Top 10 Best Dog Foods for Pugs

Top 10 Best Dog Foods for Pugs

One of the oldest and most popular dog breeds, the wrinkled face and curly tail of the Pug is adored worldwide. With their charming personalities and adorable looks (is there anything cuter than a Pug puppy? We think not!), Pugs make fantastic companions for people of all ages.

However, with great popularity often comes some less than ideal health concerns, and Pugs are no exception to this rule. That’s why choosing the right diet for your Pug is one of the most important steps you can take to keep them healthy.

To help you with your decision, we’ve collected reviews of what we believe are the top 10 dog foods for Pugs this year. We’ve also put together a short guide to your Pug’s unique nutritional needs to further assist you. Read on to learn about our top picks and how to find just the right food for your Pug!

The 10 Best Dog Foods for Pugs

Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog Food – Best Value

Purina 38100140289 Pro Plan Dry Dog Food

You may need to work a little harder to keep the weight off with a pug than you would other breeds; and feeding him Purina Pro Plan will go a long way towards helping.

It’s high in protein (26%), and most of that comes from the fact that chicken’s the first ingredient. They also use poultry by-product meal; this increases the total protein, but it involves using low-grade meat. Your pup might not mind, but you likely would if you knew what it was made of. At least that meat is full of joint-friendly glucosamine.

There’s also a lot of wheat and corn in here. That, combined with the animal by-products, is how the manufacturer can keep the costs so low, and this is definitely a budget-friendly dog food. In fact, we feel it’s the best dog food for pugs for the money.

However, that value comes at the cost of feeding your dog subpar ingredients. Your pup will get all the protein he needs from this, but little else, as most of the kibble is made of cheap filler. You might want to consider tossing a few fresh fruits or veggies in with it.

There are tender chunks of meat in here, though, and your dog will almost certainly love it. You can’t ask for much more than high protein and good flavor in a food this inexpensive, which is why Purina Pro Plan narrowly edges out the competition for silver.

  • Uses cheap fillers and subpar meat
  • Not many fruits or veggies inside
  • Great value for the price
  • High in protein
  • Full of tender meaty morsels
  • Lots of glucosamine

The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food – Best Overall

the farmers dog chicken greens

When it comes to choosing food for your Pug, it’s essential that you choose high-quality food that supports healthy growth without leading to obesity. The Farmer’s Dog is the best choice for feeding your Pug. When fed as directed, The Farmer’s Dog food is a fantastic way to provide your Pug with great nutrition without causing weight problems. This company takes a fresh approach to pet food by offering dog foods that have been developed by board-certified veterinary nutritionists. These foods are a great source of high-quality protein, fiber, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables, and they are packed with supplemental nutrients to ensure all your dog’s nutritional needs are met.

This subscription service ships freshly prepared meals right to your door. You can select from a variety of proteins, and the food comes in pre-portioned packs, allowing you to open and pour the food for your dog. Not only do you get to skip the line at the store, but you also skip the added preservatives that many dog foods are full of. This food does retail for a more premium price than many foods you may find in the store, though.

  • Premium price
  • Contains high-quality ingredients and is freshly prepared for your dog
  • Subscription service allows you to skip the store
  • Supports a healthy weight when fed as directed
  • Developed by board-certified veterinary nutritionists
  • Pre-portioned packs ensure proper measurements

Wellness Complete Health Dry Dog Food

Wellness 89152 Complete Health Dry Dog Food

Wellness Complete Health has a lot of protein from quite a few different animal sources in it. It starts off with turkey, then adds chicken meal, salmon meal, and chicken fat, all of which are high in essential amino acids.

We like that it doesn’t use cheap fillers, instead using more nutritious foods like peas and lentils for its carbs. That should give your dog longer-lasting energy, while also helping to keep pounds off.

You’ll find quite a few so-called “superfoods” in here too, like blueberries, spinach, and flaxseed. There’s salmon oil as well, which keeps the omega fatty acid levels high.

That salmon oil gives it a very strong odor, though, and many dogs find the smell off-putting. It’s also very pricey, which you’d expect given the quality of the ingredients.

We also wish they’d skipped the white potatoes. There’s nothing wrong with them, per se, but they add little value in terms of nutrition, and they give many dogs horrible gas (something your pug can likely manage without outside help, thank you very much).

We really like Wellness Complete Health, and if money is no object, you might even want to bump it up a spot or two. For most people, though, the price may be enough to warrant looking at one of our other top picks instead.

  • Very pricey
  • Has a strong fish odor some dogs find off-putting
  • May cause gas
  • Includes nutrient-rich superfoods
  • Protein comes from several animal sources
  • Lots of omega fatty acids
  • Skips cheap fillers and by-products

Royal Canin Canned Dog Food

Royal Canin 42031 Canned Dog Food

If giving your mutt the proper nutrition is more important than saving money, then this canned option from Royal Canin might also be worth considering.

It’s certainly pricey, but you get quite a bit of value for your money. There’s pork and chicken in here, helping to give your pooch all the protein he needs. The bad news is the pork is made of by-products, but the chicken should be clean.

There’s lots of flour in here, too, both from corn and rice. That adds a lot of empty calories, so be sure to watch your pup’s waistline if you feed this to him regularly.

They counter this by adding dried beet pulp, which is full of fiber. It should help your dog feel full while also helping him stay regular. They dumped in some taurine too, which is an amino acid that’s essential for heart health.

One other issue worth mentioning is that you shouldn’t feed your dog wet food exclusively, as it’s not good for their teeth (and it’s very fatty). So, you’ll likely need to buy a separate kibble to combine this with.

Overall, though, Royal Canin’s canned food is excellent for pugs, and it will certainly dress up any boring old dry food you put in his dish.

  • Very expensive
  • Should be paired with a dry kibble
  • Includes taurine for heart health
  • Has both chicken and pork for protein
  • Dried beet pulp for added fiber
  • Dogs generally love wet food

Instinct Original Small Breed Grain-free Chicken Canned Food

Instinct Original Small Breed Grain-free Chicken Canned Food
Protein: 8.5% min
Fat: 4.5% min
Kcal: 88 kcal/5.5 oz can
Top 3 Ingredients: Chicken, chicken broth, chicken liver

If you’re looking for a canned diet for your Pug, consider Instinct Original Small Breed Grain-free Chicken. This diet is packed with protein from real chicken and chicken liver sources. Because it’s a soft food, this diet is also a good choice for Pugs with dental disease or who are missing some teeth. Besides the meat, Instinct also contains nutritious fruits and vegetables like blueberries, kale, and peas.

With their flat faces, Pugs may make a bit of a mess eating canned food so you’ll need to be prepared to wipe their nose and wrinkles after dinner. Canned food overall tends to be more expensive than dry and Instinct does cost more than some other diets on our list.

  • Expensive
  • It may be messy to eat
  • Good choice for Pugs with bad teeth
  • Made with high-quality meat, fruits, and vegetables
  • Grain-free

Royal Canin Pug Puppy Dog Food – For Puppies

Royal Canin RC510625 Pug Puppy Dry Dog Food

While puppies can seemingly eat anything and turn out ok, it’s important to start them out with a healthy diet when they’re young. Royal Canin Pug Puppy is one of the best foods for doing just that.

Like the adult food in our #1 spot, this kibble is shaped in such a way that short-nosed pugs can easily scrape it up and chew it. This is especially important for puppies who haven’t fully mastered how their jaws work yet.

This has everything little fat puppies need to grow up big and strong, even if it doesn’t always get those ingredients from the healthiest of places.

Case in point: chicken by-product meal is the first ingredient. That means your dog will get plenty of protein and other important amino acids, but the chicken won’t be very high-quality.

There’s brewers rice and corn to add carbs (and this food has a lot of carbs), and your dog should be able to digest the former much better than the latter. At least this food also includes chicken fat and fish oil to give your little buddy a ton of omega fatty acids.

You’ll only feed your dog Royal Canin Pug Puppy for a few months, which is why we couldn’t justify ranking it in the top three. Don’t let that fool you, though, as this is a great puppy kibble.

  • Corn may cause digestive issues
  • First ingredient is animal by-products
  • Very high in carbs
  • Lots of protein
  • Kibble is easy for pugs to eat
  • Filled with omega fatty acids

Royal Canin Pug Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin 454411 Pug Adult Dry Dog Food

Royal Canin Pug is specifically manufactured for pugs, and it boasts a few unique qualities that give it an edge over less-specialized foods.

The biggest, is the design of the kibble itself. It’s made to be easy for your pug to pick up and chew, despite not having much in the way of a snout to work with.

The nutrients are also designed to target many pug-specific issues. It has quite a bit of omega fatty acids, thanks to ingredients like chicken fat and anchovy oil, and omega fatty acids are great for keeping your dog’s wrinkles clean and smooth.

It should be gentle on his stomach, too, as it’s filled with rice, oats, and beet pulp. These help offset some common allergens that are found inside, like corn and chicken by-products.

Besides those questionable ingredients, our biggest issue with this food is the minimal amount of fiber inside. You’ll need to monitor your pup closely to make sure he’s able to go at regular intervals, with minimal straining. If not, you’ll need to augment this kibble with some sort of fiber boost.

  • Uses questionable ingredients like corn and animal by-products
  • Very little fiber
  • Gentle on the stomach
  • Has lots of omega fatty acids
  • Designed specifically for pugs
  • Kibble is shaped to make it easy for dogs to pick up and chew
  • Good for keeping wrinkles healthy

Purina 18015 Beneful Dry Dog Food

Purina 18015 Beneful Dry Dog Food

Purina Beneful has a lot of protein in it, largely because real chicken is the primary ingredient. After that, though, the ingredients list takes a nosedive in a hurry.

You’ll find corn, wheat, and soybeans in the first five ingredients, and those foods are the primary causes of food allergies in dogs. If your pup’s stomach is the slightest bit sensitive, this will go off like an atom bomb in his gut.

You’ll also find animal by-products, artificial flavors, and a lot of salt inside. It’s like the manufacturers had a checklist of foods that dogs have difficulty tolerating, and they checked off every single one.

The food is a mixture of tender morsels and hard kibble, which should be good for most dogs. Older pooches or ones with dental problems will likely find the crunchy bits too hard to eat, though.

Purina Beneful is a case study in how quickly a food list can go bad, even after starting off with a high-quality ingredient like chicken. Until they replace all the dodgy ingredients with something easier for your pup to tolerate, you’re better off buying one of the other kibbles on this list for your pug.

  •  Terrible for animals with sensitive stomachs
  • Lots of salt
  • Has about every potential allergen we can think of
  • Crunchy kibble may be too hard for older dogs
  •  Uses low-grade animal by-products
  • Real chicken is first ingredient
  • High in protein

Hill’s 3822 Science Diet Dry Dog Food

Hill's 3822 Science Diet Dry Dog Food

Hill’s Science Diet is famous for its prescription foods, which are fantastic. Unfortunately, its non-prescription options (like this one here) aren’t quite of the same caliber.

The ingredients start off pretty well, with chicken, barley, rice, and pea fiber, but things take a turn after that. There’s a lot of corn gluten meal in here, as well as artificial flavoring. We also wish it didn’t have quite so much salt.

The bag says it’s “Made in the USA with global ingredients,” so you can’t be totally sure where the food is coming from. Also, regardless of where it came from, it’s very expensive.

The kibble is extremely small, so your pug shouldn’t have much of an issue chewing it. Unfortunately, it’s also perfectly round, so he may have a few issues picking up each piece, especially when there are only a few left in the bowl.

Hill’s Science Diet isn’t a bad food, but for the price you’d expect to get a little more for your money. As a result, it’ll have to be satisfied with a spot near the bottom of this list.

  • No way to tell where ingredients are from
  • Uses lots of corn gluten meal
  • High in salt
  • Dogs may have issue picking up kibble
  • Real chicken is first ingredient
  • Small kibble is easy to chew

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Salmon And Sweet Potato Dry Food

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Salmon And Sweet Potato Dry Food
Protein: 24% min
Fat: 10% min
Kcal: 373 kcal/cup
Top 3 Ingredients: Salmon, menhaden fish meal, sweet potatoes

For Pugs with food allergies, a limited ingredient diet may be recommended. While dogs with severe allergies may require a prescription diet, ask your veterinarian whether you can try an over-the-counter diet like Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Salmon And Sweet Potato food. Salmon may be common in cat food but for dogs, it’s considered a novel protein source, meaning your Pug is unlikely to have eaten it before and hopefully hasn’t developed an allergy to it.

Natural Balance isn’t the cheapest diet and has a strong odor that some owners and dogs dislike. The kibble is also a bit large for a Pug and you may need to soak them to make them easier to eat.

  • Expensive
  • Strong odor
  • Larger kibble
  • Made with a novel protein source
  • A good option for Pugs with food allergies
  • Grain-free

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dog Foods For Pugs

Now that you know more about the food options available to you, here are some details to keep in mind about your Pug’s unique nutritional needs as you select the perfect diet.

Controlling The Itch

  • Besides obesity, allergies are another common problem for Pugs. If your Pug is sensitive or allergic to certain foods, it will strongly impact your choice of diet.
  • Not every Pug will develop allergies and those that do may be reacting to environmental factors like pollen or dust mites rather than food. Before assuming your dog has food allergies and changing its diet, always consult your veterinarian.
  • If your vet agrees that your Pug should avoid certain foods, they can guide you towards a healthy limited ingredient diet, such as the Natural Balance Salmon And Sweet Potato or a prescription allergy food.

Pug Weight: Bigger Isn’t Better

  • You may have noticed that keeping your Pug at a healthy weight was the focus of nearly every diet we chose to review. While obesity is a concern for all dogs, Pugs are particularly susceptible. Not only do they love to eat, but their flat faces also put them at risk of overheating during exercise, especially during warm weather.
  • Because of this, it’s hard for Pugs to get enough exercise to help control their weight if they are eating too much or the wrong food. Calorie and portion control is your best tool for keeping your Pug trim. Overweight Pugs are more at risk for breathing issues and joint pain, making maintaining a healthy weight even more essential for this breed.

What’s On The Label?

  • When researching diets for your Pug, you’ll most likely come across people with strong opinions on what your dog should and shouldn’t eat. Food trends and fads are just as common in pet food as they are in human food. Whether it’s grain-free, raw diets, or just avoiding by-products, it can be hard to know what’s real and what’s just marketing.
  • To help you make sense of it all, ask your veterinarian for guidance and resources that can help you learn to read pet food labels and understand exactly what “by-products” and “fillers” are before you assume they’re wrong for your dog.
  • All commercial dog food must meet certain nutrition and quality standards, as do the ingredients they use. However, you should aim to feed your dog the best quality food you can afore. Paying a slightly higher price for nutritious food now will save you on vet bills in the future. Another option is to add up to their kibble with fresh, nutritious ingredients or good quality toppers.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t know what to feed your little buddy, we recommend starting with The Farmer’s Dog Fresh Dog Food, our choice for the overall best dog food for pugs. The customized fresh food is delivered to your door for your pug to enjoy.

For a more budget-friendly option, try Purina Pro Plan Dry Dog Food, our choice of the best food for pugs for the money. It’s very high in protein without costing an arm and a leg, making it good for dog owners who are trying to save a few bucks.

The Royal Canin Pug on the other hand, is specifically made for pugs, and the kibble is shaped in a way that makes it easy for them to eat. Plus, it has the nutrients they need most.

Finding a food that’s both nutritious and delicious enough for your pug to eat can be a daunting challenge. We hope these reviews have made the process easier, so you can find a food that enables your best friend to live a long, healthy life.

Of course, no matter how high-quality the food you buy for him is, he’ll spend most of his time trying to knock over the trash to get a snack. That’s just how it goes.

Edward Hollon is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Edward has been writing for petdii for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners. Edward has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Edward knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.