With literally hundreds of shiny dog food packages lining multiple isles at your pet store, how are you going to decide what the best dog foods for Golden Retrievers are? They all seem to come in gorgeous packaging, so what makes one better than the other? No need to worry though… below we review the 8 Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers.


The 8 Best Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

Orijen Dog Food 

Orijen Dog Food Review

Orijen is one of the absolute best-manufactured dog foods you can find, if not the best (and the price tag will reflect it). Not only do you have two high-quality sources of DeBoned (important) animal meat as the very first two ingredients… you’re given three separate sources of fish and four highly nutritious organ portions of meat in the top ten ingredients alone. This is exactly what you would want an ideal list of ingredients to look like.

Even ground bones can be difficult on a dog’s digestion. Most manufacturers simply grind bones with the meat of an animal, but Orijen goes the extra mile by separating them. If you continue down this list below, you would find plenty of assorted vegetables, along with more organ meats, fishes, etc.

Ingredients: Deboned Turkey, deboned chicken, eggs, flounder, whole Atlantic herring, turkey liver, chicken liver, turkey heart, chicken heart, whole Atlantic mackerel

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Instinct Original Grain-Free with Real Duck

Instinct Original Grain-Free with Real Duck Review

Ideal for those desiring a grain-free, high protein diet, Instinct Original gives us two quality protein sources with Duck as the first ingredient this time. Eggs are another good source of protein and fatty acids, another quality ingredient to see included.

Ingredients: Duck, chicken meal, peas, egg product, turkey meal, canola oil, tapioca, natural flavor, montmorillonite clay, freeze-dried duck

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Nature’s Logic Canine Rabbit Meal Feast

Nature's Logic Canine Rabbit Meal Feast

A ‘meal’ is a concentrated source of protein. The meat source is dehydrated at very high temperatures, separating the meat source from any fats and water. You are left with near-pure animal meat!

Again the first two ingredients are animal sources, the first being rabbit this time. Nature’s Logic advertises natural ingredients above all.

Ingredients: Turkey meal, rabbit meal, millet, chicken fat, yeast culture, pumpkin seed, spray-dried pork liver, dried egg product, montmorillonite clay.

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Taste of the Wild Wetlands

Taste of the Wild Wetlands

The first three ingredients, not just the first two, are quality sources of animal protein. Both sweet potatoes and peas are vitamin-rich, while ocean fish offers a source of fish oils and omega fatty acids.

Taste of the Wild is an ever-growing name in dog food, with this one of their best recipes!

Ingredients: Duck, Duck Meal, Chicken Meal, Peas, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, Chicken Fat, Ocean Fish Meal

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Wellness Complete Health

Wellness Complete Health Review

Expertly crafted mixtures of quality proteins with just enough grains necessary to support your retriever’s growth, without any of the useless byproduct filler you might see in other foods! Extra antioxidants will support your pet’s digestive health, while omega fatty acids will help promote a healthy coat and skin.

Ingredients: Potatoes, Whitefish, peas, menhaden fish meal, dried ground potatoes, canola oil, chickpeas, tomato pomace, ground flaxseed, tomatoes -Taurine Included

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American Journey Dog Food

American Journey Dog Food Review

You’ll notice the first ingredient is a high quality, deboned source of animal meat, followed by a very concentrated protein source. Then we have the grains necessary for cardiovascular health and other fiber-rich sources.

Ingredients: Chicken meal, deboned beef, brown rice, peas, rice bran, barley, chicken fat, brewers rice.

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Earthborn Holistic Large Breed

Earthborn Holistic Large Breed Review

The very first ingredient here is a concentrated protein source, and since ingredients are listed by quantity, it means this formula contains more chicken meal than anything else. Like the other ‘grain-free’ diets here, taurine has been added, along with several other micronutrients. 

Already a widely known name in pet food, Earthborn Holistic provides several other holistic ingredients to accommodate a wide variety of needs!

Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Tapioca, Peas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Pea Fiber, Ground Flaxseed, Dried Egg, Natural Flavors, Whitefish Meal, Dicalcium Phosphate.

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Chicken Soup for the Soul Large Breed Adult

Chicken Soup for the Soul Large Breed Adult Review

At first, I was skeptical. A ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul dog food’? That is until viewing these ingredients!

We are given three sources of animal protein as the first three ingredients, meaning this food is more animal product than anything else. After this, you have all of the grains and vegetables a Golden Retriever would need to thrive a healthy life! 

Ingredients: Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Brown Rice, White Rice, Cracked Pearled Barley, Oatmeal, Peas, Faba Beans, Millet.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much should a Golden Retriever eat daily?

Adult Goldens would probably eat between 2-3/12 cups per day, but you should follow the feeding guidelines on the back of your dog food package. 

This will vary a little depending on the growth stage of your retriever, and the type of food (wet/dry). 


What foods are bad for Golden Retrievers?

As far as dog foods, you want to avoid something almost entirely plant-based. The carbohydrate content would be far too high, while it would be difficult to meet protein requirements.

While vegan diets may be the ideal option for an owner, they wouldn’t be ideal for a dog. Dogs can in fact thrive on a carefully designed vegan diet, but any weight gain in our Goldens should be very closely watched. 

You also want to avoid feeding human foods or salty foods too often. Don’t go overboard with the dog treats.

Beware of ‘Too Much’

Goldens are prone to excess weight gain or obesity more than many breeds. They are also more prone to developing things like arthritis or Hip Dysplasia (the ball and socket joint of the hip doesn’t articulate well). The more unnecessary weight these joints are forced to support, the worse this is for the dog.

In some very extreme cases, rapid eating can lead to a life-threatening condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus, GDV, or simply ‘Bloat’, whereby the stomach fills with gasses and rotates, cutting off its own blood supply.


Avoid Raw or Undercooked Meat

Raw diets are becoming immensely popular! ‘Raw’ shouldn’t be literal when it comes to animal meat. After eating raw animal meat, your dog is now vulnerable to a host of bacteria, viruses, and other parasites that would have been killed during the cooking or rendering process. 


There is still a large difference between our domesticated dogs and other wild canines. Dogs didn’t inherit an immunity to some of these things unless previously exposed or their mothers passed an immunity on, which isn’t always the case. The risk you take isn’t worth the small degree of nutritional gains. 


What should you feed a Golden Retriever?

Look to the natural diet of a wild Grey Wolf. It is going to be composed mostly of animal protein and fats secondary, with carbohydrate filled plant sources coming in an opportunistic third. Wolves will scavenge plan sources, but secondary when animal prey isn’t available.

Feed your Golden Retriever a protein/meat-based diet. 


Do Golden Retrievers need grain in their diet?

Unfortunately, the idea of ‘grain-free’ has become huge in pet food. Most people don’t quite understand why other than they’ve heard grainy dog foods are of poor quality.

This isn’t exactly true, or maybe more of a half-truth. Too many grains can certainly be a bad thing, contributing to weight gain or even conditions like diabetes. You might not want to avoid it completely though. Goldens on a grain-free diet have shown an increased risk for heart disease, as well as other deficiencies. 

Avoiding grain completely can lead to nutritional deficits. Even the Wolves mentioned above would look to plant sources when meat wasn’t available.

    • Some of the foods listed above, though high quality, might be grain-free. If you settle upon one, either make sure it lists Taurine among the nutritional ingredients label on the back of the packaging, or you ask your veterinarian about supplementing with it.


Can a Golden Retriever drink milk?

Milk is another misunderstood area. Many dogs have an intolerance to lactose, the sugar in milk, and are unable to digest it properly. What sugars aren’t absorbed or digested/broken down in the small intestine will become food for the countless bacteria in the large intestine, producing gas as a bi-product.

Milk can cause gas, diarrhea, and general stomach upset. Even though not all dogs are lactose intolerant, the risk isn’t really worth it. Milk also tends to have a higher fat content.


Why are Golden Retrievers always hungry?

Goldens aren’t always hungry, though they may seem like it. You can call them ‘opportunistic eaters’.

Dogs evolved from an animal that would sometimes go for several days without eating, and needed to either guard or bury their kills when they did get them. To many dogs, their food is a precious resource, and even more so if they feel they need to guard it or protect it from others who would take it.

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