Dog nutrition - how to feed a Continental Bulldog?

Right off the bat it is necessary to state that each individual is different and what suits one can cause difficulties to the other. This is common and therefore it is always up to the owner to find out which method of feeding is the most suitable for their dog. Please keep this in mind when reading the following text.

Feeding puppy vs. adult dog – is there a difference?

In a word – yes. The Continental Bulldog is a molosser type dog breed, it is a dog with heavier body build and a massive skeleton. And as well as in the case of large and giant breeds, there i salso a greater risk of growth problems caused by poor quality feed or inappropriate feeding. Anyone who buys a Conti to become their friend should take into account that they should definitely not save on dog food, especially at puppy age and during adolescence.

What to watch out for?

We will look at the individual types of food later in this article, but first we will talk about one of the most important principles to watch out for, especially with puppies.

The ratio of Ca:P minerals (calcium:phosphorus) is crucial. Many beginning dog owners are not aware of this and unknowingly make serious mistakes. No matter what kind of food we feed the dog, it is necessary to monitor the ratio of these minerals and their total amount in the food. No special skills are needed for a basic overview.

Generally speaking, there is basically no risk of phosphorus deficiency in a dog’s normal diet. On the contrary, excess of phosphorus is very common, especially during growing up. It is necessary to add that an excess of phosphorus limits the absorption of calcium, so puppy may suffer from various growth problems due to poor Ca:P ratio, that often need to be solved by a veterinarian.

The ideal Ca:P ratio for puppies of large and heavy breeds is generally stated to be around 1.5: 1 (some sources state 2: 1 or even 3: 1 during the period of greatest growth). What does this mean in practice? To illustrate, here are a few examples of the approximate ratio in cetain common foods.

The calcium content in meat is low, on the contrary phosphorus is abundant in meat:

beef – Ca content = 30-150 mg/kg, P content = 1200-2000 mg/kg

pork – Ca content = 50-90 mg/kg, P content = 1300-2200 mg/kg

chicken meat – Ca content = 60-130 mg/kg, P content = 1200-2500 mg/kg

On the other hand, for example in chicken wings and skeletons where bones are present, an approximate Ca content of 7000-15000 mg/kg is commonly stated, which is a fundamental difference.

It is often erroneously recommended to feed cottage cheese “due to its high calcium content”.

Cottage cheese –Ca content = 900-1000 mg/kg, P content = 2000 mg/kg

We see that cottage cheese has far more phosphorus than calcium, so it is completely unsuitable for calcium supplementation. However, the situation is very different with milk:

Whole milk, Ca content = 1100-1300 mg/kg, P content = 870-980 mg/kg

Therefore, it is far more suitable to sometimes add a thin sour dairy product such as kefir, acidophilic milk, etc. to the dog.

Egg, Ca content = 550-570 mg/kg, P content = 2100-2200 mg/kg

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In the case of industrially produced dog foods, it is therefore appropriate to monitor the proportion of minerals in the first place. But it is more complicated with dog food prepared at home. One has to estimate for themselves whether, for example, the content of bones in a raw diet is sufficient to cover the need for calcium, or whether calcium has to be supplemented to the food. In addition, bones are practically excluded in case of cooked food, because bones can only be served raw.

The most demanding period for puppy’s nutrition is the period of tooth replacement and the greatest growth, i.e. approximately 3-10 months of age. Lack of calcium (or even excess of phosphorus) in this period can be sometimes spotted even by looking at the dog – the puppies can begin to deviate their paws to the sides, or the paws become bowed (like a ´pipe´ / ´hockey stick´), or begin to tip over ear that was previously folded.

Feeding dry food

It is important to choose high-quality granules, it is also not a bad idea to choose a variant without cereals. The Continental Bulldog is a heavy type dog breed, so when deciding on the type of dry dog food, it is appropriate to choose those for large and giant breeds. It is important that the Ca:P (calcium:phosphorus) ratio in the granules especially in puppy age is close to the ideal of 1.5:1.

If the dog is fed dry food, it is inappropriate to often “improve” the diet with meat, cottage cheese, eggs, etc. Especially at puppy age. These are foods with a high proportion of phosphorus, which disrupt the otherwise good ratio of minerals in high quality granules.

In the case of granules, the composition is written on the packaging in order according to the overall amount in the mixure, i.e. on the first place there is the component with the largest share, at the end there is the one with the smallest share. Sometimes producers help to increase the protein content in feed with legumes, so if somewhere in the first half of the composition appears soy for example (soy has a high protein content, but unfortunately of plant origin, which are not so useful for dogs), then we automatically exclude such granules from selection. We also do not consider granules, which have only plant components listed in the first positions.

The dosage on the granules is always very indicative, so that we know which dose to start with. Care must be taken to adapt the feed ration to the specific animal. It is no exception that of two dogs of the same age and the same size and weight, one will need up to twice the amount of food compared to the other. The current health status, condition, amount of exercise, efficiency of metabolism have a great effect on the feed ration. Each individual has different demands.

Feeding raw food (BARF method)

Determining the appropriate feed ration when feeding our continental bulldogs in the BARF method cost us a lot of time and we made mistakes that we had to correct. This is described in more detail in the chapter How we feed our dogs and puppies, now we will focus on feeding the raw food itself.

We consider 50% of the animal component and 50% of the side dish to be a suitable feed ration, especially in puppy age it is important not to overdo it with the animal component.

  • By animal component we mean meat cuts (incl. tendons, membranes, cartilage, skin), ground fleshy bones, viscera. It is not suitable to serve lean meat (pure muscle), far more suitable are “ugly” parts of meat. The basis for feeding in the BARF method is variety and diversity. We don’t overdo it with the viscera or the bones, it is enough if the fleshy bones and the viscera together make less than half of the animal component.

    • Additional information on feeding bones:

      • Under constant careful supervision, it is possible to feed some types of bones whole (suitable for brushing teeth), such as necks, claws, wings, etc. However, it is necessary to teach the dog to do this, in the beginning it is appropriate to feed chopped chicken necks, chopped claws and increase the size gradually.

      • We never serve bones cooked – there are serious health risks. We serve bones only raw and always under supervision. We never leave a puppy or an adult dog alone with the bones, there is a risk of suffocation.

  • By side dish we mean vegetables ideally – e.g. mixed sauerkraut (do not overdo it due to higher salt content), boiled grated beets, boiled Hokkaido pumpkin, mixed salad or spinach, grated carrots (do not overdo it due to vitamin A content and pigmentation). To a small extent, it is possible to add mixed fruits such as grated apples, bananas. If the dog likes dishes like mixed boiled potatoes or boiled rice, it is possible to add these as well. Unwashed beef tripe (with the largest possible proportion of digested green stomach contents) can also be considered an excellent vegetable side dish, which can be added to the feed very often up to daily.

Poultry to feed puppies we use in human quality only, there is less risk of salmonella infection. Adult dogs can easily cope with quality for dogs, but puppies are prone to bacterial infections.

Game we feed only heat-treated due to the risk of parasites and viral infections.

When feeding in the BARF method, we recommend adding calcium to the feed (e.g. Canina Calcium citrate, dosage according to the instructions), especially for puppies.

We recommend to regularly (approx. once a year, start around half a year of age) visit a veterinarian familiar with feeding raw food and have them perform blood tests for mineral ratio (Ca:P), in case of incorrectly set feed ration this is the early method to find the mistake and correct it.

Feeding cooked food

In the case of feeding home-prepared cooked food, practically the same principles apply as in feeding with raw food (see chapter Feeding raw food (BARF method)), but with the important difference that in the case of cooked food it is not possible to feed bones. And of course another difference is that due to the heat treatment there is no need to be afraid of infection.

With regard to the impossibility of feeding bones, we recommend adding other mineral food supplements to home-prepared cooked food in addition to calcium.

For purchased canned food, dog pâtés, etc., it is necessary to monitor the composition, as it is for dry food (see chapter Feeding dry food).

Cooked feed can also be suitable for indigestion, as it has good digestibility (especially after mixing).

How we feed our dogs and puppies

Our first Continental Bulldog was Hugo. Like many others, we were passionate about feeding raw diet. It’s a dog’s natural food, isn’t it? And like many others, we reached for a book dedicated to BARF feeding. Just to find out soon that for moloss type of dog and especially puppy in growth, the proportions of food components mentioned in the book are clearly unsuitable. Due to this inappropriate feeding, Hugo had to deal with annoying panostitis (growth inflammation of long bones), based on it we had a blood test for mineral content performed and found that the dog is healthy but has more phosphorus than calcium, which was needed to be addressed urgently. We arranged a consultation with MVDr. Milan Štourač, CSc. (, a renowned expert in feeding dogs raw food and a long-time breeder of moloss type of dogs (Great Dane, French Bulldog). Thanks to him, we corrected Hugo’s Ca:P ratio in blood and we also found a suitable system in feeding raw food for our dogs. When we later brought Debi and Matilda home, we also converted them to the same feeding system, and the girls not only felt healthy, but even blood tests showed that everything was fine.

Puppies born in our kennel are used to be fed four times a day before they go to their new homes, mostly dry food twice a day and raw BARF food twice a day. Sometimes we diversify their diet with a portion of cooked food, other times they get a thin sour milk product (e.g. buttermilk, kefir). We use the granules ND Grain Free Pumpkin Puppy M / L large breed – for their excellent Ca:P ratio and overall good composition, puppies also quite like them, we add a little water to the granules before feeding. In portions of raw food, we try to follow the principles that we stated in the chapter Feeding raw food (BARF method), of course we adapt the composition to the fact that these are very small puppies. They get everything in such a form that the food is as digestible as possible for them – we grind the animal component, mix the vegetables and even cook some of them, etc.

For older puppies who live with us, we continue to feed about 50:50 dry food and raw food (BARF). We usually use the same granules that we feed small puppies (ND Grain Free Pumpkin Puppy M / L large breed) watered with a little water, in the case of raw food we follow the principles given in the chapter Feeding with raw food (BARF method). We feed the puppies four times a day until about four months of age, then we switch to feeding three times a day and we continue to do so until less than a year of age, depending on how the puppy faces the number of feeding doses. If the puppy expresses that it wants to reduce the number of doses per day, for example by omitting its morning portion, we oblige and do not force the puppy to eat. From less than a year on, we feed twice a day until almost adulthood, when we gradually shift towards feeding once a day, according to physical activity we also may add a snack during the day. Gradually, until adulthood, we detract from dry food.

We feed our adult dogs mostly raw food (BARF) according to the principles mentioned above. But we are not strict in that, so when we go on a trip, or maybe we are running out of time, the dogs will easily get dry food watered with a little water, and because it is a change to them they like it quite a bit. From time to time we cook something for them, or once in a while we discover an attractive can or dog salami in a BARF store or wherever, which is also an interesting change for them that they enthusiastically welcome. Even treats can actually form a significant part of the feed ration (especially if we train our dogs more intensively), so we alternate different types, from home-prepared meat-based treats, through purchased dried meat a various industrially produced packaged treats, to dog biscuits for which all our dogs fulfill every command really happily. 🙂

Of course, we discuss everything in more detail with the future owners of puppies from our kennel, we also help them to choose suitable nutritional supplements and generally to find a way of feeding that will suit them as well as the puppies. But we can´t squeeze more information in the article, it would come at the expense of readability. Still, we believe it is complex enough and we hope that it will make it easier for someone to find a suitable way of feeding their dog, or that it could even help to prevent possible nutritional errors.