Your Guide to the Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are one of the top choices as a family pet. They’re known for their playful, loving personality, and their luscious golden coat.

Whether you’re planning to get yourself this pooch or you already have a Goldie of your own, responsible paw parents always provide yummy and healthy meals for their fur babies.

Best dog food for Golden Retrievers

But, which is the best dog food for Golden Retrievers? Keep scrolling and find out!

Top 15 of the best dog food brands for Golden Retrievers

There are plenty of dog food options on the market, and it can get overwhelming, especially for new owners.

Before heading to the store or ordering online, these are some of the best dog food brands for Golden Retriever puppies, adults, and seniors.

Best dog food for Golden Retriever puppies

Overwhelmed by the multiple choices of dog food for puppies? Aside from choosing one that’s specifically made for large breeds, check out the other essential ingredients these brands offer that will benefit your Golden Retriever puppy.

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Dry Dog Food

Top 3 ingredients: Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn, Wheat Gluten

With calcium levels at only 0.97% and phosphorus at 0.82%, it’s a safe option for pups. This recipe is grain-inclusive and formulated for easy digestion of Golden Retriever puppies of up to the age of 15 months.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Purina Pro Plan Puppy Large Breed Dog Food

Top 3 ingredients: Chicken, Rice, Corn Gluten Meal

This has glucosamine that promotes healthy joints. This formula uses real chicken for its base, boasts omega-rich fish oils, live probiotics, 1.1% calcium, and 0.9% phosphorus. It will ensure good gut health and support for your pup’s immunity.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Top 3 ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice

Made with real lamb for growing pups, this filler- and corn-free formula is fortified with L-Carnitine, Omega-6, and Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s enhanced with superfoods and has 1.2% calcium, and 1.0% phosphorus.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Puppy

Top 3 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Brown Rice

Formulated with natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin from chicken to build strong bones. This recipe is suitable for sensitive stomachs, and calcium levels are between 1.20-1.70%, with phosphorus at 1.0-1.6%.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy Dog Food

Top 3 ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice

This formula comes with their trademark LifeSource Bits approved by vets and pet nutritionists. There are antioxidant-rich ingredients included to support your puppy’s development. Calcium levels are around 1.1% and phosphorus content of 0.8%.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Best dog food for Golden Retriever adults

If you have a full-grown Golden Retriever, here are our top picks of dog food brands that will help keep your pooch in tip-top shape.

Taste of the Wild Grain Pacific Stream Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Grain Pacific Stream Free Dry Dog Food

Top 3 ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes

For active dogs with gourmet palates, this is an all-natural, grain- and filler-free formula. It’s filled with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids from salmon fish oil from fresh salmon.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets Beef Formula Dog Food

Primal Freeze-Dried Nuggets Beef Formula Dog Food

Top 3 ingredients: Beef Hearts, Beef Livers, Ground Beef Bones

This is best suited for active dogs who need high protein content (77% beef!). You can add water to this freeze-dried dog food or serve it dry. It’s organic, grain-free, and a good option for those who want to feed a raw diet without the hassle.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Canidae Grain-Free Pure Ancestral Red Meat Formula

Canidae Grain-Free Pure Ancestral Red Meat Formula

Top 3 ingredients: Lamb, Pork Meal, Goat Meal

This grain-free option is for those who want a diet close to what canines eat in the wild. It has protein derived from red meat sources mixed with their special blend of probiotics, antioxidants, and omega fatty acids.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Natural Balance L.I.D. Salmon & Sweet Potato Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Natural Balance Dog Food

Top 3 ingredients: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes

Created with limited ingredients, this kibble is chicken-, grain-, and filler-free. It’s also good for sensitive stomachs. This formula features real salmon, which will give them the Omega-3 fatty acids they need.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food 

Top 3 ingredients: Brown Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Oat Groats

With kibbles bigger than average, this is specially formulated for Golden Retrievers above 15 months old and prevents gastrointestinal issues. Included is Taurine, EPA, and DHA for heart health.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Best dog food for Golden Retriever seniors

Your Golden Retriever friend has reached the old age of 8 or 9, so whether your pooch has some illnesses or still seems pretty healthy, these dog food brands have ingredients that will equip his mind and body to keep going.

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Large Aging 8+ Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Large Aging 8+ Dry Dog Food

Top 3 ingredients: Chicken By-Product Meal, Brewers Rice, Wheat

Aside from protecting your dog against joint-related problems like arthritis, this recipe is gentle on the stomach and prevents muscle loss. It also promotes intestinal and cardiac health.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Instinct Raw Boost Senior Grain-Free Freeze-Dried Raw Pieces Dry Dog Food

Instinct Raw Boost Dog Food

Top 3 ingredients: Chicken Meal, Chicken, Tapioca

This kibble and freeze-dried raw food mix is fortified with nutrients and omega oils for heart health and to keep bones healthy. You can add some water to soften the food or serve it dry – a fun way to change things up for your old boy.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Senior Dry Dog Food 

Top 3 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Brown Rice

This corn-, wheat-, and soy-free recipe for older dogs with sensitivities contain natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin. It includes antioxidants to boost their immune system.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Purina ONE SmartBlend Vibrant Maturity 7+ Adult Formula Dry Dog Food

Purina ONE SmartBlend Dog Food

Top 3 ingredients: Chicken, Rice Flour, Corn Gluten Meal

This small-sized kibble might be easier on your older dog’s jaw. Enhanced with botanical oils to keep your pooch’s brain fit as a fiddle, it also has the necessary nutrients to protect him against joint disease.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

Diamond Naturals Senior Formula Dry Dog Food

Diamond Naturals Senior Formula Dry Dog Food 

Top 3 ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice

Better suited for active seniors, this formula has added probiotics that help support proper digestion. It also has ingredients to maintain healthy joints, a strong heart, and a gleaming coat.

Get a complete look at this recipe by clicking here.

How to choose the best food for your Golden Retriever?

When deciding on what kind of dog food, diet, or how much to feed your Golden Retriever, it should always be based on their age, size, activity level or metabolism, and health.

Choosing the best dog food for Golden Retriever

Goldens are medium- to large-sized dogs that require a high-protein diet to build and support their muscles.

Puppies will need at least 22% of it, while adults should have a minimum of 18%.

Fat, in the form of calories, are also essential as they’re your dog’s concentrated source of energy – at least 8% for pups and 5% for adults.

Unlike small breeds, Golden Retrievers will require a calorie-controlled diet. Excess calories can make Goldies grow faster or make them overweight, leading to bone and joint problems. So lower calcium and phosphorus levels are best.

Some say that the ideal consumption for Goldens should be more than 30% protein, less than 20% carbs, and at least 15% fat content. But keep in mind that there is NO one-size-fits-all kind of diet.

You will have to consider choosing a dog food, or recipe explicitly made for puppies, adults, and older Golden Retrievers. Expect that you’ll have to change it up accordingly, while also thinking of your pet’s needs or preferences.

Golden Retriever nutritional requirement: What to look for in the label

Understanding terminologies used in labels is an excellent way to figure out a dog food’s quality. Let’s use chicken as an example.

Terminology Meaning
Chicken without modifiers The ingredient makes up 70% or more of the product.
Chicken as a modifier The ingredient makes up 10% or more of the product.
With chicken There is 3% or more of the product.
Chicken flavor There is less than 3% of the product.
Chicken meal A processed ingredient that doesn’t include feathers, heads, feet, or entrails.
Chicken A raw ingredient that was cooked in the process.
Chicken by-product It includes chicken feet and entrails.
Real Chicken The product likely uses clean chicken flesh and skin only.

*This is the same for any protein ingredient such as turkey, beef, lamb, salmon, etc.

Believe it or not, but If the packaging says “complete and balanced,” it is a legitimate stamp that means it meets the minimum nutritional needs of your pet.

The ingredients you should avoid

Watch out for some dog foods that are made up of banned ingredients or known carcinogens.

Here’s a list of ingredients that you shouldn’t feed your pet:

  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) 
  • Ethoxyquin
  • Propylene glycol
  • Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
  • Propyl gallate
  • Glycerin

Are grain-free diets good for Golden Retrievers?

This is a personal decision. But did you know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in July 2018 that grain-free diets are related to many cases of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs?

According to their investigation, 90% of 300 DCM reports are canines fed with grain-free diets – some even involved or affected cats and dog breeds of all sizes within the same household.

It started a whole debate, and although the FDA didn’t release an official statement about the issue, professionals like Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, Ph. D., DACVN said that it might be because of the ingredients that are used to replace grains or those that are found in BEG diets such as fruits, vegetables, and exotic meats.

Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Golden Retrievers is not typical, but you should know that grain-free is not inherently healthier compared to grain-inclusive recipes. Vets say that grains are a great source of carbs, and it’s easy to metabolize.

But pets who are sensitive or allergic to grains are an exception.

Some veterinarians recommend grain-free dog food to keep your canine from allergies and stomach problems, especially since allergic reactions to grains can develop anytime.

Choosing a dog food for Golden Retrievers with health problems

Golden Retrievers are predisposed to allergies, hot spots, sensitive stomachs, heart diseases, and obesity. Luckily, there are dog foods and certain ingredients that will help keep their health issues manageable.

For dogs suffering from obesity, you can swap half of their kibble for sweet potatoes, green beans, or peas to help them feel full. If you want to find out if your Golden Retriever is overweight, read this article.

Hot spots and sensitive stomachs are caused by the environment, food, or specific ingredients like wheat and dry kibble. This is where grain-free and home-cooked recipes become a solution.

As we mentioned earlier, food allergies can manifest at any age. Just because your Golden was doing well on one kibble doesn’t mean it will suit him forever.

Seek your vet’s counsel if you notice symptoms of allergies such as itchy skin, itchy and watery eyes, frequent ear infections, dull coat, hives, red underbelly, swollen ears, lips, eyelids, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Choosing the best dog food for your Golden Retriever can prevent illnesses

Canine hip dysplasia develops during their growing stage. Providing food that is formulated for a large-breed puppy will minimize the risks of developing this disorder.

Proper nutrition can also ward off diabetes, high cholesterol, and even cancer.

Obesity can considerably shorten their lifespan and reduce their quality of life. A well-balanced diet with all the necessary nutrients can prevent these problems from manifesting.

Should you give your Golden Retriever dry kibbles, wet food, raw diet, or homemade?

Feeding your Golden Retriever

Dry kibble

It’s the top choice for feeding dogs, simply because it is convenient. But be careful as low-quality kibbles are often packed with fillers, which can cause health problems.

Look for dry kibbles with different recipes that will suit your Golden Retrievers breed size, age, and lifestyle.

Wet food

Although they’re generally more appealing for dogs, it’s also more expensive even if they have about the same nutritional content as kibbles do.

Wet canned pet food

It’s usually suggested for dogs that have trouble eating, like older canines whose teeth have been removed. It can also be given to a dog recovering from an illness or surgery.

Be wary of canned dog food that claims to be “all meat” because your pet needs more than just meat to stay healthy. This type of food has a limited shelf life and doesn’t offer the same benefits that kibbles do, like dental health.

You can choose to mix the two if you have a picky dog who refuses to eat plain kibble.

BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food)

It’s believed that a raw diet can help minimize human food waste because it usually uses organ meat that humans generally don’t consume.

We should be aware of the risks and benefits of raw food diet for dogs, though. It takes a lot of effort to prepare and can contract certain viruses. While salmonella wouldn’t be a problem for your Goldie, it will be for you and the people in your home. Extra care should be taken to source for healthy and ethically farmed meat.

Home-cooked dog meals

This also requires time and effort, and it’s challenging to create a balanced meal for your Golden Retriever from scratch while keeping a calorie count.

They may survive with a vegan diet, but we DON’T recommend non-meat sources of protein because it will not benefit your dog’s mental and physical health.

Fruits and vegetables your Golden Retriever can and cannot eat

There are plenty of human foods that your dog shouldn’t eat, so we made you a guide.

List of human foods that are good and bad for dogs

👍okay

  • Apples (without the core)
  • Bananas (in moderation)
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Carrots
  • Cranberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pear
  • Pineapple
  • Peaches
  • Peas
  • Corn (no cob)
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon (without rinds or seeds)

👎 not okay

  • Avocados
  • Rhubarb
  • Cherries
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Nutmeg
  • Fruits seeds

A homemade recipe you can try for your Golden Retriever

We found a recipe that you can try to prepare for your Goldie. This contains 72% protein, 23% fat, and 10% carbs, amounting to 412 calories per cup. 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups brown rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 pounds ground turkey or chicken

3 cups baby spinach, chopped

2 carrots, shredded

1 zucchini, shredded

1/2 cup peas, canned or frozen

Instructions:

  1. Cook rice and set aside
  2. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or deep pan
  3. Add ground turkey or chicken and stir-fry until browned
  4. Add in spinach, carrots, zucchini, peas, and brown rice
  5. Cook until spinach has wilted and allow to cool

Check out Cooper’s human whip up his dinner from scratch:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

⚖️ How much and how many times should you feed your Golden Retriever?

Measured dose of food for Golden Retriever

It will depend on the individual Golden Retriever because some are great at regulating their food intake. If that’s the case, you can free feed. It’ll also depend on how active a dog is. If your Goldie worked hard on a particular day, a few extra calories would be needed.

On average, active Golden Retrievers require 1,353 to 1,740 calories a day, while sedentary Goldens will only need about 989 to 1,272 calories daily.

A dog calorie calculator will be handy to determine how much your dog should eat. As long as your dog is growing well and not packing on the pounds, you shouldn’t worry too much.

As a general rule, a puppy should be eating ½ a cup of kibble, four meals a day until he’s 3 months old.

Around 3-6 months, he should be eating three meals. You can swap out his puppy food for adult food around 6-14 months or after you sterilize him.

Always err on the side of caution, it’s okay to be on puppy food longer than needed.

When they turn one year old, you can feed them one full meal a day (2-3 cups) or divide it into two meals – breakfast and dinner.

Readjust your pet’s diet if you can’t feel his ribs (meaning he’s too fat), or you can see his ribs (meaning he’s undernourished).

🦴 Transition: How to switch from puppy to adult dog food?

Any time you’re feeding a new formula, make sure you transition slowly. For the first few days, you can replace 25% of his old kibble with the new brand.

Around the third day, increase the new dog food to 50%, and 75% on the fifth day. After a week, your dog should be able to adjust to the new diet or recipe.

You don’t have to follow the schedule above strictly. You can go slower or add less, depending on how your Golden reacts to the new kibble. The idea is to introduce him to a new diet gently.

💊 Do Golden Retrievers need supplements?

Kibbles with the words “complete and balanced” should have all the nutrients they need, but supplements can make up for any deficits in your dog’s diet.

If he’s eating a balanced diet, he shouldn’t need any supplements. But if you’re feeding him home-cooked meals, you might want to consider a multivitamin.

For healthy joints and bones, you want to have glucosamine and chondroitin

Omega-6 fatty acids can protect the heart and give your dog a shiny coat. To protect the brain and liver, look for choline. Aside from that, your dog will need essential vitamins such as A, B, C, E, K.

Strictly follow the recommended amount of vitamins because your dog can have an overdose.

Best dog treats for Golden Retrievers

Best dog treats for Golden Retrievers

All dogs are receptive to positive training reinforced with yummy treats. To avoid overfeeding your Golden Retriever with snacks, have two kinds of rewards.

First is a low-value treat as a staple reward. It should be healthy, small or easy to break in pieces, and has low calories and fat. Zuke’s Mini Naturals Healthy Moist Training Treats is a popular choice with dog trainers.

Another option is dog-safe fruits or veggies chopped up into tiny cubes.

For high-value treats, go for something substantial and tasty as it will be your dog’s reward for accomplishing more difficult challenges. BLUE Wilderness Trail treats Wild Bits Grain-Free Training Dog Treats (Salmon Recipe) is nutritious and filled with Omega-3 Fatty Acids and DHA for coat health.

For homemade goodies, you can prepare steamed chicken or turkey breast. Cheese is also yummy, but only if your dog is not lactose intolerant. Peanut butter is another good option.

What makes dog food good for Golden Retrievers?

Dog food for Golden Retriever

Bear in mind that there is no “best” dog food. There’s one that best suits your Goldie – it has a fat-to-protein ratio no higher than 75 percent.

There should be meat-based protein and moderate carbohydrate content. Avoid any questionable chemicals such as artificial colors or unidentified ingredients.

What’s the best dog food for your Golden Retriever? Share with us its benefits to help fellow Goldie parents by commenting below.

Further reading: 

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