Orijen is a popular brand of dog food that formulates recipes based on a biologically appropriate diet for dogs.
These dog food formulas use multiple sources of fresh regional meats to provide a high protein diet. The grain-free recipes contain limited plant-based ingredients to maximize nutrient bioavailability.
I’m a former vet tech and canine nutrition nerd with a passion for helping pet parents find the perfect diet for their pup. So I research Orijen to determine if this premium brand deserves its popularity.
Keep reading this Orijen dog food review to learn more about the company, its ingredients, and any controversies about so-called biologically appropriate dog food.
About Orijen Dog Food
Orijen is in a class of its own when compared to the animal protein content of other brands. But this premium brand also has a price tag that is significantly higher than other competitors.
Orijen’s unique approach to feeding dogs a biologically appropriate diet also makes this company difficult to compare to traditional pet food manufacturers. Their mission is to formulate foods based on the diets of your dog’s carnivorous ancestors.
Domestic dogs are omnivores. But meat is easier for them to digest. When I worked in a vet clinic, I always advocated for canine diets based on animal protein.
The company argues that dogs should eat a diet based on a foundation of high-quality animal protein. Their formulas contain several sources of meat and offer an exceptionally high protein content.
All Orijen recipes are also grain-free and low carb. Some of their products are designed for specific life stages. But the majority of Orijen formulas are best suited for active adult dogs without cardiovascular health concerns.
The company’s name refers to the Latin term for “origin.” Orijen’s founders created the company based on the philosophy that canine nutrition should return to its ancestral roots.
The launch of the brand disrupted the pet food industry by offering a significantly higher meat content. 
Champion Pet Foods owns and operates the Orijen brand. This company was founded in 1975 as an animal feed operation in Alberta. Champion began manufacturing pet foods in 2001, eventually launching the Orijen brand in 2005. 
The Champion family of pet food brands also includes Acana, a less expensive alternative to their premium Orijen line. However, Orijen remains the company’s most popular product that has gained a loyal following worldwide.
Where is Orijen Dog Food Made?
Today, Champion Pet Foods still has headquarters in Alberta, Canada. They manufacture Orijen products in Alberta and Kentucky.
The company claims that they work with trusted suppliers to source their ingredients. They have a 90-180 day screening process to vet new suppliers to ensure the safety of every ingredient used in their formulas.
Orijen sources ingredients locally whenever possible. All of the meat they use in their recipes travel to their facilities within 3 days to ensure freshness. Because they use regional ingredients, formulas produced at their different locations may have some flavor variations. 
Champion Pet Foods states that they do not source any ingredients from China. But they may still import some ingredients.
Champion does not outsource any manufacturing of Orijen products. The company owns and operates its own facilities in the United States and Canada. In-house production means that the formulas can be held to the highest quality and safety standards.
Legal Issues and Controversies
Orijen tests all of the ingredients used in their formulas to limit the risks of contamination. Although Orijen has recalled cat food products in the past, there have been no dog food recalls.
In June 2019, the FDA included Orijen on a list of 16 pet food brands with a potential link to heart disease in dogs. Grain-free formulas like Orijen may contribute to heart problems due to a high volume of potatoes and legumes. But, research on the topic is still ongoing. 
Orijen’s parent company also faced legal issues in March 2018 when a class-action lawsuit claimed that Champion Pet Foods failed to disclose the presence of heavy metals in their formulas. The company believes that the allegations are meritless. 
Orijen uses higher quality ingredients than most of its competitors. Their formulas only contain fresh, non-GMO ingredients. And the company avoids using any by-products, fillers, or artificial additives.
This brand also stands out by sourcing ingredients locally. I always encourage choosing a brand that sources its ingredients regionally. Local sourcing is better for the environment and allows for greater assurance of ingredient safety. 
The unique composition of Orijen formulas features 85% animal-based ingredients. These recipes contain significantly more meat than other brands. A biologically appropriate diet based on animal protein promotes enhanced nutrient absorption and flavor.
Multiple sources of animal protein can boost nutrient content. But these formulas may not be suitable for dogs with food allergies who need a single source of novel protein instead.
Some premium pet food brands use concentrated meat meals to produce high-protein recipes. But Orijen commits to using raw or fresh meat as the majority of their animal proteins. The company argues that fresh meat is more nutrient-dense due to decreased processing.
Instead of using grains or fillers as binders, Orijen depends on legumes as an alternative source of carbohydrates. Legumes like peas are also high in protein and fiber. But dogs with an increased risk of heart disease need to limit their legume intake.
Orijen also has one of the best ratios of omega fatty acids. Most of their formulas include fish oil as a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids. This fat plays a vital role in immune, brain, and eye function.
There are no soy, corn, wheat, or potato ingredients. But Orijen does include wholesome vegetables like carrots to provide a balanced diet. All formulas meet the AAFCO recommended daily nutrient profiles for dogs.
Orijen Dog Food Brand Lines
Compared to other popular pet food companies, Orijen has a limited selection of different dog food formulas. But all of their recipes feature high-quality ingredients and balanced nutrition.
Remember to always consult your veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s diet.
Orijen Puppy formulas offer concentrated nutrition exclusively designed for growing dogs. All of their formulas feature a high protein content. But high protein is especially important for muscle development in puppies.
The inclusion of organ meats in puppy recipes provides a bioavailable source of vitamins and minerals. Ingredients like chicken liver have significant amounts of vitamin A, which is crucial for eye development.
Puppy kibble also has a coating of freeze-dried liver to maximize flavor and encourage puppies to finish their meals. Just like all Orijen formulas, 85% of the ingredients come from animal sources.
A higher fat and caloric content provides extra energy for playful young dogs. This product line also includes a recipe specifically for large breeds. Large breed puppies need concentrated minerals to prevent the development of skeletal diseases.
Orijen Original grain-free dog food remains the most popular product in the brand’s collection. This recipe features an unmatched crude protein content of 38%.
Many dog food reviews share that owners prefer Orijen for the company’s whole prey approach. This formula includes a variety of meat from whole animals that contribute different nutrients and amino acids.
The first five ingredients of this recipe are fresh or raw protein. Animal ingredients include deboned turkey, deboned chicken, and flounder. The Original formulas contain limited plant-based ingredients. Lentils and vegetables replace grains as carbohydrate sources.
Orijen also introduced a Small Breed version of the Original formula. This dog food has a higher concentration of calories in a smaller serving size. The kibble is also smaller to make it easier for tiny mouths to chew.
The popular Six Fish formula from Orijen uses meat from six different varieties of fish to offer a recipe rich in healthy fats and protein.
Like other Orijen dog food recipes, this formula incorporates every part of the fish using the whole prey approach. The recipe consists of 85% fish ingredients, using raw meat frozen at optimal freshness.
Fish are an excellent source of protein for dogs thanks to their high-quality nutrient content. This recipe is also appealing to dogs who need a higher fat content. Fish are naturally high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which support immune and coat health.
Types of fish used in this formula include monkfish, herring, flounder, mackerel, redfish, and hake. Using a variety of fish provides a comprehensive amino acid profile and diverse sources of vitamins and minerals.
Orijen Tundra formula is the best dog food in their dry dog food range for replicating the biological diet of your pup’s wolf ancestors.
This recipe uses both meat and fish animal proteins inspired by the prey that wolves depend on in their natural environment. The first ingredient is deboned goat, but this dog food also includes duck, venison, and whole arctic char.
The high volume and variety of animal ingredients closely follows the diverse carnivorous diets of wolves. Although domestic dogs do best on omnivorous diets, they still need high amounts of protein to thrive.
Alternative sources of carbohydrates like lentils and beans boost energy content in this grain-free recipe.
Healthy fats from fish oil also increase caloric content. While the energy content of this high protein food is ideal for active dogs, it may not be suitable for obese pups.
The Regional Red formula of Orijen dog food uses animal proteins based on a regional selection of prey. This product uses primarily red meat to create a recipe that is rich in protein and flavor.
These biologically appropriate formulas also use a whole prey approach to offer comprehensive nutrition for dogs. The majority of the ingredients are fresh animal proteins. And the kibble is coated in freeze-dried liver.
Orijen’s liver coating makes the brand an excellent choice for picky eaters. Freeze-dried raw meat can also add some of the benefits of raw diets to dry dog food.
Like other recipes from this brand, the Regional Red formula includes probiotics. These microorganisms help breakdown food in the gut and enhance digestive health.
Orijen also offers a Fit and Trim recipe for dogs who need a weight control diet. Most Orijen formulas have a higher calorie and fat content that is not suitable for these pups.
Although high volumes of concentrated protein sources helps support muscles, meat is also high in calories. If your dog lives a sedentary lifestyle, these excess calories can contribute to unwanted weight gain.
This Orijen dog food product features a controlled fat content to minimize the risk of weight gain.
The formula still offers the same high protein content, but only uses lean meats. So this weight control recipe supports lean muscle mass with a higher protein content but lower calories.
Orijen dog food review samples from owners of overweight dogs frequently recommend this formula as the best option for pups with less active lives.
Orijen Senior formula has a high protein content to help prevent older dogs from losing muscle mass as they age. This recipe features more fiber than other Orijen products, which helps regulate sensitive older digestive systems.
Extra fiber comes from lentils and pumpkins. Most pet food products from other dog food brands use grains for additional fiber.
But grain-inclusive recipes are not always ideal for sensitive seniors who may suffer from gluten intolerances.
These formulas still use a foundation of multiple animal proteins to provide a biologically appropriate diet.
But instead of using high calorie red meats that may not be suitable for sedentary seniors, this recipe includes lean proteins to minimize the risk of weight gain.
Orijen Dog Food Recalls
Orijen has never experienced a recall of any dog food products. The brand did have to issue a recall of cat food in November 2008. But the event did not affect any dog products.
The 2019 FDA investigation into the link between certain grain-free diets and heart disease did not result in any recalls. The organization claimed that they could not be certain that diet caused the increased risk of heart problems. 
Champion Pet Foods states that the company tests its products against strict safety standards every day to limit the potential for future recalls.
Orijen is one of my favorite pet food brands. Their innovative approach to canine nutrition introduced the idea of biologically appropriate diets based on high amounts of animal protein.
I recommend Orijen dog food for owners seeking a high protein formula with high concentrations of fresh meat. But, these grain-free formulas may not be suitable for dogs with heart health concerns.
Despite the high cost, many positive Orijen dog food reviews demonstrate the loyal following that this unique company has gained since 2005. Talk to your veterinarian today to determine if Orijen’s biologically appropriate formulas are suitable for your four-legged family member.