preservatives, so every ounce of nutrition is locked in for your dog.

Whole prey animal ingredients

While you probably know that it is important for your puppy to get protein from animal sources, you may not realize how essential it is that they receive nutrients from every part of the animal, not just muscle meat. Orijen uses a “whole prey” mentality, packing not only fresh muscle meat but also cartilage, organs, and bone into the food for a completely natural balance of vitamins and minerals from animals.


If your puppy doesn’t like their food, it doesn’t matter how healthy and nutritionally-balanced it is. This puppy food contains infusions of freeze-dried turkey and chicken liver. Liver is a powerful flavor that is very attractive to puppies and will give this food a flavor your puppy will crave. 


In nature, there aren’t any synthetic supplements, so Orijen doesn’t use synthetic supplements either. Instead, their recipe is loaded with fresh, quality, animal and vegetable ingredients that provide the vitamins and minerals your dog needs.


If your dog is experiencing dietary allergens, you may choose a single animal protein in order to rule out what proteins may cause an allergy. However, most dogs benefit from a range of animal protein. This may be especially important for your growing puppy, to ensure that they get a wide range of nutrients.  This puppy food contains a high quantity of a wide variety of whole meat. In a 13-pound package, you’ll find 3 ½ pounds of chicken meat, organs, and cartilage – provided fresh. There is also 1 ⅚ pound of fresh turkey meat, heart, and liver. These ingredients offer not only wonderful protein for muscle meat but also vitamins and minerals from organs. There is a ½ pound each of wild flounder, whole Atlantic Mackerel, and whole Atlantic Herring, each provided either fresh or raw. These fish are not only great sources of protein from meat, but they offer glucosamine and chondroitin along with essential Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. All of these aid in your dog’s development, especially of the joints and brain. Finally, a half-pound of fresh, whole, nest-laid eggs are offered for protein and calcium. You can choose between a variety of sizes when purchasing this puppy food, including 12 oz, 4.5 lb, 13 lb, and 25 lb. 

Responsibly sourced

You can feel good about ingredients that are fresh and sourced regionally in the United States. Processing of Orijen Dog Foods is never outsourced, so you know that every bag comes from state-of-the-art factories.

What people say about Orijen Puppy Food

People are happy with the high-quality ingredients in Orijen. They find that their dogs have shiny, smooth coats. Dogs who previously suffered from diarrhea often seem to recover firm stools when switched to Orijen. There are some complaints about gassiness, especially when people are first making the transition from different puppy food to Orijen. 

Alternatives to Orijen Puppy Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food

Here is an evolutionary-based diet for your puppy that relies on high-quality chicken as the first ingredient for a highly digestible form of protein. This grain-free diet is designed to promote the healthy development of your puppy. It includes DHA and ARA, important fatty acids naturally found in a mother dog’s milk, which aid in proper cognitive development as well as eye health.  LifeSource Bits are a precise blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support your dog’s immune health specifically in puppyhood. Crude protein of 36% and fat of 16% give your dog what he or she needs to grow properly.
  • More affordable than Orijen
  • Does not rely on fresh, dehydrated, or raw ingredients, rather using cooking and preservatives
  • Protein comes from chicken and fish, without as many protein sources as Orijen 
Try Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain Free, Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Puppy Food

This high-quality puppy food gives your dog the meat, vegetables, and healthy grain needed to grow properly. Research has found that dogs will not suffer due to the consumption of grain; in fact, many dogs suffer problems if they are fed a diet that is free of grain. This balanced food for puppies offers high-quality ingredients, including easily digestible grains such as oatmeal and ground barley. Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the first ingredients, followed not far after by chicken fat and salmon meal as well as salmon oil. So, you know that a significant source of protein comes from meat.
  • Well-balanced puppy food with meat, grain, and vegetables
  • Not biologically appropriate, but with ingredients beneficial for your dog’s health and your puppy’s proper development
  • The lower fat content of 18% makes this a good option for puppies prone to gaining weight and large breeds that need to grow slowly to avoid joint problems 
Try Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Puppy Food

CANIDAE PURE Puppy Recipe, Limited Ingredient, Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food

If you want the best limited-ingredient diet for your puppy, Canidae is a good choice. It uses ten ingredients or less so that you can isolate what may be giving your pup an upset tummy, and eliminate it. This diet is free of grain, relying on lentils and peas instead in order to offer a well-balanced diet.  This recipe offers probiotics and antioxidants as well as added vitamins. If you want to stay with Canidae once your puppy grows up, you’ll appreciate novel protein options like salmon, wild boar, lamb, goat, and venison to continue ruling out potential allergens as your puppy gets older.
  • The limited-ingredient diet takes the opposite standpoint of Orijen; it provides only a couple of protein sources instead of multiple animal sources
  • A grain-free diet with only 7 to 10 ingredients per formula
  • Limited-ingredient adult formulas including novel proteins make this brand a good lifelong choice for puppies with sensitive stomachs.
Try CANIDAE PURE Puppy Recipe, Limited Ingredient, Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food 


If you want to set your puppy up for success with a biologically appropriate diet, Orijen is an awesome choice. This company is serious about imitating your dog’s natural diet in their dog food.  Dehydrated, fresh, and raw ingredients maintain more natural nutrients. Orijen also keeps their food free of preservatives. You can feel confident that the whole animal protein provided will give your dog the most balanced diet possible.  Orijen isn’t cheap, and a biologically appropriate diet isn’t right for every dog. However, if you have decided that biologically appropriate food is the right choice for your puppy, Orijen is a great choice.  Try Orijen Puppy Food

Last Updated on

Coral Dawn Drake

My fiance, Justin, and I live with our two little dogs, Sofie and Lisa, and three chickens in Gainesville, Florida. Justin and I are homebodies who occasionally enjoy a good adventure. I love living in Gainesville, and I love Florida. I can’t imagine anywhere more beautiful or strange than this hot, marshy place where people are guaranteed to be nothing other than themselves. Justin is always reminding me to relax. Relaxing doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m always busy. Making art or editing photos, digging in the yard or trying to grow some new moss or plant. There never seems to be enough time to do everything that I want to do. Life is so, so full and I want to plunge into every second of it.

Recent Content