Top 7 Best Dog Food picks for Pugs

Updated: October 9, 2023

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These days, pugs are considered to be one of the most distinct-looking canines around. They've easily identified thanks to their squished faces and short snouts.

Despite their fun-loving attitudes and loyal nature, Pugs are notorious for their health risks. Officially, they are classified as a brachycephalic breed. Their shortened snouts can often lead to breathing difficulties, which translates to less exercise and eventual weight gain.

While a high-quality diet is good for any dog, it's a necessity for Pugs. 

well fed Pug

Due to the many health conditions, they're susceptible to, it's more important than ever to support your dog's well-being from within.

Nutritionally-balanced dog food can keep your dog's body in check. All while providing them with the energy they need to live their best life.

Not any old kibble will do for Pugs. These pups have unique requirements that you need to take care of. To make your life easier, we've rounded up a collection of some of the best dog foods to serve your precious Pug.

The Best Dog Food for Pugs - Top 7

1. Wellness CORE Grain-Free Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Recipe

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food Small Breed

This formula from Wellness is designed to provide a simple diet based on the primal ancestry of canine. It has an impressively high protein content of 36 percent, which is great for keeping your Pug's muscle in tip-top shape.

Most of that protein comes from turkey. Accompanying the protein is omega fatty acids for good skin and coat health. This food also has some great extras like glucosamine and chondroitin for the joints.

You'll also find plenty of antioxidants through the inclusion of kale, parsley, apples, broccoli, and several other plant-based ingredients.

2. Royal Canin Pug Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Pug Adult Dry Dog Food

Next up, we have this specialty recipe from Royan Canin. This brand manufacturers food for specific breeds. The Pug formula contains an adequate amount of protein.

There's about 23 percent in total. One of the primary goals of this food is to prevent weight gain. So, it's balanced to provide enough nutrition to stay healthy without forcing your dog to pack on the pounds.

Furthermore, the recipe has great nutrients like L-Carnitine, which helps to maintain muscle tone throughout your pup's life.

3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Adult Small Breed Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Adult Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Brown Rice

This small breed formula from Blue Buffalo has it all. It's chock-full of protein. Deboned chicken and Menhaden fish meal make up the 26 percent protein content.

The primary kibble pieces are mixed with tiny morsels. These smaller components are predominantly made out of plant-based ingredients. They provide healthy antioxidants and vitamins that are designed to support your dog's immune system and overall health.

Glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega fatty acids are thrown into the mix as well for good measure.

4. AvoDerm Natural Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

AvoDerm Natural Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula Small Breed Adult Dry Dog Food

The small breed recipe from AvoDerm doesn't contain any potentially harmful ingredients. There's no corn, wheat, or unnecessary artificial additives.

Instead, it has wholesome ingredients that are designed to support the bodies of dogs under 20 pounds. Approximately 26 percent of the formula is protein. Most of that comes from chicken meal.

You'll also find plenty of omega fatty acids. This is added through the use of avocado and avocado oil. They can keep your dog's coat in good condition while also supporting cardiovascular health.

Best Dog Food for Pug Puppies

5. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild dog food is made to replicate the diet of canines in the wilderness. This puppy formula is ideal for Pug pups because it has 28 percent protein and 17 percent fat.

Unique meat ingredients are used. You'll find things like buffalo, lamb meal, bison, beef, and venison. The inclusion of several types of meat provides a complex array of amino acids for your pup's muscles.

To complement those proteins, Taste of the Wild included complex carbs and a great selection of digestible vegetables.

Recommended Wet Canned Food for Pugs

6. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Grill Grain-Free Canned Dog Food

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Small Breed Turkey & Chicken Grill Grain-Free Canned Dog Food,

This canned food from Blue Buffalo is pretty simple and doesn't have any common allergens. It contains limited ingredients to ensure that your dog is getting the very best.

This particular formula uses turkey, chicken, and turkey liver. The food contains sizable chunks of soft meat that are easy to chew. The meat is drenched in broth, so your dog will have no problems eating it up.

Blue Buffalo also included B12 supplements. It helps with digestion and enhances overall immune health.

7. Instinct by Nature's Variety Small Breed Grain-Free Real Beef Wet Canned Dog Food

Instinct by Nature's Variety Original Small Breed Grain-Free Real Beef Recipe Natural Wet Canned Dog Food

From Instinct is this grain-free canned food. Beef is the animal meat of choice. Beef liver is also added as a source of essential vitamins.

You won't find any corn, wheat, soy, or potatoes in this food. It has only the essentials and a handful of beneficial extras.

Plant-based ingredients, such as pumpkin, blueberries, cranberries, and kale, act as a source for antioxidants while also providing a boost of fiber for healthy digestion. The texture of this food is very soft. It's a loaf-like food that's very easy to chew and swallow.

Pug Nutritional Requirements

Finding that perfect dog food product can be tough if you don't know what to look for! You wouldn't know it by looking at them, but Pugs are quite energetic. They love to spend the day playing. The only thing they love more than playing is eating.

The dog food you choose should be strategically formulated to provide them with the energy they need without unnecessary weight gain. Here are some things to pay attention to while you're shopping.

Quality Proteins

First and foremost, protein should be at the top of the ingredient's list. Wholesome protein sources are best. This includes things like chicken, beef, turkey, and anything else that's easy to identify. Stay away from mystery meats and overly processed byproducts. They may do more harm than good.

When it comes to the amount of protein your Pug needs, around 18 percent of the formula is ideal. You can choose a food that's 30 percent or more if your pup is very active. Pugs aren't as muscular as some other breeds, so they can fair well with at least 18 percent protein in their diet.

Beneficial Fats

In total, a crude fat content of around 5 percent is great for Pugs. Fats do a lot to keep up energy levels. Plus, they add plenty of flavor to the food. If you want to go the extra mile and provide additional health benefits, stick with foods that have plenty of omega fatty acids.

Ingredients like fish or flaxseed oil are filled to the brim with fatty acids, which are capable of supporting cardiovascular health and keeping the skin supple.

Try to avoid choosing food with particularly high levels of fat. Pugs are notorious for gaining weight as they get older, so you'll want to keep fats to a minimum.

Complex Carbohydrates

While there isn't any set guideline for how many carbohydrates canines need to stay healthy, we do know that complex carbohydrates are better than simple ones. Simple carbs break down and convert to glucose very rapidly. This results in a noticeable energy spike and subsequent crash.

Complex carbs, such as sweet potatoes and peas, are broken down slowly throughout the day. Your dog will experience a steady supply of energy that they can use to stay active. Plus, complex carbs can help reduce the chances of your dog experiencing diabetes.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements

You can't go wrong with a healthy supply of vitamins and minerals. Foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables are great for Pugs. The nutrients will support everything from your dog's organs to their immune system.

As for supplements, you can go with food products that have healthy extras like antioxidants or ingredients that support the joints. Antioxidants prevent cell oxidation and fight off free radicals.

Meanwhile, supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin keep that cushion between the joints in good condition to reduce pain as your pup gets older.

What About Puppies?

Pug puppies are adorable little creatures with their very own nutritional requirements. Like any other breed, Pug puppies require more calories than their adult counterparts. That's because their bodies are rapidly growing during that first year of life.

It's important to supply a puppy-grade formula with adequates amount of nutrition to support that growth.

pug puppy

Puppies need at least 22 percent protein and about 8 percent fat. Both of these figures are a tad higher than what adults needs. They'll also need calorie-dense food, as puppies tend to eat much more than adults. 

Finally, you'll need crucial minerals like calcium and phosphorus. They help to develop the skeletal system.

Pug Feeding Guide

Pugs are voracious eaters. They'll gobble up anything you put in front of them. As such, they are very susceptible to weight gain and diabetes. Weight gain can lead to joint problems and skeletal deformities, so feeding your dog correctly is paramount.

We recommend feeding pugs twice a day. One meal in the morning and one in the evening should suffice. Do not leave food out for your Pug to eat whenever they feel hungry. Free-feeding will only lead to weight gain, as these dogs don't have an off-switch when it comes to food.

On average, adult pugs weigh between 14 and 18 pounds. They're considered a small breed. Most healthy adults will need about 40 calories per pound of bodyweight. Puppies will need approximately 50 calories per pound.

Lifestyle Factors

Of course, lifestyle factors may cause those figures to fluctuate a bit. For example, very active dogs may need slightly more than 40 calories a pound to replenish their energy.

On the other token, lazy dogs and seniors will require less to avoid weight gain. Consider your pup's body condition and consult with your vet to get a better idea of what your dog needs.

Common Health Issues to Be Wary of

Aside from weight gain, there are several health issues that you should keep an eye out for. Centuries of selective breeding has resulted in that iconic short snout. Unfortunately, that snout can be the bane of their existence.

Many health conditions stem from their snout shape. The breathing difficulties it causes often forces dogs to lead sedentary lives. Plus, it makes it easy for them to experience infections, sinus problems, and more.

The health risks don't stop there. Eye and bone issues are relatively common, too. Dry eyes, corneal ulcers, retinal atrophy, and even inverted eyelids can occur. As for skeletal problems, Pugs may suffer from hip dysplasia, vertebral deformities, Legg-Perthes disease, and more.

The Right Diet

While many of these health conditions are genetic, your dog's diet does play a part in their overall health. It's not always possible to avoid these diseases. But, you can do your part to support the healthy parts of your pup by giving them the best balanced diet that money can buy.

Some foods may even be able to provide relief. For example, foods with joint supplements can reduce the effects of arthritis while nutrients like beta-carotene can support ocular health.


Don't let the common health problems scare you. Pugs are a joy to have in the home. They're lovable pets that want nothing more than to spend time with you and have fun. To make sure that they have the fuel for a happy and healthy life, give your Pug a balanced diet that they will love.

Category: best dog food by breed

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About the author 


Steve is a writer with over 10 years of experience in dog training and nutritiion.

His goal is to educate dog owners about the ins and outs of canine behavior as well as keeping up with the latest scientific research in the field.