The Best Puppy Food for Labs: Choosing Wisely

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It’s impossible not to fall in love with a Lab puppy. From brand new roly-poly little balls of cute with that new puppy smell to the older puppy stage when they’re all awkward, lanky legs, huge feet, and full of smooches happens so fast. (A lot like human pups.)

The fact that they grow so much faster than other breeds is precisely why you’ll have to do your homework when choosing the best food for your puppy.

Here’s a list of some of the best puppy food for Labs, carefully picked for the needs of your new ball of love:

In our opinion, the best dog food for Lab puppies should be designed to accommodate their unique physiological needs. It’s hard to get more accommodating than Royal Canin Health Nutrition. This food is specifically tailored for Labrador Puppies up to 15 months (which is usually when your vet would want you to start transitioning to adult large breed food). It has the balance of nutrition a Lab puppy needs to grow strong, happy, and healthy — all in good time.

The Best Puppy Foods for Labs Are:

ProductDetails
1. Royal Canin Health Nutrition

  • Dry kibble formula
  • Formulated for Labrador puppies 8-15 months
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2. Hills Science Puppy Formula

  • Chicken meal and oat, and lamb meal and brown rice varieties
  • Formulated specifically for large breed puppies up to 1 year
  • Dry kibble formula
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3. Blue Wilderness

  • Formulated for large-breed puppies
  • Dry kibble texture
  • Chicken flavor
  • Grain-free
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4. Instinct Raw Boost

  • Grain-free formula
  • Dry kibble/freeze-dried raw protein nuggets
  • Made for large-breed puppies
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5. Purina Pure Plan Focus

  • Intended for large breed puppies weighing 50+ pounds at adulthood
  • Dry kibble texture
  • Chicken and rice flavor
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6. Iams ProActive Health

  • Formulated for large-breed puppies that will be 50+ pounds at adulthood
  • Dry kibble consistency
  • Chicken flavor
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7. Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy

  • Dry kibble texture
  • Formulated for large-breed puppies with an expected weight of 55+ pounds in adulthood
  • Chicken flavor recipe
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1. Royal Canin Health Nutrition — Best Food for Labrador Puppy

This food is recommended by vets, trainers, breeders — pretty much anyone with professional knowledge of what your puppy should be eating. It’s hard to argue with that.

In all our digging, it’s the only non-prescription food we’ve been able to find formulated explicitly for Labrador puppies. It has the specific balance of phosphorus, fats, calcium, and vitamin D that Lab puppies require to avoid growth too early and too rapidly. This helps them avoid a myriad of health issues down the road, which we’ll go into more detail about later in this article.

Many owners reported their pups gobbled it down, but that’s not uncommon in Lab puppies. Not that it doesn’t taste good to them, but I’d be very suspicious of a dog food a Lab pup doesn’t gobble down. Just sayin’.

Specs

  • Dry kibble formula
  • Formulated for Labrador puppies 8-15 months

Pros

  • Contains taurine, lutein, and vitamins E and C for natural immune support
  • Prebiotics help maintain a healthy gut
  • Proper amounts of phosphorus, calcium, and proteins for healthy weight and growth
  • Kibble has a unique shape designed to slow down that eating machine and make him actually chew his food

Cons

  • Higher priced than many other foods
  • Some owners experienced inconsistencies between bags
  • Some pups experienced loose stools with this food
  • Limited flavor options

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2. Hills Science Puppy Formula

Hills Science dog foods adhere to a strict standard of quality when it comes to their ingredients and nutrient content, and it’s manufactured in the US, which means less time in transit and more time in your pantry, ensuring the quality of freshness.

Also, they keep a stable of nutritional science experts, veterinary professionals, and pet nutritionists to develop their blends carefully, ensuring the best quality. (Also, doing homework. I see a pattern emerging.)

Science Diet foods are often recommended by veterinarians. In fact, they make prescription-grade, therapeutic foods for pets that specialize in a number of common doggie ailments, including formulas for weight management, digestive care, skin and food sensitivities, urinary care, and kidney care.

Specs

  • Chicken meal and oat, and lamb meal and brown rice varieties
  • Formulated specifically for large breed puppies up to 1 year
  • Dry kibble formula

Pros

  • Contains controlled levels of phosphorus and calcium to accommodate healthy bone growth for large breed puppies
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin support strong muscles and joint health
  • Blend of antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin E support a healthy immune system
  • Ingredients contain zero artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

Cons

  • A few owners reported random bags smelled odd compared to others
  • Some Lab babies had a hard time chewing the kibble
  • A little pricey for some humans
  • Non-resealable bag compromises freshness

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3. Blue Wilderness

Blue Buffalo is a trusted name in pet foods of all kinds, and many swear by this brand for their Lab puppies. They have a unique feature added to their foods called LifeSource Bits®, which undergo a technique called “cold-formed” manufacturing, which minimizes the amount of heat the food is processed with.

This process preserves the nutrients in the bits that are specifically designed for the requirements of different life stages and specific health needs of your puppy.

An interesting bit of trivia: The Blue Wilderness company was named for a dog named Blue. He was loved by his family so much that when he began to have health problems, his humans got to work and designed the best dog food they could. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is.

***Note: This particular formula is grain-free, so consult your vet to see if this food is suitable for your puppy’s individual needs.

Specs

  • Formulated for large-breed puppies
  • Dry kibble texture
  • Chicken flavor
  • Grain-free

Pros

  • Deboned chicken, chicken meal, and turkey meal provide an excellent source of protein
  • Balanced levels of calcium and phosphorous build strong bones
  • Contains potatoes and sweet potatoes for their complex carbohydrates
  • Includes omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for a shiny coat and healthy skin
  • Contains carrots, blueberries, and cranberries for antioxidants

Cons

  • Some Lab pups had an upset tummy after eating this brand
  • Costs more than other brands
  • Grain-free formulas aren’t suitable for some large-breed dogs.

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4. Instinct Raw Boost

This food is unique because it contains a blend of kibble and nuggets of freeze-dried raw protein. It’s made and manufactured in the US with quality-sourced ingredients, and they take particular pride in creating a product that’s as raw-food-centric as possible. With minimal processing, uncooked protein, some owners swear by this food.

Raw Boost is a blend of kibble and raw foods protein, but they also make other varieties consisting of 100% freeze-dried raw meats suitable for grown dogs. You can either add them to the kibble you’re currently using or alone, but they make blends tailored to a host of issues, including mobility support (for your grown-up lab), immunity support, skin and coat health, and gut health.

***Note: This is a grain-free food, consult your veterinarian to make sure it’s suitable for your Lab baby.

Specs

  • Grain-free formula
  • Dry kibble/freeze-dried raw protein nuggets
  • Made for large-breed puppies

Pros

  • Corn, wheat, soy, and grain-free
  • No artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives
  • Cage-free chicken is the first ingredient, providing an ample source of clean protein
  • Owners reported their pups were in the clean-bowl club every time they ate.

Cons

  • Some vets don’t recommend grain-free formulas for Lab puppies.
  • Some baby Lab bellies didn’t digest it well.
  • Reported inconsistency in food from bag to bag

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5. Purina Pure Plan Focus

Purina brand food has been around for more than 85 years, and their track record for creating quality animal foods is pretty respectable. With all that time to research and develop foods for animals, and a fleet of scientists, vets, nutritionists, and animal behaviorists, you’re bound to get it right.

They’re particularly respected among breeders, you’ll see them sponsoring dog shows all over the world. In fact, 12 out of 13 winners of best-in-show at the Westminster dog show were fed a Purina diet.

They’re also a very socially conscientious company, giving back to communities during times of crisis. One of my favorites is the Purple Leash Project. The Purple Leash Project teamed up with an organization called RedRover with the purpose of raising funding for pet-friendly domestic violence shelters and the animal-lovers who need them. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Specs

  • Intended for large breed puppies weighing 50+ pounds at adulthood
  • Dry kibble texture
  • Chicken and rice flavor

Pros

  • Chicken is the first ingredient — a clean source of healthy protein
  • Omega fatty acids sourced from natural fish oils support vision and brain health, healthy skin and glossy coat
  • Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants contribute to overall health
  • Balanced levels of phosphorus and calcium tailored to the needs of large-breed puppies

Cons

  • Limited flavor options
  • Some puppies had tummy problems after eating this food.
  • Owners reported a sudden change in formula with no notification.
  • Some dogs reported an itchy, irritated skin allergy attributed to this food.

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6. Iams ProActive Health

The Iams brand is careful to select its formulas based on the specific needs of different kinds of dogs, and they’ve got a good reputation as a result.

This particular formula’s kibble is designed to help keep teeth clean and tartar-free — which is great, not only because it’s essential for them to have healthy teeth and gums, but because puppy breath isn’t always awesome. Especially if they’ve snuck a snack out of the cat box. Not that my dog did that or anything…

It’s soy and wheat-free, which is always a good thing for growing bodies, and it’s designed with a focus on lean muscle growth and joint health.

Specs

  • Formulated for large-breed puppies that will be 50+ pounds at adulthood
  • Dry kibble consistency
  • Chicken flavor

Pros

  • The inclusion of DHA and Omega 3 amino acids support brain development
  • Quality lean protein sourced from real chicken builds muscle
  • Contains calcium for strong, healthy joints
  • Omega-3 DHA for smarter, more trainable puppies
  • Immune System support provided by antioxidants

Cons

  • Limited flavor options
  • Some owners reported digestive problems after eating this food. (For their puppies. Not them.)
  • Some owners reported the kibble was too large for their pups.

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7. Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy

Eukanuba had included 30+ nutrients found in a Lab mama’s milk into their puppy food. That equals excellent nutrition for your pup, and it’s comforting to know for their humans.

Made in the US with high-quality ingredients, many vets recommend this particular food for large-breed puppies. It certainly helps that the #1 ingredient is chicken.

Eukanuba offers a 100% money-back guarantee for their foods. If your dog isn’t happy with it, you can send back the uneaten portion with your receipt and UPC code for a full refund. You need to call their 1-888 number first, but that’s not a problem if you’ve spent some serious moolah on food your Labbie can’t eat.

Specs

  • Dry kibble texture
  • Formulated for large-breed puppies with an expected weight of 55+ pounds in adulthood
  • Chicken flavor recipe

Pros

  • High-quality protein, calcium and phosphorous support for muscle growth and bone health
  • DHA supports healthy brain development for a more trainable puppy
  • Provides the fat and carbohydrate levels growing puppies need
  • Chicken is the number one ingredient!

Cons

  • Limited flavor options
  • Some owners reported the formula switched without warning, resulting in digestive upset in their little Labs.
  • Some owners reported it’s not a good value.

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Best Dog Food For Lab Puppies: A Buying Guide

When choosing a quality food for your puppy, there are a few things to look for that you’d want to see in any pet food:

  • Have they undergone AAFCO feeding trials? This means the company has actually fed their recipes to dogs to make sure they are up to quality standards before they put it on the shelves at the store.
  • Choose a pet food company that does its homework (See? Homework again.) by investing in scientific research when formulating their foods. They should at least be consulting with scientists, veterinary nutritionists, veterinarians, etc. Preferably, they should employ a team in-house to work on developing quality nutrition in their foods.
  • Choose food with no artificial ingredients, flavors, colors, preservatives, or fillers.
Lab puppies have a unique set of challenges when it comes to development, which is why it’s very important to pay attention to what you’re feeding him.

Here Are A Few Things To Understand When Choosing Food Specially Designed For Your Lab Puppy

  • If a Labrador puppy isn’t fed the right diet in the right amounts, it can result in a condition called developmental orthopedic disease, or (DOD). This disease plays host to a number of conditions affecting bone and joint development that can be quite painful, including osteochondritis dissecans, hip dysplasia, and elbow dysplasia, just to name a few.
  • Failure to feed your dog moderately can cause “overgrowth” in large-breed pups, including Lab puppies. Overgrowth not only contributes to the orthopedic problems mentioned above, but it also contributes to obesity in dogs as they get older.
  • Large-breed puppy food and regular puppy food are different from each other in a few ways. Lower levels of calcium, fat, and vitamin D help slow a Lab’s overgrowth. I know, I know — depriving a puppy of the fullest levels of all the vitamins and minerals you can get seems counterintuitive, but studies have linked higher levels of these ingredients to the specific health issues Labs have due to overgrowth.

So How Much Should I Feed My Puppy?

Here’s a quick rundown of how much they’ll need and how often they should eat:

  • 2 months or 15-18 lbs.7-9 oz. 4x per day, ~2 oz per feeding
  • 3 months or 24-26 lbs.9-11 oz.3x per day, ~3, 31/2 oz per feeding
  • 6 months or 50-60 lbs.12-16 oz.2 meals per day, ~6-8 oz per feeding

Some Other Helpful Bits:

  • Beginning somewhere around 11 weeks, your puppy will have an increasingly crazy appetite, because he’s entering the biggest period of growth. Expect him to constantly be trying to convince you he’s hungry. Begin to increase his food slightly but stick with a regular feeding schedule.
  • Puppies younger than this should not be fully weaned from their mothers, and really shouldn’t be adopted out yet. If you do happen to find yourself with a younger Lab, feeding should be closely monitored by a veterinarian or breeding professional.
  • Don’t allow your Lab puppy to graze throughout the day, it’s not healthy not only because you won’t be able to monitor how much they’re eating very well, but also they need to learn when it’s time to eat and when it isn’t!
A word on discipline: It’ll be soooo tempting to give them treats and feed them from the table, but for everyone’s sake, don’t do it. Treats should be saved for training purposes only. Table food isn’t good for them, and it teaches them that if they beg enough — you’ll cave.

Final Thoughts

Labrador Retrievers are a special breed, one of the most beloved in the US, and popular around the world. When you adopt a Lab puppy, you’re in for lots of cuddles, puppy kisses, and hilarious moments. (You may also be in for a lot of chewed shoes, but they’re worth it.)

Puppyhood is the most crucial stage in a Lab’s health. It’s a time when they need your nurturing, love, and discipline the most. It’s also a time to partner closely with your vet to determine what, when, and how your baby should be eating.

We’ve done a lot of research into the best dog food for Lab puppies that are available out there, and we’re confident when we say Royal Canin Health Nutrition Labrador Puppy Blend is the best food for your bundle of joy. It gives them all the specialized nutrition they’ll need to stay happy, healthy, and energetic enough for non-stop playing.

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