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The Natural Rearing Breeder Connection

Paula Vandervoort with her Boxer puppy.


A Conversation with Paula Vandervoort

You’ve been a Boxer breeder for more than 50 years, and have recently added the Boston Terrier. How did you get your start in Boxers?

Paula Vandervoort: I got started right out of high school and going into university with a mixed-breed Boxer. She literally saved my life by attacking someone who was trying to hurt me physically. She gave her life in the process. It bonded me to this breed from the start. I went to the newspaper ads (we had no Internet) and found a litter of “purebred” Boxers available. I just happened to purchase a female from one of the top Boxer breeders in the country who became my mentor until her death. She introduced me to showing, performance, grooming, training, and hammered into me how important health screening is. “If a health issue is available to screen, do it!” she said. That has been my motto ever since.


Are you an AKC Breeder of Merit? An AKC Bred with H.E.A.R.T Breeder?

Paula Vandervoort: Although I wasn’t aware of the programs at first, I received an email from AKC when the Breeder of Merit program was launched because I had already qualified with my history of titled dogs, health screening protocols, active participation in AKC clubs, and 100 percent AKC registration of all litters. I am a member of both programs.


Can you tell us about some of your influences as both a breeder and exhibitor?

Paula Vandervoort: I am a small, self-supporting boutique breeder, but I’ve been around a long time and am very active in dog sports of all kinds. If the sport is available, I usually want to see if my dogs like it. So, people in the areas where I’ve lived (Arizona, California, and now, Texas) know me well. I hope that younger breeders see me now as an available mentor. I’ve been through a lot of judges’ training, and although I don’t want to judge full-time, I do understand my Breed Standards very well. Also, as owner of The Dog Breeder Store, I get the opportunity to work with younger breeders, many of whom are at the “backyard breeder” level.

I love to gently warm them up to the responsibilities of being an ethical breeder. I talk to a lot of young breeders who are intimidated by senior breeders, and that’s not necessary. If I see a newbie sitting ringside with the wrong equipment and clothes for Conformation showing, and a pet dog on the leash, I try to be that person who comes over and warmly welcomes them to the sport. I want them to be part of a loving tribe of people, and not start off with any criticisms. We all start somewhere, and it is the love of the dogs that binds us.

Paula Vandervoort
Paula Vandervoort

What are some of the areas in which you’ve focused your efforts as a breeder? As an exhibitor?

Paula Vandervoort: At first, I was so focused on understanding the Standard, the genetics of breeding well, and how to show dogs that I was thinking that all the health screening I was doing was supporting longevity in my program. Oh, how wrong I was. I observed that my breed was not living very long, and less so as time passed. I was rarely seeing vital dogs in their teens, and so many were dying of cancer, heart issues, chronic gastrointestinal disease, and general unthriftiness, all at young ages.

Lots of dogs with chronic allergies, skin problems, and ITCHING. Oh my, the itching was just crazy. I read a longevity study done by The Kennel Club (UK) that proved that my breed of Boxers was losing an average of 1.3 years of life in ten years. From 2004 to 2014, the average lifespan of a Boxer went from 11.3 years to just 10!

My efforts in recent decades have been focused on understanding the causes of these issues and how to fix them. I ended up going to school for many years to learn about longevity science, animal naturopathy, carnivore nutrition, and all kinds of alternative medicine techniques. You would be amazed at how much we can do to influence longevity if we understand the toxic effects of today’s common household items. But as breeders, we must think long-term. We must reduce coefficients of inbreeding, and we need to learn alternatives to feeding processed foods, using vaccines laden with heavy metals, chemical wormers, and toxic cleaners in our nurseries and kennels. It’s all out there if we want to learn how to do better.

I was invited to teach a workshop on epigenetics at The American Boxer Club in which I explained the effects of toxins on gene expression throughout the generations. I was so happy at the attendance, considering that I am not a big, well-known show breeder. The breeders in attendance were very engaged in learning how we can change gene expression (eventually, permanently) just by changing some of the things I’ve just mentioned. We can make a difference in future generations. And those workshops are up on my YouTube channel for anyone to see at The Dog Breeder Channel.


As a senior Boxer breeder, how do you view your role in the purebred dog community today?

Paula Vandervoort: I very much want to make a difference in longevity in these precious purebred dogs. I do get a lot of pushback from those who want to do things the old way, or feel judged because they are feeding kibble, for example. But I do all I can to gently educate without people feeling judged. We can’t all afford to feed an organic prey-model raw meat diet. I get that. But we can do better. For example, we can put a raw egg on top of a good quality kibble to get started. And once we see the positive changes in our dogs’ health, we may decide to do more in the realm of natural rearing.


You’ve co-founded the Natural Rearing Breeder Connection. What is the group’s mission?

Paula Vandervoort: I was originally the only credentialed Boxer breeder in an organization called “Natural Rearing Breeders Association,” founded by Dr. Jeannie Thomason VND. She ran one of several schools I attended after getting my Biology degree, American Council of Animal Naturopathy, and wrote the book Natural Rearing, which teaches breeders about this concept in practical ways. She passed in 2021, and, unfortunately, the organization died with her.

I only explain this because a couple of her students have revived the organization under the name “Natural Rearing Breeder Connection.” Krystal Beers is my co-founder, and she is a Small Animal Naturopath. Krystal is also a natural-rearing breeder of Havanese and English Shepherd farm dogs.

For our members and breeders, our mission is to provide the premier association for Natural Rearing Dog and Cat Breeders by providing support, education, information, and increased positive
community exposure.

We also want to provide a referral network to promote Natural Rearing breeders and the community of professionals dedicated to providing natural/holistic health alternative modalities for dogs and cats.

Our mission is to bring an awareness of the benefits of Natural Rearing and of holistic/natural health preventative programs promoting health and well-being for your animal companions. We are also committed to being a resource for Natural Rearing breeders of licensed, certified, and/or registered natural animal health practitioners geared toward caring for animals naturally.


Is natural rearing a “new” way of raising puppies? Is it compatible with modern practices?

Paula Vandervoort: “Natural rearing” is the oldest way of raising puppies and was commonplace prior to when kibble manufacturers and big pharma became so influential. Some think that because it is not “modern” it is outdated and should be ignored. They could not be more wrong.

Kibble feeding, modern, toxic cleaners, and many medicines are responsible for the chronic health issues and reduced longevity we now face. Chemical pesticides and insecticides are likely killing dogs. The companies that make them are being sued successfully for harming our beloved pets. Modern medicine has its place; for acute injuries, for example. But one needs to understand that Mother Nature offers a robust medicine chest as well. For every modern pharmaceutical, there is a corresponding medical-grade plant medicine such as an essential oil or herb. There is a corresponding homeopathic. We have medicines that affect an animal’s frequency in a positive way, and many breeders are unaware that frequency matters. A sick animal has a low frequency. They’re unaware that when used correctly, plant medicines and homeopathics can effect cures rather than mask symptoms.

I use both medical systems. I couldn’t breed successfully without my repro vet. But, I also have a holistic vet who handles everything that I can’t do myself. My repro vet understands that I don’t use Tramadol and Rimadyl, for example. She has seen it all in action. She’s watched me bring a dog around from anesthesia in 30 minutes with essential oils and homeopathics. The same dog previously took three days to recover without them. She also knows that I won’t use anything on my dogs that I haven’t tried on myself. I have personally been through surgeries with only the use of essential oils and homeopathics for pain control and infection prevention. So, I know they work.


Would you say rearing litters and raising dogs naturally is a “movement” whose time has come?

Paula Vandervoort: Absolutely. Our world is way too toxic now to ignore this way of doing things. We can’t afford to use chemicals that burn our eyes in our nurseries just because they kill 99.9% of “germs.” They also harm our babies. There are ways to clean naturally without harming the microbiome or the environment. We have all been brainwashed to think that things need to be sterile, but that is only important in surgery, not in a nursery or kennel—or inside a body either. Most people know that our gut houses our immune system. It has millions of participants; some are beneficial and some are pathogenic, but they are all important.

When we use synthetic antibiotics, we destroy the terrain of the gut microbiome. I’m not saying not to use them when in a life-threatening situation, but breeders who are giving antibiotics during pregnancy “just in case” are destroying the immune system of the bitch, who then passes that microbiome on to her babies. They are born with no microbiome, and what they inherit from mom needs to be robust. If it has some pathogens in it, they can be helpful as their immune systems learn how to deal with them in baby steps.

I hope that reading this will get more breeders and pet people interested in learning about natural rearing, as it may well be the only cure we have in an ever more toxic world. I have read a lot about extinction predictions in some purebreds, and I believe we may be headed in the wrong direction. If you read the study on Pottinger’s Cats anywhere on the Internet, you’ll have your eyes opened to how a population can go extinct simply by not using the right diet that they evolved to eat. It’s scary stuff, but I believe we have the tools in natural rearing to turn things around.


Do naturally reared puppies make for successful Conformation and Performance competitors?

Paula Vandervoort: We have many NR breeders who participate in Conformation and Performance successfully. We know that we have more vitality and longevity in our programs, so their careers are longer in these sports. We don’t tend to have decrepit seniors!

I recently was able to add Boston Terriers to my program by purchasing a multi-generational, naturally reared girl out of Dr. Jeannie Thomason’s 30-year program of naturally-reared show dogs. Her naturally reared dam is GCHG Widget’s Heaven Sent At Tre Run FDC BCAT RATM CZ8S CGC TKI, ROM, from Tre Run Boston Terriers. She won the Breed at the Boston Terrier National and at Westminster, ending up as No. 6 Breed and No. 5 All-Breed in the US.

Her sister, GCHB CH Tre Run N Widget’s Moonlit Star, is now GCHS, No. 13 Breed, No. 8 All-Breed, Multiple Group Winning, Multiple Group Placing, NOHS No. 1 Boston Terrier, NOHS No. 23 ALL BREEDS, and she qualified for the Chicago Challenge Cup this month. She has qualified for Crufts in 2024 & 2025. My girl is Farm Dog certified with her Canine Good Citizen and Trick Dog title, and is now working in Agility.

Some of our breeders are reporting up to double the normal lifespan in their respective breeds, and when you combine that with proper structure and temperament, you’ve got a force to be reckoned with in any show ring!

Paula Vandervoort
Paula Vandervoort

How can breeders learn more about NRBC and similar organizations? How can they contact you?

Paula Vandervoort: The Natural Rearing Breeder Connection is currently growing its ranks on Facebook, in a group by that same name. As we conduct this interview, Krystal Beers and I are working behind the scenes to launch the website; it is filled with education, and ways to list litters and natural rearing breeders. You can find the organization at, a platform for all breeders and pet people to obtain education and connect with one another.

I can be contacted at I also own a mature on-line store that caters to dog breeders in general, but specializes in the needs of natural rearing breeders who raw-feed and/or want to do things a bit less on the toxic side. The website is I am available for consultations and mentorships through the store platform.

I also run a private, free, educational group on Facebook for those on the natural-rearing journey called “Gentry Boxers Natural Rearing Group.”

My YouTube Channel is “The Dog Breeder Channel,” where I teach in short snippets about all aspects of breeding and natural rearing techniques.


About Paula Vandervoort

Paula Vandervoort is an AKC Breeder of Merit, a mentor to young breeders, and a member in good standing of the Houston Boxer Club, the American Boxer Club, the Natural Rearing Breeders Association, the Vital Animals Breeder Directory, Veterinary Medical Aromatherapy Association, and the Natural Rearing Breeders Directory. She is a published author, blogger, and social media teacher on a variety of natural supports for animals. She provides coaching services to breeders and pet owners, bringing all aspects of body, mind, and spirit into balance for optimum vitality and longevity. She has taught at numerous large events and is available for public speaking engagements. Ms. Vandervoort holds numerous certifications related to natural healing modalities and a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science.