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Proper Weight & Feeding for Giant Breeds with Growth Issues.

by Circkles.com

Recently we've had several people asking about the proper weight and food for giant breed dogs like Mastiffs especially, since weight is always an issue with such large dogs. So, we decided this was a good opportunity to touch base on the proper feeding amounts, foods and weight for giant breeds at certain ages along their growth cycle.

Since mastiffs are most commonly of concern due to the fact that they have been known to have bone and skeletal abnormalities from growing too quickly or without the proper nutrition, we will use them as the base breed for this article.

The general rule of thumb when gaging the proper weight for any dog breed, or pet for that matter, is that if you can feel their ribs, but not see them, then they are about the proper weight. You want you puppy to be lean, but not showing his ribs, and not too chubby as he grows or he could develop skeletal problems at a very early age that will cause him major problems when he gets older.

English mastiffs are difficult to gauge the weight on. Because they are such a muscular, chunky breed to begin with, like English bulldogs, their weight varies greatly with pet owners. Some people have mastiffs that are greatly overweight but they don't look it due to their body structure; thus, their owners are not even aware their dogs are grossly overweight. Mastiffs tend to hide their excess weight well in all that loose skin and wrinkles they have, so they don't look overweight when they are as much as 50-70 lbs over what they should be. This excess weight can be hard on their body's skeletal structure, especially their back, hips and neck. Many Mastiffs have neck pain later in life due to their very heavy heads - which is why we strongly recommend giving your mastiff a pillow to rest their head on when they sleep. (Yes, they will use it, all of our mastiffs have seemed to really need and use a pillow to support their heavy head and neck while they sleep.) Some giant breed rescues and vets also recommend elevating your giant breed dogs food and water dishes to help relieve the stress on their neck. However, since they only eat or drink for about 10 seconds, we have found this is not as necessary as supplying them with a pillow to elevate their head all night while they sleep.

If your mastiff is reluctant to go for walks or do any kind of activity but lays around a great deal, it could be that they are very overweight rather than being lethargic due to any disease or illness.

Cause of Puppies Growing too Quickly:

There has been some controversy as of late regarding the reason some giant breed puppies may grow too fast thus causing their leg bones to grow too long or out of proportion with each other. For years, veterinarians claimed rapid bone growth was caused by too much protein, or high protein dog foods. The veterinarian profession is starting to recant on that claim and are now stating that rapid bone growth is being caused by commercial dog foods that are too high in minerals, specifically calcium. Almost all dog food manufacturers add bone meal and calcium supplements to their foods, thus causing puppies to grow bone too quickly and out of proportion leading to health problems. Veterinarians now highly recommend that large breed puppy owners only feed food specially formulated for giant breed puppies. Also, it is being said that raw food diets do not cause rapid bone growth problems since most people do not add calcium supplements to their dog's raw meals and since they are fed more closely to what nature intended, rapid growth is not an issue. We tend to agree with this as none of the puppies we have ever raised (including English Mastiff puppies) have ever experienced unusual bone growth on raw food diets.

English Mastiff Growth Chart:

This is a general rule of thumb by age. It is still best to use the "rib test" to gauge if your dog is over or under weight. You can find growth charts for many breeds online by doing a search for "proper weight for a (your breed)", or "Growth chart for (breed) puppies etc.

mastiff growth chart

Adjusting Your Pet's Weight Safely and Gauging Correct Feeding Amounts.

Crash diets are not a good idea for anybody as they can cause undue stress on the heart. There are a couple ways to safely adjust your dog's weight without adding any stress to their health.

The first is to put them on a strict feeding schedule. Your pet should be on a regular feeding schedule anyway, but if you allow your pet to free-feed (leave a dish of food for them to eat all day long) and they are overweight, it would be best to not leave a dish of food for them to snack on all day but to feed them one medium- sized meal in the morning, one medium-sized meal in the evening thus you are regulating how much they eat not them. Some animals eat out of boredom just like people. Or, if they smell it, they will eat it - kind of like people also.

Many giant breeds are susceptible to bloat, which can be a life-threatening stomach condition, so it is recommended by anyone who knows dog breeds well that you feed your giant breed small meals twice a day or even three times a day rather than one large meal because it is less likely to cause them bloat. This is best for any dog breed really, since any breed can succumb to bloat or a buildup of too much stomach acid from going too long between meals. Ideally, an adult dog should not go longer than 8 hours without food in their stomach and puppies need to eat every 3-4 hours until they are about 6 months old.

The second safe way to reduce your dog's weight it by giving them increasingly smaller proportions until they get to their desired weight then adjust their food amount accordingly. If your giant breed dog is eating 2 lbs of food a day, slowly decrease that amount by 1/4 lb every day for a month, then a 1/2 pound for a month, until they get down to their healthy weight. Then keep them on that ration to maintain that weight.

If your dog begs for food during either one of these procedures, just give them snacks (lean healthy snacks) to get them through until their stomach adjusts to the smaller amount of food. A great many dogs are addicted to their food routine or schedule and will eat at those times whether they are hungry or not just because they are in the habit of it (also just like humans.) So if your dog is waiting by his bowl at 7 pm every night because that is when he always gets fed, and you want him to go until 10 pm without eating, just give him something to drink or a very small portion of food to satisfy his habit. Mastiffs are very routine-oriented dogs, and just about everything is more about keeping to their routine and schedule than anything else. It can be difficult to break them of their bad habits, so the best thing is to not start any bad habits in the first place.

Weight Concerns: If your dog seems to be losing weight no matter how much you feed it, and always seems to be hungry or lacks an appetite, these could be a signs of cancer or stomach problems that should be checked out by your vet.

Below are some photos of what is considered to be proper weight mastiffs vs overweight mastiffs.

English Mastiffs at a Good Weight.

proper weight mastiff breeder dog English Mastiff at a good weight

Photos above: A mastiff breeder has to have their dog at the ideal weight, so this photo makes a very good gauge of the proper weight of a male English mastiff. The photo to the right is also a good weight for a male. Females should look similar.

Overweight Mastiffs:

overweight mastiff

This male mastiff is about 70 lbs overweight. He doesn't really look it, but when you compare his size to the photos above of ideal weight dogs, he is very overweight.

very overweight mastiff

Notice how the black mastiff in the photo above is standing; his back legs are not nice and straight, like his back legs are a little weak or can't hold up his massive weight compared to the other photos above where the back legs are nice and straight? This could be an early sign of hip problems or degenerative myelopathy. This dog is grossly overweight.

If your mastiff is somewhere in between the photos above, they could stand to lose a few pounds before it becomes a big problem. Some people get mastiffs because they like a "huge, tough-looking dog", but you are jeopardizing your dog's health by allowing their weight to get out of control just as if your weight is out of control. It is hard on their spine, neck and joints to carry around all that extra weight, not to mention the stress of all that weight when they are sleeping. It will shorten their lives as well as diminish their quality of life. The black mastiff above does not even look healthy or happy. He looks like he can barely stand, and he isn't standing straight like he should be.


Recipe for Dog Jerky.

By Circkles.com.

Making beef jerky is not as time-consuming as you would think; especially if you have a meat slicer. Beef jerky makes a very good lean snack or treat to help with the weight issues mentioned in the article above.

Make sure to get the leanest cut of meat you can, since fat does not dry anyway and can cause spoilage. Beef eye of round steak or eye round roast are usually very lean and make the best jerky, London broil can be used as well.


3 lbs hormone, antibiotic, preservative-free eye round roast or steak sliced no more than 1/16 inch thick.

Place strips of sliced beef in a food dehydrator or in the oven on racks for about 4-5 hours until it cracks when bent but does not break. Even though this is dried meat, it should be kept in a large jar with a lid in the refrigerator to be sure it doesn't spoil because there are no preservatives in it like commercial jerkies.

Beef jerky will clean your pet's teeth, keep their gums healthy and offer them protein and nutrients that they need without all the preservatives, fillers and potential toxins etc. If you only give your pet a couple jerky treats a day, 3 lbs of jerky will last quite a long time and it only takes about 15 minutes to prepare it. You dog will love it. Guaranteed.

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Allen M. Shoen, a veterinarian and author of "Kindred Spirit" wrote, "Although science has no definite answers, why not assume that sharing a home with a dog, cat or bird - or sharing our lives with a horse or other large animal - has therapeutic benefits that are deeper than simple stimulation of the opiate receptors in the skin through touch? Perhaps, through our connection with animals, we are stimulating some deeply buried aspect of nature within us, rekindling a lost connection that allows us to be more than solitary creatures, but part of something greater - and therefor, more healthy, more whole."

Much scientific and psychological research has proven just that. And also that the human animal bond is mutually beneficial under humane circumstances. Many great philosophers, such as Albert Einstein, recognized that we have a great deal of useful information to learn from animals.
In fact, animals are the great teachers, not us, for they have roamed the earth far longer than we and express genuine thought and expression true to their nature, which humans typically do not. We have a great deal to learn from them. Pet Circkles helps us stay more in touch with their health, diet and social needs so we can give back to those who give us so much in return.

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akbash dog breedFeatured DOG BREED: Akbash

The Akbash is uncommon as a companion dog. When trained appropriately from puppyhood on, they will get along with other domestic species. Since the Akbash has been bred to think on its own, dogs of this breed can be a challenge to train for obedience exercises. They have been bred not to chase their charges, so they tend not to be as interested in chasing balls or in games of fetch. They prefer large areas and may become discontent and exhibit problem behaviors, like escaping or being destructive, if relegated to a pen or small yard. Akbash Dogs require tall secure fencing for best containment. The Akbash is not a dog for everyone. It is a working breed and is happiest when given a job compatible to its breeding, or at the least, when kept mentally engaged. These dogs are known for their intelligence, bravery, independence and loyalty.

The Akbash has a smooth-short to medium-full white double coat (sometimes with light biscuit coloring at the ears). The dogs have long legs, a tail that curls and is frequently feathered, and pink skin blotched with black or blackish-brown under the white coat. Eye rims, nose and lips should be completely black or blackish-brown, but they may also be lighter, especially during cold winter months.

Akbash Dog genetics may derive from a combination of molosser and sighthound breeds since they possess characteristics of both types. Although there is a great deal of variation in size and height of individuals, Akbash Dogs have a reputation for being tall with long, strong, flexible bodies. They have loose skin around their necks to help protect them from predators during fights. Heads can range from medium to heavy, though medium is preferred. Purebred Akbash Dogs may or may not be born with rear double dewclaws. Lack of, or possession of rear double dewclaws in an Akbash is no indication of recent interbreeding with other livestock guardian breeds nor any other breeds.

The Akbash Dog is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) but is recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC) and by the FCI as of 2015.

Size: The Akbash is a large dog, weighing from 75 to 140 pounds (34 to 64 kg), averaging 90 pounds for the female, and 120 pounds for the male. Akbash dogs range from about 27 to 32 inches (69 to 81 cm) tall. The Akbash tends to be leaner than other Turkish livestock guardian dog breeds (Kangal and Anatolian Shepherd), and some Akbash dogs may also be taller.

Life Expectancy: Can be expected to live 10 to 11 years on average, with some living much longer

Health Concerns: In the Akbash, possible health problems include orthopedic problems such as hip dysplasia; epilepsy; a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy; and a common hormonal disorder called hypothyroidism. The breed may also be prone to gastric torsion and umbilical hernias. Not all of these conditions can be screened for, but many can. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Ask the breeder to show evidence that a puppy’s parents have OFA or PennHIP clearances for hip dysplasia and OFA heart and thyroid clearances. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.

Looking for an Akbash? Use our Pet finder tool below and search for an adoptable dog that needs a home in your area now.

To view breeds we've already written about, go to our Pet Circkles Club Page.


Pet Circkles Back Issues:
For Issues that go back further than 2015, see our Back Issues Index or use the Google Search above to search by topic.

January 2015: The Tao of Equus: One woman's transformation and healing through the horse. 5 Health Indicators You Should Always be Monitoring for Your Pet. Natural remedy for rain rot on horses, Boxers, Big Dogs Huge Paws Rescue and more.

February 2015: Guide horses. Best first pets for kids. Heartland Farm Animal Rescue, Apple Cider Vinegar for pets, Brittany Spaniel and more.

March 2015: Blister Beetles in hay can kill horses. Reasons for poor health in birds, Bull Terriers, Ferret Dreams Rescue, Scrappy's Story: One brave little ferret, and more.

April 2015: Before You Buy Another Flea Collar, You Should Read This. Natural Pet Remedies: Dry skin and irritations.Brachycephalic Syndrome. American Bulldog.

May 2015: Miniature Donkeys as Pets. Natural Pet Remedies: Proper way to clean a pet's ears. The Special Needs of Giant Breeds. Bullmastiff.

June 2015: Is Your Cat Food Killing Your Cat? Natural Pet Remedies: Loss of a friend. Preparing Pets to Fly. Cane Corso Breed.

July 2015: Is New NPDS Pet Dental Procedure Safe? Pet Bee Stings. New Stem Cell Therapy to Treat Canine Joint Disorders and Arthritis.Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

August 2015: Operation Bagdad Pups and The Healing Power of Pets in the Military. Chihuahua breed. Adopting a Barn Cat. Natural pet remedies.

September 2015: How Pets Evolved and How it Affects Their Health. Chinook dog breed. Natural Pet Remedies.

October 2015: Does Your Dog Howl to Music or Singing? Dog Breed: Chow Chow. Don’t Give up on Your Dog Just Because He's Getting old.

November 2015: Pumpkin is Good For Pets. Thanksgiving for Pets? Only if You Truly Give Them a Treat. Rough Collie.

December 2015: The Best Christmas Gift for Pets. Think Twice About This Popular Pet for Kids. Smooth Collie.


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