Best Dog Food Choices For Pugs – 2019 Buyer’s Guide

Many people that pet food is just that: Pet food. However, there are many different types and some are good for your pet and some are bad. With dogs, for example, there is a big difference between high-quality protein dry food, grain-free dog food and commercial dog food, as well as puppy food and adult dog food.

It also depends on the breed of dog you have and love. When it comes to dog breeds, there are few that are as cute as a wrinkly pug puppy. They’re funny, affectionate, and bred to be companions. Pugs are generally a healthy breed, but they do suffer from some common ailments, including food allergies.

A proper diet is especially important to a pug’s health. One health issue with pugs is that they’re prone to allergies, so you have to watch what you feed them to make sure they don’t exhibit any signs of a reaction. They can also suffer from spine, hip, and knee problems and are notorious for breathing issues, so keeping their weight under control is an important part of keeping them healthy.


Dog Food Name

Price per lb.

Our Rating



Blue Buffalo Freedom Small Breed Adult Chicken



Wellness Core Dry Dog Food for Small Breeds:

Turkey and Chicken



Orijen Original Dry Dog Food



Royal Canin Pug Adult Dry Dog Food



Best Food for Pug Puppies:

Royal Canin Pug Puppy Dry Dog Food



Honorable Mention:
AvoDerm Brown Rice and Chicken Formula


How to Choose Pug Food for Puppies and Adults?

Protein and Nutrient Dense

The ideal product will be low calorie per pound but packed with protein and essential nutrients to provide your pug with plenty of energy. Other ingredients like omega fatty acids and Glucosamine are also important for maintaining a healthy coat and skin.

Low-Carb and/or Grain-Free

While not all pugs are susceptible to allergies, it is better to be safe than sorry. Going for low-carb and grain-free products protects your pug from getting an upset stomach or allergic reaction. Products like these are healthier overall because they tend to be more conscious with their recipe choices and use more natural ingredients.  

Designed for Small Dogs

Food may seem like it is one-size-fits-all, but there is a reason so many great brands make lines for different breeds and dog sizes. The shape and size of the kibble should be modified for different types of dogs to protect their teeth and digestive systems. Companies like Blue Buffalo, Wellness Core, and Royal Canin all have specific products designed for smaller breeds.

Choosing Food for Puppies

Pug puppies have slightly different nutritional needs. They require more fat and protein than adult pugs to support their growth. It is also important to make sure they eat food rich in omega-3 fatty acids to promote healthy brain and eye development.

Special Considerations When Buying Pug Dog Food

Here are some nutrition tips to keep in mind when choosing a dog food for your pug:

All dogs, including pugs, will need varying calories depending on their age, activity level, and metabolism. For example, a growing puppy will need to eat more than an older pug and a pug that isn’t very active would need less than one that is.

Protein: An important part of pug food, protein is needed for cell growth, maintenance, and repair. Protein is usually present in dog food in the form of animal-based meats, like chicken, turkey, and beef.

Fats: A concentrated form of energy that is essential for cell structure and hormone production.

Carbohydrates: A provider of fast energy, carbs provide the brain with necessary sugars. Easily digestible fibrous carbohydrates can help manage intestinal health in dogs and are usually found in dog food in the form of beet pulp.

Vitamins: It’s essential that pugs get their vitamin requirements from their food, but it’s important not to give your pug or any dog a vitamin supplement unless prescribed by your vet. This will make sure your pug avoids the adverse effects of too many vitamins.

Minerals: Minerals must also be obtained through diet and are important for providing bone and teeth structure as well as maintaining a healthy fluid balance. There are special formulas of food available if your pug suffers from joint problems.

Grain-free and low-carb diets can help a pug with food allergies. Consult with your vet to figure out what foods your pug can safely eat.

Review of the Best Pug Food

Here are some really good options of dry dog food that your pug will love.

1. Blue Buffalo Freedom


  • Special “small breed” kibble
  • Protein-packed
  • Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • Good for dogs with allergies (grain-free recipe)
  • Contains Glucosamine
  • Available for puppy, adult, and senior dogs


  • Only three meat options

Blue Buffalo Freedom has many different flavor recipes, including chicken, lamb, and beef for small, standard, and large breeds. If your pug does not react well to grain-based food, then this is an excellent option. The Freedom recipe does not include grains or gluten, which are common dog allergens.

Each of its flavors offer tons of protein and healthy carbohydrates to keep your pug energized all day long. The kibble is specially designed for dogs with smaller jaws and promotes tartar removal.

This comes in a variety of formulas, including Chicken, Lamb, and Beef in large breed, small breed, and healthy weight varieties. Blue Buffalo also has a number of other great dog foods for seniors and puppies. All of their recipes contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

This chicken recipe has real deboned chicken as the top ingredient, which is a great source of protein. There’s no meat by-product, wheat, or soy. Because their recipes are grain and gluten-free, Blue Buffalo is a great choice for pugs because it helps avoid some of the things that could trigger an allergic reaction.

Bottom Line

While the protein choices are a little more limited than some of our other favorites, Blue Buffalo Freedom uses a recipe that is designed specifically for small dogs and is packed with all of the most important nutrients.

2. Wellness Core


  • Rich in omega fatty acids
  • Contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin
  • Free of grain, wheat, soy, and corn
  • Smaller kibble size
  • Natural ingredients (including broccoli, spinach, kale, and apple)


  • Only available for adults

If your pug has special dietary restrictions and needs, Wellness Core is a great option for more sensitive stomachs. They use all-natural ingredients for their recipes and do not include grain, wheat, soy, or corn.

This product is also designed to work well for toy breeds and uses smaller kibble. The recipe includes salmon oil, which adds omega fatty acids that help keep your pug’s skin and coat healthy.

Wellness Core comes in a variety of formulas, including Original Turkey & Chicken, Puppy, Reduced Fat, Small Breed, Small Breed, and Ocean Whitefish, Herring and Salmon. They’re 100% grain free and contain 80% more meat than traditional dog foods which will help increase lean muscle mass and help your pug burn excess fat and calories.

Necessary antioxidants that promote immune health, fatty acids, and probiotics which aid your pet with digestion occur naturally. In addition, they don’t use any soy, corn, or fillers. Overall;, Wellness provides your pug with everything it needs to be healthy and get all of the nutrients it needs.

Bottom Line

Wellness Core is committed to using the best all natural ingredients free of common allergens, so this product is an excellent option if your pug has had bad reactions to other food in the past. Note that they only offer kibble for adults, so if your pug is still growing, it is best to use another line designed specifically for puppies.

3. Orijen


  • Natural, protein-rich recipe
  • Variety of protein sources
  • Low-carb and grain-free


  • No returns

The Orijen Original recipe was created to be as natural as possible and replicate the diet of wolves in the wild. It does not include any grain, potato, tapioca, or plant protein concentrates. It is packed with protein from a variety sources, including whole fish, eggs, fresh meat, organs, cartilage, and bones. The packaging even lists the local sources that provide their ingredients, so you know exactly where your pug’s food is coming from.

This grain-free formula has several sources of high-quality protein, including chicken, turkey, flounder, mackerel, and eggs. A third of the meats are dehydrated and provide a good amount of concentrated protein. The protein provided by Orijen is actually very impressive. In fact, the first fifteen items on the ingredients list are proteins.

The fresh meat in this recipe also serves as a natural way to include glucosamine and chondroitin, which could help any joint issues your pug might be experiencing. Orijen also adds locally sourced fruits and vegetables to make this a tasty treat for your pug. It contains 85% protein and 15% fruits and vegetables, with no fillers, grains, or plant proteins. It’s also fresh, natural, and sustainably farmed.

Bottom Line

Because of its commitment to natural ingredients, this option can be a little more intense than the other products and may cause stomach upset if your dog has a sensitive system. Like with any new food, it is a good idea to do a trial period to see how your individual pug’s body reacts to the food.

4. Royal Canin Pug Adult Dry Dog Food


  • Protein-packed
  • Contains L-Carnitine, prebiotics, and antioxidants
  • Cloverleaf-shaped kibble
  • Designed for small breeds


  • Less affordable than other options

Royal Canin’s recipe includes a lot of protein and comprehensive nutrients that promote healthy skin, which is particularly important for pugs. Designed specifically for small and toy breeds, the cloverleaf-shaped kibble is easy for pugs to pick up and chew. It also contains L-Carnitine, which helps maintain muscle tone.

The food is preserved naturally using mixed tocopherols, citric acid, and rosemary extract to keep it fresh for a long time.

Bottom Line

While Royal Canin is a little pricier than some of the other brands, you are paying for top-quality ingredients and processing. Every step of their process is outlined on their website and focuses on using natural ingredients.

Best Food for Pug Puppies:
Royal Canin Pug Puppy Dry Dog Food


  • Protein-packed
  • Cloverleaf-shaped kibble
  • Specifically designed for toy breed puppies
  • Prebiotics and antioxidants


  • Less affordable than other options

For puppies, Royal Canin offers a great option with specialty kibble. It is designed for very young puppies between eight weeks and 10 months old. Its recipe includes a comprehensive mix of prebiotics and antioxidants, including vitamins E and C, to help build a healthy immune system.

Bottom Line

Like other Royal Canin lines, this product is a little more expensive but utilizes a special recipe designed to build and strengthen your puppy’s health as they continue to grow.

What’s on the Label?

There are some specific things to look for on the dog food label to make sure your pug is getting the right things.

First, meat proteins should be the main ingredients. You’ll know this is the case if they show up at the beginning of the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed from most to least and you want the largest part of the dog food to be a meat protein, not a grain.

You might see something like “meat meal” listed. This is an animal protein that has had the water removed. Some people prefer a whole meat protein, which is fine. But keep in mind that meat proteins are going to have a lot of water in them.

Meat meals have a protein that is more concentrated and are a really good item to have listed at the start of the ingredients. Avoid dog foods with anything listed as a meat by-product, as this can mean bones as well as other indigestible parts of the animal. It can also signify road kill or expired meat products.

Fat is also an important part of pug food because it’s needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Look for fats like chicken fat, fish oil, and omega-3. Fatty acids keep your dog’s skin healthy and its coat shiny.

Finally, when you are selecting a dog food for your sweet pup, make sure that the formula includes high-quality sources of carbohydrates. Good examples are sweet potatoes, peas, and flaxseed. Not only will carbs provide fiber and keep your dog’s digestive system working properly, but they also provide your dog a source of slow burning energy and will allow him to feel fuller, longer.

Dietary Guidelines for Pugs - Tips & Tricks

Nutritional Considerations

The best dry food for pugs will be low calorie but packed with protein and omega fatty acids. Many pugs are affected by allergies. Monitor your pug’s health for any adverse reactions to common allergens such as soy, corn, and wheat. If you think your pug may have allergies, consult your vet first, but using only grain-free and low-carb diets may help.  

Brachycephalic Side Effects

Because pugs are brachycephalic, it is common for them to experience restricted breathing problems while eating. This also cause their jaws and teeth to be small relative to their body size, so special considerations should be made when choosing their daily food.

Obesity Risk

Just like other toy breeds, it is very important to monitor food servings to prevent the onset of obesity. With their small build and high risk for respirato

What Do Pugs Eat?

The best food options for pugs will include small kibble. While wet food can make a great occasional treat, dry food is much healthier for their teeth and digestion.

How much your pug should eat each day will depend on their weight. It is important to be as exact as possible. Even a pound or two difference can change the recommended serving size by a lot.

The healthy amount of daily meals should also be influenced by your pug’s typical activity level. If they exercise a lot and go on multiple walks each day, it might be appropriate to increase their calorie intake. However, if they have a more sedentary daily routine, adding calories will lead to weight gain and related health complications.

The general recommendation is 55 calories per pound of body weight for puppies and 40-45 calories per pound of body weight for adult pugs. For puppies, a good guideline to follow is 1 oz. of food for each pound of their body weight. However, always check the packaging on the food first because many companies will provide different recommendations based on the nutrition of their specific recipe.

For example, Blue Buffalo recommends ½ - 1 cup of their Freedom dry food for pugs weighing between six and ten pounds while Royal Canin makes servings recommendations for their food based on activity level.

Pug Dog Food Recipes

If you wish to make homemade dog food for your pug then you can follow some very basic recipes that we've put together. These are easy to follow these nutritional and meal guidelines.

There may be times when preparing homemade meals for your Pug is too much of a chore, or you're going to be traveling and cooking is not practical and we would suggest referring to the suggested dog food we mentioned above.

Recipe #1: Stewed Chicken and Brown Rice

Stewed chicken and brown rice is an excellent meal for any Pug. Use dark meat only; chicken legs are a great choice. Stew the legs until the meat can be easily separated. Let the mixture cool until the meat can be safely handled.

Remove the meat from the bone and strain the liquid through a cheesecloth strainer to remove all fat and gristle. Return the liquid to the pot and add enough water to cook the rice. Cut the chicken into Pug-sized pieces while the rice is cooking. When the rice is ready, add the meat and it's dinnertime! You can make extra and freeze it for another day.

Recipe #2: Ground Turkey

Ground turkey is another healthy and delicious choice for your best friend. Brown the meat in a skillet with a bit of vegetable or olive oil. Lower the heat to simmer, add some fresh veggies (green beans carrots, asparagus, bits of baked potato or sweet potatoes, but not corn or peas) and continue cooking until the meat is cooked throughout and the vegetables are done but not mushy. Let cool and serve. Freeze or refrigerate leftovers for another day.

Recipe #3: Chicken/Beef Liver

Chicken or Beef liver is another Pug favorite that goes well with veggies. Brown the liver in skillet with a little bit of vegetable or olive oil, reduce to simmer and add the veggies. When the vegetables are done, let cool, chop the mixture up and serve.

Some recipes suggest adding a tablespoon of honey and fresh yogurt. Liver doesn't store well so make just enough for one or two day's meals.

Recipe #4: Eggs and Vegetables

Scrambled Eggs and Vegetables are a great way to get your Pug off to an energetic start. If you're using two eggs, remove one yolk and scramble the rest in a skillet with low fat milk. Mix in some diced green beans and a bit of shredded reduced fat cheese. Let cool and serve.

Final Thoughts

Like any dog, pugs can be picky about switching foods and may even develop an upset stomach if the transition is done too quickly. It’s commonly recommended to make the switch a little at a time, mixing the new food with the old more and more until eventually the old recipe is completely phased out.

Remember, it’s important that you choose a high-protein dog food recipe for your pug and avoid meat by-products and grains as much as you can. This is one of the most important ways to help your canine friend stay happy and healthy for years to come.

1 thought on “Best Dog Food Choices For Pugs – 2019 Buyer’s Guide”

  1. This is an excellent article and I will try several of the recipes mentioned. My problem with my 14 year old pug is that she has become very picky. My vet wants her on a urinary care diet (she had one urinary episode several months ago) and since starting her on Royal Canine Urinry SO and Hills CD urinary care , she won’t eat it by itself even when I mix the two together. I have to doctor her food and add a bit of chicken or turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans and carrots into the mixture. This is the only way she will eat if at all.
    The problem with these products however have many of the ingredients (meat by-products) you say to stay away from, and I’m considering not using them at all. Do you have any suggestions?
    Many thanks for your help.

Leave a Reply to JoAnn Brown Cancel reply