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  • Jenny Otterson

Let's talk about the "F" word....

"Is my dog FAT?" I seriously get this all the time! One of the most common things a family asks is "so-n-so said my dog is fat. What do you think?" And 99% of the time I giggle and say NO!

Make no mistake, there is a fine line between a FAT puppy and a healthy puppy. Like all things in life, the better care you give while something is developing, the better off it'll be when it is mature. This goes for any living thing.

The 'True' English Labrador breed is square, short, heavy coat, large bone and strong. Some have even compared the breed to a Bulldog with a similar stance.

The size of your mature dog will always go back to how your puppy was fed early in its life. There is an abundance of articles, websites, information at your vets office, about how to feed your puppy. Then I don't even know where to start with the number of dog foods on the market. How is anyone to decide how much to feed or what to feed?

Obviously we want to feed a dog food that is quality. Quality sourced proteins and ingredients. Then we should consider the calcium in dog foods. For the fast growing labs, we want to keep the calcium level to a minimum. Less than 2% calcium is very important.

Then we will get to the proteins and fats. Proteins can be from any meat source. Beef, chicken, salmon, lamb, turkey, bison or duck. One of these proteins should be the first ingredient on the list. You should never feed food with Corn or a grain as the first ingredient. While I don't recommend feeding grain-free diets, feeding a food that has corn as the highest ingredient is not a favorable choice in my book.

We want proteins people! Remember we are feeding DOGS! Dogs are carnivores. A good ratio of proteins to fat is 26/12 or 30/20.

Now, let's talk about the amount of food to feed. You can follow the feed ratio on the bag... You will not harm your puppy by doing so.

Or you cut your puppy back when your vet says "He's too fat"

BUT, more than likely, you will not get that heavy boned, square framed, dense coat English Labrador you see gracing the cover of the Labrador Quarterly or jogging across your TV at the great Westminster dog show.

With that said, you can make your puppy TOO FAT, and yes, this can cause major orthopedic issues. If you own a lab, you are hopefully aware of Dysplasia. Most commonly seen in Hips and Elbows of the Labrador.

There are so many (literally SO MANY) things that can result in hip or elbow dysplasia. Which might just need to be my next post BTW. But right now we are relating it to weight or food.

Remember talking about the calcium in your dog food? The lower the level, the better. This is why most breeders I know, feed an All-stages or Adult dog food. No puppy food, unless it is specifically formulated for fast growing Medium - Giant breeds. A lot of puppy foods contain a higher level of calcium than is necessary for the Lab breed. Too much calcium is not good for a growing puppy. The excessive calcium is stored in the body and is believed to cause osteophytes and early calcifications in joints. Thus leading to dysplasia.

We feed our puppies heavy until they are about 4 months old, then we will cut back to a structured feeding program. For example, our 4 month old puppies will weigh 40 lbs. Some more, some less, but 40 lbs is about average. According to the dog food bag, a 40lb puppy should be fed 2-2 1/4 cups per day. By 4 months old, we are feeding around 4 cups a day. Thats a big difference.

I need to stop before I start in on Orthopedic issues in Labradors. (which relate to food/weight) That'll be my next post.

Bottom line, feed your puppy if you expect it to grow into that blocky, heavy, strong Labrador you always dreamed of.

Im happy to answer questions if anyone has any.

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Jan 01

I am very interested in getting a Black Labrador puppy. My Lab passed away in August. My dog was a human remains detection dog. My first Black Lab that worked in the Pacific Theater locating missing US Marines from the Battle of Tarawa. My Black Lab Buster located a trench burial on Tarawa that contained 47 US Marines including Medal of Honor awardee, Lt. Alexander Bonnyman. You can go to and read the Bonnyman report.

When K9 Bosco worked with me we did historical work locating Chinese workers at the Cerro Gordo from around 1879. We have also have been locating burial sites from a old serial killer case 1950's on. As well as other cases. We want anot…

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