6 Most Recommended Dog Food for Golden Retrievers in 2023

Best Puppy Food for Golden Retrievers

With so many dog food choices out there, finding the right food for your Golden Retriever can be difficult and overwhelming. This article was written by Dr. Traas, president of the Golden Retriever Society and veterinarian, and includes input from our other staff veterinarians. We look specifically for foods that are formulated for large breed dogs and foods that are backed by science made by reputable companies that have spent considerable time researching each ingredient.

Here we share our top choices of dog food that will provide your Golden Retriever with a healthy and complete diet. We will also give details about the nutritious ingredients found in each food and how they will benefit your dog. 

Our Top Pick

Purina Pro Plan Large Breed

Purina Pro Plan Large Breed is our top choice for Golden Retrievers. Corey’s dog Brady has been eating this food since becoming an adult and he loves it. This dog food provides a complete, healthy, and nutritious diet for all large breed dogs.

Best Dog Food for Golden Retrievers

Our PickBrand
Best OverallPurina Pro Plan Large Breed
Our Second ChoiceRoyal Canin for Golden Retriever 
Our Third ChoiceEukanuba Adult Large Breed
Our Fourth ChoiceHills Science Diet Large Breed
Best Budget Purina One Smart Blend Natural Large Breed
Budget 2nd choiceIams Large Breed

Just as important as getting quality dog food for your Golden is knowing how much to feed them. After you decide on the food for your dog, be sure to visit our article Golden Retriever Feeding Chart. We cover more feeding information and look at other common questions you may have.

Best Overall Dog Food: Purina Pro Plan Large Breed

Purina Pro Plan Large Breed provides an overall nutritious diet for your Golden Retriever. This food comes highly recommended by our staff veterinarians. The number one ingredient is chicken which provides the protein needed to help develop strong muscles and healthy body function. It is also formulated with live probiotics that help with your dog’s digestive and immune systems.

The Purina Pro Plan adult product line has 19 different dry foods to choose from. The food is specially formulated to fit your Golden Retriever’s needs. You can choose food that is good for sensitive skin or stomach. It also has different choices of meat, like chicken, beef, or lamb. Having a variety of different formulas to choose from is beneficial due to different medical needs that your dog may have at certain times in their life.

 Purina Pro Plan is the highest quality line of Purina dog food apart from the prescription diets. This food is highly digestible, promoting optimal nutrient absorption to give your Golden the energy they need.  

Top Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Ground rice
  3. Whole Grain Wheat
  4. Corn Gluten Meal
  5. Poultry By-Product Meal (Source of Glucosamine)

*GLUCOSAMINE: a natural compound found in cartilage that can help joint health.

Product Features:

  • Chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • Contains omega-3 fatty acids for joint health and a shiny coat
  • Helps maintain ideal body weight
  • Can be bought as wet or dry food

This dog food provides many health benefits for your Golden Retriever through natural ingredients that will help live a long, healthy life. In addition, we like its reasonable price.

Our Second Choice: Royal Canin for Golden Retriever

Our Second Choice

Royal Canin for Golden Retriever

Available on Amazon

Royal Canin for Golden Retrievers is our second choice and comes highly recommended by our staff veterinarians. It is designed specifically to meet the nutritional needs of a purebred Golden Retriever. The shape and texture of the kibble is designed to fit a Golden Retriever’s straight muzzle and scissor bite that encourages them to chew. It also contains exclusive nutrients that help reinforce the skin barrier to protect the skin and help maintain a beautiful golden, long coat.

The nice thing about Royal Canin dog food is the exact calculations of how much to feed your Golden Retriever based on their activity level for the day (low, moderate, or high). On the back of the bag, there is a chart that shows these exact amounts. They can do this because there is a veterinary nutritionist on staff who chooses high-quality ingredients for a nutritionally balanced meal.

Even though the one downside we found is that the #1 ingredient is chicken meal instead of chicken, high-quality chicken meal can be nutritionally better than chicken.

Top Ingredients:

  1. Chicken Meal
  2. Brown Rice
  3. Oatmeal
  4. Rice
  5. Corn Gluten Meal

Product Features:

  • Specially made for Golden Retriever purebred dogs
  • Contains EPA and DHA to help with heart health
  • Has a precise amount of calories and fat to maintain a healthy weight
  • Can be bought as wet or dry food

Our Third Choice: Eukanuba Adult Large Breed

Our Third Choice

Eukanuba Adult Large Breed

Available on Amazon

Eukanuba Adult Large Breed dog food is our third choice and comes highly recommended by our veterinarians as well. Like the two foods above, this one provides a well-balanced diet for your Golden Retriever. This food is gentle on a dog’s stomach because it is made with a prebiotic blend that aids in digestion. It also contains high-quality chicken combined with glucosamine (a compound found in cartilage) and chondroitin sulfate (a chemical found in cartilage) to help support lean muscles and agile joints.

Eukanuba provides exact calculations of how much to feed your Golden Retriever based on their activity for the day. Having this information at your fingertips helps to make sure there is no overfeeding or underfeeding. For example, if your Golden had a moderate exercise for the day, it will tell you the exact amount of cups to feed them based on their weight. If you’ve ever wanted to know the exact amounts to feed your Golden Retriever, then this is the food for you.

Top Ingredients:

  1. High-Quality Chicken
  2. Corn meal
  3. Ground Whole Grain Sorghum (complex carbohydrate rich in nutrients)
  4. Chicken By-Product Meal
  5. Ground Whole Grain Barley

Product Features:

  • High-quality chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • Keeps muscles lean and joints limber and strong
  • Has 3D Denta Defense, which reduces tartar build-up
  • Can be bought as wet or dry food

Our Fourth Choice: Hills Science Diet Large Breed

Our Fourth Choice

Hills Science Diet Large Breed

Available on Amazon

Hills Science Diet Large Breed dog food is made of natural ingredients that are easily digestible to fuel the energy needs of your Golden Retriever. It is packed with a precise amount of omega-6 and vitamin E to give your dog healthy skin and coat. It is also formulated to have a great taste that dogs love. The natural fibers in the food promote healthy digestion for your fully-grown dog.

When feeding your Golden Retriever Hills Science Diet, be sure to use the feeding chart on the back of the bag. It tells you how much food you should feed your Golden Retriever based on their weight. On some of their bags, especially the perfect weight recipe, they provide a chart that gives the amount of food for weight loss if your Golden Retriever is needing that specifically.

It is veterinarian recommended and helps your Golden Retriever live their best when they are in their prime.

Top Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Cracked Pearled Barley
  3. Whole Grain Wheat
  4. Whole Grain Corn
  5. Whole Grain Sorghum

Product Features:

  • Chicken is #1 ingredient
  • Has a great taste for the dog
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Can be bought as wet or dry food

Best Budget Dog Food: Purina One Smart Blend Natural Large Breed

Our Budget Choice

Purina One Smart Blend Natural Large Breed

Available on Amazon

Purina One Smart Blend Natural Large Breed is our budget-friendly top pick. If you are looking for dog food that is easier on the pocketbook but still high in nutritional value, then this is for you. The price per pound is about 96 cents or 3 cents per day. That is considerably less that the average price of $2.49 per pound or 10 cents per day.

This food is made with natural vitamins and minerals and features a combination of tender, protein-rich meaty morsels and crunchy kibble that your Golden will enjoy. It contains no artificial flavors or preservatives and no fillers. Every high-quality ingredient has a purpose. This dog food uses a moderate amount of by-product meal which contains a good amount of nutrients.

If you are looking for budget-friendly dog food but still has the nutrients your dog needs, then this is the food for your Golden Retriever.

Top Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Rice Flour
  3. Chicken By-Product Meal
  4. Whole Grain Wheat
  5. Soybean Meal

Product Features:

  • Chicken is #1 ingredient
  • Complete and balanced nutrition in every serving
  • Supports lifelong whole-body health 
  • Can be bought in wet or dry food

2nd Best Budget Dog Food: Iams Large Breed

Our 2nd Budget Choice

Iams Large Breed

Available on Amazon

Iams Large Breed dog food is another great budget friendly food for your Golden Retriever. It is a complete and balanced nutritional food with no artificial flavors or fillers. It is made in the USA and is a great start for a puppy all the way up to a senior. Dr. Traas feeds this food to her dogs. It also contains a blend of wholesome fibers and prebiotics for easier digestion. 

The downside of this food is that it has a high amount of carbohydrates. It does have excellent meat and fat quality, though. Some reviews said that when they started feeding their dog Iams that their dog started scratching less. They believed that the vitamins and fatty acids were helping with skin and coat issues they were previously dealing with.

This dog food is filled with the nutrients your dog needs but can also fit just about any budget.

Top Ingredients:

  1. Farm-Raised Chicken
  2. Ground Whole Grain Barley
  3. Ground Whole Grain Corn
  4. Ground Whole Grain Sorghum
  5. Chicken By-Product Meal

Product Features:

  • Farm-raised chicken is the #1 ingredient
  • Maintains bone and joint health
  • Promotes healthy digestion and immunity
  • Can be bought in wet or dry food

Nutritional Needs Of Golden Retrievers

Golden retrievers require a balanced diet that is rich in protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients. They also need adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals to support their growth, energy, and immune system. Understanding their nutritional needs is essential to ensure that they are getting the right amount of nutrients to maintain good health.

What to Look For in Dog Food?

What To Look For In A Dog Food

Finding the right dog food for your Golden Retriever is especially important. It is something they do at least twice a day, so you want it to be something they like but also healthy. In this section, we will discuss some ingredients that should be in healthy dog food.


Protein is essential for the growth and maintenance of almost all tissues in a dog’s body. It also has amino acids necessary for a dog’s body to build hair, skin, muscles, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. You will want to buy dog food that has a source of protein listed first. This means that protein is the greatest ingredient in food by weight. 

Adult dogs need 18% of the protein in their diets. Good protein sources are chicken, lamb, salmon, beef, and turkey. Many dog foods contain meat by-products, such as a chicken meal. These by-products are also another good source of protein and vitamins.


Just like humans, dogs need vitamins in their food for growth and maintenance. Most vitamins are found naturally in foods. Be sure the dog food you choose has all the following vitamins.

Vitamin AResponsible for good vision and helps the immune system
B Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12)Helps regulate energy and carbohydrate metabolism, blood cell and nervous system function, hormone regulation, and immune response
Vitamin CReduces inflammation and cognitive aging
Vitamin DKnown as the “sunshine vitamin,” and balances minerals
Vitamin EEssential for cell function and fat metabolism
Vitamin KActivates dog’s blood to clot
CholineSupports healthy brain and liver function

Vitamins are especially important for a dog to have in their diet. It is a good idea to also check with your veterinarian about which food will best provide the vitamins your Golden Retriever needs. 


Carbohydrates are an important ingredient in dog food because it provides energy to your Golden Retriever. Carbohydrates come from the sugars in plants and grains and should be part of a dog’s well-balanced diet.

Here is a list of common carbohydrates that will usually be listed in the first few ingredients on the bag.

  • Barley
  • Oats (or whole oats)
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat
  • Whole corn
  • Potato (or sweet potato)
  • Millet

When choosing dog food for your Golden Retriever, make sure it has all the ingredients needed for a well-balanced diet. Most dog foods are regulated by the FDA, so they will be safe and healthy for your Golden Retriever. It is always best to consult with a veterinarian about the food before feeding it to your dog. 

When Should I Feed My Golden Retriever?

When Should I Feed My Golden Retriever

Your Golden Retriever should be fed at least twice daily. Once in the morning and then once in the early evening. If you go to work, feeding them before you leave and then when you get home is an example of a good schedule. Oftentimes, people like to feed them when they eat breakfast and dinner themselves. 

If your dog seems hungry during the day, giving them a healthy snack can tide them over to their next meal. For healthy snack ideas, check out our article Best Dog Treats For Golden Retrievers

Keeping your Golden Retriever on a feeding schedule is going to make it easier for you and healthier for them. If they are getting fed at different times, it could throw off their routine and, ultimately their health. Sometimes it could cause obesity as well. Using an automated feeder can help if your schedule is different from day to day, then, you do not need to be home for the feedings.

Are Grain-Free Diets Safe For Golden Retrievers?

Are Grain Free Diets Safe For Golden Retrievers

Grain Free diets are not typically recommended by veterinarians. Recent studies from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have shown that there is a link between certain diets and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.

Grains are a great source of nutrients for dogs. Grains are packed with carbohydrates, fats, and antioxidants that support healthy skin, hair, and immune systems. A common assumption is that grains cause obesity, but if they are fed in moderation, obesity should not be a problem.

Some veterinarians will recommend a grain-free diet to dogs with allergies. If your veterinarian does recommend grain free, then go with a grain-free diet as it is probably best for your dog.

Tips for Transitioning to New Dog Food

Switching your golden retriever’s food can be a delicate process. It is essential to introduce the new food gradually over a period of seven to ten days to prevent digestive issues. Begin by mixing small amounts of the new food with the old food and gradually increase the amount until your dog is eating the new food entirely. It’s also crucial to monitor your dog’s reaction to the new food and make sure they are tolerating it well.


Making sure your Golden Retriever has the right food is essential for their overall health. Food with protein, vitamins, and carbohydrates will provide the needed energy for your dog to live a well-balanced life. 

The dog food list we have provided comes highly recommended by our staff veterinarian. We hope you find this helpful in choosing the right food for your Golden Retriever. 

If you have a Golden Retriever puppy, check out our article Best Puppy Food For Golden Retrievers. Puppy food and dog food are different, be sure you are feeding your dog the best!

Dr. Anne Traas

Anne Traas, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACT is a veterinarian and the new President of Golden Retriever Society. She is board certified (a specialist) in canine reproduction. In her day job, she is a leader in a small biotech where she and a team of veterinarians and scientists work to develop new medications for pets. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of this wonderful breed of dogs. She and her husband have 2 children, 3 dogs and one cat. They love camping and hiking and she can often be found with her head in a good book.

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