The Golden Retriever is known for its soft, gold-colored coat and its friendly personality. These are just two of the many characteristics that have led to the Golden Retriever ranking consistently among the top five most popular dog breeds according to American Kennel Club (AKC) statistics in recent years. Not only are Golden Retrievers friendly and fun-loving, but they are incredibly patient with children which makes them a great family pet. If you are looking for a medium- to large-breed dog with a gentle demeanor, consider the Golden Retriever. Once you bring your Golden Retriever home, it then becomes your job to provide for his basic needs and that includes providing him with a healthy diet. You will find a wealth of information about crafting a healthy diet for your Golden Retriever below.
Nutritional Needs for Golden Retrievers
The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular dog breeds out there, known for its friendly disposition and gentle demeanor. Though these dogs do have a playful, goofy side they are also known for being patient with children. The Golden Retriever is a large-breed dog that stands up to 2 feet tall at the shoulder and weighs between 55 and 75 pounds at maturity. As a large-breed dog, the Golden Retriever may develop more slowly than smaller breeds – for this reason it is recommended that you feed Golden Retriever puppies a dedicated large-breed puppy formula. Keep feeding your Golden Retriever a large-breed puppy formula until he reaches about 80% of his adult size then switch him over to a large-breed adult formula.
In addition to being a large-breed dog, the Golden Retriever is also a fairly active breed. This breed was developed as a working dog, retrieving ducks and other fowl for hunters out in the field. If you train your Golden Retriever for hunting or another dog sport, you should consider offering him a commercial dog food formulated for active or working breeds. Avoid feeding your Golden Retriever a small-breed formula, however, because these formulas are too energy-dense for large-breed dogs and it may increase your dog’s risk for becoming obese. It is also important that you avoid feeding your Golden too many treats and that you do not feed him table scraps. Follow the feeding recommendations on the food package as a guideline and adjust his feeding schedule as needed to maintain a healthy weight.
As is true for all dogs, protein is the most important nutritional consideration for Golden Retrievers. A high-quality commercial dog food for Goldens will include at least one high-quality, animal-based protein source, ideally as the first ingredient. Meat meals are also beneficial additions to a commercial dog food because they offer a highly concentrated source of protein. Healthy fats should also come from animal-based sources (like chicken fat and salmon oil) – these are the most highly concentrated sources of energy for your dog. Dogs do require a moderate amount of carbohydrate in their diet to provide dietary fiber as well as various vitamins and minerals but avoid diets that are too high in carbohydrates, especially those made with low-quality ingredients made from wheat, corn and soy. The best carbohydrates for dogs are easily digestible whole grains like brown rice and whole oats as well as grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potato and tapioca.
Special Considerations for Golden Retrievers
As a large-breed dog, the Golden Retriever has an increased risk for developing certain health problems like hip dysplasia and gastric dilation volvulus. You also want to make sure that your Golden Retriever puppy doesn’t grow too quickly because it could put unnecessary strain on his bones and joints, increasing his risk for musculoskeletal issues as an adult. While some dogs develop hip dysplasia and other musculoskeletal issues as a result of osteoarthritis, many of these diseases also have a genetic component and Golden Retrievers are genetically predisposed to developing these problems. Ensuring that your dog gets enough calcium in his diet and adequate levels of chondroitin and glucosamine as he ages will help to prevent these problems.
Gastric dilation volvulus is a very serious, potentially fatal, condition that mostly affects large-breed dogs like the Golden Retriever. This condition occurs when the dog’s stomach fills with air and it could lead to decreased blood flow to vital organs as well as breathing problems. If the condition is allowed to progress the stomach could actually twist, cutting off blood supply to the stomach and increasing your dog’s risk for death. To prevent your Golden Retriever from developing this dangerous condition you should spread his meals out in two or three feedings during the day and keep him from eating too fast or drinking too much water immediately after eating. You should also avoid strenuous exercise within an hour of a meal and consider using a raised food bowl for your dog.
Golden Retrievers also have a high risk for becoming obese if they are overfed or do not receive enough exercise. You should take your Golden on a 30-minute walk once a day and also incorporate some active playtime when possible. Follow the feeding recommendations on the food package to avoid overfeeding your dog and avoid giving him too many treats or table scraps. Feeding your Golden Retriever a large-breed adult formula will help to make sure that he doesn’t receive too many calories and maintaining an exercise routine will help to keep him trim.
Top Recommended Dog Foods for Golden Retrievers
If you need some help in finding the right food for your Golden Retriever, consider one of the commercial dog food brands discussed below. Be careful when considering a breed-specific formula for your dog – do not just assume that the formula will meet your dog’s needs without evaluating the product for yourself. Consider the ingredients list to make sure that the product is of high-quality before offering it to your dog.
EVO Turkey & Chicken Large Bites Dog Food
The EVO pet food company is dedicated to providing cats and dogs with balanced nutrition in a diet that was inspired by the ancestral diet of wild dogs and cats. The EVO Turkey & Chicken Large Bites formula is specially formulated for large-breed dogs, made with 82% high-quality animal-based ingredients and 18% fresh fruits and vegetables. The top five ingredients in the EVO Turkey & Chicken Large Bites formula are turkey, chicken, chicken meal, salmon meal, and menhaden meal – other notable ingredients include chicken fat, tapioca starch, cottage cheese, and an assortment of vitamins and minerals. All of EVO’s pet foods are gluten-free, grain-free, and potato-free, made with only the freshest ingredients in a precise blend to ensure optimal nutrition.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Adult
The Wilderness line of pet foods from Blue Buffalo was inspired by the ancestral diet of wild dogs and cats. This line of pet foods is made with more of the fresh meats your dog loves in a diet that is 100% grain-free. The Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Adult formula contains only the finest all-natural ingredients like deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal as well as sweet potatoes and peas for complex carbohydrates. Also included in this diet is an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables to provide antioxidant support as well as fats and oils for healthy skin and coat. The Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Adult formula is supplemented with chondroitin and glucosamine to support bone and joint health which is especially important for large breeds like the German Shepherd. As an added bonus, this formula contains Blue Buffalo LifeSource Bits, a precise blend of vitamins, minerals, and, antioxidants to support holistic health and nutrition.
Merrick Classic Large Breed Recipe
The Merrick pet food company recognizes that the best pets deserve the best food, and it is this company’s aim to provide the best diet for dogs and cats. This company uses only the freshest, most wholesome ingredients to create their foods – all of their ingredients are locally sourced and combined in ideal blends to provide optimal nutrition. The Classic Large Breed Recipe from Merrick is made with deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, brown rice, and peas as first five ingredients. These ingredients are followed by an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as chicken fat and salmon oil for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The Classic Large Breed Recipe from Merrick contains 60% fresh poultry and fish ingredients along with 20% fresh produce and 20% whole grains. This blend of wholesome ingredients is designed to provide balanced nutrition to support your large-breed dog’s lean muscle mass and healthy skin and coat. Simply put, this formula is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients you can trust in a formula your German Shepherd will love.
Owning and caring for a dog is a big responsibility, especially if your dog is an active and intelligent breed like the Labrador Retriever. Take the information in this article to heart when selecting a dog food for your Lab and keep the special considerations in mind.