From the moment they are born, Golden Retrievers are balls of sweet, silly fun. They are friendly dogs that enjoy spending time with adults, children and other animals. When they are young they have a lot of energy, but as they age they begin to slow down. That's why it's so important to find the best dog food for Golden Retrievers for every stage of your pet's life.
The popularity of the Golden as family dogs has not gone unnoticed. In 2016 the Golden Retriever rounded out the top tier as the AKC’s #3 Most Popular dog in the USA. One of the reasons they are so popular, is because the Golden is really a perfect companion for anyone in any environment.
This breed is also fairly easy to keep. Their long coats require a bit more grooming than other breeds, but other than that they are pretty low-maintenance.
The trickiest thing about owning a Golden Retriever is learning how to properly feed them. When they are young, these dogs are very active. They enjoy going for runs, hikes and playing endless rounds of fetch in the backyard.
As they age, the Golden will slow down. Their calorie intake will need to be adjusted to prevent obesity. Supplements should also be added to the diet for joint health.
As you can see, finding the best dog food for Golden Retrievers is not a one-time thing. It's an ongoing process, and you need to work with your veterinarian or a trained canine nutritionist to find the right diet for your pooch.
I'll be explaining the nutritional needs of Golden Retriever dog breed and how to feed a Golden Retriever in more detail, but for now, here is a quick look at the five foods I'll be recommending as the best dog food for Golden Retrievers:
|Dog Food Brands||Price||Value||Rating|
|Royal Canin Golden Retriever Breed Health Nutrition||$$$||$2.00/lb||4.2/5|
|Natural Balance L.I.D. Sweet Potato and Fish Adult||$$$||$2.23/lb||4.4/5|
|Native Performance Dog Food||$$$||$1.83/lb||2.0/5|
|Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic and Mobility||$$$$$||$8.21/lb||2.8/5|
|Eukanuba Lamb and Rice Senior Maintenance||$$||$1.27/lb||4.6/5|
* Click on the Golden Retriever dog food brand for information and prices oir scroll down below for more details.
What makes the best dog food for Golden Retrievers?
The Golden Retriever is a large-breed dog with a long body, soft medium-length coat, and a characteristic golden or golden-red color. Goldens excel at retrieving, swimming and hanging around the house. They typically live 11 years on average.
Goldens tend to be more moderate in energy level, depending on their personality. Some are “go-go-go” while others would prefer to be couch potatoes. Most prefer to spend their time playing fetch, Frisbee, swimming and snuggling.
Goldens tend to be very bonded to their family but friendly with strangers. They make the perfect companion for the active, outdoorsy family, ready to go on a hike or to the beach at a moment’s notice.
Golden retrievers also tend to be “chow hounds” and may want to eat you out of house and home. They can easily become “counter surfers” – jumping on counter tops in the kitchen for an unsupervised snack – or get caught chomping on a discarded apple core on the sidewalk.
Their healthy appetite can be a blessing and a curse. Most Goldens are not picky eaters, so they will typically enjoy any dog food you decide to give them. Golden retrievers are one of the easiest breeds to overfeed. I’ve met many that are “bottomless pits” and will continuously beg or scavenge for whatever food you can provide.
That being said…it is important to prevent your Golden from becoming overweight or obese, and that starts with finding the best dog food for Golden Retrievers.
ASK A VET: How To Put An Overweight Dog On A Diet?
Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers
5 vet recommended brands
How To Feed A Golden Retriever
Before switching your dog to any new diet, always consult with a veterinarian. Remember that no article on the internet, including this one, can replace a consultation with a vet.
Puppy Golden Retrievers
Large-breed puppies like Golden retrievers are more susceptible to malnutrition and developmental orthopedic disease compared to small-breed pups. Many Golden owners have heard of these diseases- hip dysplasia, osteochondrosis (OCD), panosteitis and hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD).
While there is a genetic component to these diseases, there are significant nutritional risk factors that play a part during puppyhood. These risk factors are rapid growth and excess dietary calcium intake.
The best dog food for Golden Retrievers provides just enough of the right balance of nutrients. Large-breed specific puppy foods are a great safeguard to help prevent these issues. My top recommendation for Golden puppies is Royal Canin Golden Retriever Breed Health Nutrition Puppy.
Royal Canin has done all the legwork for us in creating their Golden retriever-specific puppy food. Goldens are a more slowly maturing breed and it is recommended to feed this puppy food until 15 months of age.
The calorie content and mineral balance are optimal for preventing developmental orthopedic diseases. Goldens have teeth that meet in a “scissors bite” and a long mouth and snout. Royal Canin has designed square, thin kibble for optimal chewing and digestion by Goldens.
Best Dog Food for Adult Golden Retrievers
If you are looking for the best dog food for Golden Retrievers that are more than 12 months old or are transitioning from puppy food to adult food, it is a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. Your vet can help determine your Golden’s current body condition score. With this in hand, you can decide which ‘maintenance’ adult diet is best.
Normal Body Condition Golden Retrievers
A great place to start for an active, normal body weight/condition Golden is Natural Balance L.I.D. Sweet Potato and Fish Adult Formula. This adult formula is excellent for adults over 15 months of age to 7-8 years of age.
Many Golden retrievers suffer from dry, itchy skin and ear problems. This food can help. As a veterinarian, when I see a first-time itchy Golden in my clinic, I recommend this food.
Golden Retrievers are more prone to dry and itchy skin, most commonly caused by atopic dermatitis or inhaled allergens. Natural Balance L.I.D. Sweet potato and fish is a fantastic choice for supporting your Golden’s skin and coat health.
This formula contains ingredients that may help your Golden be less itchy. It is packed with highly digestible carbohydrates, high-quality salmon and an omega-3 fatty acid boost.
Only 15-40% of itchy dogs actually have a food allergy. The majority (60-80%) of dogs with itchy skin have atopic dermatitis, an itchy skin condition caused by environmental allergens like pollen or mold.
Food allergies are caused by the dog’s immune system “over-reacting” to a protein in their diet – chicken and beef being the most common culprits. Keep in mind that if your veterinarian suspects that your Golden has a true food allergy, this food is not the best option for an “elimination diet” diagnosis.
Very Active/Hunting Golden Retrievers
Is your Golden retriever a competitive dock-diving machine or active duck hunter? She may need a higher calorie food than your average house dog. In this case, I recommend Native Performance Dog Food.
If your Golden is training hard, this is the food for you. Native provides different “levels” of nutrition, from Level 1 “off season, low activity” food to Level 4 for dogs engaging in intense activity 4-5 hours a day.
Many adult Goldens out there easily become overweight or obese. As they age, they can lose a bit of their spunk and settle down into a more sedentary lifestyle. I often have to make recommendations for the best dog food for Golden Retrievers that are overweight.
It is important to talk to your vet if your dog is overweight or has a concurrent health condition. Some foods can target multiple issues. Generally, I reach for Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic and Mobility when Goldens become a bit too chunky and they have come to me for help.
This diet is by prescription only, but it is one of the best dog food for Golden Retrievers in the middle-age category that can’t seem to shed the pounds. Over time, excess weight can cause predispose dogs to arthritis, so the mobility component will help to keep their joints in top form.
Senior Golden Retriever Dog Food
Golden Retrievers are considered “senior” or “geriatric” around 8 years of age. As they age, their nutritional requirements change as well. Joints start to ache and mental function can start to decline. Active ingredients in the best dog food for Golden Retrievers in their senior years will help your dog go strong for as long as possible.
I recommend Eukanuba Lamb and Rice Senior Maintenance. Eukanuba is another high-quality dog food manufacturer with a great track record for quality products and high quality control standards.
This food stands out due to its high level of antioxidants, which can help support proper cell function in aging dogs. It has also been proven to reduce tartar buildup on teeth by 46%.
The Doggy Bag – Take Home Message
Golden retrievers tend to live the longest, healthiest lives when they are kept in a leaner body condition, receive life-stage-appropriate balanced nutrition and routine veterinary care.
Regardless of which dog food you choose for your furry family member, it is important to follow feeding instructions carefully and consult with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s health or nutrition.