Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Kevin Bischof Written By Kevin Bischof

Being the proud owner of a Golden Retriever not only entails providing a loving environment but also involves making crucial decisions when it comes to nutrition. However, choosing the “Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers” can be a perplexing and challenging process for many pet owners.

The plethora of options available in the market, catering to different age groupsactivity levels, and health conditions, can make pinpointing the right choice quite daunting. Moreover, understanding the nutritional content, additives, and the overall quality of dog food can add another layer of complexity.

Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Golden Retriever owners often find themselves grappling with these challenges as they strive to select the ideal diet to ensure the health and happiness of their beloved companions. In this article, we aim to guide Golden Retriever owners by providing tips and recommendations to help them navigate through the maze of options and make informed decisions about choosing the most suitable dog food.

How To Choose the Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

The Age of Your Golden is a Key Determinant

  • Puppy: Golden Retriever puppies have different nutritional needs compared to adult dogs. Puppy formulas typically have higher protein and fat content to support their rapid growth and development.
  •  Adult: Adult Golden Retrievers require a balanced diet to maintain their health, energy levels, and ideal body weight.
  •  Senior: Older Golden Retrievers often need diets lower in calories but still rich in nutrients to support joint health and manage issues like arthritis.

By taking into account your dog’s age and body condition, you can make an informed decision to choose the most suitable dog food, ensuring your canine companion enjoys a healthy and balanced diet.

Golden Retriever BCS: A Quick Guide to Assessing Energy Level

Body Condition Score ( BSC ) also gives trick information about your dog’s energy level.

1Emaciated – Ribs, spine, and pelvic bones are easily visible; no palpable fat.
2Very thin – Ribs are easily visible; minimal fat covering.
3Thin – Ribs are easily palpable with minimal fat covering.
4Moderate – Ribs are palpable with a slight fat covering. Ideal body condition for a Golden Retriever.
5Ideal – Ribs are palpable with a moderate fat covering.
6Moderate overweight – Ribs are palpable with difficulty; noticeable fat covering.
7Overweight – Ribs are not easily palpable; moderate to heavy fat covering.
8Obese – Ribs are not palpable; heavy fat covering; waist and abdominal tuck not visible.
9Extremely obese – Ribs and bones are not palpable; massive fat covering.

The Role of Proteins, Balanced Calories, and Nutrients in Dog Food

Protein is necessary for maintaining strong muscles. A study published in the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition found that diets with high levels of animal-based proteins were beneficial in promoting muscle maintenance in dogs (Bosch et al., 2015). Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, or fish are excellent protein sources. 1

Golden Retrievers can be prone to obesity, so it’s important to choose a formula that has a balanced caloric density to maintain an optimal weight. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) provides guidelines for canine nutrition, which can be a useful reference for understanding the nutritional adequacy of dog food.

Oopt for formulations containing essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, to support their coat health and overall skin condition. Pay attention to the inclusion of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which contribute to a strong immune system.

Be mindful of any potential allergens or sensitivities your Golden Retriever may have, and consult with your veterinarian to tailor the diet to their specific health needs. Especially, grain-free products may hurt your dog.2 Prioritizing nutrition and addressing health concerns in the selection process will ensure that your Golden Retriever receives the best dog food tailored to their unique requirements, fostering a long and healthy life.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall
Stella & Chewy’s Stella’s Super Beef Meal Mixers Freeze
Best Under Budget
Purina Pro Plan Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
Best for Puppy
Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Numerous studies emphasize the significance of a balanced diet tailored to the specific needs of Golden Retrievers. Research indicates that these dogs thrive on diets rich in high-quality proteins to support their muscle development and maintain a healthy weight.

Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, play a crucial role in promoting optimal coat and skin health, reducing inflammation, and supporting cognitive function.

Due to the reasons mentioned above, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all best dog food. In this article, we’ll explore the top choices for various variations, including dry, wet, non-allergic, puppy-specific, and more.

If your dog's Body Condition Score (BCS) is between 1 and 3, we might be talking about a slight appetite issue. Therefore, opting for Fresh and Raw dog foods can be a good choice.

JustFoodForDogs Joint & Skin Support Recipe Frozen Human-Grade Fresh Dog Food

JusFoodforDogs - Golden Retrievers

Crude Protein: 9% min

Crude Fat: 2.5% min

Crude Fiber: 2% max

Moisture: 78% max

(EPA) + (DHA) 0.06% min

With fresh, human-grade ingredients like pork, quinoa, kale, carrots, and Fuji apples, this frozen dog food is the best option for top-tier dog food.

Formulated by veterinarians, this full-meal recipe is backed by science and independent research within AAFCO protocols. It contains JustFoodForDogs’ Joint Care Plus supplement, promoting healthy joints.

Importantly, it’s free from artificial additives, fillers, preservatives, growth hormones, BHA, BHT, or artificial coloring. Yes, it’s expensive but mostly recommended.

If your dog's Body Condition Score (BCS) is between 4 and 6, your dog is in ideal form. You can choose Dry Dog Food and Raw Dog Food.

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Crude protein: 38% min

Crude fat: 18% min

Crude fiber: 4% max

Moisture: 12% max

With a minimum crude protein of 38% and minimum crude fat of 18%, this grain-free formula is crafted to support immune health, digestion, and skin and coat health throughout all life stages.

The first five ingredients include free-run chicken, free-run turkey, flounder, whole mackerel, and chicken liver, providing natural sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals. What sets it apart is the utilization of the most succulent and nutrient-rich parts of the prey, ensuring a nutrient-dense diet.

With up to 85% animal protein and the inclusion of ORIJEN WholePrey ingredients like organs and bones, this dry dog food offers a well-rounded and balanced approach to meeting your Golden Retriever’s dietary requirements.

Stella & Chewy’s Stella’s Super Beef Meal Mixers Freeze

Crude Protein: 44.0% min

Crude Fat: 35.0% min

Crude Fiber: 5.0% max

Moisture: 5.0% max

This freeze-dried nugget formula offers an impressive minimum crude protein of 44.0% and minimum crude fat of 35.0%, ensuring a nutritionally dense diet. With a maximum crude fiber of 5.0% and moisture at 5.0% maximum, it maintains a well-balanced profile.

The inclusion of probiotics enhances digestion, making it an ideal choice for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Our best dog food for golden retrievers choise proudly made in the USA with responsibly sourced ingredients, Stella & Chewy’s ensures your Golden Retriever receives complete and balanced nutrition in line with their natural dietary needs.

If your dog's Body Condition Score (BCS) is between 7 and 7+, we might be talking about wealth management. Wet dog foods typically have lower calorie content. Their higher water content can contribute to a dog feeling more satisfied.

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Gastrointestinal Low Fat Loaf Canned Dog Food

Crude Protein: 6.0% min

Crude Fat: 1.43% min -3.75% max

Crude Fiber: 1.9% max

Moisture: 76.0% max

EPA + DHA: 0.02% min

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Gastrointestinal Low Fat Loaf, Canned Dog Food is the ideal wet food option for your Golden Retriever.

Specifically crafted for adult dogs with digestive sensitivities, this veterinary-exclusive formula offers a minimum crude protein of 6.0% and a low-fat content to accommodate dogs struggling with fat digestion.

Packed with highly digestible proteins, a fiber blend, and omega-3 fatty acids, it promotes digestive health.

Freshpet Vital Chicken, Beef, Salmon & Egg Recipe Grain-Free Fresh Dog Food


Crude Protein: 17.0% min

Crude Fat: 10.0% min

Crude Fiber: 1.0% max

Moisture: 65.0% max

This carefully crafted dog food boasts a variety of essential features, including a minimum of 17.0% crude protein, 10.0% minimum crude fat, and 1.0% maximum crude fiber.

With a high protein content derived from real chicken, beef, salmon, and egg, it is a grain-free option that meets the specific dietary needs of dogs with allergies. Also, non-GMO dog food is cooked gently to preserve nutrients.

Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Lamb Meal & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

Protein: 23%

Fat: 14.5%

Moisture: Max 10%

Vitamin E, Vitamin C

The large-breed puppy formula often includes ingredients that support the unique requirements of large-breed puppies, such as controlled calcium levels for proper bone development.

We made our selection based on the best overall. Yes, fresh dog foods offer higher-quality ingredients. Hill’s Science Plan, on the other hand, supports your dog’s immune system with vitamins C and E. The inclusion of fish in its content aids in brain development. With its content that supports dental and bone development, user reviews, shelf life, and, of course, budget, it emerges as the top choice.

For a more detailed examination of Fresh and Frozen products, you can take a look at our content.


How much food should you feed a golden retriever?

It’s essential to consider the specific needs of your dog. However, as a general guideline, adult Golden Retrievers often require between 2 and 3 cups of high-quality dry dog food per day, split into two meals.

When can you safely switch a golden retriever to adult food?

Golden Retrievers are considered a large breed, and they typically reach their full size and maturity by around 12 to 18 months. In general, most veterinarians recommend transitioning to adult dog food around the age of 12 months. For more information check out How to Switch Dog Food ? 10 Days Transition Formula

What dog food should golden retrievers avoid?

Avoid feeding Golden Retrievers foods that are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic.

How can I switch to a new food without making my dog sick?

Begin with about 25% new food and 75% old food. For 7 to 10 days, gradually increase the proportion of the new food while decreasing the old food. Aim for a 50/50 mix around the midpoint of the transition. By the end of the transition period, your dog should be eating 100% of the new food. This gradual approach allows the digestive system to adapt to the new food.


1. Bosch, G., et al. (2015). “Effect of dietary proteins on the muscle protein synthesis rate in senile dogs.” Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 99(5), 800-810.


Author: Kevin Bischof
Kevin Bischof
Kevin Bischof is a doctoral student at Istanbul University, dedicated to advancing his knowledge and expertise in his chosen field. With approximately five years of experience in the realm of animal nutrition research, he has demonstrated a commitment to understanding the complexities of nutritional needs in the animal kingdom. His academic pursuits at Istanbul University reflect a passion for contributing to the scientific understanding of animal nutrition, potentially making a positive impact on the well-being and health of various species.

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