10 Best Dog Food For Pugs (Puppies, Adults, & Seniors) in 2021

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

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall for Pugs: Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dry Dog Food
“This dog food has enough nutrients to boost your dog’s immune system, support growth, and boost stamina – exactly what your pug needs no matter how old he may be.”

Best Limited Ingredient: Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dog Food
“This dog food is formulated for small breed dogs and is available in different flavors to make it easy for your pup to avoid allergens and give him a good range of options at the same time.”

Best Food for Pug Puppies: Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food
Your little pup needs food that supports his growth and development. This one has puppy-specific recipes with DHA, protein, and fat counts all great for your young pug. It also includes supplements to help with joint dysplasia and eye problems.”

Check Other Products on Chewy

Check Other Products on Amazon

Pugs are adorable, playful, and probably one of the lowest maintenance dog breeds out there. It doesn’t require regular grooming and needs just the occasional brushing to remove dead hair.

While they’re not generally prone to allergies, pugs commonly suffer from encephalitis and hip dysplasia. These health concerns may seem serious but they can be prevented by providing your dog with a well-rounded diet early on.

Product Name
Best Food for Pug Puppies
Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Merrick Lil Plates Grain Free Small Breed Recipe, 12-Pound, Beef
Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Salmon and Sweet Potato, 24lbs
Merrick Grain Free Puppy Chicken Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food (4 lb)
Rating
Our Rating 88 / 100
Our Rating 87 / 100
Our Rating 87 / 100
Pro 1
Contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and DHA
Various flavors available, making it easy to avoid allergens but still have a range of flavors
High-quality ingredient list
Pro 2
Various flavors available (including numerous poultry-free recipes)
Great levels of glucosamine and chondroitin
Great protein and fat counts for puppies
Best Overall for Pugs
Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
Merrick Lil Plates Grain Free Small Breed Recipe, 12-Pound, Beef
Rating
Our Rating 88 / 100
Pro 1
Contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and DHA
Pro 2
Various flavors available (including numerous poultry-free recipes)
Custom Button
Best Limited Ingredient
Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Salmon and Sweet Potato, 24lbs
Rating
Our Rating 87 / 100
Pro 1
Various flavors available, making it easy to avoid allergens but still have a range of flavors
Pro 2
Great levels of glucosamine and chondroitin
Custom Button
Best Food for Pug Puppies
Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Merrick Grain Free Puppy Chicken Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food (4 lb)
Rating
Our Rating 87 / 100
Pro 1
High-quality ingredient list
Pro 2
Great protein and fat counts for puppies
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

Best Dog Food For Pugs

Here are our top picks for the best dog food for pugs:

  1. Best Overall for Pugs: Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dry Dog Food
  2. Best Limited Ingredient: Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dog Food
  3. Best Food for Pug Puppies: Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food
  4. Best Wet Food: Canidae Pure Grain Free Wet Dog Food
  5. Best with Chicken: Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Dry Dog Food
  6. Best for Easy Digestion: Taste Of The Wild Small Breed Dry Dog Food
  7. Best Value for Money: Diamond Naturals Small Breed Dry Dog Food
  8. Best for Seniors: Blue Buffalo Basics Senior Dry Dog Food
  9. Best for Less Active Pugs: Eagle Pack Reduced Fat Adult Dry Dog Food
  10. Best Pug-specific Food: Royal Canin Breed Health Pug Adult Dry Dog Food

1. Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Best Overall for Pugs

Merrick Lil Plates Grain Free Small Breed Recipe, 12-Pound, Beef
Check Price on Amazon
Check Price on Chewy

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

This dry dog food is crafted from high-quality, wholesome ingredients and has been made specifically to cover all the nutritional needs of small breed dogs, 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.

click to see more

High In Protein And Fats  

Even small breed dogs need a good amount of protein for maintaining their muscles. They also need high levels of fat which is necessary for energy, of which a small breed has plenty. 

The different flavors of this dog food has 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.

2. Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dog Food

Best Limited Ingredient

Canidae PURE Grain Free, Limited Ingredient Dry Dog Food, Salmon and Sweet Potato, 24lbs
Check Price on Amazon
Check Price on Chewy

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 getting worse, it might be best to put him on a limited ingredient diet. Canidae Pure Limited Ingredient Dog Food is a great choice as it has a range of flavors to stop your pooch getting bored with one flavor.

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.

click to see more

Various Nutrient Values

Every single recipe contains high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin and a good amount of Omega fatty acids. This makes them great Pug food for all ages, sizes, and breeds. The numbers on the guaranteed analysis lists vary, from 25-32% protein and 14.5-18% fat.

3. Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food

Best for Pug Puppies

Merrick Grain Free Puppy Chicken Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food (4 lb)
Check Price on Amazon
Check Price on Chewy

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

Puppy pugs need certain supplements for growth and development, and Merrick Grain Free Dry Puppy Food provides exactly what they need. It uses deboned beef as its main ingredient which is an excellent protein source and makes up 28% of this food. Fat is available at 15% which is sufficient for an energetic, bouncy little pug who loves to play all day.

click to see more

Supplements For Puppies 

Because joint dysplasia and eye problems are common for Pugs, it’s essential to make an effort to combat these diseases early on. This dog food contains a good amount of glucosamine and chondroitin which strengthens joints from a young age. DHA can also be found in this formula – a necessary addition that helps the proper development of the eyes and brain tissue. 

4. Canidae Pure Grain Free Wet Dog Food

Best Wet Food

CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Land Dog Wet Formula with Lamb, 13 oz (12-pack) string
Check Price on Amazon
Check Price on Chewy

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

Feeding your pooch dry dog food can get boring after a while and it’s nice to mix it up a bit by introducing tasty, wet toppers to their usual kibble. This dog food from Canidae is not just a delicious option, it’s also packed with healthy ingredients that add nutritional value to your dog’s meal.

click to see more

A Range of Limited Ingredient Flavours 

There are 5 key ingredients in this dog food – all premium proteins and wholesome ingredients. We recommend adding this to your pup’s dry dog food if they need extra calories or if they’re getting picky with their food.

5. Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food

Best With Chicken

Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Dog Food, Turkey & Oatmeal, 12-Pound Bag
Check Price on Amazon
Check Price on Chewy

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 affordability. If your pug is not sensitive to chicken, the Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food is a nutritious, tasty option that he can enjoy. It is made from premium quality, lean meat that is packed with protein and other nutrients.

click to see more

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 significantly to reduce the chances of this happening.

6. Taste Of The Wild Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Best for Easy Digestion

Taste of the Wild Grain Free High Protein Real Meat Recipe Appalachian Valley Premium Dry Dog Food, 28 lb.
Check Price on Amazon
Check Price on Chewy

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

The Taste Of The Wild Small Breed Dry Dog Food is packed with flavor and loaded with nutrients from premium, pasture-raised venison and added superfoods. It contains proprietary probiotics with species-specific strain that aids in digestion.

click to see more

Great Nutrients For Active Pugs 

With 32% protein and 18% fat, this dog food will provide your pug enough protein to stay strong and supple, and easily-metabolized energy to support his daily activities. 

7. Diamond Naturals Small Breed Dry Dog Food

Best Value For Money

Diamond Naturals Small Breed Dog Real Lamb Recipe Premium Dry Dog food, 18 lb
Check Price on Amazon
Check Price on Chewy

Overall Rating85%
Free From Allergens90%
Ingredient Quality90%
Protein & Fat Counts85%
Glucosamine & Chondroitin70%
Affordability90%

PROS

  • Affordable meal packed with flavor and nutrients
  • Avoids most common allergens (chicken, beef, potatoes)
  • Nutrient content is perfect for small breed dogs like Pugs
  • Contains L-carnitine and great Omega fatty acid levels

CONS

  • Doesn’t contain glucosamine or chondroitin

The Diamond Naturals Small Breed Dry Dog Food is an awesome choice for Pug parents who are looking for something less pricey but still containing all the good stuff your dog’s needs. The main protein source in this food is pasture-raised lamb so you can guarantee the quality is impeccable.

click to see more

Perfect Nutrient Content For Pugs 

25% protein and 15% fat content is well within the recommended range for moderately active pugs. This dog food provides just the right amounts of essential nutrients to keep small dogs satisfied and well nourished. 

The L-carnitine found in this food promotes healthy weight and energy levels, which is great for small breed dogs prone to weight gain. The Omega fatty acids are also present in significant amounts to help your pup’s skin and coat to be hydrated and itch-free. 

8. Blue Buffalo Basics Senior Dry Dog Food

Best For Pug Seniors

Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Diet, Natural Senior Dry Dog Food, Turkey & Potato 24-lb
Check Price on Amazon
Check Price on Chewy

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, senior dogs need specific nutrients in their diet to keep them strong and healthy as they age. The Blue Buffalo Basics Senior Dry Dog Food contains essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals an aging pup needs to keep his or her quality of life as normal as possible.

click to see more

Low Protein & Fat  

Senior dogs are typically less active and they don’t need as much protein and fat to support their daily activities. This dog food has just the right amount to maintain muscle mass and provide energy that will last through the day.

It also has a significant amount of glucosamine and chondroitin to fortify your senior pup’s hip and joints which is especially necessary since pugs commonly suffer from hip dysplasia. It also has DHA to keep your aging pooch’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
Check Price on Amazon
Check Price on Chewy

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

Reduced-fat food for Pugs who are not active (due to age, injury, or illness) could help prevent weight gain. This dog food is highly recommended if you want to regulate your little pug’s weight while making sure they still get all the nutrient they need. It has added brown rice which contributes a good amount of fiber for healthy digestion.

click to see more

Low Fat, Moderate Protein 

Most low-fat dog foods often come with low protein counts too, but this one has 24% protein content which is ideal if you want to maintain your dog’s muscle mass. The fat content is 6% which is significantly lower than most dog breeds. If your pooch doesn’t get regular exercise and is typically less active throughout the day, this is the perfect food for him.

10. Royal Canin Breed Health Pug Adult Dry Dog Food

Best Pug-Specific Food

Royal Canin Pug Adult Breed Specific Dry Dog Food, 10 lb. bag
Check Price on Amazon
Check Price on Chewy

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

The Royal Canin Dog Food is one of the few breed-specific dog foods for pugs on the market (and it comes in a puppy variety too). The nutritional value is ideal for pugs. It has 23% protein and 14% fat content. There’s a significant amount of glucosamine and chondroitin in this food to keep your Pug’s joints healthy. It also has added DHA, EPA, vitamins and minerals that makes this a well rounded dog food that provides a balanced nutritional profile for your beloved pug.

click to see more

Good Nutrients & Supplements 

Its appropriately balanced formula ensures your pug maintains the ideal weight while getting the essential nutrients he needs. The combination of premium protein and L-carnitine guarantees your pug maintains its muscle tone.


best dog food for pugs

How to Choose the Best Food for Your Pug

1) Free From Allergens

Pugs aren’t as susceptible to allergies compared to other small dog breeds. But there’s no harm in being extra careful when it comes to making sure your pooch is getting a well rounded diet without any risks of harmful, allergy-causing ingredients. Educate yourself about the common allergens that can be found in dog foods for pugs and triple check if your dog is sensitive to them. 

The most common allergens include chicken (or chicken meal), beef, and potatoes, as well as any artificial ingredients. Wheat, corn, and soy are always avoided. Food for pugs may include grains if they’re gluten-free, like brown rice and oatmeal.

2) Premium Ingredient Quality

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

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

3) Protein & Fat Counts

After ingredient quality, the next thing you need to check is the nutritional value of your dog’s food. Make sure it contains all the essential nutrients he needs and within the recommended amount per serving or per meal.

These nutrients should be present in the list:

  • Protein. 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. Fat is the easiest, quickest energy source for active pups.Your adult pug will need 15% fat content and upwards to keep their energy levels up.
  • Omega Fatty Acids. These fatty acids are necessary to maintain healthy skin and shiny coat. Pugs don’t have long coat which means they don’t need as much grooming but their skin absolutely needs additional care. A good dose of Omega fatty acids should keep their skin healthy and protected froms any skin allergies.

4) Glucosamine & Chondroitin

These little fellas are prone to joint dysplasia and luxating patella or dislocating kneecap. Glucosamine and chondroitin help strengthen joints and keep them more flexible. Needless to say, glucosamine and chondroitin are necessary supplements for pugs but they’re not always present in dog food products. You can, however, add them as a supplement.

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. 


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:

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. 

Mike Powell

Mike is an avid dog lover and writer. He’s based in Los Angeles, CA where he grew up in a household surrounded by pets. He’s been a dog owner all his life and he uses this extensive experience of having dogs as part of his family to share valuable, practical tips to improve other people’s dog parenting experience.