BARF Diet for Bulldogs

English Bulldog Barf DietHave you heard about the BARF diet? It’s an animal food diet that has been rapidly growing in popularity among Bulldog owners recently.

You might be asking yourself why this food plan is called the BARF diet. Does it make your dog vomit so much they lose weight?Are the ingredients so disgusting they make the owner get sick while mixing them together? Well, maybe. That depends on you lol. The gross out factor can be sort of high for some of the more squeamish pet owners.

How to BARF + 2 Easy Recipes For Any Beginner 

Actually, BARF is an acronym that can stand for biologically appropriate raw food, or bones and raw food. Thankfully, it’s called the BARF diet because of the ingredients that go into it, not because of it’s power to disgust. Chances are, your Bulldog will scarf this mix down like no other food they’ve eaten.

The BARF diet was introduced to the family pet food scene in 1993 by an Australian veterinarian named Ian Billinghurst. This might be the first you’re hearing about the BARF diet, and, because it is rising in recent popularity, a lot of people think this is a new idea. Actually, this diet has been around for centuries, keeping dogs healthy and happy for generations. It was forgotten in the 1930’s when canned food and kibble became popular.

Why Barf?

Most Bulldog enthusiasts can mention right away at least a few ingredients, that once ingested, can make their Bulldog feel sick, cause loss of hair, skin sores, itchy skin, and loose stool as well as a host of other health problems. Makes you wonder how many more of the ingredients in our dog’s food could be secretly hurting him? Nearly every store brand dog food contains at least one ingredient that has been proven “problematic” for our extra sensitive English Bulldogs.

Ingredients like potatoes, eggs, corn, beets, and soy sound healthy, but it’s possible each of them can cause allergic reactions for Bulldogs. Believe it or not, some Bulldogs are even stricken with undesirable symptoms after eating even wholesome proteins such as chicken, salmon, beef and venison. Imagine that, an allergy to protein. For this reason, there is such a thing as a vegetarian Bulldog.

The introduction of the BARF Diet is recommended most for those Bulldogs who have been bounced around all their lives to different foods, never truly finding a healthy balance.
One thing I love about the BARF diet is the control it gives to the dog owner. Even with limited ingredient dog food formulas, there are usually still around fifty listed ingredients in the bag. Out of fifty components in your Bulldog’s kibble, how could you ever pin-point the one causing all of his problems?
Using the BARF diet allows the pet owner to formulate each meal beginning with only a few ingredients and adding more as they wish. Talk about control! By slowly adding, say, one ingredient per week, you’ll know the minute your pet’s body doesn’t agree with something in his food. Say at the start of a new week you add pumpkin into the food for the first time, and your Bulldog’s digestive tract is thrown out of wack, you’d then give pumpkin the axe and move on.

So what goes into a typical bowl of BARF? Ingredients can include:

  • Muscle meat, often still on the bone
  • Organ meats such as livers and kidneys
  • Raw eggs
  • Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and celery
  • Apples or other fruit
  • Some dairy, such as yogurt

**Bones are a part of traditional BARF diets, but for our special Bulldog Barf Diet I strongly recommend you ground them before feeding. I feel that the addition of even raw bones, although soft, are an unnecessary risk of choking. In fact, it is my opinion all ingredients in your Bulldog’s BARF diet should be minced, ground or cut to very small pieces to avoid choking. 

There are tons of potential benefits associated with the BARF diet. It cuts down on tarter buildup, eliminating bad breath and giving your dog healthier teeth. You’ll notice a much shinier, healthier coat, along with combating itchy skin associated with allergies.

The BARF diet also improves your bully’s digestive system, counteracting chronic diarrhea, stool volume, and odor. Your dog’s overall immune system will be strengthened as well, which can lead to better mobility, especially in pets dealing with arthritis. Pet owners have also noticed big differences in energy and vitality in their Bulldogs.

How the BARF Diet Works.

Chicken BARF Diet Recipe

RECIPE: 1 cup of ground chicken wings, 1/2 cup of chicken hearts + giblets, 1/2 cup of sweet potato and 1Tbs Fresh Cranberries.

Each Bulldog will need varying portions and ingredients based on his size, age, and history of food allergies. If you have two dogs, it’s possible each of them may need their own food mix based on their own body’s level of tolerance for each food ingredient.

But how much of this mix should be given to your Bulldog to keep them healthy and in shape?

It’s recommended that adult dogs be fed between 2%-3% of their body weight, with slight variations depending on the age of the dog and how active they are. This amount should be split into a morning and evening feeding time. The amount for puppies is suggested at up to 10% of their body weight split over 3 or 4 feedings daily.

Ingredient handling, storage, washing, freezing, and many other factors come into play as well, when considering the BARF diet. The process of preparing your Bulldog’s meals will all be determined by the ingredients you choose and the overall mix of materials.

For example, some meat has to be frozen for a certain period of time before it is safe to feed to your dog. These include meats like salmon and pork, though some experts recommend staying away from feeding raw salmon to your dog at all.

You can prepare bulk amounts of food and freeze them for later servings as well. It’s recommended to freeze servings in vacuum sealable plastic bags or containers in a freezer set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below for safety purposes. Any temperature over 40 degrees can allow bacteria and other microbes to grow in your dog’s food. Pork and wild game such as boar should be frozen for 3 weeks to kill off any harmful bacteria before feeding to your bully. 

Are There Dangers Involved Feeding the BARF Diet?

There are quite a few benefits of the BARF diet, but there are also documented possible risks involved. These include threats to human and dog health from bacteria that can reside in the raw meat and other materials involved. Cleanliness and proper handling of all uncooked meats and bones is important.  An unbalanced diet can lead to health damage if given to a dog for an extended period. I’ll outline an example of a balanced meal plan fit for your Bulldog below to ensure you get off on the right start.

Why are vets so nervous about raw feeding ? If humans were to cut out all processed food and eat CLEAN, would doctors start to worry ? It makes no sense …

- BARF User Kerry Potter

Also, because some recipes call for bone in the mix, there is the potential for the dog to choke on bones, break teeth or cause internal punctures. Bulldogs are especially prone to choking on bones because a Bulldog has a shorter esophagus than many other breeds and they tend to swallow their food whole. For these reasons, we recommend bones be ground or minced before serving. You may also choose to leave bones out of your Bulldog’s meal plan entirely.

Proper handling of BARF.

You should thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator to ensure your dog’s meat is never at an unsafe temperature before it is ready to be served. You should also never wash your dog’s raw meat ingredients because bacteria isn’t killed in this way, but can be spread by splashing and other factors. Any knives or utensils used in the meal preparation should also be kept separate from other silverware and cleaned thoroughly. Always be sure to thoroughly wash your hands and anything else that comes into contact with the raw food materials.

There’s a long list of ingredients that should never be considered in the mix of your dog’s raw diet. These include fruits and vegetables like onions, grapes, corn on the cob, raisins, walnuts, macadamia nuts, dough, chocolate, and any fruit with pits. These ingredients are harmful to your dog physically, or nutritionally.

How to BARF Diet For Bulldogs + Recipes.

Bulldog BARF Diet Recipe For Bulldogs

RECIPE: 1 1/2 cups of Fresh Alaskan Salmon, 1/2 cup Spinach and 1/2 cup of Carrots + 1Tbs Melted Coconut Oil

Take a look at the basic structure for any raw meal designed for dogs:

1 1/2 cups of raw chopped meat (including some on the bone)

1/2 cup raw vegetables/fruit (perhaps a mixture of carrots, celery and apples)

2tsp of fish oil

Vitamin/Mineral supplement as directed on product (optional)

We followed this exact model for the Salmon dish we whipped up for our bullies (featured above). We served this meal up raw smothered in 2tbs coconut oil, but it’s wonderful cooked in a skillet as well. Just simmer your coconut oil over medium heat until the salmon is cooked as desired.

An adult dog needs to eat just over 2% of his bodyweight in food each day

So, for a 10lb dog that’s just under 1/4lb of food; for a 50lb dog just over 1lb, and for a 100lb dog about 2.5lbs. You can use this guide to figure out how much your dog needs, but of course bear in mind that all dogs are different and that these figures are guidelines only.

Each meal should be made up of about 75% meat and 25% vegetables.

The bones in any raw dog food recipe should have an equal amount of meat and bone (ie a 1:1 ratio). Big bones with just a little bit of meat aren’t nearly as good as smaller bones with more meat on them.

What Kinds of Meat Can You Base Your Dog’s Diet On?

Chicken – chicken necks, thighs, wings and even feet are great choices

We consider chicken to be a great meat to start your Bully on because it’s cheap and the bones are softer. Try sticking with chicken for the first week of raw. For the second week choose one evening to introduce a new meat like beef. With each new week try adding a new meat for one day.

Turkey – as above

Duck, Lamb, Beef, Rabbit, Venison, Wild game birds such as Pheasant or Partridge

Offal (or organ meat) such as liver, kidneys and so on are excellent, but rich, so use sparingly

Whole fish like Trout, Salmon, Haddock are excellent choices.

What About Fruits and Vegetables?

There are tons of different fruits and vegetables that you can add to any raw dog food recipe. Something worth noting here is that a dogs’ digestive system can’t absorb the nutrients from raw vegetables/fruit unless they are finely chopped or ground (as if when using a food processor or blender) or juiced. Like people, some dogs prefer certain ones and you will find out about your dogs’ preferences as you go along.

Don’t be too rigid about this though as it’s important that he gets a wide variety of fruit and veggies so keep trying different ones until you have a good selection that he will eat.

Also, there are a few that can cause excess gas or other digestive upsets, others that are actually dangerous, even toxic, to dogs. Here’s a list of some vegetables that you can use safely:

  • Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Okra, Green Beans, Peas, Pumpkin, Squash, Romaine Lettuce, Parsley, Celery, Sweet Potatoes

You can also add a number of different fruits to any raw dog food recipe.

Here are some of the most common and popular choices:

Apples, Bananas, Pears, Strawberries, Blueberries, A variety of Melons

Other ingredients that can be used to add variety and extra nutritional value to raw dog food recipes include:

Cottage Cheese, Plain Yogurt, Raw Eggs – including the shells, Peanuts or Almonds (NOT Macadamia Nuts), Sunflower seeds, Food grade bonemeal, and Kelp

Obviously raw food has one big difference to dry kibble, and that is the fact that it doesn’t have much of a shelf-life. Whatever isn’t going to be served/eaten right away needs to be refrigerated immediately. Remember the expiration dates of the food you’ve prepared and mark those dates onto the bag before you store it.

To make life a little easier you can prepare large batches of food in one go, then divide it into daily portions (using the guidelines given earlier for the daily requirements) and freeze it. Make sure to defrost thoroughly, in the refrigerator, before serving though – otherwise you could make your dog sick.

22 Responses to Barf Diet For Bulldogs

  • Allison

    Your website is great! Lots of great information! I started my bully on the barf diet about a year ago to try and control her excessive shedding. Instead I got yeast. I’ve been doing my best to research what kinds of proteins and veggies cause this. I’ve read several places that bully’s can be allergic to beef and chicken, which is what I started out with, so I figured “duh!!” And switched to turkey and pork..and some other random things I found at the store on sale like duck and rabbit. No luck. I used mostly parsley and kale as my veggie, and I’ve added coconut oil and flax seed to her food. Still no luck.(I’ve also had her on a probiotic and fish oil from the beginning) So I figured back to basics and research more. so many people say to starve yeast to feed beef and eggs. Seemed to go against what I initially read, but I tried it, and still no luck. Im just confused now and I don’t know what to do! Any advise you can give is greatly appreciated!

  • Leigh

    I have had our bully on raw diet for about 6 months. Been working great. My husband found a recipe adding cooked rice. What is your opinion I don’t want to mess up a good thing.

    • Dan Weese

      I think white rice is a great addition to a Bulldog’s diet. It’s always added to dog foods to help deter upset stomach and to clear up diarrhea. White rice is milled making it easier to digest than brown rice. There was a study done some years ago that suggested rice was extremely arsenic and should be avoided in our diets because it would eventually lead to cancer. There is arsenic found in rice, but that same study found that the highest amounts of arsenic were found in brown rice. The lowest levels of arsenic were found in white rice like Basmati. Supposedly you can reduce levels of arsenic once more by rinsing the rice for your Bulldog. I’m no scientist, but I wouldn’t say these studies prove white rice to pose any significant danger to people or Bulldogs. If you’re a little worried about messing up your Bulldog’s diet you might try just starting off with a couple of tablespoons per meal and see how it goes. I wouldn’t anticipate any undesirable effects.

  • aaron G

    Hi , at what age would you recommedn to introduce raw food to a bulldog puppie? And also could I give him a mix diet with raw meat and dog food(kibble) since some products out there are a good source of other escential nutrients that i might miss in a raw diet
    Thanks in advance for your answer

    • Dan Weese

      I haven’t heard anything bad about starting a raw diet with puppies even from the first time solid foods are ever introduced. Some breeders start their pups on it too. The earliest we’ve fed raw to one of our pups is 6 months. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing a mixed diet of both raw and kibble at all as long as the kibble is 4-5 star food. Obviously you wouldn’t be doing any good by going half raw and the other half a kibble with corn in it. I think it’s a great idea, actually. Come back after you’ve given it a fair try and let me know how it’s been going.

  • Peg Smith

    My bully is 9 and has had chronic yeast infections in his ears. I have done a lot reading on the BARF diet. My bully had been on Royal Cain for about 6 years and have learned perhaps not so healthy. Its been three months i have been trying an easy version of raw in a dehydrated raw form from Grand Cru. Its fish and I think rice based.
    Due to chronic allergies he gets the same dog food for treats. I have been told it can take several months for benefits to show also takes Bac P a k Plus powder probiotic.  I have been told to help internally rid his body of yeast.  I am still off to the vet tomorrow for a yeast infection in his ears will they ever go away?

    • Dan Weese

      Great idea starting slow with the dehydrated raw to get him used to the new diet. Sorry to hear about the constant battle he’s having with those yeast infections. I think what you’re doing with the pro-biotics is excellent and you’re on the right track. Considering adding some plain, non-fat yogurt or kefir milk too which are a great way to get more pro-biotics in there. I wish I had some amazing advice for you to stop those infections. I know it’s a common struggle and there are people who have successfully gotten away from it all so hopefully someone reading might chime in for you.

  • KF

    I have a bully that is 10.5 years old now. He was on the BARF diet from age 1-3 and was a yeasty mess – ear infections, toe infections, tail infections. We had to shampoo with medicated shampoos frequently. Also, he had occasional vomiting and loose stools. Nothing helped until we started feeding him limited ingredient kibble, fish and potato only. Turns out, he is allergic to chicken, eggs, and beef. Now he only needs a bath twice a month. Also, he developed a pyloric sphincter due to eating bones and ended up needing surgery. The BARF diet is not for every dog – I hate feeding processed food but in his case, it turned out to be better for him. I also tried going back to BARF and feeding fish only, but his lips swelled up and skin peeled after eating fish, so we finally gave up and have been feeding high-quality kibble for the last 7 years – and he has never been better. Doesn’t smell yeasty anymore, no more toe infections, no more loose stools. I know BARF sounds good, but it really doesn’t work for some dogs.

    • Dan Weese

      Thanks for explaining your experience with the raw food diet. I totally agree BARF is not for every Bulldog. I find it very interesting that he can tolerate the fish from the kibble, but not fresh. It just seems like fish is fish although I’m sure there are higher concentrations of all things fish in it’s raw form. Makes me wonder if there could have been something else in his raw diet that caused the reactions on his lip? It’s been quite a while and I’m sure you researched all this already considering your desire to go back. Now, you mentioned he developed a problem in the pyloric sphincter due to eating bones. I’m curious to know how the bones were prepared if you wouldn’t mind sharing that.  Thanks, KF.

    • mary b lewis

      I have had skin tests and blood draws.. derm, histologic dr vet after vet…yes allergies…Im on Barf and coconut oil, probiotics, fish oil… vitamin D…  ( might want to ck that out…) paws get inflamed periodical;y and skin was still a mess…  Dalmation look…  one NO potatoes.. not a smiggon.  and fish oil no white fish!.. told no cottage cheese phosphorous..  not much but may help..  yes we are on apaquel, did the allergy shots for a year with no change so we stopped that at 244. a month…  Also a Make a pot roast, ( no potatoes) add vegies carrots gr pepper gr beans peas, etc that you know he is ok with….  blend it all together… blender or processor…make patties the feeding size you need… my ratio is 2 cups of meat 1/2 cup of veggies..  freeze… PM take out what you need, for the next day.. add the supplements in liver sausage as a treat… or ( Honest Kitchen if Im short on Veggies…)

      • mary b lewis

        See Dr Dobbs… site… send in thyroid test… in Bullies even a slight low normal can set off skin problems.

  • Sam

    Hi i dont have bulldogs i have bullmastidfs and bordeauxs….can i follow this basic recipe still? do i find out how much they need in volume? They are 50 to 55 kg?

    • Dan Weese

      My! Those are some big dogs you have, Sam. I don’t see any reason they couldn’t follow the same feeding regiment as recommended for an English Bulldog. The amount of raw you feed them depends mostly on how old and how active they are. If you’re looking to maintain their current weight it’s recommended you see that they get between 2200 and 2400 calories per day. This comes out to 2.5 lbs of raw per day spread out over two feedings. Of course, some older dogs do only eat one meal per day.

  • Marilyn

    My bulldog has been on the raw food diet now for just over 10 weeks.  Well almost after every meal (twice a day) she vomits then eats her vomit.  Is this normal or is the diet not sitting well with her? I put her on this diet to help her with her skin and joint issues…both also seem to either be status quo or have worsened (her skin especially)…. I may go back to dry food and try the one u suggested. What do u think? Oh and she is 4 years old and I have been trying different foods for her for her skin issues.

    • Dan Weese

      Sorry to hear, Marilyn. This vomiting could be a sign of an intolerance or allergy to something in her raw diet. Either way, it is not considered normal to be happening so consistently and it is concerning to me. I have some questions. How old is your Bulldog? Has she had a history of vomiting in the past with hard kibble? Is it possible she’s eats her raw food to quickly and could benefit with a slow feeding bowl? May I ask what ingredients you commonly include in her meals?

  • Áslaug Ósk

    Hey Dan
    Thank you so much for this information:)
    I have a English bulldog, she is 9 months old. She has been on raw food diet all her life, but she is so red around her eyes and she is red and in her skin 🙁 we put flax seed oil on it and we buy the food in bulk from Icelandic company. She is a white dog but she is now black under her eyes 🙁
    What do you thank i should do? 🙂
    Thank you for all the information you already gave me!

    • Dan Weese

      Hello. It sounds like you’re describing tear stains(black under eyes). The red on the skin in this area could be some skin irritation caused by excessive tearing. Are you familiar with tear stains and how to treat them or do you suspect a different cause?

  • Rae


    Just wondering if you can feed them this everyday, i.e two times everyday (for adults).
    Also wondering if it is okay for puppies too.
    And a question about the bones. Is there a certain size or shape I should be looking out for – one that I shouldn’t include in the diet.

    Thanks 🙂

    • Dan Weese

      Rae, you can feed raw everyday for the life of your Bulldog. Twice a day for an adult is sufficient. Puppies too although smaller amounts probably 3 times per day. Raw, uncooked bones only. I wouldn’t recommend you feed any bones unless they’re ground first so as to avoid choking. We’re just getting started with a trial run of the barf diet for our bullies here at home that includes ground chicken bone. I’ll update this with info about our experience. Let me know how it goes with your bullies 🙂 – Dan Weese

      • Rae

        Thanks for your reply Dan, will do. 😀

  • Pedro Alvarez

    excellent info on the barf diet Thanks!!!

    • Dan Weese

      Glad to hear you found it useful, Pedro. Do you have your bully on the raw food diet or plan to some time in the future?

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