Best Dog Food For Golden Retrievers

Image by Claire Diaz from Pixabay

Golden Retriever – A Living and Breathing Man’s Best Friend

I’m guessing you’re trying to find the Best Dog Food For Golden Retrievers because you care so much for your Precious Sidekick.

After all…

They are so loyal to you, why shouldn’t you show your loyalty back by providing them with what they deserve:  The Best Dog Food For Golden Retrievers.

Well, we’ve done the footwork to provide you with what we found are the best dog food brands that are specifically designed to target what your Golden Retriever wants and really what they need.

Do You Want The BEST Dog Food For Golden Retrievers?


Here’s the deal:

In this article, we will dig deep into the various traits that your Golden Retriever exhibits.  We’ll talk about where these traits originated and why they are important.  For each trait, there are ingredients that should be looked for that target what your Best Buddy needs to nourish that trait.

Once we have identified all of the important traits, we will share with you our research which found the best dog food for your Golden Retriever.  One that meets all of their needs for their health, happiness and long term durability.


The First Golden Retriever

To understand what traits we need to nourish for your Golden Retriever, we need to go back to the beginning.

We have to go back to 1868 to “Nous“, a male retriever with likely some red setter ancestry.  Nous is considered the Father of the Tweedmouth strain of Golden Retriever.

The Mother of the Golden Retriever is considered to be “Belle”.  Belle was a Tweed Water Spaniel.

Nous had dark lush, thick wavy hair.  Belle’s lighter color when mixed with Nous resulted in the “Golden” color you typically spot in Golden Retrievers today.

Here’s the interesting part…

A stroke of luck caused Nous to even be available to Dudley Marjoribanks, 1st Baron of Tweedmouth.  Nous’ original owner only wanted black retrievers.  So, when Nous was born, he didn’t want to keep him and offered him to his cobbler as a payment of a debt that was owed.

Marjoribanks liked the unusual color of the retriever and bred Nois with the Tweed Water spaniel named “Belle”.  The offspring of these two is famously considered to be the first litter of golden retrievers.

While these two animals are considered the origins of the breed, this breed didn’t receive any actual recognition as a breed until the following century.  It wasn’t until 1925 that the AKA officially recognized them as a breed.

British Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever has several lineages.  One of the more famous lineages is the British Golden Retriever.  The offspring of Nous and Belle were bred with other breeds and one of the results was this breed.

What does this mean?

This means that the British Golden Retriever ends up with a generally lighter color.  They have dark round eyes.  They have a balanced and well chiseled muzzle, a broad skull, and generally more muscular forequarters than other Golden Retrievers.

But, wait…

AKA standards do limit some traits when it comes to grading them in a Show Ring.  For example, red or mahogany colors are not permitted.  And, level topline and straight hindquarters without the slight rear angulation found in American lines is expected for a winning breed.

American Golden Retriever

The American Golden Retriever also differs in several ways from other Golden Retriever breeds in the family tree.

What’s the scoop?

Well, American hunters wanted a dog that could be more efficient on hunting trips.  With this in mind the American Golden Retriever was bred into a hunting machine having high hunting drive and built for hunting function.

What does this actually mean?

It means that the American Golden Retriever are lankier and less muscular than their counterparts.  A much less stocky type of dog.  This gives them a little better speed and athleticism that can be useful while tracking and retrieving killed game.

With the higher hunting drive comes a little less calm.  They are high energy and require a little more interaction to use up all of the pent up spirit that they naturally own.  Their high energy can also make them slightly more difficult to train than their British counterparts as their attention span can give way to their almost boundless drive for activity.

That’s not all…

A side effect of choosing specific types of dogs to breed in these superior hunting traits led to a stark difference in color.  The American Golden Retriever has a much darker coat.  The creme color was pretty much eliminated from the American breed and mainly exists for the British Golden Retriever.

A longer coat is also common to the American breed as opposed to the British version that is more of a shorter, wavier coat.

Canadian Golden Retriever

It wasn’t until 1927 that the Canadian version of the Golden Retriever was registered with the C.K.C. and became an official breed.

Here’s the fascinating part:

We talked about this original Majoribanks that was the creator of the breed earlier.  It was his son the Honorable Archie Majoribanks that brought the Golden Retriever “Lady” to Canada in 1881 to the Canadian British Colombia region.

Image by turco2015 from Pixabay

In British Colombia, one of the most important figures in the rise of the Canadian Golden Retriever was Colonel Samuel Magoffin.  The Colonel is viewed as the driving force for the creation of national Golden Retriever club in America.  Magoffin’s dogs were also the source for many of the Goldens that exist today in Canada and America.

You might be wondering:

What makes the Canadian Golden Retriever different?

The Canadian breed is taller and leaner than the British Goldens.  Their coat will be darker.  Darker than even the American Golden Retriever.  But, the coat has also been reported as thinner.  Even so the standard for the Canadian Golden Retriever describes that the coat should be “dense”.

Famous Golden Retrievers

The Golden Retriever breed is one of the most popular breeds.  Being this popular can lead to fame and fortune.

The most famous?

With the explosion of social media, several owners took to the internet and the internet responded with overwhelming love.

These famous Goldens elevated this breed to even more fame:

Bailey – While Bailey was alive (sadly he passed away in 2016), he had many hobbies that included eating popcorn while watching TV, cutting wood with a chainsaw, having a cheese and wine snack, washing cars, relaxing in a hammock, and much more.  Check out some of Bailey’s online presence here.

Bailey – A very popular name for Golden Retrievers.  This Bailey is famous for his rounds on the campaign trail with Elizabeth Warren.  This Bailey went viral on Twitter for stealing a burrito from one of Warren’s campaign staffers.

Liberty – This famous Golden from the 1970’s belonged to US President Gerald R. Ford.  Liberty helped President Ford with diplomacy.  President Ford would famously end conversations during negotiations (when it was advantageous) by changing the subject to Liberty.

Pinkie – Possibly the most accomplished Golden Retriever, Pinkie won “Best in Breed” at the Westminster Dog Show.  And, is also well know for “mothering” 3 baby tiger cubs.

Alex – Alex might be my favorite Golden Retriever.  During Stroh’s commercials in the 1980’s, Alex would “retrieve” ice cold Stroh’s Beer from the fridge and deliver it to his owner during a poker game.  What a dog!!

Strohs, 1984 04 14, Alex the beer fetching dog

Main Traits Of A Golden Retriever

To pick the best dog food for a Golden Retriever, we need to understand the traits a Golden Retriever has.

Once we understand your Golden Retriever’s traits, we can pick the best dog food to nourish those traits in the most efficient way.

The Disposition Makes Your Golden The Perfect Dog

The Golden Retriever is famously a great family dog.

Image by jagdprinzessin from Pixabay

Especially if you have kids, your Golden Retriever often maintains a silly puppy-like disposition many years into its life.

Many Golden breed variants are larger in size.  So, if you don’t want your dog accidentally knocking over your 1 year old, you might want to wait until your kids get a little more stable.

A Golden Retriever is a very obedient dog.  So, if you get a little dog training, your Golden will be much better behaved.  Also, if you work with your kids and show them that your special best friend is smart enough to learn new tricks, your children may even pick up the baton and teach your Golden some new tricks.  It can be a lot of fun for your child to be able to teach your Golden a new trick.

Our oldest daughter taught our Dakota about half of the tricks she knows.  It’s a lot of fun to have your dog “show off” for friends when they come over.

Some of Dakota’s best trick are:

  • Bang!! – Point your index finger at your dog and firmly say “Bang!!”, and have your special obedient friend lay down on their side and “play dead”.
  • Close the back door – Sometimes when it’s cool outside in the morning, my wife will open the back door and let Dakota wander in and out.  When it’s time to close the door, we tell Dakota “close the door” and she will jump up on her hind legs and slam the door shut with her front legs.  A trick born out of laziness by us.  But, Dakota is still extremely happy to have accomplished the feat and jumps around for joy as we praise her for doing a great job!
  • Put the toy up – When Dakota comes in from playing Frisbee in the back yard, we store the Frisbee in a small decorative box next to the TV.  We open up the box and Dakota places the Frisbee into the box on her own.  Making that a habit give Dakota a sense of order and responsibility that she seems to enjoy.

Image by Katrin B. from Pixabay

Dakota is a mixed breed that includes some very smart Border Collie genes.  But, the Golden Retriever is also a very smart breed and should have not problems learning many new tricks like the ones that Dakota has learned.

Expectations For How Long Your Golden Retriever Might Live

A Golden Retriever’s life span is 10 to 12 years.

So, here’s the deal…

If you wait until your youngest child is about 5 to get your pet, the best years of your Golden will span the lifetime of your kids while they live at home.

You might even get lucky and have your special friend live until your kids all leave the house and go off to college or enter the working world.

The oldest Golden Retriever to date is Augie who celebrated her 20th birthday recently.

Health Issues To Look Out For

One of the more common health issues for the Golden Retriever, is an issue common to many larger breeds.

The issue is hip dysplasia.

Dakota began having hip dysplasia around age 7.  We took her to the veterinarian and they had all kinds of expensive procedures they could do.  But, at best, these expensive procedure “might” help.

Instead of surgery or something more invasive, we decided to go the route of supplements.  These helped Dakota chase Frisbees for many additional years.

As Dakota has aged, she still begs us to take the Frisbee out every day around 5pm.  After her 10th birthday, she still begs to take the Frisbee out.  But, these days, she just takes the Frisbee out to the middle of the yard and lays down.

Our belief is Dakota just loves to remember the glory years when you couldn’t throw a Frisbee far enough or fast enough that she couldn’t catch it before it hit the ground.

Image by Didgeman from Pixabay

Bottom line…

Even though Dakota can’t get around like she used to in her later years, the Cosequin supplement has given her mobility she wouldn’t have had without the supplement.  Should your Golden Retriever have similar ailments, Cosequin is a nice alternative that can extend the active life of your family friend.

Other health issues to look out for are allergies, skin issues and cancer.

Unfortunately, the cancer rate among Golden Retrievers is one of the highest of all dog breeds.  According to Figo, rates for Goldens is 55% for females and an distressing 66% for males.  Early detection is the key for being able to successfully combat any cancer.

Why is this important?

If you consult with your veterinarian, there are ways to prevent or detect early many of these Golden Retriever diseases.  Earlier detection can mean preventative treatment from your veterinarian that extends your Buddy’s life.

Is My Golden Retriever Really Smiling?

Wait?  What!?!?

I’ve come home from work and my Golden is greeting me at the door.

Is she REALLY smiling?

I know she is acting very happy to see me.  It’s one of the reasons I love her so.

But, come on.  Dogs can’t smile…  Right?

Or, can they…

According to Retriever’s Hub, a Golden Retriever typically has 3 types of smiles:

  • Panting
  • Aggressive
  • Submissive

So, when your Golden is greeting you at the door, they are likely presenting you with their panting smile as they jump around playfully.

But, not all smiles are happiness.

If your Golden is afraid or wanting to present dominance, they will also present smiles.  But, for very different reasons.

Other Dietary Needs

Now that we know the common traits and common health issues your Best Friend might have, we can dig into what other dietary needs to look for when searching for the best dog food brands for Golden Retrievers.

Common issues for all dogs can be tooth decay.  A trick for this can be to provide a moist dog food to provide some of the nutrients they might need to help with common issues we’ve talked about.  But then, also mix the moist food with some dry kibble to keep their teeth clean of tartar.

Now that we know that a Golden Retriever is a very active dog, we can look for good protein percentage to fuel their engine.  A good number to try and stay above, or at least near to, is 30% protein.

Image by Pipeman from Pixabay

Once you have chosen the best dog food brand for your Golden Retriever, you might wonder how often to feed them.  Golden puppies have a ton of energy and typically need 3 cups a day.  Once your Golden Retriever is about 6 months old you can drop to twice a day feedings.

Once older, as little as 2 cups, or as many as 3.5 cups might be needed per day.  The exact amount depends on variables like weight, age, health problems, and their activity level.  Your veterinarian can provide suggestions for a recommended amounts for your specific Golden.

Dakota’s Best Dog Food Brands For Golden Retrievers

Now that we know our Golden Retriever and their feeding needs, we can be confident about choosing the best dog food brands for Golden Retrievers.

Dakota has consulted with her Golden Retriever friends in the neighborhood.  And, has researched various brands to come up with several selections that should each do well for your precious pet.

Here is a top 3 list that Dakota put together:

1. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food

The Royal Canin brand is a brand we’ve come to recognize as quality.

This dog food targets Golden Retrievers 15 months or older.This specific Royal Canin dog food is well known in the Golden Retriever World as meeting the mark for the traits we learned about as we investigated the history of Golden Retrievers.

The first unique quality of this Royal Canin brand is the specialized shape and texture of the kibble.  The kibble shape is specifically designed to force your special family member into chewing using their long straight muzzle with a scissor biting motion.  This extra chewing will keep them from just swallowing the kibble whole and encourage a chewing motion that helps to keep their teeth cleaner than some other more rounded shapes of kibble.

This dog food also contains essential nutrients that keep your Golden’s skin healthy.  This helps to promote keeping your Golden’s coat shiny and luxurious.

The taurine, EPA, and DHA ingredients keep your active playmate’s heart healthy.

That’s not all…

Royal Canin precisely measures the caloric and fat intake to help your Furry Friend maintain a health weight.  This helps them to stay active and keeps them from putting too much weight on their joints.  A proper weight is key here to stave off those most common of joint issues we talked about earlier.

While the 23% protein is a little lower than we might like for an active dog like your Golden Retriever, the 11% fat is ideal to keeping your Sidekick trim and joint stress free.  On top of keeping the weight off of the joints, this dog food also includes Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate to help promote joint health and strength.

If you just want to try this dog food to see if your Golden likes it, you can buy a smaller bag here.

2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness comes through again.  Over and over, this dog food manufacturer hits the top 5 of almost all lists of dog foods.

And, there is a reason.  Blue Buffalo packs their dog food with true protein instead of grain based protein like some other dog foods.  The number 1 ingredient listed is “deboned chicken”.  Your Golden Retriever needs strong protein like this to maintain the energy levels they expend.

Fish Meal is also towards the top of the ingredient list for this dog food.  Fish Meal is a source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids which are known to contribute to brain health and brain longevity.

High levels of protein also contribute to healthier teeth for your smiling fuzzy friend.  The kibble formula for Blue Buffalo naturally keeps your dog’s teeth clean and healthy.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein, Natural Adult Large Breed Dry Dog Food includes glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.  Just by using this dog food, you may not need additional supplements.

You really can’t go wrong with Blue Buffalo.  It’s a little more expensive than other dog foods.  But, Dakota and her friends say they are worth it!

3. Holistic Select Natural Dry Dog Food

If you want to give your family Golden the best coat in the neighborhood, then Holistic Select give your pooch the nutrients they will need to look their best.

This formula is packed with Omega 3 from salmon oil and flaxseed.  Omega 3 fatty acids keep your furry friends skin moisturized and healthy.  This helps to prevent shedding.  And, with healthier skin, your family friend will avoid dry skin and dandruff.

If your looking for a dog food that is gentle on the stomach, Holistic Select also fits the bill.  The addition of digestive enzymes, prebiotics, probiotics, and dietary fiber to an optimum level of protein keeps your playful playmate happy and regular.

For joint health, Holistic Select includes glucosamine.  So, if your leaping Golden needs a little boost in the joint department, this food provides it.  As your precious pooch ages, you may still want to go with a glucosamine and/or chondroitin supplement.

This Holistic Select is also great for the heart health for your canine sidekick.  Heart healthy ingredients include antioxidants and taurine, in addition to the other whole health ingredients we’ve already mentioned.

Conclusions: The Best Dog Food Brands For Golden Retrievers

We hope you enjoyed and learned a lot about your Golden Retriever.  Dakota has done the research and has provided several options that hit the mark to be considered The Best Dog Food Brands for Golden Retrievers.

Image by birgl from Pixabay

Even if you don’t end up choosing any of Dakota’s suggestions, we hope the information helps you to choose the right food for your cuddly companion.

Do You Want The BEST Dog Food For Golden Retrievers?


Feel free to tell us what you found if you end up going a different direction.  Tell us all about your Golden Retriever in the comments.  We love to hear about other beautiful animals.

I hope you found this an interesting and informative read.  Best of luck choosing the best food to fuel your Golden Retriever’s natural energy, intellect, and happiness while also keeping them healthy and busy!

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