Feeding your Dog's Personality
You are what you eat. In that case, I am a fully loaded pizza with extra cheese, and my dog is a little dried up brown nugget (not to throw shade on little brown nugget dogs). As a human, I gravitate towards food that tastes good. I have a choice. Dogs don't. The main difference between our eating habits and our dogs eating habits?? Thumbs. My thumbs prefer Pizza Hut supreme with extra cheese and a thin and crispy crust. (There's an app for that....) My dog has no thumbs. She can not open the fridge and peruse the latest grocery store offerings. She can not climb in the car and head to McDonalds for a quarter pounder. (I used to say she cant turn the key to turn the car on... But these days, you don't even need a key) She cant GrubHub, DoorDash, or Uber Eats.... She gets what I give her. And, for most of her life, her meals have consisted of little brown nuggets.
There are stores full of little brown nuggets. So many to choose from.... To be fair, they mostly are balanced nutrition. Some have been scientifically researched to an exact caloric, micronutrient, nutritionally balanced perfection. Yet, if someone handed you a bag of brown nuggets and said you get to eat this (and only this) for the rest of your life and you will be healthy. Would you eat it? Some of you would, some of you wouldn't. Why? Because we are all different. Different personalities, different tastes, different opinions. Our dogs are different too. Some eat their balanced brown nuggets and are happy. Others are a little pickier. Older, younger, stronger, weaker. We have foods for them all. Why not feed your dog's personality? Feed them what will help their unique individualized body. Feed them more than a generic little brown nugget.
I use a Chinese classification system for personality types. Why? Because the Chinese have been doing this for thousands of years. Because the Chinese are observers. Put those two things together and you have a pretty accurate and intuitive personality classification system. And the foods that those types should eat. And most importantly, the diseases those personalities tend to get if they are imbalanced. Which is also why the foods I recommend lean heavily toward asian foods. But give all other food types a break, the Chinese have been doing this for a lot longer than us. Most other cultures are on a learning curve. Ten years ago most Americans had never heard of Quinoa or Amaranth. These days, superfoods are much more available and western studies are showing just how beneficial some foods are and more and more foods are being classified as to metabolic type.
The five personality classifications (also known as Constitutions) are: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Which is your pet? I have a cute little test on the first page of my website that you can take to find out. (Your dog would take it but they don't have any thumbs... and probably no computer either) Or just continue reading....
Wood dogs are assertive. They are athletic. They are strong. They are competitive and decisive. They are usually the ones that will be aggressive towards their veterinarians. (But they also give us warnings. We, veterinarians and veterinary staff, deeply respect and appreciate warnings!) Breeds that come to mind are Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dobermans.
Fire dogs are happy. Playful. Friendly (probably overly friendly). They do everything to the extremes. They are usually vocal (especially when it comes to getting what they want... i.e. affection.... food... etc) They like to be the center of attention. They can be a little sensitive though, and get their feelings hurt easily. Breeds that are the epitome of fire dogs, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Poodles.
Earth Dogs are solid. They are laid back, easy going dogs. They are friendly (quietly friendly) and loyal. They also tend to be a little lazy. These dogs are the ones that will eat anything (even little brown nuggets) and be grateful. These dogs are deeply appreciative for every single thing in their lives. But mostly you and their food. Because of this, they also tend to have a little problem with their weight. The main breeds I think of, are Labrador Retrievers and Pugs.
Metal Dogs are organized. They tend to be aloof and a little stand-offish. They like rules. They definitely have preferences. In people, and in food. They are independent and very, very smart. The best breeds that represent metal personality types are a Border Collie and a Shiba Inu.
Water dogs are shy and timid. They are easily intimidated, and like to hide or run away. These are also dogs likely to bite their veterinarian. (Only, these dogs will typically nail us as they don't give us a warning. My worst injuries on the job have been from a water animal.) They can be friendly but usually to only to one or maybe two people. Most Chihuahuas are water type dogs.
I am giving breeds as examples as pure bred dogs tend to trend towards certain personality types. But that does not mean that ALL of a certain breed is a specific type. For example, Golden Retrievers are typically Fire dogs. But, I've run across some that are Earth, some Wood, some Metal, and occasionally I've seen a Water Golden. Some can be blends of types. Think of personalities like a spectrum, not an absolute. Most dogs will have one to two distinct primary personality characteristics (and a few minor ones). Don't necessarily get caught up in a specific classification if it confuses you. Just try and pick a general direction (are they more of an outgoing, vocal, demanding, happy dog.... Yang Or are they a more reserved, aloof, suspicious, picky dog... Yin Or are they a couch potato.... Earth) Then pick foods that will balance that.
Wood and Fire dogs are very Yang creatures. More physical and less mental. They are the extroverts of the dog world. They tend to run hot (see my Hot Dog blog post!). Metal and Water dogs are Yin creatures. More introverted, more thinkers and less physical. They are physically cooler just like their personalities. Earth? They are somewhere in between hot and cold. More neutral.
Feeding your pet based on their personality type can be complicated; so, at first, make it simple. Feed the Yang creatures a more cooling diet and feed the cooler, Yin, pets a more warming diet and stay neutral or stay away from dairy, fried foods and high fat foods in an Earth creature. (Really you should stay away from those food in ALL creatures but especially the Earth ones.) The good news is, that processed dog foods are warming, so the Yin pets out there are at an advantage from the start. (I suspect this is why we see a lot more illness in
Yang pets these days. Especially here in super hot Texas.) If you have a older Yin pet, I would avoid too many of the warming foods except in the winter. And these days, since Yin dogs are eating hot food their whole lives, I suspect a lot of them will need a cooling diet anyway. (which is the case of my Metal dog, Freckles) But that gets into feeding your pets illness, instead of their constitution. And that's more blog subjects.... So, in general, you cant go wrong picking a cooling to neutral diet for your dog no matter what constitution they are. But, definitely, avoid warming foods in a hot dog.
So, you have a hot dog. (see my previous blog! This is the most common both personality type dog and metabolically unbalanced type dog we see. ) Hot personality, hot to the touch, it's hot outside, etc... Feed them cooling foods:
Turkey, Whitefish (cod, haddock, etc), Duck, Clams, Oyster, Rabbit (farm raised), Egg whites, Yogurt, Tofu, Barley, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Wheat Bran, Mung Beans, Quinoa, Spinach, Broccoli, celery, Tomato, Mushrooms, Eggplant, Kelp, Cucumber, Watermelon, Pear, Banana, Strawberries, Kiwi, Orange, Mango, Watermelon (include the rind!) Peppermint, Honey, Green tea, salt, Flax seed oil.
You have a cool dog. Cool personality, Cool to the touch, it's cold outside. Feed them a warming diet (please note, it is common in the south to have Yin personality dogs that are way too hot. So, just because your dog has a Yin personality doesn't mean you should pick only warming foods. In other words, feed to a Yin pet's overall body temperature and the outside temperature before you feed to their personality.) Warming foods are:
Venison, Mutton, Lamb, Shrimp, Lobster (haha, like anyone is going to share their lobster!), Egg yolk, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Goat's Milk, Oats, White rice, Rye, Ginger, Garlic, Sweet Potato, Peppers, Pumpkin, Peach, Apricot, Blackberries, Raspberries, Tangerine, Plum, Coconut, Mustard, Walnuts, Nutmeg, Turmeric, Basil, Rosemary, Olive Oil, Brown Sugar.
Last, but not least... The couch potatoes of the dog world... Those sweet wonderful earth dogs that will eat most anything... (or pick this type food for any dog type....) feed them Neutral:
Pork, Beef, Salmon, Sardines, Tuna, Catfish, Whole eggs, Quail, Mackerel, Corn, Soy Beans, String Beans, Green Beans, Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Beet Pulp, Yam, Cabbage, Potato, Carrots, Cauliflower, Radish, Asparagus, Apple, Pineapple, Dates, Goji Berries.
One last word on combining foods. You can pick from both groups to neutralize your food. For example, your Fire dog loves sweet potatoes which are warming. Mix it with Turkey which is cooling. You will have a fairly neutral balance there.
Have I confused you enough? Don't stress out. (I know you metal personalities are saying in your mind.... But I need a list of SPECIFIC foods. I need a recipe! And you Fire personalities are out looking for a personal grocery shopper for your pet... Just chill....)
Don't make it a big production. Start simple, with one thing from one of the lists (If you feed your dog lobster regularly, though, I want to be invited!) They will let you know if they like it or not, and the really wonderful thing about dogs is, they tend to prefer foods that are good for them. And keep reading.... The next few blogs will address specific foods for specific constitutions AND specific diseases seen in those dogs.... and give some really yummy recipes. Next up "My Heart is on Fire.... The Fire dog, Heart disease and Behavioral Issues"