What Is the Best Dog Food for a Golden Retriever?

Golden Retrievers are renowned for their kind, gentle temperaments and for being good around children, so it’s no wonder they are the third most popular breed of dog in the US. Golden Retrievers are a large flat coated breed with a long, gold, water repellent coat. They were originally bred in Scotland to work as gun dogs retrieving shot birds at shoots and hunting parties. They make good family pets and guide dogs, being loyal, clever and easy to train.

Retrievers tend to enjoy their food and are not usually picky eaters. They do need a fair amount of exercise every day to avoid becoming overweight. They are large dogs that weigh around 55-75lbs and can be prone to hip or elbow dysplasia, particularly if they are overweight or obese.

The recommended calorie intake per day for an active 70lb adult Retriever is 1740, but this is just a guide and all dogs are different. For example, an inactive or senior Retriever that stays at home most of the day and doesn’t get much exercise will need to consume less energy to avoid gaining weight.

Golden Retriever

The best kind of dog foods for all dogs, not just Retrievers, are those that contain sufficient amounts of top quality protein and fat from ingredients such as whole meat or organ meat, and fish oil. Most dog food recipes contain a certain amount of plant based carbohydrates from ingredients such as potatoes or rice. Dogs are omnivores and able to digest vegetables and grains, but some dog owners think an almost entirely carnivorous diet is more natural. To meet this demand, some super premium dog food brands offer recipes that are very high in protein and low in carbs. These kinds of wet and dry dog food recipes are more expensive than cheaper brands with a higher carb content, and it is up to owners to decide if their dog gets noticeable health benefits from eating a higher end, protein rich food.

As a breed, Golden Retrievers have an average life expectancy of 11 years, but can be susceptible to joint issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia, either due to genetic factors, injury or other causes. Dysplasia, which is a condition where the bones and joints don’t fit well together, may not cause any issues. However, in some dogs, particularly those that are overweight or more senior in age, it can result in arthritis.

To minimize the risk of dysplasia occurring in later life, it is recommended that Golden Retriever puppies are fed on a large breed puppy food that encourages slow growth. As Retrievers get older they can become lazier and less active, so owners will need to control how much they feed their dog eats, to avoid weight gain that can put strain on the joints. Some adult dog food recipes contain added glucosamine and chondroitin, which are thought to be good for joint health. Retriever owners may want to consider switching to a dog food brand that includes these in its formula, or ask a vet if it is necessary for their dog to take additional supplements.

In common with Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers can be greedy and will often happily overeat if the opportunity arises. Owners should watch how much their dog eats by measuring portions at mealtimes and taking their dog’s food dish away after 15 minutes of eating to avoid free feeding.

Cancer is a common cause of death in Golden Retrievers. The UK Kennel Club published a 2004 study that showed nearly 39% of this breed died from cancer. Many owners believe a healthy diet can help prevent cancer occurring and actively seek out top dog food brands that use only natural ingredients, with no by-products or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Some Golden Retrievers can suffer from itchy skin, lesions or bald patches as a result of skin allergies, which may be related to their diet. Food intolerances are not uncommon either, and can cause digestive issues such as flatulence, vomiting and diarrhea.  Retrievers with a sensitive stomach or skin allergy may benefit from changing to a grain free or limited ingredient recipe free from wheat, corn, soy and other potential trigger ingredients. There are several brands that offer different kinds of canned dog food and kibble aimed at dogs with diet related health issues.

The best dog food for Golden Retriever puppies is one with an optimum calcium to phosphorous ratio of 1.2:1. It is important that owners check this ratio in grain free puppy food to make sure it meets the recommendations for large breeds. If the ratio is off, puppies can grow too rapidly, which may result in joint or bone issues in later life.

Each dog is unique and owners may need to try a variety of brands and recipes to find the one that best suits their dog.