Pugs are adorable little creatures –burly, cuddly and loveable right to the core.
They’re best know for their tubby look with flat face and big, round eyes.
These playful little pups are a popular breed among pet owners for their compact size and notorious look in addition to a family-friendly temperament.
Feeding your little pugly-wugs is going to be something of a feat.
It’s important that this small breed dog gets the right balance of calories vs. nutrition –and there are a lot of pitfalls dog food companies know you’re bound to fall into.
But you don’t have to!
We’re here to make sure that you’re primed to take on the search for the perfect dog food for your pug, armed with the proper info and know-how to choose the best for your furry friend.
No matter which stage of life they’re taking on, you’ll be ready to give them the balanced diet they need to stay strong and healthy all the way into their senior years with our choices for the best dog foods for pugs.
Read on to find out what those are and how to figure out what to watch out for.
What Makes a Good Dog Food?
Before you start hunting down foods, there are a lot of things to know about dog food in general.
It’s about a lot of different components –more than one would think.
Because we are dealing with canines, you’ll want to focus on key ingredients and how much the nutrients inside them account for within the whole food.
This is kind of like a pie chart where the percentage of each nutrient matters a whole lot.
You would do the same with your own diet, and so think of it much the same for your cute little pug too.
Even though the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) only recommends that pet owners provide dog food with crude protein content of 18% for adult dogs, that’s really a standard minimum guideline that varies greatly depending on which breed of dog you have.
Then what’s the scoop for a pug?
Because pugs always need to keep their muscles working well, you’ll need to feed them a tad more protein than a meager 18%.
It would be best to see Crude Protein Content in your pets’ food hovering more in the 30% range.
In this way, you can ensure that their food isn’t being stuffed with filler and grains that they don’t need or want in their diet, which we will discuss later.
The point is that your pug needs a great deal of protein to make sure they’re supporting healthy muscle function over their lifetime.
Don’t confuse the word fat when thinking about Crude Fat Content in dog foods. It shouldn’t just be fat in general that your pug is getting.
It should be healthy fat. The kind that helps to maintain exemplary heart health, assists with developing and nurturing proper brain function and also keeps bad fat in check.
You guessed it.
We’re talking about Omegas.
You’ll mostly find Omega 3 and 6 in your dog’s food, which is good.
However, it’s important that most fats (regardless of if Omegas or not) are monounsaturated fats from healthy sources.
The ingredient lists of your dog’s food will show you what the sources of these would be –with some fat coming from meat.
Any dog food you get for your pug should have 15-20% Crude Fat Content.
This should be more than enough and will depend on the age and activity level of your pug as well.
For the most part, reading an ingredient list on your dog food will be extremely helpful.
You can approach doing so with far more common sense than you might initially think, but after the first set of ingredients in the lists, you’ll definitely find yourself lost in a haze of chemical names, lists of minerals, supplements and other odd additives.
The best dog foods won’t have bone or meat meal/byproducts if they can help it.
Those ingredients don’t even have to be from cattle, chicken or other typical meat sources.
It’s actually kind of scary to think of that when you consider how much you love your pet, and yet conventional dog foods sometimes contain ground up bones, brain, organs, blood and fatty tissues.
The best way to think of it is much like you are feeding another member of your family.
There are other ingredients that are used for thickeners, mixing agents, preservatives, flavoring and conditioning.
Some of them are harmless and sound scary while others have been linked to health issues in other animals or are considered controversial to feed your pet.
That’s why so many people are against foods that contain them.
They figure better safe than sorry.
Basically, think about what you would or wouldn’t eat.
Would you regularly dine on anything that sounded like it was meant to be kept in a lab rather than the fridge?
When it boils down to it, the best thing to do is think of a few key factors with ingredients in dog food.
Think about if your dog has allergies or intolerances to the ingredients, if they’re artificial, their quality, and if they are –in any circle, considered unsafe.
The texture of your dog’s food doesn’t matter so much in the beginning –or so you think. It may be a huge deal with a picky eater, but pugs are more interested in a smaller-size bite that’s manageable enough for their being a small breed of dog.
The only time texture seems to be more of a factor is during delicate dental stages such as when a pug Is going from puppy to adult and when they’re getting much older and need to be gentler to their own teeth.
There’s one more catch, it should be more dry than wet to ensure no issues with runny stools, which pugs are prone to.
Other than that, a good crunchy food with a few chewy pieces is just fine.
Affordability is a massive factor for pug owners.
It comes into play with all pet owners who know how pricy it can be to feed their furry friend but also need to make sure they aren’t saving money on pet food at their pugs’ expense.
That’s not to say that there aren’t affordable dog foods out there, but it can be especially hard to find a consistently fair-priced food that takes care of all facets of a pet owner’s criteria.
On the other hand, sometimes pet food prices can be a bit outrageous because of the very same pet owner concerns.
The best way to look at this is through the lens of ingredients and quality in relation to cost.
Keep it just that simple to find a food that isn’t cheap on the shelf and to your pug’s tummy.
Although pugs are fans of nearly anything and everything, flavor is still a factor in a good dog food. Some dogs are superbly picky eaters.
It doesn’t matter that some breeds seem perpetually hungry.
It can still be a problem because if your dog isn’t loving a food’s flavor, they’ll beg you nonstop for other foods or give up anything else that remotely tastes like that food in the future.
It’s nice to make certain that your dog will enjoy the flavor of the food so they want to enjoy all the nutrients it has to offer and don’t try to beg for dinner scraps or dig around for other food in the garbage or elsewhere while you are out.
How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Pugs
Now that we know about a few of the things that make for a good dog food, there are some factors to consider when looking at food for your pug.
Some of this stuff is common sense while other portions of it is interesting and obscure to most pet owners except for those who know the breed well.
What kinds of things should pug owners look out for?
Is there anything about pugs that would make it hard to pick just any ordinary food off the shelf in a grocery store? How does all this info shape up to make for the best dog food?
Look over this info first to see what the major Dos and Don’ts are.
First Some Doggy Dietary Ground Rules
There are some definitive things you shouldn’t feed any dog.
Whether it’s because of issues with enzymes (or lack thereof), the nasty chemicals in a food or drink or that the food is going to make your dog sick, don’t feed these things to your dog.
Things with Caffeine in Them
Alcohol and Other Chemicals
- Alcoholic beverages
- Xylitol (Alcohol-based sweetener)
Fruits and Vegetables
Other Random Dangerous Foods
- Excess Salt or Salty Snacks
- Macadamia Nuts
- Cooked Bones
- Raw Eggs
- Undercooked Meat
- Moldy Food
- Bread Dough
Find Out Your Pug’s Special Dietary Restrictions
Pugs will literally eat anything you place in front of them, and that includes things that can make them sick.
Despite this being the case, pugs have specific dietary needs that are very different than other dogs.
What might these be?
First, pugs have a fast metabolism, which can result in the expenditure of more energy far quicker than in large breeds of dogs.
It’s important to give your pug a dog food for small breeds so that you can give smaller portions of food with more calories and higher nutrient density.
Caloric intake is recommended at approximately 50 calories per pound, which works out to about 700 calories per day for your adorable little furball.
This should be evenly distributed over 3 meals per day, which should be spaced out to ensure your dog doesn’t beg for food in between –and they might anyway.
Your pug is more than likely allergic to a lot of the things you find other sensitive dogs are, so avoid chicken, wheat, soy and corn.
Pugs also have sensitive skin and need proper coat care, so watch for foods that emphasize that they take care of these.
Grain-free and poultry free are going to be best for your pug.
If your dog is starting to put on weight, try to go with a food that doesn’t have as much fat or carbohydrate content or a weight management food as there has been a link between weight issues in pugs and those upper respiratory problems they’re commonly known to suffer from too.
If it’s a dry dog food rich in protein and fruits and vegetables, it’s a safe bet.
In fact, a study of global dogs of all breeds on a dry food found that you could reduce a dog’s body weight by as much as 15% if you ensured proper calorie consumption and a properly balanced diet.
Here are our top picks.
Best 3 Dog Foods for Pugs
Most Economical Dog Food
The affordability factor has huge play in feeding your pet –but don’t be fooled.
Those top-shelf grocery brands aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be, and for a few dollars more, you could be prolonging your pug’s life by up to 5 years!
See which of the more affordable foods does right by your precious doggy.
Blue Buffalo’s Blue Wilderness Snake River Grill with Trout, Venison and Rabbit
Protein Content: 4/5
Fat Content: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.25/5
Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness brand of foods is up there for its quality compared to other grocery store brands of foods with its catering to limited ingredient diets.
It has the grain-free portion down and watches out for your pug’s nutrition needs through its patented Lifesource Bits, which have a different texture, mixing it up and keeping things interesting in your dry dog food.
It’s also a lot more affordable than other dog foods on the scene when we look at a per pound ratio on the 22 lb. bag for $70.
What’s the catch with this food?
It has additives and flavorings that make it more junk food-like compared to the other high-quality dog foods.
This gives it a lower ranking simply because the other foods don’t use them and this can sometimes result in allergies or aggravate food sensitivities in your pug.
Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness formula comes in 4 or 22 lb. bags with Crude Protein Content of 30% and Fat Content at 16%.
Check out the rest of their Guaranteed Analysis and Ingredients List here.
Best All-Natural Dog Food
All-natural food choices can be a huge benefit to pug owners because they take additives out of the equation that may cause issues with food sensitivities or hidden allergies.
Some additives can also be harmful in large amounts or because smaller breeds of dogs like pugs are more affected by them due to their size.
It’s really just better all around for your dog to eat food that is sourced from human-grade meats and vegetables with fewer chemicals.
I’m sure pet owners can agree. That’s why Orijen always ranks so high.
Orijen Regional Red Dog Food
Fat Content: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.6/5
Orijen’s Regional Red Dry Dog Food is a fantastic Poultry-Free, Grain-Free dry dog food choice for pugs.
If you check out its ingredient list, nearly everything in there is an ingredient you can find in the grocery store or your fridge as well as something you can pronounce.
Orijen makes its food with the philosophy that dogs are an evolutionary relative of the wolf, and they want all dogs (including your pug) to eat naturally-sourced proteins and vegetables or fruits, knowing your pug will benefit most from these rather than something full of preservatives and other chemicals.
The pitfall here is…
Cost. This food is very pricey, and a lot of pet owners are willing to pay anything for the best dog food for their pug, but it is a serious consideration at 5.4 kg for $78.
Orijen’s Regional Red has Crude Protein at 38% and Fat Content measuring 18% and can be examined further on the Orijen website.
Best Protein Content
As we had mentioned earlier, to get the most out of the top dog food for your pug, pet owners will want to aim for Crude Protein percentage measurements of anywhere from mid to high 30s.
Of course, this does vary depending on the age of your pug as well as their activity level, but you still want to feed their muscles while watching out for where in the ingredients this protein comes from and what the fat ratio is too.
This is where Taste of the Wild comes in.
Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed Canine Recipe
Protein Content: 5/5
Fat Content: 5/5
Overall Rating: 4.3/5
Taste of the Wild has a great protein to fat ratio, and the fact that it is sourced from not only meat but also beans makes it a great mix for your pug.
The formula is made for small breeds, so it is mixed to have higher calories in a smaller serving size with bites that are easier to crunch.
The addition of probiotics is also a massive help for your pugs’ gut health. It’s a good mid-level protein food for any activity level and at a good price.
The issue here is there are a lot of additives and supplements rather than natural ingredients.
In fact, half the ingredients list is scientific names of items rather than actual food.
It also doesn’t have anything that stands out as far as making the texture interesting, which could be an issue for dogs who get a taste for table scraps or like differing textures as this could lead to boredom.
Some pugs may also get gassy from the probiotics in it (although they’re good for them).
Taste of the Wild’s Appalachian Valley mix has Crude Protein of 32% and Fat Content at 18%, and you can visit their site here for more info.
All in all, these three dog foods for your pug give you some fantastic options to look to when you’re searching for something that hits all the points for their dietary needs while also giving them a meal, they’ll be happy with long-term.
There are still other fantastic foods out there that you can look at, but after weighing of the pros and cons, we think these are definitely the winners in the race for the best dog food for your pug.
They’re all poultry and grain-free, watch out for the nasty things you want to avoid as an owner of a small breed and take into consideration the things you would want to know as an owner of one of these cute little flat-faced furballs.
Now to choose the real frontrunner.
And the Winner Is…
Orijen Regional Red Dog Food
Overall Rating: 4.6/5
Okay, this dog food stole our hearts.
It’s just hitting too many of the points for a great dog food for your pug. It has the optimal protein content, the fat content is well within range, the ingredients are all super high-quality and there are very few, if any, additives in here. Sure, this dry dog food costs a bit more.
However, pugs are small breed dogs, and small breed dogs consume less volume of food than large ones and the food they do consume needs to be high-quality, avoiding nasty chemicals that accumulate in their systems way easier and in higher concentrations than large breed animals.
We just know that if pug owners stick to a diet with this dry dog food and some other healthy snacks in between, they’ll be able to enjoy their little loveable creature for so much longer, and that’s most importan
What is the Best Dog Food for Pugs? Katherine Barrington, Dog Food Insider 2018, accessed 13 January 2019,
Pug Feeding Guidelines, Pet Pug Dog 2018, accessed 12 January 2019,
Pug Fact Sheet on Care, American Kennel Club 2019, accessed 12 January 2019,
Reading Labels, AAFCO, Inc. 2012, accessed 12 January 2019,
John Flanagan, Thomas Bissot, Marie-Anne Hours, Bernabe Moreno, Alexandre Feugier, Alexander J. German, Success of a weight loss plan for overweight dogs: The results of an international weight loss study, 8 Sept 2017, accessed 13 January 2019,