If you are shopping for dog food and seeking the most value for your money, you may find yourself choosing between two brands: Kirkland Signature and Blue Buffalo.
We know that both foods are immensely popular and fairly affordable, but which is best for you and your dog?
In this article, we’ll compare Kirkland Signature to Blue Buffalo dog food and help you decide which is best. We will look at each brand’s average cost, nutritional value, flavor, availability, and variety.
Blue Buffalo is one of the most popular brands of dog food on the market today. As you’ll see in our reviews of their top formulas, Blue Buffalo consistently uses premium ingredients. Many dog owners find the higher price to be an acceptable tradeoff.
Blue Buffalo was founded by Bill Bishop in 2003 in Wilton, CT, USA with the simple goal of providing quality food for dogs. The brand is named after Bishop’s dog, Blue, who died from cancer.
One of Blue Buffalo’s stated missions is to always use real meat first and never add corn, soy, and wheat.
Variety of Ingredients
Blue Buffalo is famous for using high-quality ingredients in their food. They generally avoid fillers that cause digestive issues in dogs.
If you enjoy letting your dog try unusual flavors, Blue Buffalo is a good option. Some of their formulas include interesting proteins such as bison and rabbit.
Of course, if you want more exotic ingredients such as wild boar and ostrich, you may want to look into specific boutique dog food brands.
High-Quality Formula Means Higher Cost
Blue Buffalo is not the most expensive brand on the market, but it’s also far from the cheapest. Costco members pay substantially less money for Kirkland than they would for Blue Buffalo.
However, if you are more concerned about quality ingredients than cost, we still feel that Blue Buffalo offers great value.
You do not need a membership to buy Blue Buffalo dog food. It is available at most major online retailers: Amazon, Chewy, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and most physical pet stores.
This is a case where Blue Buffalo has the advantage. For example, PetSmart carries Blue Buffalo but not Kirkland Signature. This can make a big difference if your dog runs out of food and you need a quick and convenient way to buy more.
Blue Buffalo has dealt with several recalls throughout its history. The following table shows the most notable cases.
|Wilderness Chicken, Basics Salmon, and Large Breed Adult Chicken
|excessive vitamin D levels
|Wilderness Wild Chew Bones
|Life Protection Formula Fish and Sweet Potato
|Wilderness Rocky Mountain Recipe Red Meat
|excessive beef thyroid hormone levels
The frequency of recalls concerns us, but in each instance, Blue Buffalo seems to have quickly addressed the issue. We still feel comfortable recommending their products.
Our Favorite Blue Buffalo Dog Food: At a Glance
|Blue Buffalo Freedom Adult Chicken Recipe Grain-Free
|Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Adult Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe
|Blue Buffalo Wilderness Chicken Recipe Grain-Free
Kirkland Signature products are instantly recognizable by anyone who shops at Costco. The Kirkland brand includes almost anything you can imagine, even dog food. You can generally expect solid quality at low cost from Kirkland products.
Origin and History
In 1995, Costco created the Kirkland Signature brand name and began applying it to all of its private label products. The brand is named after the city of Kirkland, Washington, where Costco’s headquarters was originally located.
Who Makes Kirkland Signature Dog Food?
Kirkland Signature dog food is made by Diamond Pet Foods, Inc, a family-owned company based in Missouri. Each Kirkland dry food formula is manufactured by Diamond in facilities across the United States.
Basic Ingredients Keep Costs Low
In Kirkland dog food, you will find common vegetables such as potatoes, peas, and tomato pomace. Proteins include the usual classics: beef, chicken, and occasionally salmon and fish meal.
The lack of exotic ingredients is not necessarily bad. There is a reason these foods are commonly used. They are relatively cheap and easy to find and they provide essential nutrients for your pup.
However, if you prefer a large array of unusual options for your dog food, Kirkland Signature may not satisfy you.
You can buy Kirkland Signature dog food online at Walmart and Amazon, but the most dog owners buy it at Costco.
In order to buy Kirkland food at a physical Costco store, you need to pay for a membership. Non-members can purchase Kirkland dog food at Costco.com, but a surcharge is added and they may not benefit from the same low prices as members.
Like many dog food brands, both Kirkland and Diamond Pet Foods have gone through recalls of their products.
In 2007, Kirkland Signature Super Premium Canned Food was recalled when it was discovered to contain melamine, an organic compound that is known to cause kidney failure. Many brands were affected in this recall, however, so the issue was not specific to Kirkland.
There were also some Kirkland Signature dog foods recalled in 2012 due to salmonella. Overall, though, Kirkland has had relatively few issues with tainted food.
Our Favorite Kirkland Dog Food: At a Glance
|Kirkland Signature Healthy Weight Formula Chicken & Vegetable
|Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Salmon Meal & Sweet Potato
|Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain Turkey
The Best Blue Buffalo Dog Food
We’ve all heard of gluten-free diets for humans, but what about dogs? If your pup has a sensitive stomach or allergies, you might consider this formula from Blue Buffalo.
Deboned chicken and chicken meal are the first two ingredients. This food has a moderate to low level of protein (24%), but the 6% fiber should be sufficient to keep your dog’s digestive system flowing.
As for fatty acids, this formula features both Omega-3 (0.5%) and Omega-6 (2.5%). These nutrients should help keep your dog’s skin healthy and coat shiny.
Some of the reviewers have complained that the kibble size is too small, but overall this popular dog food from Blue Buffalo is worth a look.
Buyer review: “Sadie loved it just as much as the beef flavor. She always has done good on Blue Buffalo dog food.”Read more at Chewy.com
This formula’s whole grains and its lack of corn and wheat made Blue Buffalo famous. But this food has been around for a while, and now Kirkland and other cheaper brands offer similarly healthy formulas.
You’ll find chicken, chicken fat, and chicken meal among the first ingredients in this food. However, in spite of the fact that plant-based protein is also used, the crude protein is listed at a fairly low 24%.
On the other hand, it contains 5% fiber, which is above the recommended minimum and will help your dog’s digestion. It also delivers antioxidants and vitamins through blueberries, kelp, and cranberries.
This food contains some premium ingredients and may be healthier than some Kirkland formulas, but the higher price may not be worth it, especially considering the fairly low level of protein.
Buyer review: “My Ada loves this food, my vet says she’s at perfect weight!”Read more at Chewy.com
This Blue Buffalo formula is absolutely packed with protein!
By including poultry, fish, and even plant-based pea protein as the first ingredients, this food manages to deliver 34% crude protein. This makes it a great choice for supporting growth and energy in highly active dogs.
This food offers 400 mg of glucosamine, which is great for maintaining the health of your pup’s joints. And of course, Blue Buffalo’s Life Source Bits are included to provide plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Finally, this formula is all-natural and contains no poultry by-products, wheat, corn, or soy. You’ll be paying a bit more money for all these delicious nutrients, but in our opinion it might just be worth it.
Buyer review: “Her coat is looking and feeling better, she has more energy and loves feeding time.”Read more at Chewy.com
The Best Kirkland Dog Food
If your dog is overweight, your veterinarian might recommend a low-calorie food such as this one. At only 275 calories per serving, this chicken-based kibble will help your dog stay lean and healthy.
Active9 Probiotics have been added to aid digestion. This is a proprietary blend of probiotic strains found in the GI tract of canines.
This food contains chicken meal as the first ingredient. It also has egg product, chicken fat, chicken, and fish meal in lesser quantities, all of which help develop your pup’s lean muscles and provide energy.
This is a surprisingly cost effective food, considering the fact that it contains antioxidant-rich foods such as cranberries and kelp. However, its crude protein is only 20% minimum, so this food is best suited for older or inactive dogs who require less calories for weight control.
Buyer review: “I always add a little bit of moist food with their kibble but with this brand, they don’t even wait for the moist food! They dive right in! If my dogs love it, I love it!”Read more at Chewy.com
Salmon meal is a great first ingredient for this food. Along with the flaxseed and ocean fish meal, salmon offers plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids to boost your pup’s brain development and immune system.
Kirkland has included probiotics here to help digestion. Your dog will also receive vitamins and minerals from the tomatoes, raspberries and blueberries.
If your dog’s tummy is easily upset by grains, this food is a great choice. It contains no corn or wheat, so it should be easily digestible. This is a fairly low-protein food, however, at 24%. This could have been fixed by replacing the protein-rich peas with an animal-based product.
Overall, in spite of the low amount of protein, many high-quality ingredients are available in this relatively inexpensive food.
Buyer review: “Dogs love it. Have been using for years. Shiny coat, sparkling eyes, healthy dogs. No reason to change.”Read more at Chewy.com
Turkey meal is the first ingredient here. It may not sound as appealing as “real” meat, but believe it or not, turkey meal can provide nutrients that fresh turkey lacks. Using meal instead of fresh meat also lowers the cost of this dog food.
It also contains plenty of vegetables and starchy foods such as peas, sweet potatoes, tomato pomace (rich in lycopene), and potatoes. Along with the vitamin supplements, these foods provide essential vitamins and minerals.
However, be aware that these extra ingredients also act as fillers. Aside from salmon oil, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, there are few animal products in this kibble, and its crude protein clocks in at a modest 24%.
Buyer review: “This was recommended by the rescue organization where I got my dog. He loves it.”Read more at Chewy.com
Blue Buffalo vs Kirkland – The Final Verdict
Let’s now compare both dog food options so we can determine which is best for your pup’s needs.
If your dog is growing fast or highly active and next an extra boost of energy, you may opt for Blue Buffalo’s high-protein varieties. On average, though, the level of protein in both foods seems moderate to low.
Aside from this, these brands have very similar nutritional benefits. Neither Blue Buffalo nor Kirkland contains especially dangerous or unhealthy ingredients. Both offer formulas rich in vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits are a nice bonus.
Every dog is unique, but we have to give Blue Buffalo the edge on this one. On average, their formulas contain a larger amount of real meat. Kirkland tends to use more processed ingredients such as chicken meal and fish meal.
Your dog would probably love the taste of both brands, but our guess is that he would prefer Blue Buffalo.
As we explored earlier, Blue Buffalo contains some fairly unusual proteins such as trout. Kirkland relies on more traditional ingredients like chicken and beef.
Unless your dog has a specific taste for exotic meats, this should not make a large difference in your purchasing decision.
Kirkland Signature is definitely the more cost-effective option for dog food. Blue Buffalo is not too expensive either, but if price is a concern, you’ll find a better value in most Kirkland formulas.
This was not an easy decision, but we feel that Kirkland Signature is a slightly better dog food overall. It offers tremendous nutritional benefit, especially considering the low cost.
If you are not a Costco member and are willing to pay a bit more for premium ingredients, Blue Buffalo is still a fantastic choice.
Choosing healthy, delicious kibble for your dog is not an easy task.
We are fortunate to have two great options on the market today: Blue Buffalo and Kirkland Signature. Your decision will ultimately depend on your own needs, as well as the preferences and health condition of your pup.
Regardless of the brand you choose, your dog will certainly benefit from the fantastic flavor and nutrition of either Blue Buffalo or Kirkland Signature dog foods.