Orijen Dog Food

The Orijen Dog Food Review: Tested & Evaluated 2024

Written By Eloisa Thomas | Canine Coach, Double M.A in Anthropology.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 18th January 2024

When it comes to high-end dog foods, Orijen is at the top. Full of animal ingredients and ethically-sourced, this is a favourite for a reason.

Wondering if you should do the switch? In today’s Orijen dog food review, our experts will cover everything you need to know. We teamed up with veterinarians and canine nutritionists to discover everything there is to know about this dog food brand. We also tested out all the food options with our own beloved pooches to ensure we could see how dogs take to this wholesome cuisine.

Here are the basics when it comes to Orijen dog food:

  • This brand offers freeze-dried food with at least 85% meat ingredients.
  • In Australia, Orijen has a smaller food range with no single-protein options.
  • The first 12-15 ingredients in these recipes come from animal sources.

Quick Pick - Our Best Rated Dog Food

Petzyo Dog Food

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Petzyo Dog Food

  • Ethically sourced Kangaroo, Chicken or Salmon, sweet potato & superfood extras
  • Iron-rich & low fat proteins
  • Three Omega 3 and 6 rich oils with a well balanced 11% fat content
  • Made in Australia

Australia's Orijen Dog Food Reviewed

Orijen - 4.5 Star Rating

  • Ingredients: Original recipe (all sizes & life stages): Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, Atlantic flounder, cage-free eggs, whole Atlantic mackerel, chicken liver, turkey liver, chicken heart, turkey heart, whole Atlantic herring, dehydrated chicken, dehydrated turkey, dehydrated mackerel, dehydrated chicken liver, dehydrated egg, whole red lentils, whole pinto beans, whole green peas, chicken necks, chicken kidney, whole green lentils, whole navy beans, whole chickpeas, lentil fibre, chicken fat, natural chicken flavour, pollock oil, ground chicken bone, chicken cartilage, turkey cartilage, mixed tocopherols (preservative), whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, freeze-dried chicken liver, dried kelp, zinc proteinate, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, whole carrots, whole apples, whole pears, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, thiamine mononitrate, D-calcium pantothenate, copper proteinate, chicory root, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, althea root, rosehips, juniper berries, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product.
  • Named Protein First: Yes.
  • Dog Food Type: Dry food and lyophilized treats
  • Recipe Range: Original, six fish, regional red, fit & trim, senior, small breed and puppy (regular & large).
  • Suitable For: All life stages. Senior and puppy options available.
  • Cost: $$$$
  • Australian Owned: No

Orijen Dog Food Review

Taste

Ingredients

Protein content

Additives

Variety

Price

If you’re looking into feeding your dog high-quality dog food, you’ll probably come across Orijen. Made by Champion pet foods, this brand offers air- and freeze-dried food to preserve a good chunk of nutrients. This company has been making dog food since 1985, without a single recall [1].

In today’s Orijen dog food review, we’ll be going over all the basics so you can decide if it’s the right choice for your pup. Here’s what our team of independent experts believe you should know!

Taste 5/5

The main reason for the high palatability of this food is the percentage of animal-based ingredients. We’ll go over the specifics in other categories, but most dogs enjoy having food that is so rich in meats and organs.

Our team thinks it’s worth mentioning the extra freeze-dried liver, that the brand states was added to increase flavour and palatability. Innards like liver add smell and taste, making the food more attractive. And according to our research, it works! Many owners state their picky eaters (including Whippets and Chihuahuas) are licking their bowls clean for the first time. That’s a win for us!

PRO TIP: Highly palatable foods are great, but they also need to be carefully portioned. Most dogs won’t stop eating when they’re full, but rather when the food runs out! Always measure your dog’s food BEFORE meal time to prevent obesity and excess weight.

Because of the high palatability of the food, we’re giving this brand 5 out of 5.

Ingredients 4.5/5

The ingredients are one of the highlights of these recipes.

Compared to other dog foods, Orijen goes well above standard. The Original recipe has 85% of ingredients coming from animal sources (like poultry, eggs and fish), with only 15% of other ingredients (including fruits, vegetables and other additives).

A big part of the success of Orijen dog food is that they offer a “biologically appropriate” diet. According to the company, this is supposed to mirror the diet a dog could have “in the wild” as a predator [2]. As such, not only do the recipes have different meats from different animals, but it’s more than just muscle meat.

So, instead of sticking to only muscle, Orijen replicates the composition of actual prey your dog was evolved to eat. This means on top of muscle, there are also internal organs, cartilage and bone in ratios very similar to those of a “natural” diet.

It’s important to note this isn’t a regular cooked kibble. Orijen offers dog food made out of a mix of freeze- and air-dried ingredients (2/3 of the meats) with others cooked at low temperatures. This preserves nutrients better than traditional kibble, and also allows for recipes to have a very low carb percentage.

We’ll go into the specific additives later on, but suffice it to say the ingredient list looks great. The list starts with 15 (!) ingredients from animal sources, followed by 3 different legumes (lentils, pinto beans, green peas). This is followed by a good mix of more animal ingredients and vegetables. To end the list, there’s a fair share of supplements and extra goodies like turmeric, chicory and sunflower seeds. Overall, the composition and ingredient choice is top-notch.

Orijen’s dog food guaranteed analysis shows a minimum of 38% crude protein, 18% crude fat and a maximum of 4% crude fibre. This is well above the minimums recommended by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), and better than most kibbles in the market. 

So yes, these recipes can be fed to dogs of all ages. The high protein and fat content also mean the recipes can be fed to puppies. There are also puppy-specific recipes if you’d rather go that route as well.

Due to the very high percentage of animal-based ingredients and the good composition overall, our panel agreed to give this brand 4.5 out of 5 in this category.

Protein content

From a composition point of view, Orijen is unparalleled when it comes to protein. As we already mentioned, 85% of ingredients come from animal sources. This is way above most dog foods where barely a third of ingredients are animal-based.

The high percentage of animal-sourced ingredients isn’t a surprise if you look at the ingredient list: the first 15 (yes, that’s not a typo) ingredients come from animal sources. These include deboned chicken and turkey, cage-free eggs, fish (mackerel and flounder) and a variety of organ meats (liver, heart, kidney…).

These are grain-free recipes with different types of legumes. We can presume the legumes added (peas, navy beans, lentils, pinto beans…) add a few more grams of protein. We’re ok with legumes in dog food, as long as they are used in moderation. This seems to be the case with Orijen!

Overall, the highlight of the protein content in this food is the use of “whole-prey” recipes. According to Orijen, they have designed the recipes to simulate the mix a dog might get eating “in the wild”. Considering dogs are carnivores, this means their diet would have muscle meat, but also lots of internal organs, bone and cartilage. It’s obvious from the ingredient list that all these have been added, which is unusual in dog food.

On another note, instead of using rendered turkey or chicken meal, this brand uses dehydrated poultry. While poultry meal is a great protein source, it is more processed. We appreciate the use of ingredients that have been minimally processed. It means the brand cares about preserving as many nutrients as possible!

Our team liked the recipes available from this brand, and the good mix of proteins in each one. We’re giving this brand 5 out of 5 in this category.

Additives 5/5

Just like the rest of the ingredient list, the additives in Orijen dog food are all great. This is a long ingredient list, so we’ll be analysing them by function:

  • Fruits and vegetables: These are added raw to the mix, then freeze-dried, to preserve a maximum of nutrients. While the exact mix changes from recipe to recipe, most of them include apples, carrots, pears, and spinach to round up the food’s nutrient profile and add fibre.
  • Flavours and preservatives: This brand prides itself on using no artificial preservatives, which is great to see. They do use natural preservatives (vitamin E), so your dog’s food won’t go bad too quickly. As for the flavourings, there are no artificial compounds, instead they’ve used natural chicken flavour and freeze-dried chicken liver. Your pup will be having a tasty meal without weird chemicals!
  • Chelated minerals: To complement the micronutrients from organ meats, Orijen adds thiamine, copper and calcium. These are chelated, which our team of experts explain means they have been modified to improve absorption. In general, only high-end dog foods use chelated minerals in their recipes due to the higher cost. We think the extra investment is worth it!
  • Seeds: This food doesn’t have vegetable oil, which is great. Instead, on top of other fat sources, they’ve added pumpkin and flower seeds. These add healthy, unprocessed fats and some trace minerals.
  • Other extras: Turmeric, althea root, rosehips, juniper berries… all of these contribute by adding antioxidants to the food. Extras like turmeric and rosehips have strong anti-inflammatory properties which are especially great to counteract chronic conditions. There are also 3 different probiotics (at the end of the list), to boost gut health!

Variety 5/5

As we mentioned above, here in Australia we get a smaller variety than the totality of Orijen recipes. Nevertheless, our team was very satisfied with the ones available.

For all life stages, we have three formulas: original, six fish and regional red. Puppies have the regular puppy recipe and a large-breed puppy option as well. For specialty options, there’s a senior recipe, a “fit & trim” one for active pups, and a small-breed option with a smaller kibble.

Overall, most dogs will have something in the recipe range available here. We’re giving this brand 5 out of 5 in this category.

Price 3/5

Without a question, Orijen dog food is pricey. It’s one of the most expensive options in Australia, and that’s saying something! With rising dog food prices, it’s understandable that not all households can invest in their dog’s food.

This brand only sells through retailers in Australia, which probably adds a bit to the final cost. Of course, there are some options if you’d like to save a bit: seasonal bundle offers and save & subscribe deals might be a good option if you’d like to add Orijen into your rotation.

On the other hand, if your budget is smaller, there’s also Acana dog food. We recently reviewed this food, made by the same company (Champion), but at a more affordable price. It’s always nice to see companies offer more options for those with lots of dogs or a smaller budget.

We’re taking off 2 stars due to the high price, although we think the higher cost is more than justified.


Do Not Buy If…

While we like this dog food, our team of independent experts say it might not be the right choice if you:

  • Would rather go local: Although this is high-quality food, it’s neither owned nor made in Australia. This means the carbon footprint is relatively large, considering it’s shipped from facilities in the US. If you want to go sustainable in your pup’s food, this isn’t the right brand.
  • Need single-protein recipes: Some dogs going on an elimination diet will need single-protein recipes. Orijen prides itself on featuring a good mix of prey in their recipes, meaning there are no single-protein options. If that’s your case, you’ll have to choose another brand. We recommend to ask your vet!
  • Have a dog that’s allergic to fish: It’s uncommon, but it happens. If your dog really cannot have fish, none of the Orijen recipes will fit. The recipes available in Australia all have either fish oil or fish meal, and most times they have both.

Final Verdict

Orijen is one of the best dog foods available in Australia. If your budget can afford it, our panel of independent experts wholeheartedly recommend you try it. It’s a great option with a nice composition and lots of nutrients. Here at Gentle Dog Trainers, we’re convinced spending a bit more on food will save on vet bills later. And this is one of those brands that pretty much guarantees the healthiest life possible.

If Orijen is a no-go for you, it might be worth it to look into Acana. It’s also a good option (albeit with fewer goodies in the ingredient list).

Want to read more dog food brand reviews? Check out the below:

References

  1. Dog Food Advisor. Orijen dog food. https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/orijen-dog-food-usa/
  2. Orijen Pet foods. Biologically appropriate. https://orijenpetfoods.com.au/faq/
  3. Dogs Naturally Magazine. Turmeric for dogs. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/turmeric-dogs/

Eloisa Thomas


Eloisa Thomas is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach & Anthropologist.

With a double master's degree in Anthropology and awarded a Chancellor's International Scholarship to pursue a PhD in History at the University of Warwick (UK), she's well equipped to write well written and factual canine information that will actually help people understand their dogs better.

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