Cute overweight pug and bowl full of food on floor at home

Best Dog Food for Pugs (Top 10 in 2021)

Pugs, or pug dogs, are sturdy small breed dogs known for their highly expressive, wrinkled faces and ravenous appetites.

Your pug needs high-quality dog food designed to meet their breed-specific nutritional needs to lower their risk of developing health problems like obesity, respiratory stress, eye issues such as corneal ulcers, and bone deformities like hip dysplasia. This may seem like a lot to consider, but we’re here to help you with our top picks for pug food; all of which are conveniently available through online retailers like Amazon!

Note: Want to treat your dog to the very best? Get 50% off your first box of human-grade dog food when you try Ollie. Paws down, Ollie is the easiest way to feed your pup fresh, nutritious food. Learn how it works here!

Best Dog Food for Pugs (Top 10 in 2021) – Overview

Here are the top 5 picks (keep scrolling for more details and picks 6-10).

Overview
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Oatmeal 15-Lb
Best Overall for Puppies
NUTRO ULTRA High Protein Natural Dry Dog Puppy Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken Lamb and Salmon, 30 lb. Bag
Lowest Price for Adults
Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Grain Free High Protein Real Chicken Recipe Kibble + Natural Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food, 10 lb. Bag
Lowest Price for Adults
Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food Small Breed Recipe - 12 lb. Bag
Best Overall for Adults
Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food Real Salmon + Sweet Potato Recipe - 20 lb. Bag
Title
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy, Chicken & Oatmeal
Nutro Ultra Puppy Food
Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Small Breed Formula
Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Small Breed, Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
Price
$30.98
$75.99
$39.99
$39.99
Price not available
Rating
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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Overview
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Oatmeal 15-Lb
Title
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy, Chicken & Oatmeal
Price
$30.98
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Best Overall for Puppies
Overview
NUTRO ULTRA High Protein Natural Dry Dog Puppy Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken Lamb and Salmon, 30 lb. Bag
Title
Nutro Ultra Puppy Food
Price
$75.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Lowest Price for Adults
Overview
Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Grain Free High Protein Real Chicken Recipe Kibble + Natural Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food, 10 lb. Bag
Title
Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Small Breed Formula
Price
$39.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Lowest Price for Adults
Overview
Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food Small Breed Recipe - 12 lb. Bag
Title
Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe
Price
$39.99
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐
Best Overall for Adults
Overview
Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food Real Salmon + Sweet Potato Recipe - 20 lb. Bag
Title
Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Small Breed, Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe
Price
Price not available
Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lowest Price for Puppies
1. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Small Breed Puppy, Chicken & Oatmeal

Sale
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Oatmeal 15-Lb
2,466 Reviews
Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Natural Puppy Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Chicken and Oatmeal 15-Lb
  • REAL MEAT FIRST: Blue Buffalo foods always feature real meat as the first ingredient; High-quality protein from real chicken helps your dog build and maintain healthy muscles; Plus they contain...

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula features high-quality, real chicken protein packed in calcium-enriched, bite-sized kibble to support your puppy’s developing muscles and bones. Additionally, this recipe contains DHA and ARA fatty acids to promote cognitive and retinal health in your pup.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, oatmeal, barley, menhaden fish meal (source of omega 3 fatty acids)
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (barley, oats, rice)
  • Best for: Pug Puppies
  • Sample buyer review: “Because we have had dogs in the past that have reacted poorly to food, we are now very selective. We chose this food for our new puppy because it does not contain by-product meal from chicken or poultry. It doesn’t contain wheat, soy, corn, preservatives, or artificial flavors. On top of that, our puppy loves it, and it’s much cheaper buying through amazon rather than the big box store down the street. Highly recommended.”

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Best Overall for Puppies
2. Nutro Ultra Puppy Food

NUTRO ULTRA High Protein Natural Dry Dog Puppy Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken Lamb and Salmon, 30 lb. Bag
1,285 Reviews
NUTRO ULTRA High Protein Natural Dry Dog Puppy Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken Lamb and Salmon, 30 lb. Bag
  • Contains one (1) 30 lb. bag of NUTRO ULTRA Puppy Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins From Chicken, Lamb and Salmon

Nutro Ultra Puppy Food offers a variety of quality high-protein sources combined with an antioxidant-rich superfood blend to provide your puppy with a complete, balanced diet. This recipe also contains omega-rich inclusions like chicken fat, sunflower oil, and fish oil to nourish your pug’s skin and coat.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, whole brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (rice, oats)
  • Best for: Pug Puppies
  • Sample buyer review: “This food changed my puppy experience. We switched from Purina to Nutro shortly after getting our first Scottie. He went from having loose stools and gas to solid and healthy stools overnight. The same thing happened when we got our second Scottie. A friend complained to me that his Pitbull was having skin issues/allergies and loose stools and I recommended this product; he immediately noticed a difference in his dog’s stools and with her skin/coat. Overall we have had great luck with Nutro products.”

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Lowest Price for Adults
3. Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Small Breed Formula

Sale
Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Grain Free High Protein Real Chicken Recipe Kibble + Natural Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food, 10 lb. Bag
1,945 Reviews
Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed Dry Dog Food, Grain Free High Protein Real Chicken Recipe Kibble + Natural Freeze Dried Raw Dog Food, 10 lb. Bag
  • SMALL BREED GRAIN FREE DOG FOOD WITH FREEZE DRIED RAW CAGE FREE CHICKEN: Instinct Raw Boost natural dry dog food combines high protein, grain free kibble with all natural bites of freeze dried raw...

Instinct Raw Boost Small Breed dog food is a grain-free kibble that features real, cage-free chicken as its first ingredient. This recipe also includes minimally processed, freeze-dried raw bites for a flavor your dog will crave and an ideal balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates for overall health maintenance.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal (source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), chickpeas, turkey meal, tapioca
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Best for: Adult Pugs
  • Sample buyer review: “My fur baby is doing so well on this food. After all the pet food recalls, and all the talk about the additives and chemicals in pet foods I did some research and I decided it was time to change my baby from Science Diet to a better food that had less additives. She gets so much more vitamins that her body needs and keeps with this food and she loves it!”

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Lowest Price for Adults
4. Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed Recipe

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food Small Breed Recipe - 12 lb. Bag
2,828 Reviews
Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food Small Breed Recipe - 12 lb. Bag
  • One (1) 12 lb Bag - Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Dry Dog Food Small Breed Recipe

Merrick Classic Healthy Grains Small Breed dog food packs real whole food ingredients into a pea, lentil, and potato-free recipe designed to ensure optimal nutrition for your pooch. This kibble boasts high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin for joint health, as well as a blend of grains high in dietary fiber for digestive health.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, brown rice, barley, turkey meal
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (barley, oats, rice)
  • Best for: Adult Pugs
  • Sample buyer review: “One of the ONLY brands of commercial dog food that I trust. With a pug, one is always looking out for dietary problems with food allergies and such. But this food is enjoyed and tolerated well by my dog. She really seems to enjoy it. They also make excellent canned food.”

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Best Overall for Adults
5. Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Small Breed, Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food Real Salmon + Sweet Potato Recipe - 20 lb. Bag
3,208 Reviews
Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food Real Salmon + Sweet Potato Recipe - 20 lb. Bag
  • One (1) 20 lb Bag - Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food Real Salmon + Sweet Potato Recipe

Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed offers grain-free, bite-sized kibble made with omega-rich salmon to promote vision health and a blend of prebiotic and probiotic fiber to support healthy digestion. As a poultry-free recipe, this dry dog food is a great option for pugs with traditional meat allergies.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned salmon, salmon meal, whitefish meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Best for: Adult Pugs
  • Sample buyer review: “We have a pug puppy who has a super sensitive stomach. Everything we gave him, gave him diarrhea. Eventually, we found Merrick grain-free, poultry-free that’s safe for small breed puppies with probiotics. This literally checked all out boxes. It is on the more expensive side, but our pup now has normal poops and we cannot be happier!”

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6. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Small Breed Bites, Lamb & Brown Rice

Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet Small Breed recipe is made with quality ingredients like real lamb protein and easily-digestible, fiber-rich whole grain brown rice packed in a smaller kibble size more suitable for tiny jaws. This food also includes taurine to promote cardiac health in your dog.

  • First 5 ingredients: Lamb, brown rice, lamb meal, brewers rice, rice bran
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (rice)
  • Best for: Adult Pugs
  • Sample buyer review: “This brand is what my Vet wanted for my dog. The first bowl I gave my dog was her favorite. And it continued. Great sturdy bag to keep fresh for a while. The small kibble bites are just what I need for my little 12 pounder. She loves all the different flavors I have brought home. This is a must-buy for your dogs.”

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7. Canidae Pure Grain Free Healthy Weight, Chicken & Pea Recipe

CANIDAE PURE Weight Management, Limited Ingredient Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food
4,600 Reviews
CANIDAE PURE Weight Management, Limited Ingredient Grain Free Premium Dry Dog Food
  • Limited ingredient weight management dog food for your big boned pup

Canidae Pure Healthy Weight formula is designed with select natural ingredients that make this an excellent option for dogs with food sensitivities. This weight-conscious formula is also a balanced choice to ensure that your dog maintains an appropriate body weight while still meeting all nutritional requirements.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, peas
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Best for: Adult Pugs
  • Sample buyer review: “I am a Dog Obedience Instructor, and have taken classes specializing in Nutrition. I have reviewed plenty of other dog foods and found that Canidae out beats most of them by a landslide. A lot of grocery store brand foods are full of junk. Canidae is a great food. Main ingredient is meat.”

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8. Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Healthy Weight Formula

Sale
Wellness Natural Pet Food Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Healthy Weight Dog Food, Turkey & Rice, 12-Pound Bag
1,472 Reviews
Wellness Natural Pet Food Complete Health Natural Dry Small Breed Healthy Weight Dog Food, Turkey & Rice, 12-Pound Bag
  • This adult small breed dry dog food's #1 ingredient is turkey; high quality protein with wholesome grains like rice

Wellness Complete Health Small Breed Healthy Weight dry food combines high-quality turkey and chicken protein with wholesome grains like oatmeal and barley to support your dog’s whole body health while preventing unintentional weight gain. Antioxidant-rich blueberries and spinach encourage a healthy immune system, while omega-rich flaxseed supports healthy skin and coats.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned turkey, chicken meal, salmon meal, oatmeal, rice
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (barley, oats, rice)
  • Best for: Adult Pugs
  • Sample buyer review: “We have two small dogs, one 4 and one 6 years old. They don’t get a lot of exercise and this small breed healthy weight dry food is perfect for them. They just had their check-up for the year and both dogs lost a little weight – the vet was very pleased. The flavor must be good because when they hear the bag open, they are right there to have their meal! We will continue using this brand as it’s recommended by the agency we adopted the dogs from as one of the top brands.”

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9. Merrick Lil’ Plates Grain Free Small Breed Senior, Chicken & Sweet Potato

Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe - 12 lb. Bag
1,143 Reviews
Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe - 12 lb. Bag
  • One (1) 12 lb Bag - Merrick Lil' Plates Grain Free Small Breed Dry Dog Food Senior Real Chicken + Sweet Potato Recipe

Merrick Lil’ Plates Small Breed Senior is made to supply your older dog with the whole body nutrition they need to stay happy, healthy, and active for years to come. With prebiotic and probiotic fiber to support aged guts and digestive tracts, leading levels of glucosamine and chondroitin to maintain joints, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for skin and coat health, this food is an all-around great choice for your senior dog.

  • First 5 ingredients: Deboned chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes
  • Type: Grain-free
  • Best for: Senior Pugs
  • Sample buyer review: “My dog is 11 years old now, so I recently started looking for alternative dog foods for him. I wanted something more natural that would give him the proper nutrients he needed. I started looking at the Merrick brand and I loved the great reviews and ingredients they put in their dog food. I also loved the fact that Merrick Lil’ Plates is geared towards small breeds and they also had a senior version. How awesome is that! Overall, I slowly transitioned my dog into his new dog food and he loves it. I can also see the difference in his bowels as they seem more healthy and he doesn’t get constipated like he used to.”

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10. Nutro Ultra Senior Formula

NUTRO ULTRA Senior High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken, Lamb and Salmon, 30 lb. Bag
1,073 Reviews
NUTRO ULTRA Senior High Protein Natural Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins from Chicken, Lamb and Salmon, 30 lb. Bag
  • Contains one (1) 30 lb. bag of NUTRO ULTRA Senior Dry Dog Food with a Trio of Proteins From Chicken, Lamb and Salmon

Nutro Ultra Senior Formula kibble includes a blend of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, as well as high-quality chicken, lamb, and salmon protein. You can trust the quality of this dog food, as it contains no chicken by-product meal, corn, soy, wheat, fillers, or GMO ingredients.

  • First 5 ingredients: Chicken, chicken meal (source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate), whole brown rice, brewers rice, rice bran
  • Type: Grain-inclusive (oats, rice)
  • Best for: Senior Pugs
  • Sample buyer review: “We’ve been feeding our senior dog this food for a few years now and it’s exceeded our expectations. Our dog is 13 now but she still acts like she is 3 thanks to the food change. She’s trimmed up and lost some weight, she has more energy and her overall health has improved significantly since we switched her food to Nutro Ultra. Even our vet is impressed.”

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Final Thoughts

It’s not unusual to see your pug gobbling down their food almost as soon as their bowl hits the ground. It’s important to address this habit before it gets too out of hand though, as speed eating can cause serious health issues if not handled properly. Check out our article on why your dog eats so fast to find out more and to figure out how to slow their dining down.

Note: Want to treat your dog to the very best? Get 50% off your first box of human-grade dog food when you try Ollie. Paws down, Ollie is the easiest way to feed your pup fresh, nutritious food. Learn how it works here!

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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.