Best Puppy Food for Labs 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

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Nutro Max Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food

Purchasing puppy food for a labrador can be more challenging than many people consider. There are so many brands of dog food available that’s it’s impossible to weigh the pros and cons of each brand, and many people have a lot of questions about the type of food they need.

We’ve assembled a list of ten popular brands of puppy food to review for you. We’ll tell you everything we like and don’t like about each brand, and we’ve included a buyer’s guide where we take an in-depth look at what makes a good puppy food for a Labrador.

Please continue reading for our detailed reviews of each kind of puppy food, and we’ll discuss ingredients, preservatives, and omega-3 fatty acids so you can make an informed purchase.

A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

ModelPriceSize AvailableEditor Rating
Hill's Science
Hills Science Diet(Best Overall)

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2 Sizes4.60/5
Chicken Soup
Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul(Best Value)

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4 Sizes4.50/5
Royal Canin
Royal Canin(Premium Choice)

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1 Size4.80/5
Purina Pro Plan
Purina Pro Plan

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6 Sizes4.35/5
Nutro Max
Nutro Max Dry Dog Food

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3 Sizes4.50/5

The 10 Best Puppy Foods for Labs

1. Hill’s Science Diet Dry Food – Best Overall

Hills Science Diet

The Hill’s Science Diet 9377 Dry Dog Food is a brand of puppy food specially formulated for large breeds. This food is enhanced with calcium and features minerals chosen to support healthy bones and teeth. It also contains DHA omega-3 fatty acids that help with brain and eye development as well as a host of other benefits.

We like that the package is resealable, which will help us keep the food fresher for longer, but they have recently gone to a smaller kibble that we don’t like as much as the old size.

Pros
  • Calcium enhanced
  • Balanced minerals for large puppies
  • DHA omega-3
  • Resealable package
Cons
  • Small kibble

2. Chicken Soup Dry Dog Food – Best Value

Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul

The Chicken Soup for The Soul 101016 Dry Dog Food is our pick or the best value, and we believe that if you give it a try, you will agree it’s best puppy food for labs for the money. This brand has chicken as a first ingredient, and it is calcium and phosphorus fortified. It also contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.

The only negative thing we can say is that half our puppies wouldn’t eat it for some reason, so we had to move on to another brand.

Pros
  • Chicken first ingredient
  • Omega-3 and Omega-6
  • Calcium and phosphorus
Cons
  • Some puppies don’t like it

3. Royal Canin Puppy Dry Food – Premium Choice

Royal Canin

The Royal Canin 418203 Puppy Dry Dog Food is our premium choice. This brand features DHA omega-3 fatty acids to help with brain and eye development. There are no chemical preservatives, and the kibbles use a shape optimized for a labrador mouth.

All of our puppies enjoy this food, but it is a little costly over the long haul, or if you have a large litter.

Pros
  • DHA omega-3
  • No chemical preservatives
  • Kibbles designed for labradors
Cons
  • Expensive

4. Purina Pro Plan Dry Puppy Food

Purina Pro Plan

The Purina Pro Plan 38100132642 Dry Puppy Food has chicken listed as its main ingredient. It also has a good supply of DHA Omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and phosphorus. There are also no chemical preservatives.

We didn’t like that this brand contains meat by-products as the first ingredient, and it also contains corn. Corn doesn’t digest well in some dogs and could cause discomfort for your pet.

Pros
  • Chicken main ingredient
  • No chemical preservatives
  • DHA Omega-3
Cons
  • Contains poultry byproduct
  • Contains corn

5. Nutro Max Puppy Dry Dog Food

Nutro Max Dry Dog Food

The Nutro Max 10146989 Puppy Dry Dog Food is a brand that doesn’t contain any meat by-product. There is also no corn, wheat, or soy to give your pet digestive trouble. This food has omega-3 fatty acids but leaves out the chemical preservatives. Nutro Max only uses tocopherols and other natural preservatives.

The thing we didn’t like about this food is that it contains peas, which are known to be bad for dogs. They also expire quickly, and a few of our puppies didn’t like them.

Pros
  • No meat byproduct
  • No corn
  • Omega-3
  • No chemical preservatives
Cons
  • Contains peas
  • Expires quickly
  • Some dogs don’t like them

6. Diamond Naturals Dry Dog Food

Diamond Naturals

Diamond Naturals 418117 Dry Dog Food is a well-known brand that features lamb as its main ingredient. It contains antioxidants in the form of blueberries, carrots, and other vegetables. It also contains Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of salmon oil.

While we were using this brand, some of our puppies didn’t like it, and it gave the others some foul-smelling gas and loose stools.

Pros
  • Lamb top ingredient
  • Antioxidants
  • Omega-3
Cons
  • Gas
  • Loose stools
  • Some dogs don’t like them

7. Wellness Core Natural Dry Dog Food

Wellness Core

The Wellness Core 88425 Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food features chicken as the main ingredient and has no grain or chemical preservatives. It features antioxidants in the form of carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables to help keep your pet healthy.

The biggest downside to this brand is that it contains a lot of peas, like many other grain-free dog foods. Peas are known to cause problems with your dog’s heart, so we try to avoid them whenever possible. This food also gave most of our dog’s very loose stools and diarrhea.

Pros
  • Grain-free
  • Chicken main ingredient
  • Antioxidants
Cons
  • Contains peas
  • Can cause diarrhea

8. Eukanuba Puppy Dry Dog Food

Eukanuba

Eukanuba 10150746 Puppy Dry Dog Food contains no chemical preservatives. It has chicken as the main ingredient, and it also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It has omega-3 fatty acids and includes prebiotics for a healthy digestive tract.

The downside with this brand is that it contains chicken by-products, and it also contains a lot of corn ingredients. Our puppies did eat it, but it gave them loose stools and diarrhea.

Pros
  • Chicken first ingredient
  • No chemical preservatives
  • Omega-3
Cons
  • Contains chicken by-product
  • Contains corn
  • Can cause diarrhea

9. NUTRO Wholesome Puppy Dry Dog Food

Nutro Core Dry Dog

The NUTRO 10157654 Wholesome Essentials Puppy Dry Dog Food is another brand of puppy food that features lamb as its top ingredient. Like many of the others, this brand has omega-3 fatty acids to help with brain and eye development. There are also no harmful chemical preservatives to worry about giving your pet.

What we didn’t like about this brand is the kibbles are inconsistent from bag to bag, almost as if you’re getting a different brand, or bought the wrong kind. There are also a lot of peas in this food, which can lead to heart problems if your dog eats them long term. Most of our puppies also got very loose stools and diarrhea from this food.

Pros
  • Lamb first ingredient
  • Omega-3
  • No chemical preservatives
Cons
  • Contains peas
  • Inconsistent
  • Can cause diarrhea

10. Diamond Dry Dog Food

Diamond

The Diamond 120_40_DPP Dry Dog Food is the final brand of dog food on our list. This food uses a unique puppy blend that contains DHA omega-3 fatty acids in the form of salmon oil and also has antioxidants to help boost your puppy’s immune system.

What we don’t like about this brand is that it has chicken by-products listed as its first ingredient, and corn listed as its second. We noticed that it has a terrible smell while we were using it that will transfer to your pets for an hour or two after they eat it. Several of our puppies wouldn’t eat it at all.

Pros
  • DHA omega-3
  • Special puppy blend
  • Antioxidants
Cons
  • Chicken by-products first ingredient
  • Contains corn
  • Bad smell
  • Some dogs don’t like

Buyer’s Guide

Let’s take a look at some critical things to look for when choosing a puppy food for a Labrador. Like most larger dogs, Labradors need a little extra consideration as a puppy to make sure it gets the nutrients it needs to build strong bones, a healthy brain, and a stable digestive tract.

Protein

Protein requirements are always high in puppies, and even more so in labradors. These powerful work dogs need large amounts of protein to build muscle and provide energy. Protein comes in the form of whole meats like lamb, beef, chicken, and bison. There are even some exotic brands that contain alligators and so forth, though we recommend keeping exotic meats for teats because alligator meat isn’t something a dog naturally eats.

Whole meat, like chicken or beef, should be the first ingredient. Especially at this delicate stage of your puppy’s life, you should steer clear, or at least minimize the use, of food that contains meat by-products or has the meat pushed down on the list of ingredients.

Calcium and Phosphorus

Calcium and phosphorus are a team of nutrients that build stronger bones at teeth. Finding puppy food that contains these nutrients is essential when raising a large dog like a labrador to ensure proper bone development. Tooth decay is also a significant issue with all breeds of dogs, and purchasing a food fortified with calcium and phosphorous will help safeguard your pet from that problem as well.

Antioxidants

Foods high in antioxidants will help your pet develop a stronger immune system. Antioxidants are especially important when your pet is young because some problems that develop now can carry with them throughout their life. Antioxidants are in foods that contain fruits and vegetables like blueberries, carrots, and broccoli.

Omega-3 and Omega-6

Another essential nutrient that your puppy requires is omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Often labeled as DHA, these acids help with brain and eye development. These acids also help with the heart and liver, they prevent cancer, and they will reduce arthritic inflammation later in life.

Omegas generally come in the form of fish oil fortification, or with salmon or other fish ingredients. The downside to omega fortified food is that it tends to smell more than other types of food.

Preservatives

The last thing we recommend you look for in your puppy food is the type of preservatives it uses. You don’t want to purchase food that uses the BHT or BHA chemical preservatives. These chemicals are prevalent even in human food, but they are harmful and we recommend avoiding them, especially in your puppy food.

Look for a preservative like tocopherols, which is a natural preservative. Others include Vitamin E and rosemary. You don’t need to know them all, as long as you stay away from BHT and BHA, you should be fine.

Other Criteria

Besides these critical ingredients, there will be a few other things to consider, as well. Some foods can smell bad, as we’ve mentioned. Some foods can give your puppies gas, loose stools, and even diarrhea. Gas and loose stools don’t mean it’s a portion of bad food, but you don’t want your puppy to have diarrhea because they can lose a lot of fluid and nutrients.

Some dogs don’t like certain brands of food, and the cost is a critical concern because you may go through quite a lot. Weight can also be a concern if you need to carry it far.

Conclusion

We hope that you had fun reading over these reviews and have learned something new from our buyer’s guide. If you’re still stuck, we recommend our choice for the best overall. The Hill’s Science Diet 9377 Dry Dog Food is for large puppies, it is calcium-fortified and contains omega-3 fatty acids. The Chicken Soup for The Soul 101016 Dry Dog Food is our pick for the best value, and it is also an excellent choice for most people that won’t hurt the wallet as much as some of the other foods.

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Featured image credit: Nutro Max Large Breed Puppy Dry Dog Food, Amazon