* Prices may differ from that shown
~~*~~ Royal Canin Maxi Babydog ~~*~~ For those of you who aren't familiar with me and the Pig, I am a slightly crazy dog walker and Pig is the greatest Labrador alive who's just had 12 puppies that left for their new homes a fortnight ago. And this is the story of their grub... ~~*~~ Royal Canin ~~*~~ Royal Canin are a dog food company with a lot of experience - apparently they were the first to introduce specific diets for large breed puppies in 1980 and in 1997 they made specific diets for small, medium and large breeds. Exciting. They do a range of foods specific for each breed but I don't use that for the Pig as they're bloody expensive. If you're a registered breeder with them they are excellent - you get a 2% discount and free delivery on orders over 20kg (easily done when one bag weighs that much) plus you get a points system that means you can get free goods if you keep ordering through the website. ~~*~~ The puppy packs ~~*~~ As an Accredited Breeder with the Kennel Club I wanted to do everything correctly and responsibly. Finding the right home for the babies was one thing and turning people away as they just weren't right for the special ones was very hard but not only is trusting strangers to look after the kids a big responsibility so is sending them on their way with the correct information and supplies to hand. The puppy packs I received from Royal Canin were a bit pants to be honest - all I got was a red folder with a voucher booklet in it. So I added my own treats, a clicker, smelly toy, smelly blanket, diet and care sheet, vaccination card and 5 generation pedigree certificate. This took bloody ages! Other companies offer bags of food, bowls, leads, clickers, raggers etc but hey ho, I'd chosen this food and had to stick with the plan. It's important to keep a puppy on the same food their used to and switch over to another brand grandually which meant that the vouchers in the puppy pack were a good money saving devise but who wants to pick up their new puppy and then have to go shopping for the food? Instead, I filled in the vouchers for the new owners and got my lovely local pet shop 'Flynn the Dog' to exchange them all for me, hence the new parents were able to collect baby mutt and babydog food at the same time. ~~*~~ The packaging and purchase ~~*~~ The Reproduction Starter was in a nice non chewable plastic bag - one would think that now the puppies were gaining their first set of gnashers, it would be prudent to put the 'next-step' grub in a similar bag but no, this was not the case. The bag was a thick brown layer of paper with a white thinner layer over this with all the RC instructions written on it. There are lots of dog food brands who incorporate this wrapping but hell, I'm paying a lot of money, at least put it in a container that the rabid, starving critters can't get into. Yes, I could have decanted it into a box, but quite frankly I had enough to do and we were getting through a considerable amount a week. As I said before I ordered it from RC website and it was £45.23 for 20kg - there are other places that have it for sale but it's the 15kg for around the same price. If you have enough dogs that are potential breeding bitches or stud dogs then it's definitely worth registering with RC just for the discounts. ~~*~~ The Ingredients ~~*~~ As I've said in the other RC reviews, the ingredients mean diddly squat to me but I include them anyway as some people may be strangely interested. Don't know why that would be. Dehydrated poultry meat, rice, maize, animal fats, L.I.P vegetable protein isolate, hydrolysed animal proteins, L.I.P animal proteins, beet pulp, minerals, fish oil, soya oil, fructo-oligo-saccharides, psyllium husks and seeds, L-lysine, yeast extract (source of mannan-oligo-saccharides), taurine, egg powder, marigold extract (rich in lutein), hydrolysed crustaceans (rich in glucosamine), hydrolysed cartilage (rich in chondroitin), L-carnitine. There you go. And under the following heading, I'll let Royal Canin attempt to explain them to you. ~~*~~ Royal Canin gumpf ~~*~~ It's stated that this food can be used from weaning through to 5 months. Although it is designed for 'Maxi' breeds (the term refers to those dogs whose adult weight will be between 26 and 45kg, for example, Borzoi, Afghan Hound, Clumber Spaniel and Giant Schnauzer, personally I think the Pig is a very small example of maxi but nevermind) the kibble is tiny - the little ones were easily chomping it at 5 weeks, and virtually hoovering it out the bowl by 8 weeks so I advised the new owners to move them onto the junior version or another brand sooner rather than wait for the 5 month limit. Maxi puppies apparently have more sensitive digestive systems (obviously nobody at RC has ever met a Labrador that has a cast-iron gut) so they include Acti-flora (prebiotics and psyllium) to help ensure a balanced intestinal flora. Apparently, the food includes 'a synergistic complex of antioxidants and manno-oligo-sacchirides to help support natural defences' which is nice - perhaps I shouldn't be so flippant - being a dog walker I was careful when the babies were new but as with most things I got rather lax. At first I was washing clothes before handling the little monkeys, then it was just my hands, then I kind of forgot and just grabbed them from the sea of poo they'd created in the mere two hours I'd been walking dogs (best job in the world time wise) so perhaps the reason they didn't catch kennel cough, parvo, lord-knows-what is because they were protected from the inside. Well, maybe. The kibble has a high concentrate of energy not only to help keep the buggers hyper but to ensure that for the limited amounts they can consume (still doubt they've met Labradors before) and sensibly digest, means they get the most from it. As with the starter kibble, there is also a high EPA and DHA content which help to sustain the development of the puppies cerebral and visual functions (if only the Pig had had this food as a baby she may now be able to see when the patio doors are shut and stop denting them with her big fat head). Perhaps the little ones were more developed than the Pigster - they were able to wee on paper instead of their bedding from around 3 weeks and began their clicker training at 4 weeks. Or maybe Pig's just very simple and no amount of special food would make her less special. Also, because maxi breeds are big boned and heavy on their joints, RC babydog contains glucosamine - for the big Pig I add Tesco's own supplements but there was no way I could be arsed to grind the tablets down for the babies. ~~*~~ The Puppy Taste Test ~~*~~ Being mini-labradors, I'd be hard pushed to find something that they wouldn't eat but they did love their maxi babydog. As with the progression from the puppy milk to the Royal Canin Starter Kibble (read my review, it's fascinating), this transition was a synch. The Maxi was added in small portions to the starter kibble, gradually increasing the amount so their delicate bellies wouldn't react to the change. They had cast iron guts to be fair but better safe than sorry. At first it was mashed in with the starter kibble and hot water to make it easy to eat but at about 5 weeks, they were eating it dry. Whilst four were eating the rest were taught to sit and be quiet using these biscuits and most of them learnt quickly (Doris and Frank were a little slow on the uptake, bless 'em). Once the four had eaten they were let outside to do their 'busies' and the next four were allowed to eat. I fed them using a Weanafeeder - a plastic contraption that has spaces for four bowls but partitions inbetween them to keep one puppy from barging another off their dinner and being a greedy piglet. The reason I mention this is that some of the pups were more advanced and could eat these biscuits a lot quicker than the others (actually by the end they appeared to just inhale them rather than chew) and the feeder worked a treat when it came to letting each puppy have their allocated amount. I must point out that the kids weren't solely fed on the kibble, they had 5 meals a day: 2 kibble, 2 weetabix, puppy milk and raw egg and 1 cooked mince - this is because I'm a stickler for old habits and I like a bit of variety to help pups be less fussy and less sensitive to change. ~~*~~ Contact them ~~*~~ If you go to www.royalcanin.co.uk you'll find all the information you want and a lot that you didn't. Go on, give em a ring on 0845 300 5011 - even if you don't have a litter, every one likes a chat occasionally. Or maybe you prefer the more personal touch, so why not send them a picture or even a puppy, you never know, you may get a voucher in return. Crown Pet Foods Ltd, Oak Tree Meadow, Blackworthy Road, Castle Cary, Somerset, BA7 7PH. What else can I say? The pups were little stunners when they left for their new homes - lots of chunky bone and broad heads - perfect little show labs. Me & Pig. Sept 2010. Both hungry all the time. Review will more than likely appear elsewhere.