The 13 Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

Golden retriever consistently remains one of the top three popular pet breeds in America, and for good reason.

They are adorable. They are smart. They are playful and simply gorgeous!

And if you want them to stay that way, you need to be extra diligent about their diet. They would eat almost anything, so make sure you don’t bring in anything but the best.

Lucky for you, I did the due diligence and turns out there are some amazing commercial products out there.

So, I have prepared a list of 13 best dog foods for Golden Retrievers using my 40 Point Inspection list.

Let’s see which products made it to the list…

The Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers – My Top 5 Picks

Here are my ultimate top 5 picks for the best golden retriever dog foods. But do check the remaining picks later in the post. Also, if you are changing your dog’s diet and want to know how to properly transition to the new diet, consider reading this.

 

1. Blue Buffalo — Life Protection Formula Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe for Large Breed 

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: large and giant breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,516  kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 22%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 6%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal,  3. Brown Rice, 4. Oatmeal,  5. Barley
  • L-Carnitine
  • Glucosamine

The top favorite of mine and many other Golden Retriever owners is this savory recipe by Blue Buffalo. Deboned chicken is the first ingredient, which means there is a lot of good proteins for your dog. You get high-quality ingredients without fillers and by-products. All the ingredients are carefully chosen to give your baby the right amount of calories without increasing mass. One of the main reasons this is my favorite is the fact that this formula is created with overall good health in mind. It has glucosamine and chondroitin for joints, calcium, and phosphorus for teeth and bones, and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for healthier coat and skin.

Buy on Chewy

 

2. Royal Canin — Best Golden Retriever Adult Dog Food

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Golden Retrievers, Large Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,489 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 23%, Fat (min.) 10%, Fiber (max.) 5.7%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Brown Rice, 2. Chicken By-Product Meal, 3. Oat Groats, 4. Brewers Rice, 5. Wheat
  • Taurine
  • DHA and EPA

This one is formulated with a specific focus on your Golden Retriever’s dietary needs. It is a heart-healthy recipe because goldies are often susceptible to heart problems. Plus, there is a blend of ingredients that will keep the golden coat shining in its full glory. It has taurine, EPA, and DHA for your baby’s cognitive and visual development. To cut it all short, Royal Canin’s exclusive Golden Retriever formula is one of the rare products that will fulfill all their nutritional needs while managing a healthy weight. This Royal Canin formula is one of the most popular and the best dog food for golden retriever right now.

Buy on Chewy

 

3. Nutro — Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe for Large Breed Adult

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large breeds, Giant breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,582 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 21%, Fat (min.) 13%, Fiber (max.) 3.5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Lamb, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Brewers Rice, 4. Whole Brown Rice, 5. Split Peas
  • GMO-free
  • Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids

Lamb and rice is something your retriever won’t be able to resist. So, if you have a picky eater in the house, you need to get this one from Nutro Wholesome Essentials. While this is a meat-first recipe, high-quality varieties of rice add a lot of benefits to it. There are no by-products or fillers to cause any allergies or issues. You also get omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for your goldie’s coat and skin.  You won’t find a formula more wholesome than this one.

Buy on Chewy

 

4. Hill’s Science Diet — Adult Large Breed Chicken and Barley

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large breeds and giant breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,665 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 20.5%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 3%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Cracked Pearled Barley,  3. Pea Fiber, 4. Whole Grain Wheat, 5. Cracked Pearled Barley,
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Omega-6

Chicken first formulas are usually preferred for large breeds like Golden Retriever, but pair it with the right grains and you have a complete balanced meal for your goldie. That is what you get from Hill’s Science Diet large breed formula. Your dog will get glucosamine and chondroitin. There is plenty of Omega -6 fatty acids. There is vitamin C and E. Most importantly, there is a blend of antioxidants to aid a healthy immune system. And did I mention there is a good amount of healthy carbs to keep them happy and active?

Buy on Chewy

 

5. Wellness — CORE Grain-Free Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal & Chicken Meal 

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per cup): 421 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 34%, Fat (min.) 16%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Dried Ground Potatoes
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free

Wellness has its large breed range but I prefer CORE grain-free deboned turkey formula for many reasons. Firstly, goldies seem to love turkey and chicken combo. Secondly, the formula is grain-free, which makes it perfect for tummy troubles. Golden Retrievers usually don’t have any issues with grains but you need at least one grain-free formula for sick days. And finally, every kibble is coated with probiotics, which adds to the digestive benefits. And did I tell you there are flaxseed and salmon oil for your goldies gorgeous coat? 

Buy on Chewy

 

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Frequently Asked Questions About Golden Retriever Food

Now, you know my top five favorites but I know there must be a lot of questions on your mind. These FAQs, followed by a buyer’s guide, will help you understand your retriever’s needs better.

What should I look for in a Golden Retriever food?

Golden Retriever is a big and active breed. That is why they need a lot of protein and healthy carbs in their diet. Look for a product with actual meat as the first ingredients plus healthy vegetables and some fatty acids for a shinier coat.

How much should Golden Retriever eat in a day?

It depends on your Goldie’s size, built, and level of activities. I would say 2 bowls of quality kibble are enough but a bigger more active adult might need more.

Is grain-free food good for Golden Retriever?

Grain-free food is always a good idea if you want to keep your retriever safe from tummy troubles and allergies. Your dog may not be allergic now, but it can develop anytime.

What kind of food is bad for Golden Retriever?

It is best to keep your retriever away from food that is potentially dangerous for other dogs. This includes milk, raw eggs, chocolate, raisins, most nuts, and grains. Avoid food with lots of fillers and artificial additives.

Are vegetables good for Golden Retriever?

Dogs are omnivorous and they can get a lot of essential nutrients from vegetables and fruits. They also get healthy carbs and fiber so you don’t have to rely on grains for that.

Are dairy products good for my Golden Retriever?

Dairy products rarely gel well with a dog’s digestive system. You can add a small amount of yogurt to their diet for the probiotics but milk and cheese aren’t a good idea.

Should Golden Retriever eat eggs?

Eggs are a good source of protein for dogs that can’t eat meat for any reason. You can give a cooked egg to your Golden Retriever every now and then. Raw egg isn’t exactly safe.

How many times should I feed my Golden Retriever?

Since puppies eat less in a single meal, they need at least three meals until they are three months. After that, you can make two meals a day and increase the quantity per meal.

Is free-feeding good for Golden Retriever?

Golden Retrievers are foodies and they gain weight quite easily. Free feeding isn’t good for them as they might overeat. If your goldie isn’t active enough, it might lead to obesity.

How much water does a Golden Retriever need in a day?

An estimate would be 1.0 FL oz. for every pound. Since Golden retrievers are generally active, they need a good amount of water to stay healthy.

Which food can help my Golden Retriever gain weight?

If your Golden Retriever isn’t gaining weight, try feeding organ meat such as the liver. Vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yam can also help them gain some pounds.

Which food can help my Golden Retriever lose weight?

Look for food with lean chicken meat and a low amount of fat. You might also want to cut on carbs a bit. Filler grains and artificial additives will also make your goldie fat.

Why is my Golden Retriever not eating?

It is unusual for a Golden Retriever to refuse food. They generally love all food. Try switching to a limited ingredient dog food. See a vet if that doesn’t help.

Why is my Golden Retriever not drinking water?

The amount of water your dog drinks depends on how active it is. If your retriever is active yet refuses to drink water, check if the water is clean and on room temperature. Otherwise, see a vet.

When should I change my Golden Retriever’s food?

Change your Golden Retriever’s food it refuses to eat it or falls sick too often. Switch from puppy food to adult food when your dog is around 10 months.

Is a raw diet good for Golden Retriever?

Raw diet or BARF diet is great for Golden Retrievers. Large breeds are most likely to benefit from this ancestral dog diet. Just make sure you get the top quality commercial raw dog food.

Can Golden Retriever survive on a vegan diet?

The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. While dogs can survive on a vegan diet, it is not recommended. Non-meat sources of protein are usually unable to fulfill the nutrient requirements of a Golden Retriever. It isn’t good for their physical or mental health as they can get sad without their favorite ingredient.

Does my Golden Retriever need supplements?

Golden Retrievers have a higher nutritional requirement. So, it is a good idea to supplement their diet with certain vitamins, probiotics, amino acids, and other essentials.

Is homemade food good for my Golden Retriever?

Homemade food is not bad but it is difficult to keep a calorie count. It is more convenient to buy a quality commercial dog feed to avoid deficiencies.

Which commercial dog food is the best for Golden Retriever?

Commercial grain-free dog food with lean meat and healthy vegetables as key ingredients is the best for Golden Retrievers. It should also have omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as well.

The Buyer’s Guide: Food For Golden Retriever

One thing you need to keep in mind when choosing food for your Golden Retriever is that it is a large breed, which is more active than most large breeds. This means they need a good amount of protein and healthy carbs. Their diet should be low in fat but there should be enough fatty acids to keep their golden fur glowing.

What To Look For?

The reason I always recommend commercial dog food over homemade is that the former is carefully prepared to fulfill the dietary needs per meal. And it is all right there on the label. From the amount of proteins and fat to the total caloric content per cup.

Here is what you should look for on the label.

  • Lean Meat – The best food for Golden Retriever is one that has meat as its first ingredient, and that meat should be lean. Poultry is preferable over red meat because it has the right amount of fat as well.
  • Low Fat – Keep in mind that large breeds have a slower metabolism, which means they are more susceptible to weight gain. I would say go for anything that has around 10 to 15% fat. However, you should focus on fiber as well because it can help with fat metabolism.
  • Good Carbs – No active breed can thrive without carbs. Look for quality vegetable sources such as potatoes or other tubers. These sources are also rich in minerals and vitamins essential for healthy bones and teeth.
  • Fatty Acids – Goldies are quite furry, which means you should look for fur-friendly ingredients as well. Fatty acids from fish can do wonder for the skin and coat of your baby.
  • Fillers and Additives: Go for a filler-free food that doesn’t contain artificial flavors or additives. This should also be your criteria for snacks and treats.

And if you are choosing a product that doesn’t specifically mention ‘Golden Retriever ‘, do pay attention to the kibble size. A bigger kibble is recommended for larger breeds to make sure they chew properly.

Calorie Control

Let me reiterate, large breeds have a slower metabolism. So, you need to be very careful with the calories, With puppies, you might risk expedited growth and with adults, you can risk obesity.

A rough figure for your Golden Retriever’s daily caloric requirement would be between 989 and 1,272 calories for an average-sized adult. However, if your dog isn’t too active, or have joint issues, or is a senior then you should lower it a bit. Otherwise, it will get obese.

If your pet is gaining weight too rapidly, switch to a food with lower fat and carbs than its current food.

On the flip side, if your goldie is losing weight, know that it is unusual for this breed. See a vet as soon as you can.

Transition

So you have found the perfect food for your Golden Retriever and want them to like it. While Golden Retriever isn’t too picky, they might not like a sudden shift in flavor, especially if they were on a product with lots of additives.

Plan the transition over 7 to ten days. Start by adding a small amount of new food to the old one and gradually increase the ratio of the new food with every meal. Use the same method when moving them from puppy food to adult food.

That said, keep in mind that what suits one goldie may not suit another. So, if your dog doesn’t seem to be a big fan of the top fives, there are plenty of other great options to try.

The Competition – Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

6. Holistic Select — Chicken Meal and Oatmeal Recipe for Giant and Large Breed

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large breeds, giant breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3, 766 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 24%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 4%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Rice, 3. Oatmeal, 4. Oats, 5. Chicken Fat
  • Sensitive Stomachs
  • Taurine and L-Carnitine

Holistic is a brand trusted by thousands of pet owners and preferred by thousands of pets. I like how they have a different product for pets with different needs. And when it comes to your goldie’s needs, Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Adult Health Chicken Meal & Oatmeal is perfect. While you get a good amount of proteins, you a good source of protease that actually helps in protein break down. That means your pet will not just get the essential nutrients, it will also get more out of those nutrients. Plus, there are healthy probiotics to keep things gentle for the sensitive tummies.

7. Taste of the Wild — Pacific Stream Grain-Free 

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,600 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 25%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 3%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Ocean Fish Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Potatoes, 5. Peas
  • Grain-free
  • 80,000,000 CFU/lb min microorganism

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream may not specifically be for large breeds, but this grain-free fish formula will do wonders for your Golden Retriever. The formula is perfectly balanced in terms of nutrition and made from high-quality ingredients such as real smoked salmon. Fish means your goldie will get all the fatty acids required for a gorgeous shiny coat. This one is also highly recommended for dogs who can fall sick too easily. It has probiotics to prevent digestive problems. It is free of grains, fillers, and common allergens. And it is full of antioxidants that support a healthy immune system.

8. American Journey — Large Breed Salmon and Sweet Potato Recipe 

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large and giant breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,568 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Chickpeas, 5. Sweet Potatoes,
  • Grain-free
  • High-protein

American Journey has a good range of large breed dog food, but your Golden Retriever would love this one the most. With deboned salmon and turkey meal as the key ingredients, this particular product will take care of your dog’s overall health. Aside from a high dose of quality proteins, your dog will get enough carbs to keep chasing its tail all day. You get all the nutrients including Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, and there is plenty of DHA, glucosamine, and chondroitin. Not to mention, the grain-free formula is suitable for sensitive ones as well.

9. Eukanuba — Large Breed Adult Dog Food

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large breeds and giant breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,680 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 23%, Fat (min.) 13%, Fiber (max.) 3.6%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1.Chicken, 2. Corn, 3. Chicken By-Product Meal, 4. Wheat, 5. Ground Grain Sorghum
  • DHA
  • Vitamin E

With this one Eukanuba proves how well it understands the different needs of different breeds. With the right balance of proteins, fats, and carbs,  Eukanuba Adult Large Breed dog food will keep your Golden Retriever happy, active, and healthy. What I love about it is the 3D DentaDefense anti-tartar agent that takes good care of my canine dental health. Moreover, there is a good balance of nutrients essential for mental and physical health. With chicken as the first ingredient, this is a delicious option even for the pickiest eaters.

10. Royal Canin — Golden Retriever Puppy Dry Food

Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Large breed puppies
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,600 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 27%, Fat (min.) 14%, Fiber (max.) 5.9%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken By-Product Meal, 2. Corn, 3. Wheat Gluten, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Wheat
  • GLUCOSAMINE
  • DHA and EPA

Golden Retriever pups tend to have a different dietary requirement which a regular puppy food might not be able to fulfill. This Royal Canin recipe is formulated to cater to their specific needs. It is created to fulfill their nutritional requirements during the development stage, without expediting their physical growth. You get all a delicious meal with all the nutrients necessary for the pup to grow into a healthy, active, and beautiful adult. As with the adult formula, this puppy food is also among the best dog food for golden retrievers.

11. Diamond Naturals — Large Breed Puppy Formula Dry 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Large breeds, giant breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,650 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 27%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 4.5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Lamb, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Ground White Rice, 4. Peas, 5. Pea Flour
  • No fillers
  • Microorganisms >80,000,000 CFU/lb min

If you want your young Golden Retriever to have a perfectly balanced start, go for Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Food. Aside from balanced nutritional value, this food contains probiotics for healthy digestion and fewer tummy troubles. Plus, there are plenty of superfoods that add a punch of antioxidants and make it extremely beneficial for your puppy’s immune system. It is specifically great for puppies that are extra active; they will get all the healthy carbs they need. The lamb used for the recipe is a pasture-raised healthy one.

12. Merrick — Real Buffalo, Beef + Sweet Potato Grain-Free Recipe 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, and large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,735  kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 38%, Fat (min.) 17%, Fiber (max.) 3.5%, Moisture (max.) 11%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Deboned Buffalo, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4.Deboned Beef, 5. Sweet Potatoes
  • Grain-free
  • Gluten-free

This grain-free formula by Merrick is generally well-loved by all pooches, including Golden Retrievers. And it’s actually quite good for them because is high protein grain-free formula. Your retriever will get powerful proteins from quality buffalo meat and beef. Sweet potatoes are among the top five ingredients, which means your pet gets enough carb to stay active all day. Then you have also got peas, apples, blueberries and natural sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

13. Purina Pro Plan — Focus Adult Large Breed Formula 

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large breed, giant breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,640 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 26%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 4.5%, Moisture (max.) 12%
  • Form: Dry
  • Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Brewers Rice, 3. Whole Grain Wheat, 4. Corn Gluten Meal
  • Glucosamine
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

Purina Pro Plan Focus for large breeds has balanced nutrition for your Golden Retriever. it has the right protein and fat balance to help your dog maintain a healthy weight while staying healthy and active. The balanced formula will also take care of the beautiful coat. What’s more: This dog food also contains ingredients that actually allow for optimal absorption of all the nutrients. You also get natural probiotic fibers for easy digestion.

Now you know all you needed to pick the best dog food for your golden retriever. Good Luck!

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