The 10 Best Dog Food for Labs in 2023

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best dog food for labs

This is our guide highlighting the 10 best dog foods for Labs in 2024.

Labrador Retrievers, celebrated for their friendly disposition and intelligence, continue to be beloved companions in households across the globe.

As dedicated Lab owners will affirm, these dogs come with unique health considerations. From maintaining their sturdy physique to addressing potential joint issues, Labs thrive when given a diet tailored to meet their specific requirements.

With a background in veterinary care, I recognize the critical role that proper nutrition plays in enhancing the overall well-being of Labs. In my professional experience, I consistently recommend Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food, a dog food that strikes an exceptional balance between quality ingredients and affordability. It is thoughtfully formulated to cater to the distinctive nutritional needs of Labrador Retrievers.

Acknowledging the individual health nuances of each Lab, I’ve undertaken a comprehensive exploration of the dog food market. Leveraging both my veterinary expertise and thorough research, I’ve compiled a list of dog foods that stand out as excellent choices for Labs.

Moreover, I’ve crafted a buyer’s guide that encompasses essential nutritional insights, key considerations, and practical advice. This guide is designed to empower you in making informed decisions when selecting the best food for your beloved Labrador Retriever.

Join us on this journey to ensure that your loyal companion receives nutrition tailored to their unique needs, promoting their health and happiness throughout 2024 and beyond.

The 10 Top Picks for The Best Dog Food for Labs

  1. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food (Best Dog Food for Labs Overall)
  2. Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food (Premium Dog Food for Labs)
  3. Nulo Freestyle Puppy Grain-Free Recipe Dry Dog Food (Best Food for Lab Puppies)
  4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Senior Dry Dog Food (Best Food for Senior Labs)
  5. Instinct Original Grain Free Dry Raw Coated Natural High Protein Dog Food (Best Food for Active Labs)
  6. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food (Best Food for Labs With Sensitive Stomachs)
  7. Purina Pro Plan Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula (Best Food for Picky Eater Labs)
  8. CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon, Limited Ingredient, Grain-Free Premium Dry Dog Food (Best Food for Skin and Coat Health)
  9. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Venison Formula (Best Limited Ingredient Diet for Labs)
  10. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Formula Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food (Best for Labs with Food Sensitivities)

The 10 Best Dog Foods for Labs Reviewed

Before we dive in, I want to tell you that all the dog food I included in this list meets the standard AAFCO nutrient profile guidelines for dogs.

Also, we always recommend you consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your Lab’s diet.

1. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Dog Food stands out as an exemplary choice for ensuring the overall health and vitality of Labs. Tailored to meet the nutritional needs of adult Labradors, this formula boasts deboned chicken and chicken meal as its primary protein sources.

What sets it apart is its generous calorie content, providing a substantial 434 kcal/cup, which caters to the energy requirements of more active dogs. This formula doesn’t merely stop at protein; it incorporates chicken fat and ground flaxseed, rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids crucial for maintaining optimal brain health.

One of the distinctive features of this dog food is its inclusion of grains—oatmeal and ground barley, to be precise. These aren’t your typical filler ingredients; instead, they offer easily digestible carbohydrates and prebiotic fiber, promoting healthy digestion.

Additionally, Labrador owners have praised the kibble size for its dental benefits, although a few have noted occasional gassiness in their pets. In summary, Wellness Complete Health strikes a balance between protein, grains, and essential nutrients, making it a holistic choice for Labradors.

When it comes to what we like, this formula excels in providing high-quality protein, digestible carbohydrates, and ample energy support. However, it’s important to note that some dogs may experience occasional gas as a potential downside.

2. Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food is a formula that’s specially tailored diet that caters to the unique nutritional requirements of Labs.

Crafted with precision to meet the energy needs of this active breed, Royal Canin’s formula takes into account the Labrador’s muscular build and propensity for weight gain. A blend of high-quality proteins supports muscle maintenance and development, ensuring that Labs maintain their optimal body condition.

To promote joint health, a crucial concern for larger breeds like Labs, Royal Canin includes glucosamine and chondroitin in the recipe. These elements contribute to maintaining healthy joints and may alleviate the risk of issues such as hip dysplasia, common in Labradors.

Recognizing the breed’s characteristic dense double coat, the inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids supports skin and coat health. This not only enhances the sheen of their coat but also helps manage shedding, a common concern for Lab owners.

Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food is fortified with antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C, to support the Labrador’s immune system. This is particularly important for Labs, known for their adventurous and sometimes mischievous nature, exposing them to various environmental factors.

While individual preferences and sensitivities can vary, Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Adult Dry Dog Food has gained positive reviews for its breed-specific approach, catering to the distinctive needs of Labs. It is a well-rounded option to consider for maintaining the overall health and vitality of your Labrador Retriever.

3. Nulo Freestyle Puppy Grain-Free Recipe Dry Dog Food

Nulo Freestyle Puppy Grain-Free Recipe Dry Dog Food is a specialized formula that is designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of growing Labrador puppies. With a dedicated focus on providing 80% meat proteins, including deboned salmon, turkey meal, and menhaden fish meal, this formula prioritizes muscle development.

The robust 30% crude protein and 17% crude fat content, along with essential omega fatty acids and DHA, contribute significantly to cognitive function and steady growth during the crucial puppy phase.

Recognizing the necessity for digestive support during the puppy stage, this recipe incorporates live probiotics to ensure a healthy gut environment. Despite these nutritional benefits, some users have noted a distinct fishy smell, which might be a drawback for sensitive pet owners.

In essence, Nulo Freestyle Puppy Grain-Free Recipe Dry Dog Food strikes a commendable balance between essential nutrients, taste, and digestive support for the unique needs of Labrador puppies.

Applauding the positive aspects, we commend Nulo for its high protein content, inclusion of DHA, and focus on digestive health for growing puppies. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that the fishy smell might be a consideration for certain pet owners.

4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Senior Dry Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Large Breed Senior Dry Dog Food emerges as a thoughtful choice for senior Labradors, addressing their evolving nutritional requirements.

Featuring deboned chicken, brown rice, and barley as primary ingredients, this formula caters to the senior demographic with a lower 20% crude protein content. What sets it apart is the inclusion of probiotics and anti-inflammatory ingredients, providing support for aging digestive systems and joints.

The formula maintains a balance by being lower in fat to prevent weight gain associated with a slower metabolism. However, it doesn’t compromise on the inclusion of essential fats like chicken fat and fish oil, offering omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids crucial for joint lubrication and cognitive function.

Superfoods like blueberries, dried kelp, parsley, and turmeric further contribute antioxidants for immune health. Labrador owners appreciate the manageable kibble size for senior dogs, although some users have reported potential tummy upset due to the high fiber content.

In terms of what we like, this senior-focused formula excels in being easy to eat for older dogs, containing probiotics for gut health, and incorporating antioxidant-rich superfoods. However, it’s important to note that the high fiber content may pose digestive challenges for certain dogs.

5. Instinct Original Grain Free Dry Raw Coated Natural High Protein Dog Food

Instinct Original Grain Free Dry Raw Coated Natural High Protein Dog Food caters to the energy needs of the most active Labs, making it an optimal choice for dogs with a high activity level. The kibble is dusted with raw liver and freeze-dried chicken, offering not just a flavorful experience but also additional B vitamins and iron for sustained energy support.

Boasting a high 37% crude protein content, this formula relies on premium animal proteins like chicken, herring meal, and menhaden fish meal to promote flexible joints and lean muscle maintenance.

This grain-free option substitutes traditional grains with peas, carrots, and tapioca, providing essential dietary fiber and nutrients. The inclusion of omega fatty acids contributes to a healthy skin and coat, while antioxidants from fruits like blueberries support the immune system. Despite these advantages, some users have noted a strong smell, potentially discouraging for sensitive noses.

Applauding its strengths, we commend Instinct for its focus on active dogs, high protein content, and the inclusion of freeze-dried raw coating for enhanced flavor and nutrition. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the strong smell might be a consideration for certain pet owners.

6. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food

Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Stomach & Skin Chicken Recipe Dry Dog Food caters specifically to Labs with sensitive stomachs, addressing common digestive issues. Featuring chicken as the primary protein source, this formula is crafted to be easily digestible while still providing a respectable 21% crude protein.

The inclusion of prebiotic fiber from beet pulp supports gut health, while vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acids contribute to a healthy skin and coat.

Moreover, this dog food excludes artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, making it suitable for dogs with sensitivities. Lab owners appreciate the effectiveness of this formula in reducing stomach troubles, although some have mentioned that picky eaters might find the taste less appealing.

Highlighting its positive aspects, we applaud Hill’s Science Diet for its focus on sensitive stomachs, easily digestible protein sources, and the exclusion of artificial additives. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that taste preferences can vary among dogs, and some picky eaters may be less enthusiastic about this formula.

7. Purina Pro Plan Savor Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula

Purina Pro Plan Savor Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice Formula is tailored to the discerning palates of picky Labs, combining flavor with nutritional excellence. The inclusion of real chicken as the primary protein source ensures a delectable taste, while the shredded blend of soft and crunchy kibble adds an appealing texture. With a moderate 26% crude protein content and 16% crude fat, this formula strikes a balance between taste and nutrition.

Designed to be highly digestible, it features rice as a source of carbohydrates, contributing to energy levels without overwhelming sensitive stomachs. This formula also includes live probiotics for digestive support, although some users have mentioned potential variations in kibble sizes.

In terms of what we like, Purina Pro Plan impresses with its focus on picky eaters, real chicken inclusion, and the enticing combination of textures. However, it’s important to note that variations in kibble sizes may affect certain dogs’ eating experiences.

8. CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon, Limited Ingredient, Grain-Free Premium Dry Dog Food

CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon, Limited Ingredient, Grain-Free Premium Dry Dog Food takes a holistic approach to Labs’ skin and coat health. This formula’s main protein source is real salmon, rich in omega-3 fatty acids that promote a lustrous coat and healthy skin. The limited ingredient design ensures simplicity, with sweet potatoes and peas offering easily digestible carbohydrates.

Free from grains, corn, wheat, and soy, this formula minimizes potential allergens, making it suitable for dogs with sensitivities. The inclusion of probiotics supports digestive health, although some users have mentioned that picky eaters might take time to adapt to the salmon flavor.

Recognizing its strengths, CANIDAE PURE impresses with its focus on skin and coat health, limited ingredient design, and omega-3-rich salmon content. However, individual taste preferences among picky eaters may require a transition period.

9. Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Venison Formula

For Labs with sensitivities or allergies, Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Venison Formula offers a simplified yet nutritionally rich option.

This formula’s primary protein source is venison, a novel protein that reduces the likelihood of triggering allergies. Sweet potatoes provide easily digestible carbohydrates, making it suitable for dogs with sensitivities to grains.

The limited ingredient approach ensures that potential allergens are minimized, with essential vitamins and minerals added to maintain a balanced diet. While this formula is celebrated for its efficacy in managing allergies, some users have noted that dogs might take time to adjust to the unique taste.

Commending its strengths, Natural Balance L.I.D. stands out for addressing sensitivities with a limited ingredient approach and the use of novel proteins. However, it’s essential to consider that individual dogs may require an adjustment period due to taste preferences.

10. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Formula Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food

For Labs with severe food sensitivities, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA Hydrolyzed Formula Chicken Flavor Dry Dog Food offers a scientifically crafted solution.

This unique formula utilizes hydrolyzed proteins, breaking them down into smaller components that are less likely to trigger allergic reactions. The chicken flavor maintains palatability without compromising the diet’s therapeutic benefits.

Free from common allergens like soy and wheat, this dog food provides a hypoallergenic option. The inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids supports skin health, although some users have mentioned that the cost may be higher than other non-specialized options.

Acknowledging its significance, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets HA is crucial for dogs with severe food sensitivities, offering hydrolyzed proteins and a hypoallergenic approach. However, it’s important to consider the potential higher cost compared to non-specialized options.

Guide to Buying The Best Dog Food for Labradors

Labradors, renowned for their friendly demeanor and abundant energy, necessitate a meticulously crafted diet to ensure their overall health. When contemplating the ideal dog food for Labradors, it’s imperative to consider several factors that contribute to their unique nutritional requirements.

Macronutrients Your Lab Needs


Proteins are the fundamental building blocks of a Labrador’s physical structure, playing a pivotal role in fostering muscle development and overall vitality. The quest for an optimal diet for Labradors entails a comprehensive understanding of the protein content in their food. 

Aim for a minimum of 21% crude protein, a measure that scientifically calculates the protein’s amount provided by the food. Premium protein sources like deboned chicken, chicken meal, or fish contribute not just to quantity but also to the quality of protein intake.

Beyond mere percentages, the protein quality is equally crucial. Labradors benefit significantly from animal-derived protein, ensuring a rich array of essential amino acids. These amino acids are indispensable for various bodily functions, ranging from tissue repair to enzyme production. 

The emphasis on high-quality protein underscores the significance of selecting dog food that aligns with the biological needs of Labradors, supporting their dynamic lifestyle and promoting optimal health.


Fats in a Labrador’s diet extend beyond a mere energy source, encompassing multifaceted contributions to their overall well-being. A fat content exceeding 10% is recommended, emphasizing the need for a balanced inclusion of healthy fats. 

Healthy fats, particularly those derived from sources like fish oil, contribute to more than just caloric intake. They are paramount for maintaining a glossy coat, promoting skin health, and aiding in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

While fat content is often scrutinized concerning potential weight gain, it’s crucial to differentiate between healthy fats and those contributing to obesity. Labradors, known for their predisposition to weight-related concerns, can thrive on a diet rich in omega fatty acids. 

These essential fatty acids not only support coat health but also serve as anti-inflammatory agents, contributing to joint health – a critical consideration for Labradors prone to joint issues. Hence, a discerning approach to fat content, focusing on quality rather than sheer quantity, ensures that Labradors receive the nutritional benefits that fats offer for their holistic well-being.


Carbohydrates, often underestimated in canine nutrition, assume a crucial role in meeting the dietary needs of Labradors. Unlike some misconceptions surrounding dog diets, Labradors, as omnivores, benefit from digestible carbohydrates. 

These complex carbohydrates are pivotal for sustained energy, and their inclusion in Labrador diets is essential to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Labradors, with their robust energy requirements, necessitate a diet that ensures a steady and accessible source of carbohydrates.

The emphasis on whole grains as excellent carbohydrate sources reflects a commitment to providing Labradors with nutrition that aligns with their evolutionary and metabolic needs. Carbohydrates sourced from ingredients like sweet potatoes in grain-free options offer not only energy but also additional nutrients. 

Recognizing the importance of digestible carbohydrates in Labrador diets fosters a more holistic understanding of their nutritional requirements. The selection of dog food that incorporates these considerations reflects an informed approach, addressing Labradors’ energy demands and contributing to their overall health.

How To Choose Food For Your Lab

LID Formulation

For Labradors with sensitivities or prone to allergies, a Limited Ingredient Diet (LID) can be a game-changer. LID formulations strategically eliminate common food allergens, providing a simplified recipe that meets the nutrient requirements of Labradors without triggering adverse reactions. 

By opting for a single source of animal protein, typically devoid of fillers or artificial additives, LID formulas significantly reduce the likelihood of digestive upset. This meticulous approach resonates well with Labradors susceptible to food intolerances, offering a path to nutrition that prioritizes simplicity and digestive well-being.

The advantages of LID formulations extend beyond allergen management. These diets often incorporate high-quality, easily digestible ingredients, ensuring that Labradors receive essential nutrients without unnecessary additives. 

The absence of potential irritants aligns with the preferences of Labrador owners seeking a straightforward yet comprehensive solution to dietary sensitivities. 

Making an informed choice regarding LID formulations involves recognizing not just what’s excluded but also the nutritional richness these formulations offer, contributing to the long-term health and comfort of Labradors.

High Fiber

While fibers may not be the first consideration in Labrador diets, their role in promoting healthy digestion is undeniably crucial. Fibers, sourced from ingredients like beet pulp, act as prebiotics, fostering an environment conducive to beneficial gut bacteria. This not only aids in breaking down food but also enhances nutrient absorption. For Labradors, especially those with active lifestyles, the significance of efficient nutrient absorption cannot be overstated.

Dietary fibers go beyond mere digestion support; they contribute to overall gut health, an aspect intricately linked to Labradors’ general well-being. The inclusion of fibers in Labrador diets, particularly those with added probiotic blends, amplifies the digestive benefits. 

Probiotics introduce beneficial bacteria into the digestive tract, a boon for Labradors, whether puppies or seniors, navigating the intricacies of nutrient absorption. Understanding the multifaceted role of fibers in Labrador nutrition underscores their importance in shaping a diet that not only meets but exceeds the specific needs of these vibrant canine companions.

Vitamins & Minerals

The balanced ratio of vitamins and minerals assumes paramount importance in crafting a diet that caters to the diverse needs of Labradors. This meticulous attention to micronutrients becomes especially critical during periods of growth, emphasizing the importance of meeting AAFCO’s nutrient profile guidelines for dogs. 

Labradors, with their exuberant energy and growth phases, necessitate a diet that not only provides macronutrients but also a spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals.

Key minerals like calcium and phosphorus play a pivotal role in bone formation, a consideration integral to the well-being of Labradors throughout their lives. 

Nutrient deficiencies, particularly in minerals, can contribute to skeletal diseases, underscoring the need for a well-rounded diet. Vitamins, functioning as antioxidants, assume significance in protecting Labradors’ tissues against free radicals, a factor particularly relevant for those with active lifestyles. 

Acknowledging the comprehensive role of vitamins and minerals in Labrador health informs the selection of dog food that aligns with their unique nutritional demands.

Common Labrador Health Issues and How Diet Can Help

Joint Health

Labradors, known for their robust physiques and boundless energy, are not immune to joint health concerns. Nutrition plays a pivotal role in addressing and preventing issues related to joints, making it a crucial consideration in Labrador diets. 

Ingredients like glucosamine, often found in specialized formulations, contribute to managing joint pain and promoting overall joint health. 

This proactive approach aligns with the broader objective of providing Labradors with a diet that not only sustains their energy but also safeguards against potential health issues.

Understanding the specific health concerns related to Labradors, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, facilitates a more targeted selection of dog food. 

While genetics contribute to these conditions, a diet enriched with joint-supporting ingredients provides a proactive means to address potential challenges. 

Labradors, whether navigating their playful puppyhood or embracing their senior years, benefit from a diet designed to support joint health, ensuring they can continue their active lifestyles with vitality and comfort.

Weight Management

Labradors, with their hearty appetites and predisposition to obesity, demand a nuanced approach to weight management through diet. Selecting dog food that aligns with their caloric needs and metabolic rates becomes a cornerstone in preventing excessive weight gain. 

Understanding the caloric requirements of Labradors, factoring in their activity levels and life stages, allows for a more precise approach to weight management.

The incorporation of balanced nutrition not only addresses current weight considerations but also contributes to long-term health. Labradors, as they age, may experience changes in metabolism, necessitating adjustments in their diet. 

Tailoring their nutrition to support weight management becomes a proactive measure, preventing potential health issues associated with obesity. 

This holistic approach to weight management, embedded in dietary choices, reflects a commitment to the overall well-being of Labradors, allowing them to lead fulfilling and healthy lives.

Our Verdict

While Labradors exhibit diverse dietary needs, Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Dog Food emerges as a standout option. Its balanced nutrition, encompassing high-quality protein, fats, and joint support ingredients, makes it a commendable choice. 

However, consulting with a veterinarian is paramount to tailor the diet to the specific needs of individual Labradors, ensuring a life filled with vitality and well-being. Labradors bring boundless joy, and with the right nutrition, their exuberance and health can be optimized.

John Alexander
John Alexander

John is a qualified vet and an expert in dog nutrition. He has been documenting his journey with dogs and writing about their nutrition for over two years now. He is the go-to person when it comes to dogs nutrition.

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