What is Natural Rearing?
Natural Rearing (also called NR) is a term that was coined by the great pioneer in natural feeding and rearing practices, Juliette de Bairacli Levy. An English woman, in 1930, who started studying to be a veterinarian. She began feeding raw foods and rearing her Afghan Hounds naturally and treating diseases with herbs.
Natural Rearing is actually as old as nature itself and it is based on the laws of nature, requiring that your animals be fed a raw species-appropriate diet and be cared for as close to how they would live and eat in the wild. Along with this includes living in a pack environment, on clean ground, having plenty of free access to fresh air, sunshine, clean, pure drinking water, and plenty of free running exercise.
In 2017, Dr. Jeannie Thomason published her book Natural Rearing: Raising and Breeding Dogs The Way Nature Intended. Up until that time, there really was no other published work on true Natural Rearing and those handful of breeders who believed it only made sense to raise their dogs according to their species were truly pioneers in the Natural Rearing field.
The basic principles of natural rearing are both simple and elegant. Simply stated, natural rearing means going back in time and raising, caring for and ethically breeding our animals as close to how they lived in the wild, prior to being domesticated.
Natural Rearing and a naturopathic lifestyle for our companion animals fly in the face of conventional living and rearing of animals that we have all been convinced to believe is healthy. We have come to believe that feeding only processed “pet food” that has had synthetic, man-made nutrients sprayed on or cooked into it, vaccinating every year to three years, routinely de-worming, and using toxic pesticides regularly is the best and only way to raise an animal. After all, if you don’t, it is likely that you will be considered irresponsible and even “cruel” to the animals in your care.
Time and experience as well as modern science itself, have provided solid evidence that nature’s ways are far superior in providing the elements required for our animals to have a vital, balanced immune system and long, healthy life.
More and more people are coming to realize that the misery experienced with their dog or cat suffering with dis-ease or dying at a young age, can be laid directly on the doorstep of following modern, conventional rearing methods. Gradually but steadily, more and more breeders are wanting to know how to breed and raise truly healthy puppies or kittens that will thrive throughout a longer lifespan.
To put true Natural Rearing in perspective we need to learn how nature works and the anatomy and physiology of our companion animals. It all starts with an understanding of the Immune system and what the animal must have to thrive (not merely survive):
Proper (RAW) species-specific Nutrition is the foundation of true health
A clean,toxin-free environment (eliminating household cleaning products, personal care products, synthetically scented products, toxic chemical-based pesticides, etc.) and the use of pure, filtered water.
Proper exercise – outside in the sunshine, on clean dirt and non-treated grass.
Proper rest – in a dark area with no electronic devices present
Trust and/or faith in nature’s ways
Natural Rearing can actually be called a “preventative” lifestyle in that it is the feeding & husbandry method that most closely raises your companion animal’s overall general health while it builds and maintains a strong, balanced immune system. Natural Rearing proponents view the animal as a “whole” individual; being much more than just the sum of its parts.
Bitches and Queens are allowed to raise and wean their young on their own schedule (that is without humans removing puppies or kittens from their mother's care to “artificially wean” them) and along with this goes the all-important disciplinary lessons taught by the dam to her young! It is part of a natural method of learning canine/pack or feline/pride social skills and it is extremely important in the formation of a stable temperament!
Nutrition is the foundation of health and the canine( and feline) diet should reflect the dog’s and cat’s carnivorous design. Dogs and cats fed a raw, meaty bone and organ-based diet enjoy overall superior health, evidenced by clean white teeth, fresh breath, pink healthy gums, shiny eyes, glossy, odor-free coats, and small firm odorless stools. There is no substitute for fresh, wholesome food, clean water, exercise, plenty of fresh air, sunshine, and avoidance of chemicals and drugs to the greatest extent possible.
One of the goals of Natural Rearing is to minimize the need for any veterinary assistance. Nurturing natural immunity, eliminating vaccinations that do not and can not prevent viruses but in reality make the animal MORE susceptible to dis-ease as vaccinations compromise the immune system.
Prevention of ill-ness and fostering well-ness can be achieved when a true Natural Rearing program is followed.
By Dr. Jeannie Thomason founder of the Natural Rearing Breeders Association in 2009. The site has been decommissioned with her passing, but the information is as relevant now as it ever was. Please look for a Natural Rearing breeder when researching breeders. Ask if they agree with this way of rearing animals.