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Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

golden retriever

This is our review of the best dog food for Golden Retrievers in 2020.

The best dog foods for this breed feature concentrated nutrition that supports heart health.

Goldens are beloved for their friendliness, intelligence, and confidence. But they are especially sensitive to dietary concerns that may cause health issues.

I’m a former veterinary technician who researched the best dog foods for Golden Retrievers to help you find the best food for your dog.

I found that Wellness Large Breed Adult Complete Health Dog Food is the best overall dog food for Goldens.

Every dog is an individual. So, I’ve included reviews of the best brands for every category of dog food for Golden Retrievers.

Let’s get started.

Our Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

10 Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

All dog foods included on this list meet the standard AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for dogs. [1] Always consult your veterinarian before making changes to your dog’s diet.

Wellness Large Breed Adult Complete Health Dog Food

Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Adult Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Barley, Peas
  • Key Feature: Comprehensive formula meets the specific needs of large breeds
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 340 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Overall

The complete health formula features a 26% crude protein content from four animal sources. This helps build lean muscle in athletic dogs like Golden Retrievers. [2] Chicken is the first ingredient, and this recipe does not contain any by-products.

Mixed tocopherols help prevent eye problems in predisposed breeds by protecting eye tissues. [3] Plus, this dog food also contains additional glucosamine to help ease joint discomfort in Goldens.

Added omega-3 fatty acids help promote a shiny coat, brain function, and cardiac health. [4] Healthy fats and taurine are essential for limiting the risk of heart problems in Golden Retrievers.

Whole food ingredients include sweet potatoes and barley as sources of complex carbohydrates. The formula does not contain any common allergens or fillers that may cause reactions in sensitive dogs.

Dog owners notice improved digestion and appreciate the bonus of less-smelly stools. However, some pet parents report that their pups did not like the taste.




Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Food

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn, Wheat Gluten, Chicken Fat, Wheat
  • Key Feature: Breed-specific formula exclusively for Golden puppies
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 27% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 5.9% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 338 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Breed-Specific
  • Life Stage: Growth
  • Best For: Golden Puppies

Puppies who do not receive adequate nutrition while growing can suffer from chronic conditions. So, providing a puppy food designed to meet a Golden’s unique needs is critical for your dog’s healthy development.

The formula features 27% protein and 338 kcal/cup to meet the higher protein needs of growing dogs without causing rapid growth. Rapid growth in large breeds is associated with developmental diseases like hip dysplasia. [5]

Fish oil and vegetable oil provide sources of healthy fats necessary to protect your puppy’s unique golden coat.

Additional antioxidants help support the developing immune systems of young dogs. And probiotics aid digestion.

Puppy parents like the exclusive kibble shape of this food designed for the scissor bite of their Golden Retrievers. However, this formula does contain corn and wheat, which can cause reactions in some dogs.




Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Senior Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Large Breed Senior Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal, Chicken Meal
  • Key Feature: Advanced nutritional support for large breed seniors
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 20% Crude Protein, 10% Crude Fat, 7% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 344 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy
  • Life Stage: Senior
  • Best For: Golden Seniors

A 20% crude protein content from real chicken meets the reduced protein needs of senior dogs. But, a higher 7% fiber content helps regulate sensitive digestive tracts in older Goldens.

Senior Golden Retrievers often stay active through their later years. Added L-Carnitine helps maintain muscle mass. And whole-grain ingredients provide digestible carbohydrates for energy.

This formula also includes advanced therapeutic nutrition to help keep mature pups comfortable. A precise blend of vitamins and minerals ensures that senior Goldens have adequate calcium to keep their bones healthy. [6]

Added glucosamine improves overall mobility while omega-3 fatty acids preserve brain and heart health.

Most dog owners find that their senior dogs like the taste of this dog food. Keeping weight on old dogs can be difficult, so a tasty formula is vital.

The exclusion of corn, wheat, and soy in this formula limits the potential for digestive upset.




Diamond Naturals Large Breed Adult Food

Wellness Complete Health Senior Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground White Rice
  • Key Feature: Affordable formula with high-quality ingredients
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 23% Crude Protein, 13% Crude Fat, 3.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 327 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Budget Golden Food

Diamond Naturals offers the same superfood ingredients and natural proteins of premium dog food at an affordable price. Examples of nutrient-dense ingredients include kale, pumpkin, and chia seeds.

This food’s 23% crude protein content comes from real chicken. Other budget products often rely on meat by-products as their first ingredient.

Nutritious vegetables and fruits provide a natural source of vitamins and antioxidants. These compounds help protect your dog’s tissue from free radicals.

This formula includes 80 billion CFUs of a proprietary probiotic blend. The blend features Lactobacillus Acidophilus, a probiotic strain proven to improve digestive health in dogs. [7

Golden owners who feed this formula see improvements in their pup’s bowel movements thanks to insoluble fiber provided by pumpkin and coconut.




Solid Gold Hund-n-Flocken Dog Food

Solid Gold Hund-n-Flocken Lamb
  • First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Lamb Meal, Brown Rice, Pearled Barley, Oatmeal
  • Key Feature: Premium protein sources and whole-grain ingredients
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 22% Crude Protein, 10% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 335 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Premium Golden Food

This holistic formula features pasture-raised lamb as the first ingredient and 22% crude protein content.

Whole grains like brown rice and pearled barley provide fiber, B vitamins, and digestible energy.

Most Goldens do well on diets that include high-quality grain ingredients. Wheat and corn can cause adverse reactions. But the whole grains included in this recipe help boost health.

Live probiotics support digestive health and help your dog absorb nutrients from his diet. And additional superfoods like flaxseed and salmon oil provide healthy fats and antioxidants to help reduce inflammation.

Reviews of this dog food claim that the formula positively impacted their Golden’s coat health, mental acuity, and energy levels.




Pedigree Choice Cuts in Gravy Country Stew

Pedigree Choice Cuts in Gravy Country Stew Canned
  • First 5 Ingredients: Water for Processing, Chicken, Meat By-Products, Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten
  • Key Feature: Delicious and highly-digestible formula
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 8% Crude Protein, 3% Crude Fat, 1% Crude Fiber, 82% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 326 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Wet Food
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Wet Food for Goldens

Some Goldens are picky, and wet food is the best option for encouraging fussy eaters to finish their dinner.

A deceptively low 8% crude protein content still provides adequate support for healthy muscles from real chicken and beef.

The high moisture content of wet foods make the macronutrient percentages smaller than those of dry food alternatives.

Wet foods often include organ meats like pork liver to provide a dense nutrient source of Vitamin A. [8] Rich animal proteins are also essential for healthy muscles in athletic dogs.

Extra oils and minerals help promote a healthy and luxurious coat for Goldens.

Golden owners with fussy dogs recommend this formula. But some dogs can experience mild diarrhea when switching to wet food. Be sure to transition your dog slowly to avoid digestive upset.




Canidae Pure Grain-Free Dog Food

Canidae Pure Grain Free Salmon
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas
  • Key Feature: Limited Ingredient diet based on Salmon and Sweet Potatoes
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 32% Crude Protein, 18% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 496 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Sensitive Digestion, Grain-Free, Chicken-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Gluten Free, Limited Ingredient Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Goldens with Allergies

Goldens can have a predisposition to allergies. [9] Limited-ingredient diets like this one feature formulas designed for dogs who suffer from allergies or sensitive stomachs.

Limited ingredient diets try to limit allergen exposure to prevent allergic reactions. This 24% crude protein food depends on salmon as the sole animal protein source. 

A single protein source limits the potential for developing new allergies, as most allergens are proteins. [10] Salmon is also an excellent source of healthy fats necessary for coat health in Golden Retrievers.

Only eight ingredients make up this recipe. The recipe also eliminates common allergens such as grains, soy, wheat, and corn.

Goldens often do well on a grain-inclusive diet due to their predisposition for heart disease. But this grain-free option can be a suitable choice for the breed. Added taurine in this recipe helps promote cardiovascular health.

This food is not ideal for overweight Goldens due to the high caloric content. Still, many owners have success managing their pup’s allergies with this dog food.




Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Mobility Large Breed Food

Hill's Science Diet Adult Healthy Mobility Large Breed Chicken
  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Wheat
  • Key Feature: Specialty diet to support joint health in large dogs
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 28% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 3% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 367 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Mobility Diet
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Goldens with Joint Problems

Chicken meal provides 28% protein content for this formula. It is not grain-free and includes several whole grain sources to limit the risks of taurine deficiencies.

This dog feed includes high levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil to help reduce joint inflammation. [11] This can drastically improve comfort in Goldens suffering from joint pain.

Higher levels of glucosamine and chondroitin support the regeneration of healthy cartilage. These ingredients frequently appear on food labels and help manage joint pain by limiting cartilage breakdown. [12]

A specialized recipe also includes extra vitamins E and C. These antioxidants help protect joints from free radical damage. [13]

This food is a scientifically-backed mobility formula. Most owners report improvements in their dog’s comfort within the first 30 days of use.

While some people have concerns about the large kibble size, Goldens are less likely to bolt their food and choke.




Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Formula

Diamond Naturals Skin & Coat Formula All Life Stages
  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Fish Meal, Potatoes, Lentils, Peas
  • Key Feature: All breed formula for skin and coat support
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 14% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 337 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Grain-Free, No Corn, No Wheat, No Soy, Chicken-Free
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Golden Coat Health

Golden Retrievers have beautiful coats with unique needs. This formula offers 25% protein content from Salmon.

Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for coat health.

This kibble is hypoallergenic and grain-free to minimize the risk of adverse skin reactions.

A proprietary blend of probiotics supports digestive and immune health. A robust immune system is critical for preventing skin infections.

Dog owners who feed this formula notice an intense, healthy shine in their Golden’s coat. But, it does not provide itch relief for every dog with skin issues.




Royal Canin Golden Retriever Adult Dry Food

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Adult
  • First 5 Ingredients: Brown Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Oat Groats, Brewers Rice, Wheat
  • Key Feature: Breed-specific formula designed for Golden Retrievers
  • Guaranteed Analysis: 23% Crude Protein, 10% Crude Fat, 5.7% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
  • Caloric Content: 276 kcal/cup
  • Type of Product: Breed-Specific
  • Life Stage: Adult
  • Best For: Goldens with Heart Concerns

The biggest concern when designing a diet for Golden Retrievers is supporting a healthy cardiovascular system. This dog food is specifically designed for the breed and emphasizes nutrients that support heart health.

This formula features high concentrations of Taurine. This nutrient helps lower risks of death from heart disease by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol. [14]

Enriched sources of EPA and DHA also support your Golden’s cardiovascular system. EPA and DHA are forms of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats improve diastolic filling and are essential for cardiac function. [4]

Golden lovers often recognize improvements in the overall health of their pups when feeding this dog food. But unfortunately, this specialized formula comes with a higher price tag.




golden retriever

Guide To Buying Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

All Golden owners know these outstanding pups deserve specific nutrition to meet their individual needs.

This breed is susceptible to several troublesome conditions when they receive inadequate nutrition. So selecting the right food for your dog is critical.

Nutritional Needs of Golden Retrievers

Any diet you give your Golden Retriever must first contain balanced ratios of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Moderate to High Protein

They may not be as muscular as Pit Bulls, but Goldens are an athletic breed that needs quality protein to support their muscles.

Look for dog food that contains over 20% crude protein content. Puppies have more significant protein needs, while senior dogs need less.

Lean animal proteins provide the best support for your Golden’s muscles. The best dog food formulas list real meat as one of the first ingredients.

Low to Moderate Fat

Golden Retrievers should not eat diets with a fat content that exceeds 20%. Although they are not as food motivated as other retrievers, they can still pack on the pounds when fed too many calories.

But, healthy fats are vital for their skin. Goldens have a unique, long, flax-colored coat that depends on oil production to stay healthy. Dog foods that feature omega-3 fatty acid sources will help keep him shiny and support his brain and cardiac health.

Digestible Carbohydrates

Dogs can easily digest carbohydrates. But high levels of sugars in the diet can cause obesity and diabetes.

Golden Retrievers are active dogs that need some carbohydrates in their diet to provide energy. Unlike small dogs, large breeds can store carbohydrates as glycogen in their muscles. They do not need to eat high amounts in every meal consistently.

Choose a dog food that provides low amounts of carbohydrates from whole grain sources. Grain-free formulas can provide complex carbohydrates from potatoes and starchy foods. But, make sure these options included added taurine to limit heart health risks.

Vitamins and Minerals

Micronutrients like calcium and phosphorus are critical for growing large dogs. Mineral deficiencies in Golden Retriever puppies can cause developmental skeletal disorders like hip dysplasia.

Any dog food you consider should meet AAFCO’s nutrient profile guidelines for dogs.

Look for foods that include natural sources of vitamins like fruits and vegetables. B vitamins are beneficial for your golden’s metabolism. And vitamins C and E act as antioxidants to protect tissues from free radicals.

DHA and Taurine

DHA is a form of omega-3 fatty acid. These healthy fatty acids play a vital role in supporting the overall health of Golden Retrievers. They are critical for enhancing coat oils, brain function, and heart health. Omega-3s can also act as an anti-inflammatory.

Taurine is an essential amino acid that is important for heart health in Golden Retrievers. Taurine helps lower the risks of heart failure by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. 

Golden retrievers have a genetic predisposition for heart problems. And taurine deficiencies can lead to severe health consequences.

How Often and How Much to Feed Your Golden Retriever

Most Golden Retrievers weigh between 55 to 75 pounds as adults. They reach their full size between 12 and 18 months old. But every dog may grow at different rates.

You should feed your Golden puppy food specifically formulated for growing large dogs. Split his daily serving into three meals per day until he turns six months old. At this age, split his food into two meals per day for the rest of his life.

Here are some general feeding guidelines for Golden puppies.

Puppy AgeDaily Amount
Two Months1 ½ Cups
Three Months2 Cups
Four Months2 ½ Cups
Five to Six Months3 Cups
Six to Seven Months (Males Only)3 ½ Cups

An active adult Golden should eat between 1300 calories to 1700 calories per day. Smaller, less active dogs may need less calories. And larger sporting dogs may need more calories.

Here are some general feeding guidelines for adult Golden Retrievers.

Gender and LifestyleDaily Amount
Females2 to 2 ½ Cups
Males3 to 3 ½ Cups
Active Males4 Cups
Nursing Females5 to 6 Cups

Senior Goldens need fewer calories as they age. Golden oldies generally need around 900 calories per day between two equally spaced meals.

Always remember to consult your veterinarian when determining how much to feed your dog.

golden retriever running

Health Issues and How Diet Can Help

Golden Retrievers struggle with a predisposition to a variety of health concerns. Goldens are one of my favorite breeds to treat in the vet clinic. But unfortunately, many have to make frequent visits. Thankfully, proper nutrition can help reduce their risks.

Allergies

Dogs can suffer from allergic reactions, just like people. Skin allergies, environmental allergies, and food allergies can drastically decrease your pup’s quality of life.

Golden Retrievers are predisposed to these reactions. And diet is an essential aspect of managing allergies in dogs.

If your Golden suffers from allergies, choose a limited-ingredient dog food. These options feature simple recipes and a single protein source to limit the risk of exposure to potential allergens. 

Formulas that are free of soy, corn, or wheat are also excellent choices for sensitive pups.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Nearly all large breeds can be affected by hip and elbow dysplasia. This abnormality impacts the anatomy of the joint and leads to severe arthritis.

Poor nutrition and rapid growth as a puppy can increase the risks of this disease. [15] Make sure growing Goldens eat a diet with adequate levels of calcium and phosphorus. These minerals play an essential role in bone development.

If your Golden Retriever suffers from arthritis, added glucosamine can help ease joint discomfort.

Aortic Stenosis

Aortic Stenosis is a common heart condition found in Goldens. This condition involves the narrowing of the aorta. Blood leaves the heart out of this valve to journey throughout the body.

A constriction of the aortic valve restricts blood delivery to body tissues and congests the heart with blood. [16] Omega fatty acids help lower the concentration of bad fats in the blood.

Feeding your Golden Retriever a diet low in crude fat but high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids can help manage this disease’s risks.

Eye Problems

I met lots of cute older Goldies with cloudy eyes when I worked in a veterinary hospital. This symptom occurs when dogs develop cataracts or central progressive retinal atrophy, CRPA.

Golden Retrievers have a genetic predisposition for developing congenital cataracts. This condition prevents light from reaching your dog’s retina, eventually causing blindness.

Feeding a diet rich in antioxidants like vitamin E can help protect eye tissue from damage. Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids also help enhance your dog’s eye health.

Hypothyroidism

Some Goldens quickly gain weight, but unexpected weight gain without diet or exercise changes could indicate hypothyroidism.

This weight gain results from an inactive Thyroid gland. This gland plays an essential role in regulating hormones associated with fat metabolism. Cutting calories will not help these pups lose weight.

High amounts of DHA, antioxidants, fiber, and probiotics in your Golden’s diet may help manage this condition. [17]

Obesity

Over 60% of Golden Retrievers in the US are overweight. [18] Golden’s are lovable balls of fluff, and sometimes it’s hard to say no when a cute wet nose asks for extra snacks.

But, your Golden’s predisposition to accumulate extra weight can increase his risk of other health conditions. Excess weight places additional strain on joints, leading to arthritis. Overweight dogs also have an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, and liver disease.

Excess calories can cause weight gain. So don’t feed your Golden more than he needs. Feed the recommended amount of a balanced dog food that has lean sources of protein and low-fat content.

Are Grain-Free Diets Safe for Golden Retrievers?

Recently, the FDA investigated a potential link between grain-free diets and canine dilated cardiomyopathy. [19] This condition causes your dog’s heart to enlarge, often leading to congestive heart failure.

Grain-free dog foods typically contain significant amounts of potatoes or legumes as their primary ingredients. Some reports show that dogs who consistently ate these foods for an extended period had a greater heart disease risk.

The exact link is unknown, but most dogs with the heart condition have low blood taurine levels. 

Since Golden Retrievers are predisposed to heart problems, owners should consider the potential risks before feeding a grain-free diet. If you chose a grain-free option, make sure the formula provides adequate taurine levels to support heart health.

Talk to your veterinarian before selecting a grain-free dog food for your Golden.

The Verdict

Understanding how nutrition plays a role in health conditions is vital for developing the best diet for your Golden Retriever.

The best dog food formulas for Goldens have high levels of lean protein and healthy fatty acids. Comprehensive nutritional support provided by Wellness Large Breed Adult Complete Health Dog Food can help manage common health problems.

Goldens are some of the happiest, fluffiest pups on the planet.

Your Goldie deserves the best food. Work with your veterinarian to select the best option for him and determine how much to feed your dog.

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