Today we begin an ongoing series of educational posts on dog and cat breeds. We plan to explore the popular breeds, examining their origin, personality characteristics, health and fitness issues and the types of foods that they would have been exposed to when they first appeared in their native countries.
There are obviously many different dog and cat breeds as well as an almost limitless number of mixed breeds. We have been tracking about 150 dog breeds and almost 50 cat breeds, and continue to expand this list using resources like the American Kennel Club and Cat Fanciers Association.
We were curious about the relationship between a breed’s origin and the foods natively available to them. Dr. Ava Frick, DVM suggests that feeding a specific breed foods that were native to their origin makes sense, sort of like a hyper focused ‘paleo diet’ approach1.. The specific geographical location where a breed originated is important because it can give us clues about the types of foods that their ancestors ate, and that their bodies were accustomed to and thrived on over time. This information can give us insights into which of the commercially available foods are most appropriate for our own pet.
Two Reasons to Understand Your Pet’s Breed
1. Compatibility with Your Lifestyle If you are considering adding a pet to your family, you should be aware of not only the personality traits but also the potential health risks of any breed you might bring into your home. You want to find a breed that fits into your family lifestyle and atmosphere.
For example, if you are an active, outdoorsy family, then an active, sporting dog like a Retriever might be a good fit for you. Likewise, if you have a sedentary lifestyle or are away from home for long periods of time, an active dog that requires lots of mental and physical exercise like a Border Collie would probably not be a good fit for your lifestyle, no matter how cute those puppies are!
You should also consider the potential health risks of the breed before making your selection. If a breed is susceptible to certain restrictive or expensive health conditions, you should be aware of these and the potential impact that they can have on your budget and lifestyle.
2. Choosing the Best Food for your Pet’s Breed One of the most important responsibilities a pet owner has is to feed their pet the best diet they can afford. Nutrition is a key component in keeping your pet healthy. To help you understand what foods might be best suited for your breed, our breed research has identified ingredients that are closely matched to the food sources that were available in the country or region where they originated. We are working on a pet food recommendation tool which will help you quickly whittle down the list of pet foods to those that are appropriate based on this approach. We hope to release this tool early next year.
And don’t worry if you have a mixed breed, lots of us do! For mixes, just use your best guess of the primary breed and use that as the driver for origination, personality, and other traits. You can also try DNA testing – the results are often fascinating.
Our next post in the series will start with the U.S.’s most popular dog breed, the Labrador Retriever. Watch this space!
1. Building a Better Body Through Nutrition, Integrative Veterinary Education, Inc., E‐Training for Dogs, Inc. 2010
Getting to Know Your Favorite Breed: