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The Ultimate Raw Feeding Debate: Prey Model vs. BARF Diet

The Ultimate Raw Feeding Debate: Prey Model vs. BARF Diet

When it comes to the world of dog food — and perhaps dog ownership in general — there is no debate more contentious that of the Prey Model versus the BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food)  Diet. While both of these doggy diet plans advocate a raw feeding philosophy, they also have some major differences. Here at Raw K9, we believe that the choice of putting your dog on a Prey diet versus a BARF diet is a deeply personal one that should ultimately be left up to the dog owner. 

In this blog post, we explore the differences and similarities between the Prey Model and BARF Diet in-depth so that dog owners can make an informed decision about which raw feeding plan is right for their four-legged friend. For the best raw dog food available anywhere, turn to Raw K9. Our high-quality, delicious and nutritious complete beef meals, starter packs, bundles, bones, and more are both Prey- and BARF-appropriate so that you can rest assured that you are giving your fur baby the humanely-harvested, USDA-grade, hormone-, antibiotic- and GMO-free beef that they need to thrive. We also offer a variety of nutrient-rich alternative proteins, such as duck, fish, lamb, quail, turkey, and rabbit for dogs with beef sensitivities and allergies. Read on to learn more about the two primary raw feeding models for dogs, then browse all of our raw dog food products today!

The Basic Raw Feeding Philosophy

Before we delve into what the Prey Model and BARF Diet differ on, it is important to first discuss their similarities. Sometimes called an “evolutionary diet” or “species-appropriate diet,” raw diets purport that, because canines evolved eating raw meat, it is important for them to continue to do so in order to thrive. Anything less falls short of their body’s requirements for longevity and freedom from disease. The further a dog’s diet strays from its evolutionary one, the more likely they are to suffer from health complications and have difficulty reaching their genetic potential. 

Raw feeding has been popular throughout Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe, and North America since the 1960s, making its emergence roughly concurrent with that of kibble. Before this time, most dogs ate raw meat anyway, since cooked food was often considered a precious commodity that few people would waste on something like a dog, since, at the time, dogs held a much lower social status than they enjoy today. Before domestication, wolf-dogs hunted for meat with their masters and hung around nomadic camps, enjoying whatever raw meat, bones, and offal (organs) were left over. 

While it is true that domestication has drastically changed dogs over time, this is only true of their external appearance and temperament — not their internal anatomy and physiology. In fact, domesticated dogs are so similar to wolves (differing at most from their mDNA sequence by 0.2%) that they are frequently used in wolf studies as physiological models for wolf processes. 

Despite what many people believe, raw feeding does not consist of simply feeding your dog raw meat. Rather, it revolves around feeding your dog a carefully crafted combination of muscle meat, edible bones, and offal, such as the liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas, and other secreting organs. The difference between the Prey Model and the BARF Diet consists of whether or not additional foods and vitamins need to supplement this basic regimen.

Both raw feeding models come with a variety of different benefits for your best friend. For one, raw feeding can significantly improve your dog’s digestion in that it includes minimal grains, which are common in processed commercial pet foods yet difficult for dogs to digest. This often results in large, messy stools, versus the small, dry, and solid stools found in dogs who adhere to a raw feeding model. These less obtrusive stools are much easier to pick up.

Raw feeding can also give your dog a healthier, lusher coat, as well as improve any skin sensitivities. Soft, shiny fur is a great indicator of a dog’s overall health, and a raw diet ensures that your companion has pest-free skin and a dazzling, head-turning coat. 

Raw feeding is also ideal for dogs who suffer from poor dental hygiene, such as toy breeds, whose mouths have a tendency for overcrowded teeth, resulting in bad breath and gum disease. A raw diet provides natural live enzymes and good bacteria to help clean teeth, improve gums, and freshen breath. 

Dog obesity is becoming an increasing problem today due to the carb-heavy, highly processed ingredients found in most commercial pet foods. When you begin to feed your dog a high-protein Prey or BARF diet, you will notice that they soon shed their extra weight and develop a stronger, firmer, and more leaner body. Lean dogs liver longer, have stronger immune systems, and have lower blood pressure than dogs that are overweight or obese. 

Did you know that a raw dog food diet can even improve your pup’s behavior? It’s true! Processed dog foods are high in carbohydrates, resulting in high blood and insulin levels, which have been linked to poor behavior like aggression and anxiety. Switching your dog to a raw diet makes them less reactive and fearful so that both you and your fur baby can enjoy a better quality of life.

Are Dogs Carnivores or Omnivores?

According to the Prey Model, dogs are carnivores. Carnivore teeth are designed to rip and tear meat from the bone and then gulp it down to be further digested in the stomach. One look in your dog’s mouth shows that they possess the long canine teeth necessary for this kind of eating. Dogs also have short GI tracts — another characteristic of carnivores, as they have no need for the long process of fermentation required when digesting cellulose. Furthermore, a short GI tract and highly acidic stomach help them avoid bacterial infections that can come from eating raw meat, such as salmonella, since these bacteria can only survive in higher pH conditions (4-8+) and require at least 12 hours to reach incubation. Dogs’ stomachs have very high acidity (about pH 1) while their digestive system is very short. 

According to BARF adherents, on the other hand, dogs are omnivores. In the wild, wolves commonly eat grains and even indulge in the occasional berry, as well as eating the grains contained with their prey’s stomach. Furthermore, recent studies have suggested that today’s dogs differ from their wild cousins in that their stomachs have, in fact, adapted to digest starch and glucose. 

When it comes down to it, there is no easy answer in terms of whether dogs are carnivores or omnivores. While their bodies are certainly optimized to eat meat, they may also  require supplementation with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy, and vitamins as well. At Raw K9, we have customers who believe in all different types of raw feeding models, including the Prey Model and BARF Diet. We believe that the choice of which type of model to follow is ultimately a personal one, and are happy to support anyone who believes that their dog can thrive with high-quality raw muscle meat, edible bones, and offal, regardless of whether or not they need additional food.

Different Guidelines for Different Diets

Both Prey and BARF adherents believe that dogs require precise ratios of different types of food in order to make the most out of their evolutionary diets. Those who follow the Prey Model purport that dogs require a diet consisting of 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% other secreting organs, particularly the spleen. This can be accomplished in a few different ways. Some people give their dogs whole prey animals, such as entire birds, rabbits, and other small sources of protein, including all internal organs, blood, intestinal tract, and glands with the fur and feathers still attached. While wild prey is ideal, dogs may eat domesticated prey as well., 

Other Prey adherents use multiple animal proteins. This is called “frankenprey feeding.” In this method, a variety of animal parts are fed in measured amounts so that your dog gets the same sum of parts as it would if it were eating an animal whole. Frankenprey meals often consist of a mix of different meat types, bones, and organs. At Raw K9, we offer foods for both the whole prey and frankenprey models of raw feeding.

The raw feeding ratio for the BARF Diet, on the other hand, is roughly 70% muscle meat, 10% edible bones, 7% vegetables, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organs, 2% seeds or nuts, and 1% fruit. Many BARF owners give their dogs a vitamin and mineral supplement as well. The BARF Diet is generally considered a less strict method of raw feeding than the Prey Model. You may basically use whatever you can find in the way of whole, raw, healthy foodstuffs, including ingredients found at your local supermarket. You can further enhance the diet of your BARF-fed dog with healthy supplements such as vitamins, essential fatty acids, probiotics, kelp, alfalfa powder, various herbs, and more. Our Raw K9 dog foods make a delicious and nutritious addition to any BARF Diet.

In addition to differing feeding ratios, the Prey and BARF models have different feeding guidelines for dog weights as well, though both come in at around 2 to 3% of your dog’s body weight. Below is a chart outlining how much your dog should eat daily according to their body weight and raw feeding plan:

Prey Model


Dog Weight

10 lbs

3.2 oz

4 oz 

25 lbs

8 oz

12 oz

50 lbs

1 lb

1 lb 8 oz

75 lbs

1 lb 8 oz

2 lbs 4 oz

100 lbs

2 lbs

3 lbs

150 lbs

3 lbs

4.5 lbs

Go Raw With Raw K9!

Whether you adhere to the Prey Model, BARF Diet, or something wholly unique, your dog can enjoy the delicious taste of human-grade, USDA-approved raw meat when you buy from Raw K9. All of our animal ingredients were humanely harvested in the prime of their health and include everything your dog needs to thrive, including muscle meat, organs, and bones or our all-nature bone replacement blend. So, what are you waiting for? Experience the Raw K9 difference for yourself by browsing our raw dog foods today.