Blue Buffalo Small Breed Formula Review: Recalls, Pros & Cons, and More

Written by Kristin Hitchcock
Published: March 31, 2022


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Just about everyone has heard of Blue Buffalo dog food, thanks to their great marketing campaign. The Blue Buffalo Small Breed formula is one of the most popular options on the market for smaller breeds, in fact.

However, not everything is as it seems with this brand. They have experienced many controversies over the years – and likely have some more controversies coming up.

Blue Buffalo small breed formula is a grain-inclusive formula with brown rice and chicken. It is designed specifically for smaller breeds, with an extremely small kibble. It also includes a variety of added ingredients, like glucosamine and omega fatty acids.

For everything you need to know about this dog food (and the overall brand), keep reading below.


The first ingredient in the Blue Buffalo small breed formula is deboned chicken. Therefore, it is quite high in protein, which is vital for supporting your dog’s muscles. It also includes whole grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal. These whole grains are supportive of your dog’s overall health, as they include lots of fiber.

Because it is designed specifically for smaller breeds, this formula also includes very small kibble.

To support joint health, this kibble includes glucosamine and omega fatty acids. If your dog has poor skin or coat health, these ingredients may also be helpful in that regard. As you’d expect from a premium brand like this one, all the minerals are chelated to help with absorption.

Our Top Pick
BLUE BUFFALO Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult
  • Small kibble designed for smaller dogs
  • Chelated minerals and antioxidants added
  • Added glucosamine and omega fatty acids
  • No wheat, corn, or soy
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Formula Benefits and Features

  • Chicken as the first ingredient
  • Small kibble
  • Added glucosamine and omega fatty acids
  • Chelated minerals and antioxidants added
  • No wheat, corn, or soy

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Formula: Pros and Cons


  • Quality chicken as the first ingredient
  • Includes whole grains
  • Chelated minerals
  • Small kibble size


  • Includes pea starch and pea protein
  • More expensive than other options

Where is Blue Buffalo Small Breed Formula Made?

All Blue Buffalo food and treats are made in the United States (except for Chomp ‘n Chow dog treats, which are made in Ireland). Therefore, none of their foods are made in China or similar countries.

However, Blue Buffalo does not own all of the facilities where they make their food in. They do outsource the manufacturing of their products to some third-party companies.

Still, they do make a few of their foods in their own facilities. We don’t exactly know what formulas are made where, as the company does not release this information.

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Formula Ingredients

Blue Buffalo often advertises that it has some of the best ingredients around. However, this isn’t completely true.

The first ingredient in this food is deboned chicken, followed by chicken meal. Both of these ingredients are very high-quality and provide all of the protein your dog needs to thrive. As long as your dog isn’t allergic to chicken, it is a great protein option.

Next, this food includes a variety of whole grains. While grain-free foods were once thought to be best for dogs, we now know that grain-inclusive formulas are often the healthiest option.

Grain is not “filler.” It provides essential nutrients like fiber, which are vital for your dog’s gut health.

Furthermore, this food also includes pea protein and pea starch. Whole peas are also included. That means there are a lot of peas in this dog food. if you added them all together, they would be much higher on the list. (Splitting them up in the ingredient list is called ingredient splitting and is a bit of a deceptive practice.)

Peas have been associated with a variety of health problems in dogs. We are still studying this phenomenon, so we don’t know how many peas put dogs at risk. However, it is something to think about.

Which Types of Dog is Blue Buffalo Small Breed Formula Best Suited For?

Of course, this formula is best suited to small dogs – it is right in the name! However, it may not be suitable for extremely small dogs like Chihuahuas. While it does have a small kibble size, it isn’t the smallest kibble out there. (Often, these tiny dogs have to eat wet food, as a small-enough kibble doesn’t exist.)

Blue Buffalo Small Breed formula is made for the average small dog. It is suitable for most smaller dogs out there. However, it isn’t made for dogs with specific health problems or anything of that sort.

If your dog has a particular health problem, you may want to purchase a food designed to help them manage it. Dogs with extra sensitive stomachs and skin problems may also benefit from specially-made food.

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Formula Recalls

Blue Buffalo has had many recalls over the years, on top of several warnings and lawsuits.

Most recently, in June 2019, the FDA linked several Blue Buffalo foods to heart disease in dogs and cats. This is likely caused by the high amount of peas, as we have previously stated.

While this is a complex issue that may not end up actually being the company’s fault, it is something to keep in mind when purchasing from this brand.

The company has gone through several lawsuits over the years. Most recently, they were sued in 2020 by a customer that claimed their “wolf diet” marketing was misleading. Blue Buffalo includes lots of carbohydrates in their diet, while wolves eat mostly meat.

Several of their foods have been recalled over the years, especially their canned varieties. For instance, in March 2017, several Blue Wilderness canned foods were recalled because they had excessive amounts of the beef hormone. Some Homestyle recipe dog foods were recalled in February 2017 because of possible metal contamination.

In May 2016, moisture control problems prompted the recall of some sweet potato-flavored recipes.

In November of 2015, several treats were recalled for different reasons. Some chew bones for dogs were recalled due to salmonella contamination, and some Blue Kitty Yums were recalled because of propylene glycol concentrations (though we don’t know how it got in there).

Blue Buffalo was also part of the larger recall of April 2007, where a supplier added melamine to some rice protein concentrates. That product tampering had been going on for some time without Blue Buffalo’s knowledge.

And that is not all of their recalls. As you can see, this company has lots of recalls. In fact, they have more recalls than most businesses out there. For this reason, they are generally considered less safe than other brands.

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Formula: Where to Buy

This formula is quite readily available, allowing you to purchase it from:

Our Top Pick
BLUE BUFFALO Life Protection Formula Small Breed Adult
  • Small kibble designed for smaller dogs
  • Chelated minerals and antioxidants added
  • Added glucosamine and omega fatty acids
  • No wheat, corn, or soy
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Formula Specs


Based on all the information in the recall portion of this article, we found this brand to be a bit less safe than other options on the market. They just have a history of regular recalls, which means that something was wrong with their food.

Furthermore, many of these recalls are actually quite serious and could possibly lead to pets getting seriously injured.


This formula is high in protein and fat, which is exactly what a dog needs. However, much of the protein is added from plant ingredients, such as pea protein. More protein does not necessarily mean more meat in this case.

With that said, there is still a high amount of carbohydrates in this diet, largely because lots of grains are included.


This formula includes a lot of added nutrients that can support your dog’s overall health. For instance, glucosamine is added for joint support. With the enriched omega fatty acids, this food can also help improve your dog’s coat and skin health.

Added antioxidants prevent oxidative stress, which is connected to many different diseases.


This formula includes a lot of quality ingredients, including whole chicken and chicken meal. Whole grains are also added, which can greatly improve your dog’s health. The added fiber is especially good for dogs with health problems.

With that said, there are some not-so-good ingredients too, like lots of peas. This brand also takes part in ingredient-splitting, so this food contains more peas than it lets on initially.

Blue Buffalo Small Breed Formula vs. Natural Balance LID Small Breed Bites

Natural Balance LID Small Breed Bites is made with lamb as the main source of protein. It is also grain-free and pea-free, which is a step up from the Blue Buffalo formula. It includes a moderately high amount of protein, though it is lower than Blue Buffalo (likely because Blue Buffalo artificially raises their food’s protein with pea protein).

Despite having much better ingredients, Natural Balance isn’t much more expensive than Blue Buffalo. When you compare the brands, Natural Balance is a great value.

Bottom Line

Blue Buffalo is a renowned brand. However, they aren’t all that they are cut out to be. They are prone to recalls and use high amounts of peas in most of their recipes, including their small breed formula.

Therefore, you may want to look for alternatives like Natural Balance or one of our other highly rated small breed dog foods.

About the Author

Kristin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering dogs, cats, fish, and other pets. She has been an animal writer for seven years, writing for top publications on everything from chinchilla cancer to the rise of designer dogs. She currently lives in Tennessee with her cat, dogs, and two children. When she isn't writing about pets, she enjoys hiking and crocheting.

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