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Home > Dogs > 10 Best Puppy Foods for Labs in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

10 Best Puppy Foods for Labs in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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labrador retriever puppy eating food from bowl outdoors

So, you are on the hunt for the best food for your brand-new Lab puppy. Choosing the best puppy food for your new puppy is a very important decision, since getting the proper nutrition is important for bone development and healthy growth into a full-grown, loveable Labrador Retriever.

Our job is to take the stress from you and prevent you from having to filter through all the available foods on the market. Since not all foods are created equally, we have come up with a list of the best puppy foods for Labs this year.

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A Glance at Our Winners (Updated in 2024)

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy
  • Non-GMO
  • No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors
  • Supports healthy growth and immune system
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Purina ONE SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy Formula Purina ONE SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy Formula
  • Fair price
  • Easy to digest
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food Subscription Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food Subscription
  • Great fat-to-protein ratio
  • Made with 85% premium animal ingredients
  • First 5 ingredients are from fresh or raw animal protein
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Puppy Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Puppy
  • Can be used as a topper or entree
  • Turkey, chicken broth, chicken, and chicken liver are the first 4 ingredients
  • Contains no grains, gluten, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives
  • Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Formula Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Formula
  • Reasonably priced
  • Rich in proteins and well-balanced nutrients
  • Promotes healthy digestion and strong immunity
  • The 10 Best Puppy Foods for Labs

    1. Nutro Ultra ‘Large Breed’ Puppy Food – Best Overall

    Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy

    Type: Dry Food
    Quantity: 30-pound bag
    Caloric Content: 3604 kcal/kg, 350 kcal/cup
    Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio:  1.5:1

    Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy gets our pick for best overall puppy food for Labs. This food is not only geared toward large breed puppies, like Labs, but it’s wholesome, priced fairly, and meets AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile standards.

    Nutro guarantees non-GMO ingredients and contains no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. It contains all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids for proper growth, strong immunity, and overall health and well-being. The naturally sourced glucosamine and chondroitin give your pup a head start with healthy joints.

    There were some complaints that certain puppies turned their nose up to the food and refused to eat it. This is typical, as not all dogs are going to take well to every food. Overall, this is a well-loved and well-reviewed choice for many owners.

    Pros
    • Supports healthy growth and immune system
    • Non-GMO
    • No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors
    Cons
    • Some pups may turn their nose up at it

    2. Purina ONE SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy Formula – Best Value

    Purina ONE SmartBlend Large Breed Puppy Formula

    Type: Dry Food
    Quantity: 31.1-pound bag
    Caloric Content: 3,759 kcal/kg, 361 kcal/cup
    Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio: 1.2:1

    Purina ONE Large Breed Puppy Food gets our pick for the best food for Lab puppies for the money. This formula has chicken as the number one ingredient, which is more than can be said for some of the most expensive brands out there. This dry food is designed specifically for large breed puppies and contains natural sources of glucosamine, omega-6 fatty acids, and DHA to promote healthy joints, skin, coat, and brain function.

    This food is high in protein and is easy to digest. This formula is free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. This food is priced much better than most of the competitors, but some reviewers did complain of runny stools when switching to the food. This can happen with sensitive stomachs and food transitions.

    This food may not be the highest-quality puppy food on the market, but it is well-loved by many dog owners and even has better ingredients than some high-priced foods.

    Pros
    • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
    • Fair price
    • Easy to digest
    Cons
    • Gave some pups runny stools

    3. Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food Subscription – Premium Choice

    nom nom dog food recipes

    Type: Fresh Food
    Quantity: N/A
    Caloric Content: 1239 kcal/kg, 182 kcal/cup

    Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food comes in at our premium choice. This brand is derived from high-quality ground beef as the primary protein source. If you are looking to spoil your puppy and serve them fresh, top-quality meals, Nom Nom is a great option.

    Nom Nom Fresh is made with only top-quality, human-grade ingredients and is a well-balanced recipe designed specifically by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, Nom Nom is as good as it gets for your pup.

    This fresh food can be offered to all breeds and sizes and meets the nutritional needs of growing puppies. This food is extremely expensive, as fresh food usually is. In addition to the high price, you must subscribe to Nom Nom or enter a trial to try it out, as it is delivery only.

    Pros
    • First 5 ingredients are from fresh or raw animal protein
    • Great fat-to-protein ratio
    • Made with 85% premium animal ingredients
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Puppy – Best Wet Food for Puppies

    Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Puppy

    Type: Wet Food
    Quantity: 12 pack of 12.5 oz cans
    Caloric Content: 1,200 kcal/kg, 425kcal/can

    If you are looking for a premium wet food to offer your Lab puppy, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain Free Puppy is a great choice. This canned, wet food is formulated with DHA to help support brain and eye development. There are no grains, gluten, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, or artificial flavors or preservatives in this food. Although it should be noted that grain and gluten allergies are very rare in dogs, so most will not need a grain free diet.

    Turkey, chicken broth, chicken, and chicken liver are the first four ingredients. Wet food is typically used as a topper but can also be used as an entrée. Blue Buffalo also offers a great-quality dry kibble for large breed puppies.

    Reviewers take very well to this wet food and highly recommended it to other owners. Some owners complained of the texture of the canned food while others had issues with their pups turning their nose up at the food.

    Pros
    • Turkey, chicken broth, chicken, and chicken liver are the first 4 ingredients
    • Contains no grains, gluten, by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives
    • Can be used as a topper or entree
    Cons
    • Unpleasant texture
    • Some pups refused to eat the food

    5. Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Formula

    Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Formula

    Type: Dry Food
    Quantity: 28-pound bag
    Caloric Content: 3,600 kcal/kg, 408 kcal/cup
    Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio: 1.3:1

    Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy is sourced from fresh salmon and ocean fish meal. The omega-3 fatty acids come rich in DHA from salmon oil, which offers great support for brain and eye development. Taste of the Wild is reasonably priced compared to some other competitors and still holds high in quality.

    There are no grains, corn, wheat, or artificial colors or flavors in this food. The vitamins and minerals are derived from real fruits and other superfoods. Also included in the formula are probiotics, prebiotics, and antioxidants to promote healthy digestion and immune system function.

    The biggest complaint among reviewers was that some puppies refused to eat the food. Overall, Taste of The Wild is a highly recommended, great-quality food that dog owners love.

    Pros
    • Reasonably priced
    • Rich in proteins and well-balanced nutrients
    • Promotes healthy digestion and strong immunity
    Cons
    • Some puppies refuse to eat it

    6. ORIJEN Puppy Large Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food

    ORIJEN Puppy Large Grain-Free Dry Puppy Food

    Type: Dry Food
    Quantity: 25-pound bag
    Caloric Content: 3760 kcal/kg, 451 kcal/cup
    Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio: 1.2:1

    Orijen Puppy Large gets the majority of its animal protein straight from deboned poultry and fresh fish. This premium, high-quality food comes highly recommended by many reviewers. Analysis of this food has shown a great ratio of fat to protein content and the first five ingredients are either fresh or raw animal protein. In this kibble, the first five ingredients include deboned chicken, deboned turkey, yellowtail flounder, whole eggs, and whole Atlantic mackerel.

    This formula offers a freeze-dried coating that adds a lot of enticing flavors to the kibble. This food is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for your growing Lab puppy, or any large breed puppy for that matter. As mentioned before only a small minority of dogs are grain or gluten allergic, so going grain free is a personal preference.

    The downside to this food is that it is a bit on the pricey side but the quality more than makes up for the price tag. The manufacturer even explains that the food is made of 85% premium animal ingredients, which is high in comparison to some competitors. Overall, this makes an excellent choice for Lab pups!

    Pros
    • First 5 ingredients are from fresh or raw animal protein
    • Great fat-to-protein ratio in analysis
    • Made with 85% premium animal ingredients
    Cons
    • Expensive

    7. Chicken Soup for the Soul Large Breed Puppy

    Chicken Soup for the Soul Large Breed Puppy

    Type: Dry Food
    Quantity: 28-pound bag
    Caloric Content: 3,518 kcal/kg, 367 kcal/cup
    Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio: 1.2:1

    Chicken Soup for the Soul Large Breed Puppy is designed for the large breeds with a formula that contains DHA, calcium, and phosphorus as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for healthy joints. The omega-3s and omega-6s help promote healthy skin and coats. Meanwhile, this food is free from fillers like wheat, corn, and soy. Another perk, chicken and turkey are the first two ingredients on the list.

    This food is fairly priced and well-reviewed among many dog owners. The downside is that some pups did refuse to eat this recipe. Overall, many owners did rave about getting a good bang for their buck and many pups do take well to this dry food. Some owners even described the healthy coat they noticed on their pups.

    Pros
    • No corn, wheat, or soy
    • Reasonably priced
    • Chicken and turkey are the first two ingredients
    Cons
    • Some puppies didn’t care for it

    8. American Journey Large Breed Puppy

    American Journey Large Breed Puppy

    Type: Dry Food
    Quantity: 24-pound bag
    Caloric Content: 3,563 kcal/kg, 374 kcal/cup
    Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio: 1.8:1

    American Journey Large Breed Puppies is a well-reviewed dry puppy food that is grain-free and meant to support the growth and developmental needs of large breed puppies. The formula puts focus on proper bone development with calcium and phosphorus but is at the top of the recommended ratio range of 1.1:1 and 1.8:1 so monitor growth closely to make sure they are not going too rapidly.

    In addition, ARA and DHA are in place to support healthy vision and brain function. This food is made without any grains, wheat, corn, soy, by-product meals, artificial preservatives, and flavors. Real meat is the number one ingredient, and a lot of dog owners turn to American Journey for their quality products.

    Reviewers advised that it worked well on puppies with sensitive tummies too. An issue that most foods on the market face is that some puppies refused to eat the kibble.

    Pros
    • Supports healthy growth and development
    • Real meat is the number one ingredient
    • Contains no grains, wheat, corn, soy, by-product meals, artificial preservatives, or flavorings
    Cons
    • Some puppies don’t like the taste

    9. Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Puppy

    Wellness Large Breed Complete Health Puppy

    Type: Dry Food
    Quantity: 30-pound bag
    Caloric Content: 3,533 kcal/kg, 367 kcal/cup
    Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio: 1.3:1

    Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy gets the majority of its protein directly from chicken, as well as chicken meal and salmon meal. Wellness is a highly regarded brand in terms of quality and this large-breed puppy food scores high on the list for balanced and healthy nutrition for growing pups.

    This food is developed without the presence of GMOs, meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives. This formula contains essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and glucosamine. It truly is an all-encompassing puppy food that is loved by many.

    Wellness Complete Health Large Breed Puppy is a bit pricey but that is not so unusual with high-quality foods. Some owners did notice that it sparked itchiness in those with chicken allergies and some pups experienced digestive upset when transitioning.

    Pros
    • No GMOs, meat by-products, fillers, or artificial preservatives
    • Most of the protein comes directly from chicken
    • Well-balanced source of nutrients for large breed puppies
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Not for dogs with chicken allergies
    • May cause digestive upset during food transition

    10. Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Puppy Dry Dog Food

    Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Puppy Dry Dog Food

    Type: Dry Food
    Quantity: 30lb bag
    Caloric Content: 3,584 kcal/kg, 308 kcal/cup
    Calcium:Phosphorus Ratio: 1.18:1

    Royal Canin makes this breed-specific puppy food that makes a great choice for Lab owners. After all, this formula is made specifically for Labrador puppies. This dry food is formulated to meet the needs of growing Labs between the ages of 8 weeks and 15 months of age.

    Owners love this food and have provided a variety of reviews stating they noticed soft and shiny coats, great energy levels, and healthy growth rates. In addition, this food is designed to promote proper nutrient absorption and to slow down the rate at which your puppy eats by promoting chewing and proper digestion. This can be very helpful since large breeds can suffer from bloat.

    Royal Canin is notoriously expensive and while it is formulated specifically for Labs, the price leaves it at the bottom of the list. However, as one of the most respected brands and being veterinarian recommended the world over, it is a good choice for those with the budget to suit.

    Pros
    • Aids digestion
    • Supports healthy growth
    • Made specifically for Lab puppies
    Cons
    • Expensive

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    Buyer’s Guide – How to Pick the Best Puppy Foods for Labs

    A dog’s nutritional needs will vary with each stage of life, which is why you will see so many pet food companies have special formulas for each life stage. Your Lab puppy is going to require a different balance of nutrients than an adult Lab.

    Why Is Breed Important When Choosing a Dog Food?

    A dog’s size and breed are huge factors when determining the best food, which is why we created this breed-specific list. Different dog breeds are susceptible to different genetic health conditions. Larger breeds, like Labrador Retrievers, are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. Nutrition plays a vital role in preventing certain health issues. In recent years concern has been raised about a possible link between grain-free and non-grain-free diets that list legumes high on their ingredient list causing heart disease.  This may be of consequence to Labradors as the breed is more prone to heart conditions than others.

    Studies have shown that certain factors heavily influence these conditions, including feeding methods, the dog’s rate of growth, food consumption, and specific nutrients and electrolyte balances in their diet. This does not just include Labs, but owners of any large or giant dog breed should be aware of this important information so they can make the most well-informed decision.

    Labrador retriever puppy
    Image By: Didkovska Ilona, Shutterstock

    Choosing the Best Food

    While having a list of the best puppy foods is a great start, you still must narrow it down to one. So, how does one choose from a list of great choices? Below we will cover some of the most important things to consider before making your final choice.

    What Does Your Veterinarian Recommend?

    First and foremost, you should discuss your new puppy’s dietary needs directly with their veterinarian. A veterinarian will be the first to tell you how important the proper diet is for any pet’s overall health and well-being. Chances are that your veterinarian has dealt with purebred Labrador Retrievers many times before. Don’t be afraid to get their advice on what food is best for your pup, and make sure you discuss any dietary changes or questions with them anytime you are unsure.

    Dog Food Brand

    You want to ensure you are choosing a dog food brand that is reputable. Finding a brand that is made with veterinary nutritionists and is backed by scientific research is ideal. If a brand advertises that they participate in AAFCO feeding trials, this means they have invested in research to ensure there are no nutritional deficiencies in the food. Getting a balanced diet is very important for a puppy’s development and all brands do not offer the same quality.

    Ingredients

    The most important ingredients in your puppy’s diet are protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. The ingredients in any pet food will help you determine the quality of the food. Look for foods that contain real meat as the number one ingredient. Below is a list of ingredients that are best avoided:

    Ingredients to Avoid
    • Propylene glycol
    • Corn syrup
    • BHA
    • BHT
    • Sodium nitrite
    • Nitrate
    • MSG
    • Artificial colors
    • Ethoxyquin

    Quantity

    Since your Lab is considered a large breed puppy, you may want to opt for larger bags so you are not making constant trips to the store for a new bag of food. Quantity will also play a huge role when you determine cost.

    Cost

    Cost is important when making purchasing decisions. Keep in mind that more high-quality puppy food may come with a higher price tag. It is very important not to skimp out on quality for cheaper food that is friendlier on your wallet. There are some reasonably priced good-quality foods out there, just remember to look at the label and consider the brand’s reputation. After all, your dog’s health is of the utmost importance.

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    Conclusion

    While we like all those on this list, the Nutro Ultra Large Breed Puppy is our best overall choice. It not only comes with high-quality AAFCO standards but is also fairly priced. Purina ONE Smartblend Large Breed Puppy is a great option if you are looking for food that provides good quality but is also easy on the wallet. Nom Nom Fresh is about as top-quality as you will find. Made from human grade-fresh ingredients, you can’t go wrong with the overall benefits of Nom Nom. Good luck in finding your Lab puppy their favorite new dish!

    See also:


    Featured Image Credit: SasaStock, Shutterstock

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