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Feeding the wolf

Lovec on January 2, 2015.

Lovec on January 2, 2015.

I’ve received several questions lately about what to feed a wolf dog and what I do with Lovec considering his nice coat, lively eyes and muscular structure. The information in this blog post is applicable to pretty much every dog breed out there.

Well, before we begin, let’s set some facts straight. There’s a lot of misinformation about the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog out on the internetz. Wikipedia states that a female adult Czech wolfdog weighs about 20 kg (44 lbs) and a male weighs 26 kg (57 lbs). I have no idea what that author got that information from. As I write this, Lovec turned 11 months old a few days ago and he weighs about 36.5 kg (80.3 lbs). Let’s see his “weight development”:

4 months old: 16.7 kg (36.7 lbs) – 3 feedings a day
5 months old: 20.5 kg (45.1 lbs) – 3 feedings a day
6 months old: 24.1 kg (53.0 lbs) – 3 feedings a day
7 months old: 27.8 kg (61.2 lbs) – 3 feedings a day
8 months old: 31.1 kg (68.4 lbs) – 3 feedings a day
9 months old: 32.5 kg (71.5 lbs) – 2 feedings a day
10 months old: 34.8 kg (76.6 lbs) – 2 feedings a day
11 months old: 36,3 kg (79.9 lbs) – 2 feedings a day

As a “norm” you feed a puppy three times a day. There’s no exact rule when to taper down the feedings. With Lovec, I simply noticed that he lost a bit of his appetite and interest in food when he got about 8 months old. So I simply reduced the number of feedings to two and he started eating with enthusiasm again. At about 10 months old, he yet again started to lose interest – and this time in his first morning meal – while he devoured his evening meal. So I simply reduced the size of his morning meal and added to his evening meal. Now when he’s closing in on his first one year birthday, he’s losing interest in the morning meal again. So, I’ll probably start serving him only one meal a day (in the evening) – as you do with adult dogs. He’s maturing very fast for a wolf dog. But you got to go with the instincts and the genetics.

Also, keeping strict feeding rituals are very important. As I’ve written before, a dog need to feel that he has worked for his food. If your dog hasn’t finished his meal within 10 minutes, simply put away the bowl. And before you serve, make your dog sit and wait. Put down the bowl and wait for half a minute or a minute before giving him a command that he’s allowed to eat. This exercise simply strengthens your position as provider of food. This is extremely important for the pack hierarchy of the household. Never let food sit around.

What to feed your wolfdog

Lovec on December 31, 2014. Water is important when playing at the dog park.

Lovec on December 31, 2014. Water is important when playing at the dog park.

Since the day I got Lovec I fed him a strict BARF-diet. Pretty much what the kennel Od Úhoště did before I got him. BARF stands for “Bone and Raw Food” or “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food”, depending on who you ask. The BARF diet reflects what wolves eat in the wild. Wolves are primarily carnivores. They eat other animals and thereby consuming meat, organs, bones and even fur. They also eat the contents of their prey’s stomach and intestines, which contain pre-digested plants, seeds and sometimes vegetables. So, technically speaking, you could say that your wolfdog is an omnivore – meaning that he can eat meat, vegetables and fruits. But this is only true from a survival viewpoint. They can extract some energy from plant food (but very little nutrients) to survive short periods of time when hunting fails. The important thing is variety! If you only feed your wolfdog, or dog, one or two kind of foods (like an organ meat only or meat only diet) he will develop an imbalance that eventually will show up as skin problems, arthritis, eczema, kidney disease, heart disease, reduced eye sight or worse (cancer).

The bulk of your wolfdog’s diet should preferably be raw, meaty bones. Good examples are raw chicken backs and/or wings, lamb, beef, pork and marrow bones. If possible, a bone a day is a great way to keep your dogs nourished and their teeth clean. Generally, bones are readily available from your butcher and usually free of charge as the butcher has to pay to have them taken away. 
A small portion would ideally come from raw dairy and eggs, especially the nutrient-dense egg yolk. If you want to give your dog some vegetables (totally unnecessary, and it might hinder absorption of minerals). Make sure that you put them through a food processor or juicer, since a dog’s digestive system cannot break down the cellulose wall of the vegetables or plants. Considering fruits, make sure that it’s over-ripe. By serving fruit raw and over-ripe, digestive upsets are avoided.
Other foods may include plain yogurt and raw eggs (with the shell, which provides calcium). And in small amounts, organ meats (liver, kidneys, heart) and seafood such as fatty fish, herring and sardines. To summarize, raw meaty bones and raw meats should make up approximately 50 to 75 % of the diet. Organ meats can account for 10 to 15 %, which roughly translates to feeding organ meats once or twice a week. The rest may consist of yogurt and eggs, and the occasional rice/potatoes, fruit and raw veggies.

Lovec at 8 months, posing with his MUSH BARF frozen mix.

Lovec at 8 months, posing with his MUSH BARF frozen mix.

You can also buy frozen ready-made BARF mixes. This is what I primarily give to Lovec as a pup. These mixes usually have minced meat blended with organ meats, bones, some vegetables and added omega-3 and vitamin D. I usually keep these as a base and then add in different BARF-foods as mentioned above. This ensure me that he get everything he needs.
A lot of dog owners are afraid to give raw meat to their dogs, which of course is ridiculous. Canines have a very low gastric acidity (about PH 2, which kills most bacteria) and a much shorter digestive tract than humans, so there is less chance for infections. In the wild, wolves do not contract salmonella or other infections from eating raw kill. The acidic environment will also turn bones into ”jelly”. Simply put, their digestive system is proof that mother nature intended dogs to eat raw meat and bones (scavenge dead animals etc.) However, if you’re truly concerned with parasites you can boil your meat first – it will lose some vitamins, but will be totally safe. Another option is to rinse the meat with hot water and human grade 30 % hydrogen peroxide before serving raw meat. The peroxide can be used full strength or diluted, but be sure to rinse well with water afterwards.
A dog fed a good diet should have firm stools at least twice a day. When I fed Lovec three times a day, he pooped three to four times a day. Loose stools and gassiness are a sign of a bad diet (just as in humans).

Meal size and supplements


Typical BARF meal when Lovec was 23 weeks old. (veggies not blended due to photographic reasons)

Honestly, I’ve never weighted or measured Lovec’s food. I go by feel and by observing his body, his energy level and his weight on the scale. As a pup he got three feedings a day. I used a small 0.5 liter (17 US oz) bowl and it was almost full for all three feedings. When I transitioned to two meals a day I started using a 1 liter (34 US oz) bowl and they’re about half-full. I did weigh the bowl for fun, and at 10 months old he got about 300 to 400 grams (11 to 14 ounces) in the morning and 600 to 700 grams (21 to 28 ounces) in the evening. So, about 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of food daily.

Now, remember that we walk for 20 to 30 minutes in the morning and evening and he run around and plays with other dogs for 1 to 2 hours at the dog park 5 to 7 times a week. On top of that, we play and sometimes take additional walks – so he’s very active (as he should be as a high energy dog). In other words, he need quality nourishment and a high calorie diet to boost his growth as well as providing energy for all his activities. And don’t forget that the larger your dog gets, the more food he will need to sustain that weight.

During the age of 3 to 6 months I gave Lovec the following supplements:

Calcium and phosphor supplement (2:1 ratio) daily (for bone health and development)
Glucosamine supplement (for bone, joints and cartilage health and development)
Omega-3, 2 grams/capsules daily (for coat, cell function and general health)
Vitamin D3, 1000 IU daily (cell function, growth, bone health, energy levels)
Vitamin K2, 10 mcg daily (synergistic with Vit D3, bone health)
Coconut Oil virgin, 5 grams daily (immune system, energy levels)
BCAA, 5 grams with each meal (increase protein quality, maximize anabolism)

As of now, I give Lovec the following supplements:

Calcium and phosphor (2:1) supplement 3 to 4 times a week
Omega-3, 2 grams/capsules daily
Vitamin D3, 1500 IU daily
Vitamin K2, 10 mcg daily

Lovec at 9 months old with his favorite kibble from DogsFirst.

Lovec at 9 months old with his favorite kibble from DogsFirst.

I should also mention that I NEVER gave Lovec kibbles (dry food) as a young pup. At 8 months old I introduced some organic, grain- and GMO free kibble. However, it’s still only a small part of his diet. It’s more as a filler and added as extra variety. I also make sure that the kibble is ISO 9001 certified (human grade). A good brand is DogsFirst (Finland). http://dogsfirst.fi/
And never give your dog cheap kibbles with grains or corn in it – or canned dog food with a high water content or shady ingredients. That is abuse! If you can’t afford a BARF diet and a high quality kibble, you – in all honesty – should not own a dog.

That’s pretty much it. My best advice is to really learn to observe your dog. How does he approach food? Does he finish his food without interruptions? When Lovec started to lose interest, he would rather follow me than finishing his meal. Look at his body structure. Is he muscular? Grab his skin and massage his body. To thin? To fat? Just adjust his feedings according to your findings. And I truly believe that a pup should have a small healthy layer of fat. A pup should never be skinny! Let your dog grow and mature to its full potential. If he is a bit on the heavy side once he reaches adulthood you can slim him down. But don’t do it while he’s still a pup! A skinny pup is starving and you will hinder his overall growth (bone structure, muscle mass and coat). So, to summarize: simply adjust the amount of food as you go – but never let a young dog get skinny.

Please remember that these are my opinions based on my experiences with dogs during a span of more than 30 years. It’s your right to disagree and I won’t be offended. If you have questions, please post them below.

Thank you for visiting and reading. See you soon!


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