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10 Best Foods for Golden Retriever Puppies in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Chris Dinesen Rogers

Last Updated on May 24, 2024 by Dogster Team

10 Best Foods for Golden Retriever Puppies in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

Golden retriever puppy sitting on bowlCongratulations on getting your Golden Retriever puppy! You are now one of 69 million American households 1 that have welcomed a dog into their lives. Of course, choosing the right food for your pup is a significant decision. A look at the food section in your local pet store shows that there are many choices. It’s often difficult to know which one you should buy.

Our guide will tell you everything you need to know to make an informed purchase. We’ll explain what ingredients and nutritional values you should look for when comparison shopping. We’ve also included detailed reviews of some of the best products available. Hopefully, we’ll make your decision easier, armed with the information to give your puppy the best start in life.

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A Glance at Our Winners in 2024

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Ollie Fresh Dog Food Ollie Fresh Dog Food
  • Real meat protein is the first ingredient
  • Preportioned packages
  • Customizable 
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Purina ONE Healthy Puppy Formula Purina ONE Healthy Puppy Formula
  • Affordably priced
  • Ability to offer it dry or wet
  • Excellent protein content
  • Third place
    Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy
  • Excellent nutritional profile
  • Not grain-free
  • Breed-specific formula
  • Royal Canin HP Dry Dog Food Royal Canin HP Dry Dog Food
  • Easily digestible
  • Ideal for pups with sensitive stomachs
  • Added taurine
  • Purina Pro Plan Chicken and Rice Purina Pro Plan Chicken and Rice
  • Complete protein source with grains
  • Three available sizes
  • Excellent nutrition
  • The 10 Best Foods for Golden Retriever Puppies

    1. Ollie Fresh Dog Food Subscription Service – Best Overall

    Ollie Fresh Dog Food

     

    Protein: 10%
    Fat:  5%
    Calories per cup: 1298 kcal ME/kg
    Sizes: Customizable

    Ollie Fresh dog food is our best overall pick for Golden Retriever puppies. This naturally sourced dog food lists real meat protein as the first ingredient in all four of their recipes, including chicken, turkey, beef and lamb. Among the essential vitamins and minerals your puppy needs to grow big and strong, you’ll also find real fruits and vegetables, making these Ollie selections balanced meals.

    This subscription service is completely customizable, based on the specific needs of your pet to the frequency of shipments. Our only complaint about Ollie is that it is more expensive than traditional dog foods, but is worth the extra cost for quality dog food.

    Pros
    • All natural ingredients
    • Customizable
    • Preportioned packages
    • Real meat protein is the first ingredient
    Cons
    • More expensive than traditional dog food

    2. Purina ONE High Protein+Plus Healthy Puppy – Budget Buy

    Purina ONE Natural, High Protein + Plus Healthy Puppy Formula

    Protein: 0%
    Fat: 0%
    Calories per cup: 397 calories
    Sizes: 8 and 16.5 pounds

    Purina ONE High Protein +Plus Healthy Puppy Formula scored high marks as the best food for Golden Retriever puppies for the money. The nutritional profile is impressive, hitting all the expert recommendations. You can start your pet on this food as it transitions to its first solid food. We liked being able to offer our pups high-quality food right away.

    The manufacturer states that you can offer moistened kibble to make it easier for your puppy to chew. We would add to their recommendations that you pick up the food after 30 minutes to prevent spoilage. Chicken, beef, and grains are the primary protein sources. It is a nutritionally dense food, which means you can feed your pup less without sacrificing its health value.

    Pros
    • Affordably priced
    • Ability to offer it dry or wet
    • Excellent protein content
    Cons
    • Contains peas

    3. Royal Canin Golden Retriever Puppy Dry Food

    Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Puppy Dry Dog Food

    Protein: 0%
    Fat: 0%
    Calories per cup: 338 calories
    Sizes: 30 pounds

    Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Golden Retriever Puppy Dry Dog Food is another great choice for your Golden puppy. The breed-specific formula made it stand out from the competition. It is something that the manufacturer has done for several breeds to address their unique nutritional needs. We liked that it is appropriate until 15 months when your puppy becomes an adult.

    Chicken and grains are the primary protein sources. The diet also includes taurine, a vital amino acid for heart health and other essential functions. We liked that the manufacturer’s feeding instructions are based on ideal adult weight. That’s helpful if you have a good idea based on the size of the parents. That can ensure you’re offering your puppy an adequate amount to reach its weight goal.

    Pros
    • Excellent nutritional profile
    • Not grain-free
    • Breed-specific formula
    • Added taurine
    Cons
    • Spendy
    • One size only

    4. Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein Dry Dog Food

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Dog Food

    Protein: 5%
    Fat: 5%
    Calories per cup: 332 calories
    Sizes: 7, 17.6, and 25.3 pounds

    Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Hydrolyzed Protein HP Dry Dog Food is formulated to make it easy to digest for both puppies and adults. The nutritional profile meets the requirements of a healthy diet on all fronts. The product uses chicken and grains as its primary proteins, with no peas. It is highly palatable for fussy eaters and those with sensitive stomachs.

    Even though it’s not explicitly formulated for Golden Retrievers, this diet ticks off the boxes for the unique nutritional needs of this breed. It does require a prescription, which isn’t a big deal. However, the food is also spendy. Nevertheless, it’s essential to weigh the cost with the health benefits and the comfort it will provide your puppy. We also liked that you could feed it to adult dogs for a long-term solution.

    Pros
    • Easily digestible
    • Ideal for pups with sensitive stomachs
    • Added taurine
    • For puppies and adults
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • Prescription required

    5. Purina Pro Plan High Protein Chicken and Rice Formula Dry

    Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food

    Protein: 0%
    Fat: 0%
    Calories per cup: 456 calories
    Sizes: 6, 18, 34 pounds

    Purina Pro Plan High Protein Chicken and Rice Formula Dry Puppy Food is another all-breed product that you can use to transition your pet into adulthood. The manufacturer provides feeding instructions for pups of all sizes. Chicken, beef, and grains provide the primary protein sources. The diet also includes fish and egg protein to cover all the bases. The only downside is for pets with food sensitivities, although it has prebiotic fiber.

    We liked that there are three sizes available, which will help with the transition to adult and the larger bag. The food is reasonably priced in all sizes. The fiber content is decent, with the food providing both insoluble and soluble sources. The diet is nutritionally complete, yet it doesn’t have added taurine.

    Pros
    • Complete protein source with grains
    • Three available sizes
    • Excellent nutrition
    Cons
    • No added taurine

    6. Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Chicken Meal & Oat Dry Dog Food

    Hill's Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken Meal & Oat Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Protein: 0%
    Fat: 0%
    Calories per cup: 394 calories
    Sizes: 5 and 30 pounds

    Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Large Breed Chicken Meal & Oat Dry Dog Food offers a complete diet with a high protein content to support healthy development into adulthood. We like that you can give it to your puppy until it reaches 18 months. It’s a valid point since large breeds mature more slowly than small pups. We only wished the feeding instructions were more complete without the large age gaps.

    Chicken, pork, and grains are the primary protein sources. The choice of chicken as the top one undoubtedly helps keep the fat content in line. The diet contains a decent amount of protein and fiber. Unfortunately, it does include peas, but at least it’s last on the list of ingredients.

    Pros
    • USA-made
    • Added taurine
    • Excellent fiber content with varied sources
    Cons
    • Contains peas

    7. Iams ProActive Health Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food

    Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy

    Protein: 0%
    Fat: 0%
    Calories per cup: 373 calories
    Sizes: 15, 30.6 pounds (available in two packs)

    Iams ProActive Health Smart Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food is formulated to meet the needs of large and giant breeds, including the Golden Retriever. The protein and fat are spot-on, with chicken, grains, and egg providing the content. We like when products include eggs since it’s such a rich source of other nutrients, too. Interestingly, chicken fat is low on the ingredient list to keep it in check.

    The ingredient list has whole chicken in the top spot, which we like to see. That makes it a tasty choice for your pet. It also has a decent amount of fatty acids to keep your pup’s coat looking its best. You can keep your puppy on this diet until it’s fully mature, making it a good value.

    Pros
    • Excellent nutritional profile
    • High protein content
    • USA-made
    • Highly palatable
    Cons
    • No added taurine

    8. Wellness Complete Health Chicken, Oatmeal & Salmon Dry

    Wellness Complete Health Puppy Deboned Chicken, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Recipe Dry Dog Food

    Protein: 0%
    Fat: 0%
    Calories per cup: 450 calories
    Sizes: 5, 15, and 30 pounds

    Wellness Complete Health Puppy Chicken, Oatmeal & Salmon Meal Dry Dog Food meets your pup’s protein needs on several fronts. The first ones likely provide more than enough. The product contains several kinds of people foods, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples, to increase its natural perception. It also has probiotics that may or may not benefit your pet.

    We noticed a few red flags. Peas are high on the ingredient list, which is potentially problematic. The diet also contained garlic powder, which we found curious. We thought it odd that the product’s label specifies deboned chicken. We certainly hoped that it was a given.

    Pros
    • Added taurine
    • High protein content
    Cons
    • Peas and sweet potatoes high on the ingredient list
    • High fat content

    9. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Food

     

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Food

    Protein: 0%
    Fat: 0%
    Calories per cup: 400 calories
    Sizes: 3, 5, 6, 15, and 30 pounds

    Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Food stands out as a product with one of the longest ingredient lists we’ve seen. Much of it struck us as filler, with things, such as carrots, vegetable juice, and alfalfa pellets, on it. Unfortunately, it also contains peas, pea fiber, and potatoes. Curiously, garlic is present too and disturbingly high on the list.

    The label specifies deboned chicken again, which left us wondering why. The food is nutritionally complete with added taurine. It also contains probiotics and is a rich source of fatty acids. It’s worth noting that this brand was among the FDA’s complaints.

    Pros
    • Added taurine
    • High protein content
    Cons
    • Peas and sweet potatoes high on the ingredient list
    • Garlic in the ingredients

    10. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Formula

    Protein: 0%
    Fat: 0%
    Calories per cup: 415 calories
    Sizes: 5, 14, and 28 pounds

    The ingredient of the Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food struck us as odd, considering its name. The first ingredient is Water Buffalo, which is native to Asia. The list does include Bison, which indeed roamed the high prairie. The other protein sources are equally curious, with lamb and chicken with ocean fish. It also contains many filler ingredients, such as blueberries and tomatoes.

    This diet has some problematic ingredients, such as pea protein, on it. The lengthy list includes probiotics and a decent amount of fiber. Despite using low-fat protein sources, the fat content is relatively high, particularly since it’s marketed for adult dogs, too.

    Pros
    • Added taurine
    Cons
    • Sweet potatoes and pea protein high on the ingredient list
    • High fat content

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    Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Food For Your Golden Retriever Puppy

    The most important thing about choosing a dog food is that you should get a product appropriate for the pup’s size and life stage. Puppy food isn’t the same as adult preparation because your pet’s needs vary as it grows. Puppies need more protein and fat to support growth as a general rule of thumb. Also, the breed matters too because small and large dogs will mature at different rates.

    The adult size of a Golden Retriever puts it in the large breed category. While the precise divisions vary, pets that get over 50 pounds full-grown typically fall in this range. Many manufacturers will use these general groupings to produce and market their pet foods. Other things to consider when choosing a puppy food include:

    • Protein content
    • Fat content
    • Ingredients
    • Sizes

    Dog Food Protein Content

    The pet food label usually expresses its content as a percentage instead of an amount. The nutritional profiles of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the National Research Council (NRC) are the gold standards to follow. It’s worth noting that the AAFCO uses percentage and the NRC, grams. The minimum recommended amount of protein is 22% or 45 g. It’s 18% and 20 g, respectively, for adult dogs.

    Animal-based proteins are complete and contain all the essential amino acids. Grains are another excellent protein source, albeit they may not have all these building blocks. The important thing is that the puppy food meets this minimum standard to ensure healthy development.

    Dog Food Fat Content

    Fat is a vital macronutrient that offers an excellent source of energy and the raw materials for the synthesis of good cholesterol. It’s critical for proper cellular function and nutrient absorption. The recommended amounts differ radically in puppies and dogs, making a solid case for giving your pet food appropriate for its life stage. The amounts are 8% for puppies and 5% for adults, or 21.3 g and 13.8 g, respectively.

    Remember that puppies are probably more likely to burn off any excess fat with all the playing they’re doing. Of course, they also need it for growth and development. While the AAFCO doesn’t have a maximum percentage, the NRC puts the limit at 330 g for puppies and 82.5 g for adults.

    Dog Food Ingredients

    Pet food is regulated with required labeling to help you choose the best food for your Golden Retriever puppy. One of these requirements is a nutritional adequacy statement. That informs you about the life stage of the product. You’ll also see a guaranteed analysis, so you know what vitamins and minerals are in the food. If it meets the AAFCO’s standards, the label will state that it is complete and balanced.

    Manufacturers must identify the ingredients in their products, starting with the one that makes up the most weight. Most often, you’ll see an animal protein first. Don’t be put off by terms such as by-products. That doesn’t imply inferior nutrition, no matter what marketers try to tell you. It just means that these ingredients didn’t go into what was being produced for human consumption.

    We can also say something similar about so-called human-grade pet foods. No formal definition exists for the term. It doesn’t mean that it’s any safer or better. Unfortunately, it’s also a marketing term like natural.

    Cute golden retriever puppy eating food
    Image By: Alena Marchuk, Shutterstock

    A Word About Grains

    You’ll likely find many products touting their grain-free formulas. It’s worth noting that while dogs are carnivores, their metabolism has adapted to eating these foods from their contact with humans. The other concern lies with what manufacturers substitute for the grains. Often, it’s things like sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, and other legumes.

    Recently, the FDA has seen a spike in canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) cases. An animal with this condition isn’t able to pump blood sufficiently through its system, resulting in an enlarged heart and possible organ failure. Some evidence suggests a potential link between the substituted ingredients and this disorder. Golden Retrievers have shown a higher rate of DCM and low taurine levels, which can cause it too.

    These dogs can synthesize taurine in their bodies. However, this breed has a propensity for not producing enough. That makes taurine in the ingredient list something we always check. The FDA’s investigation of grains and taurine is ongoing. We suggest you discuss the issue with your vet if you have any concerns about your puppy’s diet and DCM.

    Dog Food Sizes

    Most manufacturers produce several sizes of dog food. However, bear in mind that larger ones are usually a better value. Also, your puppy will grow quickly—along with its appetite. We suggest keeping both factors in mind when choosing a product. Based on the manufacturer’s feeding recommendations, you can also find out how many cups a specific size may provide. It’s an easy calculation to figure out which is the best choice.

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    Final Verdict

    Ollie Fresh dog food came out on top in our series of reviews. We were impressed with the natural ingredient list and focus on nutrition. Purina ONE High Protein +Plus Healthy Puppy Formula came in as our runner up. It didn’t contain filler ingredients and provided an excellent nutrient profile that you can give to your puppy as soon as it’s weaned.


    Featured Image Credit: Chiemsee, Pixabay

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