What Is The Best Dog Food for a Golden Retriever?
The beautiful, gentle Golden Retriever is one of the most popular breeds of dog in the world today. They are noted for being smart and easy to train, as well as being good with children. For many people they make an ideal family dog, especially for an active family. Goldens are large dogs and they do require plenty of exercise. As with many large breeds, hip and elbow dysplasia can be concerns so it is important to feed a good diet and keep puppies and dogs from becoming overweight.
Golden Retrievers typically weigh between 55 and 75 pounds and stand between 21 ½ and 24 inches tall at the withers. Male Goldens are usually larger than females. Golden Retrievers are members of the Sporting group. They have a dense, water-repellant coat with a good undercoat and they have feathering on their legs, chest, and tail. They are usually recognized by their coat which is a rich lustrous gold. It can range from a light gold to a darker gold. As a breed, Golden Retrievers have an average lifespan for dogs of their size. They generally live to be about 11 years of age. Along with hip and elbow dysplasia, cancer tends to be common in Goldens, and some dogs can have heart problems. (See below.)
By weight, the National Research Council of the National Academies recommends an average daily caloric intake of 1740 calories for an active adult Golden Retriever weighing 70 pounds. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. Growing puppies, for example, consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young adult Golden Retriever weighing about 70 pounds, for example, and getting lots of exercise would need about 1876 calories per day. However, if your Golden tends to lie around the house all day with little opportunity to exercise, he would need fewer calories. These are only estimates. Every dog’s metabolism is different so one dog may need more – or fewer – calories than another.
Like all dogs, Golden Retrievers require good quality protein. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends a minimum of 22 percent protein for growth (puppies) and 18 percent protein for maintenance in adult dogs. These percentages are recommended for dogs in general. Most good quality dog foods will exceed these percentages. Fat is an important source of energy for dogs and should comprise at least 8 percent of the diet for Golden Retriever puppies and 5 percent of the diet for adults. Most dog foods today have more fat than these percentages. Fat also adds flavor to dog food and makes it very appealing to your dog. Fats are also one of the sources of fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 which are good for your dog’s skin, coat, heart, and brain.
Dogs that are more active will require higher levels of energy from their food. This is usually supplied by the fat in the diet, but good protein is also very important. Goldens, in particular, can excel at many dog sports such as hunting, agility, obedience, water sports, tracking, search and rescue, guide dog work, and many other things. Dogs that are putting in lots of hours in training and exercise often need more calories in their diet.
Golden Retrievers are generally healthy dogs and they have an average lifespan of about 11 years, but there are some health problems that are known in the breed. Hips, elbows, eyes, and hearts are considered the “big four” for Golden Retrievers in terms of health. Goldens rank #36 among 173 breeds in the OFA database for canine hip dysplasia. In years 2006-2010 they had 8.9 percent of dogs test with Excellent hips; and 13.2 percent of dogs test with some degree of dysplasia out of 14,480 dogs reported tested during this time period. The breed has made great progress since testing began some 40 years ago.
For elbow dysplasia, Golden Retrievers rank #29 among all breeds in the OFA database. Some 88.9 percent of Goldens that have been tested over the years (elbow testing began in 1990) were rated with Normal elbows. Among Golden Retrievers, 11 percent of the total tested were rated as having some degree of elbow dysplasia.
It is not unusual for large breed dogs to have some problems with hip or elbow dysplasia. These conditions can result from injury, genetic influence, or other factors. In some cases a dog may show some degree of hip dysplasia on his x-rays but never show any signs of the problem in everyday life. In other cases, the dysplasia (which occurs when bones and joints don’t fit together well) can lead to pain and arthritis.
With breeds that are prone to hip/elbow dysplasia, especially large breeds, there are several things that can help. First, it’s very important that puppies are fed a diet for large breed puppies to encourage slow growth. Rapid growth in puppies is one of the factors that can lead to dysplasia and bone/joint problems later in life. Second, it’s important to keep your Golden Retriever slim as a puppy and as an adult dog. Putting unnecessary additional weight on your dog’s bones can increase the chances that he will develop problems with dysplasia. You will need to watch his weight and calories, along with making sure he is getting enough exercise. This usually isn’t a problem with puppies and young dogs, but as your Golden gets older he may start to become more of a couch potato. Make sure he continues to get regular exercise as he gets older so he doesn’t become overweight. Finally, adult dogs can sometimes benefit from added supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine. Some adult dog foods add these supplements to their formulas. Alternatively, you can buy them at your local drugstore and add them to your adult dog’s diet. (Note that we do not recommend supplements for puppies for various reasons. See below.)
Like most retriever breeds, Goldens tend to enjoy their food, so don’t let your dog overeat. We recommend measuring how much you feed, leaving the food down for 15-20 minutes, and then removing the food dish. If you have more than one dog, keep an eye on your dogs while they eat. Often dogs eat at different paces and one dog may be greedy and eat his slow friend’s food, too. Feed your dogs separately if necessary so both dogs can eat at their own pace.
Cancer is also common in Golden Retrievers. The most common forms of cancer in the breed are hemangiosarcoma, followed by lymphosarcoma, mast cell tumour, and osteosarcoma. According to a 1998 health study conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America, 61.4 percent of Goldens died from some form of cancer. A 2004 health study conducted by the Kennel Club in the UK found that 38.8 percent of Goldens died from cancer. It’s very hard to prevent cancer but many people suggest feeding a dog food that is free of preservatives, artificial colors, sweeteners, and other ingredients that have been called into question by various studies. We try to advise about ingredients that are linked to cancer but we may not be aware of all of them.
Some Golden Retrievers can also have issues with allergies and with hypothyroidism. If your dog gains weight rapidly – especially if he is losing hair or seems lethargic – he may have a thyroid problem. This is usually not a food issue. Your dog would have to eat an enormous amount of kelp or some other food containing iodine for it to affect his thyroid levels. You should ask your vet to test his thyroid levels. Fortunately a thyroid problem is easily treated once it is diagnosed. Soy and some other ingredients may interfere with thyroid medication (which is a synthetic thyroid hormone), so you will probably want to avoid feeding dog foods that contain soy products. There are lots of good dog foods that are soy-free.
If your dog has allergies, he may itch and scratch and start to have some lesions and bald spots. A food intolerance can show up as gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting or diarrhea or a lot of flatulence. If you see some of these signs, talk to your vet about doing a food trial to find out if your dog has an allergy or a food intolerance.
The food you feed your Golden Retriever can make a big difference with many of these health issues.
Ingredients To Look For
Golden Retrievers require good quality protein in their diet, like every dog. Of course, not all protein and fat are the same. It’s important that these nutrients come from good quality ingredients. You can give your dog lots of protein but if it’s not from a good quality source, his body won’t be able to use it efficiently.
Ideally, a good dog food will feature a couple of meat proteins in the first several ingredients. The first ingredient should not be grain or some other carbohydrate. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to ingredients such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. However, whole meats also contain lots of water. If the water from these meats were removed, they would be found lower on the ingredient list. This is because dog food companies are required by law to list ingredients by weight before cooking. The water in whole meats makes them weigh more. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the water has already been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually very good as one of the first ingredients in a premium quality dog food. They are found in many good dog foods. Less desirable are meat “digests” or “by-products.”
Dogs also need fat from good sources. Some vitamins are only fat-soluble and your dog needs them in his diet. But fat, like protein, varies in quality depending on the source. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy.
You should try to avoid artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin, if possible. Avoid artificial flavors, sweeteners, and colorings. Your dog doesn’t need them. It’s not always easy to avoid some of the less desirable ingredients, however, since they can be labeled in ways that are harder to recognize.
Advice for feeding puppies is similar to feeding adult dogs in many ways. You need to look for foods with good quality ingredients, such as meat protein and named fats. Many good quality puppy foods include a compound called DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) which has been shown to help with brain development in puppies (and children). It’s also very important for puppy foods to have the proper ratio of calcium to phosphorus. Nutritionists recommend that dogs have calcium and phosphorus in the ratio of 1.2 parts of calcium for each 1 part of phosphorous (1.2:1). This is particularly important while puppies are growing. You can usually find the calcium to phosphorus ratio for a puppy food on a pet food company’s web site. Note that if you add supplements to your puppy’s diet such as milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. while he is growing, you will disturb this ratio and it can result in health problems for your puppy now or in the future. If you are feeding your puppy a good quality food you should not need to add any supplements to it during the first year. Adding extra meat to your puppy’s diet while feeding a puppy food will add more phosphorus to the diet and also upset the ratio.
Some nutritionists do not recommend feeding grain free foods to large and giant breed puppies. This is because these foods often have very high protein percentages, high fat percentages, high calories, and the calcium to phosphorus ratio can be off. All of these things can cause large and giant breed puppies to grow too rapidly, leading to bone and joint problems. If you would like to feed a grain free food to your Golden Retriever puppy, make sure you check the calcium to phosphorus ratio and watch the calories.
The general recommendation for all puppies is that you should be able to feel their ribs but not see them. Puppies should not be allowed to become roly-poly. Exercise is good. Encourage your puppy to play. Just use good sense and don’t let him do anything potentially dangerous.
We have chosen some adult dog foods that you may want to consider for your Golden Retriever. These foods take into account the fact that Goldens are a large breed and that they can be prone to hip and joint issues. We have also selected for foods that are soy-free, in case your dog has any thyroid issues. We always try to choose foods that do not have artificial preservatives, coloring, or flavors/sweeteners. These are just suggested foods. There are lots of other good foods and your dog may have different needs.
|Best Dog Food For Golden Retrievers 2016|
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First five ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Whitefish, Chicken Meal, Ground Brown Rice, Oatmeal
Crude Protein (min) 25.00%
Crude Fat (min) 11.00%
Crude Fiber (max) 5.00%
Moisture (max) 11.00%
Dry Matter Basis: Protein 28.1 percent; fat 12.4 percent; fiber 5.6 percent; carbohydrates 45 percent.
Metabolizable Energy (calculated) 336 kcal/cup
Metabolizable Energy (calculated) 3360 kcal/kg
AAFCO-approved for maintenance.
For Golden Retriever puppies we recommend that you divide the food into meals and feed at regular times instead of free feeding. Feeding regular meals encourages dogs to eat their food when you serve it instead of becoming picky about their food or overeating. If you have more than one dog we recommend that you make sure each dog is eating his or her own food and not stealing food from other dogs. In some cases you may need to feed a dog separately to make sure he or she is getting all of his food since some dogs eat faster/slower than other dogs. You can generally start transitioning a puppy to an adult food when he has reached most of his adult size. Goldens can continue growing after they are a year old, but they usually have most of their size by the time they are 10-12 months old.
What About Golden Retriever Puppies?
Some good puppy foods you may consider for your Golden Retriever puppy include:
|Best Puppy Food For Golden Retrievers 2016|
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|Crude Protein||Not Less Than||26.00%|
|Crude Fat||Not Less Than||14.00%|
|Crude Fiber||Not More Than||3.50%|
|Moisture||Not More Than||10.00%|
Dry Matter Basis: Protein 28.9 percent; fat 15.6 percent; fiber 3.9 percent; carbohydrates 42.8 percent.
Calorie Content: This food contains 3,809 kcal per kilogram or 389 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated).
AAFCO-approved for gestation/lactation and growth.
Of course, if your Golden Retriever puppy has any particular health issues, you would need to take them into account when choosing a food. These foods are selected for large breed puppies and are without soy, corn, and wheat. We think they are good quality foods.