Salty Dog Frenchies: Breeding & Raw Feeding
How did this all start for you?
This chapter of my life began with raising day old chickens, which progressed into raising and breeding dwarf goats. All the while raising three spirited daughters who were all clamoring for a dog. I loved French Bulldogs since my first encounter with the breed back in the 80’s. I thought, ‘if not now, probably never…’ and if I am already tied to my home and land because of my commitment to chickens and goats – why not breed dogs.
When did you first discover and introduce raw?
Most dog owners and product manufacturers in the holistic, all natural, healing, raw feeding realm sadly begin their journey with a very sick dog. Where mainstream veterinary cares fail us - as pet parents we pick up, dig in and fight to heal our pets. That is my story too. Raw feeding has made the single biggest health impact on my dogs.
How does feeding raw impact the health of your pups?
The impact of feeding to nourish and heal with raw food is immeasurable and non-negotiable. I would not breed or own dogs if I couldn’t dedicate a portion of their food bowl to raw and fresh.
Why Frenchies? What do you love most about this breed?
First of all, dogs of every breed or mixed breeds are angels without wings sent here to heal hearts, spread love, and bring families together.
French Bulldogs are some other worldly combination of dog, piglet, human toddler, monkey and alien - that is smart, funny, willful, and a loving monarch of all knuckleheads with no recognition of personal space.
It’s #nationalpuppyday today - how are you celebrating?
I will be squeezing all my pups (even my oldest dogs are my pups) a little longer and being completely present in my gratitude that they choose me. I will take a moment with each of them to say thank you for making puppies that have done so much for so many.
Who (what kind of owner) would be the best fit for your Frenchie pups?
Hmmmmm? Perfect Frenchie parents…. I guess anyone with a wide-open heart, that is ready to experience next level love from and for a dog. More importantly someone who fully understands they will never go to the bathroom alone again, and in some cases may turn around to find a dog in the shower with them.
How do you support your pups throughout their lives from birth to finding their forever home?
For Salty Dog Frenchies it starts with the Dam and the Sire. I produce my own or select from a solid program I respect. Testing to make sure they are genetically and structurally sound. I want to have pharmaceutically clean dogs with robust microbiomes and immune system.
When I breed my girls, it will affect 3 generations: the pregnant dam, puppies in utero, of pups in utero the females will be forming their eggs for future offspring. With that as my north star, I feed pregnant dogs a well-balanced raw diet that will give growing fetuses all the building blocks they need to grow healthy and strong body systems.
Once they are born, I ramp up mom’s feedings so that her milk is as fortifying as possible. In my experience it takes more calories and calcium for her to produce milk for the litter than it did to grow them in utero.
At about 4 ½ - 5 ½ weeks of age when sharp baby teeth are bothering mama, I wean the pups. Their new diet is raw meat, fermented goats’ milk, fermented goat milk kefir and fresh organic veggies.
Once the pups are weaned and have left their snuggly little whelping box they move onto their puppy romper room. Now it is all about poop management and keeping a clean and stimulating play area. I continue to shower them with love and attention which instills confidence in them as they explore their new digs. Did I mention poop management?
Pups have been selected and I prepare each one for their individual family. I have developed many strategies to insure a smooth transition into their new homes. My pups go home with a bed and toys they know and love. Among the many items they leave with probably the most important is a month’s worth of their raw food diet. New puppy parents are well versed in raw feeding by now. All of this allows these young pups to experience the least amount of change and stress as they transition into their new family. In turn their new families can relax and welcome the new pup into their pack.
At Salty Dog Frenchies you are not just buying a dog, new families become part of the Salty Dog Pack. This offers a lifetime of support 24/7/365. Honestly that support goes both ways, there have been times of great adversity, when a client has texted a picture or video of their Frenchie accompanied by a message saying how much they love their pup and doesn’t even know how to say thank you! Everything difficult I am facing is put into perspective and I am back to living in gratitude.
What is the best thing about breeding Frenchies?
Best thing about breeding Frenchies? Impossible to answer, there is way too much. French Bulldogs have enriched my life in ways I didn’t know I needed. I have met the most amazing human beings; I never would have known from all over the country and some across the world. My pups have taught me to help them and also care for my human family with an all-natural, homeopathic and holistic approach. As I mentioned earlier, I have experienced a new level of LOVE.
What does it take to be a dog breeder (in three words)?
Determination, grit and common sense.
What’s the most challenging part of rearing puppies?
Not all who are born are meant to survive. Despite all my best efforts losing a sweet baby is definitely soul crushing. No doubt moving past that loss is the most challenging part of raising puppies.
What’s the reality of raw feeding from day one? Why do you think it’s the best start for your pups?
The reality of raw feeding is we are pet parents to an animal that genetically shares about 98% of its genotype with the carnivorous wolf (even though wolves eat plant material too). Dogs can survive on many different diets, but they thrive on a raw diet. I have witnessed the difference in my own home. At Salty Dog Frenchies the easiest way to supply a raw diet to my pack is with Top Dog Food and Supply. They have done all the hard work of sourcing the best farms. Farms that implement all the raising and processing techniques that resonate with me. Top Dog Food and Supply has balanced each grind perfectly. They have processed, packaged and frozen all their offerings so that all I have to do is defrost and serve with confidence. I have gone to the warehouse to have them ship (that months’ worth of food) to out of state clients. Dennis, Richard, and the team at Top Dog Food & Supply are a big part of my program. From conception on, my dogs get all the vitamins. minerals and amino acids they require to “build” a strong, sound, and supported body.
What are your go-to Top Dog products for fueling your growing Frenchies? Any meal prep tips?
I prefer their HVM (healthy variety mix) grinds. I rotate through all the protein offerings as there isn’t one protein source that offers a complete range of amino acids. Each protein source offers a different bone and fat profile as well. I don’t have a favorite item, but I love the 1” Beef Neck Bones. We use these once a week for teeth cleaning and scratching that wild wolf itch of chewing meat off a bone. Another item we rely on is the flash frozen, Wild Caught Sardines. When people see pics of my dogs eating these on Instagram they often ask “what kind of fish is that”? They don’t realize the difference of wild caught and farm raised, canned is so immense. To make using sardines a regular source of nutrition Top Dog Food and Supply has gone a step further. They now offer Whole Ground Sardines frozen into one pounds rolls. I literally can’t express how awesome it is to provide my pups a small serving of whole ground, wild caught sardines so easily. Top Dog offers the best Bully Sticks and an entire range of healthy treats from raw to dehydrated. They carry Four Leaf Rover and Venjenz supplements which I love and use. Recently they added 4Legger Shampoo to their offerings. This is so crucial because what you wash your dog in is almost as important as what you feed your dog. Melissa and her team at 4Legger are dedicated to providing VERIFIED organic, natural, and healing ingredients for dogs. It is the only shampoo I will use on my dogs; I actually know a few humans who use it on themselves…. it’s that good.
A day-in-the-life of a puppy breeder:
A day in the life of a breeder is different at every stage and different with every litter. It is always busy and 24 hours a day. Sometimes I actually get to sleep through the night, and I have mastered balancing on the edge of my bed, while a dog or two is stretched out in full comfort. My long terms goals include winning the fight for blanket coverage. Seriously though I try to enjoy all the challenges, learn from it all and keep moving forward.
Is there anything else you’d like to share or believe our Top Dog community will benefit from knowing about the process before bringing home a puppy?
A few items I would like to pass on to dog owners would be….
Please provide an essential oil supplement daily. It is called “essential” because it is necessary for a healthy life. Dog’s bodies do not make it or store it, but it is essential to their health. Food manufacturers are not required by law to include it in food and Veterinarians barely speak of it. It will make a huge difference in your dog’s eye, brain, cardiovascular and coat health. Good options are Safe Sea by Four Leaf Rover and/or Whole or Ground Wild Caught Sardines. All three options can be purchased from Top Dog Food and Supply. I like to mix my Safe Sea in a brown apothecary bottle with a pump (Amazon) to which I add a high quality MCT oil and Camelina Hemp oil (all available on Amazon). It makes it super easy, so everyone gets a pump at each meal.
I really like to have raw fermented goats’ milk and bone broth at the ready. To do this and keep it economical, I pour these items into silicone ice cube trays (Amazon) and freeze. Then I pop the cubes out and store in labeled freezer bags. Now they are easily defrosted in a single serving size.
The next tip my sister shared with me and it’s perfect for the busy, traveling between homes with one or two dogs family. She prepares a big bowl of her dogs raw and everything she adds. Then she weighs out their individual portions and forms patties. A little wax paper between the patties and into the freezer they go for the coming week. Boom, defrost a few at a time and serve, easy peasy.
As a breeder who is very proud of my program, I tell people please find your breeder first and wait for your puppy. If you can see the environment and meet the dogs living there do it. Ask for references if they are not offered. Slow down and try to gauge the energy of the dogs, home, and breeder obviously if they are not happy move on. You are bringing home a baby/new pack member and spending hard earned money, you deserve to have all your questions answered and feel confident in your breeder. I personally provide pictures, videos, and FaceTime for new pet parents. I want them invested in the journey. A good breeder will spend time to educate new parents on every aspect of their breed. Provide a list of recommended items to safely raise their new pup. A good breeder is always there for help and support 24/7/365. I could really go on and on this subject is so important to me. Dig in, ask questions, do your research. Find your breeder first, be patient and wait for your puppy.
Happy National Puppy Day to everyone out there, especially all those breeders who have been up all night with a new litter!!