Are Dogs Really That Different

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Are Dogs Really That Different

by Kirsten Frisch

You are standing in front of a huge aisle of dog food. You just adopted a new puppy and you are wondering which food to get. The choices are overwhelming. Puppy food, small dog food, small bites, large breed puppy, large breed adult, active dog, senior small bites, senior large bites, adult maintenance, adult premium... Holy Cow! How do you know which one to get?

Are dogs really that different?

Yes, and no.

Dogs certainly come in all shapes and sizes. Ask any dog owner, and they can tell you with a detectives eye, the minute differences between their two nearly identical Westies. And that's just looks. Their will be an even greater discrepancy in their personalities. They are even fed different dog food.

So, here you are, new puppy in tow, reading labels. Percent protein, low fat, organic, omega 3, glucosamine. You close your eyes, grab a bag, and head off to the cashier.

As you stand in line, the person behind you starts to witness about her philosophies on dog food. She isn't talking to you directly, but you can hear her. You start to learn how terrible the brand of dog food is that you are in the process of buying. You sheepishly grab the food, the puppy, the receipt, and head out the door.

You look your new puppy in the eyes and exclaim "Mommy will buy you better food next time".

Guess what? You won't and you can't. It doesn't exist. The perfect dog food doesn't exist. Super premium, puppy food, large breed puppy...there is hardly a difference at all. Not only that, but protein level differences in dog food is hardly a percentage worth writing about, let alone making a dog food label out of it.

"But my friend has a large breed dog that is in physical therapy for eating too much protein as a puppy."

Did you know that people used to think the large mammals in the exhibitions at places like Sea World were smaller than their wild counterparts because they were kept in captivity? The truth about those captive whales and dolphins was they were receiving smaller amounts of food. This was done so the animals would have appetites during training and performances.

Less food intake means smaller body size. It was thought a hungry mammal would be more willing to work for fish. Todays performance mammals are the same size as their wild counterparts. It has also been discovered that performance animals do not work better when they are hungry. (you can read about this in Don't Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor)

What does this have to do with protein and my dog?

Large dogs that grow too fast are simply fed too much food. Even if you feed exactly as directed on the bag, it may have been too much food for your dog. Here's the catch. Your dog needs X amount of nutrients. He can only get X amount of nutrients if he gets X cups of food. But X cups of food might be too much for your particular dog. Presto, too much food equals growth issues. This problem has translated into a large breed puppy food marketing scheme. It is really just the same old dog food with more fillers.

Protein was never the issue, but getting the proper amount of nutrients is. This will always be the issue with commercial dog food.

What about puppy food?

Puppies do not have any special requirements for food after they are weaned from their mother. By 8 weeks of age, if they have properly formed teeth, they can eat dry and wet food. They need to eat more often than an adult, but that is about the only difference. Puppies do not need any special nutrients compared to their adult counterparts unless they have a medical issue.

Think of it this way. In the wild, after an animal is weaned, there isn't a special baby forest section where all the baby animals go to get their food. Once an animal is weaned from his mother, he eats what everyone else eats. How do we know this? The study of teeth and poop. Scientists have been using these two methods to determine what animals eat in the wild for years. Like it or not, domestic dogs have not evolved dramatically since domestication to warrant a special food mix for every breed or length of time spent on earth. (you can read more at

Kirsten Frisch has worked with sled dogs for over 10 years. She has handled dogs in Alaska for mid and long distance races such as the Copper Basin 300 and Yukon Quest 1000 mile race. Her background also includes Veterinary Technician, sled dog rescue and foster, dog trainer, and webmaster. You can learn more about Kirsten and sled dogs at and

Kirsten Frisch - EzineArticles Expert Author

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