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Feeding Your Dog

Norwich Dog Training School – Feeding Your Dog

So much has been written about how dogs should be fed, and we would strongly recommend that anyone interested in researching this further should look up the B.A.R.F diet.

What dogs were born to eat 

Just think about this for a moment – for many thousands of years Canis Familiaris (the dog family) lived outside, not in warm cosy, centrally heated homes. They roughed it outside; hunted and scavenged for food and unlike the commercially available  ‘dog food’ that’s available today – it would not have been processed or had countless additives to improve the colour, texture smell or to give it the appeal of a longer shelf life- and most certainly wouldn’t have been wrapped in artificial packaging.

So if you accept this, then in the wild, there’s no such thing as puppy food; junior food; adult food; senior food; food for delicate tums; working dog food; show dog food and so on. Dogs in ‘the Real World’ would eat whatever they could catch or find….. So, by its very nature, dogs eating in the ‘real world’ in order to survive will undoubtedly experience a certain amount of variety – and no doubt some of the food scavenged at times would be bordering on putrid at times. This in its self is not necessarily a bad thing, as it helps to keep the animals gut alive in much in the same way as humans eat live yoghurt, Yakult, Actimel and other products….. So it could be argued, that we should ideally learn a little from mother nature, as to the way we should feed our dogs.

Young dogs, old dogs, active dogs, sedate dogs

In nature, the difference between a young dog, adult dog, old dog etc isn’t what they eat – it’s simply the quantity. A young or more active dog will have a bigger appetite than an older, more sedate animal. Just in the same way as humans who are manual workers or keen sports players have bigger appetites, than say a 95-year-old retired, pensioner. The more humans understand about diet and the science behind it, we can only but hope, the benefits will be passed on to our animals and will help contribute towards longer and healthier lives.

However, the caveat here is that picture is far more complex than just food – it is profoundly affected by (1) The quality of the food ingested (2) Our dogs need to live a healthy life style, since they evolved to be active, agile hunters and not couch potato life, so many dogs find themselves being forced to live today (3) Healthy dogs are never obese (4) They should be carefully and selectively bred to reduced genetic disorders in essence to mimic the natural world order of ‘survival of the fittest’. As it is plain to see with wild dogs – unhealthy animals rarely reproduce. The concerns facts here, that so many of the dogs bred in the UK fail on all 4 counts above – and this is where it all goes so horribly wrong for our companions.


I have personally seen a wolf in a reserve in the USA that was living a happy life at well over 24 years of age, and recently in Portugal, a pure bred ‘Rafeiro do Alentejo’ (not a small dog) was recorded to being well over 31 years of age (challenged by some). So from this we should be able to draw the conclusion, that dogs can, and should live for far longer than most dogs do in the UK.

A good friend of mine had a GSD that lived to decent age of 18 years and her daughter lived to 17 which is proof enough for me, that longevity and health are partially related to genetics. All of the Giant Schnauzers that I’ve owned for over 27 years with the exception of my first one (which was poisoned), died between 10 ½ and 12 ½ years of age with cancer. So it increasingly becoming clear, and accepted by some of the serious Schnauzer fanciers,  – that cancer is indeed serious genetic concern in many Giant Schnauzer lines.

Survival of the fittest

Of special note, so it is worth mentioning again – that for dogs in the wild; the nature versus nurture debate rules supreme. Only the fittest and healthiest animals survive to reproduction age, whereas in our domestic environment, sadly the opposite appears to rule. Very young animals are bred so often by people whose sole intent is to make as much money as possible, while the animals can physically produces pups – in simple terms ‘dog farming’. The breeding of young dogs, before any real health issues come to the surface (most develop in later life) can only but cause significant damage to a ‘breed’, as they pass on their poor health genes to future generations in ‘a race to the bottom…’

The early pioneers of many of today’s top working breeds, tried to follow the lead presented by mother nature herself in that, if the animals were not healthy; had poor temperaments or didn’t carry the right genes for the particular job they were selectively bred for – then the harsh reality of life back then was that the animal would be put to sleep or passed onto a pet home – with instructions that the animal should not be bred from. What commonly happens in the UK today is the total opposite – the vast number of dogs that are bred from are of a ‘poor pet quality’ – often having little true relationship to the ‘original breed’. A kind of ‘mass production’ of ‘pet quality animals’ which has resulted in the virtual destruction of many useful working breeds in just a few short years – but alas, the ‘dog farmers’ don’t care one jot, as long as they make some quick cash at the breeds expense; cashing in on the breeds perceived reputation or popularity.

What we feed

Our own dogs are fit, healthy and powerful – from our smallest to the largest. So I often get asked, what and how do I feed our dogs? The answer is not ‘rocket science’, it’s two meals a day with a rest bite of at least two hours, before being exercised to reduce the risk of stomach torsion. I feed ‘raw, raw, raw’ (meat) and have done so for the last 40 years plus. As dogs in the wild don’t eat kibble. My of dogs have all had excellent teeth with no visits to the vets for teeth cleaning (I closely associate teeth problems with pet food brands which tend to stick to dogs’ teeth like glue, causing discoloration and plaque). My dogs have vegetables mixed into the raw meat with one of the meals to includes raw chicken wings or a raw chicken carcass (the bones are soft). The chicken wings are there to provide a good source of calcium, beside giving the dogs jaws a mechanical work out. Sometimes I add eggs and their shells to the meal.

For supplements I add Salmon oil (rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids); seaweed powder (a good source for multivitamins, iodine etc); Yumove Working Dog tablets (excellent for joints, ligaments etc) and live yogurt to help keep my dogs’ guts healthy. Treats to amuse as and when, include Bonio biscuits, marrow bone biscuits, pigs’ ears, tripe sticks, paddywhack, muscle, dental chews etc.

Bone risks

Following an incident many years ago, when my male Giant Schnauzer crunched up and ate two raw marrow bones – and ‘got bunged up’ which was closely followed by a large vet bill, so I employed ‘active learning’ and no longer feed bones to my dogs. Similarly, I have heard many stories of woe from friends and clients, whose dogs have swallowed bones, requiring expensive veterinary treatment, and others where bones have damaged their dogs teeth.  

I hope you have have found this of some interest.