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Pure Balance vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food: Our 2024 Comparison

Written by: Kerry-Ann Kerr

Last Updated on April 7, 2024 by Dogster Team

Pure Balance vs Blue Buffalo Dog Food: Our 2024 Comparison

The dog food aisle can be a little overwhelming when faced with brand after brand offering you the best nutrition. Who do you believe? You want the best for your dog, so where do you start when choosing the right dog food?

Sometimes the quality differences in dog foods are huge, but you can also find several brands that produce similar products. Pure Balance and Blue Buffalo fit the latter scenario, and it’s challenging to select a winner since they’re both high-quality brands.

We’ve chosen a winner between the two companies, and we’ll let you know why one brand wound up on top.

divider-pawA Sneak Peek at the Winner: Blue Buffalo

Rating Image Product Details
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
  • Contains quality protein
  • Packed with antioxidants
  • Uses super-foods (blueberries and cranberries)
  • Second place
    Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Lamb Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Lamb
  • Gluten-free
  • Variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Good options for pups with sensitivities or allergies
  • Both brands have their merits, and it wasn’t easy to select a favorite. However, Blue Buffalo is our overall winner. Their dedication to high-quality food with no preservatives, fillers, or artificial flavors convinced us they were the best.

    When examining the brand, two recipes stood out the most to us.

    Pure Balance is excellent dog food and a worthy contender, so stick with us to determine what tipped the scale in favor of Blue Buffalo.

    Pure Balance vs Blue Buffalo

    To give you an even better idea of how the two brands compare, we’ve graded them based on four critical categories.

    Dog food in a bowl
    Image by: 279photoStudio, Shutterstock


    Both brands are relatively equal in terms of flavor since their first ingredient is real meat, which makes up the foundation of their kibbles. However, we’ll give the point to Blue Buffalo because they produce more flavors than Pure Balance.

    Nutritional Value

    Both companies score well in terms of protein, omega fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. However, Blue Buffalo prides itself in not using by-products, so the point has to go to them again.


    Blue Buffalo is available in outlet stores, online vendors, and grocery stores. It is easier to find than Pure Balance and has a wider variety of high-quality pet products. Pure Balance is a newer brand, and its selection is likely to increase, but Blue Buffalo is the winner right now.

    dog food in plastic container
    Image by: APN Photography, Shutterstock


    Blue Buffalo is the clear winner, but it is very close. Both brands are so similar, but it’s Pure Balance’s aim to keep costs low, and the quality of their ingredients is not as high as Blue Buffalo’s.

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    About Pure Balance

    Pure Balance is the newer of the two brands. It was launched in 2012 by Walmart and was created based on customer feedback that they wanted a dog food that was healthy and affordable. Since first hitting the shelves, Pure Balance has expanded, and they’ve gone from offering two dry kibble flavors to producing several varieties, including grain-free options.

    Pure Balance is primarily available in Walmart stores and Amazon. However, it’s not as wildly available as Blue Buffalo.

    Meat Meal

    The nutritional profile of Pure Balance has a reasonable high protein and fat proportion. They use real meat you’ll recognize in other dog foods, like chicken, salmon, and beef, but they also use bison, trout, and venison, which helps them stand out amongst their competitors. They also add meat meal for extra protein.

    Both Pure Balance and Blue Buffalo use meat “meal,” and there is some debate if meat meal is good or bad. Some meal is made of waste materials, including hooves, bones, animal heads, and other organs. However, the meal is not unhealthy for your pet. According to the American Kennel Club, a high-quality meat meal is actually more nutritious than whole meat.

    Meat meal is created through “rendering,” which means the meat is cooked until excess water evaporates. This leaves you with concentrated protein. While whole chicken is roughly 18% protein and 70% water, the chicken meal contains 10% water and 65% protein. In essence, meal  is only as healthy as the ingredients used to make it.

    Black Dachshund dog guarding and eating food
    Image by: dogboxstudio, Shutterstock

    Other Notable Ingredients

    Pure Balance does not use corn, wheat, or soy in its formulas and stays away from preservatives and artificial flavors. They use brown rice, which is full of natural fiber, helps with digestion, and is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. Vitamins B and D are found in brown rice and are essential for a healthy heart.

    Pure Balance also makes consistent use of pea protein, which is problematic. Pea protein is usually included to increase the level of protein in food without increasing the costs. It’s also the subject of several studies that indicate it may be linked to canine heart disease, but the results are inconclusive. The use of pea protein isn’t all that surprising, as the brand is so affordable, but it is something to be aware of.


    Pure Balance was created with the intention of being an affordable alternative to its competitors. It is very reasonable for the quality of the ingredients.

    • High-quality ingredients
    • Affordable
    • Wide variety of flavors


    • Uses pea protein
    • Availability

    PK paw divider

    The 3 Most Popular Pure Balance Dog Food Recipes

    1. Pure Balance Dog Food, Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

    Pure Balance Dog Food, Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

    This recipe has chicken and chicken meal listed as its first two ingredients, and the protein level sits at 27%, which is an average number. Using a single source of meat means it may not be suitable for dogs that suffer from severe sensitivities and allergies. There is no soy, artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors in the Chicken and Brown Rice formula.

    The recipe has a few controversial ingredients, like beet pulp, which is high in fiber but is a by-product of the sugar beet process. It also uses brewer’s rice, another by-product, of modest nutritional value made from small fragments left over after milling whole rice.

    However, the meal also has flaxseed, which is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It also has omega-6 fatty acid from poultry fat, which is high in linoleic acid.

    • Quality protein used
    • No added fillers
    • Natural ingredients with added vitamins


    • Uses some controversial ingredients
    • Contains potential allergens

    2. Pure Balance Wild & Free Grain Free Salmon & Pea Dry Dog Food

    Pure Balance Wild & Free Grain Free Salmon & Pea Dry Dog Food

    This recipe includes salmon, salmon meal, and fish meal. Fish is an excellent protein alternative for dogs since fish allergies are very rare, and it is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. The protein sits at 24%, while the fat content is 15%, meaning your dog is more likely to feel fuller for longer.

    Wild and Free Grain Free contains ground peas and pea protein, and pea protein is considered undesirable because it is typically lower in biological value than meat proteins. Other ingredients include fish meal and dried plain beet pulp, which, as already mentioned, are controversial ingredients.

    Although beet pulp is a subject of debate, that doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. Arguably, beet pulp is a good source of fiber. In moderation, it can be beneficial to dogs.

    • Good protein source for dogs with allergies
    • High fat content


    • Controversial ingredients used

    3. Pure Balance Wild & Free Bison, Pea & Venison Recipe Food For Dogs

    Pure Balance Wild & Free Bison, Pea & Venison Recipe Food For Dogs

    Bison is an excellent protein high in B vitamins which convert into energy and support multiple metabolic functions and overall brain health. The protein content is sitting at 30%, which is one of the highest in our top three Pure Balance recipes. The second ingredient is chicken meal which, while an excellent protein, could be a potential allergen.

    Venison appears low on the list of ingredients, flanked by poultry fat and whole flaxseed, which seems an unusual choice when the name of the food is “Bison, Pea & Venison.” Venison is packed with nutrients and contains high amounts of B vitamins. Venison provides a perfect amount of iron and zinc to support organ function and the immune system.

    Just like the previous two foods, controversial foods, such as the by-product poultry fat and pea protein, are used.

    • Excellent source of protein
    • Packed with nutrients


    • Contains by-products
    • Controversial ingredients used
    • Potential allergens

    divider-dog paw

    About Blue Buffalo

    Blue Buffalo was created to help the founder’s Airedale Terrier, Blue. When Blue was diagnosed with cancer, Bill Bishop, the owner, wanted to give his dog the best fighting chance, and to do that, he looked for the most nutritious meals possible. He consulted nutritionists and vets to come up with a formula for fueling Blue to fight cancer, and as a result, Blue Buffalo was born.

    The Ingredients

    Whole meat is always used in Blue Buffalo’s ingredients, and it’s the first ingredient listed. The meats range from the more unusual alligator to the better-known chicken. Blue Buffalo avoids by-products, artificial flavors, and preservatives. However, they use pea protein in some of their foods.

    Limited Ingredients

    Blue Buffalo covers a lot of bases when it comes to food sensitivities. They have limited ingredient meals for dogs with allergies or sensitivities to common ingredients you find in traditional dog food. Their food is also suitable for overweight dogs that benefit from meals with fewer ingredients.

    Blue Buffalo has grain-free recipes, life-stage options, and high protein products for dogs that need an extra boost in their diets. If your dog is energetic, the Wilderness line has exceptionally high protein levels. Antioxidant-packed pieces called LifeSource Bits are also included in the Wilderness recipes.

    Hunting dog eating
    Image by: Nadezhda Zaitceva, Shutterstock


    Blue Buffalo is a premium food brand, and you pay more for it than discount brands, but it isn’t the priciest food on the market. Their recipes cost slightly more compared to Pure Balance, and if you have a large breed dog, you’ll notice.

    • High-quality ingredients
    • Several flavors available
    • Wide variety of food for any need (allergies or sensitivities)


    • Expensive
    • Uses pea proteins

    PK paw divider

    The 3 Most Popular Blue Buffalo Dog Food Recipes

    1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Chicken and Brown Rice Formula

    This recipe contains LifeSource Bits, a blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, that promote a healthy immune system. The protein content is 26% which is suitable for an adult dog. Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the first ingredients on the list, and they are both excellent sources of lean meat.

    The Life Protection Formula includes healthy fruits like blueberries and cranberries. Blueberries are  “super-foods” packed with vitamins and antioxidants, and cranberries improve your dog’s immune system and bladder health. It also has flaxseed as a source of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids and contains 400 milligrams of glucosamine for joint health and mobility support. There is more plant protein than we would like to see, and the dried tomato pomace and potatoes are not essential ingredients. Chicken can be an allergen; if this is the first time you’re trying the recipe, keep that in mind.

    • Contains quality protein
    • Packed with antioxidants
    • Uses super-foods (blueberries and cranberries)
    • Brilliant source of omega fatty acids


    • Potential allergen
    • Uses a lot of plant protein

    2. Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Lamb Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Lamb Recipe Grain

    Blue Buffalo Freedom is free of grains and gluten for sensitive pups. It’s designed to provide your adult dog with all the energy they’ll need to stay active without being slowed down by allergies or sensitivities.

    The protein content is only 22%, and this may be because the recipe relies heavily on carbohydrates instead of protein. The fat content is the same as the Life Protection Formula (14%), and it also includes blueberries and cranberries.

    • Gluten-free
    • Variety of fruits and vegetables
    • Good options for pups with sensitivities or allergies


    • Lower in protein
    • Lots of starchy carbs

    3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness line is high in protein and does not disappoint, with the highest protein percentage (34%) in all six recipes featured here. Thanks to the fish and flaxseed, this recipe is packed with omega fatty acids, while the fish and chicken meal bump up the protein levels.

    There is, like other recipes, a large quantity of plant protein, and we would be happier if the potatoes and dried egg product didn’t appear in the recipe. However, if you are looking for a recipe with a boost in protein, this is the food for you. Before serving a grain-free recipe to your canine, talk to your vet to ensure it’s suitable for your pet.

    • Packed with omega-fatty acids
    • High in protein


    • Relies on plant protein
    • Contains potatoes and dried egg


    Recall History of Pure Balance and Blue Buffalo

    Pure Balance has never faced a recall, but Blue Buffalo is an older brand and has had to issue a few recalls since 2007.

    In March 2017, some of Blue Buffalo’s canned food was recalled because of potentially excessive levels of beef thyroid hormone. Some Homestyle Recipe cans were recalled a month before because of possible metal (aluminum) contamination.

    In May 2016, Blue Buffalo dog food was recalled because of moisture problems in sweet potato-flavored dog food. In November 2015, Blue Buffalo recalled foods because of Salmonella, and in 2010, the company had issues with elevated vitamin D levels.

    In 2007 they were part of the larger melamine recall, which affected over 100 brands of dog and cat food that were processed at a specific plant in China. Food was tainted by melamine, a lethal chemical found in plastics. Several pets tragically died from eating the contaminated food, but we don’t know if any of those deaths were caused by eating a Blue Buffalo product.


    We recommend Blue Buffalo dog food because of its nutrition profile, which includes natural ingredients and a quality mix between fats, proteins, and carbs. Despite the recall issues, the brand produces a quality kibble.

    Also, their dedication to a wide selection of food means no dog is left behind, and you are more likely to find what you are looking for with its extensive recipe list. However, you may get to the end of this review and disagree entirely, so know that you’re in good hands whether you choose Pure Balance or Blue Buffalo.

    See also:

    Featured Image Credit: Scorpp, Shutterstock

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