Black and white Border Collie dog herding ducks on a grassy area

How Much Raw Dog Food For Sporting Dogs?

In terms of raw dog food for sporting dogs, is there an optimal diet?

And does it differ from my “regular” suggestions and raw dog food recipes if we want to cater to sporting and working dogs?

That’s a question from K9sOverCoffee newsletter reader Stacey. She does a lot of agility with her pup Peedy.

By the way, if you’d like to see a picture of Peedy and his sister Chloe, check out the “What Other Raw Feeders Are Saying” section on the K9sOverCoffee homepage.

Stacey was kind enough to share that picture and leave a testimonial. If you’d like to do the same, just email me at barbara@k9sovercoffee.com.

But back to the topic of best raw dog food for active and very active dogs.

That includes Marathon runners like:

But also Sprinters like agility dogs and lure course dogs.

So Stacey asked for my thoughts on this topic, and here they are.

How Much Raw Dog Food For Sporting Dogs & Working Dogs?

Out of the four featured pictures, one shows a kitchen counter with homemade raw dog food, one shows a herding dog guarding sheep, another one shows racing sled dogs and the last one shows an agility dog jumping through an obstacle ring.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.

But first, here’s a little more context to go along with Stacey’s sporting dog food question.

She explained that agility dogs like her Peedy run 28-34 seconds on average, 2 to 3 times a day for 3 consecutive days in a week when they’re competing.

She also said that agility is an extremely “treat” oriented sport for most dogs. And while Stacey treats with cooked meat, most exhibitors feed cheese sticks for convenience.

Additionally, she heard about carbohydrates offering quick bursts of energy, but has mixed feelings about that approach.

One, because she feels like feeding grain, fruit, pumpkin, and peanut butter-type treats will add weight.

Two, because she’s worried about yeast issues due to the starches in carbs. And those may defeat the purpose of having the dogs being at their best when performing. 

Let’s cover her questions and concerns one by one.

How Do You Raw-Feed An Athletic Dog?

So for starters, what should the best raw food for sports dogs consist of?

Well, it needs to consist of the same nutritional components that make up raw dog food for non-sporting dogs:

  • Fat
  • Carbs
  • Proteins
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Microminerals
  • Nutraceuticals

Except more than dogs who only exercise moderately!

That’s the quick answer, and no worries, I’ll provide more details here in a sec.

Now, fat, carbs and proteins are the main source of energy and calories for dogs.

But just as an FYI, carbs on the list does not mean that you have to add carbohydrates to your dog’s raw meals. That’s because protein is broken down into glucose (a carbohydrate) in the dog’s liver.

How Do You Treat A Sporting Dog?

Of course that doesn’t mean that you can’t treat your dog with quick energy carb-supplies before agility runs.

And I wouldn’t worry too much about weight gain because of how much exercise these dogs get.

But this approach only works for dogs who do well on grains and starchy plant matter like pumpkin and root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes).

Those who don’t because that stuff makes them itchy and scratchy are better off with animal-protein-based treats.

For example, Vital Essential Minnows and Vital Essential Mini Nibs.

You can read more about the Minnows here and about the Nibs here.

What Is The Best Fat & Protein for Working Dogs?

Now, besides being broken down into carbs, protein is also important for healthy, strong muscles.

That said, raw-fed dogs get the most energy from fattier animal protein sources.

For example:

  • Chicken with the skin on
  • Duck with the skin on
  • Goose meat
  • Lamb meat
  • Pork meat

Just as a side note, these meats also work great to help underweight dogs gain weight.

As far as healthy fats for active dogs, you can add raw eggs and oily fish as an Omega-3 fatty acid to your pup’s raw meals.

That includes chicken, duck and quail eggs (goose eggs too if you can source them), as well as sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon and trout.

More on raw fish for dogs here.

On that note, I found a great video that talks about “what do sled dogs eat” on YouTube:

Mushing Explained: What do sled dogs eat?

Glucosamine & Chondroitin For Sporting Dogs

Glucosamine and chondroitin are two neutraceuticals that are important for healthy dog joints. And they’re particularly important for dog athletes and their joints for obvious reasons.

That said, there’s no better and more bioavailable way of getting these into your dog’s body than by feeding raw meaty joint bones.

For example, wings, feet, and necks.

Those are naturally rich in cartilage, which are made up of chondroitin and glucosamine.

Can you think of a raw meaty bone that’s naturally rich in the components I listed below?

  • Fat
  • Chondroitin
  • Glucosamine

….

I’ll help you out – it’s a pig’s foot! You can read more about raw pig feet for dogs here.

Working Dog Raw Food: How Much To Feed Active Dogs

I already mentioned that very active dogs like sports dogs and working dogs need to eat more than non-dog-athletes.

Makes sense when you think about it, right?

After all, they burn a lot of calories during their workouts, regardless of whether that’s:

  • Pulling a sled
  • Chasing a lure
  • Running an agility course
  • Herding & guarding livestock

In terms of concrete raw feeding percentages, these very active dogs are fed between 3-4% of their target body weight.

If you’re new to raw feeding and aren’t familiar with those terms, here’s what it means.

Target body weight is your dog’s ideal body weight where they don’t need to lose or gain any weight.

And the percentages are the easiest way to calculate how much raw dog food your dog needs to eat per day.

Raw Dog Food Feeding Chart

Let me give you an example.

For a moderately active, adult dog who exercises about an hour every day, you can start to calculate their daily raw dog food allowance with 2%.

For active dogs who get around 2 hours of daily exercise, you can use 2.5%. That’s where my dog Wally fits in.

We alternate between going for walks with his:

Like I said, at this level of daily exercise, Wally does fine with being fed at a 2.5% maintenance percentage.

I rotate his protein sources between duck, goose, turkey, rabbit, pork, beef, goat, lamb, herring and mackerel.

For vigorously active dogs, use 3%, and for working dogs, use 3.5% for starters. Some dogs may even need 4%.

Now, the way you do the math is you divide your dog’s target body weight by 100, and then you multiply the result with the respective percentage.

That gives you the amount of raw dog food they eat per day.

So here’s an example for dogs who weigh 50 lbs, but who have differing daily exercise times:

Daily exercise & % Daily raw dog food amount
1 hour: 2% 16 oz
2 hours: 2.5% 20 oz
up to 4 hours: 3% 24 oz
more than 4 hours: 3.5% 28 oz

For more tables and math examples in raw feeding like the one above, check out my ebook below:

Working Dog Raw Food: How Often Do You Feed Dog Athletes?

There's no one right answer for this question.

One option is to feed two large meals per day.

Another option is to feed smaller meals throughout the day during breaks in-between "workouts".

When people are feeding large meals, they should wait 2-3 hours before exercising their dogs after mealtime.

For smaller in-between meals, waiting one hour is enough.

The reason for the downtime between meals and exercising is that it helps prevent bloat.

You can read more on bloat in dogs here.

How Much Raw Dog Food For Sporting Dogs: Bottom Line

So there you have it - the biggest difference in feeding sporting and working dogs raw food compared to moderately active dogs is the:

  • Amount of food they get: Remember, very active dogs need to eat between 3-4% of their target body weight per day.
  • Protein source: Fatty protein sources like chicken, duck, goose, lamb and pork offer the best energy supplies.

Also, don't forget to include Omega-3 fatty acids (eggs and oily fish) for healthy fats and coat health, as well as chondroitin & glucosamine (raw meaty joint bones) in your sporting, working and hunting dog food.

For treats that supply energy in-between, you can either opt for treats that are rich in carbs or high in protein.

The ones you choose depend on what your dog does well on.

Related Reading

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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2 responses to “How Much Raw Dog Food For Sporting Dogs?”

  1. Stacey D BRAMLEY Avatar
    Stacey D BRAMLEY

    Excellent information Barbara! Thank you!
    I learned that the fatty proteins are actually good and I will incorporate them more in our protein rotation and treats when competing. Also I will add pigs feet (trotters) into our RMB mix now. Appreciate all the breaking down of percentages to feed too. Perfect information, thanks again!

    1. Barbara Rivers Avatar

      Awesome and you’re very welcome, Stacey! Thanks for asking your questions 🙂

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