Best Dog Foods For Golden Retrievers: Puppies, Adults & Seniors

The Goldilocks of the canine world, this beautiful pooch is known for his gentle and affectionate personality and his gorgeous golden mane. Because of his beautiful coat and bubbly personality, you’ll likely want to keep your pup around as long as possible, and will need the best dog food for your Golden Retriever that you can comfortably afford in order to do so.

Many Golden Retriever owners would say that once you’ve owned a Gold you’ll always be sold, and many families either own several Goldens at a time or will get Golden after Golden. But the question is, how many of the Golden owners really know about the nutritional needs of their beloved pooches? According to the stats, only 10% of dog owners understand their pooches nutritional needs, so here at LoveYourDog we have made it our mission to provide owners with the facts.

Here in this guide you’ll learn about the Golden Retriever and what nutrients he needs during each life stage; puppy, adult and senior. For each life stage, knowing what he needs, we’ll recommend the best natural dry kibbles for you to choose from. We’ll provide different options dependent on his flavor preferences and personal dietary requirements, and we have included a section at the end with recommendations for those overweight Goldens too.

At a Glance: Our Favorite Foods for Golden Retrievers

Puppy: Science Diet Large Breed Puppy
Adult: Purina Pro Savor Large Breed Formula
Senior: Nutro Essentials Senior Formula
Weight Management: Science Diet Weight Management

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Golden Retriever Puppy Nutrient Needs

The Golden Retriever is a large breed puppy who suffers with both hip and elbow dysplasia, so it is important that you feed him a puppy formula that is specifically designed for large breeds. Not only will these formulas contain all the nutrients that puppies need to grow into a healthy adult, but they will contain the optimum levels of calcium and phosphorus to ensure that his bones grow at the correct rate to avoid such health issues.

His Golden coat also needs looking after, so plenty of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are important in the ingredients list, so be sure to look out for fish, flaxseed, fish oils and chia seeds. Not only will this keep his locks glowing, but these ingredients also have a wide range of benefits for brain function, bone health and eye development such as Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).

A large puppy should be fed a high-quality kibble that will provide him with a protein content of at least 26% but ideally towards 30%, and a fat content of at least 9%. Calcium should be around 1.5%, and do not be tempted to feed your Golden calcium supplements because any more than what is in his kibble will be far too much and will be harmful for his skeletal development. The amount you feed him will be dependent on his weight, so be sure to follow the package instructions as all kibbles are different.

Adult Golden Retriever Nutrient Needs

Between the ages of 12 to 15 months a Golden Retriever will need to be transitioned to adult kibble. An adult Golden Retriever will need a high level of protein and healthy carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes or brown rice, to keep him energized.

Glucosamine and chondroitin should be found in the list of ingredients, as they support his bones and joints, and his is particularly important for larger breeds such as the Golden. All meat and fish meals are a great source of these ingredients, as are animal organs and cartilage.

It is particularly important, especially if he is a show pooch, for the Golden to have plenty of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, such as fish oils, flaxseed and folic acid to ensure that his skin is hydrated, which in turn promotes a healthy looking coat.

Senior Golden Retriever Nutrient Needs

Just as a Golden adult needs plenty of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep their bones and joints supple and strong, senior Goldens need much more of it, so meat and fish meals are crucial. Senior kibbles have the correct levels of these ingredients, which is why it is so important to feed him a formula specifically designed for seniors, or other kibbles that have suitable levels of them.

Because a senior pooch is less active compared to his younger days, he should have a kibble that has less energy and calories, otherwise there is a risk that he will put on far too much weight, which will put a strain on his weakening bones. His slowing metabolism will find it much harder to digest fat so this should be lower too.

It is also important to look for antioxidants and superfoods in the ingredients as they will keep his weakening immune system strong and being a larger dog a high protein content is still essential for muscle maintenance.


Best Food for Golden Retriever Puppies

Best Food For Golden Retriever Puppies
Golden Retriever puppies will need nutrient dense dry kibbles until they are around 12 months old.

After considering all of the Golden Retrievers needs between the ages of 8 weeks to 12 to 15 months, there are a few dry kibble options that will meet your growing pup’s needs.  Because this is the most important stage in the growth of most puppies, you’ll want to get the right pick for your pup early on.  Missing out on the right nutrition as a puppy can set your puppy back when it comes to nutrition in their growth stages.

There are many different brands to compare, but we’ve narrowed down to our five favorites when it comes to meeting your pup’s nutritional needs.  The five picks below are great for your pup, and are usually great options up until the 12 month mark when you should start transitioning to an adult formula dog food.  Let’s look at our favorites.

 
Royal Canin
Science Diet
Orijen Puppy
Wellness Puppy
Blue Buffalo
Protein
27%
29.5%
38%
35%
35%
Fats
14%
16.1%
16%
14%
14%
Fiber
5.9%
3.3%
6%
5.5%
6%
Moisture
10%
10%
12%
10%
10%
Kcal/Cup
338
363
449
387
411

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Breed...
  • Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy dry dog food is designed to...
  • Exclusive kibble shape designed specifically for a Golden...
  • Helps protect a puppy’s developing immune system and natural...
  • Reinforces the skin barrier with essential nutrients to support...

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This recipe is made by canine nutritionists who have studied the Golden Retriever and created this growth formula tailored to his specific breed needs. While it does have the lowest protein content on this list, this formula will provide your Golden puppy with plenty of energy, and their coats that are vibrant and soft.

The fiber content is high, which is important for the Golden and his sensitive stomach.  As a result, you’ll likely find that your dog’s stools are much firmer and healthier. The kibble pieces are uniquely shaped for his straight muzzle and scissor bite.

We love that this recipe is specially designed for the Golden Retriever puppy, so you can be sure that your pooch will get all the nutrients he needs with this kibble.


Science Diet Large Breed Puppy

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Puppy,...
  • A large breed puppy food specially made with an optimal level of...
  • Uses a balanced set of minerals to promote strong bones and teeth...
  • Uses DHA from fish oil to support healthy brain and eye...
  • High quality protein helps your large pup build and maintain lean...

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Chicken meal is the first ingredient and main protein source in this recipe, which is a fantastic source of meat, energy and glucosamine which is crucial for all large breed puppy recipes. It boasts an optimum level of calcium and phosphorus for controlled bone growth too.

It has the highest fat content on this list, which is crucial for puppy growing power, and it has plenty of DHA from fish oil which helps to develop a healthy brain and eye function.

We love that this recipe has the lowest fiber content for those Golden puppies who do not do well on a highly fibrous diet, and it is also a grain inclusive option for those who do not wish to feed him a grain free diet.


Orijen Large Breed Puppy

ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Puppy Large,...
  • ORIJEN Puppy Large dog food delivers a diet rich and varied in...
  • With 85% quality animal ingredients, ORIJEN nourishes dogs...
  • Using fresh and raw animal ingredients, including meat, organs,...
  • Our Fresh Regional Ingredients are supplied by people we know and...

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The recipe is full of protein sources, such as Chicken, Turkey, fish and eggs, which not only maintains his muscle growth, but it is also full of glucosamine and DHA for his brain and eye development. It is also based on a whole prey diet, which means that it is full of animal organs, bones and cartilage, which is exactly how he would eat in the wild.

Being full of fish protein, such as Flounder, Mackerel and Herring, as well as fish oils, it is also wonderful for his glowing golden coat and skin. This kibble is highly rated online, and it also has the highest moisture content which means it is a great option for those pickier Golden pups.

We love that this premium recipe has the highest protein content and the highest number of calories per cup, so this will provide your Golden with all the growing power that he needs.


Wellness Core Large Breed Puppy

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Puppy...
  • Grain Free: 100% Grain Free, Complete And Balanced Everyday...
  • Large Breed Puppy Formula: Naturally Grain Free, Rich With...
  • All Natural: Contains Only Premium, All Natural Ingredients With...
  • Made In Usa: Backed By The Wellness Guarantee And Proudly Made...

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Deboned Chicken, Chicken meal and Turkey meal are the main protein sources that provide his muscles with the ability to grow and repair as he ages, and it also provides him with the much needed glucosamine support for his rapidly growing bones. Salmon oil and ground flaxseed ensure that his coat remains healthy and shiny too.

With a high fiber content and grain free ingredients you can be sure that this would benefit all those Golden pups with a sensitive stomach, and each kibble is coated in probiotics too. It also contains superfoods and antioxidants such as banana and spinach to support his developing immune system.

We love that this recipe is full of DHA, which is great for puppies as it is found in mothers’ milk, and there is plenty of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that will be terrific for his coat.


Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain...
  • PACKED WITH REAL CHICKEN: A recipe made to satisfy your puppy’s...
  • GRAIN FREE PUPPY FOOD: BLUE Wilderness grain free large breed...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive...
  • NATURAL DOG FOOD: BLUE dry dog food is formulated for the health...

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This recipe contains healthy carbohydrates such as peas, potatoes and carrots, so he will be full of puppy energy, as well as Chicken, Chicken meal and fish meal for his muscles and growing bones.  Eventually, we’d love to see a Bison recipe to round out the flavor selection.

In addition to the tasty kibble pieces, it also contains Blue Buffalo’s LifeSource Bits which are a precise blend of puppy life-stage nutrients and they are cold-formed to retain their potency and taste. Many owners can attest that their Golden Retriever puppy loved the taste and couldn’t get enough at mealtimes. 

We love that this recipe has the joint highest fiber content, so if your Golden has a sensitive stomach or particularly bad flatulence this recipe would be great for him.


Best Food for Adult Golden Retrievers

Adult Golden Retriever Eating Food
Move your Golden Retriever to a large breed adult food at around 12 months old.

Between the ages of 12 to 15 months, the Golden Retriever should be slowly transitioned to an adult food that’s formulated to match their life stage.  Keeping your Golden Retriever on a puppy food for too long, could have weight impacts as Golden Retrievers are known to eat excessively as they age.

You’ll want to match your Golden Retriever with a Large Breed dog food as they turn the right age, and you’ll want to introduce the new food slowly so you don’t deal with an upset stomach.  It’s also not a bad idea to consider a food that contains glucosamine as Golden Retrievers are also known for having hip and joint issues as they age. Golden Retrievers are not usually fussy eaters, so any of the brands below should be a great fit for your pup.

 
Royal Canin
Purina Pro
Orijen Adult
Merrick
Blue Buffalo
Protein
32%
26%
38%
31%
32%
Fats
11%
16%
18%
15%
14%
Fiber
5.7%
3%
4%
3.5%
6%
Moisture
10%
12%
12%
11%
10%
Kcal/Cup
276
382
465
372
386

Royal Canin Adult Golden Retriever

Royal Canin Golden Retriever Adult Breed...
  • Royal Canin Golden Retriever Adult dry dog food is designed to...
  • Exclusive kibble shape designed specifically for a Golden...
  • Reinforces the skin barrier with essential nutrients to support...
  • Promotes heart health with taurine, EPA, and DHA for healthy...

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While this recipe offers low protein content, it is made by Veterinarians and canine nutritionists who have studied the Golden Retriever and created this recipe just for him.  Like the puppy formula, the kibble is designed for his straight muzzle and scissor bite, so he can pick the kibble pieces up with ease, and fish oil and folic acid promote a healthy coat. DHA and taurine also promote a healthier cardiac system, and it is made with grains which makes it a great option for those who do not wish to feed him a grain free diet.

We love that this recipe is made especially for the Golden Retriever, so you can be sure that the high fiber content and the specific ingredients conform to the needs of the breed.


Purina Pro Plan Savor

Purina Pro Plan With Probiotics Dry Dog Food,...
  • One (1) 35 pounds Bag Purina Pro Plan With Probiotics Dry Dog...
  • Made with high quality protein, including real chicken as the...
  • Fortified with guaranteed live probiotics to support digestive &...
  • Crunchy kibble and tender, meaty pieces create a delightful...

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This recipe is designed for those dogs who do not enjoy a lot of fiber in their diet, but who still have a sensitive stomach, and many Goldens find themselves in this category. Beef tallow is also listed, which is a saturated fat that is much more palatable than most other fats, which again aids a healthy digestive system.

Chicken, fish meal and poultry by-product meals provide protein and high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for his larger bones and joints and energy, and dogs find the extra meaty shredded pieces tasty too. Vitamin A, linoleic acid and fish oils provide plenty of nutrients for his beautiful coat.

We love that this recipe has the lowest fiber content for those who do not do well on a highly fibrous diet, but it focuses on gut health with added and guaranteed probiotics in every bite.


Orijen Six Fish Formula

ORIJEN Dry Dog Food, Six Fish, Biologically...
  • ORIJEN Six Fish dog food delivers a diet rich and varied in...
  • With 85% quality animal ingredients, ORIJEN nourishes dogs...
  • Using fresh and raw animal ingredients, including meat, organs,...
  • Our Fresh Regional Ingredients are supplied by people we know and...

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This premium recipe is packed full of high-quality protein sources and ingredients, so much so that only 2 added supplements, zinc and copper, are added to the mix, because everything he needs is already in there. The first 9 ingredients are fish and fish meals, so this recipe is unparalleled when it comes to high-quality protein that is also full of omega fatty acids which are fantastic for the Golden’s coat.

This recipe is grain free, and it is processed at a low temperature which means that it is nutrient-rich. This biologically appropriate diet is super tasty, and most Golden Retrievers can thrive on this recipe.

We love that this premium recipe is made with 6 fishes, so not only does this provide him with the highest protein content and plenty of omega fatty acids for his coat, but it also provides his body with enough energy to keep him sustained throughout the day.


Merrick Large Breed

Merrick Grain Free Large Breed Dry Dog Food
  • The Merrick Grain Free dog food story is one of superior...
  • HEALTHY SKIN AND COAT, HIPS AND JOINTS: These grain free dog food...
  • REAL WHOLE FOODS FOR OPTIMAL NATURAL NUTRITION: Merrick Grain...
  • A VARIETY FOR EVERY BREED AND NEED: Merrick Grain Free dog food...

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This grain free recipe is made with low glycemic carbohydrates, which is great for his digestive system and energizes him throughout the day. Deboned Chicken and Chicken meal are the first two ingredients in this recipe, so not only does it ensure that his muscles receive all of the protein they require, but his coat and skin are well cared for too.

Apples and blueberries provide his immune system with antioxidants, and it contains no nasty fillers or preservatives which can irritate sensitive Goldens. This formula is also known to give dogs shiny and beautiful hair, which is exactly what all Goldens need.

We love that this recipe, which is specifically designed for large breeds, contains leading levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, which means that your Golden’s larger bones and joints will be supported and remain supple.


Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Grain...
  • PACKED WITH REAL SALMON: A recipe made to satisfy your dog’s...
  • GRAIN FREE DOG FOOD: BLUE Wilderness large breed dog food is made...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive...
  • NATURAL DOG FOOD: BLUE large breed dry dog food is formulated for...

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This recipe is the same brand as our puppy recommendation, except this recipe is made with Salmon ingredients which offers higher levels of omega fatty acids for the Golden’s distinctive coat. Deboned Salmon, Chicken meal and egg products provide high levels of protein, glucosamine and DHA for lean muscles, joint support and brain function. It’s usually also better on price when compared to competitors, so it won’t break your budget.

Again, LifeSource Bits provide large adult dogs with the appropriate life stage nutrients and antioxidants such as blueberries and cranberries, as well as adding extra texture with every bite. Peas and sweet potatoes keep him fuller for longer, and it is grain free too.

We love that this recipe offers a high level of protein and omega fatty acids thanks to the Salmon ingredients, and it also has the highest fiber content which is superb for the Golden’s sensitive stomach.


Best Food for Senior Golden Retrievers

Senior Golden Retriever Food
Senior Golden Retrievers will need a lower calorie intake as they get older.

At around the age of 8 years old, you should look to switch your Golden Retriever over to senior dog food. Like most breeds, the Golden Retriever’s nutritional needs will change as they age.  As they approach their senior years, you may need to look for a food that contains additional fiber or probiotics to aid in digestion.

Most Senior formulated dog foods will have a smaller calorie count in order to match your dog’s lower activity levels as they get older.  You’ll want to continue splitting feedings as well to ensure your Golden doesn’t overeat.  Below are our favorite foods for Senior Golden Retrievers.

 
AvoDerm Senior
Purina Pro
Nutro Ultra
Nulo Senior
Blue Buffalo
Protein
20%
28%
22%
30%
20%
Fats
10%
13%
12%
12%
10%
Fiber
6%
3%
4%
5%
7%
Moisture
10%
12%
10%
10%
10%
Kcal/Cup
345
360
315
396
344

AvoDerm Senior Dog Food

AvoDerm Natural Chicken Meal & Brown Rice -...
  • One (1) 26 Pound Bag: Avoderm Natural Senior Chicken Meal & Brown...
  • Supports Healthy Joints: Natural Chondroitin Sulfate And...
  • Promotes Healthy Skin & Coat: Premium Natural Dry Dog Food Made...
  • All Natural Ingredients: Wheat Free, Corn Free And Soy Free. No...

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This senior kibble is made with Chicken meal, Chicken cartilage and Herring meal so all of his senior protein needs are met, and they are also naturally high in glucosamine and chondroitin which helps to support his aging bones and joints. Brown rice and other oat-based ingredients offer healthy carbohydrates to keep him feeling fuller for longer.

Full of Californian avocado oil, not only is this kibble high in omega fatty acids, but it is high in antioxidants to support his immune system and overall health. Don’t be too concerned with the high amount of omega fatty acids, though, as this recipe has the lowest fat content. Flaxseed and biotin can also be found in the ingredients list, so you can be sure that he will have the best golden jacket in town.

We love that this senior kibble is full of omega fatty acids and avocado oil which will promote a healthy golden coat.


Purina Pro Plan Savor Senior 7+

Purina Pro Plan With Probiotics Senior Dry...
  • One (1) 34 lb. Bag - Purina Pro Plan With Probiotics Senior Dry...
  • Made with high-quality protein, including real chicken as the #1...
  • Fortified with guaranteed live probiotics to support digestive...
  • Hard kibble mixed with tender meaty pieces create a delightful...

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Following on from the adult Purina recipe, this kibble is altered slightly to ensure that all of the needs of the senior pooch are met, with higher glucosamine levels and less calories. Chicken, poultry by-product meal and fish meal provide him with his protein, and egg products provide him with DHA. It is also fortified with guaranteed levels of probiotics in every bite of kibble, and a precise blend of vitamins and minerals for his immune system.

We love that this has the highest moisture content and tender meat pieces which many senior dogs find more appetizing and easier to eat.


Nutro Large Breed Senior

NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Natural Senior...
  • Contains one (1) 30 lb. bag of NUTRO WHOLESOME ESSENTIALS Natural...
  • Farm-Raised Chicken Is The #1 Ingredient To Deliver Great Taste...
  • Nutro Food For Large Breed Senior Dogs Is Made With Natural...
  • Crafted To Help Maintain Cognitive Health And Is Made With...

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Made with real Chicken and Chicken meal, this recipe, with the second highest protein content, is made with the large breed senior in mind so you can be sure that his bones and joints are in safe hands. Sweet potato and brown rice offer him healthy carbohydrates that will keep him sustained for longer, and blueberries and carrots will keep his aging immune system strong.

We love that this has the lowest calorie count per cup, which is ideal for those inactive Goldens who prefer to snuggle rather than play.


Nulo Senior Formula

Nulo Grain Free Senior Dog Food With...
  • GRAIN-FREE recipe contains no corn; wheat; soy; white potatoes;...
  • HIGH MEAT/LOW CARB proprietary formula 80% animal-based protein...
  • Nulo Sr Dry Dog Food more closely resembles your dog’s...
  • JOINT SUPPORT for dogs with Glucosamine and Chondroitin. These...

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This premium recipe is made with Trout, which is a lean protein that is full of omega fatty acids and glucosamine for his aging bones, but it is also made with sweet potato and other healthier carbohydrates which make it a grain free recipe for those with sensitive stomachs. It also has the highest calorie content for those more active Goldens who need much more energy, but with L-carnitine it ensures that his metabolism is still active.

We love that this has the highest protein content, and it is made with fish protein sources rather than chicken, which is great for those pickier Goldens.


Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large...
  • REAL MEAT FIRST: Blue Buffalo foods always feature real meat as...
  • FOR LARGE BREED SENIOR DOGS: BLUE Life Protection Formula Large...
  • WITH LIFESOURCE BITS: This formula contains BLUE’s exclusive...
  • A NATURAL DOG FOOD: Formulated for the health and well-being of...

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This recipe offers nutrients that are much needed in his later life stages, thanks to the LifeSource Bits, which are full of antioxidants and superfoods. Not only are they minimally processed but they add texture to his bowl, which is important for those seniors who are maybe finding food uninteresting.

Chicken is the first ingredient to ensure he receives protein and glucosamine to maintain his muscles and bones, as well as dried kelp for extra calcium. Amino acids and fish oil will also protect his gorgeous coat.

We love that this has the highest fiber content which is ideal for those Goldens with a sensitive stomach who rely on a highly fibrous diet.


Food for Overweight Golden Retrievers

Overweight Golden Retriever
Overweight Golden Retrievers will do well on a weight loss formula.

If your Golden is becoming a bit too porky it is important to transition him to a weight management kibble and maintain an active lifestyle. His extra weight should not be taken lightly, as the unnecessary weight can lead to many health problems. This breed’s food requirements are similar to the Lab and will put on weight in a similar fashion if you aren’t closely monitoring their food intake. Considering the Golden’s needs, here are our 2 favorite weight management kibbles just for him.


Science Diet Perfect Weight

Hill's Science Diet Dry Dog Food, Adult,...
  • Breakthrough adult dry dog food clinically proven for weight...
  • Over 70% of adult dogs lost weight within 10 weeks when fed this...
  • Help your grown dog maintain a healthy weight with this dog food
  • This adult dog food supports muscle maintenance

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Over 70% of dogs lost weight within 10 weeks alone with this kibble, thanks to the lower calorie count of 316 per cup. This recipe is based on science and designed by Veterinarians and canine nutritionists, so you can be sure that it will still provide him with optimum levels of proteins and nutrients whilst tackling his weight.

We love Hill’s Science diet for most breeds when it comes to weight loss.  They are have one of the most popular formulas compared to other brands, and this food is prefect for pudgy Golden Retrievers carrying a few extra pounds.


 Nulo Trim Weight Management

Nulo Adult Trim Grain Free Healthy Weight Dry...
  • GRAIN-FREE recipe contains no corn; wheat; soy; white potatoes;...
  • HIGH MEAT/LOW CARB proprietary formula 74% animal-based protein,...
  • PATENTED BC30 PROBIOTIC supports healthy gut flora to aid...
  • L-CARNITINE transports fatty acids into cellular mitochondria...

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This recipe is grain free which is great for those porkier pups with grain intolerances. It is made with Cod which ensures that his protein needs are met, as well as providing him with omega fatty acids for his large bones and glorious coat. This recipe is more suited to those Goldens who need to manage their weight or lose just a bit as the calorie count is slightly higher at 368 per cup, but the high level of protein is unaffected at 30%.

We love that Nulo’s trim line is made with fish, which supplies additional fatty acids that many dog foods neglect.


Final Thoughts

The Golden Retriever, with his large body and bones, sensitive stomach and glorious Golden Retriever coat has unique needs, and as such it is important to find him a kibble that takes care of all of them, rather than focusing on just one, as well as his overall well being. With our favorite picks for every life stage you can be sure that no matter what his individual needs or preferences are, there is something for every Golden on this list.

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