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Best Dog Food for Labradors

Mike Sagman  Julia Ogden

By

Mike Sagman
Mike Sagman

Mike Sagman

Founder

Dr Mike Sagman is the creator of the Dog Food Advisor. He founded the website in 2008, after his unquestioning trust in commercial dog food led to the tragic death of his dog Penny.

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&
Julia Ogden
Julia Ogden

Julia Ogden

Content Director

Julia is the content director at the Dog Food Advisor and responsible for the overall strategy of the website.

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Updated: May 22, 2024

Verified by Laura Ward

Laura Ward

Laura Ward

Pet Nutritionist

Laura studied BSc (Hons) Animal Science with an accreditation in Nutrition at the University of Nottingham, before working for eight years in the pet food and nutrition industry.

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Laura Ward

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What’s the Best Dog Food for a Labrador Retriever?

Finding the best food for your Labrador’s age is far more important than it is for most other dogs.

That’s because Labradors are large breed dogs.

Which is not a concern for adult Labradors.

However, unlike adults…

Labrador puppies have an increased risk of developing a crippling and permanent form of hip disease… if they’re fed a diet that contains too much calcium for their larger breed size.1

 

Large breed dog with bilateral hip disease
Large Breed Dog with Hip Dysplasia

Unfortunately…

Only a limited number of foods meet these critical requirements.

For this reason…

The Dog Food Advisor has selected the 13 brands listed below because they contain calcium levels2 considered safe for Labrador puppies… or adults.

Each selection is marked “Best for” to help you make a safe choice for your particular puppy… or adult.

Please keep in mind…

Some Labrador puppies keep growing and aren’t ready to eat adult dog food until they reach 15 to 24 months of age.3

The Dog Food Advisor - Editor's choice

Best Dog Food for Labradors May 2024

Here are The Dog Food Advisor's best dog food brands for Labradors for May 2024.

  • 1. Canidae All Life Stages Multi-Protein Formula

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    Canidae All Life Stages Multi-Protein Formula is one of 5 dry recipes contained in our review of the Canidae All Life Stages dog food product line.

    Multi-Protein Formula draws the major part of its animal protein from chicken meal, turkey meal, and lamb meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the product contains 27% protein, 16% fat and 49% (estimated) carbs… which results in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 60%.

    Contains no fewer than 4 animal meal ingredients for an especially diversified, balanced protein formula. One of the most popular dry dog foods in our database. Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Canidae All Life Stages Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Chicken meal, turkey meal, lamb meal, brown rice, white rice
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 27%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Labrador puppies and adults

    Sample buyer review...

    "I’ve been using this brand for almost 10 years and I’ve never been disappointed. The breeder of my Collies feeds this to her show dogs and recommended it to me. I’ve occasionally used another brand for a short period of time but I always return to Canidae. I have a puppy now and the “ all stages” is very convenient."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 2. Wellness Core Large Breed Adult

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    Wellness Core Large Breed is one of 12 dry recipes included in our review of the Wellness Core dog food product line.

    This Wellness Core formula derives most of its animal protein from deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the product contains 38% protein, 13% fat and 41% (estimated) carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 35%.

    The fully balanced, grain-free design contains no corn or wheat. Contains omega-rich flaxseed for healthy joints. Highly recommended.

     

    Read our review of the full Wellness Core Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, lentils, peas
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 38%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult Labrdors only (not for puppies)

    Sample buyer review...

    "Our Lab is just over a year and quite large. She was on puppy food and this was a first choice for adult food to maintain her great health, coat, energy, etc. it’s a winner. We don’t have to try anything else, so excited she likes it."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 3. Nom Nom Fresh

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    Beef Mash is one of 4 fresh human-grade recipes covered in our review of the Nom Nom dog food product line.

    The example formula displayed here obtains the major part of its meat protein from ground beef. Dry matter label analysis reveals the product contains 35% protein, 17% fat and 40% (estimated) carbs… creating a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.

    Nom Nom designs each customized feeding plan based on your dog’s weight, age, breed type, and activity level… and then creates a pre-measured portion size, according to the number of calories needed to keep your dog at ideal weight.

    The food is delivered to your home fresh, on a flexible schedule. Store the package in your freezer… and thaw each meal (as needed) in your refrigerator.

    Nom Nom is perfect for those who want to feed a scientifically balanced diet that’s as close to homemade as you can get… without all the fuss and hard work. Not cheap. Enthusiastically recommended.

    Read our review of the full Nom Nom Dog Food (Fresh) range here

    Main Ingredients Ground beef, russet potatoes, eggs, carrots, peas
    Type Grain-free, fresh
    Protein Percentage 35%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Labrador puppies and adults

    Sample buyer review...

    "Mya has suffered from colitis & IBS for many years, and she's also the pickiest with food. Since being on Nom Nom she is eating much better & has perfect poop!!!"

    Read more buyer reviews at NomNomNow.com
  • 4. Taste of the Wild High Prairie

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    Taste of the Wild High Prairie is one of 9 dry recipes included in our review of the Taste of the Wild dog food product line.

    High Prairie acquires the bulk of of its meat protein from water buffalo, lamb meal, and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the product contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% (estimated) carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

    Zinc proteinate plus 3 other chelated minerals for improved absorption and optimal blood levels. Fully balanced nutrient design ideal for adult Labradors. Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Taste of the Wild Grain-Free Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Water buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 36%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Labrador adults only (not for puppies)

    Sample buyer review...

    "We did careful research before purchasing this brand, and are extremely pleased with the results as our dogs are thriving. Their coats are much improved, and the dry skin/itching has disappeared, so it seems they were allergic to the grain based food they were reared on. Not only that, but they love the flavor and eagerly consume it dry, which they never did before. Their poops are smaller and more concentrated, and you could set a clock by their regularity. Truly great stuff............"

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 5. Nutro Ultra

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    Nutro Ultra Adult is one of 9 dry recipes rated in our review of the Nutro Ultra dog food product line.

    Nutro Ultra Adult receives the major part of its animal protein from fresh chicken and chicken meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the product contains 27% protein, 17% fat and 49% (estimated) carbs… which creates a fat-to-protein ratio of about 63%.

    Contains no BHA, BHT or other high-risk chemical preservatives. Also high in meat content with no plant-based protein concentrates for a natural, balanced amino acid profile. Highly recommended.

    Read our review of the full Nutro Ultra Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Chicken, chicken meal, whole grain sorghum, whole grain barley, whole grain oats
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 27%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Labrador adults only (not for puppies)

    Sample buyer review...

    "We have tried several foods once we decided to switch from Blue Buffalo. Lots of bags donated to the shelter. When we could no longer get Royal Canin I was forced to find, yet again, another food. After hearing that grain free foods are linked to heart disease, I decided to switch from Natural Balance to Nutro. Best decision ever. Not only do they love it, their coats look better, less itching, their weight is good and it’s less expensive without skimping in quality! Finally a food I can continue giving my dogs without worry if I am giving them the right food!"

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 6. American Journey Large Breed Adult Dog Food

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    Large Breed Adult is one of 17 dry recipes covered in our review of the American Journey Grain-Free dog food product line.

    American Journey Grain-Free Large Breed Adult gets the lion’s share of its animal protein from deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 33% protein, 13% fat and 45% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 40%.

    An affordable, all life stages dry kibble, recently added to our best budget-friendly dog food list. Fully-balanced nutrient content with an exceptional calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Highly recommended.

     

    Read our review of the full American Journey Grain Free Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, peas, chickpeas
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 33%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Labrador puppies and adults

    Sample buyer review...

    "My dog has stomach issues and this is the best dog food I have found since Performatin is not available. Have tried Hills Science and most of the other high end dog foods without success. Highly recommend. I use the large dog instead of medium because the kibble is larger - about the size of a nickel."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 7. Orijen Original

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    Orijen Original is one of 9 dry recipes contained in our review of the Orijen dog food product line.

    Orijen Original draws most of its animal protein from fresh chicken, turkey, flounder, and whole mackerel. Dry matter label analysis reveals the product contains 43% protein, 20% fat and 28% (estimated) carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 47%.

    From its founding, Champion Petfoods, the fabled maker of Orijen, has always favored and touted a meat-based, “biologically appropriate” canine diet… a proven, balanced formula which makes this food a top choice for Labradors of all ages. Both puppies and adults. Enthusiastically recommended.

    Read our review of the full Orijen Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Chicken, turkey, flounder, whole mackerel, chicken liver
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 43%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Labrador puppies and adults

    Sample buyer review...

    "I am so grateful to have found this food for so many reasons! Both of my picky pups enjoy it and devour every bite! I’ve had such a difficult time finding a food they actually want to eat but this is it!! I also really appreciate the honest marketing. The ingredients hold up to what they promote which makes this dog mama very pleased!"

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 8. Gather Free Acres Organic Free Run Chicken

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    Free Run Chicken is one of 3 dry recipes evaluated in our review of the Gather dog food product line.

    Gather Free Acres recipe derives the lion’s share of its animal protein from organic chicken. Dry matter label analysis reveals the product contains 33% protein, 17% fat and 42% (estimated) carbs… which yields a fat-to-protein ratio of about 50%.

    A highly palatable, premium quality formula. Contains certified organic, free-run chicken as its primary source of animal protein. Sustainably harvested krill provides omega-3-rich, EPA and DHA fatty acids to support strong heart and brain function.

    In addition, all plant-based ingredients are 100% non-GMO.

    This nature-conscious recipe is a rare find in the pet food universe. Enthusiastically recommended.

    Read our review of the full Gather Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Organic chicken, organic dehydrated chicken, organic peas, lentils, chicken fat
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-free
    Protein Percentage 33%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Labrador adults only (not for puppies)

    Sample buyer review...

    "We changed to Gather and our dogs are very happy. One of our dogs hardly ever ate all of his crunch before gobbles Gather all up. I like that they try to source within North America as much as possible and minimize ingredients from overseas. "

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 9. Eagle Pack Large and Giant Breed Adult Dog Food

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    Large and Giant Breed Adult is one of 7 dry recipes included in our review of the Eagle Pack dog food product line.

    Eagle Pack formula derives most of its animal protein from chicken meal and pork meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the product contains 28% protein, 13% fat and 51% (estimated) carbs… delivering a fat-to-protein ratio of about 48%.

    It’s important to note that this fully balanced formula contains zinc proteinate and 3 other chelated minerals, superior nutritional supplements typically found in higher quality dog foods. Reasonably priced. Highly recommended.

     

    Read our review of the full Eagle Pack Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Chicken meal, pork meal, ground brown rice, oatmeal, rice
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 28%
    AAFCO Standards Maintenance
    Best For Adult Labradors only (not for puppies)

    Sample buyer review...

    "We used grain free before, but the risks led us to go wheat/soy free instead. Eagle Pack is fantastic. Our 6 year old Lab loves it and her coat is shiny -- she's eaten nothing but Eagle Pack since she was 4. She is a very active dog who retrieves every day, yet she thrives on amounts at the low end of Eagle Pack's recommendation. Of the super dog foods, EP is consistently less expensive and yet we find it fully equal in taste and performance to the most expensive brands. We are committed users."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 10. Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy

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    Large Breed Puppy is one of 13 dry recipes analyzed in our review of the Diamond Naturals product line.

    Diamond Naturals Large Breed Puppy receives the lion’s share of its meat protein from fresh lamb and lamb meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 30% protein, 17% fat and 45% estimated carbs… resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

    Typical with all Diamond Naturals products, this recipe is 100% free of anonymous meat by-products, generic fillers or artificial preservatives.

    One of The Dog Food Advisor’s favorite large-breed puppy foods. Contains an exceptional nutrient balance of calcium, phosphorus and calories… a recipe that’s ideal for growing Labrador puppies. Reasonably priced. Enthusiastically recommended.

    Read our review of the full Diamond Naturals Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Lamb, lamb meal, whole grain brown rice, cracked pearled barley, grain sorghum
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 30%
    AAFCO Standards All Life Stages
    Best For Labrador puppies and adults

    Sample buyer review...

    "Really good product. I like the fact that it is a top quality food without the high, high price."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 11. Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy

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    Large Breed Puppy is one of 14 dry recipes contained in our review of the Wellness Complete Health product line.

    Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy gets the better part of its animal protein from deboned chicken, chicken meal, and salmon meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 32% protein, 14% fat and 45% estimated carbs… producing a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.

    Along with its AAFCO nutrient profile for “Growth”, this 5-star formula contains just the right mix of calcium, phosphorus and calories to help reduce the risk of canine hip and joint disease… making it the perfect fit for Labrador puppies.

    By the way, Wellness products are some of the most frequent brands found on The Advisor’s best dog food pages. Enthusiastically recommended.

    Read our review of the full Wellness Complete Health Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, ground brown rice, salmon meal
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 32%
    AAFCO Standards Growth
    Best For Labrador puppies

    Sample buyer review...

    "I introduced wellness to my Great Dane since I got her at 8 weeks. I feel it provides her with essential needs. She has burst of energy after eating, and her coat is very soft. I believe Wellness will be a part of our fur babies life for good."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com
  • 12. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy

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    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Puppy is one of 12 dry recipes covered in our review of the Blue Buffalo Wilderness product line.

    This Blue Buffalo formula draws the bulk of its animal protein from deboned chicken and chicken and salmon meal. Dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 39% protein, 16% fat and 38% estimated carbs… yielding a fat-to-protein ratio of about 40%.

    We also note the inclusion of taurine, an amino acid supplement believed by many to help prevent dilated cardiomyopathy in large breed dogs. A time-proven formula, notable for its ideal mix of calcium, phosphorus and calories.

    A well-balanced design to help reduce the risk of crippling hip and joint disease for growing Labrador puppies. Reasonably priced. Recommended with confidence.

    Read our review of the full Blue Buffalo Wilderness Dog Food (Dry) range here

    Main Ingredients Deboned Chicken, chicken meal, salmon meal, oatmeal, barley
    Texture Dry
    Type Grain-inclusive
    Protein Percentage 39%
    AAFCO Standards Growth
    Best For Labrador puppies

    Sample buyer review...

    "My German Shepherd/Pittie mix puppy loves this stuff. She has never had any issues with it and prefers it over the science diet the vet was pushing. I like that it is grain free."

    Read more buyer reviews at Chewy.com

Here are 8 of the most frequently asked questions we get about feeding Labrador Retriever puppies and adults.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I switch to a new food... without making my Labrador sick?

In Dr. Gary Richter’s video below…

You’ll find a simple feeding tip that can help reduce your Labrador’s risk of suffering from digestive upset… whenever you switch to a new food.

It’s best to transition your Labrador to a new food… gradually.

Start by mixing 20% “new” and 80% “old” food together. Then, gently increase that amount to a full 100%… over the next 8 to 9 days.

Transition Schedule Old Food New Food
Days 1 and 2 80% 20%
Days 3 and 4 60% 40%
Days 5 and 6 40% 60%
Days 7 and 8 20% 80%
Day 9 0% 100%

Do Labradors need to eat special dog food?

The answer depends on your dog’s age. Adult Labradors can eat almost ANY quality dry or wet food. However, to lower your dog’s risk of permanent hip and joint disease, Labrador puppies should be fed a food that contains a safe amount of calcium for large breed puppies. For more options, be sure to visit The Dog Food Advisor’s best large breed puppy foods page.

What are the 3 feeding stages of a Labrador's life?

Since dog breeds mature at different rates, the feeding stages below can be used as a general guide to find the food that’s best suited for your Labrador’s age.4 5

Life Stage Age
Labrador puppy Under 15-24 months6
Adult Labrador Over 15-24 months7
Senior Labrador Over 6-8 years8 9

When can I safely switch my Labrador puppy to adult food?

Labrador puppies don’t stop growing and aren’t ready to eat adult dog food… until they reach 15 to 24 months of age.10 11 12 So, switching your puppy to an adult diet too soon can increase your pet’s risk of developing a crippling and permanent form of canine hip dysplasia.

When is my Labrador considered a senior?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, larger breed dogs tend live shorter lives than smaller dogs… which is why they’re often considered seniors when they reach 5 to 6 years of age. If your Labrador is over 6, you may wish to visit our best senior dog foods page for some safe recommendations.

What causes hip disease in Labrador Retrievers?

Hip disease in Labradors is caused by at least one of 3 factors:

  1. Genetics13
  2. Overfeeding14
  3. Too much calcium in the diet15

Since there’s nothing you can do to change your Labrador’s genetics, be sure to avoid overfeeding your puppy. And choose a dog food that contains a calcium level that’s made to be safe for Labradors and other large breed puppies.

How can I lower my Labrador's risk of hip disease?

There are 2 things you CAN do to help lower your dog’s risk of hip disease. First, don’t overfeed your puppy. Too many calories in the diet can increase your Lab’s risk of developing lasting hip damage.

Next, avoid dog foods that contain too much calcium for large breed puppies. View our best large breed puppy foods here.

How much food should I feed my Labrador?

A landmark study found that dogs fed an amount of food that keeps them at ideal body condition lived almost 2 years longer… than other dogs.16

So, to help your Labrador live a longer life

Start with the feeding instructions printed on the bag. Then, adjust that amount up or down… to keep your Labrador at ideal body condition.

The following short video explains exactly how to help your Labrador achieve and maintain an ideal weight.

Final word

The Dog Food Advisor does not accept money, gifts, samples or other incentives in exchange for special consideration in preparing our reviews.

However, we do receive a referral fee from online retailers (like Chewy or Amazon) and from sellers of perishable pet food when readers click over to their websites from ours. This helps cover the cost of operation of our free blog. Thanks for your support.

For more information, please visit our Disclaimer and Disclosure page.

Sources

1: Lauten SD, Nutritional Risks to Large Breed Dogs: From Weaning to the Geriatric Years, Vet Clin Small Anim 36 (2006) 1345–1359.

2: AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles, Association of American Feed Control Officials, 2018 Official Publication, pages 155-159.

3: Royal Canin, maxi breed, When does my puppy become an adult dog?





8: Senior Pets, American Veterinary Medical Association

9: Lynn Buzhardt, DVM, VCA Hospitals, How Old Is Old? Comparing Dog Age to Human Age




13: Hedhammar A, Canine hip dysplasia as influenced by genetic and environmental factors, EJCAP, Oct 2007, 17:2 (pp 141-143)

14: Kealy RD et al, Effects of limited food consumption on the incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs, JAVMA, Sep 1992, 201:6 (pp 857-863)

15: Richardson, Skeletal diseases of the growing dog: Nutritional influences and the role of diet, Canine Hip Dysplasia: A Symposium Held at Western Veterinary Conference, 1995

16: https://www.avma.org/News/Journals/Collections/Documents/javma_220_9_1315.pdf

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