Finding a dog food that’s worthy of being served to your pup can be a real chore. Even if you just focus on the premium foods, the different ingredients and nutrient levels can be overwhelming, and it feels like you’re shaving years off your dog’s life if you give her a subpar food.
Don’t worry, though, the stakes aren’t that high — and we’re here to help you navigate the confusing world of dog foods. Today, we’re looking at two relatively new brands, American Journey and Blue Buffalo.
Both of these claim to be incredibly healthy for your dog, but after doing some research, we found that one seems to be much better than the other. Which one came out on top? The answer is below.
A Sneak Peek at the Winner: American Journey
|Best Overall||American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato||
|Runner-Up||Blue Buffalo Chicken & Brown Rice||
American Journey may be a new food, but that doesn’t mean it performs at rookie levels. This food uses excellent ingredients, has high levels of important nutrients, and is competitively priced. While we still like Blue Buffalo, it couldn’t match American Journey in many important metrics.
To see a more detailed breakdown of both foods and to understand why we chose American Journey, read on.
About American Journey
In the future, every pet store and website may have their own personal brand of dog food. In the case of American Journey, the future is now, as this is the personal brand of Chewy.com, a popular online pet store.
American Journey Doesn’t Use Cheap Ingredients
Many cheap dog foods cut corners by using fillers like corn, wheat, or soy, or they replace quality meat with animal by-products, which are basically whatever’s left of the animal after the good stuff is gone.
American Journey doesn’t do that. The brand doesn’t use cheap fillers or animal by-products, and as a result, you can be confident that your pooch is eating ingredients that are worthy of her.
They Have Grain-Free, Limited-Ingredient, and High-Protein Recipes
If you want to feed your dog a specialized diet, American Journey likely has a formula that can accommodate your wishes. While all their recipes use high-quality ingredients, they also have specialty lines that take things a step further to give your dog the advanced nutrition she needs.
You Can Only Buy It at Chewy.com
You can’t find this food in stores or at Amazon. To buy American Journey, you must have an account at Chewy.com.
However, the company often offers deep discounts, which is especially impressive given that it’s only moderately expensive, to begin with.
The Company Isn’t Forthcoming About Where the Ingredients Come From
All American Journey’s food is manufactured in the United States, and it only uses high-quality ingredients. Good luck finding out where those ingredients come from, though.
The company is very dodgy about this information. That doesn’t mean that they’re using disreputable suppliers, of course, but we’d be surprised if the majority of their ingredients were sourced domestically.
About Blue Buffalo
While Blue Buffalo is certainly better-known than American Journey, it isn’t much older — the company only dates back to 2003.
They Don’t Use Fillers or By-Products, Either
All Blue Buffalo’s recipes are corn-, wheat-, and soy-free, and they don’t use disgusting animal by-products, either. Not all their recipes are grain-free, but they do have a grain-free line, as well as limited-ingredient and high-protein options.
The Company Uses Proprietary LifeSource Bits
Every bag of Blue Buffalo has special additives called LifeSource Bits. These look like little burnt chunks of kibble, but they’re big hunks of vitamins and antioxidants.
Dogs seem to love them — so much so that they don’t seem to realize how healthy they are for them.
Real Meat is Always the First Ingredient
If you look at the ingredients list on any Blue Buffalo product, you’ll always see real meat listed #1 (or occasionally a meat meal). This means their food is built on a foundation of protein, rather than cobbled together from cheap carbs.
That doesn’t mean that all their foods are high in protein, however. Some of their recipes are quite low in protein while others have a massive amount of it, so be sure to read the label before making a purchase.
They Have a Complicated Safety History
Blue Buffalo is a relatively new company, but that hasn’t stopped them from being busy with recalls (more on that later).
However, what’s more disturbing is the fact that the FDA thinks they may be linked to heart disease in dogs. The evidence is far from conclusive, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it.
3 Most Popular American Journey Dog Food Recipes
1. American Journey Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free
While this food is primarily chicken-flavored, there’s quite a bit of other meat in here, too. You’ll find chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, chicken fat, and fish meal in here, along with a dash of pea protein. It all adds up to a protein level of 34%, which is excellent.
You’ll also find flaxseed and salmon oil in addition to the fish meal and chicken fat, so this food is overflowing with omega fatty acids. There are other great foods inside as well, like kelp, blueberries, and carrots.
It is a little higher in salt than we’d like, and we’d prefer if the pea protein had been replaced by another animal source, but that may be getting greedy.
All in all, if this is Chewy’s first foray into making dog food, we’re excited to see what the future holds for them.
2. American Journey Salmon & Brown Rice Protein First Recipe
With a name like “Protein First,” you’d expect this food to be packed with even more meat than the one above. That’s not the case, however. This food only has 25%, which is square in the “average” range.
A good amount of that comes from pea protein as well. Plant protein is generally not as good as animal protein for dogs because it doesn’t have all the amino acids they need, but it’s still better than nothing.
Another issue we have with this food is it uses a controversial technique known as “ingredient splitting.” They have brown rice, rice bran, and brewers rice listed on the ingredients list; this is likely just a big helping of rice that they split into three separate ingredients. This lets them mask how much rice is in it, and we bet if they combined it all into one ingredient, there’d be more rice than salmon.
This is still good food, even despite all the above. The fiber levels are high, it has plenty of omega threes from its various fish sources, and it should be gentle on the stomach, thanks to the rice and oatmeal inside.
We like this food a lot — and we don’t know why they had to resort to questionable marketing techniques to dress up a perfectly good kibble.
3. American Journey Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
In terms of nutrient levels, this food is very similar to the Protein First option above it. It has the same amount of protein and fiber, with just a touch less fat.
However, the ingredients list is much shorter (minus all the added vitamins and minerals, of course). It’s just salmon, peas, and sweet potatoes, with a little dried beet pulp and canola oil thrown in.
As a result, it’s full of omega fatty acids, and there’s not much here that could upset a sensitive dog’s stomach.
It is high in salt, though, and we’d prefer to see more animal protein inside. However, if you’re going to go with a single animal source, salmon is a pretty good choice.
This food is ideal for dogs with sensitive dispositions, but if yours has a cast-iron stomach, you might want to feed her something a little heartier.
3 Most Popular Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recipes
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight Natural Adult
- REAL MEAT FIRST: Blue Buffalo foods always feature real meat as the first ingredient. High-quality...
- WEIGHT MANAGEMENT DOG FOOD: Formulated with reduced calories from fat BLUE Life Protection Formula...
This is a low-calorie version of their basic kibble, so it’s great for dogs that need to shed a few pounds.
However, we generally feel high-protein diets are the way to go for overweight dogs, and this food is certainly not high-protein — only 20%. What meat it has comes from chicken, chicken meal, and chicken fat, with some pea protein thrown in to pad the totals.
There’s not much fat, either (only 9%). This may make it harder for your dog to feel full, and if she’s a competent beggar, it could cause you to overfeed her.
What it lacks in protein and fat, though, it makes up for in fiber. At 10%, this should keep your dog regular, and prevent her from storing a bunch of food in her bowels.
There are some excellent foods in the mix here, too, like cranberries, blueberries, and sweet potatoes. We also like that they add glucosamine because overweight dogs need all the joint support they can get.
If you have a dog that needs to drop some weight, this might be worth trying. Other dogs will just wonder why you’re starving them, though.
2. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Natural Adult
- STARTS WITH REAL TURKEY: A recipe that starts with real turkey as the first ingredient, this adult...
- LIMITED INGREDIENT DOG FOOD: BLUE Basics is a limited ingredient grain free dog food that doesn’t...
Like American Journey’s limited-ingredient recipe, this one is also low in protein — but Blue Buffalo is considerably lower, at just 20%. It also has less fiber than the healthy weight formula above, but a touch more fat.
We’re also not huge fans of the limited ingredients they chose to include. While there’s no problem with turkey, they used regular potatoes instead of sweet potatoes or another starch. Regular potatoes don’t offer much in the way of nutrition, and they also give many dogs gas.
We do like that they included canola and fish oils, as those are excellent sources of omega fatty acids. Also, they threw in some taurine, which is excellent for heart health.
This is a fine limited-ingredient food, but it can’t really compare with American Journey’s. Also, it’s odd to us that they’d use regular potatoes instead of something less likely to cause digestive issues.
3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain-Free Natural Senior
- PACKED WITH REAL CHICKEN: A recipe made to satisfy your dog's natural love for meat this high...
- GRAIN FREE SENIOR DOG FOOD: BLUE Wilderness grain free senior dog food is formulated with...
Wilderness is Blue Buffalo’s high-protein line, but since this is a senior formula, it has a little less of it than some other recipes. Still, the numbers are quite good: 30% protein and 7% fiber.
They also use fish and chicken meals, both of which are full of glucosamine, so this is a great food for arthritic dogs. You’ll also find fish oil, flaxseed, and chicken fat for omega fatty acids, as well as vitamin E to keep your pup’s skin healthy and supple. This recipe includes taurine as well.
They do pad their protein numbers with quite a bit of plant protein, and the calorie levels might be a little high if your dog is a little chubby.
Overall, though, this is an excellent food, and it’s further evidence of why Wilderness deserves to be our favorite Blue Buffalo line.
American Journey vs. Blue Buffalo Comparison
Now that you have a general idea of what to expect from each company, here’s how the two foods compare head-to-head in several important metrics:
Both foods use high-quality ingredients, with a premium on proteins. As a result, the tastes should be similar. We’ll give Blue Buffalo the nod here, simply because they currently have more flavors available.
Again, both foods are similar here, but American Journey’s recipes tend to be higher in protein, which is one of the main things we look for in a kibble.
Blue Buffalo does have a high-protein line that can match or eclipse American Journey’s food, but for the most part, we’d give American Journey the advantage here.
Both foods are moderately priced, but American Journey seems to be less expensive for the most part. Also, Chewy frequently offers discounts on the food, making it an even better deal.
Given that American Journey is a very new food line, it’s not surprising that Blue Buffalo would hold a big edge in this category.
Blue Buffalo doesn’t have a huge array of products the way that some brands do, but they still have quite a bit more than American Journey at this point.
The fact that the two foods split the above categories, underscores just how close they are in our rankings.
However, we figure most people would place a higher value on budget-friendliness and superior nutrition, so we’ll give the win to American Journey. This is especially true given their far better safety record to this point.
Recall History of American Journey and Blue Buffalo
American Journey is a very new brand, so this may not be an entirely fair comparison, as it has yet to suffer any recalls.
However, Blue Buffalo isn’t exactly an old fogey, but despite being relative newcomers they’ve managed to rack up quite the extensive recall list.
The biggest was in 2007 when they were part of what was known as “The Great Melamine Recall.” Melamine is a chemical found in plastics, and it’s lethal to dogs. Some of it found its way into a processing plant in China that makes over 100 dog foods, Blue Buffalo among them. Thousands of pets died, but we can’t say how many (if any) were as a result of eating Blue Buffalo.
In 2010, issues with vitamin D levels triggered a recall, and Salmonella caused a recall of chew bones in 2015. In 2016, they recalled canned foods due to mold.
2017 was a banner year for them in terms of recalls. They started by recalling canned foods due to the presence of metal and then had another recall of canned foods later in the year due to elevated beef thyroid hormone levels.
All of this is in addition to being named by the FDA as one of 16 foods that could cause an increased risk of heart disease. Given Blue Buffalo’s dedication to using high-quality, healthy foods, it’s odd that they should have so many safety incidents over their brief history.
Which Dog Food Brand Should You Pick?
You’ll have to buy it through Chewy.com, though, so if you like to buy your food in person, Blue Buffalo is the only choice for you. It also has a wide flavor profile, making it a better choice for picky puppies.
If you don’t mind buying online, you’ll probably get a better deal with American Journey — and your dog will do just as well, if not better, on the less-expensive food.
- A Sneak Peek at the Winner: American Journey
- About American Journey
- About Blue Buffalo
- 3 Most Popular American Journey Dog Food Recipes
- 3 Most Popular Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recipes
- American Journey vs. Blue Buffalo Comparison
- Recall History of American Journey and Blue Buffalo
- Which Dog Food Brand Should You Pick?