Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers 

By Britt Kascjak

Are you currently shopping for the best dog food for your Golden Retriever? If so, you may be feeling overwhelmed with all the options currently available.

How do you choose between different protein options, nutritional formulas, and flavors?

To select the best food for your Golden Retriever, you will need to consider several essential factors.

This includes your dog’s age, activity levels, and any food allergies or sensitivities. You will also need to factor in if your dog has any health problems or unique needs.

To help you get started, here are 8 high-quality food choices that are ideal for a Golden Retriever.

Nutritional Needs of Golden Retrievers

When selecting food for your Golden Retriever, there are a few important things to consider.

One of the most important nutrients for large breed adult dogs like Golden Retrievers is protein content. This not only provides energy but also serves other functions in the body.

Protein helps to build and repair tissues, supports bone and muscle health, and boosts the immune system.

The recommended protein intake for a healthy adult Golden Retriever is at least 18%. If your chosen food falls below this, consider supplementing with a food topper.

Next, look at the food’s fat content.

Healthy fats are needed for the functioning and development of tissue, nerves, and muscles. Your Golden Retriever needs at least 5% fat content.

Finally, you can look at food options to prevent or manage common health issues. In Golden Retrievers, this includes:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Eye conditions such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy
  • Herat diseases including subvalvular aortic stenosis

They are also prone to experiencing a higher rate of dental problems and ear infections.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a great way to support joint health as well as offer relief from arthritis. From a young age, this can help manage hip and elbow problems for a better quality of life.

These helpful fatty acids are also associated with better heart health. They can protect against stroke and heart disease.

A great source of omega-3 fatty acids is a salmon oil supplement added to your dog’s food. 

Food that is high in beta-carotene is known to support better eye health. Some examples include:

  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Cantelope

All those foods can be incorporated into food toppers for a healthy nutritional boost.

Nutritional Needs of a Golden Retriever Puppy

If your Golden Retriever is still in the puppy stage, his nutritional needs are a little different. At this age, you need to provide the nutrients for a growing body.

This includes supporting the development of his brain, heart, muscles, bones, and teeth.

Food for large breed puppies should have higher calories and protein than most foods for adult dogs. This will provide the energy needed for even the most active Golden Retriever puppies.

The exact amount of protein needed will decrease steadily as your puppy ages. 

You should also search for foods with calcium, healthy fats, and digestible carbohydrates.

For dog owners searching for commercial food options, there are many great puppy-specific formulas available. But, if you plan on making your own, you should consult a qualified nutritionist for support.

Nutritional Needs of a Senior Golden Retriever

As your Golden Retriever enters his senior years, his nutritional needs change slightly.

At this age, you want to avoid high-calorie counts and excess nutrients. Instead, you should offer food with a proper balance of fat, phosphorus, protein, and sodium.

One concern unique to older dogs is hydration.

Many older dogs struggle to keep up with proper hydration, failing to drink enough water. You can combat this with wet dog food or by adding water to hydrate the kibble.

Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

Front of the Pack Chicken Air-Dried Dog Food

Top High Quality Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Product Details

  • Organic and all natural ingredients 
  • Formulated and approved by veterinarians
  • Air-dried to lock in flavor and nutrients
  • Organic cage free chicken meat (no chicken meal)

Who Should Buy This Food

This food is a great option for dog owners that are looking for the optimal nutritional value of fresh food. Being air-dried, it’s also conveniently ready to serve.

It is with organic fruits and vegetables and the highest quality USDA meat. Front of the Pack’s recipe was formulated by veterinarians and nutritional scientists to provide all of the essential nutrients dogs need from their food. Their food is also free of artificial flavors, gluten, and chicken by product meal.

You won’t find a better food for adult golden retrievers than this!

Our Rating

5 stars out of 5

Wild Earth

Best plant based dog food for golden retrievers

Wild Earth Dog Food details

  • High in protein
  • Cruelty free with clean ingredients
  • Infused with vitamins and minerals
  • Savory umami flavor

Who should buy Wild Earth dog food

If you want a plant based or vegan dog food option for your Golden Retriever, but you don’t want to comprise on quality protein and nutrition then Wild Earth is worth looking at. This dog food is also great for Golden retrievers with allergies to chicken or other meat based proteins.

Wild Earth is specifically formulated to provide your Golden retriever with the crude protein, fats, and vitamins they need to live a full and healthy life. The savory umami flavor means their will be plenty of drool and not a lot of dog food left in your Golden Retriever’s bowl after mealtime!

Our rating

5 Stars out of 5

We Feed Raw

Best Raw Diet Dog food for Golden Retrievers

Dog food details

  • Made with a cold pressure process to eliminate harmful pathogens
  • Made up of meaty meat, organ meat, and bone according to AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages
  • Formulated by a PhD animal nutritionist with over 30 years of experience in raw feeding and animal nutrition.

Who should buy We Feed Raw Dog Food

Golden retriever Owners who want to feed their dog a raw diet but don’t want to go through the hassle of meal planning the right types of raw ingredients, or who don’t want to formulate their dog’s diet themselves.

We Feed Raw combines safety, convenience, and the nutritional benefits of eating raw. If you’re serious about the raw diet this is the brand for you.

Our Rating

5 starts out of 5

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers with Allergies

Product Details

  • Single animal protein source to reduce risk of allergies
  • Formulated to support the digestive system and immune system
  • Omega-3 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat

Who Should Buy This Food

If your dog suffers from food allergies, this is a great option. The limited ingredient recipe greatly reduces the risk of allergies. It also works well for grain free diets.

Despite the limited ingredients, the recipe using salmon and sweet potatoes is a complete and nutritionally balanced diet.

Our Rating

4 stars out of 5

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food

Best Dry Food for Golden Retrievers

Product Details

  • Designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of the breed
  • Contains taurine, EPA, and DHA to support heart health
  • Formulated to help dogs reach and maintain a healthy weight

Who Should Buy This Food

This food was specifically created to meet the needs of the Golden Retriever, not just any large dog. This includes addressing some of the more common health concerns.

Even the kibble shape is designed to encourage chewing with the breed’s mouth shape in mind.

Our Rating

5 stars out of 5

Purina Pro Plan High Protein DHA Lamb & Rice Formula Puppy Food

Best Food for Golden Retriever Puppy

Product Details

  • Omega-rich fish oil to support brain and vision development
  • High-protein formula to build lean muscle
  • Calcium and Phosphorus for growing strong bones and teeth
  • Lamb and whole grain brown rice

Who Should Buy This Food

Dog owners with a young puppy need to choose a food that can meet the demands of a growing body. This includes providing for the development of all the body’s key systems.

This food is nutritionally packed and high in protein. It was formulated with an energetic puppy in mind.

Our Rating

5 stars out of 5

Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula

Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers with Sensitive Stomach

Product Details

  • Fortified with live probiotics and prebiotic fiber
  • Omega fatty acids to boost skin and coat health
  • No corn, wheat, or soy

Who Should Buy This Food

If you have a dog that suffers from a sensitive stomach, a highly-digestible food is important. This high-protein food is fortified with live probiotics and prebiotic fiber.

The recipe features oatmeal in place of other, harder-to-digest grains for a food that is gentle on the stomach.

Our Rating

5 stars out of 5

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon & Chicken Grill Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Best Wet Food for Golden Retrievers

Product Details

  • Free from grain, gluten, corn, soy, wheat, and by-product meals
  • Contains high-protein organ meat
  • High moisture content to improve hydration

Who Should Buy This Food

This high-protein, nutrient-rich food can be fed as a complete meal or mixed with dry kibble. It’s a flavorful food with a strong scent to entice even the pickiest eater.

Wet dog foods like this are a great choice for dogs that may struggle to get enough daily hydration.

Our Rating

4 stars out of 5

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Reduced Fat Turkey & Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best Weight Loss Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Product Details

  • Omega fatty acids and glucosamine for healthy joints
  • Fortified with taurine for heart health
  • High-protein, reduced-fat recipe encourages lean body mass

Who Should Buy This Food

This specially formulated food is a great choice for dogs that need to lose weight. The balanced, nutrient-rich diet will encourage lean body mass and muscle tone.

It has been formulated with omega fatty acids, glucosamine, probiotics, taurine, and antioxidants.

Our Rating

4 stars out of 5

Taste of the Wild High Prarie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Best Grain Free Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Product Details

  • Contains species-specific K9 Strain Proprietary Probiotics
  • Made with novel proteins to reduce allergies
  • Free from grains, corn, and wheat

Who Should Buy This Food

Whether your dog has grain allergies, sensitivities, or intolerances, this is a great option. Its high-protein formula provides energy while for even the most active pups.

This food was crafted with real fruits and superfoods. It is a complete and balanced diet with all essential nutrients. 

Our Rating

5 stars out of 5

Buying Guide

What’s the Worst Dog Food for Golden Retrievers?

Golden Retrievers are highly susceptible to heart-related problems. Specifically, they are at high risk for aortic stenosis.

Considering the risks that already exist, you should avoid feeding anything that could put added stress on the heart.

The FDA has been studying a possible link between certain dog foods and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). The foods in question are grain-free and contain high levels of peas and legumes.

You should also avoid low-quality dog foods that are full of fillers.

These foods are often responsible for unwanted weight gain and obesity. As Golden Retrievers are at risk for hip and elbow dysplasia, the extra weight can lead to problems.

When to Switch a Golden Retriever From Puppy Food

When it comes to deciding on the right time to switch from the puppy food, there are a few signs you can watch for.

The first, and most common sign, is your puppy’s age.

A general rule of thumb is that your puppy will reach adolescence and near his adult size by 12 to 18 months. But, larger dogs like Golden Retrievers grow slower than small breeds.

But, no two dogs will grow at the exact same rate.

A more accurate way to make this decision is by tracking and assessing your dog’s growth. Your puppy should continue to eat puppy food until he reaches 75 to 85% of his full-grown size.

There are also some common behavioral queues that you can watch out for. These occur as your dog makes the transition from puppy to adolescence.

Signs that your puppy may be ready to move to adult food include:

  • He often goes to the bathroom immediately following meal times
  • He is losing interest in his puppy food
  • He isn’t finishing all his puppy food each meal
  • He is starting to sleep more and play less than he was during the high-energy puppy stage

To be sure that you are making the best decision for your puppy, contact your veterinarian. They can help you assess the many signs and make an educated decision.

When it comes to make the switch, you should do the transition over 10 to 14 days. This will allow his body to adjust to the new food gradually.

To begin, mix your Golden Retriever’s food so that it is 75% puppy food and 25% adult food.

After he has been eating this ratio for a few days, you can then move to 50/50 for a few days. The next step is 25% puppy food and 75% adult food.

As you reach the end of your 10-14 days, your puppy should be eating adult food completely.

How Much Should You Feed a Golden Retriever a Day?

When deciding how much to feed your Golden Retriever, the food you choose is important. On the food packaging, you will find recommended feeding guidelines.

These guidelines break down the specific nutrition and calorie count in that product.

Most feeding guidelines are based on your dog’s size or weight. But, foods designed to work for all life stages may also include age as a factor.

Higher-quality dog food is more nutrient-dense. This means that your dog needs to eat less to get the nutrition that he needs.

On the other end of the spectrum, budget dog foods contain a lot of fillers to keep production costs down. For your dog to get all the nutrients he needs, he will need to eat more.

The average Golden Retriever will eat approximately 3 to 5 cups of food each day.

Another factor to consider is your dog’s individual metabolism and lifestyle. This is why many feeding guidelines recommend a range instead of a single measurement.

If you have a highly active Golden Retriever, you may want to start at the higher end of that range. This will provide the extra calories needed to maintain his high energy levels.

But, if your dog is calmer and more laid back, you can start on the lower end of the range.

Finally, watch your dog’s weight over time. If you notice that he is gaining unwanted weight, lower his food intake slightly. If he is losing weight, increase his food.

If adjusting your dog’s food doesn’t remedy the weight loss or weight gain, call your vet. There may be a medical reason that needs to be addressed.

Are Eggs Good for Golden Retrievers?

Eggs are not only a safe treat, they are packed with nutrients. They are a great source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron
  • Protein
  • Fatty Acids
  • Folate
  • Riboflavin
  • Selenium

But, there are a few things to consider when feeding your dog eggs.

If you are feeding eggs as a dietary supplement, the quality of the eggs matters.

The best eggs are those that come from free-range hens that are fed an organic diet. This may mean finding a local farmer to source your eggs.

While some dog owners will feed raw eggs, most veterinarians recommend cooking them. This will reduce the risk of contracting salmonella.

It also deactivates an enzyme called avidin in the egg whites. If active, avidin can prevent the body from absorbing biotin, an important vitamin.

As with any new food, consult your veterinarian before giving it to your dog. This is especially important if your dog has any medical conditions to consider.

What Should an Adult Golden Retriever Eat?

An active, adult Golden Retriever should be fed high-quality, balanced dog food. Due to their high energy levels, most Golden Retrievers will thrive on high-protein food.

There are many different types of food that you can consider for your dog.

Deciding on the best type of food will mean weighing the pros and cons for your dog as an individual. There is no one-size-fits-all right answer.

Some dogs will thrive on a premium kibble diet. Others will do better eating wet food or fresh food.

If you do feed a kibble diet, you can supplement your dog’s food by adding fresh food toppers. By adding fresh fruits or vegetables, you can boost the nutritional value of each meal.

You can also provide your dog with some variation in his meals by rotating between options.

Some fruits and vegetables that are healthy for your Golden Retriever to eat include:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cranberries
  • Cucumbers
  • Green Beans
  • Green Peas
  • Mango
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin
  • Raspberries
  • Snow Peas
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Watermelon

Some dog owners will also add fresh animal proteins to their dog’s regular diet.

But, pay careful attention to the calories added to each meal and adjust accordingly. As you add calories in the form of fresh foods, you should reduce the calories from kibble.

Otherwise, your dog may start to experience unwanted weight gain. If it continues, this can lead to obesity and the health complications that come with it.

Can Golden Retrievers Eat A Homemade Diet?

If you are interested in cooking for your dog, that is a great option. But, you need to be careful to make sure you are feeding a balanced diet.

A quick search online will turn up hundreds of different homemade dog food recipes.

Unfortunately, many of these do not come from knowledgeable sources. This means that the diets are often lacking in important nutrients.

The best source for information about homemade foods is a qualified pet nutritionist.

A good way to find a nutritionist if by searching the American College of Veterinary Nutrition directory. If you can’t find a local professional, you may be able to connect with one online.

Not only can a nutritionist help you create a balanced diet plan, but it can also be customized to your dog’s needs.

This is a great way to feed dogs that are faced with medical issues like inflammatory bowel disease.

Another resource for helping you feed a balanced diet is the website BalanceIT. This site was created and is managed by board-certified veterinary nutritionists.

To use it, select the ingredients that you would like to include in your dog’s meal. It will then provide you with balanced recipes that include these items.

Each of these recipes includes all the essential nutrients your dog needs to be healthy. It will also recommend supplements where necessary.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions during this process. Your veterinarian is a great source of valuable information.

What are Golden Retrievers Allergic to?

A common issue faced by many Golden Retriever owners is food allergies.

Like people, a dog can develop an allergy or intolerance to nearly any type of food. But, some food allergies are more common than others.

The most common food allergies in dogs are:

  • Chicken
  • Chicken eggs
  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Dairy products
  • Lamb
  • Wheat (Gluten)
  • Corn
  • Soy

Some dogs will refuse food if they are experiencing an allergy. This happens when they see the connection between eating the food and feeling ill.

Some common signs that your dog is experiencing a food allergy include:

  • Excessive itching
  • Skin and ear infections
  • Hives
  • Gas or bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy

The easiest way to treat food allergies is to remove the allergen from your dog’s diet. But, how do you know what he is allergic to?

There are allergy tests that be conducted. Unfortunately, they are not always accurate and can be pricey.

Instead, most veterinarians and nutritionists will recommend using an elimination diet.

This means switching your dog to an extremely limited diet. It should be free from the most common allergens.

You can then slowly add an ingredient back in one at a time, giving time to see if your dog reacts.

When you have identified your dog’s allergies, you can now manage them properly. Make sure to watch any food or treats to prevent him from eating the offending ingredient.

Conclusion: Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

When shopping for your Golden Retriever, there are many great, high-quality dog foods.

Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula is a highly-digestible food. It not only provides a balanced diet but also helps to improve skin and coat health.

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food is a great choice for a highly specialized diet. This dry dog food will address all the most common breed-related health concerns.

But, the best food on our list is the Front of the Pack Chicken Air-Dried Dog Food.

Made from fresh ingredients, it is air-dried to lock in the nutritional value. At the same time, this makes the food a convenient, ready-to-serve option.

This premium food will provide for all your Golden Retriever’s nutritional needs. At the same time, it’s full of flavor to entice any dog to dig in.

Photo of author
Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.