The Best Food for a Golden Retriever Puppy in 2020

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Is there anything cuter than a Golden Retriever puppy? Not much. Goldens are one of the most popular large dog breeds in the United States.

You want to start your puppy’s life off right. And when it comes to feeding, you’re wondering which is the best food for a Golden Retriever puppy.

Being a large breed dog, Golden Retriever puppies have very specific nutritional needs.

Let’s talk about this breed’s nutrition needs, what to look for in quality dog food, and review the best dog food for Golden Retriever puppies with 7 top-rated picks.

best food for golden retriever puppies

Best Puppy Food for Golden Retrievers

(Our Top Pick)

Solid Gold – Wolf Cub with Real Bison and Oatmeal – Natural Large Breed Puppy Food

With the protein in this large breed dog food recipe from Solid Gold is coming from bison meat and ocean fish, it’s less likely to trigger allergic reactions in your Golden Retriever. The protein and fat levels are perfect for growing Golden retriever puppies, and this recipe is potato-free.

Protein: 26%

Fat: 12%

Noteworthy Features and Characteristics:

  • Contains prebiotics and probiotics
  • Bison and ocean fish meal are meats less likely to cause allergies
  • Potato-free
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee

Top Ingredients: Bison, Ocean Fish Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Peas, Rice Bran, Pearled Barley, Pea Protein, Dried Eggs, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Flaxseed, Tomato Pomace, Natural Flavor, Salt, Calcium Carbonate.

User Reviews: Like any dog food, there are a couple of complaints about dogs who don’t like the taste or experience digestive issues. Most dogs do well on this food, however, even dogs who have had digestive issues with other foods.

Bottom Line: This is an ultra-premium dry dog food with a price to match. However, if you can afford it, it’s probably the best dog food you can give your Golden Retriever puppy.

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Tuffy’S Pet Food Nutrisource Large Breed Chicken & Rice Puppy Food

This chicken and brown rice formula is easy to digest, meaning solid poop and less gas. The protein and fat levels in this dry food are ideal for growing Golden Retriever puppies.

Protein: 23%

Fat: 14%

Noteworthy Features and Characteristics:

  • Easy to digest
  • Superior nutrition for balanced muscular and skeletal growth
  • Recommended by many breeders
  • Ideal protein and fat levels for Golden retriever puppies

Top Ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, white rice, barley, corn gluten meal, oatmeal, beet pulp, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), natural flavors, fish meal (a source of fish oil), flax seeds, sunflower oil.

User Reviews: Most of the complaints were about shipping problems rather than food problems. Generally, puppies love this large breed dog food recipe and have solid poops and healthy skin.

Bottom Line: This is another great dry dog food for Golden retriever puppies that is a little on the pricy side, but multiple reviewers tried other dog foods and swear this one is worth the price.

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Nutro Max Natural Puppy Dry Dog Food

Nutro Max Natural’s large breed dog food recipe is non-GMO and more affordable than some of the other dog foods on our list. It has no corn, wheat, or soy protein and is made in the United States.

Protein: 26%

Fat: 14%

Noteworthy Features and Characteristics:

  • No artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Made in the USA
  • No chicken by-product meal
  • No corn, wheat or soy protein

Top Ingredients: Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Whole Grain Oatmeal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Chicken, Flaxseed, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Brewers Rice, Natural Flavor, Chickpeas, Whole Brown Rice, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols).

User Reviews: Most of the complaints are about quality control issues, with dogs reacting fine to some bags and having diarrhea with others. All in all, large dog breed owners and pups love this food.

Bottom Line: If you can’t afford one of the more premium dry dog foods on our list, this one is a good option at a more affordable price.

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Merrick Dry Puppy Food with Healthy Grains

Merrick’s formula has deboned chicken as the first ingredient and no potatoes. With guaranteed omega-3 and omega-6 levels, this large breed puppy food formula should be great for your puppy’s coat.

Protein: 26%

Fat: 12%

Noteworthy Features and Characteristics:

  • #1 Ingredient is deboned chicken
  • Potato-free
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Made in the USA

Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Peas, Barley, Oatmeal, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), Pea Protein, Quinoa, Natural Flavor, Salmon Meal, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Apples, Salmon Oil (source of Omega-3 fatty acids), Blueberries, Chia Seed, Organic Dried Alfalfa Meal.

User Reviews: Some large breed puppies experience diarrhea after eating this dog food. Most puppies have no problems, though, and have shiny fur and plenty of energy.

Bottom Line: This is another pricy dog food option, but if you’re worried about grain-free diets, this recipe with healthy grains is one of the best foods for Golden retrievers.

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Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Real Lamb Recipe Premium Dry Dog Food

Probiotics are as good for dogs as they are for you, and this large breed puppy lamb recipe from Diamond Naturals has guaranteed levels of probiotics. That helps make this dog food easy to digest. It also has antioxidants, DHA, omega-3, and superfoods.

Protein: 27%

Fat: 15%

Noteworthy Features and Characteristics:

  • Contains probiotics
  • Made with pasture-raised lamb meat
  • Highly digestible
  • Made in the USA

Top Ingredients: Lamb, lamb meal, ground white rice, peas, pea flour, cracked pearled barley, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), egg product, dried yeast, tomato pomace, potato protein, flaxseed, natural flavor, salmon oil (source of DHA), salt, DL-methionine, choline chloride, taurine, dried chicory root, L-Carnitine, kale, chia seed, pumpkin, blueberries, oranges, quinoa, dried kelp, coconut, spinach, carrots, papaya, yucca schidigera extract.

User Reviews: Some large breed dogs had allergic or digestive problems with this formula. However, most large breed dogs thrive on this reasonably priced dry food.

Bottom Line: This is a great large breed puppy food for Golden retrievers that won’t break the bank, but it doesn’t agree with every puppy.

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Wellness Complete Health Natural Large Breed Puppy Food, Chicken, Salmon & Brown Rice

Wellness Complete Health Large Breed puppy food has quality sources of protein as the first 3 ingredients, which means your large breed dog is getting nutrition, not fillers. It contains lots of antioxidants for a healthy immune system.

Protein: 29%

Fat: 13%

Noteworthy Features and Characteristics:

  • No wheat, corn, soy, meat by-products, or artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives
  • Made in the USA
  • High in antioxidants
  • The first 3 ingredients are all meat

Top Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Whitefish, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Ground Peas, Ground Barley, Ground Brown Rice, Salmon Meal (a source of DHA – Docosahexaenoic Acid), Tomato Pomace, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols, a natural source of Vitamin E), Tomatoes, Natural Chicken Flavor, Ground Flaxseed, Salmon Oil (a source of DHA – Docosahexaenoic Acid), Carrots, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Apples, Blueberries.

User Reviews: Large breed puppies on this pet food tend to either have terrible digestive issues or thrive with coats so shiny that they get constant compliments.

Bottom Line: If this dog food agrees with your puppy’s stomach, they will probably be very healthy on this recipe.

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Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food Large & Giant Breed Puppy Lamb

Holistic Select Natural is intended to be highly digestible and supports immune health. The added salmon oil provides plenty of DHA for healthy brain and eye development.

Protein: 23%

Fat: 12%

Noteworthy Features and Characteristics:

  • Digestive support with prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Made in the USA
  • Contains antioxidant-rich superfoods

Top Ingredients: Lamb Meal, Chicken Meal, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Barley, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Oats, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Salmon Oil, Flaxseed, Pumpkin, Cranberries, Apples, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Papayas, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Blueberries, Pomegranates, Vitamin E Supplement, Inulin, L-Carnitine, Dried Kelp.

User Reviews: Some pups don’t like the taste, but there are hardly any complaints of tummy problems. On the contrary – dogs who had been having diarrhea on other foods felt better on this food.

Bottom Line: This recipe is on the pricy side, but it’s well-digested by most dogs. If your growing Golden retriever has a sensitive stomach, this food for your Golden retriever puppy is worth the money.

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What to Look for in the Best Food for Golden Retriever Puppies

Here are some things you should look for in the best dog food for Golden Retriever puppies:

  • Animal meat in the first 3 ingredients
  • Omega-3
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Amino acids like DHA, ALA, and EPA
  • Vitamins A, B, and E
  • Proper Protein and Fat percentages
  • Nutritionally complete and certified by AAFCO

Some things you should avoid in food for Golden Retrievers include:

  • By-products
  • Filler ingredients like cornmeal, wheat, rice flour, seed hulls, and soy
  • Artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin
  • Artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

best food for a golden retriever puppy

Nutritional Needs of Golden Retriever Puppies

Golden Retriever puppies need more protein in their food than adult dogs. However, you don’t want a dog food that’s too high in protein because it could make your Golden grow too quickly. Also, fat may seem like a bad thing, but it’s actually a crucial macronutrient.

You should look for a puppy food that has around 22% protein and 8% fat. When your puppy becomes an adult, you should switch them to dog food with less protein (18%) and less fat (5%).

It’s also important to find a large breed formula that includes glucosamine and chondroitin. These nutrients are crucial for proper joint growth and maintenance in adult dogs.

Calcium and phosphorous are crucial nutrients, but high levels can be bad for Golden Retriever puppies. That’s because it can cause them to grow too quickly, which can lead to skeletal and joint problems as adults. Look for puppy food with no more than 1.5% calcium and 0.9% phosphorous.

You should also look for a dry food ingredient list that contains omega-3, a crucial fatty acid that can improve skin, fur, and joint health.

Puppy foods for Golden retrievers should also include amino acids like DHA, ALA, and EPA for proper growth.

best golden retriever puppy food

How Nutrition Affects a Golden Retriever’s Health

Many health conditions that affect Golden Retrievers are genetic and can’t be prevented. However, a proper diet can reduce the likelihood of developing some conditions and lessen the symptoms of others.

For example, several health conditions are caused or worsened by a puppy growing too quickly. That can be caused by puppy food that’s too high in protein, phosphorus, or calcium.

Obesity also causes several health conditions, so it’s crucial to maintain your Golden Retriever puppy’s weight.

Also, some dog food ingredients may cause cancer, like BHA, BHT, propyl gallate, and TBHQ.

Golden Retriever Health Concerns

Golden Retrievers are prone to a variety of common large breed health problems, with cancer being at the top of the list.

Sadly, Golden Retrievers are one of the large dog breeds most likely to get cancer. 60% of all Golden Retrievers get cancer.

Cancer isn’t the only health concern that Golden Retrievers are prone to, however.

Some other health problems your Golden Retriever could experience include:

  • Hip or elbow dysplasia – a painful malformation of the hip or elbow joints
  • Bloat – a potentially deadly condition where a dog’s stomach fills with air and rotates
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – an eye disease that can lead to blindness
  • Cataracts – a clouding of the eyes that can lead to blindness
  • Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis – a life-threatening heart condition
  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) – a painful joint condition often caused by growing too quickly
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease – a condition that affects blood clotting
  • Hypothyroidism – low thyroid function
  • Epilepsy – a condition that causes seizures
  • Allergies – may be environmental or food-related

best dog food for golden retriever puppy

How Many Calories Does my Golden Retriever Need?

When your Golden Retriever grows to an adult, you can use a dog food calculator to determine how many calories they need. Things are a little more complicated for puppies, though, since they are constantly growing.

It’s best to talk to your vet about how many calories your Golden Retriever needs. One way to tell if your puppy is a healthy weight is to feel their ribs. You should be able to feel, but not see, your Golden puppy’s ribs.

Feeding Schedule for Golden Retriever Puppies

Golden Retriever puppies need to eat several times throughout the day. When you first bring your puppy home, you should feed them 4 small meals per day.

Around 3 months old, you can start feeding your puppy 3 times a day. Around 4 months old, switch to feeding your dog twice a day.

You should keep feeding your Golden Retriever twice a day as an adult. Only feeding your adult dog a single meal per day increases the chances of potentially deadly bloat.

Is Grain-Free Dog Food Safe for Golden Retriever Puppies?

Grain-free dog food diets have been in the news recently because some dogs have developed heart problems, seemingly from these diets. Nobody is certain yet what the link is between grain-free food and heart problems.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are no scientifically proven benefits to grain-free food. Only you can decide whether a grain-free diet is right for your Golden Retriever puppy.

Wet Dog Food vs Dry Dog Food (And Other Diets)

Every type of commercial dog food has its own pros and cons. No type of dog food is necessarily better than the others.

Dry large breed puppy food is the cheapest and easiest to feed. Wet dog food is great for adding moisture to your dog’s diet.

Some people claim raw dog food diets are the healthiest way to feed your dog.

Freeze-dried raw food has the benefits of raw with the convenience of kibble. And fresh dog food delivery is becoming an increasingly popular option.

To learn more about the differences, check out our article comparing wet vs dry dog food.

Since dry food is the most popular option, that’s the type of dog food we’ve focused on here.

You can learn more about the various types of dog nutrition here.

best food for golden retriever puppies


Sometimes you just need a quick answer without reading the whole article. Here are answers to the most common questions about picking the best dog food for Golden Retriever puppies.

How Many Times Per Day Should a Golden Retriever Puppy Eat?

Here’s a quick guide to how often your Golden Retriever puppy should eat:

  • 5 weeks to 3 months old: 4 times per day
  • 3 to 4 months old: 3 times per day
  • 5 months old and up: 2 times per day

How Much Should I Feed a Golden Retriever Puppy?

Always check the label of the dog food for feeding suggestions. You may need to feed your puppy more food if it has more fillers in it. Talk to your vet if you have any questions.

When Should I Switch my Golden Retriever from Puppy Food to Adult Food?

Different websites have different information, so it’s best to talk to your vet. Your Golden Retriever should be on a dry dog food for puppies until they are at least a year old. Your vet may suggest that you feed puppy food for large breeds until your dog is 18 months to 2 years old.

Wrapping Up the Best Puppy Food for Golden Retrievers

We can’t give you one definitive answer on the best dog food for a Golden Retriever puppy. Hopefully, one of our suggestions seems like it would be the best fit for you and your puppy.

If you have any questions, never hesitate to ask your vet. We can’t stress enough how important a good diet is for your Golden puppy.

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