If we want to give our dogs a long and healthy life, we should pay attention to nutrition, which is essential in this regard. We do not want to preach here about what is and is not the right way of feeding, but we would like to show you the way that has worked for us and which we feed today.
We fed our first three Pyrenean mountain dogs primarily on croquettes. We always tried to choose the "better" ones, super premium ones, etc. Sometimes they got bones to taste, or other goodies that we were convinced were beneficial for them. It was like that until we get our fourth Pyr. We began to change our view on the way we were feeding. We fell in love with the shots of small hairy balls (puppies) fighting with a plate duck hearts. After comparing the condition at the same age with our previous dogs, the decision was made to give a chance to a raw diet.
We would define our feeding method as a combination of B.A.R.F. and primordial form of diet. We compile the feed ration out of muscle, bones, intestines and other components in proportions that vary in individuals depending on age, condition, health, activity and other factors. Initially, we were a little bit groping in this way of feeding, so we partially followed the well-meant advice from other breeders and owners, which unfortunately did not work out for us. This led us to contact Mrs. Langerová, a certified nutritional specialist for dogs (noran.cz). From the very beginning, we trusted her mainly because she is breeding and owning the same breed. We therefore assumed that her experience and knowledge about the breed will help to better understand the needs of our dogs. In the beginning, we measured each component of the portion to learn the amount by eye. On the fridge with meat we have placed tables with the exact rations for each dog we have. These tables serve us for basic orientation. For puppies in growth, we strictly follow the feed ration according to the table, we regularly discuss their condition with the nutritionist and we adjust the numbers based on key milestones at the time of growth. We precisely stop counting the feed ration +/- about their one year of age when the last calculation of the ration serves as a basis and we adjust this amount according to the needs of individuals and their condition. We feed adult dogs twice a day, puppies aged 2-4 months 3-4 times a day and from 6 months to about a year 3 times a day.
We take meat from various sources. Something from delivery, butchers, local shambles, neighbors or local farmers. Until recently, we were ordering venison, now we have the opportunity to take it from the local hunting association and soon we will be able to rely on lamb / mutton from our own production. We do not buy minced mixes and dog sausages. We tried it at first, but not only did it make us sick, but the dogs also turned up their noses. The discouraging moment was that we discovered things in these grinds that we did not want to discover. One never knows what gets into these mixtures, either by mistake or out of the manufacturer's ruthlessness towards dogs. It is often a matter of catching up with something with the vision of the highest possible profit for the lowest possible cost. For this reason, we only take whole cuts of meat. We do not feed chicken (muscle) unless we get to it from proven sources. Therefore, the feed ration of our dogs consists mainly of beef or venison. The bones are duck wings and necks, then turkey and goose necks, rabbit skeleton and heads. Guts are an important part. We serve a reasonable amount of unwashed / green tripe daily (you can read about their benefits on the noran.cz blog), beef liver and beef kidneys. We also serve fish. Unfortunately, our dogs did not appeal to any freshwater fish, so we buy marine fish. The most common are sardines and sprats. We often go to Norway for fishing and some of the catch which we bring we also feed to the dogs. In this case, it is mackerel, cod, monkfish and many others. Sometimes we add fruits and vegetables. These two components are not important in the dog's diet, after all, our dogs are not carried away by it, so we dare to say that our way of feeding is more inclined to the primordial form. Our dogs also regularly have large bones to munch like beef ribs, marrow bones, tail or pork legs. Other ingredients in the diet are oatmeal or bran, herbs, milk thistle oil, linseed oil and eggs. Once a week we take goat's and sheep's milk, whey or yoghurt from the farmers. All these other components belong more to B.A.R.F and are not an everyday part of our dogs' diet. When it comes to food supplements, we always try to find a more natural alternative and we reach for industrially produced supplements only when necessary and no other option is offered.
Sometimes we read that shepherd dogs in the past, during their work use, did not have the opportunity to eat this way. According to the books, raw meat was served rather rarely. The diet consisted largely of some kind of scrap, whey, goat's, sheep's milk, possibly what the dog caught, or leftovers from the shepherd. We should not ignore this fact. However, we should also be aware of the fact that most owners and breeders of these dogs no longer live in remote mountain areas and dogs are no longer tasked with guarding a herd of a hundred or more heads somewhere in the open area of the mountains (we don’t say that they do not exist). Most of us live either directly or close to civilization, and we are not forced to feed this way. After all, we think that this method of feeding resulted more from the limited possibilities, or rather the impossibility of feeding well than from the belief that it is right. From a purely natural point of view, the dog is still a beast. In nature, he would feed on what he catches. He wouldn't get any scrap, cooking leftovers and who knows what else. We do not like this way of feeding in any way, it is definitely not natural for dogs and if the situation does not force us to do so, we will not feed this way.
We are not extreme opponents of croquettes. We have croquettes at home and feed them only in case of "emergency". We have tried more brands, but the most sympathetic to us so far are those from REICO. This family-owned company from Bavaria emphasizes the mineral balance and high quality of the raw materials during production. From REICO we take not only croquettes, but also wet food in the form of cans, which we most often use when traveling with dogs. Other than croquettes and cans, this company also produces various herbal mixtures. You can read about individual products and production methods on the company's website HERE.
We do not force our way of feeding on anyone and we do not dare to insult other forms of feeding. It is everyone's personal choice, based on possibilities, knowledge and personal experience.
Beef cut, green beef tripe, sardines, chicken wings - primordial form
Venison, chicken wings, egg, freshwater fish, beef kidney, dried herb, fruit and vegetable mix - B.A.R.F.
Venison, beef liver, marine fish, beef tripe, chicken wings, lettuce, banana, blueberries, carrot - B.A.R.F
Duck wings, beef heart, green beef tripe, beef liver, sprats - primordial form
Beef cut, sardines, beef kidney, beef tail
Duck necks, beef tongue, beef heart, dried fruits and parsley - B.A.R.F.