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The breeding facility at Ringsides Kennel is an old barn that was once used as a chicken coop.  We have taken the barn and turned it into a mastiff coop now.  We insulated inside the walls and then finished the walls off with ply wood for durability.  The windows were shuttered off so the inside climate of the coop can be controlled for the dogs comfort.  We added ceiling fans, fresh water and cedar shavings for the dogs comfort too.  To separate the dogs for their privacy and safety, kennel fencing was added.  We can separate 6 dogs into private pens so that they can eat, sleep or relax without being disturbed. 


I have 6 mastiffs.  I show or have shown all of them and I am extremely proud of them and their physical condition.  With six dogs I’m not able to be with all of them all of the time.  I am able to be with a few of them through out the day as I work.  Since I can’t be with all six at once each day I have started feeding them twice a day, once at lunch time and the other at dinner.  I feed a raw/high protein based diet at lunch and a carbohydrate based diet at dinner.  I include fruits and vegetables at each feeding, depending upon the availability of the fruits and vegetables.  A typical lunch meal is:

        Three split chicken backs or one large turkey neck
        One pork kidney
        Chopped Carnitis (pork)
        A few ozs of pork fat trimmings
        Trimmed beef rib bone
        Four ozs of canned green beans with brine
        A cup of fresh cantaloupe
        A cup of sliced apples
        A cup of sliced pear
        A half of a cup of sliced cuccumber
        A half cup of grated mozzarella cheese
        A cup of baby carrots
        One vitamin C tablet, two fish oil tablets and
        one condroitin tablet                    

This meal provides the raw meat and bones the dogs need for their large bulk size.  The internal organs, supply fats and energy.  The fruits and vegetables help digestion and the cheese and pork fat for coat shine and health.  The vitamins are a nutritional supplement for bone and tissue development, correct hormone and blood levels.  This diet is fairly high in protein and I make sure that the dog’s blood work is in the normal/good ranges for thyroid, protein stones, pancreatitis, Ca, Mg and general over all nutritional blood work ranges.  I breed a dog once a year and I do this blood work on them when I’m checking on their progesterone and hormone levels.  I’ve also done all of the OFA testing that the mastiff breed club requires of mastiff breeders.  I don’t breed any dog that doesn’t pass any of these tests.  I am confident this diet has helped my dogs stay healthy and it helps maintains their correct weight.

My evening meal doesn’t include the raw meats. I do include some meat product for flavoring. I like to spoil them.  It is more carbohydrate/grain based.  Here is a typical evening feeding:

          Three cups cooked brown rice
          Four ozs of canned green beans with brine
          A cup of fresh squash
          A cup of fresh sweet potato
          A cup of fresh zucchini
          A half cup of low fat plain yogurt
          A cup of baby carrots
          A raw egg
          Pork fat trimmings
          Hot dog
          Pre-cooked chicken
         One vitamin C tablet, two fish oil tablets and
         one condroitin tablet                    

I’ve included a kibble label if you’re interested in looking at the ingredients.  This feeding gives the dogs grain/vegetable energy and yogurt/egg microbial supplements for digestion.  I have examined the feces of my dogs to make sure the food is being digested and so far the feces is small, dark and mostly free of undigested foods.  My cost per feeding per dog per day is a bit less than $3.00.  This feeding schedule allows me to see each dog twice daily.  I observe their speed of eating, their temperaments, their physical appearance and their over all well being.  I’ve been feeding this type of diet to my dogs for about 5 years now.  I’m constantly refining their diet as I garner more nutritional information.

When a bitch becomes pregnant we start a monitoring program until her delivery.  We try to use only Caesarian Section deliveries because of the uterine inertia that seems to plague mastiffs.  After puppy delivery we move the bitch into a separate room that is furnished with a bed and bathroom facility for us, along with her welping box.  We will spend 24 hours a day with the bitch for at least the next 3 weeks.  Even in a welping box with a welping railing the mother can some times roll over on a puppy.  If some one isn’t around to watch, the mother could easily hurt a puppy by laying on it, or stepping on it.  For the first 3 weeks the puppies are bottle fed along with their mothers milk.  Mastiff puppies grow so fast that the mother bitch some times can’t feed her puppies enough with her own milk.  We bottle feed the puppies with goat milk for the 3 weeks prior to weaning.  Usually after 3 weeks the puppies are ready to start the weaning process.  The weaning gruel is a mixture of Gerber baby rice cereal, goat milk, apple sauce and chicken broth.  The mother bitch still feeds with her milk, but is being allowed to have some time off to recover from the puppy’s nourishment demands.  The gruel is heated and fed in a Pyrex dish so all the puppies can slurp it up.  The puppies will stay on this gruel for about 2 weeks.  When the puppies are about 5 weeks old they will be moving around pretty good on their own power.  They will have sharp little teeth and their eyes are beginning to change color and focus on objects. 

At 5 weeks we move the puppies out to the dog coop.  They have their own heated and air conditioned (if needed) room out there.  It’s about the size of an apartment closet, small but big enough to allow the puppies to roam and sleep privately.  The mother bitch still feeds and plays with the puppies, but her sleeping time is being slowly taken away.  She gets to recover from the puppies that way and they get to learn how to be independent dogs. 

The puppies get their first set of shots at the 8 week mark.  They will also get a micro chip inserted into their shoulder.  We have used Home Again, which is a good micro chip, but this last litter between Archie and Bessie we switched to Bayer’s resQ chip.  From this point on the puppies are ready to be placed into good homes.  They have had a country life for a few weeks here at Ringsides and now it’s time for them to have their own family.

Recommended books on the raw/barf style diet:

Switching to Raw-A Fresh Food Diet for Dogs that makes Sense by Susan K. Johnson

The BARF Diet-Raw Feeding for Dogs & Cats Using Evolutionary Principles by Ian Billinghurst

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn and Susan Hubble Pitcairn

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