Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers in 2021

Golden Retrievers are an extremely intelligent breed of dog that are loyal, obedient and kind to boot. Since they often become important members of the family, it is important for dog owners to feed their Retrievers the best food possible. But how do you know which is the best dog food for your Golden Retriever?

Golden Retrievers are a big dog breed that need a lot more nutrients than the average dog. Luckily, this article gets into the best dog food for Golden Retrievers in 2021, what to look for in dog food and much more.

Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

The best dog food for Golden Retrievers will meet all the nutrient requirements for the dog. Golden Retrievers need a lot more nutrients than most breeds. Therefore, pet owners need to search for the best dog food for their pooch’s needs. 

Why Do Golden Retrievers Need Good Dog Food?

Health starts from within, so it is important to apply that same principle to a dog’s food. Dogs that eat low-quality dog food are more prone to sickness because they do not have enough nutrients in their body. Low-quality dog food is often like junk food for dogs because it contains fillers and other ingredients that do not benefit dogs. In some cases, low-quality dog food can even make a dog sick.

Higher quality dog food can ensure better health for dogs, which is essential for big dogs like Golden Retrievers. Dog food that suits a Golden Retriever’s needs can meet their nutritional requirements. Moreover, Golden Retrievers are prone to certain conditions, like allergies and skin issues. Dog foods that are specially suited for big breeds like the Golden Retriever often prevent and soothe these issues.

Most dog food brands available at the store will not cut it for a Golden Retriever. Even if the dog food is good, that does not mean it is right for a Golden Retriever. They are a large breed of dog, so they need much more nutrients than medium and small dogs.

best dog food for golden retrievers

What to Look for in Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Each dog will have unique requirements, even if they are of the same breed. Not every Golden Retriever will have the same needs. They will have different health requirements, allergies, nutrients needs, life stages, etc. However, there will be some nutrients that every dog owner should look for in dog food to sustain optimal health, and here is a quick look at those nutrients. 


Protein is the number one nutrient to look for in dog food, and it should contain high-quality protein sources. Protein has essential amino acids that cannot be found in vegetables, fruits or grains. These amino acids are crucial for a dog’s proper development, especially since they were originally wild animals. Wild dogs used to rely on meat from prey animals, which contained the amino acids, for a huge part of their diet, so many domestic dogs still require these amino acids from animal proteins, which is why it is not wise to give dogs meat-free diets.

Protein allows a dog’s body to properly function, especially since it is one of the main sources of energy for dogs. It encourages muscle repair and growth, keeping a dog lean and strong. It also repairs many other cells of the body, keeping the skin and hair healthy as well. Moreover, protein helps the immune system and it makes enzymes, antibodies and hormones. Since Golden Retrievers are big dogs, they will need around 30% protein in their diets.


Another good source of energy for dogs is carbohydrates, but many dog owners do not think much about carbs. Most pet owners would assume that their main sources of energy should come from protein and fats, but carbs can be a great source of energy and nutrients for a Golden Retriever. Therefore, they should not be ignored.

Many people think that carbs are grains and wheat, which is why it can get a bad rep. Grains can be healthy, but not for all dogs. There are some dogs that have grain or wheat allergies, so they get bad reactions to dog foods that contain grain or wheat, such as skin allergies, stomach pain, etc. However, carbohydrates are not only wheat and grain. 

Carbohydrates come in many forms of food that grain and wheat sensitive dogs can eat. For instance, vegetables are an excellent source of healthy carbs. Grain and wheat sensitive dogs can still have beneficial carbohydrates in their diet to give them more energy. Veggies like sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, etc., are excellent sources of grain and wheat-free carbs, with added vitamins and minerals to boot.


Fats are considered bad, but they are actually important in a Golden Retriever’s diet, especially if they are healthy fats. Oils and fats should be roughly about 10-15% of a dog’s diet, but only the healthy kind. Unhealthy fats, such as saturated fats, from fried foods are very bad for dogs because it clogs their arteries. However, there are healthy fats like chicken fat and salmon oil that are excellent for dogs. Finding these healthy fat ingredients in a Golden Retriever’s food is a must.

Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats, and there are many different kinds. All dogs need fatty acids in their diet, especially because their bodies cannot produce some of them. The important fatty acids that dogs need get seperated into groups, which are omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. In an ideal balanced diet for a dog, the groups should be in a well-balanced ratio.

Vitamins and Minerals

A huge part of a dog’s diet should involve proper vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are crucial for chemical reactions, like keeping bones strong and building more tissues. Most dog foods will include a lot of vitamins and minerals, like vitamin A, D, B-Complex vitamins, phosphorus, calcium, etc. Unlike other mammals, dogs do not need vitamin C unless a vet says so because their bodies can create their own.

When dogs eat the right dog food with many vitamins and minerals, they will not need to get extra supplements. The right dog food will provide them with enough nutrients that they will not need more. In fact, it can be dangerous to give dogs more vitamins and minerals that they need.

Do Golden Retrievers Need Grain In Their Diets?

Many Golden Retrievers can benefit from grain in their diets because it is an excellent nutrient. Grains are carbohydrates that give energy, plus they are full of other nutrients like antioxidants and fats (depending on the grain). However, not all dogs can tolerate wheat or grain in their diets. Many dogs have allergies to grains, so they need grain-free diets. However, they can still benefit from other carbs like veggies to get their carbs. 

What Are the Top 5 Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers?

There are many kinds of good dog foods for Golden Retrievers, and each will suit various needs. Here is a quick look at 5 best dog food for Golden Retrievers.

Wellness Large Breed Complete Health

People that want natural dog food for their furry friends can opt for this formulation created by Wellness. This dog food contains excellent ingredients that are free of meat by-products, GMOs, artificial preservatives or fillers. The only ingredients that it contains are to offer Golden Retrievers whole-body nutrition. The dog food is further enhanced by offering taurine, probiotics, antioxidants and omega fatty acids.

The ingredients are specially chosen to make the immune system stronger, preventing potential infections and diseases from developing. It has enough carbs, protein and fats to optimize an active Golden Retriever’s energy levels. The other ingredients, like fatty acids, also help prevent skin problems (which are common in Golden Retrievers) by promoting a beautiful skin and coat.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed

Pet owners that want a whole and natural dog food for their Golden Retriever will love this formula made by Blue Buffalo. It contains real meat, like deboned chicken, to promote strong muscles, which is crucial for big dogs like the Golden Retriever. Moreover, it contains whole grains, fruits and veggies that further encourage a healthy body.

A unique feature to this is that it contains LifeSource bits. These bits are a mix of nutrients that are further enhanced with more ingredients that are rich in antioxidants. The dog food also has chondroitin and glucosamine that helps support bone and joint health, making a dog more mobile. Moreover, it has omega 6 and 3 fatty acids that help the dog stay healthy with a beautiful coat. 

This dog food is an excellent choice for dogs that are active and need extra support. It has L-carnitine that helps the muscles, helping aid a dog stay healthy and mobile in their active lifestyles. It also has loads of essential vitamins, phosphorus and calcium to encourage stronger teeth and bones. Moreover, there are antioxidants, mechalated minerals and vitamins to support a healthy immune system.

Wellness CORE Grain-Free Original

Some Golden Retrievers cannot handle grain, so their pet owners need to opt for grain-free formulas that still offer healthy carbs for their dog. This formula by Wellness CORE offers exactly that, containing wholesome grains that will not irritate grain-sensitive dogs. Since Golden Retrievers are more likely to get joint and bone issues, this contains useful ingredients like glucosamine.

A huge feature of this dog food is that it contains premium proteins with no meat by-products. It contains a lot of chicken and turkey, which are lean sources of protein to support lean muscle growth and maintenance. Along with the premium proteins, it contains a bunch of antioxidants, omega fatty acids, probiotics, vitamins, taurine, etc., to promote the Golden Retriever’s health.

Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Grain-Free

Another fantastic grain-free formulation for Golden Retrievers is this food by Taste of the Wild. It has unique sources of novel proteins, like real smoked salmon, and it offers about 32% of protein, making it an excellent choice for very active Golden Retrievers. Instead of grains, it uses peas and sweet potatoes as its healthy sources of carbs that are easy to digest. It is also free of artificial ingredients and wheat, making it great for dogs with sensitive tummies.

It contains loads of real veggies and fruits to provide extra carbs, vitamins, minerals, etc. These veggies and fruits also provide antioxidants that work to support the immune system. It can also prevent disease and infection. Moreover, this dog food formula has dried chicory root that encourages healthy digestion and offers prebiotic support.

Iams ProActive Health Adult Large Breed

This dog food is an excellent choice for most adult Golden Retrievers. The first five ingredients featured in this dog food are whole ingredients, like chicken, ground whole grain sorghum, ground whole grain barley, etc. It is a grain-inclusive dog food, so Goldens that are sensitive to grain should avoid this dog food. Otherwise, it is healthy for most adult Golden Retrievers.

This dog food is ideal for maintenance, so it is best for dogs with moderate to minimal energy levels. Very active dogs may not benefit from this formula. It has 25% protein, 53% carbs and 14% fat, making it a good amount for most Golden Retrievers. It does not have any high-risk chemical preservatives or BHA, making it a popular choice for many breeders.

What Is the Best Dog Food for Golden Retriever Puppies?

A Golden Retriever pup will be much bigger than most puppies. Therefore, they also need special food to meet their nutritional requirements to grow healthy and strong. Here is a quick look at two great dog foods for Golden Retriever Puppies.

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Food

A well-loved dog food that is specially made for Golden Retriever puppies is this one by Royal Canin. This dog food can be fed to Golden Retriever pups that are 8 weeks up to 15 months old. The kibble is unique because it encourages chewing. It has a special shape that fits in their mouth and teeth, encouraging them to chew more and slow down while eating.

It has lots of nutrients that will benefit a growing Golden Retriever pup. It has vitamin E, which works as an antioxidant. It protects the skin while making the coat shiny. Plus, supports the pup’s immune system. 

However, there is a downside to it. The first ingredient on the list is chicken by-product meal. While meal-based meat products have a higher concentration of protein, but by-product meat products are not that great. There are other dog foods that use whole ingredients instead of by-products.

Purina ProPlan Large Breed Puppy Food

Many veterinarians love this dog food for Golden Retriever puppies because it provides all the nutrition the pups need. It has some of the most nutrition found in the Purina prescription line, making it an excellent choice for Golden Retriever puppies. It comes with lots of quality ingredients, the first ingredients on the list being chicken, brewer’s rice, etc. 

It has phosphorus and calcium, important nutrients to support a growing puppy’s bones as they grow. Golden Retrievers are prone to issues like hip dysplasia as they age, but this formula contains glucosamine that supports joint and bone health. Moreover, this dog food formula has lots of antioxidants and fish oil that support vision, brain development and immune system.

Is Wet or Dry Dog Food Better?

Wet food and dry food both have their benefits, but neither is particularly better than the other. It mostly depends on the specific dog, since each dog will have different needs and tastes. Most dogs will like wet food more because it has a stronger smell, making it more enticing. Wet food is also ideal for dogs that need more hydration. Some dogs will have health conditions, like kidney issues, may need more hydration, so wet food would be a better bet. Therefore, wet food is better for picky dogs, especially if they do not drink enough water.

However, not all dogs need to eat wet food. Dry dog food is much more convenient for most pet owners. Plus, many dogs will readily drink water, so well-hydrated dogs will not need the extra hydration of wet food. 

Dry dog food also has the benefit of containing more nutrients than wet food. While wet food could contain more protein and fats than dry food, dry dog food can contain more ingredients. For instance, it is easier for manufacturers to incorporate antioxidants, dried fruits and veggies, etc., into dry dog food than wet. So, it will mostly depend on the dog and the owner’s preference to decide if wet food or dry food is better.

All in All

Golden Retrievers need a well-balanced diet to live healthily, but most common dog foods do not meet the nutritional requirements of a big dog breed. They need a lot more nutrients, which is why pet owners need to look out for the right dog food for their Golden Retrievers to properly develop and maintain their health. The list of dog foods, nutrients, etc., listed above can help Golden Retriever owners make a wise decision about their dog’s food.


  1. VCA Hospitals, ‘Nutrition – General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs’,, Date Accessed – 9 June, 2021
  2. VCA Hospitals, ‘Food Allergies in Dogs’,, Date Accessed – 9 June, 2021
  3. PetMD, ‘Fats and Oils: Good for Your Dog’s Health?’,, Date Accessed – 9 June, 2021

Vet Nutrition, ‘The Skinny on Fat: Part 1 – The Basics’,, Date Accessed – 9 June, 2021

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