The 7 Best Dog Foods for Labs

By Kevin Myers | 2020 Update

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

Sometimes I think ignoring “sad puppy face” is one of the most difficult things on the planet…But if we want out 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 it is acceptable to give your dog treats now and then, making the right food choices for your pup 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 for your lab’s optimal health isn’t as straightforward as you might like. And that’s why we have covered these important details in this guide.

I use a 40 point inspection list to evaluate all of the dog foods I recommend… And considered things like ingredient analysis, customer reviews, brand repute, and more.

Let’s dive in…

The Best Dog Foods for Labs

Best Labrador Dog FoodsRatingTop Ingredients
1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Large Breed Chicken & Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food
(Editor’s Pick)
4.9Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal…
2. Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Dog Food4.7Lamb, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes…
3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food4.7Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice…
4. Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food4.7Chicken By-Product Meal, Brown Rice, Oat Groats…
5. Earthborn Holistic Large Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food4.6Chicken Meal, Peas, Tapioca…

How to Switch Dog Food Without Getting Your Pup Sick


Labrador Dog Food Reviews

1. Wellness — CORE Grain-Free Large Breed Chicken & Turkey Recipe Dry Dog Food

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

Formulated with nutrients like chondroitin and glucosamine, this recipe is a great option for promoting healthy joints and bones. That makes it ideal for all kinds of large breed adult dogs, including your beloved Lab.

This delicious meal has an excellent balance of nutritional supplements and high-quality animal proteins extracted from deboned chicken, turkey meal, and chicken meal. As a bonus, this grain-free formula is also free from fillers, by-products, and gluten.


2. Taste of the Wild — Sierra Mountain Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

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

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the variety of options available in the market 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 with the flavors of roasted lamb.

It contains highly digestible proteins along with peas and sweet potatoes to give your large breed dog the fuel they need 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.


3. Blue Buffalo — Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

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

The superior quality of this life-protection formula guarantees the optimal health and well-being of your lab. It features real meat, garden fruits and vegetables, and a precise blend of essential nutrients to fulfill all of your dog’s nutritional requirements. Give your large-breed dog the best dietary support for great health and development.

Analysis: Protein (min.) 26%, Fat (min.) 15%, Fiber (max.) 5%, Moisture (max.) 10%


4. Royal Canin — Labrador Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food

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

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 right 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 it certainly deserves its place in the top 5 foods for Labrador Retrievers.


5. Earthborn Holistic — Large Breed Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Top 5 Ingredients:  1. Chicken Meal, 2. Peas, 3. Tapioca, 4. Chicken Fat, 5. Ground Flaxseed

This Earthborn’s large breed dog food is an excellent source of nutrition for dogs that can weigh 50 pounds or more at maturity. The crunchy kibble is formulated to maintain a precise balance of protein, carbs, and fat to craft the nutrition that your lab needs for stronger joints and bones, and overall great health. The blend is both gluten-free and grain-free and supports a healthy digestive system.


6. Brothers Complete — Turkey Meal & Egg Formula Advanced Allergy Care Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

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

Give your dog a natural diet free from ingredients that could be possible allergens for your pooch. The meal is crafted with care and is grain-free and loaded with 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 the overall health and vitality of your lab.


7. Wellness — Large Breed Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

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

Maintain your Labrador’s optimal weight with a complete and balanced diet that’s perfect for everyday nutrition. Its large kibble size is a good option for large and giant breed dogs. It is made with a delicious combination of deboned chicken and regulated calories; the nutrients are perfect for building and maintaining lean muscle mass. The formula is free of corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors and colors, and meat by-products, which are cheap ingredients and common allergens.


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:

More Top Rated Dog Foods for Labradors

8. Chicken Soup For The Soul — Large Breed Chicken, Turkey & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

This holistic diet guarantees a combination of all-natural ingredients and balanced nutrition for your large-breed dog. It contains supreme-quality protein extracted from chicken and turkey, and other essential nutrients to support your lab’s health, wellness, and happiness. This formula is created under expert supervision and is rich in essential omegas for healthy skin and a shiny coat.


9. CANIDAE — Grain-Free PURE Healthy Weight Real Chicken & Pea Recipe Dry Dog Food

Your precious pooch is naturally prone to obesity, which puts him 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 pea to keep the blend nutritionally rich and highly digestible to keep your dog at a healthy weight.


10. American Journey — Large Breed Chicken & Brown Rice Protein First Recipe Dry Dog Food

The unique formula boasts a great combination of high-quality ingredients, including chicken and brown rice. While this guarantees an optimum amount of protein, the supplemental fiber is another reason why this diet option is so popular among Labrador owners. The highly digestible formula includes whole-grain carbs, vegetables, and fruits as natural sources for essential nutrients to round out this nutritious meal.


11. Dr. Gary’s Best Breed — Holistic Field Dry Dog Food

Dr. Gary’s special formula is a high-protein, high-energy recipe popular with Labrador owners. Among the various significant nutrients, this blend of kibble 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 for your luck lab.


12. Sport Dog Food — Active Series Field Dog Chicken & Sweet Potato Formula Flax-Free Dry Dog Food

If you are looking for an ideal diet for your highly active Labrador, the Sport Dog Active Series Field Dog Formula should be on top of your list. The recipe features a traditional, nutritionally-balanced formula with high-protein ingredients like chicken and fish to support great health and promote lean muscles. The rich and high-energy formula is also popular with other high energy, large breed dogs.


13. AvoDerm — Natural Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula Large Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

Feed your large breed dog a recipe loaded with essential nutrients derived from an excellent combination of supreme-quality ingredients. Your Labrador deserves nothing but the best, and this recipe has it all! The best part about this food option is the addition of avocados. The fruit is a rich source of essential omegas, vitamins, and minerals to keep your lab’s exterior shiny and in great condition. This diet is designed for adult dogs and may not be suitable for puppies.


14. Wilderness Blue Buffalo — High Protein Dry Adult Dog Food

This protein-packed option by Wilderness Blue Buffalo is based on a dietary formula that imitates that of wolves. The idea is to pick the best ingredients found in nature to craft a recipe that’s most natural to canines; this ensures providing the best of nutrition to your labs and other large breed dogs for optimal development and maintenance. The recipe includes LifeSouce Bits, a combination of superfoods loaded with antioxidants for more health benefits.


15. Diamond — Naturals Extreme Athlete Formula Dry Dog Food

The Extreme Athlete by Diamond Naturals boasts more than 50% protein, the majority of which is extracted from natural chicken meal. The unique combination of ingredients includes papaya, chicory root, and blueberries to add the essential vitamins and nutrients to the blend. Fill up your Labrador’s bowl with the goodness of high-quality nutrition packed in crunchy kibble.


16. Merrick — Grain-Free Real Buffalo, Beef + Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

This grain-free formula by Merrick is lip-smacking delicious for your dog. It also supports great digestion for pups with a sensitive stomach and digestive issues. Formulated with the real flavors of deboned buffalo, sweet potatoes, and beef, the blend is rich in minerals and vitamins for a complete and balanced everyday nutrition for your beloved Labrador!


17. Natural Balance — L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

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 the Natural Balance gives you the satisfaction of handpicked ingredients that the nutrition needed to help your lab stay healthy and active.


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