or Call: 250-442-5856

Canadian Elkhounds & Raw Food Diet For Your Elkound

Two Great Female Elkhounds On Raw Diet

Both Tora and Mia have been on a raw diet their entire life, and it's pretty hard to disagree with a raw diet by looking at these two females. They are both close to coming in here in this photo and are in magnificent shape. A raw diet we have found is one that is fairly easy to do, not as easy as dry of course, but for the most part easy to do. We want to go over what we feel are some benefits, and highlight our results with it, and share our experiences with feeding our Elkhounds raw. ( Raw means Uncooked in our definition - we never cook food for the dogs).

Elkhounds, like all dogs do the best on raw diets, of primarily meat protein, with no grains. All dogs have a very acidic digestive system that can metabolize meat-based protein very efficiently, and turn it to a super energy source.

Proteins don’t affect the blood sugars of your Elkhound like grain based carbohydrates can, and protein is the primary fuel for energy and is not stored as fat like carbohydrates would be.

A Lean Dog Is A Healthy Dog - A dog rarely will store much if any fat on a non grain based diet.

In order to supply all the nutrients required for healthy bones, skin and coat condition, fish is an excellent way to supply the Omega-3 essential fatty acids.

All types of meat like fresh chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and more are loaded with amino acids, vitamins and minerals that dogs require for building strong bones and maintaining active healthy immune systems. Some berries, some root vegetables, given free choice to your dogs with allow them to get a nice balance. All types of wild game are one of it not the best sources of meat for an Elkhound. Moose, Elk, Deer, wild boar, and so on, Geese, Duck, Rabbit, all of these provide excellent nutritional properties for your Elkhound, or any dog for that matter.

This photo is Tora and Mia taken around Halloween 2011

Grain is the major ingredient you should never feed your Elkhound

Corn and Wheat are the primary ingredients in processed dog food, these are linked to all sorts health problems for your Elkhound, the starch content is going to contribute to obesity as dogs have limitations on digesting these. It’s best not to feed any grains, this is an ancient breed, grains were not used in the diet of this breed, or for that matter most breeds for the entire history up until say 60 or 70 years ago.

Elkhounds are designed for a raw diet, when we put out a full half chicken for Takoda and watch him eat it’s fascinating. He’ll take that drumstick attached to the back and turn it into licorice in seconds. These dogs have powerful jaws designed for centuries to eat a raw diet.

*Never feed cooked bones - they become brittle* always feed raw, your dog will love it, his teeth will stay super clean, they can bite through most bones with little effort. We like to feed rib bones, however all bones are good. Don’t forget to feed the berries and allow your dog to get access to grasses and plant root areas, they will get certain nutrients they need from those as well. Our dogs will sit right up at the berry trees and eat just like a bear, we pick all the berries they can’t reach and freeze them for winter feeding.

This photo is of Tora and Mia taken in late December 2009

A Maintenance Ration Getting Ready

Maintenance rations for Elkhounds over 12 months of age are really easy to get together. Pups and Pregnant females need different rations, not much different, but a little, once a pup reaches 12 months of age you can use a maintenance ration with ease.

In our words, a maintenance ration has a variety of meat sources, this could include fish, such as in the photo we are cutting up some Mackerel, and it could include chicken, which is already in the bowl, we have beef that was already ground which we will add, and we picked a few of our organic apples off our tree, we put one or two of them in, and we have a carrot, and we might alternate with our other berries we pick, and we change the rations around each time. We would have only a small percentage of fibrous root items such as the carrot, and only a very small percentage of apple or berry, it's 98% meat.

We sometimes grind up our rations into patties, freeze the patties, then we can just grab a couple patties out at night for the morning ration and it's really easy to do. In this particular grind it was a higher content of fish as we were able to secure a source of Mackerel, you could easily use a ration with no fish one time, or with a different fish, such as Salmon, but for illustration I had the Mackerel, and so this picture is of that. I would grind the whole thing up, make some patties, almost like a base ball size. A softball size is great for Males, baseball size for females. I would then feed one baseball to the female each, morning and night, and a Softball to Takoda, or Jaegar, morning and night. Pretty simple really. Of course, I thaw them out somewhat, just so they are unfrozen, they sure don't need to be completely thawed. The patti can easily hang together, I have a small fridge, I take out what I need for each ratio and put it in that little fridge. It thaws just enough.

Your maintenance ration can vary, you could make up a ration that is made of wild game, or turkey and salmon, or pork and trout, or other fish, it really doesn't matter we find, as long as you can vary it, they like it. Keep in mind, my dogs don't like a high percentage of Mackerel, it tastes too strong or something for them, they like it in a ration sometimes, but not the main source, so Mackerel is not fed often or in high amounts around here. It's very rich.

Grind or Not To Grind

Put it this way, if you don't have a grinder, you don't really need one, but I sometimes just like to grind as it makes grabbing the patties easy. Grinding is excellent for the young pup as the ration can be mixed at the grinder, the bones are in, so you can use, any meat source, especially all the chicken and turkey bones, or pork bones etc.

But at the same time as for big dogs I always like to have complete carcass type elements that I mix in the feeding program from time to time, say a chicken back with leg attached. When and if I find a good deal on them, I buy a bunch, now with adult Elkhounds, you just take one of those (thaw it overnight) and throw it out, no cutting it, no grinding it, nothing, don't feed a patti that morning and just through out one of those. They will love it, gives them some chewing, they can bite through the bones on that in seconds, it will disappear before your eyes in seconds flat, but it is really good for them. So you sure don't need to grind up everything.

We sometimes see big bags of shoulder chops, and different cuts of meat on sale, sometimes the butcher will have a special cut or cuts he wants to get rid of, we take a big box, or a few bags of those, lots of times there is a lot of bone in them, the dogs love those. They can gnaw away at them, eventually most if not all the bone will be eaten, but sometimes they will play around with those bones for a long time after then have picked them clean. They are easy to feed as well.

Dogs don't have to have all sources of protein at one time, they can eat chicken for days, then beef for days, then Elk and so on, wouldn't bother them a bit, kinda like a wolf, they eat a Moose when they get one, they eat a rabbit when they get one, and so on. Wolves don't go kill a Moose, only eat a little Moose and then kill a rabbit to mix in, they eat Moose till it's gone. Elkhounds can function exactly the same, it's just easy for us to vary the diet for them.

Feeding a pup - 4 weeks and older

We introduce the pups to raw hamburger at the 4 week of age mark. This video shows Tora's 1st litter at 4 weeks of age and they are getting some ground raw beef.

From 4 weeks on they can begin eating meat, and we stay pretty much with one protein source for the first few weeks, they are still nursing some at this time as well, by the time they are weaning off, at the 6 to 7 week mark, the pups can begin to see a variety of meat.

By 8 weeks they can eat Beef, or Chicken, or some fish, basically we grind still at this age, by 12 weeks though, they can eat the meat in small chucks. You could easily feed squares of Beef, about 1/2 by 1/2 inch in size, no problems. They will chew away at them, and pretty much swallow those chucks easy. Grinding is simple though for a pup, it's not like you are grinding a big amount for a 12 week old pup.

As the pup is gaining in size from the 8 week mark, feed some larger, longer rib bones, they love to chew on these, they can't really eat them yet, so they carry them around, they gnaw away at the bones and you can keep putting out fresh bones as they get them all cleaned off. They don't need to be all rib bones, but just about any of the larger bones they can't eat, something they can chew away at.

Feeding chicken to pups. If the pup is under 6 months for the most part, we don't feed the bone of the chicken unless it's ground, after six months of age you can begin throwing out the wings if you like, they will be able to crunch them right up and eat them.

Feeding fish to pups.

If the pup is under 6 months for the most part we would feed Smelts whole, basically frozen or just slightly thawed. All other fish we will chunk it real small or grind. Grinding some fish, some chicken, some beef that sort of thing in a mix is still ideal for the little guys, with bones for them to chew. Grinding bone and all for the pups makes sure they get all the nutrient level they need from the bone. A full meal of Salmon or Smelts is pretty rich, just so you know, we most likely would mix, unless of course something wasn't thawed or what have you, but a full meal of Salmon will make your dog a bit loose in the stool. He can have some Salmon some beef, or some Smelts some beef, that sort of thing and it will keep the stool from getting so loose. That Salmon is rich, so they just end up with a loose stool, sure doesn't have any detrimental effect, just don't travel with them that day.

At 8 months of age an Elkhound is pretty good sized, lot's of our males are pretty big boys by then, they can eat pretty much anything you want to throw out, a pork chop, a rib bone with meat attached, chicken leg and back, they won't be having any trouble with that, same with the females. Frozen fish at this time is pretty much anything goes as well. I cut Salmon in chunks by this age, bones and all, other fish as well, it's no worries once they are at this stage, from here on it's easy.

Video is Tora's 2nd litter of 9 on raw

A Great Female, Tora, Fed Raw All The Time

You would be hard pressed to find a nicer Elkhound female than Tora, other than her sisters of course, or her daughters, all of them are beautiful dogs as well. Her coat has been magnificent from day one, her muscle development and stance is outstanding, her bone structure and density is really something. Tora was fed raw from day one, her Mother Mia has lived her life on raw, and Tora now raises all her pups on raw. Tora has nice big litters, and the pups grow fast. Tora is a big girl, she is 7 months old in this photo take late December of 2009. It is hard to argue with a raw program when you follow Tora around on this site and see what she is like, how she has developed, they pups she has and how they grow and develop.

Tora has big jaw power, she has the big muzzle of Takoda, she has the big strength to take the big drumsticks and turn them into liquorice, she takes rib bones and they simply disappear before your eyes, any of the Elkhound females can do the same thing. The coat isn't dry, it's nice and soft and supple, the teeth are white and clean. They have no odour, or bad breath or any of those things on raw.

A Great set of Pearly Whites on Takoda

You can brush the teeth on your dog if you like, me I prefer to just make sure they have all kinds of bones to chew on and eat. Marrow bones make great teeth cleaning bones, they chew away trying to get that marrow inside, and spend hours with those marrow bones. We don't boil or cook the marrow bones, they are all put out raw. (Once they are done cleaning them out, I pick those up and through them away. They get hard after they are dry, and there is no reason to leave them out, just let them clean them out and through away the bone after.)

Takoda is a picture of health, he has some really clean teeth, most anyone who walks up to his turf gets a real nice view of those babies, he likes to show them off, no problem. His coat is always in nice shape, he has the Swedish coat, top back saddle is black as can be, coat stays a little closer to him, not as fluffy as the Norwegian. In the summer he goes dark black, lightens up for fall.

Feeding a big fella like Takoda raw is well, a piece of cake, or should I say a piece of beef. Any of these big Elkhounds love to eat raw. Give them some variety, pretty much no grinding with a big fella like this, pretty much no cubing, no nothing, a big shoulder chop and he is happy. A few pieces of some fish, a carrot or an apple now and then, bones to chew, this boy is thinking, man this is the life. Around barbeque time I always buy the steaks with the bone, we cut the bone out for Takoda and Tora, and Mia. They see me taking the cover off the barbeque, they know, it's a big treat coming their way, nothing like a big fresh T-bone to chew on, or a big rib bone.

Raw is easier on the lawn

You can take your dog for walks and let them have access to areas to relieve themselves, but at some point they will urinate on the lawn. Well, I can say this much, it will be much easier on the lawn when fed raw than if they are fed processed food, that is for sure. Your lawn on raw will still have some yellowing happening, but no where near the nightmare yellow spots that you would have on processed. The ph in the urine or something like that is different, not 100% sure what it is, but I know it makes a big difference. The other area is with the crap. A dog on raw will have a crap that is way smaller, it will dry up in days and turn to powder, and basically then disappear, not like that gooey crap on processed. And raw will have way less smell, almost none existent.

You really see it with pups. Pups on raw the mother will clean after them for weeks, if you were to put her on processed, she would quit cleaning after them in 48 hours, by the time that pup crapped out processed milk basically she would stop. And cleaning up a mess in a kennel with a pup fed raw, that is no problem, hardly any smell, hard little crap, really nothing to it, not so with processed, yikes, that stinks, nobody wants to do that.

Make no mistake, dog crap and shoes are magnetic - they attract each other almost like nothing else in the world, so even if it's raw or processed crap, it still is magnetic for shoes, you will still step in either, it doesn't help with that at all, but the shoe is much easier to clean which has stepped in raw fed crap.

Raw fed dogs and digging

You should always have an area for your dog to be able to dig, even if it's just a spot to hide a bone, but if you ever have a place that they can hunt field mice and moles, well then you have it made. Tora is a field mouser extraordinaire. She can go out and come back with a mouse pretty much any day of the week and be back in 3 to 5 minutes. Takoda and Mia, they take bit longer, but they are efficient as well. I read a story once a long time ago, someone lost an Elkhound hundreds of miles from home. That Elkhound survived for over a year in the wild, finding it's own food. I totally believe that. I know Brett and Shelly they tell me Nika and Kari, they catch partridge, all types of birds, mice, you name it up in the Yukon same as these guys. Sure a mouse doesn't go far, but they have a fun time digging them up that is for sure.

It's pretty much impossible for the Robins to nest close to these guys, they can catch the little guys right out of the air as they are learning to fly, so the Robins have to be smart and keep the little fellas on trees just outside the pen, however the cats come by then, so the Robins like to be in the pen with Takoda, they at least know they won't get bothered by any cats, and it's better odds that they can get some of the babies flying even if they are in the same area with Tora, than out among the cats. The Robins around here have a fine line to walk, stay inside Takoda's pen so that cats don't get them, but teach the young Robins to fly, just over the fence.

I have planted over 400 trees in the last two years to help the Robins out, and I will still be able to let Takoda patrol for them to keep a pretty good eye out for cats, the odd weasel also comes by for the Robins in the nest, but if that Robin nest is in Takoda's pen, the weasel doesn't get that set, pretty much guaranteed.

Raw fed dogs, especially dogs with fresh bones all the time, well they pretty much have a constant exerciser in the Magpie and Crow. The Magpie loves to try to get the bone from the dogs, it will tease them and hop around trying to get close, Takoda he hates them, same with Mia and Tora. They can exercise each other for a good hour or more, at least a couple times a day, the Magpie will come in and play keep away with the dogs, it's really good short burst cardio training for the dogs, they have quick sprints and quick jumps up to see if they can catch that rascal, Magpies are pretty much impossible for them to catch though, so they are not subsisting on fresh Magpie that is for sure.

Increase The Feed When Working In Winter

You should increase the feed if you are working and conditioning your dog in the winter, it will develop that lean muscle mass, and the bone density that will serve them well into the older years. Increase the bone content, pork ribs are excellent, high fish content as well for that extra energy and overall just increase the ration. Our conditioning program is always in the winter, it's just easier to do, snow is deeper, the dogs love to work in the snow, they get more of a workout and it's a fun time. We always increase the ration in the winter anyway, but if we are conditioning them, we increase it even more. An Elkhound likes to sleep a fair bit in summer, they just get lazy, but in the winter there is no such thing as a lazy Elkhound. They are primed and ready to go any time, and all the time, this photo is at about -26 with a major windchill, it was bloody cold out, they were having a blast burning down our old trail behind us. Mia is the one on the side closest to me, she is pregnant in this photo, and is a real old powerhouse, she has tons of stamina, easily can come clean out of snow on every jump as deep as her back, she eats raw every day.

Elkhounds are happy and content for years

You will have some pretty happy dogs on raw food. They are excited to do things, happy and easy moving on raw, no stiffness and no legarthic behaviour. The coat is very nice year round, this photo of Takoda is his every day attire, we don't brush him all year, except in the spring, he has a better coat than groomed dogs I have seen. His eyes are nice and bright, he breathes easy, you couldn't hear him breathe, nor could you smell him, he could be laying right at your feet and you wouldn't know it.

Those are our experiences for the most part with feeding raw, we are very content with it, we know our dogs are, it's easy enough for pretty much anyone to do, and let's face it the Elkhound is one of the oldest breeds in the world, they were fed this all those thousands of years, why would we want to change what has worked for so long, and in our opinion still works exactly the same today. We are old World Breeders trying to keep all old traits alive and well, might as well keep the old feeding methods the same also.

Takoda - Male Elkhound - 4 Years Old

Elkhounds don't have to be entirely on raw

As many people are interested to know if you can add dry and raw at the same time, and you can. Jaegar has had rations of both, some days raw, some days dry, Ashten has had Jaegar with her for the most part at University, so there are lot's of times that it was just not suitable for Jaegar to have raw. We have used a couple different brands of processed food in this situation, Orijen and some Blue Buffalo, both are good quality with no grain, and as far as processed food goes, are some of the best in our opinion. We use Orijen here if we use dry.

As you can easily see, Jaegar is a magnificent big boy, only 11 months old in this photo, one of the nicest Elkhounds you'll ever see, this is a good dog. He is a son of Takoda. Jaegar is an urban Elkhound, but he is out with Takoda for the holidays, and he is getting some training, old school stuff he won't get or find in the big city. One thing about hanging around with Takoda, you get your instincts woke up, you don't quite look at strangers the same way after working with him, and you don't take every person for granted either, it's pretty good stuff for a young fella like Jaegar.

Jaegar can switch back to raw easily, doesn't bother him a bit, he just digs right in, he knows what this stuff is as he started out on raw, he really didn't switch to dry till he went with Ashten, so it's not like you have to feed just one way. If the situation is such that it sometimes is just tough to always have raw on hand and available, substituting with a good quality ration created with no grain and high quality ingredients is no real trouble until you can get things organized for raw.

Jaegar would get the Orijen puppy ration, fish and chicken 80-20 - you would feed puppy ration till a year or just over

Jaegar - Male Elkhound - 11 Months Old