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Feeding the Leonberger
To the development of a beautiful, healthy leonberger, good genetic background and appropriate feeding are necessary. Leonbergers belong to the giant breeds, the adult male can be up to 80 cms at whithers, and 80-100 kg dogs are not rare. The develoment cycle of a giant breed dog is relatively slower, compared to a smaller breed, still in about 1 year the dog needs to build 80% of its skeleton (like a man), and the structure will further develop until the age of 2-2.5 or even 3 years.
When feeding our leonberger, the most important thing, in my opinion, is to ask our breeder's advice. The good breeder has experience with the development of such dogs, from puppies' births in their hands, to preparation for dog shows, and (s)he is willing to share the experiences with the new owners.
After studying international and domestic experiences and opinions, we can find two major directions in the topic of feeding the leonberger: feeding dogfood and feeding natural. There is a general agreement not to mix the two methods, but we can find people who feed dogfood and prepare food at home from time to time. We could have an endless debate which method is better - I'm far from being a judge here, I think everyone should decide which method to use, taking several factors into consideration (i.e. financial background, time, knowledge). I simply try to give an overview of the two methods with its advantages (disadvantages obviously are the negation of the advantages of the other method), and I try to show what Mador eats.
A method - Feed natural
Many people think all necessary ingredients can be found in nature for the appropriate development of the dogs, so cooking at home is enough. Let's be clear here, we do not talk about rest food in the kitchen and spicy human food but a diet based on natural ingredients, especially prepared for the dogs. By feeding natural, we can avoid preservatives, chemicals, colorings etc. thus illnesses can be avoided such as allergies, digestive and skin problems, ear troubles etc. When feeding natural, we keep the balance on a longer basis (i.e. weekly), not daily. It is very important to keep the balance on the long run between the basic ingredients: protein-carbohydrate-fat-vitamins-etc. For me, the most understandable and most exciting books/methods are the following:
Additional information and links: http://www.mador.hu/Marzipanenglishlinks#health
Another method - Feed dogfood and add supplements (Mador)
After years of experiments, dog food manufacturers offer a large variety of preprocessed food different in ingredients, size, color and taste. Top manufacturers offer food depending on the size: different food is offered for small, medium, large and lately giant breed dogs. Advantage of feeding preprocessed dog food is to have the right balance between the necessary basic ingredients (protein-carbohydrate-fat-vitamins-etc.) and we need no extra time to cook at home. Of course there are differences between different manufacturer's food, it is worth taking the time to consult the bags for ingredients, percentages, and ask other breeders, dog owners, show people, and follow-up of our own dog's development. In general, preprocessed dog food manufacturers advise not to give any supplements to the dogs, but breeder's experiences convince to the opposite.
Since I personally am afraid of not finding the right balance, we use dogfood plus supplements. In the following I summarize what Mador eats so you can have an overview as to how to feed a leonberger. In my opinion, there is no method for each dog, the owner should find the appropriate method for the dog, in accordance with the breeders.
1. Dog food: following Mador's breeders advices and experiences, we also fed Royal Canin, we used the Giant product family. Up to the age of 8 months Mador received Royal Canin Giant Puppy, then Giant Junior.
About at the age of Mador's 1 year, following the breeders' advice, we've switched to the ProPac petfood that contains less protein and more glucosamin. Mador receives ProPac Large Breed Puppy food (ingredients), and ProPac Lamb Meal and Rice formule (ingredients).
During the therapy work, we discovered the super premium dry food family Husse from Sweden, containing natural ingredients. Mador receives Husse Optimal elaborated for active medium and large breed dogs (description and ingredients). It's digestibility is 92%. It has a high energy and nutricion content, is rich in minerals, promotes a healthy stomach, strengthens immunity, gives a healthy, shiny coat and is tasty for the dogs. After a short period of time, I can already see that Mador's coat is really beautiful, and I don't have to beg him to eat.
Mussels Extract (Perna Canaliculus): excellent supplement for the
joints, development, we can avoid non-parallel front legs. Green mussels
are a good source for protein, minerals and chondroitin as well. We can
use several products, following the development of the stomac.
3. Bone powder (calcium phosphoricum, CaP): for the healthy development of bones and teeth. Phosphor is essential to keep calcium in.
An advice: supplements can be given to the dog using different methods. Unfortunately we hear of owners giving these tablets by force, thus creating an unpleasant experience every morning and evening: this is hard for the dog and for the owner alike. In Mador's case, I give him the supplements as a reward, he always has to 'work' for it (i.e. stay, sit, down). So we not only get forward with the dog training, but also we create a positive experience connected to the supplements, Mador can't wait to get them after his breakfast and dinner. What a difference!
Any method we use to feed our dog, it is very important to have fresh water in his bowl at all times! In summer, due to heat, and in winter, due to frost, change the water at least in the morning and in the evenings, even if there is water left!
Bon appétit, have a healthy dog!