One of the most popular breeds of dogs as domestic pets is a golden retriever. The lovely coat, the loyalty, and those melting eyes are some of the reasons for their popularity the world over. For owners of golden retriever puppies, knowing proper feeding schedules for these cuddly little fellows is very important.
In the following sections, we will discuss these aspects in detail. There should be no gaps in doing everything you can for the best growth of your new golden retriever puppy.
- Characteristics of a Golden Retriever
- Feeding schedule
- How much to feed a golden retriever puppy?
- Problems related to feeding your golden retriever puppy
- Most popular puppy food brands for golden retrievers
- Foods to avoid for your golden retriever puppy
- Growth chart
Characteristics of a Golden Retriever
Male golden retrievers grow to 24 inches while females grow to about 22 inches in height. They can weigh anywhere from 25 to 29 kilos. Their beautiful coat varies from cream to gold in color and lends it the name. Their coat is water repellent and looks beautiful with just a weekly brushing.
These dogs have a beautifully balanced body and ears that hang below the jawline. Their ears are a feature that many dog lovers absolutely love. They have a noble and broad head. Their look is characterized by feathering on the tail, legs, and neck.
There are reasons why this breed makes for one of the most popular pets. Their temperament is a winner all the way. They are supremely intelligent creatures who are loving and playful. This makes them ideal companions for young children and adults alike.
Golden retrievers are so friendly that they do not make good watchdogs. That does not mean they will not alert owners about strangers. They do not bark often but do make their presence felt.
They have an eagerness to please nature and are very receptive to training. Because of these traits, they find use as service dogs and also in bird hunting.
What is puppy food all about?
Providing a good start is essential for a healthy puppy. The ideal puppy food is designed to provide all-round nutrition to growing puppies. A puppy is full of energy and its needs are much more than a grown dog. This food must be able to support rapid growth in a puppy that includes its bones, muscles, immune system, and most importantly, its joints.
Ideally, puppy food should contain 30% protein to provide for the energy needs of the growing pup. In addition to this, puppy food contains a high percentage of fat, something which a grown dog does not need. Puppy food also needs to provide vitamins and essential minerals and micronutrition to the puppy.
Types of puppy food
Puppy food can be categorized into three types – dry kibble, semi-moist, and moist food. For multiple reasons, dry puppy food is the most popular.
- Firstly, dry kibble is easy to store and much digestible.
- It also keeps for a very long time, unlike moist food which can get spoiled. Moist food once put into the feeding bowl cannot be put back if the puppy has not licked it clean.
- Dry food is easier to clean from a puppy’s teeth than moist food.
Kibble is versatile in that it can be used as-is or it can be combined with moist food to make it more appealing.
Another classification of puppy food can be made on the basis of store-bought or cooked at home. Most pet owners enjoy the convenience of store-bought food. However, this food bought from stores might have higher levels of salt and sugar.
Now we come to the all-important question, how much to feed a golden retriever puppy? One of the characteristics of this breed is that they just love to eat. They can in fact go on and on and not know when to stop. This is where putting down rules and setting amounts is so important for owners.
- Meal times should be adhered to at all times. This way the puppy will know to wait for its meal.
- Avoid feeding off the table or in-between meal times.
- Meals should be given at a fixed place.
- Leave the food for 15 minutes and then remove the bowl. This gives the puppy a time limit to finish its food. It will also know it cannot sit over food indefinitely.
- Assign a particular time period for feeds. The puppy will learn to finish all that is in his bowl.
Besides food, golden retrievers also need lots of water. However, allowing them access to water always will encourage the puppies to keep having water as they please. This will cause problems on the potty-training front. You may well find yourself running around the house cleaning up after the puppy.
It is better to provide them water at intervals and then immediately take them out to relieve themselves. As the puppy grows older, it will have better control over its bladder and the water bowl can now be left in an open place for it to have.
This routine is quite strict and needs to be followed for the best puppy growth. However, it is perfectly okay to give the puppy a treat at times. This needs to be different from its regular puppy food. In small amounts at times, it is great to break the monotony. Just make sure these foods you provide to the golden retriever puppy does not contain any harmful sweeteners or artificial additives
How much to feed a golden retriever puppy?
Setting a feeding schedule very early on and sticking to it is essential for this breed. Their tendency to overeat can cause weight issues as well as bloating or indigestion, neither of which is good for them. Following is a comprehensive schedule that owners, breeders, and dog shelters usually follow:
- 2 weeks old – The adorable little puppy will barely open its eyes at this age. It will be wobbly on its feet. It is entirely dependent on the mother’s milk for survival and nourishment.
- 3 weeks old – Still wholly dependent on mother’s milk, the puppy will be gaining more strength in its leg muscles. It will try and waddle around a bit more.
- 4 weeks old – At this age, the puppy will begin to get more energy. It will still be needing lots of rest. Offer it a mixture of 1/4th puppy food with 3/4th water and simply offer to the puppy. It is okay if the puppy is not interested in this at all.
- 5 weeks old – The mother will still be nursing the little fellow but less each day since the puppy begins getting milk teeth. It has to be offered puppy food. Let the puppy taste it occasionally although it will not be taking much anyway.
- 6 weeks old – This is the stage at which the puppy begins to show interest in puppy food besides mother’s milk. The amount of water in puppy food should be gradually decreased by this time.
- 7 weeks old – Some people prefer to completely wean puppies at this age to prepare them for their move. Others increase the percentage of puppy food so that the transition is easier. Even the mother is not very keen to feed their puppy all the time, in fact very rarely. It is the puppies who are found trailing their mother in hopes of getting some milk.
- 8 weeks old – Puppy is now ready to find its new home at this age. Ideally, it has been weaned from mother’s milk and begun on puppy food. It will eat very little at this age and even that needs to be spread over 3-4 meals.
- 9 weeks old – At this stage, the little fellow is just getting over his separation from his mates. It is enough to feed 1.5 cups a day spread over 3 meals. That is about all it needs to support its growth.
- 10 weeks old – An energetic bundle, this stage requires more calories to cope up with the amount burnt. It also needs to be enough to give your puppy the calories it needs to grow. 2 cups a day is the requirement at this stage.
- 11 weeks old – You have a playful puppy on your hands now. Besides taking its daily allowance of 2 cups, it will also try and eat anything left around the house. Keeping the floor free of items it can pick up and chew on is important. Also, one needs to be careful when outdoors.
- 12 weeks old – This is an active grown-up puppy we are talking about. It will be very active at this stage and needs high-calorie puppy food. As much as 2.5 cups a day of food in 2 meals is best for your puppy.
From this stage, your puppy is ready to make the transition to adult food in stages. This transition, like any other, has to be in increments and not sudden. But that begs another topic altogether own.
Given that golden retrievers love to eat, establishing a routine is very important. This will help instill discipline in dogs. A fixed place to eat, fixed timings and removing the feeding bowl after a fixed time helps to put in place a feeding routine.
Owners should be prepared to face some feeding problems with their golden retriever puppy during the initial stages. Some of these are as follows:
- Puppy not eating – It might be feeling unwell or have digestion problems. It might not like the kibble you are offering. Or it might simply want to skip a meal. If the problem persists, it is better to consult a vet.
- Allergic reaction – Sometimes puppies might experience an allergic reaction to certain foods. It is essential to change the offending food immediately. Consult a vet as needed.
- Bloating – A very common problem with puppies is bloating. Eating very fast is one of the traits of little puppies, especially golden retrievers. This condition can turn serious and needs immediate attention.
- Change of brand – Sometimes it might be necessary to change the brand of puppy food. Whatever be the reason, this change must never be abrupt. It has to be done in increments in order to allow the puppy to adjust.
Most popular puppy food brands for golden retrievers
Every dog is different and each owner will have their take on the best puppy food brands. By popularity charts, the following brands are some of the most used by golden retriever owners.
- Nom Nom Fresh Dog Food
- Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein Dry Puppy Food
- Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost Grain-Free Chicken Meal Large Breed Puppy Food.
- Ollie Dog Food Tasty Lamb Fare Recipe
- Diamond Naturals
Each of these brands ensures that your growing golden retriever gets the most balanced diet in terms of proteins, calcium, and other essential micronutrients. This is important to give them the sort of growth boost needed for a healthy life.
Foods to avoid for your golden retriever puppy
While on food schedules and correct composition, it is vital to know which foods to avoid. These are some foods golden retrievers should stay away from:
- Chocolate – Theobromine found in chocolate can be detrimental to dogs’ health.
- Avocado – Persin found in avocado can cause issues with diarrhea or vomiting in dogs.
- Xylitol – Found in candies and chewing gums, this chemical is to be avoided. Do not give your puppy items that contain sugar substitutes or baked products, as these may have xylitol.
- Grapes and raisins – To be strictly avoided as your puppy can develop kidney problems or even death on ingestion.
Besides these, your puppy should stay away from seeds, stones, and pips of any kind. Strong smelling onions and garlic must not be given.
Having a standard of reference to look out for helps puppy parents to understand how well their puppy is growing. They can adjust food and exercise routines accordingly in keeping with the general guidelines. For easy reference, here is a growth chart for golden retriever puppies:
|Age||Weight Average for Males (lbs)||Weight Average for Females (lbs)|
Remember that this chart is just an indicator that will guide owners. The weight mentioned is average and individual puppies will have a variance. As long as they go by the average, it is okay.
Growth patterns to watch out for
Like mentioned above, the numbers are just average values. There will be variance of course, and that is to be expected. This is not unusual and nothing to be worried about.
A lot of the growth pattern of a particular puppy depends upon its lineage. Born of big parents will produce big and healthy puppies that tend to top the average values. What is more important is to be aware of malnourishment or overgrowth in puppies. Either of these conditions is not desirable for various reasons.
Malnourished golden retriever puppy
If your puppy is falling way below the growth chart, this is a cause for worry. More so if you are feeding him properly with the right foods. This could indicate an underlying medical condition or worms (hookworm, ringworm, etc.). Vet consultation is advised to resolve these conditions, failing which the puppy might have serious problems as an adult. It might have weak bones and muscles as well as a compromised digestive system. In addition, it will have stunted growth and will be way below the average of healthy golden retrievers.
Overgrown golden retriever puppy
This is characterized by an overly fast rate of growth. Largely a case of overfeeding your puppy, it is not good for its health. Obesity in puppies leads to lots of health risks. Moreover, dogs find it very difficult to shed this extra weight. Overweight puppies or adult dogs suffer skeletal problems, hip dysplasia, and issues with their joints.
These are reasons enough for golden retriever owners to follow the feeding guidelines in order to keep their puppies at just the right weight.
How social is a golden retriever? Golden retrievers are extremely social and very intelligent. They assimilate instructions and routines very easily and are willing learners. They get along famously with children and adults alike.
What purposes is this breed used for besides pets? They were originally bred as bird dogs. Their keen sense of bonding and affection makes them very good service dogs for the blind. They are also very good as detection dogs for various agencies.
Are golden retrievers easy to have around? These dogs are a pleasure to have around the house. Shedding is considered average and not overwhelming. These dogs love their exercise and willingly join in for a swim or fetch.
Golden retrievers provide golden lifetime memories. Giving it a solid start in life is the owner’s responsibility.