The 13 Best Dog Foods for Labradors

By Kevin Myers | 2022 Update

This updated guide lists all of the best dog foods for Labrador Retrievers this year.

Sometimes I think ignoring “sad puppy face” is one of the most challenging things on the planet…But if we want our dogs to be healthy, it’s something we have to do.  

Scraps of even the healthiest foods on your table can be outright toxic for your pup. While giving your dog treats now and then is acceptable, making the right food choices for it are an important part of being a pet parent.

Unfortunately, feeding a Labrador can be a little more complicated than you might think. Striking the perfect balance between protein, carbohydrates, fats, and other essential nutrients isn’t as straightforward as you might like. And that’s why we created this guide.

I use a 40-point inspection list to evaluate all the dog foods I recommend—considering breed requirements, ingredient analysis, customer reviews, brand reputation, and many more.

Be sure to read to the end for our answers to your frequently asked questions and our buyer’s guide.

So let’s get started.  

The Best Dog Foods for Labradors – Our Top Picks

Top PicksCategory
1. Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog FoodBest For Adult Labradors
2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Puppy Dog FoodBest For Puppy Labradors
3. Wellness Complete Health Senior Dog FoodBest For Senior Labradors
4. Purina Pro Plan Specialized Large Breed Canned FoodBest Wet Food For Labradors
5. Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dog FoodBest Budget Food For Labradors

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


Labrador Dog Food Reviews

1. Nutro Ultra Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food — Best For Adult Labradors

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Whole Grain Brown Rice, 4. Whole Grain Sorghum, 5. Whole Grain Barley

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,566 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 22% | Fat (min.) 13% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

A holistic diet composed of the finest ingredients and nutrients to help adult dogs maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. That’s what Nutro Ultra’s Superfood Blend Dog Food is all about. It includes three premium protein sources, including chicken, lamb, and salmon, to provide all the essential amino acids required for optimal muscle growth and nourishment.

Additionally, this recipe’s Superfood Blend uses several fruits and vegetables, such as pumpkin, blueberries, and carrots, to deliver antioxidants and vitamins that support the immune system and organ functioning. Nutro Ultra also prides itself on producing high-quality dog food free from grains, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.


2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Puppy Dog Food — Best For Puppy Labradors

Ratings:

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

  • Life Stage: Puppy
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,642 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 26%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

The superior quality of this Life-Protection Formula guarantees your puppy’s optimal health and well-being. It features real meat, garden fruits and vegetables, and a precise blend of essential nutrients to fulfill all of your pup’s nutritional requirements. Give your Labrador puppy the best dietary support to grow into a happy, healthy Labbie.


3. Wellness Complete Health Senior Chicken & Barley Dog Food — Best For Senior Labradors

Ratings:

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

  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,585 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 22% | Fat (min.) 10% | Fiber (max.) 4.25% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Labradors and their dietary needs start to change as they age. And for that stage of life, we recommend Wellness Complete Health Senior Formula. It’s balanced to keep your senior dog in top condition while maintaining a healthy weight and a good range of motion in their joints. The recipe uses chicken meat for muscle maintenance and oatmeal/barley to fuel your dog’s daily activities.

It addresses joint health with glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your Lab moving, and it’s fortified with antioxidants that destroy free radicals and probiotics for a healthy guy. Overall, it’s a premium-quality food made in the USA and contains zero wheat, corn, or soy.


4. Purina Pro Plan Specialized Adult Large Breed Entree Canned Food — Best Wet Food For Labradors

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Water, 2. Chicken, 3. Liver, 4. Wheat Gluten, 5. Rice

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 857 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 9% | Fat (min.) 2% | Fiber (max.) 1.5% | Moisture (max.) 82%
  • Form: Wet

Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Entrée is a good choice if your high-energy Lab is a picky eater. This dog food for working breeds contains boneless chicken chunks that offer decent amino acids and rice to stay fueled throughout the day. All of this nutrition is dipped in a lip-smacking gravy that is guaranteed to attract the pickiest Labradors.

Omega fatty acids keep your Lab’s coat shiny while it softens the skin, and calcium strengthens its bones. It’s 100% balanced and features 23 essential micros that perform various body repair and maintenance functions. The calorie count is decent for most Labradors and will keep them adequately active throughout the day.


5. Nom Nom Turkey Fare — Best Fresh Food For Labradors

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Ground turkey, 2. brown rice, 3. eggs, 4. carrots, 5. spinach, 

  • Life Stage: All
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 1,479 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 10%, Fat (min.) 5%, Fiber (max.)  1%, Moisture (max.) 72%
  • Form: Frozen

A fresh food diet from the professionals at Nom Nom is the answer to your dog’s diet-related dilemmas. Our favorite is the Turkey Mash recipe made from the finest-quality whole foods, including ground turkey, brown rice, carrots, eggs, and spinach. It’s also perfect for building muscle blocks and providing your Labrador with energy.

But the best thing about Nom Nom is that they customize the meal plan according to your dog’s needs based on age, breed, activity, and health information to make a personalized diet plan for optimal weight and zero allergic reactions. All this customization comes at a price, but it’s one of the most wholesome diets you can find.


6. Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Adult Dog Food — Best Premium Food For Labradors

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken By-Product Meal, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Oat Groats, 4. Corn Gluten Meal, 5. Brewers Rice

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,478 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 28% | Fat (min.) 11% | Fiber (max.) 5.4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

This blend is specifically crafted for your Labrador, keeping their super-active and athletic nature in mind. The nutrients are not only balanced for this magnificent breed, but the detailing to kibble processing makes it all the more unique. 

Rich in high-quality protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, this is the proper diet to support your Lab’s bone and health maintenance without compromising on the delicious flavors. This Royal Canin formula is a favorite among lab owners and deserves its place in the top 5 foods for Labrador Retrievers.


7. Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dog Food — Best Budget Food For Labradors

Ratings:

Top 5 Ingredients: 1. Lamb, 2. Lamb Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Egg Product, 5. Lentils

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, medium, large breeds
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,611 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein min. 25%, | Fat min. 15%, | Fiber max. 5%, | Moisture max. 10%
  • Form: Dry

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the variety of options available for your Labrador, but when you see the name “Taste of the Wild” on the label, you can relax. This high-quality formula is rich in the flavors of roasted lamb. 

It contains highly digestible proteins, peas, and sweet potatoes to give your large breed dog the fuel to stay active throughout the day. The grain-free formula also works great for dogs with allergies and other food sensitivities and is one of the best dog foods out there for labs.


8. VICTOR Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula Dry Dog Food — Best Weight Gain Food For Labradors

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Beef Meal, 2. Grain Sorghum, 3. Chicken Fat, 4. Pork Meal, 5. Chicken Meal

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,815 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 30% | Fat (min.) 20% | Fiber (max.) 3.8% | Moisture (max.) 9%
  • Form: Dry

Turn your underweight Labrador into a lean and muscular canine with the high-protein Victor Classic Hi-Pro Plus Formula. It’s designed for athletic dogs and derives protein from beef, chicken, and pork to promote muscle mass and energy returns. Fibrous grains are also present in the food to boost activity levels and maintain the digestive system.

Your dog will also benefit from omega fatty acids and various minerals in the food that promotes fur health and improve body regeneration. Victor’s proprietary VPRO blend will enhance digestive efficiency and make your Labrador resilient against diseases. Even with all these properties, the food is free from corn, wheat, soy, and other fillers that add no value to your dog’s health.


9. CANIDAE PURE Healthy Weight Real Chicken & Pea Dog Food — Best Weight Loss Food For Labradors

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken, 2. Chicken Meal, 3. Turkey Meal, 4. Sweet Potatoes, 5. Peas

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,300 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 28% | Fat (min.) 9% | Fiber (max.) 5% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Labs can easily become obese, putting them at greater risk for health problems. If you are looking for a recipe that helps maintain a healthy weight for your Labrador, look no further. CANIDAE grain-free formula is the solution to your problem. This balanced diet features real chicken and peas to keep the blend nutritionally rich and highly digestible to keep your dog at a healthy weight.


10. Natural Balance L.I.D. Sweet Potato & Fish Grain-Free Dog Food — Best Food For Labradors With Sensitive Stomach

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Salmon, 2. Menhaden Fish Meal, 3. Sweet Potatoes, 4. Tapioca Starch, 5. Potatoes

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,450 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 24% | Fat (min.) 10% | Fiber (max.) 4.5% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

This blend is ideal for a Labrador with food intolerances and other stomach sensitivities. Feed your large breed hound with a limited-ingredient diet so you know what you are feeding them. This formula by Natural Balance gives you the satisfaction of handpicked ingredients that the nutrition needed to help your Lab stay healthy and active.


11. Brothers Complete Advanced Allergy Care Grain-Free Dog Food — Best Food For Allergic Labradors

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Turkey Meal, 2. Whole Eggs Dried, 3. Pea Starch, 4. Cassava/Tapioca, 5. Pumpkin

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,780 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 36% | Fat (min.) 16% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Give your dog a natural diet free from possible allergens. This grain-free formula has the nutrients your Labrador needs. This excellent combination of ingredients features high-quality protein derived from chicken and turkey. Great for labs with sensitive tummies, this grain-free offering is a good choice for your Lab’s overall health and vitality.


12. Blackwood Whitefish Meal & Oatmeal Large Breed Dog Food — Best Tasting Food For Picky Labradors

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Whitefish Meal, 2. Oatmeal, 3. Brown Rice, 4. Pearled Barley, 5. Ground Grain Sorghum

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Large, Giant Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,449 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 24% | Fat (min.) 12% | Fiber (max.) 4% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Dogs can lose interest in eating when they suffer from a stomach problem. That’s why we recommend Blackwood Whitefish & Oatmeal Dog Food. The food uses easily-digestible ingredients such as whitefish meal that build muscle. It also features multiple grains that offer probiotics to protect your Lab against diarrhea and stomach infections.

Each batch is slow-cooked and filled with veggies like celery, beet, apples, and lettuce, giving the food a nutrient boost. It also contains spices like thyme, rosemary, and yellow mustard that provide a succulent taste to drive Labradors crazy. Still, the food is free from artificial colors, wheat, soy, and corn, so your dog doesn’t suffer from digestive problems.


13. Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic Field Dog Food — Best Food For Active Labradors

Ratings:

Top Ingredients: 1. Chicken Meal, 2. Brown Rice, 3. Oatmeal, 4. Dried Beet Pulp, 5. Chicken Fat

  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Suitable for: Small, Medium, Large Breed
  • Caloric content (per kg): 3,869 kcal
  • Analysis: Protein (min.) 28% | Fat (min.) 13% | Fiber (max.) 3% | Moisture (max.) 10%
  • Form: Dry

Dr. Gary’s special formula is a high-protein, high-energy recipe popular with Labrador owners. Among the various nutrients, this kibble blend is rich in iron proteinate and other chelated minerals that support absorption. The recipe derives maximum animal protein from chicken meal to ensure only a high-quality diet.


Labrador Dog Food FAQs

Does a Labrador have any special dietary needs?

Labradors are large breed dogs and require high levels of protein for growth. Also, labs take around 18-22 months to grow to their full size and require at least 22% protein during puppyhood and at least 18% during their growth to maintain lean mass. Labs are also notorious chowhounds and need to control their level of fat intake.

What should I look for in an ideal Labrador dog food?

Choose a dog food option that is prepared with natural, wholesome ingredients that perfectly matches your lab’s nutritional requirement. Look for:

  • High-quality animal protein
  • Controlled levels of fat content
  • Joint-supporting nutrients
  • Digestible ingredients
  • Nutritionally balanced

Do labs need joint-supporting nutrients in their diet?

Yes, like most large and giant breed dogs, your Labrador needs phosphorus and calcium to support bone and joint health.

How many calories does an adult Labrador needs in a day?

Due to their size, adult Labradors need around 1500-1600 calories a day. Especially active dogs could need as much as 1900 calories per day, where older dogs probably shouldn’t exceed 1100 calories. It’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian for your lab’s specific situation.

How many calories does a Labrador puppy require in a day?

You can calculate this by multiplying your pup’s weight in pounds with 40 calories/pound. Calculating this on your own also helps you increase their calorie intake in the perfect proportions as they grow.

How often should I feed my Labrador?

Labrador puppies grow and use energy fast. They should be fed four small meals during the day to meet growth and energy needs. Puppies between 3 and 6 months should be fed three times a day, and puppies that are six months and older should be fed twice a day.

How do I find out if my Labrador has food allergies?

Common symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and loss of appetite are possible indicators of food allergies. Other symptoms include itchy skin, sneezing, coughing, and repeated ear infections. Consult with your veterinarian if you suspect your lab has food allergies.

What are the common food allergies in Labradors?

Some common food items that your Labrador can be allergic to are beef, wheat, dairy, soy, chicken, and eggs.

When is the right time to switch my lab puppy to adult food?

Typically, the right time to switch your Labrador puppy to adult dog food is between 12 and 18 months of age. However, it is important to consider their growth and size before making the transition.

How much exercise does my Labrador need?

The level of exercise recommended for your lab depends on his age and overall health. However, as a rule of thumb, a healthy adult Labrador needs at least one hour of exercise daily. For puppies, follow the rule of five minutes exercise for every month of age.

What type of food is best for labs?

You can feed almost every type of food to your Labrador ranging from home-cooked meals to raw versions. However, kibble is considered by many to be the best.

What’s the best source of protein for Labradors, and how much is sufficient?

The best sources of high-quality protein for Labradors come from poultry, lamb, and beef when combined with additional protein sources, such as fish meal, fish, eggs, and plant-based proteins. For lab puppies, the protein level in food should be around 22%. Adult dogs require a minimum of 18% protein for the maintenance of lean muscle mass. It is important to note that protein is a calorie-dense nutrient, and too much of it can put your Labrador at the risk of obesity and other health problems associated with it.

Is grain-free diet options preferable for Labradors?

Grain-free diets aren’t the best option for Labradors or other large breed dogs unless they are sensitive or allergic to grains.

What foods should I never give to my Labrador?

Foods that you should never give your labs include almonds, chocolate, cinnamon, garlic, coffee, macadamia nuts, grapes, tomatoes (green), raisins, onion, and nutmeg powder.

Which vegetables are great for feeding Labradors?

The best and safest vegetables for your lab include potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, cauliflowers, green beans, edamame, sweet potatoes, and peas.

Can I give all types of fruits to my Labrador?

The best fruits for dogs include cantaloupe, apples, blueberries, bananas, blackberries, oranges, peaches, and strawberries. Avoid feeding grapes to your lab.

How to maintain the ideal weight of my Labrador?

The most dependable way to control your dog’s growing weight is to avoid feeding high carbohydrate and high-fat foods to them. Switch to a protein that’s less calorie-dense. Also, avoid food rich in fiber. Do not restrict food but control portion size while simultaneously increasing their exercise time to bring them back to their ideal weight.

Buyer’s Guide

Important Things You Need to Know About a Labrador

Labradors are one of the most popular dog breeds among dog lovers and for good reasons. They make the perfect pet – thanks to their goofy, friendly personalities and hyper-active, fun-loving temperaments. But that adorable little puppy can grow into a 50-80-pound hound at maturity, and that’s when it becomes even more crucial to ensure that you are giving them the best diet to thrive.

This overly energetic dog is prone to gaining too much weight too fast and, thus, requires regular exercise to maintain their ideal weight. If you have an active family, Labradors are indeed going to be a great fit. However, you need to be very careful when it comes to their dietary needs.

I’ve created this list of best dog food options for your Labrador, but there are various specifications and considerations unique to your dog that you should take into account before picking the one that’s right for your dog. Let’s dive into those details.

Feeding Your Labs – Special Considerations

As a general rule, this large-breed, high-energy dogs require a diet rich in proteins and fats. It’s especially important if you have a high drive dog that expends a lot of energy during the day. But even within a single breed like the Labrador Retriever, the temperament and personality can vary so much from dog to dog that creating a single recipe to cover every dog is a Herculean task.

Because they are large and like living that way too, labs need quality calories to fuel their active lifestyle. Active labs should do well with roughly 30-40 calories per pound of their body weight. This same equation applies to growing Labrador puppies.

Just like us, some dogs burn calories more efficiently than others. Because labs can be prone to obesity, you don’t want to overfeed them. Each extra pound can lead to problems later on in your lab’s life.

Picking the best food for your Labrador Retriever means pondering protein. Protein is crucial as it fuels muscle maintenance and muscle growth in young and older labs alike.

The ideal protein content falls between 20% – 30% for most large breed dogs. Dogs who are actively growing can tolerate a slightly higher percentage.

Fat content is also an important consideration. Since these high-energy dogs are often bred as working dogs, they can have large appetites. But please remember that not all labs are alike. If your lab is more couch potato than Olympic tennis ball retriever, then you need to adjust their food accordingly. The ideal range falls between 10% and 15%.

For carbohydrates, let’s keep the quantity fairly low. Most of the food options you will find in this article have very limited carbohydrates to ensure optimal health maintenance of your pooch.

Labrador Diet and Health Issues

In addition to considering all the above-mentioned factors when choosing the best dog food for your lovely lab, you must also take into account the risk for certain health issues. It is important to remember that Labradors are prone to developing food allergies and you will need to adjust their diets to foods that avoid these allergens.

Even though labs may act like Superdog, they are subject to the vagaries of life just like other breeds. Fortunately, many of the health issues that you may encounter with this breed can be treated with a healthy diet and proper care.

The most common health issues in labs are:

  • Knee problems
  • Hips and elbow dysplasia
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Epilepsy
  • Osteochondrosis
  • Cataracts

Furthermore, you must also beware of bloat, which can be a life-threatening situation for your dog. This usually occurs when your dog’s stomach is filled with too much air that can disconnect blood flow. It happens when your dog eats too fast, eats too much, or consume a lot of air while eating. It is strictly prohibited to feed your Labrador soon after their exercise session and use a special slow-feed bowl to keep them from eating too much or too fast.

As mentioned earlier, Labradors are highly vulnerable to obesity despite being the active breed it is. They love eating – anything and everything! And that can put them at risk for unhealthy weight gain. In addition to picking a nutritionally appropriate food, you must follow your vet’s recommendation and feed them according to their weight, size, age, and activity level.

What Do You Need to Look For In the Best Dog Food For Your Lab

Your dog depends on you to make the best choices for them, and picking a proper diet is a very important choice.

Some things are more important than others when it comes to making the best food choices for your Labrador, and the following should be at the top of your list:

Animal-Based Protein: With Labradors, it is best to stick to lean proteins to give them an ideal balance of nutrients without putting them at risk of weight gain.  Optimal protein guarantees the maintenance of lean muscle mass in your super active dog.

Controlled Fat Content: Fats are not only essential for fatty acids but also as a source of concentrated calories for your dogs. They are necessary for a healthy coat and skin as well as cognitive development. However, it is equally necessary to ensure low-to-moderate levels of fat to avoid going excessive with calories.

Digestible Ingredients: Dogs can have naturally sensitive stomachs. To avoid seeing the signs and symptoms of digestive sensitivities, make sure the food you pick has highly digestible ingredients like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to help your dog maintain a healthy gut.

Nutritionally Balanced: The key is to stick to a food option that’s not only complete but nutritionally balanced. In addition to the nutrients mentioned above, make sure there’s an adequate amount of minerals and vitamins in the blend to support optimal nutrient absorption.

And now that you are more aware of your pooch’s nutritional needs don’t forget to check out our top picks for the best Labrador food we have reviewed for you and make a wise choice for your darling’s health!

Check out these related guides as well:


Further reading:

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