Just about any dog lover would agree that the golden retriever is one of the top breeds. Who doesn’t love a loyal goldie? They’re intelligent, energetic, and full of life.
However, without proper nutrition, a golden retriever’s health could rapidly decline. Here are the best dog foods to keep this breed in peak condition.
Top 8 Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers 2020
Below are some of the top dog food selections for feeding and sustaining a golden retriever. This list will focus on dry food, as it’s more economical and helps with keeping dogs’ teeth clean. Of course, some of the brands listed here offer dry and wet options, so feel free to expand Rover’s palate.
Best for Sensitive Tummies
Best for Older Dogs
Best for Whole Foods Diets
Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet
Best for Allergies
Primal Freeze-Dried Formula
Best for Raw Diets
Royal Canin Retriever Puppy
Best for Pups
Taste of the Wild
Best Wet Food
BLUE Wilderness Healthy Weight
Best for Naturalists
1. Canidae Grain-Free – Best for Sensitive Tummies
Got a dog with digestive issues? This real lamb and pea recipe is a great choice. Not only does it include a limited ingredients list of real food, but it also contains probiotics to support healthy digestion. Lamb is the number-one ingredient, followed by nine nutrient-packed selections that provide ample protein, healthy fats, and the vitamins and minerals your pooch needs.
The rest of the list is filled with antioxidant-rich foods, omega3 and 6 fatty acids for a shiny coat, and additional minerals that will keep your dog feeling great. Oh, there isn’t any corn, soy, or wheat – ever.
- Added probiotics
- Grain-free & high-protein
- Limited ingredients to support digestion
- Omega 3s and 6s
- No fillers (corn, soy, wheat)
- The taste isn’t popular with some dogs
2. Eukanuba Senior – Best for Older Dogs
This dry food from Eukanuba is designed for dogs 7 years and older and larger than 55 pounds. It comes in a tasty chicken flavor that senior goldies should be able to tolerate. Moreover, this formula contains 50% more glucosamine than the medium-sized breed formula to support the strength of your aging dog.
This kibble contains added DHA and antioxidants to ensure that older dogs get the nutrients they need to support brain health and joint mobility. It was crafted to include just the right amounts of carbs and fats to accommodate active seniors dogs.
- Accommodates older, larger breeds
- Buyers report it helps with joint stiffness
- DHA for brain health
- Good blend of protein, carbs, & fats
- Supports joint mobility
- Best suited to active senior dogs
- Contains chicken by-product
3. Merrick Grain-Free – Best for Whole Foods Diets
For the purists out there, this grain-free real bison, beef, and sweet potato recipe from Merrick is a win. The company sources its meat and plant-based ingredients from local farmers and lists deboned bison as the first ingredient. As goldies are known for their gorgeous coats, owners will be happy to see that the formula contains omega fatty acids to support coat health.
The sweet potatoes offer carbohydrates in an easy-to-digest form, while peas, apples, and blueberries provide the essential vitamins and minerals your dog needs. There aren’t any super-weird ingredients here, and each serving contains a guaranteed 38% protein.
- Easy-to-digest carbs
- Focuses on whole foods
- Ingredients sourced from local farmers
- Omega fatty acids for a shiny coat
- Very high in protein
- Lower-quality kibble
- Price-per-ounce (expensive)
4. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet – Best for Allergies
4. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet: Best for Allergies
Different breeds are susceptible to a range of allergies, so if your goldie is among those dogs, check out this potato and duck formula from Natural Balance. It’s grain-free, which helps to relieve itchiness, plus the limited ingredients are ideal for dogs with sensitive tummies.
This dry food contains plenty of essential vitamins and minerals to support your strong golden retriever. Moreover, limited protein sources prevent diarrhea and bloating. The omega 3 and 6 fatty acids keep his or her coat looking shiny and silky. The legumes add carbohydrates as well as fiber, protein, and increased energy.
- Great for sensitive stomachs
- Limited, easily digestible carbs
- Packed with vitamins & minerals
- Suits dogs with allergies
- Supports a healthy coat
- Contains significantly less protein than other brands
5. Primal Freeze-Dried Formula – Best for Raw Diets
Primal saves you time by doing the chopping, grinding, and mixing for you. The bulk of the ingredients list is filled with organic beef and produce, so you can feel good about feeding this to your pooch. These beef nuggets have a 48% protein breakdown per serving, so they’ll support your golden retriever through all of his or her leaps and bounds.
These beef nuggets are freeze-fried for easy serving, so all you have to do is add water. They contain no fillers but include lots of organic, wholesome produce chock-full of vitamins and minerals. The formula contains 13 amino acids as well as essential fatty acids from cold-water salmon oil to support a healthy body and coat.
- Freeze-fried for easy serving
- High-protein ratio
- No corn, gluten, grain, soy, or wheat
- Organic, hormone-free beef
- Wholesome, vitamin-packed produce
- Might be too time-intensive for some
- Some dogs might have trouble chewing it
6. Royal Canin Retriever Puppy – Best for Pups
A puppy – especially a golden retriever puppy – is a ball of endless energy. They have specific dietary needs that will help them grow up to be strong, agile, and healthy. With this breed, pet owners want to be sure to support a shiny coat and healthy skin as well as proper digestion and plenty of protein and macronutrients. It’s a lot to remember!
Enter, Royal Canin Retriever Puppy dry food. This perfect-sized kibble contains Vitamin E and antioxidants to support a healthy coat and immune system. The different forms of protein, combined with prebiotics, ensure that your pup can properly digest while reaping the benefits of all the nutrients.
- Good source of fiber
- Kibble size/shape encourages chewing
- Packed with antioxidants
- Prebiotics for digestion & gut health
- Proper protein portions
- Contains corn and wheat
- The first ingredient is chicken by-product meal
7. Taste of the Wild – Best Wet Food
When it’s time to spoil your pooch, turn to this High Prairie Canine Formula wet food. This brand is well-known among pet lovers for its balance of nutrients and flavor, and the wet formula is great as a topper or a special treat. Packed with beef, lamb liver, bison, roasted venison, ocean fish, and eggs, it’s a protein powerhouse.
This wet food also contains easily digestible carbohydrates such as potatoes and peas. It is full of antioxidants in the form of berries, tomatoes, and supplemental vitamins. Reviews rave about this grain-free formula and its popularity, even among finicky eaters.
- Contains berries & antioxidant-rich ingredients
- Easily digestible carbs
- Free of fillers & artificial flavors
- High-quality protein
- Popular with picky eaters
- Best when used as a topper/treat
- Might upset senior dogs’ stomachs
8. BLUE Wilderness Healthy Weight – Best for Naturalists
For pet owners who are ultra-picky about what they feed their beloved dogs, Blue Buffalo has got you covered. The brand is dedicated to natural ingredients and flavors, which means no fillers, common allergens, or artificial preservatives. The Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe for Large Breed Adults is a win-win.
Rich in deboned chicken (and no meat by-products), this food will support your pooch while helping them maintain a healthy weight. The flaxseed adds fiber and omega-6s for a shiny coat, while blueberries bring antioxidants and Vitamins A and C. Other prime ingredients include glucosamine for joint health, amino acid L-carnitine for weight management, and Menhaden fish meal for added protein and energy.
- Grain & filler-free
- Helps maintain a healthy weight
- Packed with quality protein sources
- Supports joint health
- Sustained energy from sweet potatoes & fish meal
- A pricey option
- Some dogs don’t like the “LifeSource Bits”
Things to Consider Before Buying
Welcoming a golden retriever into the home is one of the most rewarding and exciting moments for families. This breed just exudes loyalty, love, and lightheartedness. However, without some fundamental knowledge, pet owners can end up neglecting their pup’s nutritional needs.
1. How to Feed a Golden Retriever
While the weight and size of your golden retriever will vary, the average daily caloric needs range from 990 to 1,740. Keep in mind this depends on the age and activity level of your pooch.
As for food type, most pet owners go for dry kibble since it’s more economical. Besides that, chewing dry food helps your golden retriever remove plaque and tartar from their teeth. Wet food can be an exciting treat or a topper to make dry kibble more appetizing. Just be sure to maintain proper calorie counts so you aren’t overfeeding your pup.
What About Protein?
Golden retrievers can be very active, so look for a guaranteed crude analysis between 25% and 30%. Some high-quality protein sources for goldies include beef, turkey, chicken, and lamb. Try to limit meat by-products, as these can worsen your dog’s skin allergies.
Choose Easily-Digestible Carbs
Carbohydrates shouldn’t be the primary macronutrient in your dog’s food. That said, there is a place for them, particularly because golden retrievers love to run, jump, swim, and play! When it comes to carbs, seek ones that are easy-to-digest, such as potatoes, peas, and/or brown rice.
Don’t Forget About Fat & Fiber
Healthy fats are crucial to a golden retriever. Seek out omega 3 and 6s, as they help your dog’s body with nutrient absorption while also benefitting their skin and coat. Some common sources of healthy fats in dog food include eggs and plant oils.
As for fiber, dogs can get this nutrient via fruits, veggies, and prebiotics. This will ensure proper digestion, especially for pups that already have sensitive stomachs. A good crude percentage to aim for is 10%.
2. Common Health Issues in Golden Retrievers
Pay attention to the brands on this list; their formulas include support for joint health and shiny coats. This is because golden retrievers are prone to skin allergies and joint issues like hip and elbow dysplasia. Heart disease is another common ailment that your goldie could develop later in life if you don’t keep an eye out.
To support your pooch, consider ingredients such as omega 3 and 6s, which keep coats looking healthy and shiny. Vitamin E is great for soothing skin allergies (and common fillers like corn and wheat can make those allergies worse). Glucosamine aids in mobility and joint health, while antioxidants keep their energy levels up and their tickers working well.
3. Things to Remember
As a medium-to-large-sized breed, goldies aren’t exactly shy about wolfing down some good food. New dog owners should always be aware of the costs involved in feeding their pets. Food for your golden retriever will run you about $60 to $80 a month. Err on the side of caution and budget around $100 to account for supplements and specialty food.
Q: How Do I Know If My Golden Retriever Has Skin Allergies?
The first telltale sign of an allergy is if your dog is constantly scratching itself in the same area. If this vigorous scratching persists, check the area for redness, swelling, or scabbing.
Q: How Often Should I Give My Golden Retriever Food?
It’s common for pet owners to feed their dogs once in the morning and again in the evening. This may be fine, but goldies, in particular, are prone to sensitive stomachs and digestive issues. Therefore, it may be better to split the feedings into smaller portions, spread throughout the day.
Q: How Much Should My Golden Retriever Be Eating?
This depends on the specific calorie needs of your dog, so it’s hard to say. Surely, a puppy will need more food than a senior dog. To be very general, a 50-pound golden retriever would need around 1,150 calories. However, this amount could be higher or lower depending on its age and activity level. When in doubt, have a chat with your vet.
Golden retrievers are one of the most faithful companions your family will ever have. Each one has his or her unique personality, and there’s no denying that luxurious, shiny coat. To keep your pooch in top health, consider the dog foods above, as well as the accompanying nutrition advice. Of course, each dog is different, so spend some time getting to know your pup’s specific needs.