15 Best Dog Foods for Jack Russell Terrier: Our 2020 Feeding Guide

Known for his high energy levels and his friendly personality, the Jack Russell Terrier is a small-breed terrier originally developed for fox hunting.

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These dogs are easy to identify by their smooth white coats with brown or tan markings. They are a very high-energy breed with significant needs for exercise and a fondness for playtime. These dogs are very loving and affectionate with family, though they may not be the best choice for families with very young children. They also have a tendency to get into trouble because they are very intelligent and have a bit of a stubborn streak.

The Jack Russell Terrier stands 10 to 15 inches tall and weighs between 13 and 17 pounds at maturity which places him above toy breeds but at the lower end of the scale for small breeds. Due to his high energy levels, this breed requires a calorie-dense diet with plenty of protein to maintain lean muscle mass and lots of healthy fats for energy.

Keep reading to learn more about your Jack Russell Terrier’s dietary requirements and to see our top 15 picks for the best dog food for Jack Russell Terriers.

Understanding a Jack Russell Terrier’s Diet Requirements

Though all dogs have the same basic nutritional needs, your Jack Russell Terrier has higher needs for energy due to his fast metabolism. You have to strike the right balance between protein and fat, however, to make sure that your dog builds lean muscle instead of just gaining fat. Make sure his protein comes from high-quality animal sources like meat, poultry, and fish because these are complete proteins – they contain all 10 essential amino acids your dog needs.

Fat is the most highly concentrated source of energy available to dogs, so your Jack Russell Terrier needs a fair amount of it in his diet to sustain his fast metabolism. These fats should come from healthy animal sources like chicken fat and salmon oil to ensure bioavailability. You should also make sure he gets a balance of omega fatty acids – plant-based fats can be used as supplemental fats to ensure balance.

Dogs have no specific needs for carbohydrates in their diet but whole grains, vegetables, and legumes can provide rich sources of dietary fiber as well as key nutrients. Just make sure that they are highly digestible for your dog and don’t let the fiber content of the product go too much higher than 5%.

  • Puppy Jack Russell Terriers – As a puppy, your Jack Russell Terrier needs a minimum of 22% protein and 8% fat. Generally speaking, however, more is better for most of these nutrients while your puppy is still growing. When he reaches full size, however, you want to maintain lean muscle mass.
  • Adult Jack Russell Terriers – When your Jack Russell Terrier reaches his adult size, switch to a small-breed adult recipe that contains at least 18% protein and 5% fat. Again, more protein is better to maintain lean muscle mass but keep the fat content moderate to avoid obesity. If your dog is very active, you can feed him a slightly higher fat content or just feed him an extra meal each day.
  • Senior Jack Russell Terriers – As your Jack Russell Terrier reaches senior status, his metabolism may go down and his risk for obesity goes up. You might want to switch to a senior recipe or just reduce his daily meals to two instead of three.

In addition to protein, fat, and carbohydrate, your Jack Russell Terrier can benefit from certain supplements in his diet. Most dog foods contain synthetic vitamins and minerals to ensure nutritional balance but know that chelated minerals are the easiest to metabolize. Prebiotic fibers and probiotics are good for digestion and glucosamine and chondroitin are good for joint support.

Special Dietary Considerations for Jack Russell Terriers

For the most part, the Jack Russell Terrier is a healthy breed with few major health problems. His average lifespan is 12 to 14 years, though the breed is prone to obesity which can shorten his lifespan and increase his risk for other health problems. With a healthy diet, however, he can live a long life.

Here is a quick list of the health problems to which the Jack Russell Terrier may be prone:

  • Arthritis
  • Cataracts
  • Congenital Deafness
  • Glaucoma
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
  • Lens Luxation
  • Mast Cell Tumors
  • Obesity
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Von Willebrand Disease

Many of the health problems to which the Jack Russell Terrier breed is prone are inherited health issues, eye problems, or musculoskeletal issues. Let’s take a closer look at some of these health problems.

When it comes to inherited health problems, genetic testing and screening prior to breeding is extremely important for this breed. Some of the problems to which the breed is prone include congenital deafness, cataracts, patellar luxation, and von Willebrand disease. Congenital deafness is often associated with dogs having a lot of white in their coat, as is common for the breed. Von Willebrand disease is characterized by a deficiency in clotting factors which can lead to excessive bleeding from even minor injuries.

Jack Russell Terriers are also prone to a number of eye problems including cataracts, glaucoma, and lens luxation. A cataract is an opacity that forms in the lens of the eye and, while it is not painful, it can obstruct your dog’s vision. Glaucoma is a painful disease that causes increased pressure in the eye due to accumulated fluid. Without treatment, it can lead to vision loss or total blindness. Lens luxation occurs when the ligament holding the lens of the eye deteriorates and the lens slips out of place.

Many dogs that suffer from musculoskeletal issues are large and giant breeds, but the Jack Russell Terrier is prone to several problems including patellar luxation, arthritis, and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the joints which, over time, can lead to deterioration. Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap slides in and out of place, and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease causes deterioration of the femoral head caused by inadequate blood flow.

In terms of the dietary implications for these diseases, there are two points to make. First and foremost, maintaining a healthy body weight is essential for this breed due to his high risk for obesity and because obesity will make musculoskeletal problems worse. Second, he can benefit from joint-supporting nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin in his diet.

You should also know that some Jack Russell Terriers are prone to skin allergies and food allergies. If your dog has recurrent ear infections or skin problems, it could be related to a food allergy. Switching to a limited ingredient diet or a grain-free dog food might help. To prevent the development of food allergies, make sure your dog’s food is made with wholesome natural ingredients with no artificial additives or low-quality fillers.

Jack Russell Terrier Feeding Chart

When it comes to feeding your Jack Russell Terrier, you should expect to feed him between 1 ¼ and 1 ¾ cups per day, depending on his age, weight, and activity levels. Your dog’s needs for calories will be highest when he is a puppy- he’ll also need more protein at this point to support growth and development. Jack Russell Terrier puppies should be fed three to four small meals per day until they are six months old and then you can taper it to three meals.

Once your Jack Russell Terrier reaches his adult size, or around 12 months, you can switch to a small-breed adult recipe that is rich in protein with moderate fat. Continue to feed him three meals a day to support his fast metabolism, following the feeding recommendations on the package to determine exactly how much to feed him. As a senior, your Jack Russell Terrier may only need two meals a day to meet his energy requirements and to reduce the risk for obesity.

The Best Dog Food for Jack Russell Terriers: Our Top 15 Picks for 2020

Now that you have a better understanding of your Jack Russell Terrier’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping. The best dog food for this breed will be rich in protein to support lean muscle mass with moderate fat for energy but to control calories. You should also look for high-quality ingredients and beneficial supplements such as probiotics for digestion and joint-supporting nutrients. Here are our top 15 picks:

Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Small Breed Salmon & Lentils Recipe Dry Food

Overall Best Food for Jack Russell Terriers: If you’re looking for a healthy and high-quality diet to provide your Jack Russell Terrier with optimal nutrition, try this Nulo Freestyle Grain-Free Small Breed Salmon & Lentils Recipe Dry Food. This formula features premium-quality ingredients in a high-protein, moderate-fat, and low-carbohydrate recipe. Deboned salmon, turkey meal, and menhaden fish meal are the top three ingredients, supplemented with digestible grain-free carbohydrates like lentils and sweet potatoes. Overall, it provides 31% protein with 17% fat in a nutrient-rich diet with a low risk for triggering food allergies.

  • Pros: Several sources of animal protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, protein-rich and moderate fat, dried fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, probiotics for healthy digestion
  • Cons: Very expensive to feed as a staple diet

American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Recipe

Most Affordable Food: When you want to feed your dog a high-quality diet but don’t have a big budget to work with, this American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Grain-Free Recipe is a good option. Made with several sources of quality animal protein and plenty of healthy fats, this recipe will help your Jack Russell Terrier develop and maintain lean muscle mass while also supporting his fast metabolism. It features deboned salmon and chicken meal with digestible grain-free carbohydrates like peas and sweet potatoes. It also contains fresh fruits and vegetables, chelated minerals, and probiotic supplements.

  • Pros: Very affordable, high-protein and moderate fat, several sources of animal protein, digestible grain-free carbohydrates, blend of omega fatty acids, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein)

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe

Most Popular Food: If you’re not sure what to feed your Jack Russell Terrier, try one of our most popular picks for small breeds, this Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Grain-Free Recipe. This recipe features premium animal proteins and grain-free carbohydrates in a nutrient-rich, highly digestible recipe formulated specifically for small-breed dogs. It contains venison as the main ingredient with garbanzo beans, peas, and lentils for carbohydrates. It also contains prebiotic fibers and probiotics for healthy digestion as well as chelated minerals for optimal nutrient absorption.

  • Pros: High-quality natural ingredients, rich in protein and healthy fats, highly digestible, grain-free carbohydrates, several animal proteins, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Contains some plant protein (pea protein), first source of fat is plant-based (canola oil)

NomNomNow Fresh Food Delivery Service

Super Premium Food: When it comes to quality nutrition, it is hard to beat a fresh food diet for dogs. NomNomNow is a fresh food delivery service for dogs that offers wholesome, natural meals catered to your dog’s individual needs and preferences. You simply fill out a profile on the website to provide information about your dog’s breed and size then select a recipe. From there, you receive monthly deliveries of freshly prepared meals portioned perfectly for your dog.

  • Pros: Freshly prepared meals delivered to your door, recipes are customized for your dog, made with high-quality ingredients, always fresh never frozen, automatic deliveries, several recipe options
  • Cons: Very expensive to feed every day, no weekly or bi-weekly delivery options

Canidae Grain-Free PURE Sea Small Breed Limited Ingredient Salmon Formula

Best Food for Jack Russell Terriers with Allergies: If your Jack Russell Terrier suffers from food allergies, you need a limited ingredient diet made with a single source of novel protein like this Canidae Grain-Free PURE Sea Small Breed Limited Ingredient Salmon Formula. This formula features fresh salmon and salmon meal which provides plenty of protein as well as healthy omega fatty acids. This recipe is grain-free, made with lentils, peas, and garbanzo beans for carbohydrates and it is supplemented with probiotics for healthy digestion. All in all, it provides 24% protein with 13.5% fat and contains no artificial additives or low-quality fillers.

  • Pros: Made with a limited number of ingredients, no artificial additives or fillers, grain-free carbohydrates, single source of animal protein, chelated minerals, probiotics
  • Cons: Main source of fat is plant-based (canola oil), expensive to feed as a daily diet

Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Small Breed Recipe Dry Food

Best Food for Jack Russell Terriers with Sensitive Stomachs: If you’re concerned about your Jack Russell Terrier’s sensitive stomach, this Castor & Pollux Organix Grain-Free Small Breed Recipe Dry Food is a good option. Not only is it made with all-natural ingredients, but most of them are organic. This recipe features organic, free-range chicken with grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and chickpeas. It is supplemented with prebiotic fibers and probiotics for healthy digestion as well as healthy fats for energy and coat support. Plus, it comes in a small bite-sized kibble perfect for small mouths.

  • Pros: Made with 95% organic ingredients, all-natural, free-range chicken as first ingredient, grain-free carbohydrates, prebiotics and probiotics, bite-sized kibble for small mouths
  • Cons: expensive to feed as a daily diet, contains some plant protein (pea protein)

3 more Top Rated (5 Star) Jack Russell Terrier Adult Foods

Solid Gold Mighty Mini Weight Control Salmon Small & Toy Breed Recipe

If you’re concerned about your Jack Russell Terrier’s weight but you still want to provide him with a high-quality diet, try this Solid Gold Mighty Mini Weight Control Salmon Small & Toy Breed Recipe. This formula features lean salmon as the main source of protein with moderate fat to control calories. It is supplemented with plenty of fiber for healthy digestion and omega fatty acids for healthy skin and coat.

Nutro Grain-Free Small Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken Recipe

To provide your Jack Russell with a nutritious diet and a low risk for food allergies, try this Nutro Grain-Free Small Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken Recipe. This recipe features farm-raised chicken as a rich source of protein and joint-supporting glucosamine with grain-free carbohydrates like lentils and sweet potato. It is moderate in fat to prevent weight gain and supplemented with dried fruits and veggies.

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Small Breed Lamb & Potato Recipe

If your Jack Russell Terrier has food allergies or a sensitive stomach, this Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Small Breed Lamb & Potato Recipe might be a good choice. Made with fresh lamb and lamb meal, it is not only rich in protein but a natural source of glucosamine as well. It is grain-free for easy digestion and supplemented with omega fatty acids for energy and skin and coat support.

3 More Top Rated (5 Star) Jack Russell Terrier Puppy Foods

Canidae PURE Petite LID Salmon Formula Small Breed Puppy Recipe

To get your Jack Russell Terrier puppy started on the right foot, try this Canidae PURE Petite LID Salmon Formula Small Breed Puppy Recipe. Made with a limited number of main ingredients and grain-free carbohydrates, this recipe has a very low risk for triggering food allergies and sensitivities. It also contains salmon as a single source of animal protein as well as a rich source of energy and healthy omega fatty acids.

Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Puppy Recipe

For a nutrient-rich and grain-free diet for your Jack Russell Terrier puppy, consider this Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Chicken & Sweet Potato Puppy Recipe. This recipe features real chicken as the main ingredient which is rich in protein and a natural source of glucosamine for healthy joint development. It also contains fresh fruits and veggies as natural sources for key nutrients with probiotics for digestion.

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Puppy Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato Recipe

If you want what’s best for your puppy, you’ll try something like this Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Puppy Chicken, Brown Rice, & Sweet Potato Recipe which is protein-rich, loaded with energy, and easy to digest. It features farm-raised chicken as the main ingredient with digestible carbohydrates and plenty of healthy fats for energy. It also contains chelated minerals to ensure optimal nutrient absorption.

2 More Picks for Senior Jack Russell Terrier Foods

Dr. Tim’s Weight Management Metabolite Formula Dry Food

As your Jack Russell Terrier gets older and his metabolism slows down, you need to be careful what you feed him. This Dr. Tim’s Weight Management Metabolite Formula Dry Food is a good option because it is made with healthy natural ingredients designed to support lean muscle mass and healthy body weight. Plus, it is grain-free and free from artificial additives, so it won’t upset your dog’s digestion.

Go! Fit +Free Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Trout Senior Recipe

Though it is not a small-breed specific recipe, this Go! Fit +Free Grain-Free Chicken, Turkey & Trout Senior Recipe could be a good choice for your senior Jack Russell Terrier. It is grain-free and gluten-free for easy digestion with plenty of animal protein and moderate fat content. It features several animal proteins like salmon, turkey, and chicken with digestible grain-free carbohydrates and healthy supplements like probiotics, prebiotic fibers, and fresh herbs.

Our FAQ and Jack Russell Terrier Feeding Guide

In addition to choosing a healthy and high-quality diet for your Jack Russell Terrier, you also need to think about how you are going to feed him and how you’ll keep his food fresh. Because you’re feeding your dog less than a cup at each meal, you don’t need a very large dog bowl. When shopping for dog bowls, make sure you choose a durable material that is easy to clean and won’t harbor bacteria – stainless steel and ceramic are good options.

Dog food storage is very important because your dog’s food starts to lose nutritional value as soon as you expose it to air. Fortunately, the inside of the dog food bag is treated to help minimize that loss. If you pour the whole bag into a plastic tub, however, you lose that benefit. The best thing to do is place the entire open bag in an airtight container and store it in a cool dry place.

And now, here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about feeding a Jack Russell Terrier:

How much food should I feed my Jack Russell Terrier? – The amount you feed your Jack Russell Terrier will depend on his age, weight, and activity level as well as the calorie content of the recipe you choose. Generally speaking, however, you’ll be feeding him somewhere between 1 ¼ and 1 ¾ cups of food per day. Choose a small-breed dog food and refer to the feeding instructions according to your dog’s age and weight to determine how much to feed him per day then divide that amount by the total number of meals.

How many times a day should I feed my Jack Russell Terrier? – Your Jack Russell Terrier’s needs for energy will be highest when he is a puppy and lowest when he is a senior. As a puppy, you should feed him at least three meals per day, though some puppies may need four meals. When your dog reaches his full size, drop down to three meals per day spaced out evenly, if you can. When he becomes a senior dog around 7 to 8 years, you might want to drop down to two meals a day or make each of his three meals smaller.

What kind of food do Jack Russell Terriers eat? – The quality of your Jack Russell Terrier’s food matters more than the specific type you choose. For the most part, however, small-breed dogs do better on dry food because they are prone to dental problems – the crunchy kibble helps scrape plaque and tartar off the dog’s teeth. If you want to feed your dog the best of the best, however, a dehydrated or freeze-dried formula might be the way to go – or you could really go all the way with a fresh food diet. Just make sure that the recipe is made with wholesome natural ingredients and properly formulated to meet your dog’s needs.

What vegetables are good in a Jack Russell Terrier food? – Dogs have a limited ability to digest plant products, but fresh vegetables can be a nutritious addition to your dog’s food. In addition to adding dietary fiber, fresh vegetables act as a natural source for important vitamins and minerals. Here are some of the best vegetables for dogs:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Green beans
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Zucchini

If your Jack Russell Terrier’s dog food doesn’t contain vegetables, you might consider feeding him small amounts as a healthy snack. Just make sure they are safe for dogs and properly washed first.

Do Jack Russell Terriers need grain-free dog food? – There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the safety of grain-free diets for dogs over the long term. There is no hard evidence as of yet, however, to say one way or another so a grain-free diet might be appropriate for your Jack Russell Terrier. If your dog suffers from food allergies, grains are a common culprit and switching to a grain-free diet might help. If your dog has no trouble digesting grains, however, these ingredients can be a valuable source of fiber, energy, and nutrients.

A Final Word

Now that you know everything there is to know about your Jack Russell Terrier’s nutritional needs, you’re ready to start shopping! Make sure you choose a small-breed recipe made with all-natural ingredients including premium animal proteins, healthy animal-based fats, and digestible carbohydrates. You should also look for supplements that support your dog’s digestive system as well as his joints.

If you’re still not sure where to start in choosing the best Jack Russell Terrier dog food, try one of our top 15 picks reviewed above!

About The Author

1 thought on “15 Best Dog Foods for Jack Russell Terrier: Our 2020 Feeding Guide”

  1. Avatar

    hi,I have a jack Russell dog,he is so fussy,what I feed him,what would he eat,in dry dog food,he doesn’t ike dry dog food,seam to just want to eat can dog food,is that good for him,also whats good for German Shepherd Wolf dogs to eat,this means a lot to me,if you can give me good tips for my dogs,yes my jack Russell dog is so finicky what he eats,he is very fussy dog,what does it mean when your dog vomits up,his dog food,please help me with my questions here very much appreciated

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