6 Best Foods for a Golden Retrievers – The Ulti-Mutt guide for 2024

Best Foods for a Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are an amazing breed of dog.

A loyal companion to your children and active partner you can take with you on your morning jog, out camping and for a swim, you can count on this active large-breed canine to be by your side their entire life.

Their lustrous coat is a part of their namesake, and they seemingly smile and greet family members enthusiastically at the door when everyone comes home from work and school.

There is no doubt that your Golden Retriever truly is a great testament to the adage Man’s Best Friend, and it makes perfect sense for you to want to give them the best of everything.

This covers their diet too.

With a healthy diet of a good dog food and treats, you know your beautiful Goldie will live a long life full of laughs, love and a friendship that pet owners all over the world are proud to enjoy.

Here are the foods that will help you get there with your Golden Retriever happy and healthy the whole way through.

The Makings of a Top Dry Dog Food

It’s imperative that each dog food you audition with your Goldie hits a few key points so you know your dog is getting the nutrition they need in their day.

Our ratings always follow a few important criteria so you can make sure the choices we are highlighting for you are hitting the biggest features and not just slapping run-of-the mill kibble in front of you.

So,what are our criteria and how should they factor into your decision-making when you pick up a food for your Golden Retriever?

Let’s have a look!

Proper Protein

Being that your Golden Retriever is a large breed dog that will reach anywhere from 55 to 75 lbs. as an adult, it’s imperative that their food feeds their muscles well.

Sure, carbs are important too, but protein plays a massive role in proper muscle development and in your Retriever’s growth.

What else does it do?

Protein is also a huge component in assisting with your dog’s hair growth, maintaining proper hormone levels and developing and regenerating tissue.

How much is enough protein in a good dry dog food, you ask?

Make sure that your dry dog food comes with at least 30% Crude Protein Content so your Golden Retriever can keep its golden coat shiny and healthy as well as remain an energetic, active animal well into its senior years.

Fat Content Facts

When we talk about fat content, it’s not just bad fat. In fact, that’s rarely the case. A lot of the fats in your dog’s food should be from natural sources.

It’s up to you to watch for this.

A lot of dog foods out there can be likened to McDonald’s for your canine with bad oils and the types of junk food-type fats that give dog food flavor but aren’t going to help your Golden Retriever achieve and maintain proper brain health, good skin and a shiny, strong coat.

Watch for sources of Omega Fatty Acids, which do just that.

These come from cold water fish like salmon, tuna and others.

This can also come from Olive Oil, Avocado Oil and other sources that make for optimal heart health as well.

Think of it much like when you are looking at human diets.

Even so, you won’t want a dog food’s Crude Fat Content to be too high.

Try to go for a dog food with 12-18% Crude Fat Content and ensure that you review for sources that give your dog good fat instead of bad fat.

Appropriate Ingredients

Ingredients lists in dog food always have a lot of extra stuff in them that seem scary.

It’s not as bad as it looks. In all actuality –as a pet owner, you will find that the things you don’t want your dog ingesting will tend to stick out like a sore thumb.

An ingredient list for dog food is just like an ingredient list for human food. Everything is listed from largest volume to least.

Watch for chemicals. Watch out for things you can’t pronounce without parenthetical explanations to their natural source.

Try to feed your dog kibble with lots of ingredients you would eat, whole meats, fruits, vegetables and vitamins and minerals all from natural sources.

You will find some parts of an ingredient list a bit confusing.

These are usually the later ingredients that are the vitamins, minerals, probiotics, prebiotics and supplements.

However, a lot of the time, they’re listed by their scientific names and will also show their sources. If not, search them up to see what they are.

The point is to avoid chemicals, sugar, salt and things you know your dog might be allergic to or shouldn’t eat.

Don’t feed them fillers, meat by-products (always labeled as a byproduct) or the things you know a Golden Retriever shouldn’t have because of their being a dog.

And meat should always be the first ingredient.

Tip Top Texture

Crunchy dog food is good dog food.

We understand that as your dog ages, they may have issues with their dental health that may mean adjusting accordingly, but for the most part, your Golden Retriever needs to eat a crunchy yet fresh dog food that will be good for their teeth and gums.

That’s why a lot of dog owners won’t feed a canned food to their pets.

It doesn’t work their dogs’ teeth or gums at all and can make for big problems with their dental health –and in the long run, this can translate to other health issues no one wants their pup to deal with (like heart and other organ issues).

Size matters too!

Watch the size of the kibble in your Golden Retriever’s dry dog food too!

Anything too small can end up between teeth or being swallowed whole while food that’s too big will be difficult to chew. In addition, stale food can be too hard and could cause damage to their teeth, which will result in a costly visit to the doggy dentist.

The Perfect Price

The saying that you get what you pay for isn’t too far off when we’re looking at dog food. Pricey dry dog foods usually end up that way because of the source or quality of their ingredients.

However, that doesn’t always have to be the case.

Some dog foods are just as simple as others but play on the idea that only expensive dog food gives pet owners the caliber of dog food their dog needs, and if you compare their ingredients to other foods, they’re really the same as other dog foods in a lot of ways.

The best way to look out for good food with a good cost is by doing your homework.

If you can find a good food that hits all the criteria of a top dry dog food while being affordable too, take advantage of it.

Fantastic Flavor

Golden Retrievers aren’t classically considered picky eaters, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t reject a dog food that doesn’t appeal to them when it comes to taste.

Ensuring that your Retriever gets a food that has a meaty flavor that they enjoy will help tremendously.

Even then, dogs get bored, so sometimes you may need to switch it up to make sure you are giving your pet a food they want to eat.

If not, they will refuse it, may try to eat table scraps and miss out on the nutrients they need by going on their proverbial hunger strike.

Flavor definitely matters.

Deciding What’s Best for Your Golden Retriever in a Food

Golden Retrievers don’t have a whole lot of dietary restrictions.

They’re hearty dogs that can handle a lot of the foods other breeds aren’t able to.

They aren’t known to have any known common allergies within the breed, and there are no restrictions known amongst the breed that are different than other dogs.

The basics are best to follow with Golden Retriever diets.

No human food if you can help it, and do not feed them any corn, wheat or soy.

Like other dogs, they can’t have lactose or dairy of any kind, and you will want to keep garbage and/or compost out of their reach, so they don’t get into vegetable peels where onions and garlic are lurking.

With that being said, there are things you will want to lean towards emphasizing in a Golden Retriever’s diet.

Large Breed Dogs’ Dietary Needs from Puppy to Senior

Large Breed dogs need to have a diet that gets a healthy dose of protein and carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates should be derived from things like brown rice, which Golden Retrievers handle well as rice is kind to canine digestive systems.

Other Retrievers will do well with potatoes or sweet potatoes, but this may not work for your dog, so you can try it out and see if your Golden Retriever responds well.

Protein can be easy to size up.

Although beef is a great source of protein, it can be higher in bad fat, so it is best to rely on lamb, chicken, duck and salmon proteins.

Other fish and game are also good to investigate for your dog.

A word on chicken:

Some dogs are allergic to chicken from the get-go or develop chicken allergies as their life goes on.

Chicken is a great source of protein that is leaner than most other proteins, but there are other proteins that can be used as an alternative.

Some of these are rabbit, duck and fish to name a few.

As for caloric intake, your dog’s needs will differ depending on your dog’s activity level and weight as an adult.

You will feed your Golden Retriever a maximum of 1200 calories in two meals per day for sedentary pets and up to 1750 calories divided into two meals per day for active dogs.

Don’t forget to count the calories in treats too!

Seniors are a bit different.

As your Golden Retriever ages, there might be a time when they will become less active due to their age and any joint issues that could crop up.

It’s natural to curtail a dog’s caloric intake as they get older due to the decrease of physical activity and to also ensure more fibre and a bit less protein in their dog food.

Don’t forget to also include supplements that help contribute to continued joint health for your senior Retriever too. This comes from Glucosamine and Chondroitin for the most part.

Your Golden Retriever’s Skin & Coat

Golden Retrievers are notorious for their lovely golden coats of fur. Give your pup a healthy dose of good fats to ensure that their coat stays shiny, thick and strong their whole life.

But never forget: canine haircare begins at the skin.

Your Golden Retriever will benefit greatly from excellent nutrition that addresses skin health as well.

Omega fatty Acids, antioxidants and a well-rounded source of vitamins and minerals all help to build top-notch skin and hair health for your dog.

This is another place where watching ingredient lists in dog foods helps tremendously.

The Top 6 Dry Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

Now that we have shared all the things that make for a great dry dog food, here are the best 6 dry dog foods for Golden Retrievers.

See what they are below.

Prime Puppy Chow Picks

Holistic Select Grain Free Adult & Puppy Health Salmon Anchovy & Sardine Meal Recipe

Protein Content:4.5/5

Fat Content: 5/5


Texture: 4/5

Price: 4/5

Flavor: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

The best thing about this puppy chow is the protein content and its fat content.

These measurements are quite good and mostly within range.

In addition, this dry dog food for Golden Retrievers has an excellent ingredient list that includes things like live yogurt cultures, supplements and tons of good fat sources.

The con here?

It would have to be price since this food comes in 12 lb. bags for $50.

It’s not terrible, but at the same time, this could get pricey if feeding your Retriever several times per day and trying to meet their caloric needs.

Holistic Select’s Salmon Anchovy recipe has 29% Crude Protein Content and 14% Crude Fat Content. Check out the product here.

AnnamaetOhana Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

Protein Content: 5/5

Fat Content: 5/5

Ingredients: 4.5/5

Texture: 4/5

Price: 4.5/5

Flavor: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Made with an optimal list of ingredients and fats that will contribute to the best development of skin, hair, tissues, muscles, bone and brain health, AnnamaetOhana Puppy Formula is a fantastic All-natural dry dog food.

It has a stack of healthy supplements added, hits the target protein content for your Golden Retriever and will help your dog get the calorie count they need for how active they are in their first year to 18 months of life.

The drawback here is more that it doesn’t have all the junkfood-like flavorings and other additives that would make your dog beg for more over and over (although we don’t think that matters to your dog that much).

It is also a bit costly for the amount you would feed, but it is still well worth it!

This dry dog food for puppies has a 30% Crude Protein Content and 16% fat. For ordering info, go here.

Most Affordable Golden Retriever Food

Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Protein Content:4/5

Fat Content: 4/5

Ingredients: 3.5/5

Texture: 4.5/5

Price: 5/5

Flavor: 4.5/5

Overall Rating: 4.25/5

Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic Large Breed Dry Dog Food is a fantastic example of how affordable food can still be amazing for your dog.

This food hits the fat contact requirement for Golden Retrievers and comes in at $40 for a 15 lb. bag. It also has a zip closure so you can make sure no one gets into it when you put it away.

The flavor works for most dogs quite well, and the kibble is sized just right for dogs in the large breed class.

Any cons to this food?

While it is a great food for its price, this dry dog food does have some ingredients that aren’t so hot such as canola oil and suspect additives for texture and treatment.

Dr. Gary’s Best Breed Holistic has 25% Crude Protein Content and 13% fat and can be ordered online here.

Best Protein Content Choice for Your Goldie

Weruva Chicken Dinner with Pumpkin

Protein Content:5/5

Fat Content: 4/5

Ingredients: 4.5/5

Texture: 4/5

Price: 4.5/5

Flavor: 5/5

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Because your active Golden Retriever needs a great protein source to keep their muscles working as hard as they do in addition to keeping their coat healthy, Weruva’s Chicken Dinner with Pumpkin is an immensely helpful dry dog food formula for amping up that protein intake while delivering other core nutrients.

This dog food is packed with healthy fats from natural oils as well as natural flavors that make it a tasty treat of a meal while the vegetables and fruits in the recipe add to its nutritional value for a well-rounded diet that will keep your Goldie healthy as long as possible.

What’s the catch?

If your dog needs a bit more Omegas than those offered in this food or should be easing off the protein because they aren’t as active as a pet lover would normally hope for, the protein content and fat content might not be appropriate for them like with other Golden Retrievers.

You’ll need to determine this based on your dog’s lifestyle.

They also recommend weaning your dog onto this formula slowly, which is probably because of how protein-rich it is.

Weruva’s Chicken Dinner with pumpkin has 38% protein and 13% fat and you can order it online now if you think it will work for your dog.

Top All-Natural/Organic Golden Retriever Food

Acana Grasslands Formula Dry Dog Food

Protein Content: 5/5

Fat Content: 5/5

Ingredients: 5/5

Texture: 4.5/5

Price: 3.5/5


Overall Rating: 4.67/5

There is nothing more refreshing than feeding your dog a dry dog food that is made with human-grade ingredients.

You know that they’re getting the absolute best there is and not something that is questionable when it comes to its origins or quality.

Acana’s Grasslands formula is jam-packed with wholesome whole foods and all kinds of nutrients to keep your Golden Retriever happy, healthy and active, giving them all the protein they could ask for, an amazing amount of good fats for their brain, heart, skin and coat health and even joint support.

So something has to give, right?

Unfortunately, you will pay the price for this dog food.

Acana’s Grasslands formula comes in at $40 for 4.5 lbs., which means you will find yourself paying top dollar for top dry dog food in the case of this all-natural choice. But in this case, it is absolutely worth the price.

Order Acana online here to get this 35% Crude Protein and 17% Crude Fat Content recipe for your Retriever now.

Best Senior Dry Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Large Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

Protein Content:4/5

Fat Content: 4/5


Texture: 4/5

Price: 4.5/5

Flavor: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.17/5

Featuring natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to ensure your senior Golden Retriever is getting optimal joint health supplements in its food, Nutro’s Wholesome Essentials is gentle on your dog’s stomach with less protein than other dry dog foods.

It also has other nutrients like selenium, Vitamin E and Biotin for skin and hair health that your dog needs as it gets older. The price is also quite good for a food that doesn’t have all the nasty grains in it that other foods do.

Any issues with this food?

We were hoping it would have more protein. It didn’t need to be lowered by that much that it was bordering 20% rather than 30%. The fat content is also lower than would have been acceptable, and although your Golden Retriever is probably less active than they used to be, it would be nice to still provide them the same level of fatty acids as in regular adult dry dog food.

Nutro’s Wholesome Essentials has 22% Crude Protein and 12% fat. Order it online here now.

And the Top Dry Dog Food for Golden Retrievers Is…

Acana Grasslands Formula Dry Dog Food

You guessed it!

We couldn’t pass up recommending Acana’s Grasslands Formula Dry Dog Food a second time. It’s all-natural, has an amazing amount of protein and fat content, nutrients for days and human-grade ingredients.

This dry dog food is a Golden Retriever’s dream with its rich flavor and a texture that will assist with proper tooth and gum health. It’s absolutely worth the price to make sure your dog gets the very best in a dry food.

This is definitely the best food for a Golden Retriever’s gorgeous coat, optimal joint health and for supporting their active lifestyle.

Alternative and Extra Food Choices for Golden Retrievers

Best Wet Dog Food Choice

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Cuisine Braised Beef, Carrots & Peas Stew Dog Food

While we are not huge proponents for feeding Golden Retrievers canned dog food, if you do find yourself needing to give an aging dog a portion of canned food with their dry food to allow for a more gentle dining experience on their gums and teeth or want to enrich the flavor of an otherwise bland food, you can try out Hill’s Science Diet Adult Healthy Cuisine Braised Beef, Carrots & Peas Stew.

This formula has a ton of protein at 50% and will help to enrich your dog’s diet with vegetables and added nutrients from supplements.

The only drawback we found was that it does have wheat in it (likely for thickening or a binding ingredient), which can irritate a dog’s stomach, so try to feed it sparingly mixed with kibble or as a supplementary item rather than their whole diet.

Order online now at this link.

Top Pick Doggy Treat

Blue Buffalo Blue Wilderness Trail Treats Grain Free Jerky Dogs Treats (Turkey)

Giving your Golden Retriever a treat that has as few ingredients as possible is a smart move. No one wants to have to decipher these morsels after they finally figured their dog food out. Why complicate things?

That’s why going with a barebones treat like Blue Buffalo’s Blue Wilderness Trail Treats Grain Free Jerky treats is best. These come in chicken or turkey varieties and only contain meat, sugar and salt.

The fact that they’re made with real meat and not meal or by-products or other additives and preservatives is fantastic and super good for your active Retriever.

The only problem is that there is a bit of sugar and salt on these jerky treats, which is probably why they’re called treats. That’s also why you need to restrict how many you give your dog every day.

Finally, be sure you are accounting for the calories out of your dog’s daily intake they use up when you give one or two to your Golden Retriever.

Order these Turkey Jerky treats here.


Your Golden Retriever deserves nothing but the best when it comes to a dog food. All pet lovers know how important a diet is to a dog’s health, and we hope you found a few different ways to get your active dog the most nutrients in a food that you can feel good giving them.

Protein for muscles, Omega Fatty acids for skin and hair care, fruits and vegetables for digestive health, nutrients and supplements for joint health and a good texture to protect your dog’s dental health all contribute to a happy and healthy canine you can love for years to come.

Whether it’s about affordability, all-natural ingredients, giving enough protein for your dog’s active lifestyle or making sure your puppy gets the best food to develop into the beautiful creature it was always meant to be, you can trust that these foods will help you achieve your goals as a proud Golden Retriever owner.


The Power of Protein, PetMD 1999-2019, accessed 24 Jan 2019,

Nutrition for a Golden Retriever, Team PetCareRX 15 Jun 2017, accessed 24 Jan 2019,

Golden Retrievers and Food: All You Need to Know About Feeding Your Golden Retriever, Roberto Manzotti 13 Jun 2018, accessed 25 Jan 2019,

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