The Best Dog Food for Pugs

Written by Judie Sigdel
Updated: January 13, 2023
© Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com

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Key Points

  • The #1 Best Overall dog food is the Royal Health Breed Health Nutrition Pug Dry Dog Food.
  • Pugs are small, muscular dogs that need high quality food to ensure that they thrive.
  • It’s important to consider the life stage of your dog when choosing dog food as the needs of a puppy vary greatly from those of a senior dog.
  • We’ve provided a detailed buyer’s guide to help you choose the perfect food for your pug, as well as reviewed a selection of the best food on the market for them.

Pugs originated in China around 2,000 years ago. The breed was developed for one purpose only: to love and to be loved. Today, these small, muscular dogs with their big round eyes, wrinkly foreheads, and curly-Q tails still take their job very seriously. They’re perfectly happy to hang out on the couch watching Netflix with their humans. They don’t need a lot of exercise, but, surprisingly, they can excel at certain canine sports, including agility, obedience, and rally. This breed is prone to obesity and a number of health concerns, so choosing the best dog food for pugs is critical for your pet’s wellbeing.

Your pug will thrive on high-quality dog food that’s formulated for toy dogs. You’ll need to take your dog’s stage of life into consideration, too, since puppies, adults, and seniors have very different nutritional and caloric requirements. Finally, if your pug is a little pudgy, you’ll want to select a food with reduced calories. 

We’ve taken the guesswork out of selecting the best food for your pug by researching, ranking, and rating our top choices.

  1. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Adult Dry Dog Food
  2. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Adult Dry Dog Food
    • Specially formulated for purebred Pugs
    • Help maintain optimal body weight
    • The kibble is easy to pick up with their square muzzles
    • Added L-carnitine for turning fat into energy
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Puppy
  4. Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Puppy
    • Specially formulated for the nutritional needs of purebred Pug puppies
    • Contains prebiotics for healthy digestion
    • Added antioxidants for a healthy immune system
    • Contains EPA and DHA derived from fish oil
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food
  6. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food
    • Contains the ingredients to support the overall health and well-being of older dogs
    • Features real meat as the first ingredient
    • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support your aging dog’s joint health and mobility
    • Doesn’t include chicken or poultry by-products
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  7. Hill's Science Diet Adult Small Paws Variety Pack Wet Dog Food Trays
  8. Hill's Science Diet Adult Small Paws Variety Pack Wet Dog Food Trays
    • Delicious formula
    • Comes in single-serving trays
    • Contains lean, high-quality proteins
    • No artificial colors or flavors
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  9. Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition
  10. Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition
    • Affordable option
    • Specially formulated for small dog breeds
    • Supplemented with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
    • Kibble helps to clean dog's teeth
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

A-Z-Animals Top Picks for Dog Food for Pugs

#1 Best Overall: Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Dry Dog Food

The best dog food for pugs is the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Dry Dog Food.

This dry food is specially formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of purebred pugs that are aged ten months and above. Plus, the kibble is designed to be easy for your pup to pick up with their short, blunt, square muzzle.

Since the breed is prone to weight gain, this recipe features a balanced formula to help your pet maintain their optimal body weight. It contains adapted protein content to maintain muscle tone and added L-carnitine, which supports muscles by turning fat into energy. In addition, EPA and DHA from fish oil will keep your pug’s skin and coat in peak condition, so they looks as good on the outside as they feel on the inside.

However, as this food is breed-specific it is more expensive than other food on this list.

Pros and Cons of the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
This food has a balanced formula to help maintain ideal body weight.It is more expensive than other food on the list.
It contains added L-carnitine which turns fat into energy.
It contains DHA and EPA from fish oil to promote a healthy coat and skin.
This food is specially formulated for pugs aged ten months and above.
Overall Best
Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Adult Dry Dog Food
  • Specially formulated for purebred Pugs
  • Help maintain optimal body weight
  • The kibble is easy to pick up with their square muzzles
  • Added L-carnitine for turning fat into energy
Check Chewy Check Amazon

2. Best for Puppies: Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Puppy Food

Our selection as the best for puppies is the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Puppy Food.

If your pug is eight weeks to 10 months old, your search for the perfect puppy food is over as this dry food is created to meet the unique nutritional needs of purebred pug puppies. It contains high-quality protein to support the growth and development of your new pup’s muscles, skin, and coat. Nutrients like EPA and DHA, which are derived from fish oil, will also contribute to the condition of their skin and coat.

Since your puppy’s digestive system is still developing this food is formulated with prebiotics for healthy digestion and optimal stool quality. Plus, an exclusive blend of antioxidants, including vitamin E, will support your dog’s immune system and their body’s overall growth.

Once again, the only drawback to this food that we could find is that it is quite expensive as it is breed-specific.

Pros and Cons of the Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Puppy Food

ProsCons
This food contains high quality protein to support muscle development.This food is expensive as it is breed-specific.
It contains EPA and DHA from fish oil to promote a healthy coat and skin.
This food contains prebiotics to support the digestive system.
It contains an exclusive blend of antioxidants to support the immune system.
Best for Puppies
Royal Canin Breed Health Nutrition Pug Puppy
  • Specially formulated for the nutritional needs of purebred Pug puppies
  • Contains prebiotics for healthy digestion
  • Added antioxidants for a healthy immune system
  • Contains EPA and DHA derived from fish oil
Check Chewy Check Amazon

3. Best for Seniors: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food

Seniors sometimes need a little extra help to keep them in tip-top condition, so that’s why we recommend the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food.

Blue Buffalo developed this recipe to meet the nutritional needs of aging small breed dogs. The first ingredient is high-quality, protein-rich deboned chicken to help your senior pug maintain their healthy muscles. It also contains glucosamine and chondroitin for the joint health and mobility support older dogs need and carbohydrates so they’ll still have plenty of energy to play.

All of Blue Buffalo’s recipes include real meat, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. And each bag is made with Lifesource Bits. This proprietary blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals was formulated by holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists to support your dog’s immune system health and life-stage requirements while maintaining a healthy oxidative balance. it also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat. Also, this natural formula contains no chicken or poultry by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or artificial preservatives.

Unfortunately customers have reported that their dogs do not always like eating the Lifesource Bits, while others have found that the kiiblle pieces can be a little too big for some dogs to eat easily.

Pros and Cons of the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains high-quality chicken as the first ingredient.Not all dogs like the Lifesource Bits.
It contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support joint health.The kibble pieces are too big for some dogs.
This food contains Lifesource Bits which are a unique blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
It contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to promote a healthy coat and skin.
Best for Senior Dogs
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Senior Dog Food
  • Contains the ingredients to support the overall health and well-being of older dogs
  • Features real meat as the first ingredient
  • Contains glucosamine and chondroitin to support your aging dog’s joint health and mobility
  • Doesn’t include chicken or poultry by-products
Check Chewy Check Amazon

4. Best Wet Food: Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws Wet Dog Food

Some dogs prefer eating wet food, and a tasty choice is Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws Wet Dog Food.

This recipe is made with lean, high-quality proteins to nourish your buddy’s muscles and organs. Plus, the gentle fibers will help to promote a healthy digestive system.  

You can feed this wet formula as a nutritionally complete meal or mix it with dry food for variety.  It’s precisely formulated to meet the nutritional needs of adult dogs from one to six years old. It includes taurine for heart health and omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E to maintain your pup’s healthy skin and shiny coat.  Also, this food is free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Although this food has a lot going for it, some customers have reported that their pets will not eat it. Also, some have reported that the consistency of the gravy is not always the same, with it being more runny in some cans than in others.

Pros and Cons of Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws Wet Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains gentle fibers to promote a healthy digestive system.Not all dogs like this food.
It contains high quality protein to help with muscle development.The consistency of the gravy is not always the same.
It contains taurine to support a healthy heart.
This food features omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E to support a healthy coat and skin.
Best Canned Food
Hill's Science Diet Adult Small Paws Variety Pack Wet Dog Food Trays
  • Delicious formula
  • Comes in single-serving trays
  • Contains lean, high-quality proteins
  • No artificial colors or flavors
Check Chewy Check Amazon

5. Best on a Budget: Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition Dog Food

Nutritious dog food doesn’t have to be expensive, and that’s why we’ve chosen the Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition Dog Food as the best on a budget.

This food is specially formulated to give adult small breed dogs like your pug the energy they need with nutritious whole grains, protein, and vegetables. It’s supplemented with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support your pal’s healthy immune system and omega fatty acids and zinc to keep their skin healthy and coat shiny.

This food features unique small, oral-care kibble that will gently clean your pug’s teeth and freshen their breath as they chew. Plus, its special blend of fibers promotes healthy digestion and optimal droppings.

The only drawback to this food that we could find was that some pup parents have reported that their dogs do not like this food.

Pros and Cons of the Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition Dog Food

ProsCons
This food contains antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support a healthy immune system.Not all dogs like this food.
It features omega fatty acids and zinc to support a healthy coat and skin.
It features a special blend of fibers to support a healthy digestive system.
Best Bargain
Pedigree Small Dog Complete Nutrition
  • Affordable option
  • Specially formulated for small dog breeds
  • Supplemented with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
  • Kibble helps to clean dog's teeth
Check Chewy Check Amazon

Special Food Considerations for Pugs

Pugs love food almost as much as they love their humans, so they’re prone to obesity. You can help them maintain their ideal weight by feeding them one of the foods listed above in the appropriate amount. Monitor their weight to make sure the pounds don’t creep up on them since even an extra pound can place a big strain on a toy dog.

Puppies, adults, and seniors all have very different nutritional and calorie requirements, so you’ll need to adjust their food as they grow. You should discuss your dog’s weight, age, and food with your veterinarian during every visit.

Finally, don’t forget that the calories in treats can add up fast. Use them judiciously as a training aid, but don’t give in to those big, sad eyes when they beg.  

Choosing the Best Dog Food for Pugs: What to Look For

When choosing the best dog food for your pug you should consider price, quality, and type (dry or wet).

Price

Inexpensive dog food often includes fillers and ingredients that take up room in the bag but won’t nourish your dog. That’s why it’s important to read labels to ensure that the brand you choose doesn’t include ingredients like chicken or poultry by-product meal, artificial flavors, or artificial colors.

Quality dog food doesn’t include fillers. It costs more, but you’ll save in the long run because you won’t have as many unscheduled vet visits.

Quality

Premium-quality dog foods include real food such as meat, vegetables, and fruits. They also feature essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to enhance your pet’s health.

Type (Dry or Wet)

The dog food discussed in this review is available in dry (kibble) and wet (canned) recipes.

The Different Types of Dog Foods for Pugs: Pros and Cons Compared

When choosing the best dog food for your pug, you need to understand the different types: dry (kibble) and wet (canned). Let’s look at the pros and cons of each type:

Dry Dog Food

ProsCons
It is less expensive than other options.It will spoil if exposed to moisture.
It has a long shelf life.
It can help to remove tartar and plaque from teeth.

Wet (Canned) Dog Food

ProsCons
Picky eaters tend to love wet food.Do not remove tarter or plaque from teeth like dry food can.
More appetizing than dry foodIt is usually more expensive than dry food.
It is softer and more palatable for dogs with dental issues.It needs to be refrigerated after opening.

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About the Author

My passion is writing about animals. I’ve published articles on pet parrots, birds, and small animal care and reviews about pet food and products. I have an ever-evolving aviary and menagerie that has included cockatiels, parakeets, conures, European starlings, a chukar partridge, guinea pigs, dogs, and cats. I’m also the author of Faith without Labels: a Guide to Eclectic Spirituality.

The Best Dog Food for Pugs FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is corn bad for dogs?

No. While corn is often lumped in with “fillers,” animal nutritionists say that it’s good for dogs. It includes protein, carbohydrates, linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid), antioxidants, and fiber.

Does quality dog food make a difference?

High-quality dog food generally contains ingredients that are appropriate for your dog’s breed and their stage of life, making it the best choice for your dog.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.