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Merrick Dog Food vs Blue Buffalo 2024 Comparison: Pros & Cons

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

Merrick Dog Food vs Blue Buffalo 2024 Comparison: Pros & Cons

If there’s one goal you should strive toward as a dog owner, it’s providing your pooch with the best life possible. You can do this by showering him with love, snuggles, and toys, but an even better way to ensure your dog has a long and healthy life is by feeding him a proper diet.

The dog food world is incredibly vast and overwhelming. How can you possibly choose the best food for your pet when it seems like there are infinite options? It may be tempting to pick the first food you see at the pet store and hope it provides your dog with the vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive. But you’d be better off doing a bit of research to determine what food best suits your dog’s needs, tastes, and life stage.

We want you to make an informed decision when it comes to your dog’s diet, so we’ve gone ahead and done some of the work for you. Today we’re reviewing two of the biggest brand names in the world of dog food: Merrick and Blue Buffalo. Keep reading to see how both brands stack up when it comes to pricing, ingredients, flavors, and nutritional value.


A Sneak Peek at the Winner: Merrick

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Chicken + Brown Rice Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Chicken + Brown Rice
  • Pea-free recipe
  • High in protein
  • Real chicken is the first ingredient
  • Runner Up
    Second place
    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
  • Provides a balance of carbs and protein
  • Boosts coat health
  • Provides a boost of antioxidants
  • While both brands pride themselves on providing dogs with high-quality nutrition, Merrick has the upper hand. This is due to their commitment to quality, incredibly vast protein source options, and their huge product line-up. Merrick has been around for a long time and has proven itself time and time again to be a frontrunner in the dog food world.

    Don’t just take our word for it, though, keep reading to learn why we believe Merrick has the upper hand in this dog food battle.

    We found three Merrick recipes that stood out to us:


    About Merrick Dog Food

    Merrick manufactures both dog and cat food in the United States. They have a huge selection of foods including dry kibble, canned food, treats, and chews. The brand commits to crafting wholesome and nutritious foods that they’ve upheld since its start in the 1980s.

    A Long History

    Merrick has been around since 1988 and was created by a man named Garth Merrick. The brand’s humble beginning took place in Merrick’s family kitchen in Hereford, Texas. Merrick wanted to provide the most whole and nutritious food for his dog Gracie so he used that inspiration to begin crafting dog food recipes with real and fresh foods from farmers that he knew and trusted. In 2015, the Merrick family sold its operations to Nestle-Purina.

    The Five-Star Promise

    Merrick has a guarantee that they apply to all of their dog food called the Five Star Promise. This promise states the following:

    • They use real whole foods in every recipe.
    • They use the highest quality ingredients from trustworthy farmers and partners.
    • Their recipes will make a difference in the health of your pet.
    • Their recipes are crafted in the same kitchen where Merrick had its humble start in the 80s.
    • Merrick gives back by partnering with local and national pet-centric organizations.

    The Merrick Difference

    The Merrick brand has a section on their website that allows you to compare one of their cat or dog foods to one of their competitors’ similar products. The tool allows comparisons with brands like Blue Buffalo, Stella & Chewy, Instinct, Wellness Core, and more. The tool will then display an easy-to-read table that allows you to see how the products measure up to each other.

    • Huge selection of dog food
    • No by-products or fillers in their recipes
    • Includes both grain-free and grain-inclusive recipes
    • Made in the United States
    • High price
    • Recipes are high in carbs
    • Not all ingredients are sourced from the USA
    • Many recalls


    About Blue Buffalo

    Blue Buffalo had its start in 2003 when the Bishop family dedicated themselves to manufacturing holistic dog food to help their dog Blue as he battled cancer. They wanted to craft recipes that would not only support a high quality of life for pets but also recipes that could prevent or ease diseases.

    The True-Blue Promise

    Similar to Merrick’s 5-Star Promise, Blue Buffalo has their own nutrition philosophy. Their guarantee states the following:

    • Real meat is always the first ingredient.
    • No chicken by-product meals are in their foods.
    • No artificial flavoring or preservatives are in their recipes.
    • All recipes are crafted without wheat, corn, or soy.

    The Six-Point Quality Check

    Blue Buffalo prides itself on choosing only the highest quality ingredients for its recipes. Every one of their formulas must undergo a rigorous six-point quality check before hitting the shelves. The six points include:

    • Checking the food sources
    • Testing the ingredients
    • Monitoring the batching process
    • Conducting an in-process analysis of the food and facilities
    • Evaluating the packaging
    • Assessing and reviewing the final product

    Ingredient Transparency

    One thing that sets Blue Buffalo apart from other similar quality dog food brands is their commitment to wholesome ingredients. Not only that but their passion for sharing the reason why these ingredients are present in their formulas in the first place. There is an entire section on their website dedicated to the ingredients you may find in their recipes and what their benefits are. You can even filter your results by specific recipes to see what ingredients are in the bag or can of food you’ve chosen for your dog.

    • No animal by-products
    • No artificial flavoring or preservatives
    • Plenty of product variety
    • Formulas available for all life stages
    • Recipes available for food sensitivities
    • Expensive
    • Kibble is high in carbohydrates


    3 Most Popular Merrick Dog Food Recipes

    1. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Real Chicken Brown Rice

    Merrick Classic Healthy

    This grain-inclusive recipe provides a hefty dose of protein to build and maintain muscle tissue and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to boost the health of your dog’s skin and coat.

    Merrick developed this recipe with glucosamine and chondroitin to help promote the health of your dog’s hips and joints.

    This formula is free of peas and lentils and has a unique blend of healthy grains like quinoa to boost digestion. It has a unique blend of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12 for optimal brain function to help provide a complete and balanced diet for your beloved pooch.

    • Pea-free recipe
    • High in protein
    • Real chicken is the first ingredient
    • Promotes joint health
    • Ancient grains aid in digestion
    • Expensive

    2. Merrick Real Texas Beef Sweet Potato

    Merrick Real Texas Beef

    This very popular grain-free formula lists real deboned beef as the first ingredient and sweet potatoes as one of the first five. Sixty percent of this recipe’s protein comes from animal sources, providing your pup with a hefty dose of protein that it needs to build muscle tissues and maintain an optimal weight.

    This recipe is high in omega fatty acids to help support your dog’s skin and coat health as well as glucosamine to help maintain healthy joints and bones. It is chock full of real whole foods like blueberries to boost its antioxidant content and sweet potatoes to provide energy without upsetting dogs with grain sensitivities.

    If your dog does not have a sensitivity to grain, we recommend speaking with your vet to determine if a grain-free diet is the right choice.

    It is important to note that this recipe lists peas as its sixth ingredient. Peas are a controversial ingredient in dog food due to studies suggesting that peas can contribute to diet-associated heart disease in dogs.

    • Made with real beef
    • No artificial preservatives
    • Boosts joint and hip health
    • High in protein
    • Peas are high up on the ingredient list

    3. Merrick Lil’ Plates Mini Medley

    Merrick Lil'Plates Mini Medley Wet Dog Food

    Merrick’s Lil’ Plates are a great grain-free option for small-breed dogs. This variety pack includes three recipes that feature deboned chicken, beef, and deboned turkey as their first ingredients. These trays are simple to open and easy to feed since they’re already pre-portioned for you. The recipes contain succulent pieces of real meat in a delectable gravy that adds moisture to your dog’s diet.

    Each of the three different recipes has been formulated with specifically chosen ingredients to boost your dog’s health. Sweet potatoes in the beef recipe provide a dose of vitamin A for skin and eye health, carrots in the chicken recipe provide fiber and beta-carotene, while apples in the turkey recipe provide a source of vitamin C and A.

    Since this food is grain-free, peas are quite high on the ingredient list. As you already know, peas can be controversial so it’s best to speak with your vet if you have any concerns about feeding your dog pea-inclusive foods.

    • Medley pack adds variety to the diet
    • Made with real meat
    • Designed specifically for small breeds
    • Only natural ingredients
    • Adds moisture to diet
    • Contains peas
    • Expensive


    3 Most Popular Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recipes

    1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection formula is a grain-inclusive recipe that’s great for healthy adult dogs. It is a high-protein food with real meat as its first ingredient. Protein from real chickens helps your dog build and maintain muscles.

    This formula contains the carbohydrates your dog needs for energy as well as omega fatty acids to promote a healthy and shiny coat.

    This recipe, as with many of Blue Buffalo’s recipes, contains the brand’s LifeSource Bits. These bits provide a blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support your dog’s immune system and any needs it may have due to its life stage.

    Although this recipe contains grains, it also lists peas as an ingredient. The peas aren’t even in the first ten ingredients, but it is important to know that they are present in the recipe.

    • Provides a balance of carbs and protein
    • Boosts coat health
    • Provides a boost of antioxidants
    • High-quality protein
    • Contains peas

    2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness Chicken Recipe is a grain-free formula that lists real chicken as its first ingredient. This high-protein food helps dogs build and maintain lean muscle mass and has healthy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes to give your active dog energy.

    This formula contains fatty acids to boost coat health as well as Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits to provide a dose of antioxidants and vitamins.

    This recipe has no chicken by-product meals, corn, artificial flavoring, or preservatives and is made with all-natural ingredients.

    This food comes in a wide variety of bag sizes, all with an easy-to-use resealable zipper to keep the food fresh.

    This recipe is relatively high in calories which may not make it the best option for dogs who are already teetering on being overweight. It’s also important to note that this recipe lists peas as the third ingredient.

    • Boosts skin health
    • No artificial preservatives
    • Bags are resealable
    • High in protein
    • Source of antioxidants
    • High in calories
    • Peas are high on the ingredient list

    3. Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe Chicken Dinner

    Blue Buffalo Homestyle Recipe

    If you prefer to feed your dog wet food, Blue Buffalo’s Homestyle Recipe Chicken Dinner is a great option.

    This canned food lists real chicken as the first ingredient so you know your pooch is getting a high-quality source of protein. This recipe is chock full of vegetables and fruits like carrots, blueberries, and cranberries to provide an antioxidant boost.

    It doesn’t contain any wheat, artificial flavors, or preservatives.

    Since canned food is naturally higher in moisture, this recipe is great for adding much-needed hydration to your dog’s diet.

    Peas are listed in the first five ingredients. This recipe also lists a controversial ingredient called carrageenan in its ingredient list. Carrageenan is often added to dog food recipes to thicken the recipes, but it has been known to cause problems for some pups.

    • High in protein
    • Real meat as the first ingredient
    • Contains vegetables and fruits
    • Adds moisture to the diet
    • No preservatives or artificial flavoring
    • Contains peas
    • Contains carrageenan


    Recall History of Merrick Dog Food and Blue Buffalo

    It’s important to educate yourself on the recall history of any dog food you may be considering feeding your pet. Knowing what prompted the recall, the severity of the recall, and the brand’s response to it can be a huge deciding factor for some pet owners.

    Merrick has had several recalls over the years, most of which were due to the potential for salmonella contamination.

    In 2002, Canadian consumers were warned to stay away from some of Merrick’s beef steak treats due to the potential for salmonella contamination. Health officials in the country followed up on reports that five people in Alberta became sick after handling their dog’s treats. This was a Canada-only recall and it seems that no other products were affected.

    In 2010 and 2011, Merrick had several more recalls on their treats due to the possibility of contamination with salmonella.

    In 2018, they recalled a few more batches of treats because they could have potentially had elevated levels of a beef thyroid hormone which could lead to increased thirst and urination, weight loss, and restlessness.

    Blue Buffalo has also had several recalls throughout the years.

    In 2018, they recalled some of their dry dog food because they contained potentially toxic levels of vitamin D. In 2015, Blue Buffalo recalled a single lot of their chew bones because they could potentially be contaminated with salmonella. The next year, they recalled a batch of dog food due to reports of excessive moisture and mold being present.

    Blue Buffalo had three recalls in 2017. Specific lots of their canned food were recalled due to the potential for aluminum contamination. Some of their trayed foods were recalled due to issues with the foil seals. One particular flavor of canned food was recalled for potentially containing excess levels of beef thyroid hormone.

    PK paw divider

    Merrick Dog Food VS Blue Buffalo Comparison

    Now that you know a little bit about both brands, let’s see how they stand up against one another. While they are similar in a lot of ways, they do have some differences that set them apart from each other.


    Both brands have a plethora of flavor options in their wet, dry, and treat line-ups. Their recipes are made with flavorful meats that appeal to dogs. Merrick crafts recipes with meat like salmon, turkey, lamb, duck, venison, and even wild game like bison, buffalo, quail, and boar. Blue Buffalo focuses more on traditional protein sources like poultry, seafood, beef, and turkey.

    Blue Buffalo’s antioxidant-rich LifeSource Bits sound great on paper but many dogs are averse to them.

    a dog eating on a bowl
    Image Credit: Mart Production, Pexels

    Nutritional Value

    Both brands craft well-balanced and nutrient-rich food formulas in both grain-free and grain-inclusive options.

    When looking at the nutritional profiles of both brands’ dry food options, Merrick is generally higher in protein. More of this protein comes from an animal source versus plant sources like peas or sweet potatoes. While Blue Buffalo also uses real meat in their recipes, they also rely on peas a lot more than Merrick does and they use them in higher quantities, too. Merrick’s website allows you to select “pea-free” as a filter when searching for food which is great for dog owners looking to reduce their pet’s pea intake.

    When comparing the wet food options, both brands provide approximately the same nutrition.

    Calorie-wise, Merrick’s grain-inclusive recipe is lower in calories than Blue Buffalos, but their grain-free recipe is substantially higher in calories than Merrick’s.


    Both brands are on the pricey side for dog food. That said, Blue Buffalo tends to be more affordable than Merrick.

    The same applies to the wet food options we reviewed above. Blue Buffalo’s canned food is available in cases of 12 12.5-ounce cans, while Merrick’s Lil’Plates comes in a case of 12 3.5-ounce cans. Merrick’s food is less expensive, but you’re receiving much less—42-ounces total versus Blue Buffalo’s 150-ounces.


    Both brands are neck-and-neck when it comes to product lines. Blue Buffalo has several product lines such as BLUE Life Protection Formula (grain-friendly recipes), BLUE Basics (limited ingredient recipes), and BLUE Wilderness (higher in protein and fat). Merrick’s product lines include Full Source (high in protein), Backcountry (freeze-dried raw kibble and meat), and Limited Ingredient Diet (ten ingredients or less).

    When it comes to the number of recipes available, Blue Buffalo has the lead in wet and dry foods with 65 dry foods and 73 wet foods compared to Merrick’s 54 dry foods and 49 wet foods. Merrick has the lead in terms of treats with 42 options compared to Blue Buffalo’s 37.

    miniature schnauzer dog standing on sofa and eating dog food from bowl
    Image Credit: DegrooteStock, Shutterstock


    While Blue Buffalo is better priced and has more selection, we think the nutritional value and flavor options of Merrick give the brand a slight advantage. Merrick has less of an emphasis on peas in their recipes and has a larger selection when it comes to protein options.



    Both Merrick and Blue Buffalo have shown themselves to be committed to providing the highest quality nutrition for your pets. They both use natural ingredients and high-quality protein sources. Both brands have several product lines and many recipes and flavors to choose from.

    While both brands have been subject to recalls in the past, Blue Buffalo’s recalls were more serious. Merrick’s recalls were only on their treats and were spread out across several years, while Blue Buffalo had multiple recalls all in the same year.

    That said, we believe that Merrick is a superior food due to their nutritious formulas and reputable history that prove that they value quality and are always keeping a close watch on their food production.

    However, if you’re on a tighter budget, there is no shame in choosing Blue Buffalo over Merrick. The two brands are very similar, and opting for Blue Buffalo still means you’re providing your dog with an above-average and high-quality diet.

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