Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

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best dog food for golden retrievers

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

Being a large dog breed, Golden Retrievers have slow metabolisms and hence need a calorie-controlled diet that’s rich in protein.

We carried out intensive research on dog food to help you with your choice of the best food for Golden Retrievers.

According to our research, Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy is the best overall food for Goldies.

However, dogs have different nutritional needs based on age, size, and health condition. That’s why we included the best foods for each life stage.

Have a look.

Our Best Dog Food For Golden Retriever

  • Best Dog Food For Golden Retrievers Puppies
  1. Royal Canin Golden Retriever
  2. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
  3. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food
  4. American Journey Large Breed Puppy Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe
  • Best Dog Food For Golden Retrievers Adults
  1. Purina Pro Plan Specialized Adult Large Breed
  2. Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Lamb & Brown Rice
  3. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe
  • Best Dog Food For Golden Retrievers Seniors
  1. Holistic Select Senior Health Chicken Meal & Lentils Recipe 
  2. VICTOR Purpose Senior Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food 
  3. Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley

10 Best Dog Food For Golden Retrievers Reviewed 

Here is our list of ten best dog food for different categories of Golden Retrievers:

Best Dog Food For Puppies Golden Retrievers

Below, you can find our best 4 dog food for Golden Retrievers puppies.

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy 

First 5 ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, corn, wheat gluten, chicken fat, wheat.

Key feature: Uniquely formulated for pure breed Golden Retriever puppies.

Guaranteed Analysis: crude protein 27%, crude fat 14%, natural fiber 5.9%, and moisture 10%.

Caloric Content: 338 kcal/ cup

Type of Product: Grain inclusive

Life Stage: Puppy

Best for Golden Retriever puppies

This recipe is uniquely formulated to meet the specific dietary requirements of your Goldie. The meal delivers particular nutrients essential for your pup’s growth into a healthy and active adult.

Better still, this formulation includes taurine, EPA, and DHA to support heart health, plus an exclusive blend of antioxidants and vitamin E for enhanced immune health.


  • Contains essential nutrients that fortify the skin barrier to promote healthy skin and coat
  • Specifically tailored to meet the nutritional needs of purebred Retriever puppies 8 weeks- 15 months.
  • Made with high-quality proteins and prebiotics to aid in digestion and improve stool quality.
  • Comes in unique kibble specially designed for Golden Retriever’s straight muzzle and scissor bite to encourage chewing.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Puppy

First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, oatmeal, Barley.

Key feature: No corn, wheat, soy, or animal by-product

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 26%, crude fat 15%, natural fiber 5%, and moisture 10%.

Caloric Content: 386 Kcal/ cup

Type of Product: Dry dog food 

Life Stage: Puppies

Best for: Large breed puppies

It features deboned chicken as the primary ingredient, this puppy recipe is designed to support your Golden Retriever’s growth and development while being keen on the fat and calorie level.

The recipe presents a healthy balance of proteins, whole grains, vitamins, and minerals to maintain your dog’s optimal health.


  • Added vitamins, chelated minerals, and antioxidants to enhance immune health
  • Has no soy, corn, wheat, or by-products; hence gentle on the stomach
  • Includes DHA and ARA for brain and eye health plus Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids to support skin and coat health
  • Contains L-Carnitine and high-quality protein for lean muscle development.

Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

First 5 ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, grain sorghum.

Key feature: No corn, no soy, no wheat.

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 27%, crude fat 15%, natural fiber 5%, moisture 10%

Caloric Content: 342 Kcal/ cup

Type of Product: Dry food

Life Stage: Puppy

Best for: Large breed, giant breed 

This puppy recipe is formulated with high-quality ingredients and without any artificial flavors, preservatives, or fillers to give your Golden Retriever a perfectly balanced start.

It features natural pasture-raised lamb and lamb meal as the first two ingredients for lean muscle development, plus easily digestible carbs to provide energy.


  • Designed with precise protein and mineral levels to fully cater to the needs of large breed puppies
  • Includes species-specific proprietary probiotics and antioxidants and prebiotics to promote healthy digestion, immune system, and overall body health.
  • It has a balanced nutrient profile for larger growing bodies and omega fatty acids for skin and coat health.

American Journey Large Breed Puppy Chicken & Sweet Potato

First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, peas, chickpeas.

Key features: Grain-free, high-protein, no corn, no soy, no wheat.

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 30%, crude fat 12%, natural fiber 6%, and moisture 10%.

Caloric Content: 374 Kcal/ Cup

Type of Product: Dry food

Life Stage: Puppy

Best for: Large breed puppies sensitive to grains

This chicken and sweet potato formulation is an ideal choice for pups that are allergic to grains since it’s free from grains, corn, soy, or wheat.

Featuring deboned chicken as the primary ingredients and packed with essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins, this food delivers a complete and balanced diet for large breed puppies.


  • Has an ideal balance of calcium and phosphorus to aid in proper bone development in puppies.
  • Contains ARA and DHA to promote a healthy brain and good vision
  • Includes only nutrient-rich ingredients without soy, corn, wheat, or by-products hence gentle on your pup’s stomach.
  • Features real chicken as the key ingredient to support muscle development 

Best Dog Food for Adult Golden Retrievers

Here is our best 3 dog food for Golden Retrievers Adults

Purina Pro Plan Specialized Adult Large Breed

First 5 ingredients: Water. Chicken, Liver, Wheat gluten, Rice, and Turkey

Key feature: Chunks in gravy, high-protein food

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 9%, Crude Fat 2%, crude fiber 1.5%, and moisture 82%.

Caloric Content:  316 Kcal/ can

Type of Product: Wet food 

Life Stage: Adult

Best for: Large breed adult dogs

This balanced formulation contains a perfect balance of proteins and fats to help your Golden Retriever stay in optimal health.

The food features chunks of real chicken in gravy mixed with rice for a highly digestible energy source.  What’s more, this savory meal is fortified with calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth as well as omega fatty acids for skin health.


  • Optimal nutrition for large dogs with real chicken and rice plus a combination of high-quality ingredients
  • Lots of protein in each serving to promote muscle growth and conditioning.
  • Contains 23 essential vitamins and minerals for complete and balanced nutrition for your dog
  • Has omega-6 for healthy skin and soft coat. 

Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Adult Lamb & Brown Rice

First 5 ingredients:  Deboned lamb, Chicken meal ( source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), whole grain brown rice, split peas, and whole-grain sorghum.

Key feature: Non-GMO

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 20%, crude fat 12%, natural fiber 3.5%, and moisture 10%.

Caloric Content: 318 Kcal/ cup

Type of Product: Dry food, no corn, no wheat, no soy

Life Stage: Adult

Best for: Large breed adult

Made with pasture-fed lamb for high-quality protein, this meal comes with a tailored blend of proteins balanced with whole brown rice, whole oatmeal, and a mix of various vitamins plus mineral supplements for optimal nutrition.

Additionally, it contains glucosamine and chondroitin to help promote healthy joints and antioxidants for immune health.


  • Contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints
  • Designed with essential antioxidants to help boost your dog’s immune health
  • Non-Gmo food with no chicken by-product, so soy, and no corn hence gentle on the stomach
  • Formulated specifically to cater to the nutritional needs of large breed dogs.

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Breed Chicken & Barley Recipe

First 5 ingredients: Chicken meal, cracked pearled barley, pea fiber, whole grain wheat, and whole-grain corn.

Key feature: Scientifically formulated for complete and balanced nutrition

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 20%, crude fat 11.5%, natural fiber 4%, and moisture 10%.

Caloric Content: 363 Kcal/ 8-oz cup

Type of Product: Natural dry food

Life Stage: Adult

Best for: Large breed dogs with mobility issues

Are you looking for a natural, utterly balanced nutrition for your Golden Retriever? The Hill’s Science diet will deliver a balanced diet specifically tailored for your large breed dog.

Designed to support healthy joints and bones, this recipe comes with natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin for improved mobility. It also contains a mix of antioxidants for a healthy immune system.


  • Supports the development of healthy cartilage and joints with natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Fortified with omega 6 fats and vitamin E for a glossy coat and healthy skin of your dog
  • Clinically proven antioxidant mix including vitamin E and C for stronger immunity and overall body wellness

Best Dog Food for Senior Golden Retrievers

Here is a list of the best 3 dog food for Golden Retrievers Seniors.

Holistic Select Senior Health Chicken Meal & Lentils Recipe 

First 5 ingredients: Chicken meal, chickpeas, lentils, dried ground potatoes, and chicken fat

Key feature: Grain-free, gluten-free

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 28%, crude fat 12%, natural fiber 5.5%, and moisture 10%

Caloric Content: 417 Kcal/ cup

Type of Product: Grain-free

Life Stage: Senior

Best for: Senior dogs

Designed with the needs of your senior dog in mind, this meal is rich in lean proteins and fortified with natural fibers, digestive enzymes, and probiotics to ensure a healthy digestive system.

What’s more, this food is grain and gluten-free and comes with the right balance of proteins, fibers, and fats ideal for supporting a slowing metabolism.


  • Added glucosamine, antioxidants, taurine, and probiotics for enhanced heart health
  • Contains various ingredients that boost your dog’s digestive health
  • Has omega-3 fatty acids to support healthy skin and coat
  • A healthy and nutritious meal designed to appeal to your dog’s taste. 

VICTOR Purpose Senior Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food 

First 5 ingredients: Beef meal, whole grain brown rice, whole grain millet, grain sorghum, chicken fat.

Key feature: Formulated to help with weight control

Guaranteed Analysis:  Crude Protein 27%, crude fat 11.5%, natural fiber 4.5%, and moisture 9%

Caloric Content: 360 Kcal/cup

Type of Product: Dry food, Gluten-free, no corn, no wheat

Life Stage: Senior

Best for: Senior dogs, healthy weight maintenance

This is a high-quality protein-rich diet formulated with little fat and calories to help your Golden Retriever maintain a healthy weight as they age.

The food includes gluten-free grains and it’s specially designed for pups that are prone to joint problems. Better still, this nutrient-rich meal contains glucosamine and chondroitin to promote your dog’s joint health.


  • Boosts digestibility and immune system health with its unique VPRO blend
  • Reinforced with vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, proteins, and amino acids to promote overall body health
  • Has glucosamine and chondroitin for sustained joint health
  • Nutrient-rich meal made with high-quality ingredients for lasting energy
  • Includes L-carnitine to aid in energy provision

Wellness Complete Health Senior Deboned Chicken & Barley

First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, oatmeal, ground barley, and ground brown rice.

Key feature: Explicitly formulated for senior dogs

Guaranteed Analysis: Crude Protein 22%, crude fat 10%, natural fiber 4.25%, and moisture 10%

Caloric Content: 416 Kcal/ cup

Type of Product: Dry food, no corn, no wheat, no soy

Life Stage: Senior 

Best for: Senior dogs 

Designed to provide whole-body nutritional support, this recipe is formulated with premium quality proteins and wholesome grains. 

For optimal nutrition, it’s further fortified with omega fatty acids, antioxidants, glucosamine, taurine, probiotics, and beta carotene. This balanced food helps support healthy brain development, optimize energy levels, and ensures glossy skin and coat.


  • Has no GMO, meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives; hence gentle on the stomach
  • Includes carefully selected ingredients such as premium quality proteins and wholesome grains for optimal nutrition
  • Fortified with antioxidants, glucosamine, taurine, omega fatty acids, probiotics, and beta carotene for whole-body nutritional support.

Guide To Buying Dog Food For Golden Retrievers 

Read this in-depth guide on how to buy dog food for Golden Retrievers.

Do Golden Retrievers need special dog food?

When looking for the best food for your Golden Retriever dog, it’s essential to be on the lookout for the fat and calorie content of the food. You should also consider the number of proteins as these are crucial for your dog’s growth.

Golden Retrievers are large breed dogs. Unlike small breed dogs, large dogs such as Golden Retrievers have slow metabolisms.

As such, they require a diet that’s rich in proteins but with low to moderate fats and calories. Feeding Goldies a meal with too many calories can lead to unhealthy weight gain and increase the risk of developing joints, bones, and other health problems.

What about growing puppies?

It’s crucial to ensure that your growing Golden Retriever dog gets the right food for optimal growth.

Although puppies need higher proteins and calories than adult dogs to fuel their growth, You should keep large breed puppies like Golden Retrievers on a calorie-controlled diet to keep them from overgrowing.

The calcium and phosphorus levels should also be lower to reduce the risk of joint issues, as indicated by the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles. [1]

Nutritional Requirements for Golden Retrievers

Every dog has its own nutritional requirements. Here is everything about Nutritional Requirements for Golden Retrievers.

What to look for in Golden Retriever food

Here are some important aspects when trying to decide what dog food is the best one.

Calorie control

Golden Retrievers are prone to weight gain. This puts them at the risk of becoming obese. As such, it’s crucial to ensure calorie control. Their diet should have a lower calorie level.

Types of foods

The most common food types are dry food, wet/canned, semi-moist, and fresh foods. You can feed your Goldie on any kind of food provided it’s completely balanced and able to meet the nutritional requirements.

Why do the ingredients of food Matter?

Your dog’s health is influenced by various factors such as genetics, size, age, diseases among others. The quality and type of ingredients used can greatly impact your dog’s health. 

Golden Retrievers are genetically prone to cancer. It’s, therefore, crucial to scrutinize and look for the ingredients that won’t accelerate the risk.

The dog food you choose should meet the Association of American Feed Control Official (AAFCO) nutrients standards for the life stage.

You should make food with wholesome, natural ingredients without fillers, by-products, or artificial additives. Feeding your dog food containing poor quality ingredients may lead to health issues such as chronic inflammation and obesity.

Ensure the food contains high-quality proteins from real animal sources, wholesome veggies, fruits, vitamins, and essential minerals for optimal health. It should be labeled as complete.

What do large-breed dogs like Goldens require?

Large breed dogs such as Goldens are very different from small and medium-breed dogs. They grow faster and reach maturity quickly compared to their miniature counterparts. As such, their nutritional requirements are also different.

Therefore, it’s essential to pay careful attention to their diet to ensure it’s appropriate for their life stages.

Golden puppies need a diet that’s specifically tailored for large breed puppies. As they get older, switching to the adult version should be made at the right time. These puppies don’t stop growing until they are 12-24 months, so make sure you don’t switch too soon.

Adult Goldens should be fed on high-quality food designed specifically for large breed dogs. Always go for high-quality, nutritionally balanced food to reduce the risk of health problems for your Goldie.

Consider your dog’s health status, age, activity level, size, lifestyle, and medical conditions in determining the right food for him. 

How can I switch to a new food without making my dog sick?

When switching your Golden Retriever to a new food, ensure you do it gradually to avoid causing stomach upsets. 

You should mix the fresh food with your dog’s old food first. Then gradually increase the amount of new food while reducing the old one before completely switching to the new one.

What do the terms on the label mean?

The food label on dog food can be quite confusing but learning the terms therein is essential in understanding what’s in your dog’s food.

The terms on a label are listed in order of decreasing constituent amounts. This, therefore, implies that the first few stated products are found in more significant quantities than those listed at the bottom of the label.

These are some of the products commonly included:


Sourced from the muscle or heart tissue of animals and mainly consists of animal flesh without any water extracted. It can be beef, chicken, fish, pork, lamb, salmon, and turkey.

Meat meal

This consists of the meat product after excess water has been extracted from it. It may include meat, skin, or bones.

Meat or poultry by-products

These are the leftover parts of a slaughtered animal after removing the parts intended for human consumption, and usually the non-meat part of the animal. This includes lungs, kidneys, brain, blood, bones, stomach, intestines, feet, etc.

The bad thing is that by-products may come from very sick animals or even dead before slaughtering,  and they don’t disclose it.

Fish meal

This is the clean ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish or fish cuttings with or without extracting the oil.

Brown rice

This refers to the unpolished rice after removing the kernels.

Brewers rice

This is made up of minute rice kernel pieces that have been isolated from the larger milled rice kernels.

Ground corn

It consists of the entire kernel chopped or ground 

Corn gluten meal

This is a by-product of the production of corn syrup or starch, usually, the dry residue is left after the bran, germ, and starch has been removed.

Whole meats and named protein meals

Whole meats are named proteins such as chicken, salmon, beef, or lamb and contain up to 70% moisture before cooking.

They have named protein meals to state the exact protein source and have had the excess moisture removed and processed into kibble. Meals have more protein by weight than whole meats.


This implies that the food is non-GMO, free from antibiotics, synthetic hormones, pesticides, and preservatives.

Are grain-free dog foods safe for Golden Retrievers?

Most Golden Retrievers have grain allergies and tend to do poorly with corn, soy, or wheat. As such, grain-free food is considered ideal in helping to alleviate the symptoms of allergies.

What Regular Foods Can Golden Retrievers Eat?

Some of the regular foods that are safe for Goldens include:

Pineapple: This is packed with various macronutrients including antioxidants and vitamins that boost your dog’s immune health.

Apples: Besides being tasty, apples make a healthy and nutritious treat for your Golden Retriever. Don’t feed apple seeds as they contain cyanide which is toxic to dogs. 

Eggs: Cooked eggs are a healthy protein source for your dog. Be cautious of feeding raw eggs as they may have salmonella and E.Coli bacteria which can harm your dog.

Green peas: These are nutritious and full of healthy calories beneficial for your Goldie.

Chicken: Chicken is an excellent source of lean proteins that help your dog build and maintain lean muscles. It’s also packed with other macronutrients.

Oatmeal: If your Goldie has digestive issues, oatmeal is a good option as it’s packed with healthy fibers.

Carrots: Whether cooked or raw, carrots are natural sources of healthy antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber essential for the overall wellness of your dog.

Blueberries: Blueberries are among the best and safe fruits for your Golden Retriever as they come with a high concentration of vitamin C, a good antioxidant source.

Salmon: Cooked, deboned salmon is an excellent protein source for Golden Retrievers.

What Foods Are Bad For Golden Retrievers?

These foods are toxic to Golden Retrievers and should be avoided:

Onion and garlic: You should never give these to your dog as they cause gastrointestinal irritation and red blood cell damage.

Macadamia nuts: These are highly toxic and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, lethargy, and swollen limbs in dogs.

Chocolate and cocoa: These contain theobromine, a stimulant that’s hard to digest for Golden Retrievers and can cause kidney failure. 

Artificial sweeteners: It contains xylitol which can cause hypoglycemia linked to liver failure and blood clotting disorders.

Grapes and raisins: These may cause severe liver damage and kidney failure.

Avocado: Although the flesh of an avocado is safe for dogs to consume, the leaves, stem, fruit, and seed contain persin, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Alcohol: Besides intoxication, alcohol can cause diarrhea and central nervous system breakdown.

Cherries: These can give your Goldie cyanide poisoning indicated by lethargy and stomach upset.

Cooked bones: Raw bones are an excellent treat for dogs. However, cooked bones are harmful as they may splinter or cause perforation of the gut, which is fatal.


Is grain-free food good for Golden Retrievers?

Grain-free foods are ideal if your Goldie has grain-related allergies. Switching to a grain-free diet can help keep it safe from tummy issues and offer relief for allergy-related symptoms.

How much should a Golden Retriever eat in a day?

This depends on your Golden Retriever’s size, activity level, age, body build, among others. However, 2 bowls of kibble are considered enough but you can adjust this to suit your dog’s needs.

Are vegetables good for Golden Retrievers?

Since dogs are omnivorous, Goldies can feed on vegetables that are safe for dogs. This will provide essential nutrients. Veggies are also good sources of healthy carbohydrates and fiber necessary for energy provision and healthy digestion.

Are dairy products good for my Golden Retriever?

Generally, dogs are intolerant to lactose that’s present in dairy products. As such, giving them to your Goldie is a bad idea as they cannot digest it properly. You can give some yogurt but you should avoid milk and some cheeses. 

Is free-feeding good for Golden Retrievers?

Golden retrievers love food which makes them prone to weight gain. As such, free-feeding isn’t good for them as they may overeat, increasing the risk of obesity.

Which food can help my Golden Retriever gain weight?

If your Goldie is struggling to gain weight, try feeding organ meats such as liver plus vegetables such as sweet potatoes, yams, and potatoes. These foods can help them gain weight quickly.

Which food can help my Golden Retriever lose weight?

If you want your Golden retriever to shed some weight, give foods containing lean meat such as chicken with low carbs and fat content. Stay clear of filler grains and artificial additives as well.

Why is my Golden Retriever not drinking water?

The amount of water intake depends on the activity level of your dog. If your Goldie isn’t interested in water, check how clean the water is and its temperature. Otherwise, consult your vet.

When should I change my Golden Retriever’s food?

Consider changing your dog’s food if he’s constantly falling sick or when he becomes disinterested in his normal food. You should switch to adult food when your Goldie hits 10 months in age.

Can Golden Retrievers survive on a vegan diet?

Yes, Goldies can survive on a vegan diet. However, this is not advisable as it’s not good for their mental and physical health. Non-meat proteins cannot meet the nutrient requirements of a Golden Retriever.

Does my Golden Retriever need supplements?

Given their high nutritional requirements, supplementing your Retriever’s diet with certain vitamins, amino acids, probiotics, and essential minerals is a good idea to meet these needs.

What is the Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers?

Golden Retrievers have special nutritional requirements. It is, therefore, essential to pay careful attention to the kind of food that you feed to them.

The best food should contain appropriate proteins, carbs, vitamins, and essential minerals for complete and balanced nutrition.

Remember, each dog is unique, and as such, the food you give should meet your dog’s nutritional needs based on your age, activity level, and health condition.

All the foods on our list are high-quality and make excellent choices for your Golden Retriever. However, if you don’t know where to start, give Royal Canin Golden Retriever a try.

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Belinda Kendi
Belinda Kendi is a talented content marketer and dog food copywriter who produces relatable and valuable content.

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