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Golden Retrievers are medium to large-sized dogs often trained to be search and rescue dogs. They are also a popular choice for most families due to their obedient and docile nature. They are also easy to train, making them an ideal choice for a first-time dog owner starting with little to no knowledge about dogs.
I consulted with a few Golden Retriever owners about what they knew about the breed and what they learned from the trips to the veterinarians. Coupling the information from them and the extensive research I had done on Golden Retriever nutrition, I have concluded that Nature’s Recipe Dry Dog Food (Grain-Free) is the best dog food for Golden Retrievers overall.
Nature’s Recipe kibbles contain just the right amount of proteins and fats for adult Golden Retrievers. Their carbohydrate source is from nutrient-dense sweet potatoes and pumpkins, which are easy to digest. There are also three flavors available – Chicken, Lamb, and Salmon.
However, each Golden Retriever is unique, especially since puppies and seniors have different nutritional requirements compared to adults. This is why I have compiled a list of the best dog food for Golden Retrievers under various circumstances so that you can make the most informed choice for your own Golden Retriever.
- Best dog food for Golden Retrievers overall: Nature’s Recipe Dry Dog Food (Grain-Free)
- Best dog food for Golden Retriever puppies: Open Farm Puppy Recipe Dry Dog Food
- Best dog food for Golden Retriever seniors: Merrick Senior Dry Dog Food
- Best dog food for picky Golden Retrievers: Tiki Dog Taste of The World
- Best dog food for weight maintenance in Golden Retrievers: Solid Gold Holistic Weight Control Dog Food
- Best dog food for Golden Retrievers promoting skin and coat health: Lucy Pet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Dry Dog Food
- Best limited-ingredient dog food for Golden Retrievers: The Honest Kitchen Limited Ingredient Dehydrated Dog Food (Grain-Free)
- Key feature: An easy-to-digest kibble made from nutrient-dense sweet potatoes and pumpkins for dogs of all ages
- First 5 ingredients: Varies depending on flavor (Chicken | Lamb | Salmon)
- Caloric content: 3550 kcal/kg
- Guaranteed analysis: Min 27% protein, Min 12% fats, Max 4.5% fiber
- Best for: Adult Golden Retrievers in general
Natures Recipe dog food provides carbohydrates using sweet potatoes and pumpkins. There are a total of three flavors available – chicken, lamb, and salmon – offering a choice of taste.
The kibbles contain 27% protein and 12% fats, which fall exactly into the suggested nutritional requirements for Golden Retrievers. With a caloric content of 3550 kcal/kg, it also suits Golden Retrievers with an average amount of exercise (approximately 45-60 minutes a day).
Owners with dogs who are allergic to grain or have sensitive stomachs reviewed that this formula worked for their dogs. A specific owner even mentioned that this formula has helped improve his dog’s arthritis issues!
However, some owners have also reported finding wooden skewers in the bags. While they are rare, they are also large enough to be easily identifiable. Nevertheless, do be alert for such additions if you purchase this food.
- Key feature: Nutritious kibbles made from wholesome and human-grade ingredients for muscle development, digestion, and healthy growth in puppies
- First 5 ingredients: Humanely raised chicken, Wild pacific salmon, Ocean whitefish meal, Sweet potato, Field peas
- Caloric content: 3850 kcal/kg
- Guaranteed analysis: Min 33% protein, Min 16% fats, Max 4.5% fiber
- Best for: Golden Retriever puppies
Open Farm has a 100% transparency policy that ensures that you can track the origins of all ingredients. The kibbles are made using humanely-sourced meats mixed with nutrient-rich vegetables and fruit produce. They are loaded with good nutrients and vitamins without any questionable additions.
The kibbles include 33% protein and 16% fats. It is suitable for Golden Retriever puppies as they need more than the suggested amount for adults (30% protein and 12% fats) for optimal growth and development.
Owners who are particular about the food source are delighted to find a brand with strict and measured regulations on animals’ treatment and life quality at an affordable price. Their puppies are also pleased with the taste and showed better overall coat health after consuming this brand of puppy food.
Some owners reported that their puppies had diarrhea after switching to this food. A precautionary measure you can take is to look through the entire ingredient list and ensure that your puppy is not allergic to any of the listed ingredients.
- Key feature: Low-calorie and low-fat food for senior dogs to maintain healthy weight and metabolism with both healthy grains and grain-free options
- First 5 ingredients: Varies depending on flavor (Grain-free | Healthy Grains)
- Caloric content: 3,603 kcal/kg
- Guaranteed analysis: Min 27-30% protein, Min 12-15% fats, Max 3.5% fiber
- Best for: Senior Golden Retrievers
Merrick Senior Dry Dog Food offers healthy grains and grain-free options for dogs to experience healthy aging, depending on their needs. They are formulated with nutrients and vitamins to support healthy brain function, hips and joints, and skin and coat, common issues for an aging Golden Retriever.
This brand of senior food provides 27-30% protein and 12-15% fat depending on the flavor, providing just the right amount of nutrients for senior Golden Retrievers.
Owners said their senior dogs were more youthful and active after switching to Merrick and remained healthy after being kept on this diet for a prolonged period. Senior dogs with coat issues had also seen an improvement in their coats when fed this brand of kibbles.
Price is a concern for some owners who have a tighter budget. Some owners also reported that their dogs have issues chewing the kibbles, which are too hard for them. This issue can be resolved by soaking the kibbles in water for a few seconds (to soften it but still retain its crunchiness) before serving to your dog.
- Key feature: Appetizing, high-protein wet dog food made with non-GMO ingredients that resemble the food humans eat
- First 5 ingredients: Varies depending on flavor (Indian Chicken Masala | Asian Chicken Stir Fry | Asian Peking Duck | French Beef Burgundy | Italian Chicken Carbonara | Mediterranean Lamb Influence | Spanish Paella with Chicken & Shrimp | Thailand Chicken Coconut Curry)
- Caloric content: 813 – 1055 kcal/kg
- Guaranteed analysis: Min 8% protein, Min 3% fats, Max 2% fiber
- Best for: Adult Golden Retrievers with picky tastes
The Tiki Dog wet food is 100% non-GMO ingredients without artificial flavors. They aim to replicate the ethnic flavors into a dog-friendly food for owners who wish to share the yummy taste with their dogs.
These yummy packets contain a minimum of 8% crude protein and 3% crude fat. The nutritional value is slightly higher but still within an acceptable range for adult Golden Retrievers.
Owners loved that they could share human-taste food with their little pups. Picky dogs also loved at least 1-2 of the available flavors, which looked and smelled almost like the actual human food product.
However, there are a few cases whereby dogs have been reported to feel sick after consuming this food. Therefore, do monitor your dog if you are trying this food out for the first couple of days to see if there are any adverse effects.
- Key feature: Low-fat and low-calorie dog food suitable for overweight dogs of all life stages that are on a weight control plan with both whole grains and grain-free options
- First 5 ingredients: Varies depending on flavor (Alaskan Pollock with Whole Grains | Chicken, Sweet Potato, & Green Beans Grain-free option)
- Caloric content: 3115 – 3240 kcal/kg
- Guaranteed analysis: Min 26% protein, Min 6% fats, Max 10% fiber
- Best for: Overweight Golden Retrievers on a weight management plan
Solid Gold weight control dog food offers both whole grains and grain-free options, catering to all Golden Retrievers regardless of their allergies to grain. The kibbles are formulated with carefully selected superfoods, probiotics, and omega fatty acids to ensure ample nutrients without putting on weight.
The kibbles contain 26% protein and 6.5% fats. The fat content is lesser than suggested for Golden Retrievers for the exact reason they are fed this food – to lose weight. At 3155 – 3240 kcal/kg, a few hundred lesser than the average caloric content, your Golden Retriever is sure to slim down and maintain a healthy weight.
Owners with overweight dogs reviewed that their plump dogs slimmed down after switching to this food without any side effects. Senior dogs significantly benefitted from the low-fat content in this kibble.
Chicken is present in both flavors available, so dogs that are allergic to chicken will have to source for other weight management dog food.
- Key feature: Carefully formulated for digestive and coat health for dogs of all ages and veterinarian certified
- First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Chicken meal, Dried chickpeas, Dried peas, Pea starch
- Caloric content: 3575 kcal/kg
- Guaranteed analysis: Min 25% protein, Min 14% fats, Max 6% fiber
- Best for: Golden Retrievers with skin and coat issues
Lucy Pet Sensitive Stomach & Skin Recipe is veterinarian approved and used by trainers and breeders. These kibbles are carefully formulated to maintain digestive health and include Omega-3 fatty acids to promote skin and coat health.
The kibbles contain 25% protein and 14% fats, within the recommended nutrition range for Golden Retrievers.
Owners have reported that their dogs with sensitive stomachs thrived on this brand of kibbles. The dogs also showed an overall improvement in coat health, having shiner coats with lesser shredding.
Some dogs did not like this kibble and refused to try it, so it may not be the best choice if you have a picky Golden Retriever. Also, as the kibbles are bigger than what a small-breed dog can handle, you may have to source for alternatives if you have a small-breed dog in addition to your Golden Retriever.
- Key feature: Human-grade, multiple-flavor dog food with limited ingredients that can be used as a topper of a complete meal, easily served by adding water
- First 5 ingredients: Varies depending on flavour (Beef & Chickpea | Chicken & Quinoa | Duck & Sweet Potato | Fish & Coconut | Turkey & Parsnip)
- Caloric content: 3870 – 4550 kcal/kg
- Guaranteed analysis: Min 24-34% protein, Min 7.2-18.5% fats, Max 6-8% fiber
- Best for: Golden Retrievers with many food allergies
The Honest Kitchen provides human-grade dog food with limited ingredients, making it ideal for Golden Retrievers with sensitive stomachs or food allergies.
The protein, fats, and caloric content will vary depending on which flavor you purchase and what your Golden Retriever likes. In general, their nutrition range is average to the high average for Golden Retrievers, so you may want to consider omitting certain flavors that are higher in protein and fats.
Most owners feedbacked that their dogs with allergies and other health issues thrived on this limited ingredient diet.
A few owners reported that this food brand caused allergies in their dogs. Therefore, please ensure that your Golden Retriever is allergic to NONE of the listed ingredients before purchase.
Golden Retrievers’ Dietary Requirements
Golden Retrievers can thrive as long as the nutritional requirements are met, unlike other breeds with more complex dietary requirements.
Unless your dog has specific dietary issues (such as allergies), read the below, and you are good to go!
Commercial dog food has a minimum of 18% crude protein, but that is insufficient for Golden Retrievers, who are bigger and require more protein to maintain their muscles. Veterinarians suggest that the average adult Golden Retriever needs dry kibbles with around 25-30% crude proteins. Golden Retriever puppies will require more proteins to support their growth.
Good protein sources include fish, eggs, and grassland animals like cows and buffalos.
If you have a highly active Golden Retriever, though, you may want to consider choosing a brand of commercial dog food that exceeds 30% proteins.
Ideally, Golden Retrievers should be fed commercial kibbles with about 12% crude fat to ensure sufficient calorie intake without going overweight.
Dog food with Omega-3 and Omega-6 unsaturated fats are good for your Golden Retriever. Omega-3 is usually obtained from fish, while Omega-6 is obtained from vegetables and grains.
Whole grains are always better for good carbohydrate sources than refined grains or genetically-modified grains.
Some owners have reported their Golden Retrievers to be sensitive to corn or wheat.
If you have tried to feed your Golden Retriever grains and it has developed skin issues, you should source dog food with alternative sources of carbohydrates. Some examples are sweet potatoes, lentils, and peas.
Common Health Issues In Golden Retrievers
Golden Retrievers do have are pretty susceptible to some health issues. However, there are still precautions that you, as an owner, can take so that your Golden Retriever may live a happier and healthier life.
Listed below are some of the health issues Golden Retrievers can have.
Golden Retrievers with hip dysplasia have a deformed joint and socket at the hip, which can lead to a permanent disability if not discovered and treated in time. Chances of developing hip dysplasia also increase with your Golden Retriever’s age and body weight.
Golden Retrievers with hip dysplasia will experience pain and discomfort, especially during movement. Therefore, some symptoms that you can look out for include decreased activity levels compared to previous times or weird walking like limping and dragging its paws.
Overweight Golden Retrievers are way more susceptible to developing hip dysplasia, so a way to reduce the likelihood of your dog having these issues is to monitor the type of food and how much you feed your dog. The food should be high-quality and should be provided in moderation, just enough for your dog’s daily needs, so that it remains at optimal weight.
Golden Retrievers have a thick undercoat under their outer coat, which provides an optimal climate for microbes to grow and develop. Therefore, frequent brushing and cleaning are essential for Golden Retrievers.
Supplementing your dog’s diet with food that promotes coat health is also a way to ensure that your Golden Retriever develops a coat that is easier to groom and maintain.
Golden Retrievers have big and floppy ears, so there is lesser airflow around their ears, making them more susceptible to ear infections. If your Golden Retriever has an infection, it will be obvious – it will be shaking its head and scratching the ears frequently.
While the best way to cure an infection is to bring your dog to the veterinarian, it is even better to prevent infections from happening. Cleaning your dog’s ears frequently is a must, and the effects will be amplified by supplementing with ear-health-boosting treats like Better Than Ears Premium Dog Treats.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Feeding Golden Retrievers
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions that Golden Retriever owners have known to ask.
If you have a question not listed here, you can always contact us, and we will give you a reply.
When should I switch from puppy to adult food?
While Golden Retriever puppies reach adult-size at about 9-12 months old, they only gain their full weight and growth at 18 months old.
Therefore, wait for your Golden Retriever pup to turn 18 months old before starting a food switch. This is because puppy meals have more proteins and fats to support a puppy’s growth. An early transition to adult dog food might result in inadequate nutrition leading to other complications.
How big do Golden Retrievers get, and how much can they weigh?
The Golden Retriever breed standard indicates that males are significantly larger than females. Males weigh between 60 and 80 pounds (27 to 36 kg) and stand 22 to 24 inches (56 to 61cm) tall. Females are slightly smaller in size, weighing 55–70 pounds (25–32 kg), and are 20–22 inches tall (51 to 56 cm).
If your Golden Retriever is heavier than the standard weight, you may want to consider switching from a regular diet to a weight-control diet like the Solid Gold Holistic Weight Control Dog Food.
Does the amount of exercise my Golden Retriever gets affect its diet?
While there are feeding guidelines on most commercial dog food packaging to guide you on how much to feed your dog, it is only a guideline. How much food your dog gets from you should be depending on your dog’s circumstances.
If you feel that you do much more exercise with your Golden Retriever than the average dog owner, you should feed it more to ensure that it gets enough energy and nutrients to compensate for those used up in exercise.
Golden Retrievers make ideal family pets as they are highly obedient and friendly with children. They are also an easy-to-care breed, suitable for first-time dog owners.
We strongly believe that Nature’s Recipe Dry Dog Food (Grain-Free) is the best dog food for Golden Retrievers in general. The protein, fats, and caloric contents fall within the optimal range for Golden Retrievers’ nutrition, just right for an average Golden Retriever.
Nevertheless, every Golden Retriever is unique. Do evaluate your Golden Retriever’s needs before selecting dog food for it, and always consult a veterinarian’s opinion when you are in doubt.