10 Best Dog Food For Pugs & Pug Puppies

Mike PowellEdited by: Mike Powell
Abby TexasReviewed by: Abby Texas

Last Update:

If you’ve ever met a Pug, you will know these little bundles are goofy and affectionate. They’re perfect for pet parents who have limited space and want a loving companion.

These wrinkly-faced small breed pups come with plenty of love and entertaining antics, but it’s essential you feed them the right thing to make sure they avoid health issues as far as possible. 

The best dog food for Pugs won’t be hard to find – we’ve done the research for you.

Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
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CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon, Limited Ingredient, Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food
Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food Recipes
Merrick Lil Plates Grain Free Small Breed Recipe, 12-Pound, Beef
Rating
Our Rating 88 / 100
Our Rating 87 / 100
Our Rating 87 / 100
Pro 1
Great levels of glucosamine and chondroitin
Contains glucosamine and DHA, which are exactly what Pug puppies need
High-quality ingredient list
Pro 2
All are high in Omega fatty acids
Great protein and fat counts for puppies
Very good Omega fatty acid levels
Best Overall
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon, Limited Ingredient, Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food
Rating
Our Rating 88 / 100
Pro 1
Great levels of glucosamine and chondroitin
Pro 2
All are high in Omega fatty acids
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Best For Puppies
Rank
Ranked #2
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Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food Recipes
Rating
Our Rating 87 / 100
Pro 1
Contains glucosamine and DHA, which are exactly what Pug puppies need
Pro 2
Great protein and fat counts for puppies
Custom Button
Best Budget Option
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Merrick Lil Plates Grain Free Small Breed Recipe, 12-Pound, Beef
Rating
Our Rating 87 / 100
Pro 1
High-quality ingredient list
Pro 2
Very good Omega fatty acid levels
Custom Button
Sources researched
33
Sources researched
Customer reviews
20,000
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
35
Hours spent testing
Products tested
10
Products tested

10 Best Dog Food For Pugs and Pug Puppies

1. Canidae Grain-Free Pure Real Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food

Best Limited Ingredient

CANIDAE PURE Real Salmon, Limited Ingredient, Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food
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Overall Rating88%
Free From Allergens90%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein & Fat Counts90%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Various flavors available, making it easy to avoid allergens but still have a range of flavors
  • Grain-free, every flavor
  • Great levels of glucosamine and chondroitin
  • All are high in Omega fatty acids

CONS

  • Expensive (although this is not unusual for a limited ingredient food)
  • Some flavors contain allergens such as chicken meal or potatoes

If your Pug’s allergies are at the point where you think it best to put them on a limited ingredient diet, this dry dog food is a great choice as it has a range of flavors to stop your pooch getting bored with one flavor.

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Limit Allergies 

Each flavor consists of fewer than 10 real-food ingredients, and the only additions are flavors (all-natural), vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. If necessary, you can avoid chicken, beef, and potato, as well as any other ingredients your dog may have an allergy or intolerance to.

Various Nutrient Values

Every one of the range of flavors contains high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as high Omega fatty acids. This makes them great Pug food for all ages, sizes, and breeds. The numbers on the guaranteed analysis lists vary, from 25% protein and 14,5% fat to 32% protein with 18% fat.

2. Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Beef Flavor Dy Dog Food

Best For Pug Puppies

Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food Recipes
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Overall Rating88%
Free From Allergens90%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein & Fat Counts90%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Puppy-specific recipe
  • Great protein and fat counts for puppies
  • Contains glucosamine and DHA
  • The beef flavor is poultry-free

CONS

  • The beef flavor contains potatoes, which can be an allergen
  • May not be affordable for all

The best dog food for a Pug puppy needs certain supplements that not all dog food contains, but this dry dog food has it all. You’ll need to be sure to choose the beef flavor if you’re avoiding poultry, although it still contains potato, but your puppy will get all the nutrients they need eating this dog food. 

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Supplements For Puppies 

Because joint dysplasia and eye problems are common for Pugs, it’s essential to make an effort to combat these from the start. A nice level of glucosamine and chondroitin are helpful to strengthen joints from a young age, and DHA is a necessary addition that helps puppies’ brain tissue and eyes develop properly. 

The beef flavor (which we recommend) contains 28% protein and 12% fat, which is great for pups who are growing. 

3. Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain-Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Premium Option

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food Real Lamb + Sweet Potato Recipe - 12.0 lb Bag
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Overall Rating87%
Free From Allergens85%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein & Fat Counts90%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin90%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Various flavors available (including numerous poultry-free recipes)
  • All flavors are grain-free
  • Very good Omega fatty acids
  • Contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and DHA

CONS

  • All flavors contain potato, which is a common allergen

Lil’ Plates dry dog food is crafted from high-quality, wholesome ingredients and has been made specifically to cover all the nutritional needs of small breeds, for all life stages. There are enough flavors to be able to mix and match and stay away from most ingredients that would cause allergies. The kibble size is also geared towards little mouths.

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High In Protein And Fats  

Don’t be fooled into thinking a small breed need less protein and fat than the bigger pets. They still need enough protein for maintaining their muscles (even though they’re little), and fats are necessary for energy, of which a small breed has plenty. 

Different flavors have slightly different values, but 30+% protein is a great number for the average, moderately, or highly active Pug. 15% fat is a good number to burn for quick and easy energy.

4. Canidae Pure, Grain-Free Limited Ingredient Wet Dog Food

Best Wet Food

CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Land Dog Wet Formula with Lamb, 13 oz (12-pack) string
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Overall Rating87%
Free From Allergens90%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein & Fat Counts90%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Various flavors available, easy to avoid allergens
  • Doesn’t contain carrageenan
  • Grain-free

CONS

  • A little pricey
  • Slightly high in calories

A quality canned dog food can help the kibble go down, or be a nice little treat between meals (if the calorie count permits). It’s still essential to choose a healthy wet food, and this one does not disappoint.

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A Range of Limited Ingredient Flavours 

Real meat is the first ingredient in these 5 recipes, and various types of broth add a nice dash of moisture to the dog food. Peas and sweet potatoes contribute to both the carbs and the fiber totals. The absence of common wet food ingredient carrageenan is a bonus.

Best Added To Kibble  

We recommend adding this to your pup’s dry dog food if they need extra calories or if they’re struggling to eat. We don’t suggest feeding this to your pup as their whole diet, nor do we recommend using it every day unless you are making up calories. 

5. Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Turkey & Oatmeal

Best With Chicken

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food, Turkey & Oatmeal, 12-Pound Bag
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Overall Rating87%
Free From Allergens85%
Ingredient Quality85%
Protein & Fat Counts90%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Great quality ingredients
  • Very nice protein and fat levels for Pugs
  • High Omega fatty acids
  • Contains good glucosamine and chondroitin levels

CONS

  • Slightly pricey
  • Not suitable for pups with a poultry sensitivity

Chicken is a very common ingredient due to its great protein content and its affordability. It is also, unfortunately, an ingredient that many pups are allergic to. It can be tough to find a dry dog food that is entirely chicken-free, but if you’re lucky and your pup has no problems with chicken, this dog food is a great option.

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Multiple Protein Sources 

Although the flavor is stated as turkey, this dog food also contains chicken meal and salmon meal. Not all Pugs will be sensitive to chicken, so this dog food would be a superb choice if your Pug is okay with it. If your Pug does struggle with chicken, you will have to choose a chicken-free one.

Glucosamine For Strong Joints 

Although they’re small dogs, Pugs are prone to dislocating joints. A dose of glucosamine and chondroitin in their food can help quite significantly to reduce the chances of this happening.

6. Taste Of The Wild Small Breed Venison Dry Dog Food

Best Without Glucosamine

Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Meat Recipe Appalachian Valley Premium Dry Dog Food, 28 lb.
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Overall Rating87%
Free From Allergens90%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein & Fat Counts90%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin90%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • High protein and fat counts
  • Good Omega fatty acids for skin and coat
  • Avoids major allergens
  • Small breed specific

CONS

  • No glucosamine included
  • Lamb meal is a possible allergen

Although glucosamine is a super addition to dog foods for Pugs that tend to have joint problems, it’s easy to buy glucosamine supplements separately from dog food. It’s not a problem, therefore, if a Pug food doesn’t contain glucosamine, although it does make life easier. This dog food is great quality, and you’ll simply need to feed your pooch some glucosamine on the side.

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Great Nutrients For Active Pugs 

With 32% protein and 18% fat, this will provide your small breed all they need to live a healthy, active lifestyle. Their muscles will get enough protein to stay strong and supple, and the fat content is a really good number for quick, easily-metabolized energy. 

Chicken and potato are absent from this recipe, which is super. Lamb meal could be an allergen, as could egg product, but in general, they’ve managed to avoid the most common culprits. 

7. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Real Lamb Dry Dog Food

Best Value For Money

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Dog Real Lamb Recipe Premium Dry Dog food, 18 lb
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Overall Rating85%
Free From Allergens90%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein & Fat Counts85%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin70%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Quite affordable
  • Avoids most common allergens (chicken, beef, potatoes)
  • Nutrient content is perfect for Pugs
  • Contains L-carnitine and great Omega fatty acid levels

CONS

  • Doesn’t contain glucosamine or chondroitin

This is another option that doesn’t contain glucosamine, but the quality makes up for that, and the price makes it super affordable to add a glucosamine supplement. This is an awesome choice for Pug parents who are looking for something less pricey but still containing all the good stuff your small breed needs.

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Perfect Nutrient Content For Pugs 

25% protein and 15% fat is right in the zone for moderately active pugs. This dog food provides just the right amounts of everything to keep small dogs satisfied and healthy. 

L-carnitine promotes healthy weight and energy levels, which is great for small dogs prone to weight gain. The Omega fatty acid levels are also lovely, which will help your pup’s skin and coat to be hydrated and itch-free. 

8. Blue Buffalo Basics Senior Turkey & Potato Dry Dog Food

Best For Pug Seniors

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet, Natural Senior Dry Dog Food, Turkey & Potato 24-lb, BUA-260
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Overall Rating85%
Free From Allergens85%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein & Fat Counts80%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin85%
Affordability85%

PROS

  • Limited ingredient food, reducing the chances of allergies
  • Contain good Omega fatty acids for skin and coat health
  • Contains nice glucosamine and chondroitin levels
  • Lower in calories than many to prevent weight gain

CONS

  • Contains potato, which could be an allergen
  • Lower in protein and fat than necessary (best for inactive seniors)

Just like puppies, seniors need a little extra in their dog food to keep them strong and healthy. This is our pick for the best dog food for older Pugs and it contains all nutrients, vitamins and minerals an aging pup needs to keep his or her quality of life where it should be.

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Low Protein & Fat  

Although seniors are typically less active as they get older, the protein and fat counts could be a little too low for those pups who are still quite energetic. If this is the case, you can supplement with a few high-fat treats in between meals to keep your Pug’s energy up. It does contain grains, but they’re the good ones – brown rice, and oatmeal.

Not only does this dog food contain a nice dash of glucosamine and chondroitin for fortifying aging joints, but it also contains DHA, which will help keep your older guy or girl’s brain sharp and active.

9. Eagle Pack Reduced Fat Adult Dry Dog Food

Best For Less Active or Inactive Pugs

Eagle Pack Natural Dry Reduced Fat Dog Food, Pork, Chicken & Fish, 30-Pound Bag
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Overall Rating85%
Free From Allergens80%
Ingredient Quality85%
Protein & Fat Counts85%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin85%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Low fat count for Pugs who don’t get much exercise
  • Good protein count for a reduced-fat food (24%)
  • Quite affordable in comparison to others
  • Contains glucosamine

CONS

  • Contains chicken meal which is a common allergen

Fat is the best quickly-accessible energy source for pups, so a nice amount of it is necessary in a high-quality dog food. Reduced-fat food for Pugs who are not active (due to age, injury, or illness) could help prevent weight gain if they can’t exercise.  Brown rice adds a good bit of fiber for healthy digestion, too. We suggest this as the best food for small dogs to prevent weight gain.

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Low Fat, Moderate Protein 

Low-fat dog foods often come with low protein counts too, but this one keeps its protein fairly high which is great. 24% protein is right in the zone to fulfill this purpose. It’s very low in fat, at 6%, so we recommend only choosing this dog food if your pooch is not very active at all.

10. Royal Canin Breed Health Pug Adult Dry Dog Food

Best Pug-Specific

Royal Canin Pug Adult Breed Specific Dry Dog Food, 10 lb. bag
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Overall Rating79%
Free From Allergens75%
Ingredient Quality75%
Protein & Fat Counts80%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin85%
Affordability80%

PROS

  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Contains DHA, EPA, and L-carnitine
  • Good fat count, at 14%
  • Special kibble design for brachycephalic dogs

CONS

  • Contains common allergens

This Royal Canin dog food for Pugs is one of the few breed-specific dog foods out there (and it comes in a puppy variety too). While there are some downers that we’ve mentioned above, it has great reviews from Pug parents, so it could be worth a try. 

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Good Nutrients & Supplements 

The nutrient values are good for most Pugs, at 23% protein and 14% fat. This kibble also contains glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your Pug’s joints healthy, and a nice splash of DHA and EPA and vitamins and minerals.

Just because this dog food contains allergens, it doesn’t mean it won’t be a good choice for your small breed. Your pooch could be a hardy little fellow, in which case, he may quite enjoy this kibble. If your pup has a sensitive stomach, though, this food contains chicken, corn, wheat, and soy.


Testing Protocol & Criteria Used For Evaluation

Criteria 1 – Free From Allergens

Pugs can be extremely susceptible to allergies, and if you want your little one to have the best health possible it’s a good idea to make sure whatever you choose to feed them is free from common allergens

These include chicken (or chicken meal), beef, and potatoes, as well as any artificial ingredients. Wheat, corn, and soy are always avoided. We’ve tried to ensure the foods we’ve reviewed here are free from all of the above, unless otherwise stated. Food for Pugs can include grains if they’re gluten-free, like brown rice and oatmeal.

Of course, some pups will be fine with these ingredients, so we have included at least one containing chicken and one containing beef, so that your Pug doesn’t miss out if he or she isn’t sensitive to these ingredients.

Criteria 2 – Ingredient Quality

The best dog food for Pugs should be full of healthy, real-food ingredients that are recognizable to the average person. We want to see meat, veggies, fruits, and gluten-free grains like brown rice on those lists. 

Dogs are omnivores, so they need a good mix of protein, carbs, and fats. The foods we’ve reviewed today contain a high-quality animal protein, slow-burning, healthy carbs (that avoid wheat, corn, and soy), and healthy fats. 

We’ve been honest about the quality of what goes into each of these foods.

Criteria 3 – Protein & Fat Counts

After ingredient quality, the nutrient values are the next most important thing. If your pooch isn’t getting enough of the essential nutrients they need, their health is going to suffer. 

Proteins build muscle and keep your pet strong, and an adult Pug needs 25% or more in a food. More isn’t necessarily better, but it’s also not a bad thing. A pug puppy typically needs slightly more than adults, so around 28% and upwards. 

Fat is the easiest, quickest energy source for active pups. It’s a myth that eating fat makes your pup fat, so your adult Pug will need 15% and upwards to keep their energy levels up. We’ve made sure the foods here hit these levels, unless we have specified otherwise.

Criteria 4 – Glucosamine & Chondroitin

Don’t think that just because Pugs are little they won’t have problems with their joints. These little guys and girls are prone to joint dysplasia and luxating patella, which is a dislocating kneecap. Glucosamine and chondroitin help to strengthen joints and keep them more flexible.

If the food doesn’t contain glucosamine, it’s not the end of the world. You can supplement quite easily, and it’s very available and generally affordable. We’ve tried to make sure the majority of the dog food for Pugs we recommend does contain a supplemental dose, though. 

Criteria 5 – Affordability

Although Pugs are on the smaller side and need strict food monitoring, it can still be expensive feeding one. Some of the foods on this list are higher in price than others, but there are a good few options that are extremely affordable – more so even than some of the lower quality products out there. We’ve made a note of how affordable each food is so you can check it out at a glance. 

The more affordable products on this list are still of premium quality, so if price is a factor for you, this criteria is one you’ll want to look closely at.


Questions & Answers

What health conditions affect Pugs?

The most common health problem that Pugs suffer from is obesity. These little guys like to eat, so if they aren’t carefully monitored it can be super easy for their weight gain to get out of control. Being overweight also brings with it other problems, such as joint issues and breathing problems. Some common issues to be aware of include:

What are the characteristics of the best dog food for Pugs and Pug puppies?

The best dog food for Pugs and puppy Pugs should contain all-natural, real-food ingredients, a high-quality animal protein, premium quality fat sources, and healthy, slow-digesting carbohydrates. To facilitate healthy digestion, common allergens such as chicken, potatoes, and grains should be avoided. This will vary from Pug to Pug, but they are quite susceptible to allergies. No corn, wheat, or soy!

The best dog food food for adult Pugs will have 25% or more protein, 15 – 20% fat, contain glucosamine and chondroitin to keep their joints strong, and will be moderate in calories. Puppies need a little more protein than adults, so you’ll be looking for a food with around 28%.

How many calories does my Pug need per day?

The average adult Pug requires 40 – 45 calories per pound of body weight per day, while puppies need about 55 calories. This is a highly individual thing, though. You’ll get a good idea of if your pooch is eating the right amount if they remain the same size and weight as time goes by. If you notice your Pug getting a little pudgy, it may be a good idea to feed them a little less than you are. If your Pug is looking a bit scrawny, it may be time to start feeding them a little more, or at least adding a few treats in between meals to up calories. 

The best dog food for Pugs should be slightly lower in calories. A lower-calorie, nutrient-dense food will keep your pooch full for longer, meaning they won’t be getting hungry as quickly. 

How often should I be feeding my Pug?

It’s very important NOT to allow free feeding, as Pugs love to eat and won’t regulate their intake at all. A Pug puppy should be fed three times a day, and preferably at the same time every day to encourage a routine. From around 6 months, you can decrease this to 2 meals a day if necessary, although if you’re able to keep up 3 meals a day your Pug will be happy with that. 

If you arrive home to find white or yellow foam patches, it’s likely your Pug has been throwing up stomach bile due to an empty tummy. You may need to feed them more at each meal to combat this, or find a way to get them a midday meal.

How can my Pug get more exercise?

Pugs may be slightly more round than other dogs but they still need plenty of exercise to prevent weight gain, and they also quite enjoy a bit of play.

It’s essential to give your Pug the opportunity to exercise, but make sure to allow them to dictate how much and for how long. As brachycephalic dogs, they can suffer from breathing issues that can be made worse by too much exercise. If they are starting to wheeze or struggle with their breathing, it’s time to stop. Brachys also have trouble in very hot weather, as they cannot pant like other dogs. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep exercise to a minimum in very warm weather. 

Introducing a daily walk into their schedule is a great, low-stress way to burn more calories. These pups also love a good play, so a game of fetch will work well. Play-wrestling or chase will give your pooch a bit of a workout and also help with bonding.