How much to feed a Golden Retriever is a topic that owners of this active and muscular dog have always been interested in. Regardless of the type of Golden Retriever you have, proper feeding matters a lot.
Age is a critical factor in feeding Golden Retrievers. A Golden Retriever puppy must be fed 2 to 4 ¼ cups of dry food per day. Meanwhile, an adult Golden Retriever needs 3 to 4 cups of adult food daily, and a senior dog should be good with 2 ¼ to 3 ¼ cups.
Aside from the food amount, this article should also discuss the frequency and the best feeding times for your Golden Retriever. You will also learn about the foods to avoid, how to switch to a new diet, and how to handle your obese dog.
What Factors Impact How Much to Feed a Golden Retriever?
Before getting into the details of how much to feed a Golden Retriever, understanding what factors influence it will help you realize how to adjust the feeding amount based on the dog’s individual needs.
Here is a list of the aspects that influence the feeding amounts for Golden Retrievers:
- Age: This is the most critical factor in determining not just how many calories dogs need but also how often to feed them. Golden Retriever puppies would need more food to support their growing needs, while adult and senior dogs would require just the right amount to support their body activities and energy levels for their age.
- Weight: Maintaining the ideal weight of a Golden Retriever is essential to maintaining good health. Hence, its owners must be able to adjust the amount of food to give whether the dog is under or overweight.
- Activity level: As one of the most active dog breeds used for service, therapy, search and rescue, hunting, and sporting events, Golden Retrievers would require the appropriate food amounts to fuel their energy levels. This is in contrast to Golden Retrievers, which mostly function as household pets and require less energy.
- Reproductive status: Female Golden Retrievers who are pregnant and nursing mothers must be given the right food to support themselves and their puppies during these critical stages. On the other hand, the caloric intake of spayed and neutered Golden Retrievers should be reduced due to their lowered metabolic rates.
Further, some Golden Retrievers may also have their own set of special dietary requirements due to their size, such as the miniature Golden Retriever.
As you become more familiar with these factors affecting the amount of food to give your dogs, this should also give you more confidence in your ability to adjust their feeding based on their condition.
How Much to Feed Your Golden Retriever
Regardless of the age of your Golden Retriever, giving it high-quality dog food and a complete and balanced diet are the most important things to consider. This will determine the overall health and quality of life of your dog.
Look for the best dog food brands with the right nutritional content for medium to large-breed dogs. Search if they have the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) seal, which guarantees its nutritional standards.
The following sections are general guidelines on how much to feed your Golden Retriever based on age.
Golden Retriever Puppy Feeding Chart (2 to 12 months)
Upon the birth of Golden Retriever puppies, their first food would be their mother’s milk which is rich in colostrum. This said, nursing females must also be supported with the right nutrition to feed their pups efficiently.
The puppies enter the weaning period when they reach their 3rd to 4th week. This is the time when they need to gradually transition from milk to soft puppy food.
For a Golden Retriever puppy two months and older, you may follow the feeding chart below for the number of cups and calories to give:
|Age||Daily Feeding Amount|
|2 – 3 months||2 – 2 ¼||884 – 992|
|4 – 6 months||2 – 3||865 – 1,344|
|7 – 9 months||2 ¼ – 3 ¾||992 – 1,668|
|10 – 12 months||3 – 4 ¼||1,344 – 1,873|
As large breeds, Golden Retriever puppies need more puppy food than smaller breeds to achieve their full growth potential. Hence, dog food with high-calorie density would be best for them.
Adult Golden Retriever Feeding Chart (1 to 6 years)
Once a Golden Retriever puppy reaches a year old, it will already be considered an adult. It now has to also switch from puppy food to adult food designed to maintain the dog’s bodily functions.
With their less-sensitive tummies, adult Golden Retrievers are also more tolerant of other diet types, such as raw food and home-cooked meals. These may be done so long as their diet is complete and nutritionally balanced.
Below is the recommended Golden Retriever feeding guide for adults:
|Age||Daily Feeding Amount|
|1 – 6 years||3 – 4||1,165 – 1,578|
Further, with the beautiful medium-length wavy fur of the Golden Retriever, giving it supplements such as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids would give its coat that additional luster and quality.
Senior Golden Retriever Feeding Chart (7 years and above)
Older dogs are characterized by their decreased energy levels and their lower metabolic rate. Hence, they need fewer calories compared to Golden Retriever puppies and even those in their middle ages.
Further, a senior Golden Retriever may not have the keen senses of a young puppy, so it is important to prepare their food in a creative and aromatic manner.
Given this, wet food is a good option to add to their meals or even on its own due to its palatability and moisture content. This makes chewing easier for them, making them appreciate their food better.
The guide below will help you determine how much food to give a senior Golden Retriever:
|Age||Daily Feeding Amount|
|7 years and above||2 ¼ – 3 ¼||932 – 1,262|
Additionally, a protein-rich diet or dog food with animal protein as its main ingredient is something to consider for an aging Golden Retriever. This will help prevent muscle breakdown in the prime years of its life.
Calcium and phosphorus supplements are also very effective in supporting the weakened bones and joints of an older dog.
How Often Should You Feed Your Golden Retriever?
How often to feed your Golden Retriever also depends on its age. Younger puppies are fine with monitored free-feeding, while those from 3 to 12 months must be fed three meals daily. Meanwhile, adult Golden Retrievers may be given two meals a day, and senior dogs can thrive on a single daily meal.
Though it is recommended to free-feed a younger Golden puppy due to its very rapid growth and development need, this still needs to be monitored. This is to avoid hyperglycemia or bloating, especially for larger breeds.
When it reaches its third month, your Golden Retriever puppy should be good with three equal meals a day and then eventually adjust to twice a day when it becomes an adult to maintain its normal body functions.
Due to the lower metabolic rate and decreased activity level of senior Golden Retrievers, once-a-day feeding will be good enough to prevent them from being overweight.
The table below summarizes the recommended feeding frequency for Golden Retrievers:
|0 – 8 weeks||Free feeding or four times a day|
|3 – 12 months||Three times a day|
|1 – 6 years||Two times a day|
|7 years and above||Once or twice a day|
Take note that the amount of food that is given to Golden Retrievers should be equally divided by the number of feedings prescribed for their age. This guarantees their energy supply from their last meal to their next meal.
Optimal Feeding Times for Golden Retriever
A newborn Golden Retriever puppy up to eight weeks may be free-fed under strict monitoring and then adjusted to every six hours until twelve months old. Meanwhile, an adult dog can be given a meal in the morning and evening, and a senior should be fine with one meal either in the morning or evening.
The physiological advantage of a strict feeding schedule is that it stabilizes the dog’s digestive patterns and creates a predictable poopy routine. Further, this also instills discipline in your furry friend’s eating habits.
Below are some recommended times you can follow in feeding your Golden Retriever based on its age:
|Age||Optimal Feeding Times|
|0 – 8 weeks||7:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 10:00 p.m.|
|3 – 12 months||7:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m.|
|1 – 6 years||7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.|
|7 years and above||7:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m.|
These schedules are merely general guidelines. Dog owners may create their feeding timelines for their Golden puppies and adults based on their daily routine, so long as it is evenly scattered and adhered to consistently.
Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Golden Retriever
Generally, feeding dogs human foods is safe, given their omnivorous nature. Even a raw diet is something they can tolerate, so long as these are safely prepared.
However, a good number of food items and ingredients are normally ingested by humans but are highly toxic to dogs.
The food items below are examples of those that must never be given to your Golden Retriever:
- Grain-free food: A study of Golden Retrievers diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) shows that these taurine-deficient dogs are also given a diet that is composed of grain-free and legume-rich ingredients. Hence, providing dog food with grain products that have higher nutrient content, like brown rice, is much preferred.
- Chocolate: Theobromine is a chemical found in chocolate that is highly lethal when consumed by dogs. Even in small amounts, this sweet treat can cause vomiting, diarrhea, arrhythmia, and high blood pressure.
- Coffee: Too much coffee in humans may cause palpitations — imagine how much more its caffeine component can affect dogs. It may lead to irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure, stomach upset, and multiple organ damage.
- Onions and garlic: A lot of home-cooked meals have onions and garlic as main ingredients. However, ensure that your Golden Retriever does not accidentally ingest these from your kitchen or dining table. Their n-propyl disulfide component can cause lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, hypersalivation, and destruction of red blood cells.
- Xylitol: Chewing gums, peanut butter, candies, some baked goods, and sugar-free desserts are examples of food items that contain xylitol. This artificial sweetener brings about rapid insulin release in dogs, leading to hypoglycemia.
These are just a few examples of food items that may cause health problems in Golden Retrievers.
There are a lot more of these harmful foods, so make it a habit to check all the ingredients of their meals before handing them over to your dog.
This video should help you identify more foods to avoid giving your Golden Retriever:
How to Transition Your Golden Retriever to a New Food
Whether your Golden Retriever puppy is already transitioning to its adult stage, bored with its current food, or has a health condition, switching to new dog food is inevitable.
When this happens, a gradual transition from its current to the new dog food must be done to prevent stomach upsets or other digestive health problems.
This can be accomplished by adjusting the ratio of old and new food for a particular period until your Golden puppy or adult acclimates entirely to its new dog food.
Below is a seven-day transition pattern as prescribed by the American Kennel Club (AKC):
|Day||Old Food||New Food|
|1 – 2||75%||25%|
|3 – 4||50%||50%|
|5 – 6||25%||75%|
When you are just about to take home a Golden Retriever puppy from its breeder, make sure also to ask about the brand of puppy food and the amount of food they give. These facts will guide you in transitioning your dog better.
In my years of owning a Golden Retriever as a pet, one of my best practices while switching its diet to a new and unfamiliar one is always to check the condition of the stool and the skin.
Once I see loose bowels, I immediately include probiotics in my Golden Retriever’s diet to encourage a healthier digestive system. However, if it persists or rashes appear on the skin, I contact my vet for advice.
Tips on Feeding an Overweight Golden Retriever
Regardless of age, Golden Retrievers are known for their hearty appetites. It is easy to spot Golden puppies eating as voraciously as adults.
However, if your Golden Retriever consumes more calories than required, it may lead to issues in managing your puppy’s weight and affect its general well-being.
You can check your dog’s body conditioning score to validate if the amount of food you give is beyond normal. If you can’t feel your dog’s ribs anymore and the waist is absent, chances are it is already overweight or obese.
When that happens, you may follow the tips below to get your Golden Retriever back to its ideal weight quickly:
- Stick to your dog’s recommended feeding chart. Feeding charts are usually formulated based on the ideal weight of a dog breed for any particular life stage. Hence, sticking to how much food to give and adhering to a strict feeding schedule can help your dog get back to its healthy weight.
- Monitor treats and snacks consumption. Dog treats should not be on top of your dog’s required daily caloric intake since these also pile on additional weight. Instead, these must already be included in your pet’s daily calorie allowance. You can also opt for healthier snacks, such as fruits and vegetables, to satisfy your dog’s appetite with fewer calories.
- Increase physical activity level. You should not have any issues encouraging your Golden Retriever to engage in physical activities. A Golden Retriever puppy tends to be very playful even inside the house. While as adults, these dogs are happy with accomplishing their daily fieldwork and accompanying you with your daily walk, run, or swim.
- Switch to high-quality dog food. Calorie-dense high-quality food can aid in losing weight without compromising the health aspect of your dog’s diet. This is helpful because your Golden Retriever can get its right dose of daily nutrients without requiring as much food in terms of volume. This is also more economical in the long run than providing cheaper foods full of junk ingredients.
Do not be frustrated if returning to your dog’s healthy weight takes time. Always be consistent with your dog’s diet and practice discipline, and you can soon achieve a healthy life for your dog.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know If I’m Feeding My Golden Retriever Enough?
Just like how one assesses overweightedness in dogs, checking their body condition score is also a great way to determine whether you are not underfeeding it.
If your Golden Retriever’s ribs, lumbar vertebrae, and pelvic bones are highly visible, and there is no observable body fat and muscle mass, it is time to increase how much food you are giving your dog.
You can follow the recommended cups of food you should give your dog from the feeding tables in this article.
Why Is My Golden Retriever Not Eating?
A Golden Retriever that is not eating is quite rare, so if you experience this, there is a slight chance that it might be looking for something new in its diet.
You can add wet food to dry food or prepare a hearty home-cooked meal if your Golden Retriever seems to be bored with its current diet.
However, watch out for other signs that come along with this lack of appetite, such as lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea. If any of these other conditions are present, seek veterinary help immediately to check for underlying illnesses.
Can I Feed My Golden Retriever With Human Food?
A lot of human foods are proven to be healthy not just for Golden Retrievers but for all other dog breeds too. These can even promote your puppy’s growth and sustain your adult and senior dog’s daily bodily functions.
However, while you explore giving your Golden Retrievers human food more regularly, you must also study all the ingredients you use carefully. Many of these foods are also proven to cause toxicity in dogs.
Lastly, if you decide to prepare a raw diet for your dog, ensure that these come from clean sources of meat products to avoid salmonella infection and other diseases that may come from unhygienic food practices.
Do Golden Retrievers Eat a Lot?
Golden Retrievers can be described comically as dogs that are always hungry. This type of insatiable appetite is observed both in Golden puppies and adults.
Hence, encouraging these dogs to eat will not be a problem, but you must watch out for obesity instead. To avoid this, follow the recommended feeding charts closely and ensure enough physical activities to burn excess energy.
Can Golden Retrievers Eat Bones?
Like other breeds, bones can be given to Golden Retrievers with caution. You can only give raw bones, which are soft for them to consume and will not crack into pieces with sharp edges that can harm their digestive tract.
Feeding Golden Retrievers is not a difficult task at all, given that these active dogs will eat anything you give them.
With the right guidance from feeding charts, you can also manage how much food to give and how frequently they must be fed.
As you also explore the different types of dog foods you can prepare for your pet, remember to put research as your primary task before serving them any dog food brand, raw food, or a home-cooked meal.
This should spare you from health issues that are associated with foods that are harmful to your Golden companion. Further, mastering the ins and outs of feeding will optimize your pet’s health and lifespan.
Have you tried giving food to your Golden Retriever following feeding charts? We would love to hear about your experience in the comments section!