Why Does a Jack Russell Terrier Like to Eat Animal Poop?

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As a Jack Russell owner, you may notice your dog exhibiting some behavior that you will find off. One of them is eating animal poop. Of course, you’d want to stop this habit as soon as you can. However, to do that, you need to know: why does a Jack Russell terrier like to eat animal poop?

Why Does a Jack Russell Terrier Like to Eat Animal Poop?

A Jack Russell terrier likes to eat animal poop for various reasons. Key among them is that it is being fed food that is unable to digest properly, and the waste appeals to them as they do not think of it as waste, only as semi-digested.

An image of a Jack Russell terrier lying on the ground

While this is the main reason, there are other reasons why your Jack Russell Terrier resorts to eating poop. This behavior is not pleasing, and as a dog owner, you want to ensure your dog does not continue with this habit. To solve the problem, you have to know what is causing it.

Nutrition Needs

When it comes to nutrition, two factors may contribute to your JRT eating poop. The first being the food it is eating is not right for it, and it does not get absorbed properly, leading to deficiencies that cause it to eat animal poop. Another reason is the food you feed does not contain all the nutrients it needs.

Jack Russells are an energetic dog breed. It is, therefore, necessary that their diet adequately caters to its daily nutritional needs. If you don’t, you will find that your dog will constantly be hungry and will try to nibble on anything it can find, such as poop from itself or other animals.

The younger the dog is, the higher its dietary requirements as more energy and nutrients are required for its healthy growth and development. These requirements, however, diminish as they get older. Below is a useful guideline while feeding your terrier:

  • 0-1 years of age requires 800- 900 calories per day
  • 1-9 years of age requires 450-650 calories per day
  • 10 years and above requires 450-550 calories per day

Learned Behavior

For Jack Russells, just like most other mammals, doing what you see mum doing comes off as the right thing to do. So much so that if your puppy sees its mum feast on some feces, however nasty this may seem, it will find itself doing the same because naturally, the mother leads, and loyal puppies follow the example.

This habit, performed by mothers to clean up after their puppies more often than not, is copied by oblivious pups. The pups tend to associate the fecal scent with their mother’s.

Keeping a clean environment would be a good way to reduce such incidences, and in time you will find that the poop feeding goes down and eventually disappears as they learn to stick to the proper diet that they receive from their owners.


A JRT is subject to the primitive instinctual drives that see to it that it stays clear from danger and, in this case, offers insights on food sources. Your dog, just like the rest of the canine family, is a natural-born scavenger and will look to satisfy its nutritional needs from all sorts of odd sources, not excluding animal poop.

A Jack Russell terrier eating something on the grass

With this fact established, it should not come off as a surprise when your dog develops a taste for feces that even though a product of digestion retains some reasonable amount of nutrients that can, later on, be absorbed if ingested and digestion is repeated.

A sound remedy for this would be to have your dog on a diet that is:

  • Consistent, that is available at all feeding times.
  • Rich and balanced, that provides all its energy and nutritional needs.
  • Clean and safe, free of any contaminants, and fresh.
  • Comprehensive,  that which contains supplements for additional and lacking nutrients.

Related Questions

Other similar questions you may have are answered below.

Can Eating Poop Kill Your Jack Russell?

Your Jack Russell will fortunately not actually die if it eats poop, provided that it does so moderately and feeds on poop that is free from contaminants known to kill dogs.

How Do You Stop a Jack Russell From Eating Poop?

You can stop your Jack Russell terrier from eating poop by adding Pineapple, canned pumpkin, raw zucchini, or meat tenderizer to their food. These alter the taste and smell of dog poop enough to make it unpalatable.


While Jacks do not have a problem eating animal poop, the owners find the habit disgusting and weird. Giving it a diet rich in all the required nutrients will reduce the chances of it eating poop reduce drastically.