No such thing as a king among dog foods...rather approach it as a trial and error
I second that there is no such thing as a single "best dog food for labs." Rather it is a trial and error process. No two labs are alike, use energy in the same way, or have the same GI processing ability/sensitivity. My previous lab when a pup could eat 1.5-2 cups of food and had a lead lined stomach. My current pup has a furnace for a metabolism and consumes nearly twice the amount of calories at a relative equivalent of age and activity with severe stomach sensitivities. I may be new to the hunt arena but am a seasoned veteran in nutritional requirements (I hold a doctorate in pharmacology and use diet analysis in much of my work; note my research is never on/in dogs). I can say that even the dogfoodadvisor.com is a good start by by no means a true litmus test. For example, they rank dog foods based on the crude protein analysis with those that have high protein content rated excellent (e.g. Orijen) whereas dog foods with less protein and more carbohydrates (Merrick,etc.) are ranked lower but are not inferior diets. There is little science to report the claim that high protein equals superior food. In fact, recent research (published in Science) eludes to the fact that diets based on the mentality that dogs were once wild wolves is heavily flawed and the two have evolved into completely different species, with dogs having the evolutionary advantage to process carbohydrates. However, no one knows for sure what is right and wrong except you and your pup. My current lab puppy has been the most challenging dog yet with a complete intolerance to higher protein diets. Labs provide a test case in diet trial and error: you don't want a super charged food for a growing pup, they can be prone to allergies, and in a large breed pup their digestive tract takes awhile to mature and can lead to difficulties in proper absorption (i.e. loose stools), which for a working dog can be a big problem. What ultimately worked for my current dog was Annamaet Encore 25% and a homemade chicken, rice, spinach, apples, and carrot blend with supplemental raw goat milk for a probiotic boost. I cannot stress enough how in asking for the best food for your dog is akin to asking for the best food for your child, everyone is different. Furthermore, you also have to account for their particular taste preference. You could have the best dog food in the world but if your dog won't eat it, it is nothing more than a bag taking up space.
Take advantage of the fact that there are so many kinds of quality dog food. Although I would personally steer clear of any diet with corn in the top three ingredients.
Originally Posted by MikeB