Vet-Approved: Top 4 Biologically Appropriate Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

First developed in Scotland, the Golden Retriever was initially bred as bird dogs who could excel at retrieving game in wet and rugged terrain. Energetic, attentive, and eager to please, Golden Retrievers are now among the top 3 most popular dog breeds in the U.S. and are widely owned worldwide. 

Even if your Golden Retriever has never even seen a duck or a pheasant, they still need the same essential nutrition they would if they were a bird dog. Here, I’m talking about the best food to feed a Golden Retriever, any of which fully meet the biological needs of these gorgeous dogs. 

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Golden Retriever Nutrition

Golden Retrievers need the same general nutrition that all dogs require. Facultative carnivores, dogs thrive on meat-based protein plus added nutrients from fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. 

The most basic questions you should ask yourself when narrowing down the type of dog food you want to feed your Golden Retriever include:

  1. Is your Golden Retriever a puppy (3–14 months), an adult (up to 8), or a senior (8+)?
  2. How big is your Golden Retriever? They are typically large dogs, around 55–80 lbs.
  3. How active is your Golden Retriever?
  4. Does your Golden Retriever have any health concerns? 

If you have a healthy Golden Retriever, it’s still important to account for potential health concerns associated with the breed. Golden Retrievers may be particularly prone to developing cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, and vision problems

Knowing this when selecting a dog food can help to inform which micronutrients are most important to you. 

Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Excellent dog foods come in all different shapes, sizes, and types, which is why this list includes the best dog food for Golden Retrievers in every category: raw, air-dried, fresh-frozen, and kibble. 

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1.Best Raw: We Feed Raw Beef Recipe

Top 4 Biologically Appropriate Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers

With We Feed Raw, you can choose from an impressive variety of raw recipes with plenty of different proteins, so you can switch it up or cater to your dog’s dietary requirements. The recipes are packed with protein and nutrients from meat (muscle), bone, and organs. 

For Golden Retrievers specifically, this recipe incorporates vitamin A supplements (for healthy eyes), manganese sulfate (for healthy bones), and natural calcium from ground bone. 

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First 5 IngredientsBeef Heart, Beef Liver, Beef Kidney, Beef Necks (with bone), Flaxseed
Food Type Raw, grain-free
Guaranteed Analysis (crude)12.2% Protein – 10% Fat – 1% Fiber – 68.8% Moisture
Feeding InstructionsFeed 1.2 lbs (or 19.2 oz) per day, or 0.6 lbs (or 9.6 oz) per meal*
Cost Per Meal$5.86 per meal* – $264.00 for 27 lbs. (best option for savings)

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2. Best Air-Dried: Sundays For Dogs Beef Recipe

Sundays For dogs woman pouring into bowl

If you struggle to get your Golden Retriever to eat their food, but they love treats, they’ll probably love Sundays For Dogs. Air-dried in small pieces that look, taste, and feel like jerky, Sundays For Dogs can also be used as training treats if you’re working on teaching your Golden Retriever new tricks, or they just deserve an extra snack at the end of a long hard day of naps. 

Other than the delicious recipe, we think Sundays For Dogs deserves consideration for best food for Golden Retrievers thanks to the turmeric to reduce inflammation, blueberries for antioxidant and immune support, and tart cherries to protect the joints. 

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First 5 IngredientsBeef, Beef Heart, Beef Liver, Beef Bone, Quinoa
Food TypeAir-dried, grain-inclusive without wheat, peas, corn, or legumes
Guaranteed Analysis30% Protein – 20% Fat – 3% Fiber – 15% Moisture
Feeding InstructionsFeed ½ cup (2.2 oz.) per day or ¼ cup (1.1 oz.) per meal*
Cost Per Meal $1.92 per meal* – $69 for 72 oz. (best option for savings)

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3. Best Fresh-Frozen: The Farmer’s Dog Beef Recipe

Top 4 Biologically Appropriate Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers
Source: @TheFarmersDog

If your Golden Retriever prefers to eat “human food,” they’ll absolutely love the fresh-frozen food from The Farmer’s Dog. Made with wholesome, delicious, and limited ingredients, each recipe has everything your Golden needs to thrive, and we guarantee they’ll never turn their nose up at the flavor. 

To keep Golden Retrievers healthy, the beef recipe includes carrots for vision health and salmon oil for healthy bones and joints. 

First 5 IngredientsUSDA Beef, Sweet Potato, Lentils, Carrot, USDA Beef Liver
Food TypeFresh-frozen, grain-inclusive without wheat or corn
Guaranteed Analysis (crude)11% Protein – 8% Fat – 1.5% Fiber – 72% Moisture
Feeding InstructionsCustomized for your pet!
Cost Per MealDetermined by your dog’s meal plan – plans start at $2 per day

What Reviewers Say:

4. Best Healthy Kibble: Spot & Tango Beef & Barley UnKibble

Top 4 Biologically Appropriate Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers
Source: @SpotAndTango

Kibble is undeniably the easiest type of dog food to feed your Golden Retriever. Easy to portion, mess-free, affordable, and crunchy, there’s a reason kibble is the most popular type of dog food in the world. UnKibble from Spot & Tango is just as convenient as traditional kibble but includes only high-quality ingredients and zero filler. 

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For Golden Retrievers specifically, we love that the Beef & Barley blend includes flax and fish oil for omega-3 fatty acids and carrots for vision health. 

First 5 IngredientsBeef, Barley, Flax, Carrots, Green Beans
Food TypeKibble, grain-inclusive without wheat or corn
Guaranteed Analysis (crude)26.58% Protein – 16.43% Fat – 3.18% Fiber – 2.04% Moisture
Cost Per Meal:$2.49 per meal – $86.22 for 14 days of food*

What Reviewers Say:

*Feeding instructions and cost analysis based on calculations for a 60 lb. Golden Retriever with an average activity level. 

Dog Food for Golden Retrievers FAQ

Before we wrap up, let’s talk about some of the most common questions Golden Retriever owners have about feeding their dogs. Chances are, you’ve probably asked one of these questions yourself!

Which is the best food for a golden retriever puppy?

Golden Retriever puppies can thrive on any of the dog foods we’ve listed above. In particular, we recommend Front of the Pack air-dried food, The Farmer’s Dog fresh-frozen, and Spot & Tango’s UnKibble

Because The Farmer’s Dog also offers customization for your pet’s specific needs, this is a fabulous option for a growing puppy whose dietary needs change over time.

How much food should a Golden Retriever eat?

Exactly how much your Golden Retriever needs to eat will depend on its weight, activity level, health, etc. However, on average, 60 lb dogs need around 880 calories per day. In terms of kibble, this usually works out to 2-3 cups per day. 

How much food should a Golden Retriever puppy eat?

The amount of food your Golden Retriever puppy needs will change as they grow, and the first year or so of their life will be spent steadily increasing their food intake. By around 6-7 months, Golden Retrievers can be eating as much as their full-grown counterparts, while others won’t reach this step until 8-9 months. 

Be sure to consult with your vet when you get a new puppy–they can help you to create a feeding plan, and monitor their growth. 

Should Golden Retrievers eat grain free?

Feeding your dog a grain-free diet is a personal decision that should be made based on your Golden Retriever’s specific needs, and the advice of your veterinarian. Some vets believe that grain-free diets can be detrimental to canine health, while others are on-board with grain-free, raw, and non-kibble diets. 

There is no rule that says Golden Retrievers should eat grain-free, but they can live very happy lives on grain-free diets. 

How often should I feed my Golden Retriever? 

Golden Retrievers do well on a twice-per-day feeding schedule, once in the morning and once at night. Some people choose to feed three smaller meals throughout the day, but a twice-per-day routine will work well for most dogs.  

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