6 Best Puppy Food for Golden Retrievers in 2023

Best Puppy Food for Golden Retrievers

Finding the best puppy food for your Golden Retriever can be difficult.  However, equipped with the knowledge in this article from a practicing veterinarian, we will have you on your way to providing nutritious meals for your puppy. Selecting the best food for your puppy will help them grow healthy and strong right from the start.

Our Pick

Purina ProPlan Large Breed Puppy

Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy Food is our top choice.  This is the food I have been feeding my Golden Retriever, Brady, since I got him at eight weeks old. He is currently 6 months old and still loves his nutritious Purina Pro Plan puppy food. It comes highly recommended by our staff of veterinarians here at Golden Retriever Society.

Best Puppy Food for Golden Retrievers

According to veterinarian, Dr. Amanda Jondle, DVM, Purina ProPlan Large Breed is the best choice of food for your Golden Retriever puppy. The second best choice is Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Food. Both of these foods provide complete, nutritious meals for Golden Retrievers.

Our PicksBrand
Best OverallPurina ProPlan Large Breed Puppy
Our Second ChoiceRoyal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy
Our Third ChoiceEukanuba Large Breed Puppy
Our Fourth ChoiceHill’s Science Diet Large Breed Puppy
Best BudgetPurina One Large Breed Puppy
Budget 2nd ChoiceIams Large Breed Puppy

Best Overall Puppy Food: Purina ProPlan Large Breed Puppy Food

Purina ProPlan Large Breed is the best choice for your Golden Retriever puppy, as it provides a complete, healthy, and nutritious diet. The number one ingredient is chicken which provides the protein your puppy needs for strong muscles and healthy body function. This food comes highly recommended from our staff veterinarians.

This puppy food has added minerals such as calcium and phosphorus to build strong bones and teeth. It includes other natural sources of glucosamine to supplement joint and cartilage health.

The ProPlan brand is the highest quality line of Purina dog food apart from the prescription diets. We found there are added omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and antioxidants to support the immune system, brain development, and vision of your puppy. This food meets many nutritional needs of individual puppies.

Top Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Brewer’s Rice
  3. Corn Gluten Meal
  4. Whole Grain Corn
  5. Poultry By-Product Meal

Product Features:

  • Highest quality line of Purina dog food apart from the prescription diets
  • Comes in the flavor chicken and rice with chicken as the #1 ingredient
  • Supports immune system, brain development, and vision
  • Available in two sizes – 18lb. and 34lb.

This puppy food provides many health benefits to your Golden Retriever through natural ingredients that will help them grow healthy and strong during their first couple years of life.

Our Second Choice: Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Food

Our 2nd Choice

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Food

According to our staff veterinarian, Dr. Amanda Jondle, DVM, the second-best puppy food for Golden Retrievers is Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Food. Royal Canin is designed to meet the nutritional needs of purebred Golden Retrievers 8 weeks to 15 months old. There is added vitamin E to support the immune system as an antioxidant and protects the skin. It reinforces the skin barrier with essential nutrients to support healthy skin and a shiny, golden coat.

They have designed their kibble specifically for Golden Retriever puppies. The kibble is shaped for a Golden Retriever’s straight muzzle and scissor bite to encourage chewing.

The formula lists chicken by-product meals as their first ingredient. This would be a downside considering many other brands list a whole chicken as the #1 ingredient.

Top Ingredients:

  1. Chicken By-Product Meal
  2. Corn
  3. Wheat Gluten
  4. Chicken Fat
  5. Wheat

Product Features:

  • Makes diets specifically for individual breeds
  • Only comes in dry kibble and only 1 bag size option of 30lbs.
  • Supports immune system
  • Protects skin with essential nutrients

Our Third Choice: Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy

3rd Choice

Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy

Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Food uses high-quality ingredients and is made in the USA. Its high-quality chicken is the first ingredient for the protein that will power your Golden Retriever’s day.

This puppy food supports muscle growth and bone health in active puppies with optimized levels of calcium and phosphorous. It also supports healthy brain development with clinically proven levels of DHA for a smarter, more trainable Golden Retriever puppy.

If the two choices listed above are not to your liking, this option is also highly recommended by our veterinarians. Choosing Eukanuba for your dog will leave you confident they are getting the nutrients they need.

Top Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Chicken By-Product Meal
  3. Corn
  4. Chicken Fat
  5. Wheat

Product Features:

  • Consists of high-quality chicken
  • Complete balanced nutrition for large breeds
  • Added omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E
  • Comes in 3 bag sizes – 5lb, 16lb, and 33lb.

Our Fourth Choice: Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Puppy

4th Choice

Hill’s Science Diet Large Breed Puppy

Hill’s Science Diet is specially made with an optimal level of calcium for controlled bone growth.  It consists of high-quality protein to help your Golden Retriever build and maintain lean muscle. It is made in the USA with global ingredients you can trust.

This brand meets and exceeds nutrient guidelines from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). They employ veterinary nutrition specialists, Ph.D. nutritionists, food scientists, flavorists, and veterinarians.

Top Ingredients:

  1. Chicken Meal
  2. Whole Grain Wheat
  3. Whole Grain Oats
  4. Whole Grain Sorghum
  5. Corn Gluten Meal

Product Features:

  • Uses a balanced set of minerals to promote strong bones and teeth in large puppies
  • Meets and exceeds nutrient guidelines
  • 2 flavor options- chicken meal & oats and lamb meal & rice
  • The lamb formula is only available in a 33lb bag size, while the chicken formula is available in 15.5lb and 30 lbs.

Best Budget Puppy Food: Purina One Large Breed Puppy

Best Budget

Purina One Large Breed Puppy

Purina One Large Breed Puppy Food is easily digestible for a puppy’s delicate stomach. It contains rice and has chicken as its #1 ingredient. It is high in protein to support strong muscles and a healthy heart. There is added DHA to support the health of your puppy’s brain.  It is a natural source of glucosamine to help support growing joints.

Top Ingredients:

  1. Chicken
  2. Rice Flour
  3. Corn Gluten Meal
  4. Chicken By-Product Meal
  5. Whole Grain Corn

Product Features:

  • Chicken is #1 ingredient
  • Consists of added calcium and phosphorus minerals
  • Contains vitamins A & E
  • Comes in two bag sizes – 16.5lb and 31.1lb

2nd Best Budget Puppy Food: Iams Large Breed Puppy

2nd Best Budget

Iams Large Breed Puppy

Iams Large Breed Puppy Food is one of the more affordable puppy foods. Real, farm-raised chicken is the 1st ingredient, and it includes 22 key nutrients that are found in a mother’s milk. It was created to fit your large breed puppy’s specific wellness and nutritional needs.

Top Ingredients:

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

Product Features:

  • Chicken is the 1st ingredient
  • Added DHA for brain health
  • Contains calcium and phosphorus for bone health
  • Comes in two bag sizes – 15lb and 30.6 lbs.

What to Look For in Puppy Food?

Puppy Food

When you are searching for the right puppy food, we recommend the food should consist of the ingredients found below. These ingredients will give your puppy’s body just what it needs to become strong and healthy. 

Omega 3’s

Omega 3’s are a needed ingredient in puppy food. Omega 3 fatty acids are supplements that benefit your puppy’s brain, heart, and vision development. Dogs cannot produce Omega 3’s on their own, so it’s a good idea to get them from a supplement like fish oil if it’s not in their food.

Fish oil supports heart health, reduces itchy and flaky skin, promotes a silky coat, and relieves allergies and joint pain. It can also strengthen their immune system and help fight cancer.

Key Nutrients

Calcium, Phosphorous, Chondroitin, and Glucosamine are nutrients that are recommended for a Golden Retriever puppy’s diet.

Calcium and Phosphorus both aid in joint health and can help prevent joint problems later in life. Chondroitin and glucosamine also aid in joint health. These nutrients are commonly found in protein sources like chicken.

So, the best puppy foods for Golden Retrievers will also have good sources of calcium, phosphorous, chondroitin, and glucosamine – whether that be added to the food or derived from protein sources like chicken.

Quality Protein Sources

Quality and high protein levels from good sources are important for all dog’s diets. In fact, adult dogs need at least 18% protein in their diets, and puppies need 22% protein in their diet.

Protein and fat help puppies develop their muscles and gain energy. Therefore, the best kinds of puppy food for Golden Retrievers will not only have high protein levels, but also high protein levels from good sources.

Important Note

Good protein sources are chicken, lamb, salmon, beef, and turkey.

It is normal for a lot of dog foods to feature some type of by-product of these protein sources (chicken meal, for example). However, the main protein source in the best puppy foods for Golden Retrievers should be the actual meat, not a by-product.

It is important for a puppy to start off with good sources of nutrition.  Therefore, be sure to consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about the food you choose.

How Much to Feed a Golden Retriever Puppy

Knowing how much to feed your Golden Retriever and how often will help your Golden Retriever start off with a healthy lifestyle.  As owners, we want to make sure that our new puppy gets just the right amount food to grow at their pace.  We do not want to overfeed or underfeed. Our wish is to make life for them as comfortable as possible.

For more detail on this topic check out our article Golden Retriever Feeding Chart. If you use our recommended Purina Pro Plan, see below for the feeding chart.

Golden Retriever Puppy Feeding Chart

According to Purina, for the average Golden Retriever using our recommended Purina Pro Plan Large Breed Puppy Food you should use the following amounts:

AgeDaily Feeding Amount
1-1/2 – 3 months1/2  – 1-2/3 cups
4 – 5 months1-1/2  – 2-3/4 cups
6 – 8 months1-1/3  – 2-2/3 cups
9 – 11 months2-1/3  – 3-1/3 cups
1 – 2 years2-1/2  – 4-1/3 cups

When to feed your puppy

Feeding your puppy 3 to 4 times a day smaller portions makes it easier for their body to digest the food. When puppies are fed frequent meals, this helps to keep a balanced energy level rather than peaking and falling so much throughout the day.  A good source is to look at the bag to see what the recommended amount of food is and how often to feed your puppy.

Observing how your puppy handles feeding time can help you to see how much and how often they need food as a puppy. If they lose their energy quickly after a feeding, maybe they need a little more for their energy level.

If you have questions or concerns about feeding times, be sure to consult your veterinarian. They can help you understand what is best for you and your puppy.    

Should You Give Supplements to Your Golden Retriever Puppy?

Supplements can be beneficial for puppies, especially when it comes to supporting their growth and development. Some common supplements for puppies include probiotics, fish oil, and joint support supplements. Probiotics can help promote a healthy gut and improve digestion, while fish oil can provide essential fatty acids for healthy skin and a shiny coat. Joint support supplements can help prevent joint problems later in life by supporting the development of strong bones and joints. However, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian before giving your puppy any supplements to ensure that they are appropriate and safe.

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.

These certain diets are called “BEG” diets – these are Boutique brands, have Exotic ingredients, or are Grain free. Grain allergies are uncommon in dogs, and a small amount of grain actually provides many health benefits.

However, we, of course, do not want the grain to be the #1 ingredient. We still want to choose a good quality protein source as the main ingredient.


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

Why High-Quality Food is Important

Golden Retriever food

A Golden Retriever’s life span is lower than most breeds, so using a high-quality dog food is a great tool to use to extend it as long as possible. Unfortunately, Golden Retrievers are prone to several serious health issues as well. Some of those health issues are joint problems, various forms of cancer, and allergies.

Here is a list of the most common illnesses Golden Retrievers face:

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Skin Diseases
  • Luxating Patella
  • Cancer
  • Von Willebrand Disease
  • Cataracts

Feeding a Golden Retriever quality food from a young age helps ensure they will grow into, and continue living, a healthy life. For more information check out our article Golden Retriever Health Issues: Common Problems

Golden Retriever Puppy Food Allergies and Sensitivities

Food allergies and sensitivities can be a common problem for puppies, especially for Golden Retrievers. Symptoms of food allergies or sensitivities can include itching, gastrointestinal issues, and ear infections. It’s important to talk to your veterinarian if you suspect your puppy has a food allergy or sensitivity, as they can help identify the specific allergen and recommend a suitable diet. This may involve switching to a hypoallergenic diet or avoiding certain ingredients.

Monitoring Your Puppy’s Health

Monitoring your puppy’s health is crucial for ensuring they are growing and developing properly. This involves keeping track of their weight, body condition, and behavior. Puppies should be seen by a veterinarian regularly for check-ups and vaccinations. In addition, it’s important to pay attention to any changes in your puppy’s appetite, energy level, or behavior, as these can be signs of a health problem. By staying vigilant and seeking veterinary care when needed, you can help ensure that your Golden Retriever puppy grows up to be a healthy and happy adult dog.


Having a new puppy in your home is extremely exciting.  Making sure they have the right food is essential for their overall health and will give them the best start to their life. 

A food high in protein and consisting of essential nutrients will provide the needed energy for your puppy to grow healthy and strong. 

The puppy food list we have provided comes highly recommended by our veterinarians.  We hope that you find this list helpful in choosing the right food for your puppy. 

Make sure to check out our other Recommended Products for Golden Retrievers. These are products our Veterinarians and writers have chosen as the best on the market.

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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