Popularly known to be a family dog in the United States and the rest of the world, the Golden Retriever is a friendly and intelligent breed that will make a great companion for life. With its game hunter dog roots, the Golden needs all the nutrition they can get, starting from puppyhood.
This leads us to the question: how much should I feed my Golden Retriever puppy? How often should I feed them? What foods do they deserve to eat and how should they be fed? We’ll answer these questions in our article below to help you raise your pup healthily.
How much to feed a Golden Retriever puppy?
A Golden Retriever puppy is best fed with 3 to 4 cups a day if they’re old enough. However, if they are still young, the recommended food amount per day is 1.5 cups. With that said, the Golden Retriever puppy will have varying recommended amounts of food per age and depending on their active lifestyle.
Usually, you can only feed small amounts of food to your Golden Retriever puppy, especially during the weaning process. Moreover, the puppy food should be equally divided into different meals, around 2 to 3 times a day.
To help you figure out how much food a day you should feed to your puppy depending on how old they are, here’s a simple chart:
|2 months||1 1/2 cups|
|3 months||2 cups|
|4 months||2 1/2 cups|
|5 months||3 cups|
|6 months||3 cups|
|7 months||3 1/2 to 4 cups (males)
3 cups (females)
Aside from that, here are some detailed information about feeding them properly depending on their age and their situation as they grow and develop:
Birth to 2 weeks
During the first few weeks, the Golden Retriever is still beginning to open their eyes and get milk from their mother as their main source of nutrients. They won’t be able to walk just yet but they should get all the nutrients that they need from their mother just fine.
Weaning should not be started at this point yet but if you notice one of your pups being underweight, you can consult your vet for advice. That’s because some puppies in big litters cannot get enough milk from their mother due to crowding. At the same time, if the mother Golden Retriever doesn’t have enough milk for all of her puppies, it can also be consulted to the vet for a supplement.
3 to 4 weeks old
A Golden Retriever puppy should still be nursed during the 3rd week so that they are filled with good nutrients. Weaning should not be done in the 3rd week but the 4th week. During week 3, a Golden Retriever puppy would probably try to stand and run around for the first time so it needs a lot of nutrition and calories from a mother’s milk.
As with the previous weeks, consult your vet if you think that the Golden Retriever puppy is underweight. You can refer to our growth chart below to help you figure out if your puppy needs more nutritional attention.
In the 4th week of your Golden Retriever puppy, you can start weaning by mixing a 1:3 ratio of puppy food (preferably kibble) and water. Make sure that the food is not spoiled, not expired, and just right for your Golden Retriever puppy (appropriate for their breed).
Put the mixture in the Golden Retriever puppy’s living quarters so that they can get a little taste test. They might not like it at first but keep trying (don’t force-feed them!). Weaning is a gradual process so, at this point, your pup might just taste it and then leave it alone. It’s okay – try again next week.
5 to 6 weeks old
By the 5th week, a Golden Retriever puppy should still be nursed from time to time albeit less frequently. Their mother might even nurse her pups standing up instead of sitting down. At this point, your Golden Retriever puppy should somehow like the mixture already.
Don’t put a lot of puppy food in the bowl just yet – wait until your puppy asks for more. When the pup gets used to the food in the bowl, you can lessen the water content until your Golden Retriever puppy only eats pure kibble (and sometimes wet food, if your pup prefers them for added flavor).
A 6-week-old Golden Retriever puppy should have their milk teeth already forming so they will need to eat more kibble from the bowl. They will most likely enjoy the kibble and that’s when you can take out most of the water from the food mixture until it becomes entirely kibble.
7 to 12 weeks old
Assuming that your weaning process goes smoothly, your Golden Retriever puppy will be fully weaned during the 8th week. By this time, you can start scheduling the meals at 3 to 4 times a day, starting with 1.5 cups of food a day.
Narrow down the amount to 2 cups per day on the 10th week and keep the food only for 15 minutes to help them adjust to the schedule. You can increase their food intake to 2.5 cups a day at the 12th week if they are very active.
If you don’t know how much to feed your puppy depending on their age, here’s a simple schedule that can help you out:
|Age||Morning (cups)||Noon (cups)||Afternoon/night (cups)|
|11 weeks||1||1 1/4||1|
|12 weeks||1||1 1/4||1 1/4|
|13 weeks||1 1/4||1 1/4||1 1/4|
|14 weeks||1 1/4||1 1/2||1 1/4|
|15 weeks||1 1/4||1 1/2||1 1/2|
|16 weeks||2 1/4||2 1/4||-|
|17 weeks||2 1/4||2 1/2||-|
|18 weeks||2 1/2||2 1/2||-|
|19 weeks||2 1/2||2 3/4||-|
|20 weeks||2 3/4||2 3/4||-|
|21 weeks||2 3/4||3||-|
To know your Golden Retriever puppy’s ideal weight per age, here’s a simple chart that we put together:
|Age in months||Weight in lbs||Weight in kg|
|1 month||6 lbs.||2.7 kg|
|2 months||15 lbs.||6.8 kg|
|3 months||25 lbs.||11 kg|
|4 months||37 lbs.||17 kg|
|5 months||46 lbs.||21 kg|
|6 months||53 lbs.||40 kg|
|8 months||62 lbs.||28 kg|
|10 months||65 lbs.||29 kg|
|12 months||69 lbs.||31 kg|
|24 months||70 lbs.||32 kg|
Golden Retriever puppies should be fed with foods that are rich in glucosamine because they are a breed prone to dysplasia and low bone density. The glucosamine will help strengthen their bones and joints, as well as alleviate any shoulder pain.
Aside from that, look for vitamin A as they are prone to retinal atrophy and eye cancers. When it comes to heart health, choose foods rich in omega fatty acids from fish and various others. Whether you feed your Golden Retriever puppy raw/homemade food or commercial food, you should ask your vet about it in case they could have certain food allergies.
Foods to Avoid
Foods that you should avoid for your puppy include the following:
1. Excessive fillers
Fillers such as corn are not suitable for most dog breeds since they have no nutritional value. If you want the best nutrition for your pup, consider looking for food that doesn’t have a lot of such fillers.
You can check the ingredient label of the food in question. Check the amount of wheat, corn, soy, and other fillers that might not be giving your pet the right nutrition.
2. Toxic ingredients
Your puppy should not get their hands on certain human food, including alcohol, chocolate, artificial sweeteners like xylitol, certain nuts, avocados, and the like.
3. Unknown meat sources
If the label of the dog food only listed something like “animal meat” then that is quite questionable. The same goes with by-products, as you will never know what they are or where they came from.
While certain dog foods do include chicken organs as part of their by-product meat, we think that it’s just better to go for a dog food that has explicitly stated parts of the chicken (or whatever animal) so you’ll know what you are feeding your puppy.
FAQs on Feeding a Golden Retriever Puppy
Here are some frequently asked questions about Golden Retriever puppy nutrition and feeding:
How do I switch puppy food brands?
Switching between brands for your puppy should not be done in a jiffy. It takes time for most puppies to get used to a new food so you have to be patient about it. Try offering the new food little by little at first and then gradually working your way up to half of the food bowl, until finally, your puppy has gotten used to the new food.
Aside from possible food allergies and digestive system shock, your pup might not like the initial taste of any new food, so you should feed it to them gradually.
If you aren’t very sure about the food brand that you have, you can also talk to your veterinarian for advice. This is especially if your pet showed certain food allergies to it.
How do I know which food is the best for my Golden Retriever puppy?
So, how exactly do you choose the appropriate food for your puppy? Here are a couple of pointers to ensure that you are feeding the right nutrients to your pup:
1. Your puppy’s age
A puppy has a different need for nutrition depending on its age. During their serious growth months, they might need just a little bit more calories than usual, especially if they are often running around, whether indoors or outdoors.
For reference, check our feeding schedule or our growth chart on how much your pup should weigh according to their age.
2. Your puppy’s activity levels
Is your puppy more active at playtime or are they often staying at home and resting? Consider changing your puppy’s dietary needs based on their playing habits. A more active puppy will need more calories while a pup that often rests indoors needs to cut down on the fats and carbs.
Moreover, protein is also a good muscle builder if your pup tends to be the sporty type (or if you want them to be competition or working dogs someday).
3. Health history
Some puppies have a certain health history that makes them allergic to certain food types. In some cases, they may also lack nutrition since they are prone to certain illnesses.
To know more about your puppy’s health history, you can talk to the breeder about it. Moreover, many breeders may even show you health screening certificates to assure transparency for you and your puppy.
If, for some reason, you cannot obtain information regarding your pet’s health history, simply watch over your puppy to figure out if they are allergic to anything. Fortunately, dog foods nowadays have varied ingredients so that certain and common allergens of dogs (and puppies) are easily avoided.
4. Ingredients of the food
Look for quality ingredients in any dog or puppy food. For example, organic veggies are the way to go since they will provide the right nutrition for your pup without compromising their health due to allergies. Moreover, going organic lessens your puppy’s picky eating habits since they aren’t used to overly-flavorful dog food.
For quality meats, ensure that chicken (or beef, venison, turkey, salmon, or lamb) is the first ingredient. It shouldn’t just show “animal meat” because that’s just too vague and worrying – you’ll never know what those animal meats are and where they came from. Hence, they might harm your pet eventually.
5. Food packaging
Wet and dry food have different packaging methods but one fact should be the same – they should be packaged properly to avoid spoiling easily, especially with wet food. Your pup could get sick from expired or molded food so you should consider finding quality packaging in your chosen pup food.
Proper labels in any dog or puppy food are also important. You should read the labels and check the ingredients properly. Aside from that, since it is a consumable item, always look for the expiration date to avoid giving your pup unhealthy food that could make them sick. Whether ordering online or buying from the store, a properly-labeled dog or puppy food will save you from pet hospitalization and expensive medicine.
Raw feeding a Golden Retriever puppy
If you don’t prefer commercial foods for your pup, raw feeding is possible for a Golden Retriever puppy, so long as you consult your vet and adhere to guidelines. Make sure that the raw food, especially meat and other perishables, are handled properly.
Furthermore, a balanced meal should be observed. Throw in a mix of meat, veggies, liver, organs, bones, and the like from the wet market or grocery store, which will help with their protein and nutrient intake.
Slow-feeding a Golden Retriever puppy
Slow feeding a Golden Retriever puppy is important sometimes, especially during their growth spurt months. With that said, a Golden Retriever puppy also tends to be a voracious eater. Your pup could be prone to bloat and weight issues if they don’t slow down on their food.
Therefore, if your Golden Retriever is suffering from bloat issues, here are ways to slow down munching:
1. Use a slow feeder bowl
By having a slow feeder bowl, you aren’t making your puppy feed too much in one go. Slow feeder bowls have a special design and they are often found in the market today, like most pet feeders out there.
An advantage of a slow feeder bowl is that it can help lessen your puppy’s weight. They will lessen the tendency of your pup to eat too much in one go. Other than that, a slow feeder bowl will also lessen bloat, which commonly happens with puppies in their rapid growth stage.
2. Try a puzzle feeder
A puzzle feeder is a kind of ball or toy that allows you to keep food there, such as kibble. Your puppy will have to roll the ball to get the kibble, which prevents them from gobbling too much.
In the same way, a puzzle feeder will also give your puppy amounts of exercise. It will also become a fun way to bond with your pup at a young age. They will learn to become more patient with their food.
3. Impose strict feeding schedules
It helps when you only limit the food sitting there for only 20 minutes because it will discipline them to eat their food properly. Always ensure that your puppy gets the right amount of food per day and that it is divided equally into meals.
As a whole, a Golden Retriever puppy will be a healthy lifetime companion if you feed them right and raise them well during their junior years. It only takes a couple of steps to wean them but patience is the key. You can get help from your vet and breeder to find out more information on food-specific matters as not all Golden Retriever puppies grow up the same.