Best Dog Foods for Pugs

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You probably ended up here, wondering: “what is the best dog food to feed a Pug?” I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but…it depends. Your Pug is one in a million, right? And dog food isn’t one-size-fits-all. For example, the best dog food for Pugs can be wildly different, depending on his age and health needs.

…so let’s dig in!

Best Pug Dog Food…for Every Pug!

(and no, you won’t find Royal Canin breed-specific or Royal Canin for Pugs recommended here)

Best for Pug Puppies

Wellness Complete Puppy
149 Reviews
Wellness Complete Puppy

“Superfantabulous” was the word one Pug puppy owner used to describe this dog food.

Development is the most important thing in your puppy’s life and this product is lauded for its added DHA (for healthy brain and eye development).

The first 2 ingredients are named meat proteins: deboned chicken and chicken meal.

Best Pug Dog Food

Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Small Breed Dog Food
1,044 Reviews
Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Small Breed Dog Food

Our pick for Pug adult dry dog food, your fellow Puggy owners are going nuts for this food!

Perfect kibble size for your Pug’s flat face and thick lips.

That’s a compliment…right?!

Wellness Core reduces gas and helps weight management.

Best for Senior Pugs

Nutro Ultra Senior
193 Reviews
Nutro Ultra Senior

Nature’s very best ingredients for your senior Pug.

This stuff is the best of the best.

Choice ingredients help maintain your senior Pug’s defenses, shiny coat, good eyesight and a healthy heart.

Best for Pugs with Allergies

Canidae Grain Free PURE
1,169 Reviews
Canidae Grain Free PURE

9. Simple. Ingredients.

This Canidae dog food is stripped down to 9 ingredients.

Less ingredients = more likely that your Pug’s allergies will disappear.

Pugs are instantly recognizable:

Small and compact with round heads and noses that give the impression they were literally squashed onto the front. They have deep wrinkles on their foreheads (but not from worry – Pugs are easy going and far too pampered for that) and large, prominent eyes.

…but with great Pug beauty comes great responsibility! Your Pug’s unique physical traits require uniquely-suited foods.

Pug Feeding Guide: How Should I Feed My Pug?

Before we dig into the best dog food for Pugs, we need to acknowledge that they have special needs. Pugs have a unique appearance only a Pug can pull off, but beauty comes at a price:

  • Pug heads are large compared to the rest of their body (they have wide, short skulls) and their short muzzles can result in breathing issues.
  • Pugs can be prone to excessive body weight gain.
  • Pugs can struggle to eat large kibble due to their flat face and thick lips.

Adhere to the following pet food rules whenever possible.

Look for the following ingredients in your Pug food:

  • Natural is best: Think a short list of high quality ingredients.
  • Nutrient rich: Containing multiple protein sources, carbohydrates and fiber.
  • Whole animal products: Think real chicken or salmon, actual products from animals.
  • Natural oils and crude fat: Help give your canine energy and a shiny coat.
  • Healthy grains: Carbs like brown rice and buckwheat.
  • Essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals: For vitality and general good health.

Avoid the following ingredients:

  • Cheap fillers: Bulk out food, no nutritional value e.g. wheat and corn – contaminants can lurk in the grains during storage and this can cause food allergies in dogs.
  • By-Products: Can include animal left-overs or products from sick animals.
  • Added chemicals: Say no to artificial flavors, preservatives and colorings.

Let’s keep the general dog food rules in mind as we explore the best Pug food at each life-stage (puppy, adult or senior).

We can also look to alleviating health problems that your pup may be suffering from, such as allergies and sensitive stomachs, by investing in the most appropriate dog food brand.

What is the Best Dog Food for Pug Puppies?

Impossibly cute, your Pug puppy needs food that will leave him or her happy and content. Full of bounce in those early months and producing relatively solid and brown poops (hopefully not all over your floor during potty training)!

The right food will help your puppy maintain a shiny coat, which should be dense to the touch. As well as the doggy food rules (see above), crude protein sources are very important in the first months and should come from a natural and high-quality source.

Here are our top 3 best Pug puppy food picks featuring a handful of the healthiest dog food brands on the market:

1. Merrick Grain Free Puppy Recipe

Directly from the manufacturers own kitchen this dry food is described as “formulated to meet the nutritional requirements for ALL puppies.”

No brown rice.

Suitable for large and small breed dogs, it has a wide appeal.


  • Contains industry leading levels of Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
  • A whole animal product is top of the ingredient list, deboned chicken.
  • The top five ingredients listed are all natural produce e.g. sweet potato and peas.
  • Home-cooked appeal.


  • A bit more expensive, but remember:  you get what you pay for!
  • Can give your pup a little gas.

2. Wellness Complete Health Puppy – Chicken, Salmon & Oatmeal

Described by the manufacturer as offering complete and balanced everyday nutrition. We are well aware that development is of utmost importance to your canine kiddo during these early months and this product is lauded for its added DHA (a must-have for healthy brain and eye development).

Zero brown rice.


  • The main ingredient listed is a whole animal product – deboned chicken.
  • Other ingredients are described as “natural” and “premium.”
  • This has a re-sealable bag, great for keeping the product fresh.


  • Can be quite rich for a pup’s delicate tummy.

3. Purina Pro Plan Focus Classic Puppy (Wet) – Chicken & Brown Rice Entrée

Specially formulated for puppies this wet food proffers to provide complete and balanced nutrition. The manufacturers state that this food “helps promote lean body mass for ideal body condition.”


  • The first ingredient listed is a whole animal product (chicken).
  • Quality and great tasting.
  • Seems to help your pup gain a noticeably shinier coat.
  • Helps to improve bowel movements.


  • We would rather see a shorter list of ingredients (i.e., brown rice).

Best Dry Dog Food for Pugs (Healthy Adult Pugs)

We recommend that you feed your Pug a similar amount of food at a similar time each day, keeping things consistent and prevent tummy upsets.

Like all dogs, Pugs require a well-balanced diet, with plenty of nutrients for healthy skin and coat.

They have a tendency to be food greedy, so your Pug diet plan for weight management should include adequate exercise and a finely tuned eating plan.

Here are our top 3 best Pug adult dry dog food picks, featuring a handful of the most popular brands on the market:

1. Wellness CORE Dry Dog Food Small Breed Adult Dog

A turkey and chicken adult dry dog food brand formulated by Wellness especially for small breeds dogs. This food is grain free.


  • Natural ingredients including deboned turkey, chicken meal, chicken fat, fruits and vegetables.
  • No by-products, fillers, grains, artificial flavors or preservatives to worry about.
  • Fortified with vitamins and minerals to help maintain a shiny coat and care for bones.
  • Small kibble, great for smaller mouths.


  • Follow the storage instructions to the letter or it doesn’t stay fresh for long.

2. Taste of the Wild

Taste of the Wild is a grain-free dog food brand that is taking the pet food world by storm.  Many flavors to choose from, including bison, lamb meal, salmon, and wildfowl.

Pro Tip: Make sure to check the crude protein content % across the flavors.


  • Fortified with nutruents to help maintain a shiny coat and care for bones.
  • Awesome for your pug’s coat. No more dry/flaky fur!
  • Small kibble, great for small breed dogs.
  • Zero by-products, artificial flavors, fillers, or grains.


  • With Taste of the Wild, you need to test to find the right amount of kibble to feed so your pug doesn’t pack on the poundage.

3. Blue Buffalo Basics Limited Ingredient Formula

An adult dry dog food product formulated especially for small canines.

Blue Buffalo  Basics -Turkey Recipe is made in the USA and the company tag line is very appealing:

“Love them like family, feed them like family.”


  • The natural ingredients stand out.
  • Contains a limited number of ingredients, makes it good for sensitive tums too.


  • The bag is not re-sealable. Let Blue Buffalo know, because…why not?!

What is the Best Dog Food for Senior Pugs?

You may find your little four-legged friend begins to experience a decrease in the sharpness of their senses (hearing and sight may become impaired) and they may develop problems relating to internal organs such as the heart.

Mobility-wise, they might become less agile and slow down a little (don’t we all as we get older)? If they are moving less they will burn less calorie wise, so should need to consume less.

If you have an overweight Pug (lovingly referred to as pudgy Pugs) on your hands, you need a Pug diet plan!

Don’t let your Pug’s twilight years be blighted by the bloat!

Keep your pet at a healthy weight and happy by feeding him the right amount, a lean dog will be able to move more easily and exercise is still important.

It’s worth considering dog food containing glucosamine (joint health), chondroitin and omega fatty acids (skin and coat health) to aid mobility and the healing process.

Nutrition and a well-balanced diet remains essential, especially as the immune system may not be quite what it was. A reduced level of immunity can lead to increased risk in terms of heart problems, diabetes, arthritis etc. Antioxidants are added to boost the body’s defenses.

During their senior years, the dietary needs of your Pug will be partly determined by his or her health issues. Veterinarians are able to offer advice on the health status of your precious pet and can offer guidance on how best to meet their dietary needs.

As the old adage goes:

There’s life in the old dog yet and we owe it to our faithful friends to make their sunset years some of their best.

There are a number of specialized brands of senior food on the market. Here are our top 4 picks featuring a handful of the healthiest brands:

1. NUTRO Ultra Senior Holistic Superfood Wet Dog Food

Produced in U.S. facilities, this food is especially formulated for senior dogs. The texture of this food is quite soft and moist, which may suit your senior canine well.


  • Natural and high quality ingredients. Plenty of high-quality protein sources, whole grains and vegetables.
  • Help improve your dog’s ability to fight off disease.
  • Nutrients to shiny coat, good eyesight and support healthy hearts.


  • Big chunks, rather than ground food, not necessarily a negative but worth bearing in mind if your canine is a picky eater.

2. Canidae Life Stages Platinum Senior & Overweight (Wet)

This chicken, lamb meal and fish formula dog food has been produced in the U.S.A with senior dogs in mind and those carrying a little too much extra weight.

Canidae also include their own special ingredient – HealthPLUS.


  • Fabulous ingredients. Whole animal product and natural all the way.
  • Cooked in broth so should be nice and tasty.
  • You won’t find any wheat, corn, soy or fillers. Reducing fillers helps get your pet back to a healthy weight.


  • There’s a fishy smell to this food (but, it does contain whitefish).

3. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free (Wet) Senior Dog Food

This dry dog food is formulated with senior dogs in mind, so it’s great for your more mature pooch.  We particularly like the fact that it’s all made in the USA and their tag line is very appealing “Love them like family, feed them like family.”


  • A healthy ingredient list consisting of chicken, broth, pea protein and carrots.
  • Plenty of high quality crude protein.
  • No by-products and grain free, great news if your dog has allergies/sensitivities.


  • Can make your dog a bit gassy (but then pongs and dogs tend to go hand in hand)!

4. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food 7+ Active Longevity

This chicken meal, brewers rice & barley dry dog food recipe has been specially formulated by Hill’s with senior dogs (small breed) in mind. They are confident in their product and offer a 100% money back guarantee if you are not happy.


  • Lots of nutritional value that helps maintain energy levels.
  • Natural dry dog food ingredients.
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support healthy joints.
  • Great for small breeds with little mouths as the kibble is small too.


  • Kibble can be a bit dense and you may need to moisten it for your aged pet.

Does My Pug Have a Food Allergy or Food Intolerance?

Sometimes a dog will eat food that its body takes a dislike to. When this happens the dog’s immune system kicks in (believing that the food may hurt the dog).

Antibodies are then produced.

This happens each time the dog eats that particular food – hence they are “allergic” to it.

Pippin developed noticeable symptoms that were distressing for her and upsetting for Jan. She developed an itchy skin rash, would nibble at her own paws and lick her fur repeatedly. She also suffered bouts of sickness.

If your Pug is experiencing symptoms like unhealthy skin, nibbling paws, licking fur repeatedly, and/or bouts of sickness – it may be that she is suffering from a food allergy.

Like any breed, Pugs can also have an intolerance to certain ingredients.

When a dog eats a food that they are intolerant to, their digestive system fires off a response.

If your Pug is suffering from sickness, diarrhea, bloating or excessive gas it may be that they have an intolerance to an ingredient in their food.

Both allergies and intolerances are equally upsetting and can have severe consequences for your pet.

If your Pug is showing the symptoms above, it’s important to ascertain if it IS being caused by their diet.

There are other things (such as pollen, detergent and ragweed) that can trigger an allergic reaction.

Trial and error may play a large part in finding what it is that is upsetting your Pug but I would suggest that a visit to a qualified veterinarian. He or she will be able to assist you in finding the triggers –  you can then work on eliminating them.

What Should I do if My Pug has a Food Allergy or Intolerance?

If you find that your Pug is allergic or intolerant to a food product, then you should look to eliminate that ingredient from his or her diet.

There are many ingredients that can trigger an allergy. The most common include:

  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Yeast
  • Dairy
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Chicken, chicken fat, chicken meal, etc.

However, it may be that it is not the actual ingredient that your Pug is allergic to but contaminants within the grains of the dog food.

Contaminants are not pleasant – they refer to mold, mites and insects that may have contaminated the grain while being stored.

If a manufacturer is using cheap grain filler in their dog food it may be causing an allergic reaction in your Pug.

Once you have found out what the problem is you need to control your Pug’s diet, you should be looking for dog food brands that don’t contain the problem ingredient. There are a number of Hypoallergenic dog food brands on the market and if your Pug is suffering from an intolerance to grain there are a number of grain free options too.

If you are changing your dog’s diet do it slowly and gradually to prevent additional digestive problems.

Best Food for Pugs with Allergies

There are a vast range of dog food brands on the market, but when it comes to a dog with food allergies you have to be even more careful when trying to choose the right one for your pet.

If you have determined the cause of the allergy you can seek the right food to meet your Pug’s needs.

To give you an idea of what’s out there I have explored a small selection of some of the available brands on the market. These have been formulated to meet the needs of dogs that have sensitive digestive systems.

1. Canidae Grain Free Pure Fields Small Breed Dog Food with Fresh Chicken

Independent and Family-Owned Since 1996

Canidae are another independently owned brand that promote the fact that their recipes are simple and utilize a limited number of ingredients. This particular product has chicken listed as its primary ingredient, a whole animal product listed first is always a great plus point.

It also includes peas, lentils and dried whole egg (good for digestion).

A simple and limited ingredient list is less likely to cause problems for dogs with sensitive tummies, so could be suitable for your Pug is they have a food allergy or intolerance.

Obviously, its “grain free” status falls in line with this and you won’t see any corn, wheat or soy etc. on their ingredient list.

Canidae also adds a “Health Plus Solution” to its food. And their ingredients are cooked with probiotics. These promote healthy digestion.

I do like the fact that this brand’s tag line is nice and straightforward -they want you to know that they use simple recipes for sensitive dogs, their key message that they use whole foods to aid gentle digestive activity, exactly what you are looking for if your Pug has problems like this.

The fact that Canidae are independent and family owned since 1996 adds to their charm – USA dog food from a family business.

2. Merrick Grain Free Real Duck + Sweet Potato Dry Dog Food Recipe

Merrick manufactures this grain free dry food and states that it is suitable for all life-stages and breeds. This brand is appealing due to the fact that it is “home-grown,” made from natural, real whole foods that are sourced from local farmers.

If your Pug has been suffering from symptoms associated with grain contaminants this may be the dog food for you (ahem, your Pug).

Its natural/real whole food tag gains support with deboned duck as the first ingredient.

In fact, all of the Merrick Grain Free recipes start with deboned meat as the first ingredient. That, along with the notion that they claim to offer quality protein (70% meat protein source in recipes) and fresh fruits and vegetables (30% fresh produce) makes this dog food extremely appealing.

Hey, I even fancy a bowl now and then!

There is no soy, corn, wheat or gluten in this dog food, so this grain-free solution should be great to prevent upset to digestive systems that are touchy.

As a bonus, you also get generous amounts of Omega fatty acids (Omega-6 and 3 help your dog to have a healthy coat) and also glucosamine and chondroitin (which helps to promote healthy hips and joint activity).

I also like the fact that Merrick’s tell you about their kitchens.

Ok, I know it’s not likely that we will see a Gordon Ramsey type throwing pots and yelling about the state of the back of the fridge at a dog food manufacturing facilities but it is important.

I want to know that my dog’s food is being prepared in sanitary conditions and Merrick’s state that their kitchens are not only upholding the strict guidelines of the FDA, but they are also five-star.

To sum up we like this brand a lot – it tastes good, it’s “home-grown” and it has high-quality, naturally nutritious ingredient.

The only negative seems to be that a couple of dog owners have experienced some rather smelly gas from their dog’s rear end after din-dins, news flash:


That said, if my Pug was more content and their tummy was settled I think I could live with that.

3. Wellness Complete Health Natural Dry Food, Whitefish & Sweet Potato

Wellness complete is a brand which reduces ingredients – all of which are natural and authentic. The food therefore should suit dogs with intolerances and sensitivities.

This food will assist in the maintenance of the health and well-being of your faithful friend (in particular the maintenance of digestive system, coat, eyesight and oral health).

This brand also promotes its ability to boost energy and immunity.

The first ingredient on the list is whitefish – a whole animal product, which is encouraging. It’s good to see that there are no meat by-products, fillers, wheat, corn, soy or artificial colors, preservatives or flavors listed.

I really like that this brand seems to give the taste of its food a lot of thought – and owners and dogs alike seem to be in agreement, that it tastes good!

Wellness likes to point out that they are a family-owned company and that they are really are interested in providing delicious food that your pet will crave. This is backed up when you hear that even fussy dogs seem to be enjoying it.

We have touched on the fact that pugs can have a tendency to carry excessive weight and I’ve heard mixed reviews about how well this brand fares in regards to this issue.

Some feel their Pug has gained weight despite following the feeding guidelines. Others feel that the food has assisted in addressing a weight issue and that their Pug is more muscular and lean since moving to Wellness.

WE could argue that food alone cannot be held responsible for a Pug’s healthy weight – it will also be dependent on his or her level of activity throughout the day.

4. Nature’s Variety Instinct Limited Ingredient Diet Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

A food aimed at dogs with sensitivities – states that it is made with one animal protein source and no gluten or grain. The great selling point of this product is the fact that it contains just a few ingredients – all of which are easy to digest.

It does not have any grain, gluten, potato, dairy, eggs, chicken, beef or fish – the majority of foods that are known to be common in regards to allergies.

The primary ingredient in this product is turkey meal and Nature’s Way state that their food is rich in essential nutrients to assist with digestion. Alongside the absence of grain there are also no artificial colors or preservatives.

Nature’s Way also add their own “Raw Boost” in the form of freeze dried raw pieces that are a great source of nutrition.

The food has been produced in accordance with the needs of small breed dogs – so it should be ideal for Pugs. They have also looked at making their kibble size smaller, another plus point for Pugs, they may find it easier to eat this food.

This product seems to have been a hit with consumers seeking a good quality food that will aid digestion and dogs like the taste.

It is deemed as “not a cheap option.”

But perhaps here the adage is correct – you get what you pay for. This product really does seem to do what it says and is a real find for dogs that have weak stomachs.

If your Pug is suffering it is definitely worth a try.

Related Questions

What food do Pugs eat?

Pugs eat dry kibble, wet, or raw dog food. Pugs should not eat table scraps because they are prone to being overweight. Human foods for Pugs include fruits like apples (not the core) and bananas.

Is Royal Canin for Pugs a good food?

No. The only reason you should buy Royal Canin for Pugs is the cute Pug on the label. The benefits stop there. Dog Food Advisor rates it a 3 out of 5 stars.

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