Boxers are strong, intelligent canines that make good companions when they get off on the right start. When and how to wean your boxer pups depends on a few factors, such as if the pups are going to be kept as companion dogs or be involved in showing or breeding. Since weaning methods are designed with these different roles in mind, it is best to know your options before you begin the puppy weaning process.
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Natural Weaning Method
The natural weaning method is simply to let the boxer mother and puppies determine when it is time for the pups to be weaned. A natural weaning process is normally complete by the eighth week even though the boxer pups start to nibble on the mother's kibble at about 3 weeks of age. Just like wolves in the wild, pups gnaw on foods brought into the pack, but do not depend on them for their primary source of nutrition. By allowing the pups to make the switch from milk to kibble slowly over several weeks, the pups' digestive tracts fully develop before they have to depend on digesting processed fillers and corn. This method of weaning is safe and effective for all boxer pups and is frequently used by companion breeders because there is no rush to get the pups to a seller by a certain date.
Assisted Natural Weaning
Assisted weaning is not as aggressive as breeder timed weaning methods. Some boxer breeders may use this method to allow the pups and mother to carry out the natural weaning process while also ensuring the pups are kibble-ready for new homes. When the boxer pups reach about 4 weeks old, start offering puppy mush up to 4 times a day. Each week, increase the amount of puppy kibble and decrease the amount of milk replacement and water in the mush. This weaning method gives the breeder the option to add additional nutrients for high energy pups, slow growing pups or a low milk-producing mother.
Breeder Weaning Schedule
A breeder's weaning schedule is more strict than either of the natural forms of weaning. This is because breeders are mainly concerned with getting the puppies in homes by the time they are 7 weeks old. To begin a breeder's weaning schedule, start offering puppy mush at 3 1/2 weeks old 3 to 4 times a day. Allow the mother to finish what your boxer pups do not. Like with assisted weaning, increase the amount of kibble and decrease the amount of milk replacement and water each week. By 7 1/2 weeks old, your boxer pups should be eating kibble and drinking water.
Raw Diet Weaning
Raw diet weaning uses raw foods in place of kibble to wean your boxer puppies from the mother's milk. Raw diet weaning is common among high quality breeders, and is slowly making its way into the companion boxer home. Raw diets are less likely to create skin disorders, tarter breath and "doggy odour," as some processed kibble diets do. Breeders also claim that a raw diet produces a better coat and healthier boxer that cannot be obtained with a kibble-only diet. To begin the raw-diet weaning method, at 3 to 4 weeks of age, offer your boxer pups a taste of goat's milk from your hand once or twice a day for 1 to 2 weeks. Once your boxer pups have learnt to lick the milk from your hand, offer a small amount of goat's milk in a shallow bowl. When they can successfully accomplish this task, offer a mixture of blended or mashed bananas, yoghurt, goat's milk and an egg.
Raw Diet from Mush to Solids
When your boxer pups are about 5 weeks of age, begin adding digestive enzymes and a small amount of ground liver to the goat's milk mix, even though your boxer pups will still be feeding regularly from the mother. At 5 1/2 weeks your boxer pups should be thriving. If so, they are ready to move on to a three-part mixture of ground liver, blended veggies and goat's milk. Blending is necessary to teach the pups' intestines how to extract nutrients from the new foods they are eating. When your boxer pups are between 5 and 7 weeks old, feed four to five small meals of the three-part mixture daily, along with what nutrients they get from the mother, making sure each pup gets full. At 7 weeks of age, decrease the number of times of feeding to three.
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