9 Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers in 2020

Mealtimes can be an exciting time for dogs, but deciding what to feed your pup can be tricky. Dog foods come in so many different types and varieties, making the decision even more challenging. When there’s so many choices available, how do you narrow the options down?

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The first  step is to understand your dog breed’s nutritional needs. Golden retrievers can be a very active breed, which means they need plenty of energy throughout their day. Knowing this can make sure you pick out a food brand that gives enough calories that are suitable for the activity level for your dog!

Many dog food brands include filler ingredients or artificial preservatives in an attempt to have a better shelf life. These types of components aren’t healthy for your pup, and you want to avoid them while also keeping an eye on other elements that do provide essential nutrients for health.

Even listing all the factors that you need to think about can take up time, let alone the process of shopping. However, all that effort is essential for your dog’s health—and we’ve built a guide to ease the process for you. Read on to see what the best dog foods are for golden retrievers, as well as essential nutritional considerations and answers to frequent dog meal questions!

What Are the Nutritional Needs of Golden Retrievers?

Golden retrievers as a breed are larger and tend to be more active, and those factors have an impact on their nutritional needs. Because they play so much, they tend to have large appetites, so you can expect them to want to eat a lot.

When it comes to calories, the average amount of daily calories for a golden retriever can fall between roughly one-thousand and 1300 per day. These numbers can depend on the size and weight of your pup. Activity levels also have a substantial impact; golden retrievers who are more active can need between 1300 and 1700 calories in a single day.

As a breed, golden retrievers can struggle with hereditary joint problems if they become overweight. As puppies, golden retrievers can also be at risk of developing hip dysplasia, so they need calcium while growing up.

Other essential nutrients you should look out for when it comes to your golden retriever’s diet are proteins and carbohydrates. Values for these nutrients should be at least thirty percent, and your pup may need more carbs when they’re on the active side. Fat levels for golden retriever diets should be closer to 12 and 18%. Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids make for a healthy coat.

If your golden retriever is more sedentary, their diet needs will be closer to the lower end of these numbers. Older retrievers will also need fewer calories since they tend not to be as active. Overfeeding your dog or giving them a substantial amount of human foods can make them overweight, posing several health risks.

What to Look for in a Good Golden Retriever Food

For the sake of convenience, it can be simple to pick out whatever food seems suited for the size of your dog. However, since each breed has its own nutritional needs, you need to take the time to research what works best. Otherwise, you can risk creating a nutrient deficit, which can impact your golden retriever’s overall health.

You should always look for ingredients and included nutrients levels. Puppy and dog foods can also have discrepancies in their elements. Some key factors you should want from a quality dog food for your golden retriever are:

  • High amounts of a named animal protein – Animal protein is essential, but a reliable source will have a specific animal listed. The named animal protein should be first on the ingredient list, so it’s the most present ingredient in the food.
  • Vegetables, fruits, and grains – These supplemental ingredients help increase nutrient values and can aid in digestion. These elements should stay unprocessed. Brown rice, barley, or oats are best in dog food.
  • High meat content – Protein levels are essential, but you also want high levels of meat. Again, this factor should have a specific animal listed.
  • Healthy fats – Ingredients like Omega-3 and Omega-6 can help with digestion, energy levels, and keeping your retriever’s coat healthy.
  • Natural preservatives – Artificial preservatives are bad for your dog’s health, but natural ones can include additional nutrients like Vitamin E.
  • Prebiotics – Prebiotics can also aid with digestion and overall gut health. Common ingredients found in dog food for this purpose include inulin, soybeans, raw oats, and beet pulp, to name some.

Ingredients you want to avoid in dog food for your golden retriever include meat and poultry by-products, added sweeteners, and any artificial sweeteners or flavors.

What Are the Different Types of Golden Retriever Foods?

As a golden retriever owner, you have the benefit of plenty of potential food choices for your dog. Thanks to this factor, you can rest easy knowing that you should be able to find something for your pup to eat. To help you understand what’s available, let’s take a closer look at the categories.

Canned dog foods are a popular choice for many dogs, and pups tend to enjoy these meals, too. The can storage allows for the food to remain moist, and the gravy-like dressings add a bit of appeal. You can feed these to your golden retriever, but they work better as a treat. Retrievers tend to need a bit more food to feel full in a day.

Instead, dry kibbles are one of the most popular choices. They can store for a while, and you only need to pour some into a bowl to serve to your pup. Thanks to the rough texture of the food pieces, they can also help clean your golden retriever’s teeth while they eat. So long as you research the ingredients used, these foods can meet your dog’s nutritional needs.

Recently, fresh dog foods have become more popular among manufacturers. While specially prepared for pups, these meal options tend to match up with preparing meals for ourselves. They need to stay in the fridge to keep fresh, and you may need to cook them before serving. Still, freshly prepared ingredients are very appealing, and there’s less risk of finding artificial preservatives in these meals.

For dogs that need more specialized options, you can find grain-free and allergen-free foods. These work just like the names suggest, letting your golden retriever get the nutrients they need without causing further health issues!

Overall Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Here’s our top pick for best golden retriever dog food.


If you’re looking for a super premium dog food for your golden retriever, you may want to consider a fresh food option such as NomNomNow. This service delivers freshly prepared meals to your door on a weekly basis, and the recipes are customizable based on your dog’s needs. All meals are prepared using whole, restaurant-quality ingredients to ensure the highest quality nutrition for your dog with no freezing or preservatives. The food is sent to you fresh for storage in your own fridge or freezer. Because the food is prepared fresh with gentle cooking methods, most of the nutritional integrity is retained for a wholesome meal. NomNomNow boasts the use of only human-grade ingredients which means that the food is prepared in way that would be fit for human consumption, something that many pet owners hold in high regard!

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dog Food

Taste of the Wild takes the top spot on our list for best golden retriever dog foods. The main proteins in this flavor are bison and roasted venison, which also provide some variety from other standard dog food flavors. Taste of the Wild also incorporates fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and tomatoes in the ingredients, which broadens the available nutrients for your dog.

This dog food formula includes chelated minerals, which help your dog’s body better absorb nutrients while digesting them. The smell tends to be appealing, and picky dogs can also enjoy the flavor. While we’ve picked out the High Prairie flavor, Taste of the Wild has several other options so that you can find the best choice for your dog.

This kibble option comes in both puppy and adult options so that you can feed it to your dog, no matter your retriever’s age.

7 More Highly Rated Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

With our top choice covered, here are seven more golden retriever food options!

American Journey Salmon and Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dog Food

While we think Taste of the Wild does more than enough to get the job done, your golden retriever may have specific dietary needs you need to keep an eye on. If that’s the case, American Journey recipes pay close attention to keeping out ingredients like wheat, soy, and corn, which can impact your dog’s stomach if they’re sensitive to them.

On the opposite end, you can find blueberries, sweet potatoes, carrots, and dried kept to help boost your golden retriever’s immune system. Sweet potatoes and chickpeas help keep your dog’s energy levels high. Deboned salmon forms the core protein, while flaxseed and salmon oil both bring in Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids.

American Journey recipes provide plenty of consideration for dogs with strict dietary requirements and picky eaters.

Blue Buffalo Chicken & Brown Rice Life Protection Formula

Blue Buffalo dog food focus heavily on providing a variety of natural ingredients to help give your dog the energy and nutrients they need to stay healthy. Chicken, lamb, and fish provide the base proteins for this food, while the brown rice provides plenty of grain benefits. Also, produce like apples, blueberries, pumpkins, and spinach, add a variety of nutrients to their diet.

Overall, this brand helps boost your puppy’s immune system through the inclusion of Omega acids, allowing for healthy muscle development with egg and protein meal, and encourage strong bones and teeth with calcium. The phosphorus levels are low, which is helpful for older golden retrievers that have kidney issues. Expect for even picky eaters to enjoy this breed.

If your pup has food restrictions, this kibble doesn’t use corn, soy, wheat, or by-products of chicken or poultry. However, the inclusion of brown rice does not make this product wholly grain-free.

Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula

Golden Retrievers with sensitive stomachs or skin allergies often need to pay attention to what they’re eating. Purina’s Pro Plan Sensitive Skin formula is an excellent option if you have to worry about these issues. The use of oatmeal and rice makes the kibble easy to digest. This Purina formula also comes without soy, wheat, corn, or artificial flavors or colors.

Salmon serves as the core protein, allowing your golden retriever to keep lean muscles. Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids help give a healthy coat and joints. This formula is also excellent for golden retrievers who have trouble with passing regular stool or even have diarrhea issues. Picky eaters can enjoy this food, but you’ll need to prepare for your pup’s tastes.

This formula is more geared towards adult dogs, so you may need a different option for puppies.

Tylee’s Human-Grade Beef Frozen Dog Food

So far, we’ve been covering dry food and kibble options, but what if you want some more human-grade meals for your pup? Tylee’s as a brand gives you a frozen food option that you only need to defrost and serve. The ingredients of this particular recipe include beef, mango, broccoli, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and spinach. This spread gives plenty of options in the nutrients department.

The use of real meat makes an appealing option for golden retrievers, plus the minimal processing of the ingredients helps maintain their nutritional benefits. You can also pick out different protein recipes for some variety. We suggest using this food option as a meal topper over some kibble to give some extra flavor to your pup’s meals!

This meal option is free of grain, corn, soy, pea, and wheat, and it’s suitable for golden retrievers at all stages of life.

Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken Dehydrated Dog Food

Dehydrated dog foods give a “human quality” meal that you can prep by mixing with warm water and waiting for a few minutes. Much like frozen options, this gives you unprocessed ingredients to have plenty of food benefits. You can expect oats, carrots, bananas, potatoes, barley, celery, peas, and free-range chicken in the ingredients.

The calorie count and protein levels are excellent for giving an active golden retriever the energy levels they need to enjoy their lives. The majority of ingredients come from organic sources, and they also come from US sources. You don’t have to worry about artificial preservatives or by-products. This meal option is also helpful for some picky eaters and those with sensitive stomachs.

This option is suitable for adult dogs only.

Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Chicken & Rice Dry Dog Food

Puppies have unique nutritional needs that adult dog foods aren’t capable of providing. For your golden retriever, they can eat Purina’s Pro Plan Focus puppy food for up to the first year of life. Purina includes plenty of prebiotic fibers to encourage a healthy digestive tract, and chicken serves as the primary source of protein.

The recipe of this kibble formula is also good for the development of bones and teeth as your puppy grows. You can also rely on Purina’s Pro Plan to not cause stomach issues for your puppy. Many small pups tend to get excited whenever this food eats the bowl, which is excellent for training good eating habits for the rest of your retriever’s life.

If your pup ends up needing a grain-free specific type of food, this option won’t be suitable for you, but it’s good for other golden retriever puppies.

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Since this brand took the top spot as best overall golden retriever dog food, it’s no surprise that the puppy variant also makes it into our list. A lot of the high quality benefits of the adult formula apply here, including the use of various proteins like buffalo, bison, venison, and beef. All these proteins are excellent for muscle development at the beginning of your retriever’s life.

The rest of the recipe is grain-free, with raspberries, tomatoes, and blueberries providing immune boosts and other nutrients for your puppy’s diet. The recipe for this food is also highly digestible, letting your puppy have an easy time getting all the benefits from their mealtimes. Omega-3 and Omega-6 acids are also present to help their health thrive as well!

Taste of the Wild provides various other flavors so you can rotate out to let your golden retriever pup enjoy different meals over time!

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I switch my golden retriever from puppy to adult food?

The timing for changing your puppy’s diet depends on two major factors: their age and their weight. Around eighteen months is whenever your golden retriever puppy will have likely finished growing into their adult size. Adult weight for a male golden retriever tends to be between sixty-five to seventy-five pounds, and between fifty-five and seventy for a male. You can switch your pup’s food when they reach weight or age, whichever comes first.

How often should I feed my golden retriever?

Golden retrievers need to eat regularly, and you’ll have better results if you regulate their intake. Puppies tend to need to eat at least three times a day, and sometimes more depending on their appetite. As adults, golden retrievers can work well with one or two feedings per day, so long as you’re giving them enough to meet their dietary needs.

What should I feed my dog if they’re overweight?

If your golden retriever starts to get overweight, they may need more exercise. You can also adjust the type of food they eat. Swapping to a lower calorie food will make sure that your retriever is still getting plenty of nutrients they need to stay healthy while being able to lose weight.

Do golden retrievers have allergies?

Some golden retrievers can have skin allergies, which makes them uncomfortable. Sometimes, processed pet foods can be the cause of this. If your dog has these allergies, swapping out parts of their diet can help. Switching your food of choice and talking with your vet can help you determine your best course of action. Your dog may also have their allergies, so pay attention to how they react to foods.


For your golden retriever to stay healthy and energetic, you need to give them a high baseline with their diet. Retrievers need plenty of calories and healthy fats and proteins to maintain their health, and picking out the right food is essential for that.

All of the food options we’ve covered are top-rated for giving your golden retriever the nutrients they need, including options for dogs with allergies or dietary restrictions and meal options for growing puppies. We have confidence in these brands, and all that’s left is to find the one that makes your golden retriever the most excited to eat!

Chelsea Kuhel

Chelsea is the owner of a very huggable Boxer/Pitbull mix named Miles. When time allows she also cares for her 4 other animals, I mean children.

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