Raw dog food: ‘BARF’ vs. ‘whole prey’

If you’ve done some research about switching your dog to a raw diet, you’ve probably come across some information about two popular models of raw feeding – “BARF” and “whole prey.”

raw dog food diet in general is exactly as it sounds – raw. Raw meat, raw bones, raw organs, raw fat and sometimes raw fruits and veggies.

So, what are each of these “models,” and which is better?

Raw dog food barf recipes

‘BARF’ model

The BARF model stands for “bones and raw food” or “biologically appropriate raw food.” For most BARF feeders, this includes raw fruits and veggies following the belief that dogs are omnivores.

Some dog owners choose to make homemade BARF diet recipes for dogs, and others prefer to buy commercially prepared raw food for dogs. Nearly all commercial raw dog food contains fruits and veggies, and could generally be considered BARF diets.

‘Whole prey’ model

This model follows the belief that dogs, like wolves, are true carnivores. The whole prey model is an attempt to feed dogs as close to “whole prey” as possible with the understanding that dogs will get all the nutrients they need from their “prey.” No grain, fruits or veggies are necessary.

In general, the overall goal is to feed about 80 percent meat, 10 percent organs and 10 percent bones, according to the Facebook group Raw Feeding (RF).

For some, that means allowing the dog to help himself to an entire deer carcass. For others, a more realistic approach is feeding a whole rabbit or a whole chicken. For most, it’s probably going to mean buying supermarket meat such as chicken quarters, chicken liver, pork roasts, beef ribs, etc. Ground meat such as hamburger is generally not considered whole prey because it is not in its natural form.

So which is better, BARF or whole prey?

Ha! If only it were that simple!

It is controversial whether or not dogs are omnivores or carnivores. I don’t have the answer to that.

Personally, I feed a variety of foods to my dog, and I do not support either model. I feed my dog “meals” that fall under both models. One day, I might give Ace ground beef with chopped veggies and an egg. Another meal, I might hand him a pork roast or a turkey thigh.

I don’t believe carbohydrates are harmful to my dog, so Ace’s raw dog food diet is probably about 10 percent fruits and veggies. I typically don’t feed him corn or other grains except for when it’s in treats. Hey, if I can have junk food every now and then, so can my dog!

Raw dog food ebookLike everything else, even the “raw dog food world” is divided. As usual, the best answer is probably somewhere in the middle.

If you feed your dog a raw diet, I’m curious which model you tend to follow, if any.

For more info on raw feeding, check out my raw dog food recipe guide.