Breed-specific, life-stage and gestational dog food formulations helped champion breeders at the American Kennel Club National Championship 2019 to get ideal, reproducible results from their animals. Brands that meet dog breeders’ needs may find product loyalty benefits among average pet owners.

Transparency Note: Royal Canin invited the author to the AKC National Championship in in Orlando, Florida, USA and paid for his expenses.

Dog breeders and pet food companies work together

“If the predictable outcome of the dogs’ food is there, then the predictability of that specific breed is there,” Bill Shelton, Welsh Corgi breeder, said.

Pet food companies form partnerships with breeders to make those dog foods work for the specific needs of each breed, he said. Although, in his case, Corgi’s don’t need a specific formulation. He uses Royal Canin’s mid-size dog formulation. He needs a formulation that doesn’t provide too much of certain nutrients, especially for young dogs.

“My breed has a predisposition for what they call premature closure of the elbow,” Shelton said. “If we grow them too fast with a really high protein, high fat food, it causes what we call growing pains in children.”

Although Welsh Corgi gained fame as the dogs of British Royalty during the past century, before that, they were working class dogs, he said. As such, they developed digestive systems that could glean every bit of nutrition from sometimes-scarce meals.

“If I fed a German Shepherd’s food to a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, they would be little tanks because they have digestive systems that metabolize it all, whereas a German Shepherd doesn't.”

German Shepherd formulations address those dogs’ digestive deficiencies, said Kent Boyles and Liz Oster of Kenlyn German Shepherds in Edgerton, Wisconsin, USA. Beyond that, as breeders, they appreciate the ability to transitions from one formulation to the next throughout a dogs’ life. Even before dogs are born, he uses specific formulations for expectant mother dogs. As puppies ween, he can use specially formulated diets to help young German Shepherds’ start on solid food.

“Once you start feeding a product that seems to work, it certainly seems like the foundation work for the mothers and the babies though gestation period and time when the mother's whelp,” he said.

Boyles developed a relationship with Royal Canin for his German Shepherd’s needs. So much so that one of his dog’s appears in the brand’s advertising materials. That connection to Royal Canin may boost dog food brand loyalty in buyers of his German Shepherds.

“Once I tell them, the puppy buyers, that this is what we feed, they never change,” he said.

While the demands of top dog breeders may be beyond the average pet owners’ needs, dog food brands that can meet breeder’s exacting standards may meet those of increasingly selective pet owners.