20 Best Golden Retriever Dog Foods for Puppies, Adults & Seniors

Contents of Article

Most Popular

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dry Dog Food

  • Contains real buffalo
  • Uses real fruits and vegetables

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Our Favorite

NomNom Chef-Prepared, Fresh Dog Food

  • Contains fresh, whole foods
  • Subscription delivery
  • Small, made to order batches ensure food is fresh

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Best Value

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food

  • Made with real salmon
  • Includes salmon oil to help skin and coat

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You made one of the most significant decisions of your life and chose to add a Golden Retriever to your family. These beloved, fun-loving, and energetic pups are wonderful additions to active households.

To keep your Golden happy, healthy, and energetic, you need to choose the right food. Of course, there are hundreds of choices available, so how do you know which one is right for your best friend?

Thankfully, we’ve researched for you and whittled down the massive list to a few of our favorites. We weighed the options, reviewed ingredients, and picked the best Golden Retriever dog food for each category.

Our Favorite (Also, the Most Expensive)

How do you know which food is best for your Golden Retriever? I asked myself the same question. At the end of the day, if I had the resources to choose any food for my dog…

What Would We Feed Our Golden Retriever?

The Answer: NomNom Chef-Prepared, Fresh Dog Food

NomNom Chef-Prepared, Fresh Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Contains only fresh, whole foods including animal-based proteins and vegetables.
  • Subscription plan makes it convenient.
  • Small, made to order batches to ensure the food is fresh.

First 5 Ingredients in Chicken Chow: diced chicken, sweet potatoes, yellow squash, spinach, sunflower oil

What could be better than fresh, whole food for your canine companion? NomNom provides your furry friend with food fit for, well, you. They only use ingredients that are USDA approved for human consumption, and it’s all sourced from the USA.

This is a convenient, subscription service that even allows you to alternate the recipes you receive so your best friend gets plenty of variety in their diet. Recipes include Beef Mash, Chicken Chow, Pork Potluck, and Turkey Fare, each with a unique blend of fresh vegetables.

Picky eaters, pups with allergies, and furry friends with sensitive stomachs can all be appeased by these whole ingredients. You may even notice a little extra pep in a senior pup’s step with a switch to NomNom.

8 More Great Foods for Healthy Golden Retrievers

Best Dry – Wellness Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Contains real chicken, fruits, and vegetables
  • Includes supplements with antioxidants for a boost to your dog’s immune system
  • Provides complex carbohydrates for an extra energy boost

First 5 Ingredients: deboned chicken, chicken meal, oatmeal, ground barley, peas

This dry dog food will make your Golden Retriever jump for joy. Packed with flavor and nutrition, this complete food boosts your dog’s immune system, promotes healthy joints, and reduces stool odor.

We love this one for dogs with skin and coat issues, allergies, and even picky eaters. You may also notice an energy boost with this one.

Best Wet – Merrick Grain-Free Grammy’s Pot Pie Recipe Canned Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Contains real chicken
  • Includes fruits and vegetables
  • Uses chicken broth for extra flavor

First 5 Ingredients: deboned chicken, chicken broth, potato, carrots, peas

Give your best friend a taste of home-cooked stew with this grain-free, nutritious blend. It can serve as a complete meal or as a flavorful topper on your dog’s typical kibble. Also, if your pup needs to take medication, sneak the pill into a chunk of food to help them get it down.

We like that this smells good compared to other foods, and it makes a great treat. The packaging is BPA free with an organic coating on the inside of the can to protect the food.

Most Popular – Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Dry Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Contains real buffalo
  • Uses real fruits and vegetables
  • Made with a proprietary K9 strain probiotic to aid digestion

First 5 Ingredients: buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas

Put your dog in touch with his wild side! This prairie-inspired blend contains buffalo, bison, fruits, and vegetables, which is rich in antioxidants and essential minerals to keep your best friend healthy.

We like this one because it’s made in the USA with high quality ingredients. Picky eaters may take to this blend, and it could improve digestive issues for some dogs.

Best Value – American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Made with real salmon
  • Contains fruits and vegetables including sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and blueberries
  • Includes salmon oil and flaxseed to help your dog’s skin and coat

First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Chicken Meal, Turkey Meal, Peas, Sweet Potatoes

Real salmon provide exceptional flavor while promoting leaner muscles and a healthier coat. Additional nutrients include omega fatty acids for healthy brain development. They use high-quality ingredients that appeal to pickier eaters, and for canine friends with allergies and food sensitivities.

Best Grain-Free – Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Dry Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • The primary ingredient is cage-free chicken
  • Contains omegas and antioxidants
  • Made from fresh, high-quality ingredients

First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken meal, Peas, Chicken fat, Tapioca

Not only is this food grain-free, it excludes potatoes, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, and all artificial colors and preservatives. Your canine friend can enjoy the intense flavor without sacrificing essential nutrients necessary for building lean muscles, proper digestion, and a strong immune system.

Best Super Premium – The Farmer’s Dog Subscription, Fresh Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Contains human-grade meat and vegetables.
  • Meals are pre-packaged in appropriate portions for your pup.
  • Convenient subscription service that sends custom recipes for your furry friend.

First 5 Ingredients: varies per recipe, only contains fresh, whole foods

The Farmer’s Dog is another custom, subscription service that provides fresh, whole food for your best friend. It’s easy to get started and they create a custom order based on your dog’s needs.

You will likely notice a healthier coat, energy boost, and better weight maintenance for your canine companion. However, this is a premium service with a price tag to match.

Honorable Mentions

Gentle Giants Canine Nutrition Chicken Dry Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Includes farm-raised chicken
  • Contains vegetables and fruit
  • Added prebiotics and probiotics for improved digestion

First 5 Ingredients: chicken meal, pearled barley, brown rice, oatmeal, dried plain beet pulp

Loaded with natural ingredients, vitamins, and minerals, Gentle Giants provides all of the nutrition your dog needs without sacrificing flavor. The Gentle Giants blend won’t aggravate sensitive stomachs and appeals to dogs of all ages.

Stella & Chewy’s Duck Duck Goose Dinner Patties Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Contains cage-free poultry
  • Made with organic fruits and vegetables
  • Convenient packaging

First 5 Ingredients: duck with ground bone, turkey, turkey liver, goose, turkey gizzard

Sustainably-sourced, natural, and organic materials make for savory, nutritious meals for your canine companion. Each freeze-dried patty provides the vitamins and minerals your dog needs for a healthy digestive system, strong immune system, and may alleviate allergy symptoms.

4 Foods for Golden Retrievers with Diet Restrictions

Best Raw – Darwin’s Pet Natural Selections Beef Canine Meals

Why We Like It

  • Contains free-range beef
  • Includes organic vegetables.  Easy and convenient serving

First 5 Ingredients: Beef, beef heart, beef liver, organic yams, organic romaine lettuce

The goal is to give your canine companion all of the nutrients necessary without excess calories or harmful byproducts. The Darwin’s Pet Natural Selections line offers grain-free, raw food that’s frozen and prepackaged in appropriate serving sizes for your pup.

We love the convenience of these serving packets, and that the meals last in the freezer for several months. They also offer chicken, duck, turkey, and lamb in case you’re looking to serve up some variety.

Best for Weight Loss – Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Healthy Weight Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Contains real chicken
  • Includes fruits and vegetables
  • Added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants

First 5 Ingredients: deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, pea fiber

Designed for weight management, Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula promotes healthy muscle growth and digestion without the added calories. The LifeSource Bits are a unique addition that ensures your dog gets all the nutrients necessary.

Your dog will love the flavor and have plenty of energy without taking on extra fat and empty calories. This formula could be an excellent choice for picky eaters who need to watch their weight.

Best Pea & Legume Free – Ziwi Peak Air-Dried Mackerel & Lamb Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Made with grass-fed lamb
  • Includes ethically sourced blue mackerel
  • 95% digestible, high-protein food

First 5 Ingredients: mackerel, lamb, lamb heart, lamb tripe, lamb liver

Ziwi uses a special air-drying process that preserves the nutrients and eliminates pathogenic bacteria. They don’t use preservatives or sugars, and while the food is raw, it’s safe and easy to handle with no need to rehydrate it.

We really like that this food also works as a treat. Pocket a few pieces to use as rewards for training.

Best for Skin Allergies – Zignature Duck Limited Ingredient Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Made with farm-raised duck
  • Uses few ingredients and avoids common allergens
  • Includes only low-glycemic carbohydrates

First 5 Ingredients: duck, duck meal, peas, sunflower oil, flaxseed

Since they use so many hypoallergenic foods, this formula is perfect for dogs with allergies. They also took care in addressing digestive issues and avoided ingredients known to cause stomach upset in dogs. Even pups with sensitive digestive tracts do well with Zignature.

The high-quality ingredients will satisfy the pickiest of eaters. You also don’t have to worry about weight gain due to unnecessary calories because they skip the simple carbs and starchy binding agents.

Best for Sensitive Stomach – Solid Gold Leaping Waters Sensitive Stomach Cold Water Salmon and Vegetable Dry Dog Food

Why We Like It

  • Contains cold water salmon
  • Includes 20 easily digestible superfoods
  • Added probiotics promote good gut health

First 5 Ingredients: salmon, ocean fish meal, chickpeas, lentils, peas

For dogs with sensitive stomachs, this is one tasty meal that doesn’t skimp on the nutrients. This formula skips the soy, wheat, corn, and chicken for a gluten-free blend that won’t upset your canine companion’s stomach.

We like that they use wild-caught salmon and cut out common allergens. It’s a popular option for pups with unidentified allergies.

Best Puppy Food for Golden Retrievers

Picking the right food for your new puppy is a huge decision! Golden Retriever pups can grow too fast if they overeat or develop other issues if they don’t get the proper nutrients. You want to choose the right blend that provides the right nutritional value without overloading their young systems.

Though some foods claim to be appropriate for dogs of all ages, that’s not necessarily the case. Like human babies, Golden Retriever puppies have different nutritional needs. We’ve whittled the list down to our top three picks for Golden Retriever puppies.

Ollie Fresh Beef Dog Food

Why I Like it

  • Includes lean proteins (including organ meats) to support growth
  • Contains vegetables and herbs for a healthy dose of essential vitamins and minerals
  • The right amount of calcium and phosphorous for proper bone development

First 5 Ingredients: beef, beef heart, sweet potato, peas, potato

We want the best for our puppies to help them grow, develop, and reach their potential, but we also want them to enjoy eating! Ollie provides minimally processed meals made with human-grade food. They leave out the artificial flavors and unnecessary fillers, so your pup gets nothing but the best.

We love their process and the convenience of the subscription. If your pup has allergies and you let them know, they consider that when creating your plan.

Nulo Frontrunner Ancient Grains Chicken, Oats, and Turkey Puppy Dry Dog Food

Why I Like It

  • Made with a blend of animal-based proteins including chicken and turkey
  • Added probiotics to promote healthy digestion and immune system
  • Includes omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat

First 5 Ingredients: deboned chicken, chicken meal, oats, barley, brown rice

This heavy-meat blend provides plenty of protein and low-glycemic grains to keep any puppy’s energy high. Lean proteins help puppies build lean muscle while keeping their hearts and digestive systems healthy.

Nulo’s puppy food is an excellent option for picky pups. It’s also a popular option for puppy parents because of the price point.

Holistic Select Large & Giant Breed Puppy Health Lamb Meal & Oatmeal Recipe Dry Dog Food

Why I Like It

  • Contains high-quality proteins including lamb
  • Includes fruits and vegetables
  • Fiber-rich to support good digestive health

First 5 Ingredients: lamb meal, chicken meal, oatmeal, brown rice, barley

Holistic Select created a unique formula to give large and giant breed puppies all of the nutrients they need in a tasty food. A custom blend of active probiotics, fiber, and digestive enzymes encourages digestive health and proper absorption of nutrients.

Best Senior Food for Golden Retrievers

Senior dogs need a little extra care, including a proper diet that meets their changing nutritional needs. We took a look at options for older canines to help them stay healthy as long as possible.

Spot & Tango Turkey & Red Quinoa Fresh Dog Food

Why I Like It

  • Contains real turkey as the first ingredient
  • Includes vegetables and herbs for added flavor and nutritional value
  • Uses no artificial flavors or preservatives

First 5 Ingredients: deboned chicken, potatoes, peas, pea starch, chicken meal

This gluten-free, non-GMO food will have your senior pup lapping at the bowl. Loaded with nutrition and proteins, it’s fresh and full of flavor. If your canine companion doesn’t dig turkey, try the Beef & Millet or Lamb & Brown Rice recipes.

We appreciate the convenient packaging and delivery to your door. Also, you have the option to choose a kibble-based meal plan instead of fresh food.

Canidae Grain-Free PURE Senior Real Chicken, Sweet Potato & Garbanzo Bean Dry Dog Food

Why I Like It

  • Includes real chicken as the first ingredient
  • Contains vegetables
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives

First 5 Ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans

Canidae’s Pure Senior recipe will appease your dog’s taste buds because it contains real, whole foods. The added probiotics, antioxidants, and vitamins will nourish aging bodies and help maintain overall health and energy levels.

Nutro Ultra Senior Dry Dog Food

Why I Like It

  • Made with lean animal proteins
  • Includes a balanced blend of protein, fat, and carbs that’s just right for senior dogs
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to keep joints healthy

First 5 Ingredients: chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran

This special formula is made for senior dogs to help your aging best friend. The animal proteins come from farm-raised chickens, pasture-fed lambs, and salmon to support lean muscles and healthy joints without unnecessary calories.

What to Look for in a Good Dog Food

  • High quality meat
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • The fewest ingredients possible

Choosing the right dog food for your four-legged friend is one of the best things you can do for them. It can be overwhelming with the number of choices available, but it doesn’t have to be if you know what to look for.

Start with the list of ingredients. The main ingredient in the food is the first one on the list, and you want it to be an animal-based protein, like poultry or beef. Ideally, the first three ingredients should be an animal-based protein.

Don’t shy away from products with animal byproducts, like chicken meal, as the second or third ingredients on the list. Some byproducts are concentrated sources of protein that are good for your dog, like liver and heart. Stay away if the food lists hair, horns, or hooves because they are not digestible.

Foods with fruits and vegetables are also good choices. While these items are often fillers, they provide necessary vitamins and minerals.

Ingredients to Avoid

  • Chemical preservatives (BHA and BHT)
  • White flour
  • Unnamed meat that appears on the ingredients list as “meat” or “meat meal”
  • Artificial colors and flavors
  • MSG
  • Sugar in all forms

Some labels are difficult to read, but if any of these ingredients appear on the list, it’s best to pass over that dog food. Chemicals, artificial additives, and MSG lack nutritional value and can harm your dog over time. Many of them, like BHA and BHT, include cancer-causing agents.

White flour is a carbohydrate stripped of all nutritional value. When a dog food uses it as a filler it results in a lot of empty calories and a very hungry canine. White flour and added sugars, like corn syrup, also put your pet at risk for obesity and diabetes.

A good rule of thumb is to go as natural as possible with your dog’s food. Try to stay with reputable brands that have established track records of providing natural, wholesome dog foods.

How Much to Feed Golden Retrievers

Puppy Diet & Feeding Chart

Average weight = 12 pounds (9 weeks) up to 68 pounds (1 year)

Golden Retriever puppies should be lanky and full of energy. While you shouldn’t see their ribs, you should be able to feel them when they’re standing. You do not want to overfeed your puppy because it causes them to grow too fast and could lead to joint problems down the line.

Ultimately, you should feed your puppy based on their weight and age. Consult with your veterinarian, but a general feeding chart for Golden Retriever puppies looks something like this:

  • 1 ½ cups at two months
  • 2 cups at three months
  • 2 ½ cups at four months
  • 3 cups at five months
  • 3 ½ to 4 cups at six months

Remember, puppies will eat as much as you let them, so it’s essential to monitor their weight gain. If you notice your pup gaining too much weight, ease off the portion sizes. Puppies do grow larger before they gain fat, so you need to make sure they grow at a normal rate.

Adult Diet & Feeding Chart

Average weight = 55 to 70 pounds for females, 65 to 90 pounds for males

Adult Golden Retrievers should eat between 2 cups and 3 cups per day, depending on their weight. Female Goldens average 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups per day while male Goldens can eat up to 4 cups if they are larger and active.

Remember, you still need to monitor their weight gain and how much exercise they get each day. When your dog exercises less, it’s crucial that you cut down on their calorie intake.

Senior Diet & Feeding Chart

Average weight = 55 to 70 pounds for females, 65 to 90 pounds for males

Like humans, Golden Retrievers are less active after they reach a certain age. They need fewer calories to match their slower lifestyle because obesity can stress their joints. Continue to feed them twice per day, but they should be satisfied by approximately 2 cups of food per day.

Common Health Problems for a Golden Retriever

Hip dysplasia

The most common health issue for Golden Retrievers is hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia can present during the puppy years or much later in life.

This degenerative disease is passed down genetically and affects the hind legs. For most dogs, this condition will present with chronic cartilage degeneration and osteoarthritis. Essentially, the hip joints move abnormally, and over time the stress affects all surrounding tissues.

Treatment of hip dysplasia depends on when it presents and the severity. Generally, the least invasive methods consist of exercise, weight loss, diet change, and supplements. Eventually, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, or surgical interventions may be necessary.


Nobody wants to think about their new puppy developing cancer. However, it’s important to know that cancer affects about 60% of Golden Retrievers. The most common forms are hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, mast cell tumors, or osteosarcoma.

Researchers and animal lovers around the world concerned with elevated cancer rates are researching genetic and environmental causes. They hope to find something treatable to reduce the risk of cancer in this popular breed.

Skin Conditions

Golden Retrievers have an undercoat of fur covered by an outer coat, which makes them cuddly and beautiful. Unfortunately, their skin and fur also leave them open to several problems.

Harmful bacteria can grow in the dense fur, and parasites, like mites and ticks, can hide in it. It’s important to check your Golden over regularly, especially after playing outside. Proper bathing and grooming schedules can help.

Goldens are also susceptible to certain skin conditions that aren’t life-threatening but may be uncomfortable for your pet. Make sure to keep regular vet appointments to monitor for these conditions.

  • Allergic reactions to molds, dust, or food
  • Non-cancerous tumors called granulomas
  • Inflamed oil glands in the skin known as sebaceous cysts
  • Lipomas (fatty tumors beneath the surface that are usually benign)

A Word About Canine DCM

DCM or Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a heart condition that results in decreased ability to pump blood through the body. It occurs more frequently in other breeds but is something all large breed dog owners should know about. Most large breed heart failure results from DCM.

Currently, there is a lot we don’t know about what causes DCM. Symptoms of DCM can vary and may present suddenly or gradually. Follow-up with your vet regularly and report symptoms if you see them.

  • Rapid breathing at rest or during sleep
  • Excessive drooling
  • Restless sleep
  • Weakness
  • Coughing
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Reduced ability or desire to exercise

Of note, there is an ongoing investigation into the link between diet and DCM. Researchers suspect that “BEG” diets, boutique companies, exotic ingredients, and grain-free diets, may contribute to the increased cases of DCM in canines. However, there are no current recommendations to avoid grain-free diets.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I feed my Golden Retriever? What’s the correct schedule?

Goldens love to eat on schedule, and they will probably remind you if you happen to forget. Keeping on a schedule is good for both of you and helps keep your Golden at the proper weight. While some dogs can survive on one meal each day, smaller meals tend to have better results.

Generally, Golden Retriever puppies eat more frequently than adults and seniors. As your pup grows, they eat more food but less often.

  • Three to four times per day until your pup is three months old
  • Two to three meals per day until six months of age
  • Two meals per day once your pup turns a year old

As a reminder, Goldens shouldn’t eat after six o’clock at night and shouldn’t have water after seven o’clock. This approach prevents plaque and tartar buildup, which is especially important for adults and seniors to protect their permanent teeth.

Is grain-free dog food bad for Golden Retrievers?

Golden Retrievers need to watch their caloric intake, which means fewer carbohydrates are better for them. However, vets still suggest a small portion of grains. In some cases, your vet may recommend a grain-free diet to treat allergies or digestive problems.

As noted above, there may be a link between grain-free dog foods and heart disease. You should discuss the risks and benefits with your vet before switching to a grain-free food.

How do I transition my Golden Retriever from one dog food to another?

Whether you’re eager to try a new brand or your vet prescribed a diet change, you can’t just swap one food for another. A quick shift in diet can upset your pup’s stomach and cause big problems for both of you.

To prevent the fallout of a quick switch, try a gradual transition. It should take about a week to make the change if you gradually introduce the new food and reduce the old food.

  • Day 1 and 2: 25% new food with 75% old food
  • Day 3 and 4: 50% of each food
  • Day 5 and 6: 75% of new food, 25% of old food
  • Day 7: 100% new food

Watch for signs your pup isn’t tolerating the new food, like vomiting or diarrhea. Be extra careful if your dog has digestive issues or allergies; it may take longer to complete the transition.


There’s a lot to digest when it comes to choosing the right food for your Golden Retriever, but this article should provide you with some direction. It’s important to keep your pup healthy by providing a solid, balanced diet for many years of fun and companionship!

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