Golden retrievers are fun, loyal, and playful companions. Hence, most fur-parents wish to give them only the best golden retriever dog food. This means reading through countless guides for recommendations.
However, the easiest way to determine the most suitable dog food for your golden retriever is actually to know your buddy and his needs. For example, is he an adult, a puppy, or a senior?
Is he active like most retrievers, or does he laze around a lot with you? Moreover, what are his favorite flavors and which ingredients would you like to see in his meals?
Once you answer those, it should be easy to pick from a list of dog food brands for golden retrievers. By knowing what your furbaby needs and prefers, you’ll swiftly spot the best food for him.
What's in this Guide?
The Best Dog Foods For Golden Retrievers In 2021
|Best Overall||Royal Canin Golden Retriever Dog Food|
|Runner Up||Diamond Naturals For Large Breeds|
|Best Dry Food||Taste Of The Wild Dry Dog Food|
|Best For Puppies||Blue Buffalo Wilderness|
|Best For Seniors||Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food|
Best Overall: Royal Canin Golden Retriever Dog Food
If you can’t decide on which dog food to buy, consider Royal Canin Golden Retriever Dog Food. It’s the best golden retriever food overall due to its nutritional value and food shape.
If you’ve been paying close attention to your retriever, you know just how important it is to have a healthy and shiny coat. Similarly, you know it’s crucial for their hearts to be optimized to function properly. This food features taurine, EPA, and DHA, which will help with that.
Likewise, it’s packed with the necessary daily vitamins and minerals golden retrievers should have. You won’t find any fillers or unnecessary ingredients in here.
Consequently, if your buddy has been having gastrointestinal issues, Royal Canin may solve your problem. Quite a lot of fur-parents had noticed a great deal of relief from gastrointestinal issues from their retrievers after switching to Royal Canin.
Moreover, they have this exclusive kibble shape designed with the retriever’s mouth in mind. They’re big, and they encourage chewing and actual enjoyment of the meal.
However, note that this food comes in just one flavor. If your buddy loves variety, he can get bored pretty quickly on having chicken-flavored meals every day. Your buddy also needs to be at least 15 months old before you start him on this.
- Contains taurine, EPA, and DHA
- Can clear gastrointestinal issues
- Big kibble design
- Only available in chicken flavor
Runner Up: Diamond Naturals for Large Breeds
Consider getting Diamond Naturals for Large Breeds if you’re looking for a natural dog food packed with high-quality nutrients. Unlike many products, this food comes in two flavors: lamb and rice and chicken and rice.
Its highlight is its all-natural ingredients, which makes it perfect for sensitive golden retrievers. Pasture-raised animals make up the bulk of the food, while superfoods like chia seeds, coconut, quinoa, and kale complete the meal.
Often, you’ll notice an increase in energy on your buddy when he’s on Diamond for large breed Naturals. No fillers or artificial flavorings and preservatives are used here, too, so your furbaby won’t be consuming anything he doesn’t need.
Likewise, vitamins such as potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6, zinc, and copper are also prevalent in Diamond Naturals. They’re mixed in with probiotics to help your buddy’s digestive tract.
You’ll also be guaranteed better joint function for your retriever since it features chondroitin and glucosamine. If you’ve had an older dog before, you’ll know just how important this is.
So, if you’re looking for the best golden retriever food with natural ingredients, give Diamond Natural a try. It comes in two flavors and a special mix for puppies, and it’s widely available in the market.
- All-natural ingredients
- Available in two flavors
- Has a puppy version
- Packed with vitamins
- Loaded with superfoods
Best Dry Food: Taste Of the Wild Dry Dog Food
Another great dog food for golden retrievers is Taste of the Wild. It’s a dry food that comes in both a grain-free and grain-packed version.
Some fur-parents may opt to go grain-free for various reasons, and if you’re one of them, you may want to check out this product. Despite having no grains, it’s still guaranteed to be nutrition-packed.
Meanwhile, the grain-packed version features millet, sorghum, chia, and quinoa seeds. These grains are high in protein, so they’ll suit your furbaby well if they’re highly active.
However, this food only comes in one flavor and three versions: grain-packed bison and venison roast, grain-free bison and venison roast, and grain-free bison and venison for puppies. It shouldn’t be that much of a problem for your buddy since it’s quite tasty, but he could eventually get bored with just one flavor.
On the other hand, there’s not really much to complain about if your buddy’s getting great stuff like vitamins, probiotics, and antioxidants, especially if it comes in a tasty flavor.
More importantly, as long as your furbaby enjoys his food well enough, displays a healthier coat, shows a higher amount of energy, and isn’t having any stomach issues, you should be good.
- Has a puppy version
- Can be grain-free or grain-packed
- Doesn’t have artificial flavors
- Only available in bison and venison flavor
- Filled with antioxidants, probiotics, and vitamins
Best for Puppies: Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed
Golden retriever puppies need high levels of protein and low levels of calcium in their food. Since they belong to large dog breeds, it’s vital for them to have dog food that’s optimized for their breed.
You’ll want to save your furbaby from future pain that’ll stem from bone issues due to too much calcium intake. So, you may want to pick a dog food like Blue Buffalo Wilderness.
Likewise, it features a grain-free, high protein, and high fat mixture that’s perfect for your growing puppy. Your little one will need a huge store of resources to draw his energy from as he grows and moves about.
You’ll also love how Blue Buffalo has antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids mixed into it to give your buddy the best nutrition he can get. With this, you’ll have a shiny coat, functional joints, and high energy levels.
Moreover, Blue Buffalo is available in various flavors, including chicken, lamb, beef, and venison.
- Optimized for large breed puppies
- High in protein and fats
- Available in different flavors
Best for Seniors: Merrick Grain-Free Dry Food
If your furbaby is a senior by now, you may be thinking of switching to a different, more senior-friendly brand. Often, dog food for older dogs is optimized to prevent dogs from developing certain diseases and health issues.
Merrick Grain-Free Dry Food is among the best dog food for senior golden retrievers. It boasts a grain-free mixture with deboned meat, fish, or poultry that’ll help maintain your buddy’s energy levels and muscle mass at an optimal level.
It also has omega 3 and fatty acids to support his joints, skin, and hips. Since your old buddy may not be as active anymore, those ingredients are must-haves to keep them healthy.
Likewise, you’ll find no preservatives or anything artificial in Merrick’s Dog Food. So, you can rest assured you’re feeding your buddy only the things he needs.
More importantly, Merrick has six tasty flavors your dog may love alternating with: buffalo and beef, lamb and sweet potato, buffalo, beef & potato, chicken and sweet potato, duck and sweet potato, and turkey.
If you’re the fur-parent of a picky, easily bored with food flavors kind of dog, then this may be perfect for you.
- Optimized for older dogs
- No preservatives or anything artificial
- Available in various flavors
Guide to Buying Food for Your Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers are large and active dogs, so it’s best to get them food that suits their lifestyle and size. This means you need to consider the dog food’s ingredients alongside your buddy’s age.
Dog Food Guide According to Age
If you have a golden retriever puppy, the best dog food for him is something with less calcium. Even as a puppy, your furbaby is already bound to grow big. So, giving him large amounts of calcium can highly result in bone problems in the future.
Most fur-parents choose to feed adult dog food to their puppies, but special food made for large breed puppies also exist. Often, these are the ones you need to opt for since they’re already optimized for your buddy.
Meanwhile, if your dog is already an adult, you shouldn’t have much of a problem when searching for the best dog food for golden retrievers. Pick the food depending on your buddy’s lifestyle, nutritional needs, and texture preferences.
Adult golden retriever dog food usually comes in a variety of flavors, so as long as your furbaby doesn’t have any known allergies, you’re free to alternate between them or pick his favorites. Just make sure the dog food is from a brand you trust and guarantees quality ingredients and great nutrients.
On the other hand, if your buddy is a senior by now, you’ll most likely have to be a bit picky when it comes to his food. The best option is to talk to a vet about your senior golden retriever’s dog food needs.
Old retrievers are less active, so they’ll need fewer calories. Likewise, their food intake should be focused on preventing diseases and complications. Sometimes, you may need to adjust his fiber and protein intake. Other times, you may continue feeding him regular dog food.
Dog Food Guide According to Ingredients
The best and easiest way to make sure your golden retriever is getting his necessary daily nutrients is by purchasing dog food specifically catering to their breed or to larger dog breeds.
Additionally, pay attention to the ingredients of the dog food. Generally, you’ll want to go for natural ingredients. This means you’ll need to check whether the food has fillers or artificial additives. Similarly, choose a dog food with high levels of protein and low levels of calcium.
Likewise, stick to bigger-shaped food as much as possible. Golden retrievers are more prone to bloating compared to smaller dogs, so the bigger food size helps.
You’ll also want to decide on whether or not you’d like your buddy to go grain-free or grain-packed. Some studies claimed that dilated cardiomyopathy is common to retrievers on grain-free diets, so you’ll want to keep that in mind.
However, grain-free dog food is usually the best choice for dogs showing allergic reactions.
Avoid these Dog Food Ingredients
When buying dog food for your golden retriever, be sure to read the labels and note the ingredients. Byproducts should be avoided at all costs because they don’t really give any nutrition to your furbaby.
Byproducts are often animal digest, such as intestines, viscera, feathers, feet, and heads. They work as fillers but aren’t good for your buddy in the long term.
Likewise, avoid anything that has BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, and sodium nitrite. These ingredients are suspected to cause cancer in dogs.
Lastly, stay away from artificial flavors, colors, and sugars as well. They’ll make your dog’s food look and taste better, but they won’t be healthy or helpful to your dog.
Reading Dog Food Labels
If you’re confused over what the dog food labels are trying to say, here’s a quick guide:
- Dog food ingredients are listed by weight. This means the first ingredient you spot is the main ingredient, while the last ingredient is the one with the least content.
- Dog food ingredients are listed specifically and individually. You’ll often see things like “meat meal,” “meat byproduct,” “ground barley,” “flaked barley,” and many other things on the ingredient list. They’re the same at their core – chicken is chicken and barley is barley – but each of their forms or versions are listed there.
- Meat simply listed as meat means exactly that on the ingredient list. This means chicken is chicken muscle, skin, and bones; venison is venison muscle, fat, and skin; and so on.
- Meat meal translates to a ground meat mixture. This could be any kind of meat that’s ground together with its skin and bones.
- Meat byproduct is an unnecessary ingredient in most dog food since they’re considered as throw-away or waste materials. These are usually beaks, feathers, feet, intestines, viscera, and heads.
Possible Golden Retriever Food Allergies
It’s a sad fact that all furbabies can develop allergies at any age and at any time. Grains are the most common cause of allergic reactions, but other ingredients could also start it. So, it’s best to talk to your vet when an allergic reaction occurs to diagnose its cause.
Symptoms of allergies are itchy skin, vomiting, diarrhea, dull coat, watery eyes, hives, swelling, and frequent ear infections. If your buddy develops a few of those, check with your vet as soon as possible.
Other golden retriever health issues include hypothyroidism, lymphoma, eye disorders, obesity, diabetes, and hip and elbow dysplasia. These can be prevented with proper nutrition, and that’s why picking the right dog food for your golden retriever is important.
Canine hip dysplasia is especially common to golden retrievers, starting even when they’re just puppies. This happens when your dog’s thigh bone can’t properly fit his hip socket. You can generally avoid it by being mindful of your puppy’s calcium intake.
Grain-Free Dog Food for Golden Retrievers
Grain-free dog food is an excellent option for sensitive dogs, but it also comes with its issues. Specifically, the risk of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) increases when dogs are on a grain-free diet.
DCM is a heart issue where your dog’s muscles can’t pump properly. When this happens, your dog’s heart can only do weak contractions. Eventually, his heart chambers will enlarge, and his heart valves may have leakages. This will then result in congestive heart failure.
Symptoms of DCM in golden retrievers are fainting, coughing, weakness, lethargy, shortness of breath, and an inability to exercise.
Golden Retriever Feeding Guide
When feeding your golden retriever, remember to opt for dog food that’s as natural as possible. This means you need to avoid artificial additives and go after real meat instead of flavored meat.
Likewise, factor in your buddy’s age and daily activities. Less active retrievers need about 1000 calories a day, while more active ones need about 1500.
You’ll also want to feed your buddy at the same time every day. Creating a routine like this will train your buddy about when to expect food. Besides that, he’d also have a consistent appetite during that time.
Lastly, if you’re switching from one dog food brand to another, try your best to make the transition a gradual one. This way, your buddy’s stomach will have enough time to adjust to the change.
How much and how often should you feed your golden retriever?
Generally, a golden retriever that’s two months old needs 1 ½ cups of food a day, while a three-month-old needs 2 cups, and a four-month-old should get 2 ½. Then, once he’s around five to six months old, he should have about 3 cups a day.
Feedings should be done three times a day until your furbaby is six months old. When he’s six months old, you can feed him just twice a day. Male golden retrievers will need 3 ½ to 4 cups a day, while females need to consume 3 cups.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many calories should a golden retriever consume?
The amount of calories your golden retriever should have every day depends on his age, gender, and health status. Generally, 1000 calories a day is considered the average and normal intake for golden retrievers.
However, if you have a pregnant or nursing golden retriever, you may need to up her calorie intake to somewhere around 2000. This goes for the more active retrievers as well, which should be around 1500 calories.
Is Wet or Fresh Food Better Than Dry?
Wet or fresh dog food isn’t really better than dry food. They still have the same nutritional value at their cores. The only difference is that wet food is easier to eat than dry food, which would suit dogs without teeth or dogs who need softer food.
Is a raw diet good for a golden retriever?
A raw diet has been shown to give retrievers shinier coats, cleaner teeth, and more muscle mass. Shinier coats were the result of not having to deal with food allergies, while cleaner teeth came from how a dog’s teeth are flossed and cleaned by the raw bones.
So, a raw diet is good for a golden retriever, but only if done right. Complications could arise if you’re not careful with this diet. This can include food poisoning. Likewise, it’ll also take up quite a lot of your time compared to simply feeding your buddy some dog food.
Is dairy good for a golden retriever?
Dairy isn’t good for most dogs. Dog’s digestive systems are very sensitive, so you’ll want to avoid them.
Are eggs good for a golden retriever?
Eggs contain a great amount of protein, so they’re good for golden retrievers every now and then.
Can I free-feed my golden retriever?
It’s a bad idea to free-feed your golden retriever. This is because they can get quite overboard. They also gain weight fast.
How much water should a golden retriever drink daily?
Golden retrievers are active breeds, so they need about 1 fluid ounce of water for every pound of their weight.
How can a golden retriever gain weight?
To encourage weight gain in your golden retriever, opt for dog food with carbohydrate-heavy ingredients such as potatoes and sweet potatoes. Likewise, try organ meat like liver.
How can a golden retriever lose weight?
A lean meat diet will work best on getting your golden retriever to lose weight. Consequently, lessen your buddy’s carbohydrate intake and stay away from dog food with fillers and artificial additives.
Is homemade food better for a golden retriever?
A homemade food diet is great in its own way, but the ones that can confirm its efficacy and potency are you and your furbaby. If your golden retriever is allergic to most dog food ingredients, a homemade food diet will be his best option.
Likewise, it’s the most logical and suitable option for you if you’re conscious about what your dog eats. If you opt for a homemade dog food diet, you’ll be able to control the exact ingredients of your dog’s meals.
On the other hand, a homemade food diet may not be better than a regular dog food diet if you have trouble keeping track of things. It can be hard to calculate the calories and such within the homemade food, and it can also be quite time-consuming.
The best dog food for golden retrievers is one that suits your furbaby’s needs the most. To figure out which brand can do that, note your dog’s age, daily activities, flavor preferences, and everyday needs.
Generally, golden retriever puppies need dog food specially designed with them in mind, while the adult golden retrievers can eat most of the dog food available in the market.
Remember to always read the dog food labels to ensure you’re getting your dog the best possible food.