CRAFFENHEIM ROTTWEILERS: LARGE BREED PUPPY (ROTTWEILER) FEEDING SCHEDULE AND GUIDELINES:
**Please refer to our “Raising your Craffenheim Puppy” guide for additional information and guidance, as we discuss nutrition with regard to large breed puppies in some detail there.**
On collection, your puppy will already be on a solid diet of high quality, grain free and premium dry food – BUT will still have a last drink of his dam’s milk before leaving – even at 8 weeks old. Our puppies are NOT weaned by human hand. We allow the mother herself to wean her pups in her own time, and in the natural way. We introduce our pups to solid foods (the messiest job in the business) between 2.5 and 3 weeks old. The quantity of the mother’s milk is a factor here, as well as the size of the litter and more. Solid foods are just “snacks” in the beginning, because as we have mentioned before, we do not force wean any of our puppies, ever.
At Craffenheim we believe in allowing our litters to get the most benefit possible from the protection and sustenance their mother’s milk provides. Some bitches will wean their pups earlier than others. Most of our bitches are happy to allow the pups to drink from her for short periods until they leave. At Craffenheim we believe weaning should take place as naturally as possible, whilst still introducing the pups (in a positive manner) to the ‘solid food’ they will be feeding on for the rest of their lives.
Our puppies are fed 3 times daily.
Scheduled puppy meal times (solids) are as follows: (while with us)
- Breakfast between 6-7am
- Lunch is at 12:00
- Dinner is between 4-5pm
And yes, as mentioned above – they will still be drinking from their mother simultaneously until the mother weans them, in her OWN time). The NUMBER of meals in terms of solid food is as per international standard, the safest and most effective way to feed a puppy. Certain litters that I feel need additional feeding will receive a small additional meal at 22:00. But for the majority – it’s a pup breakfast, pup lunch and pup supper ‘deal’.
Large Breed puppies have VERY specific nutritional needs. This is a point that must be stressed repeatedly. For many years the belief was that large quantities of protein could cause ‘skeletal deformities’ in large and giant breed puppies. This myth has been debunked, and it is in fact the CALCIUM AND PHOSPHOROUS RATIO which is a cause for concern in the food of large breed pups.
Please read the following links for the scientific research, studies and opinion on this matter:
It is ESSENTIAL that a large breed puppy NOT be overfed. Leading specialist veterinary surgeons state that large breed puppies should be kept on the ‘lean’ side whilst growing. Excess weight puts incredible pressure on growing joints, ligaments, cartilage and the skeletal structure as a whole. Stick to the manufacturers guidelines re: amounts you should be feeding, and PLEASE remember to take ALL additional training treats into account when adding up your dog’s calorie intake. If you are using pellets as training motivation – this forms part of a meal. Overfeeding could also lead to an imbalance in terms of calcium/phosphorous ratios if you are feeding a variety of additional treats.
ALWAYS read the list of ingredients on the packaging of ANY dog food. Protein should always be first on the list. As an ethical breeder, my personal opinion is that pups should continue to be fed a Premium, grain free dry food – manufactured SPECIFICALLY for Large breed puppies. DO NOT allow you pup to eat your adult dog’s food. Whilst it is true that there are foods approved for ALL LIFE STAGES – the calorie count is lower than that of a food specifically for large breed puppies – which means your pup will need to be fed more, which COULD just affect the calcium/phosphorous ratio.
Studies (as seen by the links above) show that excess calcium can’t be effectively expelled by the body, so it deposits itself causing possible skeletal issues such as OCD and the sort.
NEVER ALLOW YOUR CRAFFENHEIM PUPPY TO ‘FREE FEED’ (food available 24/7)
PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOUR CRAFFENHEIM LARGE BREED PUPPY IS FED ACCORDING TO THE SAFEST NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND ALSO BY WHAT THE MANUFACTURER RECOMMENDS. WHEN IN DOUBT CONTACT YOUR VETERINARY SURGEON OR MYSELF (RETHA CRAFFORD) PERSONALLY. I AM AVAILABLE TO ADVISE YOU AT ANY STAGE OF YOUR PUP’S DEVELOPMENT.
Once your puppy is at home with you, DO NOT make changes to the frequency of feeding or feeding schedule OR the brand of food the puppy will be eating as a once off and drastic move. CONTINUE to feed the premium brand food your puppy has been sent home with (on collection from us, and included in Puppy Starter pack). If you are going to change brands – ensure you go about it in a safe manner which includes:
1. Gradually starting to MIX the new brand in with the old. At first, a ratio of 3 parts old, to 1 part new is a safe way to start. Do this for 3 days. Monitor the puppy’s toilet habits and general well being for 3 days – also take note of HOW the puppy reacts to the ‘new’ food in terms of ‘desire to eat it’. (Yes, your pup will know that something is different, even on this low change ratio).
2. After 3 days, increase the amount of the new brand mixed in. Half old food, half new food. Monitor your puppy’s toilet habits and general well being for 3 days once more.
3. If your puppy is having solid stools, no signs of nausea or is not refusing to eat the new food segment of the bowl, you can once more increase the new food to a ratio of 3/1 in favour of the new food. If your pup’s digestive system, general well being and desire to eat is 100%: you may after 2 days complete the transition to 100% new food.
4. IT IS ESSENTIAL that a pro-biotic such as ‘Protexin soluble’ (powder form) be given to the pup whilst this food transition is taking place. In fact, it can be given at any stage of the pup’s life to assist with any digestive issues and can quite simply be sprinkled over the food. It is a wonderful natural supplement to assist young puppies as their digestive systems mature.
5. IF you are changing to a premium brand that is very high in protein; monitor the dog’s toilet habits carefully, as high protein content might cause some stomach upset initially whilst the digestive system adjusts. IF the pup continues to have loose stool, perhaps a food lower in protein could be attempted.
6. If you believe your puppy has ANY sort of FOOD allergy – please seek veterinary advice immediately.
7. PLEASE SEEK VETERINARY ADVICE IMMEDIATELY IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR PUPPY’S DIGESTIVE SYSTEM IS UNDER STRAIN. In the case of a puppy it is far better to be safe than sorry.
SCHEDULED FEEDING TIMES:
When the puppy first arrives at its new home with you, PLEASE maintain the feeding schedule as followed by us at Craffenheim Rottweilers for the first 2 weeks. (If the puppy is to be left alone during the day for the first 2 weeks, please ask the assistance of a friend to come and feed the pup during the day – it is essential that the digestive system be given chance to adjust to new times, new foods etc)
1. Remember to distribute the ENTIRE calorie intake (meals) for a 24 hour period into THREE (3) meals. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
2. Breakfast is on waking – here at Craffenheim, that is early morning 6am – please try to feed your puppy as soon as he/she wakes. And remember to stop your puppy from being over active after his/her meal.
3. Lunch is usually at around 13:00. If you aren’t home to feed your puppy (see above) please ensure that the puppy is fed by a reliable and trustworthy person at this time daily.
4. Dinner takes place at 18:00.
5. IF your pup is showing signs of ‘serious hunger’ late in the evening – a few pellets should settle the stomach, do NOT give a full meal.
6. Here at Craffenheim, we start adding raw food to our pups’ dry food at about 4 weeks old – once I have ensured that all their teeth are out and I have personally observed that they can chew and swallow correctly. This ‘raw’ topping is usually chicken stomach.
Catering for and safely feeding a large breed puppy might seem intimidating, but the rules are actually quite simple.
1. Premium food
2. No FREE feeding
3. No excess weight
4. A safe calcium/phosphorous ratio
5. No activity after meals
6. A good probiotic
7. When in doubt about feeding or if you are uncertain of anything, contact Retha Crafford or your veterinarian
8. When your puppy refuses all food – please take him/her to a veterinarian, regardless of whether you have noticed loose stools or nausea – refusal of food in a young pup (when the pup usually eats with vigour and you have changed nothing in his/her diet) should always be taken seriously.
When your pup reaches the age of 12 weeks, it is safe to move to TWO (2) meals a day. (This is what I do with my personal pups) HOWEVER: Each pup is different and has a different metabolism. Some pups remain happy and sated on 2 meals a day, whilst others need to be replenished with a 3rd meal daily as they burn energy faster (high metabolism). It is essential that you monitor your pup and IF he/she is one with a fast metabolism, he/she must be fed THREE (3) times daily as he/she will lose weight and be extremely dissatisfied on TWO (2) meals a day.
Canine nutrition is a science on its own – and we advise our new Craffenheim owners to ask questions, do research and contact us at any stage with ANY nutritional concerns.
Foods we can confidently recommend for your Craffenheim Puppy include:
Orijen – Large Breed Puppy
Acana – Large Breed Puppy
Royal Canin (in our opinion the best of the rest) – breed specific Rottweiler
Meradog – Good value German food available in SA, with positive feedback (lower in protein and with more grain additives)
RAW feeding – using the best international practices and safety/nutritional standards
(For raw feeding advice and how to get started, please visit the RAW FEEDING link HERE)