Acana Vs Orijen: Which Dog Food Brand is Better?

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acana vs orijen

This is our comparison of Acana vs Orijen dog food brands.

I’m a former veterinary technician who researched what sets these seemingly similar products apart.

The same company produces these premium dog food lines. But, both pet food brands have some notable differences. 

Orijen features more premium ingredients from real meat. And Acana offers excellent value for high-quality, affordable dog food.

While both product lines provide excellent nutritional value, the best brand for your dog will depend on his individual needs.

Let’s get started with the review!

Acana vs Orijen: Introduction

Champion Pet Foods manufactures Acana and Orijen dog food brands, which both offer formulas that meet AAFCO nutrient profiles for dogs. Champion Pet Foods is a reputable company known for producing high-quality, ‘biologically appropriate’ dog foods.

‘Biologically appropriate’ canine diets attempt to feed dogs a diet similar to what their wolf ancestors would eat. Champion strives to base its dry dog food on fresh meat that mimics the quality and variety of meat available in nature.

biologically appropriate

Champion Pet Foods has notable manufacturing practices that make them unique from most big dog food companies. 

Unlike most pet food companies, Champion never outsources any of its products. The company also never produces food for other pet brands. Instead, they only make their recipes in their kitchens.

The level of control that Champion maintains over the in-house production process translates into high-quality standards. These brands also benefit from fresh ingredients sourced from consistent local suppliers.

Both Acana and Orijen brands benefit from their parent company’s high-quality ingredients and production process. But, Orijen is Champion Pet Foods’ premier high-protein line. And Acana is a more affordable alternative.

Product Range Comparison

Compared to some other commercial dog food lines, Acana and Orijen have a more limited variety of offerings. It seems that Champion prioritized the quality of formulas over the number of recipes available.

There are nine varieties of Orijen dry dog food and three freeze-dried dog food recipes in the Orijen line. Freeze-dried food differs from standard kibble because it uses raw ingredients that you can rehydrate to resemble wet food.

While freeze-dried dog food recipes can be quite expensive, they provide concentrated nutrition from whole meat and fish. Pet owners often mix this type of food with other formulas to keep costs down.

Orijen Original is still one of the most popular dry dog food formulas of this pet food brand. Their flagship recipe is a high-protein diet made from 85% animal ingredients. Dog owners successfully feed this kibble to a wide variety of dogs.

Although there are not many formulas designed for distinct life stages, the Orijen product range does include puppy food and food for senior dogs.

Acana has a slightly more extensive range of foods available. Most formulas are high-protein, low-carbohydrate recipes, and many are grain-free. One of their most popular product lines is the Acana Singles range.

The Singles range uses a single protein source as part of a limited ingredient diet. Orijen does not offer any restricted ingredient diets. So Acana has more formulas suitable for sensitive dogs with food allergies.

Like Orijen, Acana also includes a formula specifically for puppies. But most of their recipes are suitable for a wide range of breeds and life stages. Some of their products feature local meats available in different regional environments.

Acana Meadowland dog food is one of the most popular recipes in the Acana line-up. This formula features inspiration from Kentucky’s meadows by including local ingredients from chicken farms and freshwater rivers.

The Acana product line does not include completely freeze-dried formulas. But it does feature some freeze-dried coated kibble. These are dry dog foods with kibble pieces covered in a coat of freeze-dried ingredients to boost nutritional content.

Acana vs Orijen: Nutrition Comparison

Orijen and Acana dog foods both provide a balanced diet that meets the nutritional requirements of most pets.

But understanding the nutritional content differences between the two brands can help you select the best diet for your pup.

Always remember to consult your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet.

Meat Content

dry dog food and fresh meat

All Champion Pet Foods brands depend on meat as the nutritional foundation for their biologically appropriate diets. Both Acana and Orijen dog foods offer high-protein formulas with quality meat sources. But meat content does vary slightly between the two ranges.

Orijen dry food formulas have a meat content between 75 and 80 percent. And 50 percent of that content comes from fresh meat.

Every recipe that Orijen uses in their dog food contains more than six different types of fresh meat ingredients.

Recipes also use nearly every aspect of the “prey” animal. Cartilage, organ meat, and bone marrow are all included to resemble what wolves would eat in the wild.

Acana dog foods only consist of 40 to 65 percent meat, with fresh animal products accounting for 9 to 30 percent. Every type of Acana dry dog food uses a foundation of at least three types of fresh meat.

But unlike Orijen, most Acana foods don’t use “whole prey” ingredients like organs and marrow.

Still, Acana formulas have a much higher meat content than many other commercial brands. Acana also has regional recipes that choose meat ingredients depending on a wild wolf’s diet in a particular region, such as fish meat from a pacific stream.

In the original Orijen formula, animal protein sources include fresh chicken, turkey meat, cage-free eggs, chicken liver, whole herring, flounder, mackerel, and chicken heart.

Meat sources in the classic red meat Acana recipe include lamb, beef, pork, beef liver, and pork meal.

Winner: Orijen

Protein Content

Since both brands have relatively high meat content, they both also have exceptionally high protein content.

Meat and fish are the best sources of protein for dogs. Because dogs descended from carnivorous wolves, they can’t digest non-animal sources of protein well.

Protein is an essential macronutrient that should form the basis for every dog’s diet. It is an excellent source of healthy calories that boost energy levels without encouraging weight gain.

Adequate protein consumption is also vital for ensuring that your pup gets enough amino acids. Amino acids are the building block of protein that your dog’s body can use to rebuild muscle and other tissue.

Protein content is also essential for maintaining a shiny coat and healthy skin. Insufficient quality protein can cause irritated skin and itching.

While both brands are considered high-protein, Orijen has a distinctly higher protein content. Orijen Original dog food has a 38% crude protein content while Acana Original has a 29% crude protein content.

A 38% protein content might be too much for sedentary dogs, while a 29% protein content is suitable for a wide range of breeds. Consider talking to your vet to discuss the unique energy needs of your pup.

Winner: Acana

Carbohydrate Content

Orijen dog food generally contains fewer than 25% carbohydrates.

Acana varieties have a slightly more significant concentration of carbs at 25% to 30%.

This carbohydrate content is moderately low. A lower carbohydrate diet can be a healthy choice for dogs suffering from diabetes or weight issues.

Instead, higher fiber levels in these recipes help regulate the digestive system and keep your dog’s tummy happy.

This nutrient is not a primary source of energy for dogs. But it helps nourish the good gut bacteria that help break down food in the GI tract.

Whole grains are the most common source of digestible carbohydrates in dog food brands. Some Acana formulas are grain-inclusive and have a higher carbohydrate content from using grains as ingredients.

Grain-inclusive formulas from Acana include ingredients like oatmeal, sorghum, millet, and whole oats as sources of digestible carbohydrates.

But most Orijen formulas are grain-free. These recipes use potatoes and peas as alternative sources of carbohydrates. If your dog needs a grain-free or low carbohydrate diet, Orijen may be the better choice.

Winner: Orijen

Fat Content

Animal fats are the primary sources of concentrated energy in canine diets. These formulas depend on animal ingredients that can significantly contribute to the crude fat content of these formulas.

Acana and Origin have very similar crude fat contents. Acana Original Adult has 17% crude fat, and the Origin Original Adult has 18% crude fat. Some of the animal fats in both diets come from fish, which are high in omega fatty acids.

Essential fats that help keep dogs healthy are omega fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play a significant role in eye, brain, skin, and coat health.

Orijen formulas generally derive their fat content from more fish. So although the crude values are similar, Orijen dog food has a higher concentration of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Winner: Orijen


dry dog food in metal bowls

Flavor is another vital consideration when selecting dog food. You can buy the best dog food in the world. But your dog still won’t get the nutrition he needs if he doesn’t eat it.

Although we appreciate flavor variety in our diets, we often give our pups the same diet every day. Their digestive systems do best on a consistent diet. And your dog’s stomach may become upset when he eats a new flavor of kibble that is different from his usual food.

Dry kibble can be incredibly dull for some picky dogs. My Great Pyrenees became a fussy eater as she aged, so now I mix her kibble with wet dog food. The freeze-dried formulas from Orijen are another excellent choice for promoting a healthy appetite.

But both Acana and Orijen dry recipes offer a wide range of flavors to suit various tastes. The high meat content of these dog foods is especially appealing for dogs. And most customer reviews share that dog owners do not have problems getting their dogs to eat these foods.

Different recipes also mean that owners of sensitive dogs who suffer from allergies have more options to choose from as well. Acana has a greater variety of limited ingredient diets that eliminate common allergens to prevent adverse food reactions.

Increased meat content may boost the flavor of Orijen recipes. But the wider variety of formulas from Acana make that brand best for owners seeking dog food that may appeal to their unique dog’s preferences and intolerances.

Winner: Acana

Price Comparison

dry dog food packed

We all know how expensive our beloved four-legged friends can be. Many pet owners have to carefully consider their budget restraints when determining what dog food to feed their pets.

While high prices do not guarantee the best diet, you should always prioritize feeding your dog the best quality dry food that you can afford. Nutrition plays a direct role in the long-term health of your canine companion.

Look at good dog food as a long term investment in your pet’s health. In the long run, you may even save money on veterinary bills later on if you pay a little more for food today.

Prices for dog food vary significantly. Specialized formulas and recipes with premium ingredients often cost more than generic commercial dry dog food formulas.

Acana and Orijen pet foods are both expensive premium brands due to their meat content. Good quality meat is the foundation of your dog’s diet. But meat is also the most costly component of pet food.

Champion petfoods select meat ingredients based on quality instead of affordability. Many budget brands use by-products or meat meals as inexpensive alternative protein sources. 

But the fresh meat used in these formulas is generally considered higher quality. Unprocessed ingredients provide more concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals that have not been reduced by heating or dehydrating.

Although both pet food brands are premium options, Acana is considerably cheaper on a pound for pound basis than Orijen. This cost difference stems from the increased percentage of animal products used in Orijen formulas.

Orijen has a higher protein content. But the plant-based ingredients in Acana formulas are valuable sources of essential vitamins and minerals. If you are looking for premium dog food with an affordable price tag, Acana may be the best choice for you.

Winner: Acana

Recalls & Product Safety

When product reviews reveal that a particular dog food may cause a health issue, the FDA will recall it. Recalls can also remove dog food that contains dangerous contamination from the market.

You can search for a list of current FDA recalls here. Currently, neither Acana or Orijen have any active recalls. And no pet food products in either line have a brand history of recalls in Canada or the United States.

However, it is essential to note that Australia once recalled Orijen cat foods due to irradiation. Food irradiation involves using technology to extend shelf life by eliminating microorganisms from ingredients.  It sometimes involves toxic chemicals.

When researching these dog foods, you may also come across a lawsuit filed against their parent company. The lawsuit claims that Champion petfoods did not correctly disclose the levels of heavy metals found in their products.

The company rebuked the lawsuit by stating that it misrepresented data. The suit is merely an accusation that does not have any conclusive evidence that would prevent us from recommending these dog food brands.

Be sure to continue to track the recall status of any dog food you consider to ensure that your pup’s diet is safe.

Overall Winner

This Acana vs Orijen review demonstrates that Orijen dog food is the superior dog food brand due to its “whole prey” animal-based ingredients.

Orijen contains more meat and uses higher quality ingredients than Acana. But, those ingredients also make Orijen significantly more expensive.

Both premium brands provide similar nutrition, and Acana is an excellent choice for dog owners on a budget or parents of sensitive pets who need limited ingredient diets. These product lines offer top-class options for commercial dog food produced with careful quality controls.

Choosing the right dog food for your pup is an individual process. Talk to your veterinarian today to determine if biologically appropriate dog food from Orijen is the best choice for your canine companion.

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Caroline Cochran is a former veterinary technician who is passionate about helping fellow dog lovers learn about canine nutrition. Her best friend is a rescued Great Pyrenees named Syrah, who is also very enthusiastic about dog food.

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