Are Golden Retrievers Picky Eaters? 10 Causes and Solutions

[su_note note_color=”#eeef08″ text_color=”#000000″]Disclaimer: This article was reviewed and edited by a Vet, but it doesn’t replace your own vet. Please seek veterinary help if needed. [/su_note]

At first, when I got Luca, my now 2 years old Golden Retriever, he used to eat anything and everything, just whatever that he finds in his bowl, he’d scarf it down in a couple of minutes without hesitation.

But after a while I noticed how he started becoming picky towards food, he’d look at the bowl, smell it, then just act like nothing’s there.

And after a while, I found out that maybe some of the blame is on me, as I did some actions that unconsciously encouraged Luca to be more finicky with food.

So Are Golden Retrievers picky eaters? Golden retrievers are not picky eaters in general, but they are prone to become so. Golden retrievers may become more finicky with their food if they get too many snacks and treats, too little exercise, or their owners giving in to their picky attitude, or feeding them too much human food. 

If you noticed that your golden retriever is having picky and selective with food, here’s your guide to all the reasons for this behavior and how to alter it, so keep reading!

Are Golden Retrievers picky eaters? 

golden eating to answer are golden retrievers picky eaters or not

Golden Retrievers are a breed of pure love, whatever it is that you have to offer, they’d have it with love. They are not picky eaters by nature, but boy, they have it in them to become finicky with food.

That depends on you though, as an owner.

Golden Retrievers will initially eat anything and everything put in front of them because they are generally extremely food motivated and prone to obesity if not regulated, but they can certainly become fussy if you let them!

If you consistently offer your dog a variety of various types and textures of dog food, as well as too many treats or table scraps, this may have unintentionally made your Golden Retriever fussy and picky with what to eat!

10 Reasons why your golden retriever is a picky eater 

The majority of Golden Retrievers are likely to be extremely food driven and predisposed to weight gain or even obesity so they aren’t likely to become picky eaters.

 Because of their tremendous food drive, they are quickly trainable as pups and adults.

If you have a finicky Golden Retriever, the three most common causes are generally one or a mix of the following:

You’re Feeding your dog table leftovers or snacking excessively throughout the day.

If you catch yourself giving in to those puppy eyes staring at your food, be careful, sharing too much may encourage your golden retriever to become more finicky with his food and get attracted towards yours. 

Sharing food with your dog may appear to be a nice gesture, but it might cause more damage than good. Scraps might build up and fill them up by dinner.

It’s difficult to tell how much you’re providing them under the table. You might think it’s a small mouthful, but it’s a lot of food for a small dog. Scraps can also have foods that are dangerous on them. You can check the full list of human foods goldens should never eat here.

Your dog doesn’t get adequate physical activity.

Golden retrievers are very energetic dogs who require 1 to 2 hours of exercise every day. Lack of exercise may result in decreased energy expenditure and less hunger, a Golden Retriever with an unmet demand for exercise may be finicky and picky with food.

Your dog dislikes the texture or flavor of its particular brand of dog food.

Maybe it’s not the food itself, but its flavor of texture.

A Golden Retriever may dislike a particular brand or even the texture of dog food. Some people prefer the flavor of one brand over another. Alternatively, they may prefer wet to dry.

Perhaps some textures, such as softer textures, are not appealing to him, or perhaps he prefers frozen food textures or exactly the contrary.

You give in to your dog’s refusal of food too easily

Let’s face it, dogs, in general, tend to get used to what we do often, so if your dog displayed a picky attitude towards certain food and you gave in to that and switched it for him, this might be just the cue he needs to make it a habit and try his luck every time.

Your dog has a preferred time for eating

Did you know that dogs actually have a sense of time, their bodies are aware of timings and make connections between these timings and things like eating, playtime, going out for a walk ..etc. so maybe your dog is refusing to eat because he has a preferred time for eating. 

Your dog has Anxiety

Your dog’s appetite may get affected if he is anxious. Dogs, like humans, do not eat as much when they are nervous. 

So if there’s a celebration with fireworks, a storm raging outside, or if he’s feeling lonely being at home for long periods of time, you will notice that he’s not eating much.  If you suspect that your dog isn’t eating because of worry, spending extra time with them can help. 


Of Course, you wouldn’t expect your adult or senior dog to be as food-driven as he was when he was younger. Golden retrievers get less excited about food as they grow up so this one shouldn’t be concerning.

Your dog is suffering from Health Issue

It might be that your Golden Retriever is feeling a bit under the weather, Your dog might have parasites, diabetes, or thyroid issues. This is especially likely if he has suddenly become underweight and has been displaying other signs of sickness such as fatigue, a lack of desire to eat, or vomiting.

You need to switch recipes

Maybe it has nothing to do with the food, but how you cook it, so try to change a bit in how you make the food for your dog and see if he’d change his mind about it.

But also keep in mind that if you’re thinking of shaking things up, you should go with caution.

Your dog’s digestive troubles may be intensified by the new meal recipe, causing them to avoid eating for an even longer period of time. If you feel compelled to make a change, do it gradually, including a little at a time into their existing diet. Better yet, discuss it with your veterinarian first.

I have a few recipes you can check in my guide to the best golden retriever foods here where I cover the best dry, wet, and homemade foods for Goldens at every age plus treats and Ice cream, so make sure to check it out.

He sees treats as food

I get how important rewarding your dog for good behavior is, but do it cautiously – too many treats may get your dog to see them as actual food and prefer them over meals, And if you keep offering them in an attempt to persuade them to eat, you may be sending the wrong message. You’re teaching your dog that they can wait for something better.

11 Solutions to fix your golden’s picky eating habits 

Make sure he’s well

Golden Retrievers can refuse food due to pain or illness, maybe he’s having a stomach ache that made him lose appetite, so first thing, take him to the vet and do all the necessary tests to ensure he is well and healthy.

Stop Feeding him from your food

Human food may be calorie-dense and satisfying, and your Golden Retriever may become accustomed to receiving table “treats” throughout the day. It all adds up.

Because a Golden Retriever is significantly smaller than an adult person, they do not require the same calorie consumption as we do.

However, flavor is the primary motivator. Human food is more flavorful. So, if you give your Golden Retriever a choice between pizza, roast beef, or steak and dog food, he will choose the superior tasting alternative – our food.

The second issue with table feeding is that it teaches your dog that it is OK to eat with the family, which conditions the behavior, and you will find him waiting to dine with the family at mealtime in the future.

Exercise on a Daily Basis

Golden retrievers require a lot of exercise. Goldens are very energetic dogs that like all types of exercise. Physical activity, such as a walk or run, should be combined with play, such as pull and retrieve.

A fussy dog is frequently the result of a lack of activity. The dog isn’t hungry since it has been lying about all day and has a little appetite.

Don’t give out too many Snacks

To begin, snacks should not exceed one-third (or less) of the dog’s regular meal consumption. Second, the snacks should be as low in calories as possible, so choose low-calorie alternatives. Finally, cutting commercial snacks in half, thirds, or quarters reduces calories while letting your dog know that it isn’t real food that he should always expect.

your Golden Retriever will lower his consumption of food at meals if he is getting full-on snacks, as he may not be hungry for regular meals.

Create a Feeding Schedule with strict rules

Creating timelines for mealtimes will teach him when to expect food and for how long will it be available.

  • The majority of Golden Retrievers should be fed twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the late afternoon.
  • Set the food down for about 15 minutes, and if the dog does not eat, remove the food and discard it. 
  • If the dog hasn’t eaten after 15 minutes, he isn’t hungry or just expecting something better.
  • Removing the food teaches the dog that if he does not eat what is in front of him within a certain amount of time, he will have to wait until supper. 

When the only choice available is to consume its food within a certain duration or there will be nothing else until the next meal, your dog’s motivation changes.

If no table scraps are provided and snacks are kept to a minimum, the dog should have a more strong appetite for the following meal.

In contrast, leaving the food down frequently teaches the dog that food is available whenever he wants. This teaches your dog that if he doesn’t receive any better alternatives during the day, his food is always available.

It’s also worth noting that many dogs’ appetites improve after some activity, as more energy is expended, hunger grows. 

As a result, going for a walk or doing any activity before meals typically stimulates the appetite and make your dog more likely to eat his food. 

Use a Toy to Feed Meals

Feeding with a toy is intellectually engaging for your golden retriever and also guarantees that he does not devour food violently. It also strengthens their jaws and gives them the illusion that they are involved in a game.

Adding the kibble to a Kong toy and then freezing it is a fantastic approach that I discovered works like magic.

However, for this approach to be effective, you must first educate your dog to like the Kong. Begin by feeding it to your Golden Retriever with some loose kibble to teach it that the toy dispensing food. Once a dog has it, he or she typically enjoys eating from a chewing toy.

You can check the best toys for Goldens here.

Pour in some warm water.

If the food is too dry for the dog, moisten it with warm water. This softens the meal a little, make a little slurry, and releases the food scent, which attracts dogs.

You may also soak the meal overnight. A good kibble will soften somewhat while generating an often appetizing slurry mix, rather than becoming mushy.

Try Blending

If you’ve found that your dog likes a certain meal and eats it rapidly, try adding some and combining it with food; he’ll smell it in his bowl and devour it.

Experiment with Various Flavors

If you ate the same food at every meal, day after day, you’d probably become bored of it. A fussy Golden may be the same way.

Try rotating various types of dog food – Your fussy Golden may appreciate some variation in its meals. Alternatively, you may come upon one taste that fits the spot and may employ going ahead.

Then, when you discover something that your Golden Retriever likes, make a note of it and add it to the meal rotation.

Mix in wet food

Wet food is often more appealing to finicky eaters and elderly Golden Retrievers.

You can try purchasing three different wet food brands and combining them with dry food.

Select a High-Quality Dog Food Brand

Your Golden Retriever may just reject the food that is offered to it, particularly if it is a low-cost kind with a lot of fillers. Change brands, but make sure it’s high-quality dog food.

What to feed your picky golden retrievers? 4 foods they’ll love 

It’s always a good idea to try to make ends meet, meaning that you find food that is a high-quality protein-rich diet that is beneficial for your fluffy pouch, and at the same time something that your dog likes and you can stick to it, with a couple of tweaks every now and then to make sure he doesn’t get bored and refuses to eat.

If you need further guidance, here are my top choices for a well-balanced nutrition and a taste that my golden retriever absolutely loves.

Instinct Grain-Free Dog Food Topper, Healthy Cravings with Gravy Natural Wet Dog Food Topper

This variety pack includes the ideal assortment of natural dog food toppers or dog treats that offer a delightful flavor and diversity that small and large dogs enjoy.

Free of Grain, potato, maize, wheat, soy, carrageenan, artificial colors, or preservatives.

Comes in pouches that are handy and easy to open, making feeding quicker and easier than canned dog food. Natural nutrients and actual meat are used to assist healthy digestion, skin, and coat.

Grain-free wet dog food provides extra nourishment derived from natural ingredients to help dogs’ health from puppy to senior. made using natural ingredients.

It also comes in a pack of 12 and a pack of 24

You can choose a variety pack or a sole flavor pack.

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Grain-Free High Protein Kibble + Natural Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

This one ensures that your dog gets mixes a high protein, grain-free kibble with all-natural dried raw beef. 

It contains calcium and phosphorus for your dog’s healthy teeth and bones, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health.

Free of any traces of Grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, by-product meal, artificial colors, or preservatives.

It combines natural, high protein, grain-free dog food with dried raw dog food toppings.

It also contains Probiotics and omega-3 fatty acids.

Complete and balanced diet for small dogs ranging in age from puppy to senior.

Created with pure, natural nourishment derived from real meat and whole food components, protein-packed, and lightly processed.

 Stella & Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Raw Stella’s Super Beef Meal Mixers Grain-Free Dog Food Topper

Your dog will have a variety of flavors of Salmon & Cod, Turkey, Beef, Chicken, Duck, Lamb, Pork, Seafood.

It also has various sizes ranging from 3.5 ounces to 2.18 Pounds.

If your golden retriever is a finicky eater, this one is your ultimate go-to, Adding a scoop of this meal topper to dry food or kibble will offer a raw boost of nutrients and flavor.

all ingredients of this product are natural and lightly processed. Meal includes no additional hormones, antibiotics, cereals, peas, lentils, or potatoes.

This one saves tons of time and work since it needs no rehydration or preparation; you simply scoop, mix and serve.

Supports greater health for your pet with improved appetite and digestion, relief from allergies, glossy skin and coat, healthy teeth and gums, enhanced energy and stamina, and a healthy immune system.

Herbsmith Kibble Seasoning – Freeze Dried Beef – Dog Food Topper for Picky Eaters

Do you know how small touches can make a huge difference? This product is proof

It comes with flavors of Beef, Bone Broth Beef, Bone Broth: Chicken, Chicken, and Duck at a price of ​$11.00

This seasoning is produced from whole food items such as fruits and vegetables, as well as real, raw meat.

The Herbsmith Kibble Seasoning is freeze-dried which preserves the vital vitamins and minerals in each ingredient, resulting in a flavor-packed combination of delight for your picky retriever. 

It saves loads of time as you just add water and see it transform back into real, actual food.

Prioritizing the safety and health of your dog, It contains no additions, fillers, flavors, colors, preservatives, meat meals, or grains in this food seasoning.

When is picky eating a serious problem? 

Picky Eating is normally nothing to worry about, yet sometimes, you have to make sure your dog is well and healthy. 

Here are some situations in which you should seek expert assistance for your dog:

  • If your dog is still a puppy less than six months old, you should see your veterinarian if your dog has a major appetite change that lasts more than 12 to 24 hours and does not return to normal.
  • Changes in appetite in pets are accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea.
  • If your dog is diabetic.
  • Dogs (particularly elderly dogs) who appear to want to eat yet do not, or who will only eat soft food.
  • If the dog starts losing weight and becomes underweight for their age and sex.

You can find out if your golden retriever is too skinny here.

Why is your dog suddenly a picky eater? 

Your dog being a picky eater is not necessarily related to your dog’s personality; normally dogs become picky eaters due to their owners giving them too many treats, saying yes to leaving table scrapes. This not only increases the risk of obesity but can also foster picky behavior. Your dog avoids eating in the hopes of receiving more interesting food than what is already in the dish. 

Another reason that lies on the more worrisome side is that your dog may be suffering from digestive issues that may cause vomiting or diarrhea.

What is in your hands to do is cease giving your dog an excessive amount of snacks and treats to direct its focus on his meals, and visit the vet if it is a newly acquired behavior that you don’t know the reason behind.

What to give your dog to simulate their appetite? 

Typically, dogs who are picky eaters wouldn’t say no to food for long if you could alter this behavior with the right techniques, but if you even think of going the extra mile, here are some things to give your dog to stimulate their appetite:

  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • Acupuncture
  • Mirtazapine
  • Meclizine
  • Ghrelin Receptor Agonist

Should I take my dog’s food away if he doesn’t eat it? 

To train your dog that food isn’t available all the time, it is advised that you put his bowl and leave it for 15 – 20 minutes for him to sniff and eat, if you feel like your dog is not interested, you should remove the food bowl and wait for the next meal.

Sometimes it might take him a couple of days but when he’s hungry enough, he’ll eat.

if you are not the type of owner who showers their dogs with treats and snacks then your dog will learn and associate mealtime with eating no matter what’s in his bowl.

Related Questions 

Will a picky dog starve? 

No, a picky dog will not starve. Dogs, no matter how picky or fussy, are still food-oriented creatures that know they need food to survive, so even if your dog acts stubbornly fo a while, he’ll not starve.

Will my dog eventually eat his food? 

Yes, your dog will eventually eat his food; Dogs tend to leave their food as the last option hoping they’d had an option of something more interesting like some snacks, treats, or table scraps, if he doesn’t find any of these options, then he’ll eventually eat what’s in his plate. 

What do you do if your puppy won’t eat his food? 

For your puppy to heat his food, you can try mixing warm water with dry food, adding some meat-based baby food into meals,  or if you suspect dental issues or stomach pain then take him to the vet.

What helps a dog with a loss of appetite? 

To help a dog with lost appetite,  you can attempt warming food, adding toppings, seasoning, or just change around the eating schedules, each reason has its own solution, so by identifying the reason you can easily solve the issue.

Helpful Resources 

Signs and Symptoms of Dog Nutritional Deficiencies

Golden Retrievers for Dummies by Nona Kilgore Bauer

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting and being part of our vibrant community.

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