By Andrew Fischer
How much food should a Labrador eat?
One of the most common questions new Labrador owners have is “how much should I feed my new Labrador Retriever?”
Labradors usually weigh anything between 55 and 80 pounds (25-36 kg) and they really love to eat, so it’s essential you know how much to feed them, otherwise your pup may easily become overweight.
Labrador puppies, adults and senior dogs all have different dietary requirements. Let’s look at the dietary requirements of all these age groups.
How much should you feed a Labrador puppy?
This really depends on the food you are giving to your Labrador puppy as well as on its build. Some Labs are larger, others smaller and different dogs have different growth rates.
It’s recommended you use the recommended daily servings on the package of your puppy food. Many kibbles for Labrador puppies (that are expected to have around 32 kg when adult), have the following serving sizes:
6 months old Labrador – 450 g of kibbles
7 months old Labrador – 440 g of kibbles
8 months old Labrador – 430 g of kibbles
9 months old Labrador – 420 g of kibbles
10 months old Labrador – 410 g of kibbles
11 months old Labrador – 400 g of kibbles
12 months old Labrador – 380 g of kibbles
If your Labrador is expected to have only around 27 kg when adult, the following serving sizes of dry kibble apply:
6 months old Labrador – 420 g of kibbles
7 months old Labrador – 410 g of kibbles
8 months old Labrador – 390 g of kibbles
9 months old Labrador – 380 g of kibbles
10 months old Labrador – 360 g of kibbles
11 months old Labrador – 350 g of kibbles
12 months old Labrador – 340 g of kibbles
However, a broad guideline is that you shouldn’t see ribs showing through. If you see your dog’s ribs, he may be underweight. On the other hand, overweight Labs tend to have a thick and fatty neck and a rounder face. Another indication of overweight Labs is that when running your hands along the area of your dog’s rib cage you should be able to feel their ribs. If you cannot feel their ribs easily, your Lab may be overweight.
How often should I feed my Labrador puppy?
Labrador puppies should be nursed by their moms for the first 8 weeks of their life.
However, at around 6-7 weeks of age, a gradual weaning process may begin. The puppy should still receive mother’s milk until the 8th week of age, however, a softened food may be supplemented. Usually from the 6th week, three to four feedings of softened puppy food per day should be offered to your pup.
You want to introduce puppy food to your Labrador gradually to not upset his stomach. In order to do this, make a mixture of a puppy food and water. Weaning should be a very gradual process so only give the puppy a little to start to make sure he can digest it.
At the 8th week Labrador puppies should be fully weaned and start eating only special puppy food
8 to 12 weeks: Labrador puppies should be fed 4 times a day
Labradors are a rather large-sized breed so they mature slower. They are often considered for puppies even when they are 1 year old. For that reason it’s better to feed them with caution and give them puppy food even at 1 year of age. Make sure you switch to adult food only when they reach full maturity.
3 months – 6 months: Labrador puppies that are a bit older can be fed only three times a day.
At 6 months of age you can feed your Labrador puppy only twice a day
Remember, only put the food out for your puppy for 10 minutes at regular meal times. Remove the bowl after that time, even if the food wasn’t finished.
What food should you give to a Labrador puppy?
Food for Labrador puppies should contain calcium and phosphorus as these support healthy growth of their bones.
Omega fatty acids are essential for healthy skin and hair as they help to reduce shedding.
Labrador puppies also need a diet rich in antioxidants and protein, as these are necessary for a healthy muscle and bone growth.
Try to find a diet that doesn’t contain too much grains, as it makes them become overweight pretty fast. In general, a good quality diet for Labrador puppies should contain more protein than carbs.
Puppy food is high in nutrients because it’s intended for growing dogs. For that reason you don’t need to feed your puppy additional supplements. Too much vitamins and nutrients could cause more harm than good to your pup.
How much food should you give to an adult Labrador?
How much you feed your Labrador depends on his weight, activity levels, and metabolism.
Female Labs usually weigh from 25 to 32 kg, whilst male Labs have from 29 to 36 kg. If your Lab doesn’t fit into the average, there is no concern for you to worry yet. If the weight of your dog matches his build, height and size and if he doesn’t look overweight or underweight, everything is fine. Otherwise you should take action to help your dog get the correct healthy weight.
Serving sizes for adult Labradors in the table below should be taken only as general guidelines. Every dog has a different metabolism, health, build etc.
If your dog looks overweight, adjust the portion size accordingly. If he shows signs of being underweight, increase the portion size. Consult your vet if your dog cannot attain his ideal weight.
The indicative serving sizes in the table below only apply to dry kibble.
|Labrador Weight||Food weight (per day)|
40-50 pounds (18-23 kg)
50-60 pounds (23-27 kg)
60-70 pounds (27-32 kg)
70-80 pounds (32-36 kg)
80-90 pounds (36-41 kg)
As you can see from the table above, serving sizes change drastically based on the amount of activity your dog has throughout the day. It’s necessary you always adjust his food portions to reflect your dog’s metabolism and activity levels.
If you feed your dog a “Raw Dog Food Diet” (raw meat, fruits, veggies) you should feed him around 3% of his body weight in food at each meal. This guideline is valid only in case you feed your dog 7 times a week. If you feed them 14 times a week, then you should feed your dog around 1.5% of his body weight in food at each meal.
Unless your dog is very active or has some gastrointestinal disease, eating 4% of body weight or more is unusual and should be discussed with your vet.
The serving sizes in the table below only apply to a grain-free diet.
|Activity Level||Labrador Weight 55-66 lb (25-30 kg)||Labrador Weight 66-88 lb (30-40 kg)|
Low Activity Level
230 - 260 grams a day
280 - 360 grams a day
Medium Activity Level
250 - 290 grams a day
360 - 400 grams a day
High Activity Level
290 - 330 grams a day
400 - 430 grams a day
What food should you give to your adult Labrador?
Labradors are usually very active and have high energy demands. Therefore, the best food for them should be high in protein and complex carbs.
At least 25% of your Labrador’s daily food intake should consist of protein. The rest should consist mainly of complex carbs and fats. Complex carbohydrates may be found in beans, whole grains, vegetables etc.
How much food should you give to a pregnant / lactating Labrador?
Pregnant dogs need to eat a bit more than non-pregnant ones. Labrador gestation (pregnancy) period is around 63 days.
You don’t have to really feed your Lab more the first 30 days of her gestation period. However, from around the 5th week until your dog gives birth you should gradually increase the amount of food your give to her so that at the end (on the 63rd day) you feed her by 30% more than usually.
Nursing dogs need to eat even more food than pregnant dogs. Nursing dogs need 2-3 times their normal caloric need. Also make sure that your lactating dog always has plenty of water to drink so she can generate enough milk.
What food should you give to older Labradors?
Bigger dogs like Labradors are considered older at around 7 years of age, but their median longevity is about 12 years of age.
Older Labradors have different dietary needs from healthy strong adult Labradors. The metabolism of aging dogs slows down and they don’t burn calories as fast as they used to.
Specialized food for senior Labradors often includes turmeric, chondroitin, glucosamine, and vitamin C that promote joint health and easier mobility. Docosahexenoic Acid also often included because it supports a healthy vision and brain.
Older Labradors should be offered more fruits and vegetables, because they help prevent constipation, which is a common issue in older dogs.
Also, you should add some extra nutrients to your senior dog’s diet. Antioxidants, beta-carotene, omega fatty acids and gamma linolenic acid are all great boosters of your dog’s immune system and also help to improve the health of his skin.
How much food should you give to senior Labradors?
Senior Labs have lower calorie needs than strong healthy and active adult dogs. Older dogs have a slower metabolic rate and don’t move too much and therefore their energy requirements get lower.
You should feed your older Labrador fewer calories to help them prevent obesity. Most commercially sold senior dog food will contain lower calorie levels and a careful balance of all essential nutrients to support their ageing joints and weaker immune system. (1)
Labrador feeding tips
Feed your Labrador at regular times to discourage picky habits and begging. Also, don’t leave food in the bowl if it wasn’t eaten by your dog in the first 10 minutes after you served it.
If you’re giving your Lab treats for training during the day, you should adjust the amount of food you feed at regular mealtimes.
Some Labradors eat their whole bowl of food within seconds. Eating so fast isn’t healthy for dogs. Consider investing in a slow feeder dish to help your dog slow down their eating habits.