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BARF 80:10:10 : A discussion

Both Mark and I have noticed recently that lots of raw feeders, some of you lovely pack amongst others are very assiduous about the official BARF (terrible acronym!)  “ratios” that are fed to their dogs. We totally support any attention that people put into improving their pets lives. It is after all our core mission here at Bella and Duke to save as many dogs lives as possible.

(Sneak preview, we are going to have to change that mission statement soon to “as many Dogs and Cat’s lives as possible”  but thats a different story for another post.  Brace brace pet world we are on a mission!)

Back to the matter at hand, both of us are of a similar view that this 80:10:10 ratio is only a guideline. A good one at that and we agree with it.  We ALSO agree with questioning everything we do. Why? We want to ensure we avoid simply following other people’s dogma and enable our tribe to constantly evolve. Likewise,we agree that there are some things you can be relatively relaxed about when feeding your dogs, and others that need a more strict line of approach (like never feeding your dog grains for example) . We believe the 80:10:10 falls into the “more relaxed” camp.

The below article is a collation of our thoughts on why 80:10:10 is a great benchmark, and why its important to only ever see it as that.

What is 80:10:10?

80:10:10 refers to 80% meat, 10% bone 10% offal. Some aficionados go as far as to split the offal into 5% liver and 5% other.

Where does this number come from?

It is a best guesstimate of how dogs ate in the wild and reflects the “constitution” of their whole prey. We are pursuing a “species appropriate diet” so it makes sense to feed your animal what it has evolved to eat. By now we all know that this is easiest on its digestion, lowers inflammation from non digestible foods and maximises nutrient absorption. The essential word in this whole paragraph is guesstimate.

Whole Prey

Whole prey is a totally valid approach and is a great base for our feeding template to evolve from.  There is a “but” on the horizon…Whole prey itself varies enormously. A wild rabbit or hare will vary throughout the season and be much leaner in the spring after winter. It eats different foods and carries differing levels of body fat. It is also totally different to a pheasant which is very different to a pigeon or a chicken’s egg, or a crab found on the beach.  We can see that the 80:10:10 will be consistently varying according to season, what’s available and where in the world a dog is.


Next, we know and have already discussed (see the article on Dogs & Dirty Puddles) that Dogs are supreme scavengers. They will pretty much put anything in their mouths and have an innate drive to eat when they can, as they wouldn’t (in the wild) know when their next meal is coming or what it will consist of.

Wild dogs (and domestic dogs fed Raw) have marvellously robust gut bacteria (microbiome) that allows them to eat, within reason, food which would knock one of us humans out for weeks. It’s a key part of their immune system. It’s a key part of the Dog’s survival success.

Whenever I test my human patients with one of the newer Gut Bacteria tests, you can instantly tell who has a dog as part of their tribe, as inevitably we end up picking up some of their good bacteria. (one of the many reasons I believe that “Dogs Help us Lead Happier Healthier Lives)

The point to all of this…Scavenging by definition means being opportunistic. A dog would never calculate its 80:10:10 ratios when wolfing down a slightly vintage wild dove its found fallen from  its nest, just as it wouldn’t gnawing a tasty bone.

And yes dogs do “self treat” and have an excellent sense of what they need. But they don’t always get this right. My dog ate 4 clothes pegs last week, after winnowing them down to masticated slivers and these are strictly outside of the 80:10:10 remit. As were the boxer shorts off the clothes horse.

Evolution and Science

Evolution is always going to be very important as it shows us where and how we go to where we are now. This helps us employ the best methods to suit our biology.

However…it also makes sense to pay attention to the latest evolving science. Whilst dogs didn’t evolve eating vegetables and berries (mostly) we know that the antioxidants help prevent cancer. We all live in a much more polluted environment than the one we evolved in so this is even more important.

Same story probiotics Eating probiotics as an additional supplement is a “relatively” new concept but we know that it benefits humans and dogs enormously. Digestive enzymes same same.

Breed variety & biology.

In the last 250 years there has been an EXPLOSION in the number of dog breeds. And in the last ten has seen breed levels rise stratospherically. Each breed has a unique biology. Within this each dog is different with different health needs and susceptibilities. Furthermore an active farm dog will probably have differing requirements to a lap dog living in the City.

Both deserve love and optimal nutrition. They may just varying what that optimal nutrition is.


This for me is the really important part. I believe that of even more significance than the split of a dogs food, is the quality of that food.  I would much rather my dog ate human grade responsibly sourced protein than dehydrated rehydrated baked microwaved hydrolysed chicken carcass that we can’t work out where its from.   Even if it means sacrificing a guessed ratio.

Ideally I want my dog to have it all, quality food and the right quantities of that quality food. That is exactly what we are doing our utmost to produce here at Bella& Duke. Whilst accepting that every dog is different so will need slightly different attention.


Its my humble opinion, (which in itself is a guesstimate 🙂 ), that the 80:10:10 is a great guideline. Its a guideline which should empower us rather than enslave us. I also believe we can be happily reassured that as long as we are keeping the toxic elements out of a dogs diet, the grains, the processed kibbles, wherever possible keeping it free from chemicals and providing it with a secure loving environment where it knows is place in the hierarchy, we are as close as we need to be to giving that dog the best life possible. And thats what we are all about.

If anyone wants to get their own gut flora tested then please feel free to contact me via or email at

We are offering a free 15 minute consult for any members of the Bella & Duke pack.

Ok, its time for a walk !


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