Shepherds Rest Farm

Breeding New Anatolian Shepherd Import Lines - Direct From Turkey

Name:  Shepherds Rest Farm

Location:  Newberg, Oregon, United States

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Best Dog Food

What is the best dog food? Following puppy inquiries, that is the most frequently asked question for us here at Shepherds Rest Anatolians. While the answer involves research, and is a very individual matter, I will share some great information resources that I find very helpful. I will also share how I choose the dry dog food we feed to our Anatolian Shepherds. (The picture shows pinto Anatolians at Shepherds Rest: Kaptan and Tess sharing a bone.)

Every February, The Whole Dog Journal (WDJ),, publishes findings from their research and lists their choices of the best dry dog foods available. Their 2006 list, hot off the press, includes 48 approved dry dog foods. The section entitled "How To Select The Best Foods For Your Dog," in the book Livestock Protection Dogs - Selection, Care and Training by Orysia Dawydiak and David Sims (second edition published in 2004), also refers to the WDJ on how to choose a high-quality dog food. (The book is available for purchase through ASDI at

Using the WDJ selection criteria for approving and rejecting dry dog foods, I go through their approved dry dog foods list and choose what I think best fits the needs of my specific dogs. I look for specific whole meats (e.g., lamb, chicken, salmon, etc.) and specific animal meals (e.g., chicken meal), listed in the first to third ingredients. The animal source must be identified in the ingredient (reject "animal fat" or "meat meal" because the source is unidentified; accept "turkey meal," "fish meal," "chicken fat," etc.). I like to find whole grains as well as vegetables on the ingredient list, but the more "fragments" and "by-products" in the ingredient list, and the higher they appear on the list, the less desirable that dog food is. I do not choose dry dog foods that have meat or poultry by-products, sweeteners, preservatives, artificial colors, or artificial flavors listed in the ingredients.

Although the WDJ experts believe that the key to quality in dog food is the ingredient quality, they also believe a company's "ability to respond quickly and intelligently to consumer questions and concerns" is a reflection of their commitment to quality. Given the "largest mycotoxin-poisoning events . . . Nature's Recipe in 1995, Doane Pet Care in 1998, and Diamond in 2005," it pays to be careful choosing dry dog food. Especially choose with care the dry dog foods containing "corn, wheat, or barley" from "the highest-volume production facilities" where it is a challenge to inspect and test "each load of raw ingredients before the delivery is accepted at the manufacturing plant" (WDJ, Feb. 2006 issue, p. 4).

Commercial dog food has only been around for about 60 years. Dogs in the wild eat "live game . . . berries, fruits, roots, vegetables and carrion" (Dawydiak & Sims, p. 177). If you are not a canine nutrition expert or scientist, it may be hard to figure out the best raw food diet for your dog. You also may not be able to invest the money or the time to make sense of this diet. Many people, like us, will opt to feed a high-quality commercial dog food and supplement it with appropriate fresh raw foods.

After choosing the best dog food, what else can be done? Store your dry dog food in its original bag so that you have the date-code information, should there be a problem. Moisture, heat, or both can cause food to go bad. NEVER feed moldy or bad-smelling food to your dog. Also, know the signs of a bad food reaction: "vomiting, diarrhea, extreme lethargy, a yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (indicating liver damage), or any neurological symptoms" (WDJ, Feb. 2006 issue, p. 8). If you have any questions or concerns about symptoms, be safe and contact your veterinarian.

Keeping abreast of news in the dog food arena is important. I find that the WDJ's monthly publication often features articles that help me to keep abreast and to make educated choices regarding dog foods. Here are examples of two past articles. WDJ's Jan. 2006 issue features their "Approved Wet Dog Foods" list. Their Oct. 2005 issue has an article on coconut oil.

Happy dog food shopping! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Meet Kaptan, a pinto Anatolian Shepherd.

Kaptan is almost 5 months old and is in training as a livestock guard dog with goats. He is eager to show off what he's learned in obedience training, wanting everyone to know how smart he is! A lover of hugs, he always whines when people walk away from him. His bark is starting to sound like that of a large dog when something seems out of the ordinary. He likes fuzzy boots (not attached to humans), but is quick to walk away and apologize with his eyes when gently scolded. His socialization to people and dogs is excellent. His demeanor with the goats is submissive, but he still needs constant supervision when in the same pen as the goats. He's a puppy, and is learning he cannot play with even the small goats. He lives on the other side of the fence from his goats until he matures enough to be trusted alone with them. For the moment, he is happy to lick his charges through the fence and watch over them from his side of the fence. He loves the daily romping time with his sister, Tess, who lives separate from him, also in training with the goats. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sirin and friend

Sirin, seen here guarding her goats, is awaiting her ultrasound results later in the month. She was bred just before Christmas to Ballester's Rahman "Red," who lives in Florida. As she awaits the good news, she continues to watch over all the goings-on, including the torrential rains here in Oregon. She is happy she lives on a hillside, which does not flood. Although she can be under barn cover whenever she chooses, you will often find her at one of her favorite look-out spots, rain or shine, quietly scanning her environment. If all goes as planned, puppies will arrive in late February. Posted by Picasa