Autarky, Alpha or Country Kibble?

Hi all,

I’ve been browsing the directory in search of the “ultimate best dog food”… I realise there is no such thing, as otherwise everyone would feed their dogs the same food, but I was still hoping for some feedback…

I have a 2 year old Jack Russel, and when he was little I did my research & decided that Autarky was the brand for us, as it seemed good quality and affordable. However, he is a proper little fusspot (a new experience to me, as I’ve always had greedy dogs before, who have always scoffed the lot, regardless what you give them, so I was surprised to see him never ever finishing a meal in one sitting… I have resorted to soaking the dry food and mixing it with lower quality wet food (he seems to prefer cheaper foods to nutritionally better foods, presumably due to additives making it tastier…?) to get him to eat it, but we are now about to get a puppy, a Patterdale terrier crossed with a Staff and I was thinking that if I am changing foods, perhaps this would be a good time.

Based on my budget, I have come up with two alternatives, either Alpha High Performance, or Country Kibble Natural Grain Free and I now need to decide which one to go for, or whether I should persist with Autarky, in the hope that with another dog on the scene, our little Jack might decide that he does want to eat his food after all…
Based on ingredients etc - out of the three, which one do you think would be the best option please?
Hoping for some good advice! :slight_smile:

Hello and welcome to the forum,
Of the two foods you mentioned The country kibble comes up higher in the ratings See here

The Alpha has some ingredients highlighted in red which means they may not be as good quality. Personally out the two, I would go for the Country Kibble.

That’s great thank you! I hadn’t realised the bit about ingredients in red, but where do the ratings actually come from, is it just member votes, or who gives the food it’s rate? I also looked at the poll “what do you feed your dog” and the only brand out of the ones I’m considering that is even on the list is Autarky, so now I’m wondering whether to try to persist with it anyway…?

At the moments, David, the site owner, has devised them based on ingredients. He is considering a possible change which will consider processing methods and ethics in the future.

You can see more about it here frequentlyaskedquestions

Sometimes red ingredients just mean that they are not clear e.g. animal or vegetable derivatives could be anything.

The Autarky also has Maize {red ingredient} quite high on the list which means it contains a lot of it. I am still liking the Country Kibble of the three. Your dogs may say different.

Yes, I’ve done some reading in the mean time & I agree! I was looking at the ratings & would love to be able to afford to feed them Eden, but it’s just too expensive…
Thanks a lot for your helpful advice! Everything I’ve read on here is now making me wonder whether to change foods for our bulldog as well. He’s always been on hills science light, as it was recommended by the vets, due to his tendency to put on far too much weight, but looking at it here, I’m thinking that for what we pay for it, surely there must be a better option…? I will have a look on the forum & see if there’s any recommendations on low calorie food!

I have my own views on loe calorie foods…

Whilst I wouldn’t knowingly feed a poor diet I find low calorie diets pointless in abscence of a medical condition that needs them.

I have fed a variety of foods, I feed between 2 to 3 % of bodyweight unless brand info at significant variation. If the dog has a significant increase in exercise over a few days I may up the ammount, conversely I would be happy to reduce daily amount if dogs only got minimal walks.

In abscence of a medical condition too much weight is usually down to not enough exercise or too much of the given food. Cutting back existing food amount or more exercise would be my approaches.

Dry kibbles fed to dogs in family have varied in recent years include James Wellbeloved, Arden Grange, Chapel Farm, Skinners, Millies Wolfheart & Akela. Simpsons was also on radar & samples were sourced.

Many variations between composition of foods from in brand names…arguably some closer similarity between some alternative brand foods than some foods of same brand name. Many (but certainly not all) UK independent branded dry extruded kibbles are made by one or two manufacturers… Not suggesting anything wrong with that !

I prior considered Autarky & last year looked at Country Kibble, the later is available in a multitude of marketed products, (allegedly white label food sellers can call it their own brand name). Of the two I would feed the later given a choice between just these two foods.

Some food retailers and brands have better customer service & product/industry knowledge than others. I have spoken to many…often engaging with nutritional focused staff or folk who own/run run the companies. Some good people out there but some big names lack the personal touch & knowedge of others. Plenty are understandably happy to say what is required to get your business.

Fairly recently stepped away from kibbles due to me being increasingly focused re dog food & health…currently quite happily feeding both dogs Nutriment raw complete.

My prime loyalty is to our dogs rather than to individual food companies albeit cost has to factor also.


Some interesting and useful points there, particularly regarding weight control.

Russellterror - there is at least one thread on the forum about weight control so perhaps have a look in case they are helpful. As someone who has speyed bitches with a strong tendency to gain weight, I know how difficult this can be. If it is of any use to you, my experience is as follows:-

  • I kept on cutting food down with minimal effect and the poor dogs were famished. I have read that if food is cut down too much the body goes into starvation mode, thus reducing the metabolic rate. This certainly happens in humans and if it happens in dogs then it is counter productive.

  • All my three are at a nice weight now but I do keep a close eye on them. I found that higher protein but lower fat is the right way for them. Currently they are having cold pressed food at the top end of the RDA (1.2% of body weight) with a (lean) protein food top up. Protein is 27.8/fat is 11.8%. Quantity wise, this is more than they have had in the past with other products. If the dog is given higher protein it should prevent it from metabolising muscle.

  • Before I went back to cold pressed food, I gave them a fish based kibble. Following the advice of Rodney Habib, I reduced the quantity and replaced a meal with home cooked food. It was just vegetables, sweet potato, blueberries and lean meat, chicken, egg, fish in rotation but it worked very well in terms of weight control and they absolutely loved it, especially as there was plenty of it. They love their food but the enthusiasm for this was really OTT.

  • Exercise wise, I do what I can bearing in mind age, health and situation. I would hazard a guess that most dogs could happily use more exercise (including mine) but there are many factors that might limit the amount the owner can give.


Interesting to read the above comments…I must confess to not having to manage weight with a spayed bitch.

I accept I am lucky to be currently physically able to cope with as much walking & ball chucking as dogs need. If my legs were an issue I would sit on bench & throw a tennis ball…if arm use an issue I would use a pnuematic tennis ball launcher subject to retrieving ability, dog motivation & dog health. Not having a dig at anyone with genuine medical, mobility or disability issues but I would like to think I would always find a way to exercise ours effectively whilst dogs can benefit from it…even if thinking outside the box.

Anyway we digress somewhat - here’s hoping OP ends up relatively happy with a deemed suitable dog food.

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I noticed you mentioned about the cost of Eden being somewhat more expensive.
I’ve not personally used Eden, but I have looked at it for my dog.

I would need to feed my dog almost 50% more food if I fed Autarky rather than Eden, going off the feeding instructions.

Therefore the cost may not be quite what it first appears.

I understand that the daily requirement is less, as the quality is higher.

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For some reason I didn’t see the replies on this thread, so I started a new one, as the weight control side was a secondary topic in my opening post - thanks for your reply to my other post Dottie!
What I’m thinking is that the high fibre content of the Hills food fills him up. He doesn’t need to lose any more weight, but just maintain it, which can be difficult, as he is A) neutered & B) a bulldog. Due to their airways being scrunched up with their short snouts, they can struggle with breathing, and their stocky build also puts pressure on their heart when exercising too much. I didn’t realise this when we first got him, but now I think they’ve been bred without taking the animals health & quality of life into account. (I still love them to bits though…)
Either way, he would happily eat a whole sackful of food in one sitting if he got the chance, so I’m worried about giving him too little if we change to food with less fibre content. One solution would be, as suggested, to add vegetables, and I’m wondering whether boiled carrots would be an option. For practicality, we could boil a whole load in one go to keep in the fridge or even freeze for convenience & then mix it with one of the better brands, to maintain volume of food without increasing calorie intake. The one thing I am still wondering about though is the carb content, which is unknown for all the other foods. When feeding myself I am conscious that more protein and less carbs is better, but I have no idea how the other foods compare to his current one, which by the way works fine for keeping his weight down. I did once previously try a different brand, but he straight away put weight on. So much to take into account…

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I understand your concern about Hills but it sounds as if you have compelling reasons to stick with it. Your dog is maintaining his weight and the food is satisfying his hunger. When I have changed food it has always been for a good reason. There is a lot to be said for sticking with what you know is working. On the subject of vegetables I usually give cooked carrots, parsnips, green beans and sometimes sweet potato. I am careful with the carrots though because they can go right through, particularly raw ones. I also give a bit of fruit such as blueberries.

Regarding your dog’s hunger, make sure that he is not just trying it on. I say this because if he is like two of mine are just like your dog - they always seem to want more than they actually need. I often say that if I gave them a bucketful of food they would scoff the lot! LOL I did a lot of reading about this incessant hunger and came to the conclusion that they are permanently in a state of thinking this will be their last meal. Nowadays I just give them a sea jerky tiddler and send them out in the garden or another room when they start nagging.

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The main reason I was thinking about changing it is because he suffers with skin dermatitis & gets terribly itchy with it. From what I’ve read about humans, gluten and other grains can make the condition worse, so thought maybe it would make him more comfortable switching to something with less grains…?

Oh, I see - that is a compelling reason for changing food. I always think that for dogs with itchy skin it is probably worth trying grain free but to choose as simple a recipe as possible. However, not all grain is troublesome - brown rice is often tolerated well and has nutritional benefit. Have you asked the vet about his skin? Just wondering if he might have a fungal infection, mites or something?

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We are very regular visitors at the vets lol! He is allergic to dust mites & his dermatitis also gets worse during pollen season. He used to get regular injections to control his itching, but unfortunately the premium for his pet insurance (life cover) increased beyond comprehension once they realised that we would be claiming for the treatment every year, so we gave up when they wanted over £900 to cover him another year… Since then we’ve taken out more basic cover in case he’d get injured or needed an operation, but we can’t afford to keep paying for the injections, so instead trying to think of everything possible to keep him comfortable… Stupidly the thought of the food never occurred to me, as it was the vet who recommended Hills, so I just assumed it would be best for him! It’s just weighing up what’s more important - keeping him at a healthy weight or calm his itching down, but if we could combine a grain free food with veg to keep calories down, maybe it would work…?

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I would imagine that you will already know more than most of us about allergies and itchy skin. One of mine has a touch of dermatitis but I am managing to keep it controlled with Yumega Plus daily and bathing approximately monthly (I use Sebocalm but also Seleen if there is a flare up). She has cold pressed food which is not grain free.

Is your dog allergic to storage mites too? If so, you might want to consider taking him off dried food altogether. If you want to keep him on dried, grain free food then consider buying small bags. Store in airtight container and wash thoroughly when empty. This is to reduce the numbers of the little critters. Wet, raw or home cooked food might be a better choice and perhaps could be worth trying.
Have you looked at My Itchy Dog?

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Yes thank you, been on that site & we give him yumega plus every day, as well as hay fever tablets. But thank you for the suggestion!
Not sure exactly how detailed the vets allergy diagnosis was, but yes, worth looking at! Will make sure the next bag of food we buy is stored airtight, but would be difficult for us with raw food for storage, and I also think wet/raw is more calorific… I am being very difficult, I know, but we will just keep trying something else if it doesn’t work!

Good advice from Dottie.
Also check out Greg Martinez DVM. I’m personally a great fan :slight_smile:
Here is his website, also plenty on You Tube and Facebook.


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Thank you for the link - will have a good look (haven’t come across it before).
Russellterror - I can see why you are a bit wary of wet food and calories but if the right product is chosen and the dog is not overfed it can work. My little one was on Natures Menu adult pouches some time ago and her weight was stable. More recently the three of them were on it and much to my surprise the weight of all three was fine. In fact I had to increase the ration for the oldest dog to a full pack (300g) per day because she lost some weight. I weighed their portions and fed less than the RDA.
The other thing that might be useful for your dog is to home cook. This is not for everyone because it takes a bit of effort and you have to read up about it to meet dietary needs but I have found that it is good for weight control. Two other benefits are no storage mites and being able to tailor the diet to what suits the dog.
Don’t know if this is helpful but I just thought it was worth mentioning.

Thank you so much all for your helpful advice! I will look through it all properly as soon as I get a chance - a bit manic at the moment, but I will let you know how it goes!

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