Locavore Blog: Nutrition for Hunting Dogs

When we bought our property in Vermont, we knew it was time to get a dog. We wanted a dog that could help manage our property, keeping predators at bay and also act as a good hunting dog and great watch dog. We went back and forth between Labradors and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers before finally deciding that the Chesapeake Bay Retriever was a better fit for us (and our property), helping to fill the void between companion and protector.

Rouge, our new Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Rouge, our new Chesapeake Bay Retriever

We have an 11-acre pond filled with ducks, geese, and other waterfowl during the spring, summer, and fall, which means he will have plenty of swimming and retrieving practice as the weather continues to improve and more birds migrate our way. I’m also excited to try shed hunting at some point once he’s older and have a copy of Tom Dokken’s Advanced Retriever Training to use soon.

Only a puppy, but with the strength of a tiny tank.

Only a puppy, but with the strength of a tiny tank.

We named him Rouge after a river in Detroit. He’s all puppy, but also a LOT of puppy. You see, my childhood dogs were Scottish Terriers and quite a bit smaller than my current dog will be when he’s full size. In fact, Rouge is currently the size of a full size Scottie and he’s only 12 weeks old!

Nutrition for Hunting Dogs

Nutrition is important for a growing puppy – especially one who will be as big and strong as our new dog, Rouge. I picked Blue Buffalo Large Breed Puppy Chow as his base food since it is a wheat and corn free, high quality protein-based food geared towards large breed puppies. Eventually I may make my own, but with my limited time and his current growth spurt demands, I decided to start with a dry food made from good ingredients. We already use this brand for our cat and love how well it works for him and knew it was the brand we wanted to use for our dog. Along with the dry food base, we are supplementing Rouge’s food with the following:

  • Vitamin C for joint/hip health during fast puppy growth stages.
  • Glucosamine & Chondroitin for joint/hip health during fast puppy growth stages.
  • Organic virgin coconut oil, which is antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antifungal and a great medium-chain-fatty-acid.
  • Homemade bone stock for quality minerals and flavor.
  • Fresh meat (wild goose, local organic chicken, local grass fed beef) for additional protein.
  • Veggies (carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans) for additional vitamins and minerals.
Rouge's lunch on Tuesday.

Rouge’s lunch on Tuesday.

We are also using grain-free, gluten-free Merrick dog biscuits, Blue Buffalo turkey puppy bits, and Wagatha’s Wheat-Free biscuits (Vermont company! Bought at our local food co-op!) for rewards during his initial obedience training.

Rouge and our cat, Cole.

Rouge and our cat, Cole.


Blogs, Intro to Archery
Kristen Schmitt

About Kristen Schmitt

Kristen writes articles on hunting, wildlife, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and environmental issues and her articles have appeared in National Geographic, Modern Farmer, Deer & Deer Hunting, Food Politic, Mother Earth News, Modern Hunter, Utne Reader, Vermont’s Local Banquet, and Urban Times. Kristen and her family moved away from metropolitan Detroit and into the Green Mountains of Vermont for a realignment of priorities and a focus on family and sustainable living. A new bowhunter, Kristen recently completed a DVD entitled, “Beginner’s Guide To Archery For Women” that is now available for pre-order at http://beginnersguidetoarchery.vhx.tv/. She is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

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