The Best Puppy Food For Golden Retrievers

A GR puppy with head resting on an empty bowl with the best puppy food written beside it

Excuse me! Bowl’s empty!

There are many things that impact the health of your puppy, some controllable, some not.

One major contributing factor is nutrition. In fact, proper nutrition can impact nearly every aspect of your puppy’s health. Luckily, this is something you have total control over. (Though many a Golden has served himself from the trash!)

Finding the right kind of food for your puppy can be a daunting task, so we’ve done some research on your behalf.

Read on to learn about feeding, nutrition, and some of the best brands of dog food on the market.

AT A GLANCE:
Our Top Puppy Food For Golden Retrievers

An Overview of the Best Puppy Food for Golden Retrievers

We highly recommend looking at the comparison table we have below where we highlighted the features of each product.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Premium ingredients
  • Meets your puppy’s dietary needs
  • Correctly portioned
50% Off First Order
  • Easy to store
  • Added vitamins and fish oil for healthy skin
  • Human-grade ingredients
CHECK PRICE →
  • Convenience of dry food
  • Premium nutrition designed just for large breed puppies
  • Small, puppy-sized kibble chunks
CHECK PRICE →
  • Contains real freeze-dried raw meat
  • Added probiotics and antioxidants
  • Made in the USA
CHECK PRICE →
  • Priced a touch lower per pound than some other premium pet foods
  • Contains all-natural ingredients
  • High-fiber recipe
CHECK PRICE →

*The above links lead to current prices and customer reviews on Chewy.

Carry on reading to discover why we made these choices, and lots of tips and buying advice to ensure you get the right product.

 

Top 7 Best Puppy Food for Golden Retrievers: Reviews

This list is based on recommendations found around the Internet, among the Golden Retriever community, and the personal experience of we here at Totally Goldens.

1. Our Top Recommendation: NomNomNow Fresh Dog Food

food Ingredients (1)

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If you’ve ever wondered about feeding your Golden Retriever a fresh diet but you dislike the idea of raw food and the dangers that can come with it, then you’re definitely going to want to take a look at what Nom Nom Now has to offer.

The nutrition (and fun) begins when you choose which food you’d like to give your dog. There are several recipes to choose from, all developed by veterinary nutritionists and cooked at Nom Nom Now’s on-site kitchen using fresh, restaurant-quality whole-food ingredients.

Food is portioned based on your dog’s unique profile including age, weight, and any goals such as weight loss. You get a free consultation with a veterinary nutritionist when you order, so your golden gets exactly the right nutrients.

Once your dog’s weekly menu is ready, food is sealed into single-serving packages, after which it is delivered to your home under refrigeration for optimal freshness. Just like your own fresh food, you keep your dog’s meals in the freezer or refrigerator until mealtime. Simply open a pack, serve it up, and watch your pet enjoy every morsel. You can choose a single favorite, or treat your dog to variety packs.

Convenience isn’t all this food has to offer. Like other brands that made it onto our list of the best food for Golden Retrievers, Nom Nom Now provides healthy meat-based protein, with no weird byproducts or questionable preservatives.

The carbohydrates are all easy to digest, with sources including potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, carrots, green beans, and other healthy veggies in each recipe.

Every recipe is finished off with an expertly formulated nutrition blend that includes fish oil so your golden retriever’s coat stays soft, beautiful, and healthy.

Pros:

  • Suitable for all life stages from puppies to seniors
  • Real restaurant-quality ingredients, no nasty byproducts or potential toxins
  • Fresh food based on your dog’s unique needs
  • Developed by a veterinary nutritionist, all recipes include an expertly formulated nutrition blend plus fish oil for healthy skin and a soft, beautiful coat
  • Delivered weekly in convenient single meal portions

Cons:

  • Cost is above market average.

Naturally, there are many other excellent choices on the market, and not every brand is available to every consumer.

With that in mind, here are few additional recommendations:

2. Ollie Dog Food

lamb ollie

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Your puppy deserves a great start in life and that’s why we’ve gone to great lengths to find the very best food for golden retriever pups. We had an awesome list to begin with, and we’ve found yet another food to put on your shortlist: Ollie.

Ollie is fresh, slow-cooked dog food made with real, human-grade ingredients and shipped straight to your door once per week. You get a special scoop designed just for your pup so that you can treat them to the exact serving size they need.

Not only is this food convenient, it’s also designed for all life stages, so you never have to switch your puppy’s food as they get older. There are quite a few recipes to choose from including chicken, lamb, beef, and more. Most are grain-free, perfect for sensitive stomachs, and none of them have questionable ingredients that might not be good for your puppy. Healthy carbohydrates come from veggies like squash, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, kale, and more, and a few recipes even include tempting berries to up the antioxidant level and treat your dog to interesting flavors.

Ollie fresh dog food has an outstanding nutritional profile thanks to added vitamins, minerals, and tasty, healthy extras like natural fish oil, so your puppy grows at the proper rate and every body system develops as nature intended.

Pros:

  • Superb nutrition designed just for your dog by veterinarians.
  • Choose the right recipe by creating a profile just for your puppy.
  • Delicious tastes, dogs never get bored.
  • Human-grade ingredients sourced from America and Australia, food is fresh-cooked in New Jersey and delivered weekly.
  • Portion scoop included so your puppy gets exactly the right amount at every meal.

Cons:

  • Priced above average market cost
  • Must have a subscription

3. Blue Buffalo Wilderness

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy Chicken Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

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Blue Buffalo has an outstanding reputation as one of the best pet food companies on the planet, and their large-breed puppy food is ideal for Golden Retriever pups. This premium puppy food is high in protein, and it’s grain free, with no corn, so, or wheat to cause potential issues.  It has added DHA to help ensure healthy brain development, and it has added phosphorus and calcium to aid in healthy bone development. Premium deboned chicken and turkey meal protein helps build lean, strong muscles, and an antioxidant blend made with cranberries, blackberries, and blueberries helps support your puppy’s developing immune system.

Complex carbohydrates are sourced from potatoes and sweet potatoes, along with carrots that double as an additional source of antioxidants. Added Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids help keep your pup’s skin healthy and ensure a shiny, healthy coat with a soft feel.

Chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal are the key sources of protein in this formulation, and egg also contributes.

Other notable ingredients include:

  • Peas
  • Chicken fat
  • Potato
  • Flaxseed
  • Chelated minerals

Pros:

  • Convenience of dry food
  • Small, puppy-sized kibble chunks
  • Premium nutrition designed just for large breed puppies

Cons:

  • May need to be moistened for smaller puppies to handle
  • Protein comes from chicken and turkey meal, not whole meat

4. Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost

Instinct by Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Large Breed Puppy Grain-Free Recipe with Real Chicken Dry Dog Food

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Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost large breed puppy food stands out for its inclusion of freeze-dried raw meat, which provides a unique blend of nutrients. Other healthy ingredients include carrots, apples, cranberries, blueberries, and salmon oil, along with a blend of nutrients to support healthy growth.  Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and biotin help support healthy skin and coat development, and natural, grain-free carbohydrates provide a source of ready energy.

This recipe is perfect for puppies with potential allergies to grains. Like many of the best large breed puppy foods on the market, Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost is free from GMO ingredients. There’s no need to worry about switching to a different food if you choose this one; it’s suitable for all life stages.

The unique feature of these blends is the combination of dry kibble with freeze-dried raw meat.

Protein is provided by chicken meal, raw chicken, freeze-dried chicken, freeze-dried turkey, and salmon meal.

You’ll also find:

  • Peas
  • Eggs
  • Chicken fat
  • Salmon oil, a great source of Omega-3
  • Chicory root
  • Apple cider vinegar, which seems to have many health benefits, including reducing blood sugar levels

Pros:

  • Contains real freeze-dried raw meat
  • Added probiotics and antioxidants
  • Nothing artificial
  • Made in the USA

Cons:

  • Priced higher than most other premium puppy foods

5. Dr. Tim’s Grain-Free Formula

Dr Tims grain free food on white background

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Dr. Tim’s premium grain-free dog food has been specially formulated to support all life stages, from puppy to senior. It is formulated with the ideal blend of fat, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates to support healthy digestion and provide even energy, and it has added probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants for total well-being.

This recipe is free from corn, soy, wheat, and other grains, so puppies with sensitive stomachs can enjoy it worry-free. Omega-3 fatty acids sourced from natural fish oils provide EPA and DHA for cognitive function and a shiny, smooth coat that feels amazing. A patented BC30 probiotic boosts your dog’s digestive health and a blend of vegetables including carrots, celery, beets, spinach, and other veggies provides a well-rounded blend of vitamins and minerals. Added vitamin and mineral supplements ensure good nutrition for an active, healthy life.

Being such a high source of protein, though, this should not be viewed as a drawback.

Additionally, Dr. Tim’s contains:

  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Beet pulp (good for the intestines and blood sugar)
  • Chicken fat
  • Herring meal, which is rich in iron and B-12
  • Whole dried egg
  • Flaxseed
  • Menhaden oil, made from a fish rich in Omega-3
  • Chicory root
  • Chelated minerals

Pros:

  • Priced a touch lower per pound than some other premium pet foods
  • Contains all-natural ingredients, no empty additives or preservatives
  • High-fiber recipe makes stool easier to pass

Cons:

  • Protein is from a blend of meat and fish meals; better than most dog foods but not as nice as real meat
  • Some picky eaters don’t like the taste

For Those On A Tight Budget

6. Diamond Naturals 

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Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy Food contains real lamb as its first ingredient, and is enhanced with a blend of real vegetables, fruits, legumes, and coconut.

Designed to deliver a blend of essential vitamins and minerals, it also contains fatty acids to ensure healthy skin and coat development. The recipe contains no corn or wheat, and it’s free from artificial colors, preservatives and flavorings.

Diamond pet foods are made in the USA at a family owned and operated facility that promises a strong focus on safety and natural ingredients. Added probiotics help support healthy digestion, and tasty ingredients including kale, pumpkin, spinach, and coconut make this formula one that most puppies enjoy eating.

In this brands line-up you’ll find a large breed puppy formula that’s good for your growing Golden puppy, providing all they’ll need including balanced omega oils for healthy skin and coat.

The protein source is lamb, a go-to meat for allergy-prone dogs.

Pros:

  • Great choice for those on a budget
  • Sound nutritional profile, no fillers or artificial ingredients
  • Made in the USA by a family owned company

Cons:

  • Not grain free for those that need it; contains rice and barley
  • Kibble is harder than some other brands, may need to be moistened for some puppies

7. Wellness Core Dog Food

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With real deboned chicken as its first ingredient, Wellness CORE Natural grain free dog food also contains salmon oil, chicken and turkey meal, a vitamin E supplement, and a blend of vitamins and minerals to support overall health. This formula contains a variety of fruits and vegetables including blueberries, apples, kale, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and bananas, along with probiotics to support healthy digestion.

Added DHA supports healthy eye and brain development, and a blend of antioxidants helps keep your puppy’s immune system working right. There are no fillers, wheat, corn, soy, or artificial ingredients in this recipe, nor are there any unidentifiable animal products from questionable sources.

The major sources of protein in this brand are chicken and turkey, with both raw and concentrated meat (chicken meal, and turkey meal) being used.

Other beneficial ingredients include:

  • Peas, which provide protein and fiber
  • Potatoes, for digestible carbohydrates
  • Flaxseed, a source of Omega-3
  • Chicken fat, a source of Omega-6.
  • Chicory root, which is rich in inulin, a prebiotic that aids in the growth of healthy digestive bacteria
  • Chelated minerals; these are minerals that have been attached chemically to proteins, so they can be absorbed more easily

Pros:

  • Balanced nutritional profile with real meat as the first ingredient
  • Many specialized ingredients designed to support optimal health naturally
  • Added calcium and phosphorus for healthy skeletal growth

Cons:

  • Made in the USA, but some ingredients may be sourced from outside USA depending on quality
  • Some puppies develop stinky gas when switching to this food

Eating Their Way To Health

Puppies have their own unique nutritional requirements. They are growing quickly, so while they eat smaller quantities of food than adult dogs, they need to extract far more nutrients, like protein, minerals and vitamins, to sustain their growth and development.

As such, puppy food is packed with extra nutrition, things that adult dogs don’t need.

Be sure to feed your puppy food that is specifically made for their age bracket and check the label to be sure you’re getting the right formula.

Different Dogs, Different Diets

Of course, nutritional needs vary from breed to breed. One only needs to look at a Golden Retriever to know they require a different diet than a Chihuahua!

Large breeds have special requirements, and it’s important that they be met. For example, joint and bone problems are much more common in big dogs than little ones, but choosing the right puppy food can reduce the risk.

Large-breed puppy food has reduced amounts of calcium and phosphorus, which helps control the rate of skeletal growth.

Proper nutrition can lessen your dog’s chances of developing conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Don’t Give Them Too Much Of A Good Thing

Overfeeding your puppy can undo all the benefits of breed-specific food. By consuming too much food, your puppy will have elevated levels of the very nutrients that should be limited.

Additionally, overweight puppies may develop other health issues such as diabetes, and heart disease. Good eating habits developed during puppy-hood, will lead to a healthy mature dog in the years to come.

Nutrition For The Outside

One of the most visible components of your dog is its fur.

You’ve probably noticed that a nice, shiny coat gets a lot of attention from dog lovers! Nutrition plays a vital role in this area.

A large percentage of the protein your puppy takes in goes towards maintaining the coat. Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential for healthy skin and fur.

Which Food Do I Choose?

Ask 10 different dog owners for their opinion on what the best dog food is, and you’ll likely get 10 different answers!

There will always be those who buy the cheapest brand on the market. Others will opt for the most expensive, while others still will simply go with a brand-name they recognize.

The truth is, there is no single “best” food for puppies (or adult dogs) in general. The key is to find the right food for your particular puppy.

Things To Look For In A Dog Food

Having said that, there are some general guidelines one can follow.

For instance, less expensive dog foods typically have lower quality ingredients. The contents are often inexpensive, low-grade protein sources, like animal by-products, and fillers.

Fillers are frequently things like corn meal, rice flour, or seed hulls.

Beware Of Fillers

Fillers literally fill your puppy’s belly, but offer little in the way of nutrition. For this reason, they’ll need to eat more food to get the nutrients they need.

This can lead to obesity, and will certainly cause increased defecation. The latter of these two issues will make house training more difficult than it already is.

Does High Cost Mean High Quality?

By contrast, more costly dog foods usually have higher-quality ingredients. The scales will be tipped heavily in favour of high-grade protein sources and fillers will be few and far between.

Price is not, however, a guarantee of quality. Check the ingredients list to see what’s inside before you make your decision.

How Much Am I Really Paying?

When it comes to price, remember that your puppy won’t need to eat as much food if they’re getting the nutrients they need.

You might find that expensive dog foods are a better bargain in the long run than they might seem at first, since you’ll need to feed less and hence buy less often than you would a cheaper brand.

Summary & Conclusion

Throughout the life of your dog, you’ll be constantly striving to keep him or her healthy. And it all starts with choosing the proper nutrition for your puppy.

Avoid low-cost foods that are more filler than substance, and look for better foods that are packed with nutrients to help your puppy grow. In particular, consider trying a large breed formula to meet the specific needs of your Golden Retriever puppy.

A high-quality brand might cost more up front, but in the long run, you’ll spend less than you thought because you’ll go through it more slowly than cheaper food.

Good nutrition is an essential part of any health regimen, and providing a high-quality puppy food will lay the foundation for a long, and enjoyable life.

Further Reading:

The importance of proper nutrition for puppies – PetMD

Canine Nutrition Basics – The Bark

Product images: © Chewy.com

Please be aware this page contains affiliate links and TotallyGoldens receives a small commission if you make any purchases through any such links. This has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay and we are very grateful for your support.

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About Jim Wright

Jim Wright
"Jim Wright is a freelancer who has previously written about fish, snakes, lizards, and hedgehogs. He is delighted to now shift his focus and share his experiences raising his perpetual puppy, Stitch the Black Lab (and a cantankerous old German Shepherd named Lucy). Jim lives east of Toronto, where he writes and designs marketing material for small businesses. He can be reached at [email protected]."

24 comments

  1. Avatar

    What about science diet we boutique the puppy nutrients one and puppy large breed for his bones I mix a little of both.

  2. Avatar

    How about Acana & Orijin? Thanks

    • Wendy

      Hi Corden,

      I have heard very good things about Orijin, they get rave reviews from all review sites and I would certainly be happy to recommend them. Acana are made by the same company so I would assume similar levels of quality, though I have to admit I haven’t looked into that brand or know nothing about them.

      The only reason I left Orijen off the page is because of the price . They are a ‘super-premium’ brand with a price tag to follow, though I have actually been meaning to add them in due to the rave reviews. Just not enough hours in the day to get everything done sadly! I’ll try add them in over the next couple of weeks.

  3. Avatar

    Thanks for the reply Wendy. Can’t wait for your review on Orijin and Acana 🙂

  4. Avatar

    I am picking up my Lizzie tomorrow and I purchased Taste of the Wild for her. Have you read anything about that brand? Or tried it yourself? I will of course, mix the breeders brand and this for a few days.

    • Wendy

      Hi Crystal,

      I have to admit I don’t know too much about that brand, though I do know it’s very popular. Have you googled for ‘taste of the wild dog food reviews’? There is lots of advice comes up with that search.

  5. Avatar

    What do you think of the dog food brand Canidae All Life Stages?

    In the dog food adviser review it is considered a 4 star food. Do you think it would be good to feed to my Golden puppy?

    • Wendy

      Hi Kerstin,

      Canidae does get good reviews and is a quality brand (and at a premium price!), but to be truthful I’ve not researched it enough to know just how good or suitable it is for a Golden so I can’t say. It sounds like you’ve been doing some research on it, I would suggest spending half hour googling around, reading other owners feedback from as many sources as possible and then making your own informed mind up. Do let us know what you find and decide!

  6. Avatar

    There is a good website called dog adviser.com. They review dog and puppy foods. I went ahead and paid the small fee to join, with that you get the editors choice brands. You will also receive emails if there are recalls or changing formulas. We are getting two Golden puppies in a week. I choose Oriijin puppy for large dogs, and Merriick canned puppy food for large dogs. Lots of great quality ingredients. It is expensive, but better prices at chewy.com. We fed our adult Goldens good quality food at he lived to 12 1/2 and she is still going at 14.

  7. Avatar

    What about natures recipe? My golden retriever puppy is 8 weeks old and I’m trying to see what’s best for her. This is my first puppy so I’m trying to get information about golden retrievers

    • Wendy

      It’s not one I’ve looked into I’m afraid. If you try searching in dogfoodadvisor.com, they have a lot of information on every food, with lots of comments and feedback from current users on how their dogs have done on certain foods. It’s usually worth a look there.

    • Avatar

      There are a lot of grain-free choices listed here. I believe “grain-free” hype is not recommended for golden retrievers and a few other breeds. They lack nutrients responsible for heart health. Look into it.

  8. Avatar

    My golden retriver puppy not eating dogs food. It is 50 days old. Am worried. We went to veterinary doctor. She gave syrups for energy nd nutrients. Puppy eats only rice. I tried mixing dogs food in rice. He rejected eating that too.Wat shd I do that my puppy eats dogs food for good growth.

    • Wendy

      Hi Aswini,

      It is dangerous for anybody on the internet to try and give advice in this situation, they could very easily get it wrong. You must rely solely on professional advice, so please keep working with your vet and following their advice. Thank you.

  9. Avatar

    My 4 month old Golden did well on Core Puppy for the first 5 – 6 weeks,, then he began to have soft to very runny stools. We got him regulated on rice and chicken. However, when we slowly re-introduced the Core Puppy his stools became soft again. Too rich ? Too much protein ? We are lost. We switched him to Fromm Large Breed puppy and he seems to be doing well (not grain free) but no sure if this is a 5 star food.
    Any thoughts recommendations ? Different brand ? Grain – vs – grain free ? Farley is our 5th golden and this is the first time we had this problem. We’d really would like to feed him the best, 5 star if possible.
    Any help would be most appreciated ! Much thanks.

    • Wendy

      Hi Bernie

      Some dogs do have an adverse reaction to certain types of protein. Apparently the chicken worked well for your pup. There are different varieties of the Fromm brand. The highest rating is 4+. You should read the ingredients label and ensure that this is what you would like to feed you pup. For the most stick to natural ingredients that work well for your pup

      Cheers

  10. Avatar

    What have you heard about purina pro plan? Our vet has recommended it for our 5mo old golden

    • Wendy

      Hi Bryan
      There is a lot of information out there on pro plan. Your Vet will recommend what he is used to or what your pup needs. It doesn’t mean the choice is the best or right one. You can look at the dog food review here . You must note that each dog has a unique diet and please review this post for those ingredients that should not be in you pup’s food.
      To your Pup’s health
      Cheers

      • Avatar

        My breeder suggested Purina Pro Plan Focus and that’s what I’ve been feeding my 5-month Golden boy. I admit, I just “took their word for it” as they are extremely responsible breeder’s. The best I’ve ever dealt with. They also suggested another higher-priced food, but I can’t remember what it is now. I read the Focus ingredients and it has meat first, but then shows up the corn meal and corn-something else. So, now I’m on the search for a good food again. Ugh!

  11. Avatar

    Can a golden retriever puppy eat sweet corn and fruits?

    • Wendy

      Hello laxmi
      Corn lacks vitamins and minerals and can contribute to allergies. It is found in low quality dog foods because it is a cheap ingredient. Although in small quantities it may not be harmful, it is not a recommended food item for dogs. If the fruit or vegetable is good for youe health, it’s good for your dog.
      You should never feed your grapes, chocolate, caffeine, raisins, onions, garlic, mushrooms and certain items with the artificial sugar substitute Xylitol.
      To your Pup’s Good Health
      Cheers

  12. Avatar

    My puppy loves yogurt so much and most of the time I feed him with it 🙂

  13. Avatar

    I’ve read several articles that a grain free diet for golden retrieves can cause heart disease. What are your thoughts?

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