Golden retrievers have always been a popular choice for many pet families as these dogs are known for their trustworthiness, friendliness, confidence, reliability, intelligence, and unmatched kindness especially to younger members of the family. This is not to say that they don’t have certain health conditions that can adversely affect their role in the family. Hip dysplasia, skin conditions, cataracts, and other problems can reduce your dog’s quality of life and put a strain on its relationship with your family. You can help promote optimum health and prevent these diseases by giving your dog any of these best dog foods for Golden Retriever that we’ve researched.

The Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

1 Blue Buffalo Wilderness Duck Recipe

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Duck Recipe
Key features:
  • Brand: Blue Buffalo
  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Duck, Chicken Meal, Peas, Pea Protein, Menhaden Fish Meal
  • Primary Protein Source: Chicken
  • Calories: 416 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Duck
  • Life Stage: Adult

Formulated specifically for highly active, very playful Goldies, the Blue Wilderness Nature’s Evolutionary Diet High Protein dog food is a smorgasbord of delicious duck meat mixed with premium chicken and Menhaden fish meals to go with its peas and pea protein ingredients. A single cup of the NED delivers at least 34% proteins that is made even more special by the inclusion of amino acids and omega fatty acids for continued tissue growth and healthier skin, coat, and nervous system. The probiotics in the formulation further enhance the immune-boosting properties of omega fatty acids while the glucosamine in chicken meal can help strengthen the different structures that make up the joints. Overall, it’s a meal that’s perfect for the active Goldie.

You might also want to have a look at our detailed review of Blue Buffalo Dog Food.

Ingredients:

Deboned Duck, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine), Peas, Pea Protein, Menhaden Fish Meal (source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Tapioca Starch, Dried Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Starch, Flaxseed (source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Direct Dehydrated Alfalfa Pellets, DL-Methionine, Potatoes, Dried Chicory Root, Pea Fiber, Alfalfa Nutrient Concentrate, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Salt, preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Sulfate, Vegetable Juice for color, Ferrous Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Blueberries, Cranberries, Barley Grass, Parsley, Turmeric, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), L-Carnitine, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), L-Lysine, Copper Sulfate, Biotin (Vitamin B7), Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Sulfate, Taurine, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Calcium Iodate, Dried Yeast, Dried Enterococcus faecium fermentation product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, Dried Aspergillus niger fermentation extract, Dried Trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, Dried Bacillus subtilis fermentation extract, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Selenite, Oil of Rosemary.

What others say about it:
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Our 3 year old Border Aussie Finn LOVES Blue Mountain Grain-Free Duck Dog Food, as well as the Duck Treats!! He just had his 3 y/o physical, and is in great shape, sleek and muscular, and all chemical values are healthy! One caveat though, is that our vet indicates that recent research shows that grain free dog food eventually leads to cardiac issues (cardiomegaly/enlarged heart) and suggested adding Nutro Dog Food to his meals. Finn needs to lose 5 pounds, so hopefully this addition will help. We alternate a bowl of BM Duck Dog Kibble with a bowl of adult Nutro Dog Food. Finn enjoys both foods!
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2 Royal Canin Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food
Key features:
  • Brand: Royal Canin
  • First 5 ingredients: Brown Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Oat Groats, Brewers Rice
  • Primary Protein Source: Chicken
  • Calories: 276 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Chicken, Poultry
  • Life Stage: Adult

The Golden Retriever Breed Health Nutrition Adult Dry Dog Food comes with 276 calories per cup, about a hundred or so calories less than the others in this list. Its principal ingredient is not an animal protein, but rather brown rice. While these may alarm you as a pet parent, don’t be. Royal Canin specifically formulated its Breed Health to provide the best possible nutrition for Golden retrievers with their need for EPA and DHA that will help prevent skin irritation and heart problems. It should be noted that this Royal Canin product should only be given to Goldies that are more than 15 months old.

Ingredients:

Brown Rice, Chicken By-Product Meal, Oat Groats, Brewers Rice, Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Fat, Natural Flavors, Powdered Cellulose, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Wheat Gluten, Fish Oil, Dried Tomato Pomace, Vegetable Oil, Sodium Silico Aluminate, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Psyllium Seed Husk, Salt, Fructooligosaccharides, Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source Of Vitamin E), Niacin Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source Of Vitamin C), D-Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Acetate, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement], Sodium Tripolyphosphate, L-Lysine, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Monocalcium Phosphate, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Dl-Methionine, L-Carnitine, Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Copper Proteinate], Gla Safflower Oil, Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Green Tea Extract, Magnesium Oxide, Chondroitin Sulfate, Rosemary Extract, Preserved With Mixed Tocopherols And Citric Acid.

What others say about it:
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We have had four Goldens in the last 33 years and have had lots of issues with the prepared foods. Our current 9 year old Golden is flourishing on the Golden Royal Canin: her nose has returned to coal black, her gas is greatly reduced. She is a much happier dog.

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

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3 Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food Recipes

Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food Recipes
Key features:
  • Brand: Merrick
  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned Bison, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Deboned Beef
  • Primary Protein Source: Bison & Chicken
  • Calories: 391 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Beef & Bison
  • Life Stage: Adult

If you want a well-balanced diet that has exceptionally high levels of proteins and moderate amounts of fats with only 30% carbs, then Merrick’s Grain Free Dry Dog Food in Real Buffalo Sweet Potato formulation is always a good choice. Packed with vitamins and minerals as well as nutraceuticals that help improve joint, gut, and immune function, Merrick’s formulation follows in the tradition of good canine diet formulations utilizing only the finest quality ingredients. Merrick Real Buffalo-Sweet Potato Recipe is perfect for such large breeds of dog since it packs the right calories for energy and high amounts of proteins for muscle and organ tissue growth. The taste of buffalo should give your dog the treat of its life.

For a full list of our favorite options, see our review of Merrick Dog Food.

Ingredients:

Deboned Bison, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Potatoes, Deboned Beef, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Chicken Fat, Whitefish Meal, Tapioca, Natural Flavor, Salmon Meal, Potato Protein, Pea Protein, Flaxseed, Sunflower Oil, Potassium Chloride, Salt, Apples, Blueberries, Organic Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Choline Chloride, Minerals (Iron Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Amino Acid Complex, Zinc Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Amino Acid Complex, Copper Amino Acid Complex, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Proteinate, Cobalt Carbonate), Taurine, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Mixed Tocopherols for Freshness, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Niacin, Biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Citric Acid for Freshness, Dried Lactobacillus plantarum Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus casei Fermentation Product, Dried Enterococcus faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus Fermentation Product.

What others say about it:
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Snuggles loves it. But she does like your backcountry brand the best. Either way, I’ve been giving her Merrick grain free since she was weaned and she’s 12 now and as healthy as ever. A vet even took a guess at her age and said 6…. I think grain free keeps them young and healthy. When I spend a little extra on food for my little loved one, I’m reminded of the Bradley Cooper character in the movie Hit and Run when he tells the dude next to him in the grocery line who is buying the cheap dog food, ‘ya that stuff is cheaper but it’s like 80% more poison…’ xD may be true…

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com

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4 Natural Balance L.I.D. Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato

Natural Balance L.I.D. Grain-Free Salmon & Sweet Potato
Key features:
  • Brand: Natural Balance
  • First 5 ingredients: Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Cassava Flour, Potatoes
  • Primary Protein Source: Salmon
  • Calories: 373 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Salmon & Sweet Potato
  • Life Stage: Adult

With only three ingredients forming the core of its formulation – sweet potatoes and salmon with Menhaden fish meal – Natural Balance’s Limited Ingredient Diet Dry Dog Food stays true to its vision of helping pet parents institute an elimination diet for their Golden retrievers that may be suffering from food allergies.

While the principal ingredient is sweet potatoes the addition of salmon, fish meal, and salmon oil more than makes up for it, supplying the diet with rich DHA and EPA for optimum neurologic, integumentary, cardiovascular, and immunologic functioning. Given that both sweet potatoes and salmon are less allergenic than other ingredients, you’ll feel relieved knowing your Goldie won’t have an upset stomach and allergic issues while giving them the energy to roam free.

For more information on the brand, check out our Natural Balance Dog Food Review.

Ingredients:

Salmon, Menhaden Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Cassava Flour, Potatoes, Sunflower Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Brewers Dried Yeast, Flaxseed, Natural Flavor, Potato Protein, Salt, Menhaden Fish Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Chloride, Taurine, Dl-methionine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, D-calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Biotin, Folic Acid), Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Iron Proteinate, Copper Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate), Choline Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Citric Acid (Used As A Preservative), Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract, Spearmint Extract.

What others say about it:
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I really think this is an excellent dry dog food. My dog likes it & salmon & sweet potatoes is what my vet recommends. My dog also gets wet food that is for weight maintenance. Ever since I found out that green pea (or any legume) formula dog food may present problems, I am glad to give her this!

Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

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5 Fromm Adult Gold Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food

Fromm Adult Gold Large Breed Formula Dry Dog Food
Key features:
  • Brand: Fromm
  • First 5 ingredients: Duck, Chicken Meal, Chicken, Oatmeal, Pearled Barley
  • Primary Protein Source: Chicken
  • Calories: 378 kcal/cup
  • Flavor: Rice
  • Life Stage: Adult

The Fromm Family Pet Foods are best known for their artisan creations that puts primacy in the quality of their ingredients. The Goldie with the Gold Nutritionals Dog Food comes with premium-quality duck, chicken, and lamb and completed with real Wisconsin cheese and whole eggs. It is beefed up with both prebiotics and probiotics to help boost your Goldie’s immune system and digestive functions while its 5:1 ratio of essential fatty acids help provide for healthier skin, immune system, cardiovascular functioning, and nervous system integrity. It has cartilage, too to help build stronger joints for your highly active Goldie. The price may be steep, but if you’re looking for one of the best for your Goldie the Gold Nutritionals is for you.

Read the in-depth Fromm Dog Food Review.

Ingredients:

Duck, Chicken Meal, Chicken, Oatmeal, Pearled Barley, Brown Rice, White Rice, Tomato Pomace, Whole Egg, Menhaden Fish Meal, Lamb, Potato, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Cheese, Salmon Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Brewers Dried Yeast, Alfalfa Meal, Carrots, Lettuce, Celery, Lecithin, Chicken Cartilage, Calcium Sulfate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, DL-Methionine, Chicory Root Extract, Yucca Schidigera Extract, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidobact

What others say about it:
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I have a Rottweiler and he’s a little bit picky about his food. I wanted to get something with a good amount of protein but not too much. This bag fit the bill. he loves this food and it doesn’t make him fart. Anybody that’s familiar with Rottweilers knows their farts are horrible so I’m glad it agrees with his stomach.

Read more buyer reviews at Amazon.com

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Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers Buying Guide

It’s easy to pick the wrong kind of food for your Golden retriever. That is why it is important to first increase your knowledge about the nutritional needs of these dogs before you want to go on a shopping spree. It is also crucial to understand some of the health conditions that Goldies are prone to developing so you’ll be guided accordingly on the kind of food to give to them. Here’s a simple guide for you to consider.

Nutritional Needs of Golden Retrievers

The nutritional needs of Goldies are not different from other breeds. Perhaps the only difference will be in the content of each nutrient. You should understand that your Goldie is a bit muscular but not so much unlike Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. That said, you will need to pay attention to the following nutrient requirements.

  • Moderate to high protein

Animal protein is still best. The amino acid profile of animal proteins is more complete than their plant counterparts. Ideally, you should strive for protein content that is at least 25% of the dry matter weight of the dog food. Moreover, the very first ingredient should be a clearly-stated animal protein. In some instances where a plant ingredient is the first on the list, these are often treated as specialty diets. You should still look at the guaranteed analysis of the product.

Check out our latest review of High Protein Dog Food.

  • Low to moderate fat

Fats in the diet of Golden retrievers should not exceed 20% although this can be quite tricky if you have a dog food that contains mostly animal ingredients. Meats have both proteins and fats in them so you get high protein and high fat, too. Don’t be discouraged by the fat in the dog food because they need this for healthier coat, skin, and endocrine system.

  • Micronutrients

Calcium and phosphorus are important for puppies as they grow and develop their bones. B vitamins are important for all life stages of Goldies for better metabolism. Vitamins A and E are important as well.

  • Nutraceuticals

EPA, DHA, and ALA are all important for optimum neurologic, cardiovascular, and immune system functioning. Chondroitin and glucosamine are also necessary for improved joint health. Probiotics may also help in improving digestive and immunologic functions.

You may also like our review of Best Probiotics for Dogs.

owner giving golden retriever meal of dog biscuits in bowl

How to Feed a Golden Retriever

Feeding your Golden retriever is not really that different from any other dog breed. It should always start with choosing the best dog food that is highly appropriate for its life stage.

Starting with puppies, the sole nutrition for Goldie pups in the first month of life should only be the mommy’s milk, or puppy milk replacers in cases where the mother is unable to nurse. By the 5th week of life, you can start adding solids into its food. You can start with high quality wet or canned puppy food as its softer texture allows for easier consumption. You can give kibbles, but you might want to moisten it a bit. You can feed your pup 4 times a day until it reaches its 9th week.

Find out more about Puppy Food.

By the second to the third month, you can lessen the frequency to 3 times daily but with an adjustment in its calorie intake. Once your Golden retriever is in its 4th month you can already feed it twice daily. This is going to be your Goldie’s feeding schedule for the rest of its life unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian.

Some pet parents feed their Goldies only once a day. While this is possible, we don’t recommend it since small frequent feedings is a lot better to help avoid bloating, a condition that is well-known in Golden retrievers and other large breeds of dog.

Read here our review of the Best Large Breed Dog Food.

Golden Retriever Health Problems and How Food Can Help

Golden retrievers may be described as playful, energetic, and very active pooches that love nothing but life and family. However, this doesn’t mean they’re completely immune to diseases. Like all breeds of dog, Goldies are prone to certain health issues more than other breeds. Here are some of them.

  • Cancer

Two of the most common cancers found in Golden retrievers are hemangiosarcomas and lymphomas. Hemangiosarcoma is a very invasive type of cancer that is found almost exclusively in canine populations. Hemangiosarcomas affect the blood vessels while lymphomas target lymphocytes in the immune system. Nutrition can play a role in improving the signaling pathways of cells so that they don’t differentiate into neoplastic ones.

  • Aortic stenosis

In this condition, the valve where blood exits the heart to be delivered to the rest of the body gets narrower, restricting the flow and delivery of blood towards the rest of the body while also congesting the heart with blood because of the limited forward movement of blood. Omega fatty acids and other nutrients that can lower blood lipids can also help. Fiber has always been an integral part of aortic stenosis diet in human populations.

  • Hip dysplasia

It is very unusual for large and giant breeds of dogs not to be affected by hip dysplasia which is described as an abnormality in the gross anatomy of the hip joint. Calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine, and chondroitin can help by strengthening both the bones and the joint capsule. Moderate amounts of calories and fats are also needed to minimize the impact of body weight on the joints.

Find out more about Calcium Supplements for Dogs.

  • Elbow dysplasia

This is almost similar to hip dysplasia except that the affected joint is in the elbow of your Golden retriever. Again, nutrients are important to minimize the impact of such degeneration of the tissues.

  • Eye problems

Golden retrievers are prone to the development of congenital cataracts and central progressive retinal atrophy or CPRA. Congenital cataracts mostly affect puppies no older than 6 months. CPRA, on the other hand primarily affects older Goldies because of degeneration of the retinal pigment cells. Vitamin A and DHA can help minimize the effects of these disorders in your dog.

  • Hypothyroidism

If you notice your pet unusually gaining weight even without a change in its exercise or diet patterns, it may already have hypothyroidism. Even if you do manage to lower your pet’s calorie intake, the weight gain will not go away since the problem is in a less-than-active thyroid gland. You can support your dog with more EPA and DHA in its diet. Antioxidants, high fiber foods, ALA, and probiotics have also been shown to help.

Check out our guide on Dog Food for Hypothyroidism.

  • Bloating

All large breed and deep-chested dogs are prone to bloating. A major complication is gastric torsion which is a life-threatening condition that can only be corrected by surgery. Feeding your dog in smaller yet more frequent amounts should help.

  • Von Willebrand’s disease

In this condition, your Goldie lacks a certain clotting factor making it more prone to bleeding. While it is a hereditary blood disorder, you can help your dog by supplying dog food that is rich in vitamin K as well as other nutrients that can help in the synthesis of the missing clotting factor.

Adorable golden retriever dog eating pet food

Are There Any Ingredients To Avoid?

In addition to the usual suspects like artificial flavor enhancers, colorings, and even preservatives, there are a few other ingredients that you may want to avoid.

  • BHA and BHT

Both butylated hydroxytoluene and butylated hydroxyanisole are identified by the WHO as carcinogenic. And since cancer is one of the most common health problems of Golden retrievers, you don’t want these substances in your dog’s diet.

  • Ethoxyquin

Already banned in the EU and Australia, ethoxyquin is believed to cause blood and liver problems. Remember that some Goldies are predisposed to von Willebrand’s disease as well as aortic stenosis. Adding ethoxyquin in their diet may bring more harm than good.

  • Propyl gallate

Human studies reveal that propyl gallate contain xenoestrogens that have been associated with the increased incidence of human breast cancer. It is not known, however, if this breast carcinogenic effect extends well into Golden retriever populations.

  • Propylene glycol 

Known to cause Heinz body anemia in cats, propylene glycol is typically used to retain the moisture in dog food. So watch out.

  • TBHQ

Tertiary butylhydroquinone is a preservative that can cause irreversible DNA damage which often heralds the development of cancer cells especially in the stomach.

How Many Calories Does My Golden Retriever Need?

The breed standard weight for a Golden retriever is between 65 and 75 pounds for males and 55 and 65 pounds for females. Experts use a very simple formula to compute for any dog’s calorie requirement based on its weight and its activities or developmental stages. Here’s how to compute for your Goldie’s daily caloric needs.

  • Divide its weight in pounds by 2.2 to get its weight in kilograms.
  • Raise the weight in kilograms by the Resting Energy Requirement (RER) power constant of 0.75 before multiplying it with 70.
  • Multiply the result with the appropriate Maintenance Energy Requirement (MER) factor.

Let us say you have an unneutered Goldie that weighs 70 pounds. Following the steps outlined above, we should get the following.

  • 70 pounds divided by 2.2 = 31.82 kilograms
  • 82 raised to the power of 0.75 = 13.4 kilograms
  • 4 kilograms x 70 = 938 calories
  • 938 x 1.8 = 1,688.4 calories MER or 1,688 calories per day

The 1.8 factor is only for unneutered or intact dogs. Other factors can be used depending on the purpose of the diet. These are as follows.

  • For neutered dogs – 1.6
  • To lose weight – 1.0
  • To gain weight – 1.7
  • To perform light work – 2.0
  • To perform moderate intensity work – 3.0
  • To perform heavy work – 6.0
  • For puppies younger than 4 months – 3.0
  • For puppies older than 4 months – 2.0

golden retriever eating dog food

Caring for your Golden retriever means giving the right kind of food to sustain optimum growth and development. These best dog foods for Golden retrievers should set you on the right track.

Source:

  1. Golden Retrievers And Obesity Issues, Pets4Homes

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