13 Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

Golden retriever — One of the most popular breeds in America, and for good reasons:

They are adorable.

They are smart.

They are playful.

And they’re gorgeous!

If you want them to stay that way, you must provide them with a proper diet. Goldens will eat almost anything, so you must ensure you provide them with the best nutrition possible. 

To help you pick the best food for your Golden, we’ve researched some amazing commercial dog foods for your Golden. Using our 40 Point Inspection list, we’ve created this list of the best dog foods for Golden Retrievers.

 Let’s dive in.

The Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

Top PicksTop Ingredients
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Dog Food
(Best For Adults)
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal,  Barley
2. Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Dog Food
(Best For Puppies)
Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn, Wheat Gluten, Chicken Fat, Wheat
3. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Senior Dog Food
(Best For Seniors)
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Brown Rice, Brewers Rice, Split Peas
4. Pedigree Choice Country Stew Canned Food
(Best Wet Meal)
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Peas, Pea Starch
5. Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain-Free Dog Food
(Best For Weight Loss)
Chicken, Turkey Meal, Peas, Tapioca, Menhaden Fish Meal
6. American Journey Large Breed Salmon and Sweet Potato Dog Food
(Best For Allergies)
Deboned Salmon, Turkey Meal, Peas, Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes
7. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Large Breed Dog Food
(Best For Active Dogs)
Chicken, Rice, Corn Meal, Whole Corn, Whole Wheat

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


Golden Retriever Dog Food Reviews

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Dog Food

Best Overall, Best For Adults

Top Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Oatmeal,  5. Barley

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,508 kcal
  • Form: Dry

This savory recipe by Blue Buffalo is a favorite of many Golden Retriever owners. Deboned chicken is the first ingredient, which means there are a lot of good proteins for your Golden. You get high-quality ingredients without fillers and by-products. 

All the ingredients give your dog the right amount of calories, so they don’t get too much of a good thing. It has glucosamine and chondroitin for joints, calcium, phosphorus for teeth and bones, and Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids for healthier coats and skin.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 22% | Fat (min.) 12% | Fiber (max.) 6% | Moisture (max.) 10%


Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Dog Food

Best For Puppies

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken By-Product Meal, 2. Corn, 3. Wheat Gluten, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Wheat

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,600 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Golden Retriever pups tend to have different dietary requirements, which a regular puppy food might not be able to fulfill. This Royal Canin recipe is specifically formulated for Golden Retriever puppies. 

The kibble is designed specifically for the unique muzzle of the Golden to encourage chewing. The recipe also contains an exclusive blend of antioxidants to keep your puppy’s immune system healthy and active. Finally, it has high-quality proteins and prebiotics to keep Golden’s digestive system in good shape. 

Analysis: Protein (min.) 27% | Fat (min.) 14% | Fiber (max.) 5.9% | Moisture (max.) 10%


Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Senior Chicken & Brown Rice Dog Food

Best For Seniors

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Whole Grain Brown Rice, 4. Brewers Rice, 5. Split Peas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,457 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Allow your Golden to transition into its senior years with the wholesome Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Senior Dog Food. Its base ingredients are Chicken and Brown Rice, which are highly digestible and full of energy to sustain muscle mass. The diet is also enriched with antioxidants to maintain your older dog’s immune system.

Another crucial part of the food is its glucosamine and chondroitin content, which keeps your dog’s joints healthy and flexible. Fiber from rice bran and beet pulp assists digestion and reduces instances of diarrhea or gastrointestinal upset. The recipe is also completely free from by-products, meal, corn, wheat, and soy, making it easier on the stomach of older dogs.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 22% | Fat (min.) 10% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%


Pedigree Choice Cuts in Gravy Country Stew Canned Dog Food

Best Wet Meal

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Deboned Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Potatoes, 4. Peas, 5. Pea Starch

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,492 kcal
  • Form: Wet

Feed your Golden retriever a delicious canned food meal tailored to their dietary needs with Pedigree Choice Stew Cuts Dog Food. The food contains tender chicken pieces dipped in a tasty stew that your dog will find irresistible. It’s also rich in protein to keep your Golden lean and muscular.

This wet food will also keep your dog’s coat in top-notch condition because of the omega fatty acids and vitamins that nourish the fur and skin. It’s a complete and balanced diet you can feed your dog separately, without additional supplements. If you’re looking for an alternative to your dog’s dry food, try Pedigree Choice Cuts.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 22% | Fat (min.) 13% | Fiber (max.) 6% | Moisture (max.) 10%


Nom Nom Chicken Cuisine

Best Fresh Option

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Diced chicken, 2. sweet potatoes, 3. squash, 4, spinach, 5. sunflower oil

  • Life Stage: All
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,255 kcal
  • Form: Frozen

Tailor-made for your Golden from whole foods, Nom Nom is the perfect choice for owners that require the best diet for their pals. The company allows you to select from four protein choices, Chicken Cuisine being our favorite pick for Golden Retrievers. It contains chunks of boneless chicken, sweet potatoes, squash, and many other natural foods. 

All of it combined gives your dog a decent amount of protein, fat, and fiber to keep them muscular and in good spirits. Each owner is allowed to create a meal plan for their dog by selecting their age, breed, weight, and activity levels. Nom Nom delivers the food fresh to your doorstep. 

Analysis: Protein (min.) 8.5% | Fat (min.) 6% | Fiber (max.) 1% | Moisture (max.) 77%


Wellness CORE Grain-Free Deboned Turkey Dog Food

Best Premium Option

Top Ingredients: 1. Deboned Turkey, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Chicken Meal, 4. Peas, 5. Dried Ground Potatoes

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,698 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Wellness has a few foods for large breed dogs, but we prefer CORE grain-free deboned turkey formula for many reasons. Firstly, goldies seem to love the turkey and chicken combo. Secondly, the recipe is grain-free, which makes it perfect for avoiding tummy troubles. 

While Golden Retrievers usually don’t have any issues with grains, it’s good to have 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 we tell you there is flaxseed and salmon oil for your Golden’s gorgeous coat?

Analysis: Protein (min.) 34% | Fat (min.) 16% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%


Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free Dog Food

Best Budget Option

Top Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Ocean Fish Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Potatoes, 5. Peas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,600 kcal
  • Form: Dry

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 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 have sensitive tummies. 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.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 25% | Fat (min.) 15% | Fiber (max.) 3% | Moisture (max.) 10%


ORIJEN Regional Red Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Best For Weight Gain

Top Ingredients: 1. Beef, 2. Wild Boar, 3. Goat, 4. Lamb, 5. Beef Liver

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,860 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Skip the cheap fillers and help your Golden gain weight with a premium diet like Orijen Regional Red. As the name suggests, the recipe uses protein-rich red meat like beef, goat, lamb, boar, and various organs full of minerals and amino acids. For carbs, the food contains veggies and fruits that are easy to digest and packed with vitamins for overall wellness.

All these ingredients combined will help your Golden steadily gain lean muscle and become more active and adventurous. Their coat, joints, vision, and brain health will also benefit from the food’s omega fatty acids and various micros. 

Analysis: Protein (min.) 38% | Fat (min.) 18% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 12%


Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain-Free Dog Food

Best For Weight Loss

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Tapioca, 5. Menhaden Fish Meal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,668 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Losing weight never tasted this good before Instinct Raw Boost Freeze-Dried Dog Food. The low-calorie diet seeks to burn extra fat and make your dog leaner with a 35% crude protein content derived from real chicken meat. It also features reduced calories but enough energy from peas and tapioca to last your Golden the entire day. 

L-carnitine metabolizes extra fat into energy so your dog can become more muscular and active while losing fat. The food also contains a decent amount of fiber to keep your dog’s digestion rolling. And the best part, the food features freeze-dried chicken chunks that give an extra protein boost while making the food taste like a five-star meal.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 35%, Fat (min.) 12%, Fiber (max.) 6%, Moisture (max.) 9%


Blue Buffalo Wilderness Duck Recipe Grain-Free Dog Food

Best For Sensitive Stomach

Top Ingredients: 1. Deboned Duck, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Pea Protein, 5. Chicken Fat

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,596 kcal
  • Form: Dry

A wilderness-focused diet is the best choice for retrievers with sensitive stomachs and a high craving for a natural diet. Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness Duck Dry Food can execute that diet perfectly. This dog food incorporates a variety of all-natural and wholesome ingredients such as meat, fruits, and vegetables that provide lots of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, omega fats, and other micronutrients necessary for a dog’s health.

More than that, the dog food is also focused on high digestibility and features a grain-free recipe. It uses real deboned duck meat as the primary protein source, easily digestible and filled with nutrients. And with its Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, the dog food will also help nourish your retriever’s skin and make their fur shinier.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 34% | Fat (min.) 15% | Fiber (max.) 6% | Moisture (max.) 10%


American Journey Large Breed Salmon and Sweet Potato Dog Food

Best For Allergies

Top Ingredients: 1. Deboned Salmon, 2. Turkey Meal, 3. Peas, 4. Chickpeas, 5. Sweet Potatoes

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,540 kcal
  • Form: Dry

American Journey has a good range of large breed dog foods, but we think your Golden Retriever will like this one best. This recipe will take care of your dog’s protein requirements, with the essential ingredients deboned salmon and turkey meal. 

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 omega-6 fatty acids, and plenty of DHA, glucosamine, and chondroitin. Not to mention, the grain-free formula is suitable for sensitive ones as well.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 30% | Fat (min.) 12% | Fiber (max.) 5% | Moisture (max.) 10%


Rachael Ray Nutrish PEAK Open Prairie Grain-Free Dog Food

Best For Picky Eaters

Top Ingredients: 1. Beef, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Whole Dried Potato, 4. Tapioca, 5. Dried Peas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,635 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Fill your dog’s bowl with the mouth-watering Rachael Ray Nutrish Open Prairie Dog Food. The recipe uses novel red meats like beef, lamb, and venison, which are full of amino acids and assist in building muscle. This recipe is grain-free and uses potatoes and tapioca to offer easily-digestible carbs that provide day-long energy to the most active Goldens.

The meat gives the food a juicy and tender taste that will drive even the pickiest dogs crazy. Your dog will also benefit from the range of vitamins and minerals in the food that assists in hormone production, immunity strengthening, and various functions. Fillers, artificial colors, grains, and glutens are also eliminated from the food, making it easier on the stomach of sensitive dogs.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 30% | Fat (min.) 15% | Fiber (max.) 5% | Moisture (max.) 10%


Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Large Breed Dog Food

Best For Active Dogs

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Rice, 3. Corn Gluten Meal, 4. Whole Grain Corn, 5. Whole Grain Wheat

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,823 kcal
  • Form: Dry

Purina Pro Plan Focus for large breeds has balanced nutrition for your Golden Retriever. It has a suitable 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 allow optimal absorption of all the nutrients. You also get natural probiotic fibers for easy digestion.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 26% | Fat (min.) 12% | Fiber (max.) 4.5% | Moisture (max.) 12%

Popular guides on my blog:

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 Retrievers are 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 shiny coat.

How much should Golden Retriever eat in a day?

It depends on your Goldie’s size, build, and activity level. 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 foods are bad for the Golden Retriever?

Just like any other dog, there are some foods out there that are potentially dangerous for you golden.. 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 yams can also help them gain some pounds. If your Golden is having problems maintaining a proper weight, consult your veterinarian.

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 back on carbs a bit. Foods with filler grains and artificial additives can contribute to obesity in dogs..

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?

The Raw Diet or BARF diet is a good option for Golden Retrievers. Large breeds are considered 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.

Does my Golden Retriever need supplements?

Golden Retrievers have high nutritional requirements. So, it can be 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 and overfeeding.

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 wonders 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 could become 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 Retrievers aren’t usually too picky, they might not like a sudden shift in flavor or texture, 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.

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

Further reading:

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