The Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers: Reviewed and Ranked

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: January 11, 2023
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Key Points

  • The #1 Best Overall dog food for golden retrievers is the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food.
  • It’s important to feed your golden retriever high quality dog food that meets their nutritional needs.
  • There are many different types of dog food on the market and you should always feed the appropriate one for the life stage of your dog — whether that is puppy, adult, or senior.
  • We have reviewed a range of options for you to consider for your golden retriever — including wet and dry options.

Golden retrievers are known for their wildly friendly personalities. But do you know what the best food for golden retrievers is? It’s easy to get caught up in their personalities. They are extremely affectionate with their family, great with other dogs, and even perfect to have around young children. They’re easy to train, they have moderate energy levels, and they have low barking levels. They do need significant mental stimulation but that’s always easy to provide when you’re dealing with such a friendly dog.

Your golden retriever has several different needs ranging from their health to grooming to exercise and of course, training. But perhaps the most important are their nutritional needs because they lay a foundation for everything else. When you have a golden retriever, it’s vital that they are fed high-quality dog food that is suitable for their life stage. Whether they’re a puppy, an adult, or a senior, they have a different set of nutritional requirements. So, what is the best dog food for golden retrievers?

Goldens may become overweight if they’re being fed too much and they are not exercising enough. If you supplement with dog treats, you should only do so in moderation. Although treats are helpful during the training process, they should be used sparingly to avoid causing obesity in your pup. If you’re shopping for the best golden retriever dog food, you’ve come to the right place. Below, we share the top-rated food for golden retrievers, no matter what life stage they’re in. We have options for them in the puppy stage, adult stage, and senior stage — plus, we share a variety of flavors and include a wet food option too!

  1. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever
    • Designed to meet the nutritional needs of Golen Retrievers
    • Contain essential nutrients to support his healthy skin and coat
    • Taurine, EPA, and DHA help to promote healthy cardiac function
    • Kibble is larger than usual, helping your dog to eat slower
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  2. Wellness Large Breed Complete Health
    • The kibble is crunchy for dental health
    • No meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives
    • Contains glucosamine for joint and bone health
    • Added probiotics for gut health
    • High in chicken
    • Grain-inclusive
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. BLUE BUFFALO Blue's Hunter's Stew
    • The first high-quality protein ingredient is real duck
    • Support healthy muscle maintenance
    • Enhanced with vitamins and minerals for complete nutrition
    • Extremely palatable
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  4. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Puppy
    • Golden Retriever puppies need specific nutrients, provided by this food
    • The kibble is designed specifically for your Golden Retriever’s straight muzzle and scissor bite
    • Contains essential nutrients to support healthy skin
    • High-quality proteins and prebiotics promote good digestive health
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Large Breed Adult 6+
    • Specially formulated for older dogs
    • Easily digestible ingredients
    • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
    • Added minerals to promote heart and kidney health
    Check Amazon

A-Z-Animals Top Picks for Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

#1 Best Overall: Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food is the best overall food for Golden Retrievers on this list.

This dog food is forulated specifically for golden retrievers and is designed to meet the nutritional needs of these gorgeous, friendly dogs aged 15 months and older. The specialized kibble is designed for your golden retriever’s straight muzzle and scissor bite to encourage chewing (less gobbling up half-chewed food!).

Additionally, this formula includes essential nutrients to reinforce your golden retriever’s skin barrier and support their healthy skin and coat. Your favorite pal’s heart health is supported with taurine, EPA, and DHA, which all help to promote healthy cardiac function. You won’t have to worry about your dog gaining weight with this food either, because it has precise calories and fat content designed specifically for big dogs. This extra attention to the formula helps to support your dog’s weight management.

However, given how specialized this food is it is a more expensive option.

Pros and Cons of the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
This food is specifically forulated for golden retrievers.This food is a more expensive option.
It is suitable for dogs aged 15 months and older.
The kibble is designed especially to suit the golden retriever’s muzzle shape.
It contains taurine, EPA, and DHA to support heart health.
It contains essential nutrients to promote a healthy skin and coat.
This food has a precise calorie and fat content to help dogs maintain a healthy weight.
Best Overall
Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever
  • Designed to meet the nutritional needs of Golen Retrievers
  • Contain essential nutrients to support his healthy skin and coat
  • Taurine, EPA, and DHA help to promote healthy cardiac function
  • Kibble is larger than usual, helping your dog to eat slower
Check Chewy Check Amazon

2. Best Dry Food: Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Dry Dog Food

Our selection as the best dry food is the Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Dry Dog Food.

Wellness has developed a large breed dry dog food recipe that contains high-quality protein alongside wholesome grains like rice. The very first ingredient listed for this dog food is chicken. The texture of the kibble is crunchy, and it’s designed to support the special health needs of larger dogs through nutrient-rich, whole foods. Additionally, this recipe contains glucosamine which offers excellent support for joint and bone health. You know your golden retriever needs that extra assistance, especially as they move into adulthood and into their senior years. The inclusion of this ingredient makes this a complete formula that considers exactly what your dog needs.

You won’t find any meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives in this dog food. It’s made in the USA using only the finest globally sourced ingredients. Wellness is a brand you can trust when looking for natural dog food. Not only do they offer specific breed recipes, but they also offer several options for a puppy, adult, and senior dogs as well. It also has a larger kibble size that’s perfect for big dogs. However, some owners reported that their pets found the kibble to be too large and that picky eaters were not fussed on this food.

Pros and Cons of the Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contain high-quality protein in the form of chicken.The kibble is too large for some dogs.
It contains wholesome rice grains.Customers reported that their picky eaters did not like this food.
The added glucosamine in this food supports joint and bone health.
This food is free from meat by-products, fillers, and artificial preservatives.
Best Dry Food
Wellness Large Breed Complete Health
  • The kibble is crunchy for dental health
  • No meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives
  • Contains glucosamine for joint and bone health
  • Added probiotics for gut health
  • High in chicken
  • Grain-inclusive
Check Chewy Check Amazon

3. Best Wet Food: Blue Buffalo Blue’s Hunter’s Stew Adult Wet Dog Food

Many dogs love wet food, which is why we recommend the Blue Buffalo Blue’s Hunter’s Stew Adult Wet Dog Food.

This formula is made specifically to help support your golden retriever’s healthy muscle maintenance. Mix it with your dog’s dry food, feed it as a standalone meal, or use it for special occasions as treat! All the Blue Buffalo canned dog foods are made with superior, natural ingredients, and their formulas are enhanced with vitamins and minerals for complete nutrition. You won’t see any chicken or poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, or artificial flavors and preservatives.

You can purchase Blue’s Stew in a case of 12 cans, with each can containing 12.5 ounces of wet dog food. For dogs that are having a hard time meeting their daily caloric requirements, this food is a godsend. It has an alluring aroma, soft texture, and is extremely palatable for even the pickiest pups.

Unfortunately, some owners found that their pets would not eat this food. Also, some reported that the consistency of it was more like soup than stew.

Pros and Cons of the Blue Buffalo Blue’s Hunter’s Stew Adult Wet Dog Food

ProsCons
This food is specifically designed to support healthy muscle development.The consistency is more like soup than stew.
It is free from chicken and poultry by-products, corn, wheat, and artificial flavors and preservatives.Not all dogs like this food.
This food contains added vitamins and minerals for all-round good health.
This food is extremely palatable which makes it ideal for fussy eaters.
Best Wet Food
BLUE BUFFALO Blue's Hunter's Stew
  • The first high-quality protein ingredient is real duck
  • Support healthy muscle maintenance
  • Enhanced with vitamins and minerals for complete nutrition
  • Extremely palatable
Check Chewy Check Amazon

4. Best for Puppies: Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Puppy Food

Do you have a golden retriever puppy? If so, we recommend the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Puppy Food.

This dry dog food contains a special complex of antioxidants, including vitamin E to support your pup’s immune system development. The kibble size is distinctive because it’s designed specifically for your golden retriever’s straight muzzle and scissor bite. With this kibble, your puppy is encouraged to chew through his food thoroughly. The formula contains essential nutrients to support healthy skin and make his coat head-turn worthy. High-quality proteins and prebiotics in the food also promote good digestive health.

However, although this food has a lot going for it it is a more expensive option than some of the others on the list. Also, some owners found that their pups did not care for this food.

Pros and Cons of the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Puppy Food

ProsCons
This food has unique kibble that is designed to suit the size and shape of golden retriever’s muzzles.This food is expensive.
It contains antioxidants and vitamin E to promote a healthy immune system.Not all dogs like this food.
This food contains high-quality protein and prebiotics to support a healthy digestive system.
Best for Puppies
Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Puppy
  • Golden Retriever puppies need specific nutrients, provided by this food
  • The kibble is designed specifically for your Golden Retriever’s straight muzzle and scissor bite
  • Contains essential nutrients to support healthy skin
  • High-quality proteins and prebiotics promote good digestive health
Check Chewy Check Amazon

5. Best for Seniors: Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed 6+ Dry Dog Food

Just as puppies have a specific set of nutritional requirements, aging dogs also need extra, specialized support. That’s why we suggest Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed 6+ Dry Dog Food.

With this dry dog food your golden retriever can enjoy a harmonious blend of easily digestible ingredients that help to support their energy levels and keep them feeling playful. Once your pup starts aging, their joint health becomes an even higher priority. This recipe includes natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin and incorporates a balanced set of minerals to promote heart and kidney health. Omega six fatty acids and vitamin E nourish your dog’s skin and support that shiny coat they love to show off.

Unfortunately, some pup parents reported that this food does not smell very appetizing and as a result their dogs did not like it.

Pros and Cons of Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed 6+ Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains easily digestible ingredients.Some customers reported that this food had an unpleasant odor.
It contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health.Not all dogs like this food.
The balanced minerals in this food promote heart and kidney health.
The omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E in this food support skin and coat health.
Best for Seniors
Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Large Breed Adult 6+
  • Specially formulated for older dogs
  • Easily digestible ingredients
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Added minerals to promote heart and kidney health
Check Amazon

Choosing the Best: What to Look For

The dog food market is littered with different brands and products, most promising the world and failing to deliver. Having to sort through all the available products online can be overwhelming, especially if you are a new dog owner or you’re looking to switch your golden retriever to much higher quality dog food you can rely on. When you’re looking for the best food for golden retrievers, there are a couple of factors you should take into consideration. They include:

Ingredients

Ingredients are what make or break dog food. If you notice fillers, byproducts, or artificial colors and additives, try to steer clear. You want to aim for recipes that include wholesome, highly nutritious ingredients. Look for real meat as the first listed ingredient. This could be chicken, beef, duck, or fish. If you notice that the first ingredient isn’t real meat, the dog food you’re looking at is low quality. You also want to look for other ingredients that support your dog’s life stage. For example, if you are feeding an aging dog, look for glucosamine and chondroitin, which are ingredients that help to support their joint health. If you’re shopping for a puppy, look for limited fat and calorie content to make sure that their growth rate is appropriate, and that they maintain lean muscle mass as they move out of puppyhood into adulthood.

Type

The type of food you feed is also important. Most dog owners tend to purchase dry dog food because it’s affordable, it doesn’t spoil easily, and it can deliver complete nutrition (so long as it’s high quality). However, if your dog is a senior, they may prefer a softer texture and could do well with wet dog food or wet dog food mixed in with the dry to help soften the texture. Wet dog food can also be used for dogs that have lost their appetite or are super picky. Because it’s more aromatic than dry dog food, it helps to attract your dog’s attention. Many dog owners find a good balance between offering wet food and dry food, so long as it suits their pup and their budget.

Formula

The formula you select is dependent on your dog’s age. Golden retrievers are large breed dogs. That means an adult golden retriever needs a different type of food than a growing puppy. Golden puppies are at high risk for developing hip dysplasia if the foods they’re given early on contain too much calcium. This is why it’s so important that you select the right formula for your puppy. Your puppy needs to grow at an appropriate rate until they transition into adulthood. Then, you can switch over to an adult formula. The same goes for aging dogs. They need extra nutrients as they get older, so be sure that you’re purchasing a formula that is suited for your dog’s age.

Flavor

The flavor is super important because if your dog doesn’t like the flavor of the food you buy, they’re not going to eat it. If they don’t eat it, they’re not getting proper nutrients. If they’re not getting proper nutrients, you’re not supporting their optimal health. Just as you get to know your dog’s unique personality, you’re also going to be privy to their specific tastes when it comes to food. Some dogs may lean toward meatier flavors while others may prefer fish protein. Once you’ve determined what is more alluring for your dog, select flavors that complement their natural tastes. This ensures they’re getting the nutrition they need and that they’re enjoying their food too!

Price

Since you’re financially responsible for ensuring your dog has proper nutrients throughout their life, considering the price of the dog food you purchase is vital. Make sure you create a budget forecast, with the understanding of how much dog food you need to purchase on a regular basis. When you combine all these factors and consider your budget as well, you position yourself to best provide for your pup not just in the short term, but also in the long term.

The Different Types of Golden Retriever Dog Food: Pros and Cons Compared

Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
Dry dog food tends to be a more affordable option.It is not as palatable as wet food.
It doesn’t spoil easily. 
There are multiple flavors to select from. 

Wet Dog Food

ProsCons
Wet dog food often has alluring aromas which entices picky eaters to eat.It is usually more expensive than other types of dog food.
It is highly palatable. 
It is softer for aging teeth. 

Puppy Food

ProsCons
It is perfectly formulated for the growing stage.Not all types are appropriate for every breed.
There are unique kibble designs. 
It supports an appropriate growth rate. 

Senior Dog Food

ProsCons
It is age-specific support for older dogs.It can be more expensive than regular adult food.
It is supplemented with additional nutrients to support joint and bone health. 

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

The Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers: Reviewed and Ranked FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Which dog food is best for golden retrievers?

The best dog food for your golden retriever is dependent on their age. Life stage is a crucial consideration when selecting dog food for your pup. If your pet is in the puppy stage, they needs a formula specific to large breed puppies. If they are in the adult stage, then they should be consuming a formula made for large breed adult dogs. If your golden retriever is in the senior life stage, they should be consuming large breed senior dog food.

What is the healthiest diet for a golden retriever?

The healthiest diet for a golden retriever includes high-quality protein. As we mentioned above, you should be looking for dog food that has real meat listed as the first ingredient. Wholesome grains can be included along with essential nutrients and omega fatty acids to support skin and coat health. Consider age-specific requirements when selecting the healthiest diet for your golden as well.

Do golden retrievers need grain-free food?

No, your golden retriever does not need grain-free food. In fact, grain-free foods may contribute to taurine deficiency in them. When your pup has a taurine deficiency, heart problems are likely. Therefore, if you do feed a grain-free food, be sure that it’s balanced with other, more nutritious options, so your dog doesn’t experience any type of nutrient deficiencies.

Is Royal Canin good for Golden Retriever?

Yes, and it’s why it’s at the top of this list and also as the top recommendation for puppy food. Royal Canin has done a fantastic job of developing breed-specific food. We can’t recommend them enough!

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