I am answering a couple of Frequently Barked Questions about food today. The first part of the post is about the appetite of an adult Great Pyrenees and the second part will tell you about feeding puppies – they eat a lot more!
FBQ: Do Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, or Great Pyrenees, eat a lot?
Clowie: When we’re fully grown our appetite is quite modest for our size. As a rough guide, we usually eat about the same as a working Border Collie or an adult Labrador should eat.
We usually spend a large part of our day in a comfortable spot where we can see as much as possible of what is going on without needing to move. This means we don’t use as much energy as dogs that like to keep on the move all the time.
We are not generally greedy. Although you will find a few Pyrenean Mountain Dogs who like their food too much and have to watch their weight, you are more likely to encounter a Pyrenean Mountain Dog who is slightly fussy about his food.
I have days, especially in the hot weather, when I don’t want to eat at all and this is not unusual for my breed. It is nothing to worry about in a healthy adult if it’s a day here and there.
I like to have a light breakfast and eat more in the evening – my evening meal is about double my breakfast in size. I know that a number of my relations agree with me on this.
FBQ: How should I feed a Pyrenean Mountain Dog, or Great Pyrenees, puppy?
Clowie: The short answer to that is lots and lots of top quality food!
It isn’t surprising that we need a lot of food while we’re growing when you consider how fast we grow. I reached most of my adult height by the time I was six months old. It takes young humans more than a decade to grow that much.
From the time I went to live with my bipeds as a small puppy I had four meals a day, until I was six months old. Our vet said that it’s important to have frequent meals as our digestive system is working at its peak to process enough food to grow so rapidly. The size of my meals gradually increased during that time. Our vet advised allowing me to eat as much as I wished at mealtimes.
My appetite peaked at about five months of age. My bipeds made rude jokes about shovelling food in at one end and clearing up what came out at the other end!
When I was about six months old I began rejecting the second meal of the day, so my bipeds fed me three times a day. I ate a little more at each meal, but the quantity for the day had stopped increasing.
When I was about nine months old I lost interest in the second meal of the day and my bipeds changed to two meals a day. From then my appetite gradually decreased until I was about eighteen months old when it reached a steady level.
This may seem a strange way of doing things, but my bipeds were advised by a number of people with lots of experience of my breed that the best way was to allow me to decide how much I needed to eat and when to change the number of meals. This is because we mature and grow at different rates and have growth spurts needing extra food at different times. A rigid plan cannot cater for the differences between puppies. When it comes to food requirements, a Pyrenean Mountain Dog puppy knows best!
My bipeds weighed and measured me every week to keep an eye on my progress. When I was too heavy to lift and weigh at home they took me to the vet’s office every week to weigh me on the scales in his reception area. That meant lots of fuss for me from the receptionist and sometimes the vet had a spare moment and came to pet me! He would have a quick chat with my bipeds while he stroked me, he gave them reassurance that I was growing and progressing as I should.
Many brands of dog food have a special food for large breed puppies. Not only are the pieces larger so that we have to chew rather than gulp our food down, but attention is paid to the nutrients we need to grow healthily at the rate we do.
I’m not going to say very much about raw feeding – it’s a topic in its own right. I just wish to say that if you decide to go that route while your dog is a puppy then make sure you do your research thoroughly and take advice from people familiar with the breed. Dogs of different ages and sizes have different nutritional needs.
I have read some old books about my breed, written before commercial dog food was widely available. They included some eating plans for growing puppies created by experienced breeders. Each plan included supplements for strong bone growth and substantial amounts of top-quality meat such as best, lean, beef steak.
My bipeds said it was expensive keeping me in kibble while I was growing, but I think those juicy steaks would have cost them a lot more!
I’m sorry this post is a bit dry but, to paraphrase Forrest Gump, kibble is as kibble does. And I can assure you that kibble is dry!
See you next Wednesday!