Best Buffalo Dog Food: Quick Picks
- Taste of the Wild High Prairie [Most Affordable Option] While Taste of the Wild is still a high-end dog food, it’s one of the more affordable buffalo-based foods on our list. High in protein and contains no grain, corn, wheat, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
- Blue Buffalo’s Rocky Mountain [Most Protein] Includes bison, chicken meal, turkey meal, and fish meal as the first 4 ingredients for a very impressive animal protein composition. No poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives.
- Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast [Buffalo as Single Protein] Earthborn was the only recipe to feature buffalo as the single animal protein (all others has buffalo + other meats), making this a great choice for dogs who don’t digest common animal proteins very well
Bison is a rather unusual protein source that you don’t see every day. I’ll admit I’ve never even tried it (although I surely will, after reading about it all morning).
But its novelty is actually a fairly new phenomenon – Native Americans of the Midwestern plains relied on buffalo meat to help feed their people for centuries. The largest native North American animal, bison were originally quite numerous, with herds numbering into the hundreds of thousands.
Unfortunately, European colonization and the ensuing westward expansion drastically reduced their numbers (that, and shooting more than you could carry in the Oregon Trail video game).
Over about a 100-year-period, European settlers slaughtered nearly 50 million of the animals, reducing their overall population to a few hundred.
Fortunately, conservationists have helped nurse these populations back to semi-healthy levels, and there are about one-half million living on farms and preserves today.
Their numbers are healthy enough that they can be used as a food source for both humans and dogs, and what a wonderful food source that is!
We’ll explain in detial the benefits of bison dog food below, and review several top picks in-depth.
Bison or Buffalo? A Quick Note About Language
The terms bison and buffalo are used almost interchangeably in common parlance. However, the terms refer to two completely different animals. This kind of thing happens a lot, and it is one reason that biologists refer to animals by their scientific name.
For example, the American bison is simply Bison bison. On the other hand, the domestic water buffalo is known as Bubalus bubalis. There are actually five different living buffalo species and two different bison species (one American and one European).
Currently, dog food manufacturers appear to use the term “bison” and “buffalo” interchangeably. In fact, they probably try to use both terms, that way they don’t miss out on any customers who are searching for either name. So, I wouldn’t worry too much about this problem.
However, water buffalos are used for meat too. Water buffalo doesn’t typically find its ways into US-made products very often, but that could change in the future. And while the meat is also a pretty good protein source that compares favorably to beef, it is a completely different protein, and you’ll always want to be sure you know exactly what you’re giving your dog.
This isn’t something you need to worry about presently, but it’s still food to have it on your radar.
Moving forward, I’ll use the terms interchangeably, but just know that whichever one I say, I mean this animal:
Why Feed Your Dog Bison?
Bison is pretty similar to beef, which is recognized as a healthy protein for dogs. In fact, bison is often called “the other red meat.” However, there are a few key differences, which make bison preferable to beef in some respects.
For example, bison is leaner than beef. A slab of choice beef contains more than 18 grams of fat per 3.5-ounce-serving (I’m making myself hungry…). By comparison, a similar portion of bison contains only 2.42 grams of fat. Additionally, bison contains slightly more protein per ounce than beef does.
But wait, there’s more: Bison also has less fat per ounce than chicken, pork or sockeye salmon. So, it isn’t only a good alternative to beef; bison is a good protein in its own right!
Because relatively few dog foods contain bison, it often represents a novel protein source for dogs who are allergic to beef, chicken and other common proteins. Perhaps not surprisingly, bison is the primary protein used in several limited ingredient diets.
Qualities to Look for in a Bison-Based Dog Food
Trying to choose a dog food is never easy, but there are a number of characteristics that can help you determine the relative quality of a given food.
When setting out to switch up your dog’s food, consider the following characteristics, which most good foods possess or demonstrate:
Good dog foods are made in countries with strict food safety guidelines and good hygiene practices. Foods made in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia or Western Europe are less likely to contain unhealthy or dangerous ingredients than those manufactured in other locations.
Good dog foods generally leave out artificial colors, flavors and additives. Artificial additives – particularly colors and dyes – are often suspected of causing food allergies, so it is best to avoid foods containing them. And with a world full of natural flavors and ingredients from which to choose, why would you want a food that uses artificial versions of these flavors?
Good dog foods feature a whole protein as the first listed ingredient. Your dog is an omnivore, but meat is unquestionably the most important part of his diet. Accordingly, good dog foods should feature a whole protein (not a byproduct or meat meal) as the first listed ingredient. In this case, that ingredient should be bison meat.
Good dog foods only contain properly identified meat-meals and byproducts. Many people reject meat meals and byproducts entirely, but there is nothing inherently wrong with these ingredients, provided that they are produced in a safe way and are clearly identified. This will help ensure that your dog is only fed wholesome, nutritious items, obtained from high-quality sources. “Bison meal” is perfectly find; “meat meal” is not.
Good dog foods are fortified with vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. Your dog needs a variety of vitamins and minerals to remain healthy, and things like antioxidants and omega fatty acids are also beneficial for most dogs. Look for foods fortified with these and other ingredients.
7 Best Bison Dog Foods For Your Pooch
Consider the following foods if you are thinking about switching your dog over to a bison-based blend.
Most of these satisfy all the requirements you’d expect of a good food, and owners report that their dog found these options to pass the taste bud test!
1. Taste of the Wild High Prairie
Taste of the Wild High Prairie
Protein-rich with buffalo as #1 ingredient
This high-protein dog food features buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal as the first ingedients. Also contains no grain, corn, wheat, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.
About: Taste of the Wild High Prairie is a high-quality dog food, made with real roasted meats, which is designed to reflect the food of wild canines. It is a 100% grain-free recipe, which relies on sweet potatoes and peas to provide the bulk of its carbohydrate content.
- Made with real roasted meats to give your dog the flavor and nutrition he deserves
- Made exclusively in one of five U.S.-based factories
- Made with bison prepared in two different ways
Taste of the Wild not only features bison, it also contains a variety of other high-quality protein sources, including lamb, venison and ocean fish meal. Additionally, the ingredient list includes a number of antioxidant-rich fruits, such as blueberries and raspberries, and several different probiotic strains to help support proper digestion.
Although Taste of the Wild primarily relies on buffalo and lamb to provide the protein content (both of which are usually recommended for dogs suffering from food allergies), it also includes egg products, beef, and chicken meal, making it unsuitable for many such dogs.
Buffalo, Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas...,
Potatoes, Chicken Fat (Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols), Egg Product, Roasted Bison, Roasted Venison, Beef, Natural Flavor, Tomato Pomace, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Ocean Fish Meal, Salt, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Dried Chicory Root, Tomatoes, Blueberries, Raspberries, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Bacillus Subtilis Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Bifidobacterium Animalis Fermentation Product, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Proteinate, Zinc Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Manganese Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D Supplement, Folic Acid. Contains A Source Of Live (Viable), Naturally Occurring Microorganisms.
2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Rocky Mountain
Protein-packed and grain-free formula
This nutritious and delicious recipe features real bison, beef meal, and fish meal as the first 3 ingredients. No poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors or preservatives.
About: Of course, a company called Blue Buffalo is compelled to make an incredible bison-based food, and that’s just what they’ve done. Blue Buffalo’s Rocky Mountain Recipe is a nutritious, delicious food that is packed full of impressive ingredients, and formulated to taste good enough for even the pickiest of dogs.
- Deboned bison is the very first listed ingredient
- Made with flaxseeds to provide your dog with joint- and coat-protecting omega fatty acids
- Made solely in plants located in the USA
Although deboned bison is the first listed ingredient, the manufacturer includes three other types to help increase the overall protein content. Additionally, whole, antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, cranberries, apples, blackberries, pomegranate, spinach, pumpkin and sweet potatoes are found throughout the ingredient list.
Most owners were pleased by the product, but some complained that their dog didn’t tolerate it well. Some owners also complained about the high price of the food.
Deboned Bison, Beef Meal, Fish Meal, Peas, Pea Protein...,
Tapioca Starch, Pea Starch, Dried Tomato Pomace, Dried Egg Product, Canola Oil (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Natural Flavor, Potatoes, Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets, DL-Methionine, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Choline Chloride, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Flavor, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.
3. I and Love and You Naked Essentials
I and Love and You Naked Essentials
Premium kibble with a mix of meats
This recipe includes lamb, chicken meal, and turkey meal as the first 3 ingredients, along with a blend of probiotics and prebiotics. Bison featured far down on the ingredient list.
About: I and Love and You Naked Essentials Bison & Lamb is a boutique premium dog food.
It relies on lamb, chicken meal, and turkey meal for the bulk of protein (these are the first 3 ingredients), but includes bison as well further down the list.
In addition to a whopping amount of 30% protein, this recipe also is grain-free, includes probiotics and prebiotics, and is made without by-product meals, wheat, corn, soy, rice, artificial preservatives, flavors or colors.
- Grain-free recipe uses lentils, chickpeas, peas, and sweet potatoes instead of traditional grains.
- Lamb, chicken meal, and turkey meal are first three ingredients
- Includes prebiotics as well as probiotics to aid in digestion
- No by-product meals, wheat, corn, soy, rice, artificial preservatives, flavors or colors.
- Includes omega 3 & 6 with the incorporation of flaxseeds and fish oils, aiding in a healthier coat and skin.
I and Love and You is a very high-quality dog food, featuring fantastic amounts of protein and an impressive ingredient free of common controversial additives.
While this recipe has tons of great animal proteins, we do wish bison was further up in the ingredient list (it’s #13), considering the food is advertised as a bison and lamb food.
Lamb, chicken meal, turkey meal, chickpeas, peas...,
pea starch, lentils, flaxseeds, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), brewers dried yeast, sweet potatoes, dried beet pulp, bison, pea protein, natural chicken flavor, menhaden fish meal, salt, potassium chloride, Vitamin A supplement, Vitamin D3 supplement, Vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, thiamin mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, Vitamin B12 supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, choline chloride, dried chicory root, fish oil, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate , dried Lactobacillus aciphophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus reuteri fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product.
4. Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast
Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast
Holistic bison-based kibble
Formulated without grains, gluten, or potatoes, this special formula relies primarily on bison, egg, and beef for protein.
About: Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast is a grain-free, bison-meal-based dog food that is packed with a variety of nutritious and delicious ingredients. It also features several probiotics and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to ensure your dog’s digestive tract and immune system function properly.
- Bison meal is the exclusive animal protein
- Made with four different probiotic strains to support gastrointestinal health
- Contains balanced levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- Made in the USA
Most owners were very pleased with Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast. Several appreciated the fact that the food relies on peas and tapioca – as opposed to corn or wheat — for the bulk of its carbohydrate content. Others loved the inclusion of bison meal and lamb meal, which are both lean, red proteins that provide the kind of protein your dog needs to build strong muscles.
Complaints about Earthborn Holistic Great Plains Feast were rather rare, but a few owners noted that their dog did not find the food palatable. Some also noted that the food upset their dog’s stomach, so be sure to switch to this food gradually, as you should anytime you alter your dog’s diet.
Bison Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Tapioca, Dried Egg Product...,
Canola Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Flaxseed, Lamb Meal, Pea Fiber, Natural Flavors, Blueberry Fiber, Cranberry Fiber, Apples, Blueberries, Carrots, Spinach, Cranberries, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, L-Lysine, Taurine, L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Folic Acid, Biotin, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Salt, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Zinc Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Yucca schidgera Extract, Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.
5. Merrick Grain-Free Buffalo Dog Food
About: Merrick’s Grain-Free Buffalo Dog Food is a premium, nutritious dog food made with the kinds of ingredients that can help keep your dog healthy and happy for a long time. Additionally, because it is make with a litany of delicious protein sources, most dogs love the taste.
- Deboned buffalo is the very first listed ingredient
- Made from 65% meat proteins + fat and 35% fresh produce, fiber, minerals, and vitamins
- Contains omega fatty acids to help improve your dog’s coat condition
- Fortified with glucosamine and chondroitin to help protect your dog’s joints
Most owners reported that their dog found the food quite tasty. Some owners have noted skin and coat improvements after making the switch, and others remarked that it helped regulate their dog’s digestive system.
While it is not necessarily a drawback, Merrick uses a number of proteins aside from buffalo (including deboned salmon and turkey meal, among others), which means it has the potential to be a poor choice for pups suffering from food allergies.
Deboned Bison, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Deboned Beef...,
Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Chicken Fat, Whitefish Meal, Tapioca, Natural Flavor, Salmon Meal, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Flaxseed, Sunflower Oil, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Apples, Blueberries, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for Freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Niacin, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Citric Acid for Freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.
6. Solid Gold Wolf King
Solid Gold Wolf King
Protein-packed dog food for athletic dogs
Uniquely crafted for large breed dogs, this formula features bison and ocean fish meal as the first two ingredient, along with nutritious healthy grains.
About: Solid Gold Wolf King Bison & Brown Rice is a high-quality, protein-packed food for large breed dogs, featuring bison as the #1 ingredient.
Wolf King features bison and ocean fish meal as the first two ingredients. It also includes plenty of healthy fats and whole grains.
Solid Gold Wolf King also includes probiotics and prebiotics, along with a superfood blend designed to support your canine’s immune-system and help improve digestion.
- Bison featured as the #1 ingredient (followed by ocean fish meal)
- Probiotics and prebiotics
- Includes healthy grains like brown rice and oatmeal
- Has an impressive superfood blend to boost antioxidant, with ingredients like apples, blueberries, spinach, and broccoli
Bison, Ocean Fish Meal, Brown Rice, Peas, Potatoes...,
Oatmeal, Chickpeas, Rice Bran, Dried Eggs, Sweet Potatoes, Tomato Pomace, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Natural Flavors, Flaxseed, Dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Salmon Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Taurine, L-Carnitine, Carrots, Parsley, Apples, Cranberries, Blueberries, Lettuce, Celery, Beets, Watercress, Spinach, Dried Chicory Root, Broccoli, Spearmint, Almond Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Sesame Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Yucca Schidigera Extract, Dried Kelp, Thyme, Lentils, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Copper Sulfate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Proteinate, Folic Acid, Calcium Iodate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Rosemary Extract, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product.
A high-quality recipe that relies on bison as the #1 ingredient.
Bison is not the exclusive protein, so if your dog has fish allergies, it could be problematic.
7. Canidae Grain Free PURE Dry Dog Food
Grain-free, limited-ingredient diet
This great-tasting recipe is made with relatively limited set of ingredients which makes it a good choice for dogs with allergies.
About: Canidae is one of the most impressive dog food manufacturers in the business, and their Grain-Free, Limited Ingredient Diet is another example of this. The food is available in many different flavors, including fresh bison, which we’ll analyze here.
- Made with several whole foods, including bison, sweet potatoes and chickpeas
- Made with five different probiotic strains to support your dog’s digestive health
- Great taste that your dog is sure to love
Most owners found Canidae to be an excellent food that their dog loved. Because Canidae is made with a relatively limited set of ingredients, and only two proteins (both of which are rarely allergenic), it is a good choice for owners looking to combat food allergies.
Complaints about Canidae are relatively few and far between. Most owners had a good experience with the product, but a few complained about the high cost. There are also scattered reports of dogs finding the food unpalatable, but this is the case with every food.
Bison, lamb meal, sweet potatoes, peas, chickpeas, canola oil...,
suncured alfalfa, natural flavor, minerals (iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), choline chloride, dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, mixed tocopherols (a natural source of vitamin E).
Switching Your Dog to a New Food
You don’t want to switch your dog’s food abruptly. While some dogs tolerate these kinds of chances well, others may suffer from stomach pains, diarrhea and general discomfort if forced to switch to a new food too quickly.
Accordingly, most authorities recommend switching your dog’s food gradually, over the course of about a week.
Start by mixing in about 10% to 20% of your dog’s new food in with the old food. If your dog appears to tolerate this well, and doesn’t experience any intestinal disturbance, increase the amount of new food to 30% to 40% in a day or two.
Keep increasing the percentage of the new food (and decreasing the percentage of the old food) slowly, until you can stop providing the old food altogether.
Does your dog love his bison food? Why did you decide this was the best protein source for his nutritional needs? Have you had any success with a brand not listed here? Let us know in the comments below!