What are Dogs Designed to Eat?

Dietary classifications of mammals

Most mammals will fall into one of five dietary preferences. These dietary preferences are not necessarily exclusive. It is important to understand an animals dietary preferences and design when formulating their food.

Dietary Classifications of mammals. Herbivore, Omnivore, Carnivore, Insectivore and Frugivore.

Five dietary classifications of mammals

  1. Herbivores -Eat plants
  2. Omnivores -Eat a combination of plants, fruits and animals
  3. Carnivores -Eat other animals
  4. Insectivores -Eat insects and arachnids
  5. Frugivores -Eat fruits

How do you determine an animals dietary classification?

Observation is the most common way to determine an mammal’s classification. Stomach contents studies are also used to determine what an animal eats. Also an animals physiology is studied. Teeth, tongues, lips and digestive tract are just a few parts of an animals physiology studied for clues how to best feed the animal. All this is very important when working with endangered animals in an effort to propagate small populations and prevent species from going extinct. Let apply these same techniques to determine the best diet to feed a dog.

Photos of dog teeth showing carnivorous design

How are dog’s teeth designed?

Dog’s teeth are designed to grab and hold and crush. A dog’s canine teeth (the long fang like teeth) are used for defense and to grab and to hold onto prey. A dog’s molars are pointed and work like shears to crunch bone and separate meat and cartilage from bone. A dog’s saliva acts as a lubricant as the gulp and swallow large pieces of meat and bone.

Dogs gnawing bones

Dog’s instinctual feeding behavior

Have you ever seen a dog gnaw on a bone? They hold the bone between their paws and chew with their molars. In fact all dog’s work a bone in the same manner. Did you teach your dog this behavior? No, bone chewing is instinctual because meaty bones are one of a dog’s natural foods. Dogs will typically crunch up their prey into a barely swallowable portion and gorge themselves. Dog’s also have an instinctual killing shake used for killing their prey. We’ve seen this when playing tug with our dogs. This is a behavior cows, rabbits and other herbivore don’t posses.

Dog’s have a carnivores short digestive system

Dogs have the short digestive tract like other carnivores. Carnivores have short digestive tracts with powerful acids and bile to effectively digest meat, bones and fats. These strong acids allow dogs to consume bacteria laced meats and not be harmed. In contrast herbivores have long digestive tract to effectively digest plants and their associated fibers that are difficult to digest. Herbivore and carnivore digestive tracts are completely different but function well when they supplied with the food they are designed to digest. It make sense. Dog’s are designed to be a carnivore.

When a dog is fed a raw meat based diet the food will travel through his digestive tract in about 8 hours. When dogs are fed grain based dog food the whole process can take twice as long. This is not good.

It is often said that dogs are omnivores but omnivores have very long digestive tracts, different dental characteristics and instinctual behaviors. A pig is an omnivore and has a very long digestive tract, different teeth and instinctual feeding behavior. Pig in contracts can eat just about everything and squeeze most nutrients out of their food. A pigs digestive system is about 70 feet long and very different than a dogs digestive system. A pigs digestive system is more similar to a humans digestive tract. Humans are another good example of omnivores.

Clues you may be feeding your dog the wrong dog food

Does your dog have lots of tarter on his teeth, bad breath, terrible gas? These are all symptoms of a high carbohydrate dog food. Does your dog’s body smell awful even after a bath? If so he could have a yeast infection brought on by a high carbohydrate diet. Is he itching incessantly and constantly licking his paws? This could be the fillers, chemicals and byproducts dog food contains. All animals, people included, are effected by what they eat.

Isn’t it time to feed your dog how he is designed?



  1. Hi Ed,

    Fantastic information. I’m bringing home a new puppy in about a week and I want to start her on a raw dog food diet. Should I have her fast right when I get her for 24 hours and the next day feed her raw? Or should I get her used to her surroundings then start the diet?

  2. I have two dogs and two cats. I have decided to put the dogs on your raw food diet. Can the cats eat the same diet?

  3. Hi Ed, with the price of hamburger so high now, what do you think of doing the “cooked” recipe with chicken thighs. Boil and shred the chicken thighs, then mix with eggs and rice. Heat through in the oven just to set the eggs?

  4. Hi, glad I found this website! Everywhere I look all I get is ” you must feed your puppy commercial dog food or she won’t grow well”
    We just got a German Shepherd puppy that seems to be allergic to the dry dog food we got her ( expensive dog food, not the cheap stuff) I am now feeding her just ground meat, cooked white rice and some canned dog food for puppies mixed up and she does fine but am worried that she is not getting enough calcium in her diet. Do you think your cooked dogfood recipe is suitable for puppies also? How do you know how much calcium and other minerals a dog needs? How many calories does a puppy need per day? The amounts you are feeding seem very small.

  5. My 8 months old yorkie (1.1 K in weight) just got diagnosed with a liver shunt.. What foods can I feed her for a natural diet that is low in protein but will satisfy a picky eater. Pls help
    many thanks

    • Arkan,

      Click here for a good article on liver shunts in dogs. The authors suggests to use milk thistle and dandelion to help detox the liver. She also recommends feeding a homemade dog food recipe using human grade meats, much like the dog food recipes on my site. I’ve never personally had a dog with this conditions so can’t answer your question well. I’m also not a veterinarian. This article is very informative and worth a careful read.

  6. hi thank you for the great website , i can’t wait to make my dog food!!

    my dog is a chihuahua she is a year and a half old, and maybe 7 or 8 pounds, she is tiny! i want to start feeding her the raw food diet, but i dont know what a portion size for her should be. she doesnt really eat much to begin with, and i dont want raw food sitting in her bowl all day so i want to know exactly how much a day (or twice a day??) to feed her.

    thank you so much!!!

  7. Hi Ed,

    I have a 5 month old miniature schnauzer and only recently (approximately 3 weeks ago) she had these little bumps all over her body. we brought her to the vet and was told it is just minor heat rash. after that she began healing but still constantly scratching herself and licking her paws. I THOUGHT it is normal for a dog to behave so. but after reading your site, I believe her constant scratching and paw licking could be due to yeast infection, am i right? Also, she has bad dpg breath and still smells after shower. What diet do you suggest I could feed her. The do.s and don’ts. Thanks!

  8. Dora Smitj-Smothers says:

    I have an English bulldog who is 1yr 5 mo. I was feeding him Back To Basic but it seems as if he tried of it… He is very particular about his food… Example when I feed him I put in Omega 3 caapsule in his food but if he smells it he will not eat it. He loves egg and rice.. Can I used this homemade receipe without the supplements or advise me as to what I should do. He is currently 68 lbs and very active and firm body

  9. Hi, I just found your website and I have to say it’s great and very informative. We have two Havanese, 3 1/2 yrs old and my husband and I have been making their dog food for at least two years now. In the past we have used 10 lbs. of ground sirloin 90%-10% lean fat, cooked, very lightly steamed diced veggies such as broccoli, red bell peppers, carrots, celery, Etc. (the veggies vary with every mixture) along with some type of small pasta, such as Ditalini’s or orrichettes. We too were told that rice grown now has high levels of arsenic and to use pasta or quinoa. As you can see our mixture is very time consuming even though we make it in large batches and freeze it in small storage bags, your recipe seems to be a a lot faster.
    I have only been providing an Omega 3 supplement when we feed them and have neglected to give them any other supplements which has been so very wrong. I do need to know, was I misled about the veggies? If not, I would like to incorporate them in your meatloaf recipe or are they necessary if I use the Dinovite Supplement? Please be assured though they will be getting there ground up eggs in their mixture from now on.
    Oh, I might as well add that Desi and Luci are fed twice daily; one cup each in the a.m. and p.m. Neither are overweight and are very active.

  10. Heard a Dinovite commercial on the radio this morning and decided to check it out. I wish I had found you long ago as my dog recently passed away and I see now that he definitely had the yeast problem. Why do the vets dance around this issue with no answers! Anyway, I have a new puppy and I will be getting him on the right road! Thank you so much for all this valuable information. Keep up the good work helping us animal lovers.

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