Golden Retrievers, besides the fact that they are arguably the most beautiful (or handsome for your male fellas) dog breed out there, are a fan-favorite among households with families, much due to their friendly nature.
And, with a fan-favorite dog breed comes the ever-so famous question, "what's the best dog food for Golden Retrievers?", the same question that gets asked by dog owners of basically any and all other dog breeds as well.
Given their special physique and relatively high weight that comes with such a large build, Golden Retrievers require a special kind of diet which we will be talking about in this article.
Our List Of The Top 5 Dog Food For Golden Retrievers
Top Pick: Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Pick #2: Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Adult Dog Food
Pick #3: Diamond Naturals Large Breed Dry Puppy Food
Pick #4: Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food
Pick #5: Fromm Adult Gold Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food
*Note: The links in the table above, as well as several links in the remainder of the article below, will take you to over to Chewy.com where you can find out more information about the products, such as current prices and customer reviews.
Best Dog Food For Golden Retrievers
Even though this is by no means an extensive list for the best dog food for Golden Retrievers, we've done our best to save you all the work you have to do on research about this and have hand-picked some of the best dog foods.
The top choices are filler-free, take into consideration some of the health issues that Golden Retrievers are prone to suffering from (more on that below), and are free from cancer-triggering ingredients like artificial coloring, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners and harmful preservatives.
This dog food is available in a whole host of formulas, ranging from large breed formula to small breed formula, all the way to low-fat formula and other options as well, so there's an option for you to go with no matter what.
In the first few spots on the ingredient list, you'll notice protein sources such as chicken, turkey and salmon (depending on which bag you choose for your Golden), all of which meet our criteria of high-quality protein.
You'll also find high-quality, complex carbohydrates such as peas and vast amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which will go a long way in preserving your Golden's beautiful fur.
This dog food is dominated by high-quality meats that ensure your Golden Retriever gets all the protein they need in a day's time, and doesn't come with any of the useless filler that you never want to see in any dog food.
Just have a look at the first 3 ingredients on the list: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, and Turkey Meal. Need we say more? This is top-notch stuff!
As for carbohydrates, your dog will be getting the complex carbohydrates they need from vegetables such as peas, sweet potatoes, and whole carrots, as well as fruits such as blueberries and cranberries, all of which are approved in a Golden Retriever's diet.
What we love about this dog food is the existence of chondroitin and glucosamine in order to help your lovely Goldens with proper, stable bone growth and promote excellent joint health (which will come as very handy for senior Golden Retrievers, due to the fact that they are very prone to suffer from arthritis and hip/elbow dysplasia.
As we'll be talking about in this article below, it's important to feed your growing Golden Retriever puppy a dog food made from large breed puppy formula, which is exactly an option that Diamond Naturals have given you and me with this dog food.
And, the first ingredient on this food's list is lamb, one of the best sources of protein you could find in any dog food.
This food is also loaded with additional vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, L-carnitine, and DHA for proper development.
The first ingredient on the list of this dog food is Deboned Chicken (always love to see that), while the second and third are meat-meals, which are Chicken Meal and Turkey Meal (respectively).
If you want to make sure your Golden Retriever maintains that shiny, beautiful blonde coat of theirs, there's a Salmon choice you should go with, as that contains tons of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
It's also rich in Flaxseed oil, which is a great added bonus to those looking to make sure their Golden Retrievers are getting the high-quality fat they need from their diet.
Last but not least, and certainly not taking anything away from this dog food (as it did come 5th on our list from more than 100s and 100s of different dog food out there) is the Fromm Adult Gold Large Breed Dog Formula dry dog food.
The distribution of the 3 main macro-nutrients for this dry dog food are as follows: around 29% comes from protein, 16% comes from fat and 43% comes from carbohydrates, of which a decent percentage is fiber (which goes a long way in helping keeping your Golden Retriever's digestive system and bowel movements going smoothly).
Golden Retriever Nutritional Needs
An average Golden Retriever will weigh anywhere between 55-75 lbs and stand at a height of anywhere between 21-24 inches tall, with male Golden Retrievers usually being larger in size than their female counterparts.
An average Golden Retriever weighing between 55-75 lbs is going to need around 1500-1700 calories per day, as recommended by experts in this field.
Of-course, there are a whole host of factors that could bring that number of calories required per day way down or propel it upwards, such as age, activity levels and metabolism. We've seen some Golden Retrievers with stoked-up metabolisms and high energy levels that need about 2,400 calories a day for maintenance purposes. The best way to know all these details about your Golden Retriever is having a quick conversation with your vet about it all.
Golden Retrievers with slower metabolisms are going to need fewer calories during a day's time than those with faster metabolisms, young Golden Retriever puppies are going to need more calories during a day's time than older Golden Retrievers in order to ensure proper growth, and Golden Retrievers that get more activity during a day's time (especially work dogs that are extensively trained to perform certain jobs) are going to need more calories than those that barely get any notable physical activity.
Similar to the recommendations you get for other dog breeds, the most important and vital part of a Golden Retriever's diet is the levels of high-quality protein that they get every day.
In general, it's advised that you feed your growing Golden Retriever puppy a diet consisting of 22% protein, while you feed your Golden Retriever adult dog a diet consisting of 18% protein.
Make sure that meat proteins dominate the first 3 spots on the ingredients list, as that's how you can be sure that the dog food you're looking at is high quality.
If you find a primary source of carbohydrates dominating the first ingredient, or the first few ingredients spots, put that dog food away as it won't do any good for your Golden Retriever.
Examples of whole meats you should be looking for in the first ingredient spot, or the first few on the list, are beef, chicken, fish (salmon is a fan favorite among many Golden Retrievers) and lamb.
Try looking to see if the dog food you're checking out has meat digests or meat by-products. If it does, put it back where it came from because that's a sign of low-quality dog food for your Golden Retriever.
The choice of dog food we've hand-picked for you in the list above has taken this factor into consideration very carefully.
Even though you might think that feeding your dog a diet that consists of a certain amount of fat levels will make your Golden Retriever overweight, because of the notion that some folks like to toss around that "fat makes you fat", this couldn't be farther from the truth.
Besides giving dog food (or any other food for that matter) special texture and good taste, fat is a vital macro-nutrient in your Golden Retriever's diet, giving them all the essential fatty acids they need to thrive during a day, coming from sources such as fish oil that contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Not to mention that they go a long way in improving your dog's coat and skin condition, keep cardiovascular diseases at bay and improve cognitive functions. And we all know and absolutely love just how fabulous Golden Retriever's coats are!
In general, you should aim to feed your growing Golden Retriever puppy a diet consisting of 8% fat and your Golden Retriever adult dog a diet consisting of 5% fat.
Again, the list of best dog food for Golden Retrievers that we mentioned above takes this into consideration, so you've got nothing to be worried about.
Carbohydrates should be the least of your worries when checking out dog food for your Golden Retriever, because if you've done your homework on the amounts of protein and fat the dog food has, then you've finished most of the battle.
All that's left in terms of doing research on the carbohydrates involved is making sure that the dog food you're looking at doesn't contain any useless filler such as soy, corn, wheat and excessive amounts of sugar, as these are the last sources of carbohydrates you'll ever want making their way inside your Golden's system.
If you find sources of complex-carbohydrates after the top-3 (or top 5) ingredients on the list, such as sweet potatoes, carrots and apples, then you're good to go.
Golden Retriever Health Issues
Given their large physique, Golden Retrievers are prone to suffering from the same health and physical problems that other similar large-breed dogs suffer from, such as:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia (very normal and common for a large dog this size), which can be a result of genetic factors or physical injuries/wear and tear.
- Eye disease
- Obesity, which can be a devastating blow to your Golden Retreiver if they also grow up to develop Hip and elbow dysplasia, as it can greatly worsen their situation. This is one of the reasons why you'll want to make sure your Golden Retriever is following a well calculated diet ever since their earlier age and is getting enough exercise during the day to keep their metabolism in check. The last thing you want on your hands is an inactive Golden Retriever that follows a haphazard diet, that's just a recipe for disaster.
- Cancer (most common of which are hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma and osteosarcoma). You can do your part to help your Golden Retriever remain cancer-free during their lifetimes by feeding them high-quality dog food that doesn't contain cancer-triggers like additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors and colors.
- Cardiovascular disease (for which the risk is multiplied many times if your Golden Retriever is overweight or obese).
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyriodism is a very common culprit among Golden Retrievers, which is many times responsible for your Golden's fast weight gain all of a sudden. There's only so little that could be done in a diet to help prevent/cure this health problem, which means that you should take your dog to the veterinarian instead for a true course of medication.
- Allergies: Allergies among Golden Retrievers are very common, and this is mostly due to low-quality dog food that's being given to them to eat. Symptoms of allergies in Golden Retrievers include (but are not limited to) excessive hair loss and bald spots, excessive scratching, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. This is usually the result of filler ingredients being found in the dog-food you're giving your Golden Retriever to eat, such as soy, corn and wheat, or the fact that your Golden Retriever has a sensitive stomach and the food you're giving it to eat is a bit too strong for it's digestive system to handle. In such cases, it's best you consult with your veterinarian as well to find out what might be causing these allergies and exactly what kind of dog food is best for YOUR Golden Retriever. Always remember, no two dogs are alike and in these cases it's very much a case by case scenario.
- Bloat: Golden Retrievers are more prone than other dog breeds to suffer from bloating, which is a very serious situation if it happens and could possibly lead to death if not properly treated. Bloating in dogs can happen for many reasons, but it very commonly happens with dogs that only eat one, monstrous meal for the whole day instead of having their meals split out into several, smaller meals that are eaten through-ought different times. Bloat is also commonly seen in dogs that eat a large meal and immediately get some physical activity right after, instead of keepin' it chill for a while until the food is properly digested.
- Skin diseases
- Luxating patella
- Cruciate ligament rupture
- Cushing's disease
- Ear infections
- Snow nose - which basically meant they tend to lose some of their nose color during cold, winter times
Given these health concerns and problems that all Golden Retrievers are prone to suffer from during their lifetimes, it's extremely important that you meet your Golden Retiever's dietary needs day in day out so it can go on and lead a healthy, pain-free and problem-free life.
The average lifespan of a Golden Retriever is about 11 years, so you're going to want to make sure that you do your part to the best of your abilities to ensure that your buddy lives these 11 years as healthy as they can be.
A Note About Golden Retriever Puppy Dog Food
A very important thing that must be noted for you to consider is that given the fact that Golden Retrievers are more prone to suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia during their lifetimes (given their large size), you can help minimize the chance of that happening by feeding your Golden Retriever puppy food that's specifically manufactured for large breed puppies.
The reason you're going to want to go with a large breed puppy formulated food (of which we mentioned multiple options in the list above) is because they often tend to have less amounts of calcium and phosphorus in them, which ensures slow and steady skeletal growth in puppies up until they mature.
What this will do is make sure that your Golden Retriever puppy grows slowly and steadily and doesn't encounter any sudden spurts in growth. Slow and steady growth will minimize the chances of your Golden Retriever suffering from hip and elbow dysplasia when they grow up, while sudden spurts in growth will greatly increase the chances of them suffering from hip and elbow dysplasia down the line.