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11 Best Puppy Foods for Pugs – 2023 Reviews & Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Hungry pug dog with food bowl ready to eat_africa studio_shutterstock

Pugs are some of the most adorable dogs known to man, which is part of the reason why they always seem to become such beloved members of their households. As proud Pug owners, we always want to feed our Pugs the best nutrition possible to ensure they live long, healthy, and happy lives as our companions and friends.

But with so many choices on the market, how are you supposed to know what Pug foods are worth purchasing and which ones you should avoid? We wondered that ourselves, so we set out to answer our own question once and for all by testing all the most popular Pug foods on the market.

The following eleven reviews will compare the foods we tested. In the end, only three foods impressed us enough to earn our recommendations, and we’ll go over them again at the end so they’re fresh in your mind. Let’s take a look at the best puppy foods for Pugs.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Ollie Fresh Dog Food Ollie Fresh Dog Food
  • No fillers or artificial flavors
  • Minimal processing
  • Delivered to your door
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright
  • Contains DHA
  • Value pricing
  • Easy on dogs’ stomachs
  • Third place
    Royal Canin Pug Royal Canin Pug
  • Pug-specific nutrition
  • Supports healthy skin
  • Specially shaped kibble
  • Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula
  • Supports immune system health
  • Support healthy brain development
  • Contains omega fatty acids
  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy
  • High levels of protein
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Packed with healthful nutrients
  • The 11 Best Puppy Foods for Pugs

    1. Ollie Fresh Dog Food – Best Overall

    Ollie beef dish with sweet potatoes fresh dog food in scoop with white fluffy dog

    Puppies need a high-quality, protein-rich diet that’s packed with vitamins and minerals to help them grow. Ollie’s Fresh Dog Food is our best overall choice!

    It’s not the most cost-effective, but it ranks number one on our list for a reason. Ollie serves fresh and gently baked recipes on a customizable meal plan for your puppy. There are no fillers or artificial flavors, and the food is cooked at low temperatures to retain nutrition.

    You begin by answering questions about your dog. Ollie creates a meal plan catered to your puppy’s age, weight, breed, and activity level. You can choose option one, which only offers fresh food. Or you can choose option two, a combination of fresh and gently baked food. After the meet and greet, Ollie sends you your starter box, which contains 2 weeks of food.

    A dog’s nutrition requirements vary as dogs age. We love Ollie because it saves time finding a food to meet your puppy’s needs. The downside about fresh food is it doesn’t last long. With Ollie, fresh food stays good for 4 days in the fridge, or you can freeze it for up to 6 months. If fresh food isn’t ideal, you can go with the gently baked food, which is good for 6 weeks after opening.

    • No fillers or artificial flavors
    • Minimal processing
    • Delivered to your door
    • Needs refrigeration
    • Expensive

    2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dry Dog Food – Best Value

    Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dog Food product image

    Feeding your dog the highest-quality foods to keep them in tip-top shape can be expensive. But with the Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Dry Dog Food, it doesn’t have to be. This food is available at value prices that won’t cut into the rest of the family’s grocery money, which is why we feel it’s the best puppy food for Pugs for the money.

    But don’t feel like you’re skimping on your Pug’s health with this food because you won’t be. Instead, you’ll be providing them with healthy nutrition that contains DHA for clear vision and healthy brain development. Plus, it’s got omega fatty acids for a healthy coat and skin.

    Though affordably priced, quality whole-food ingredients were used to make this dog food, starting with real chicken as the first ingredient. Because of this, it’s not only healthy for your Pug partner, it’s also easy on their stomach. This helps to make it a great choice for dogs with a sensitive digestive system, even though it does contain grains.

    • Contains DHA and omega fatty acids
    • Value pricing
    • Easy on dogs’ stomachs
    • Uses whole-food ingredients
    • Contains grains

    3. Royal Canin Pug Puppy Dry Dog Food

    3Royal Canin Pug Puppy Dry Dog Food

    If you want the prestige and satisfaction of knowing you’re feeding your Pug one of the most high-end names in dog food, then you might consider the Royal Canin Pug Puppy Dry Dog Food. It’s one of the only breed-specific dog foods we’ve seen that’s formulated to provide the nutrition that Pugs need. But it’s also one of the most expensive foods we’ve seen, with a 2.5-pound bag going for more than a 14-pound bag from some other manufacturers.

    This food is made for Pugs ages 8 weeks to 10 months. It’s got an exclusive combination of nutrients that helps to maintain your Pug’s skin, coat, and digestive health. Plus, prebiotics and antioxidants help boost your Pug’s immune system. And since they’re a brachycephalic breed with a short face, this kibble is clover-leaf shaped so it’s easier for them to pick up and chew.

    On the other hand, the ingredients list for this food leaves something to be desired. It lists brewers rice as the main ingredient with the second ingredient being chicken by-product meal. For such an expensive Pug food, they sure skimped on the quality of the ingredients!

    • Pug-specific nutrition
    • Supports healthy skin, digestive health, and natural defenses
    • Specially shaped kibble is easier for brachycephalic dogs to pick up
    • Cost-prohibitive
    • Brewers rice is the main ingredient

    4. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Dry Dog Food

    1Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula


    It’s far from the most cost-effective food you could feed your pug, but the Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Puppy Food might be the best for their health. It’s packed with healthy vitamins, antioxidants, and chelated minerals to boost immune system health. It also helps to support healthy brain and eye development by including DHA and ARA.

    But that’s not all. To keep your pug’s skin and coat healthy and looking great, this food also contains omega fatty acids. It’s got a minimum of 27% crude protein starting with deboned chicken as the primary source, so you know your pug is getting well taken care of when they’re eating this Blue Buffalo food. It might be expensive, but if you can afford it, it could help keep your pug pup healthy and happy for the long haul.

    • Supports immune system health
    • Helps support healthy brain and eye development
    • Contains omega fatty acids for improved skin and coat
    • Lists deboned chicken as the main ingredient
    • Rather expensive

    5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

    4Blue Buffalo Wilderness Puppy Chicken


    Blue Buffalo is known as a premium brand that uses high-quality ingredients. Their Wilderness Puppy Grain-Free Dry Dog Food formula takes things even further with higher levels of protein than their original formula. This one is packed with a minimum of 36% crude protein. Most of that’s coming from deboned chicken, which is listed as the first ingredient, followed by chicken meal. The use of high-quality ingredients in high concentrations is what earns this food its rather expensive price tag.

    More than just healthy whole-food ingredients, this food is also fortified with healthful nutrients and supplements. It’s got DHA to support cognitive development and eyesight. Furthermore, it contains an optimal blend of essential vitamins including calcium, phosphorus, and more, to help support healthy bone growth. Finally, omega fatty acids ensure your Pug’s coat and skin stays healthy and looks great.

    • Contains high levels of protein
    • Uses high-quality ingredients
    • Packed with healthful nutrients and supplements
    • More expensive than most puppy foods

    6. VICTOR Select Nutra Pro Active Dog & Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

    5VICTOR Select Nutra Pro Active Dog

    Loaded with nutrients specifically meant to fuel dogs with moderate to high levels of daily activity, the VICTOR Select Nutra Pro Active Dog and Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food is an option that seemed better at first glance than it turned out to be. We loved the large 40-pound quantity you can buy it in and the relatively affordable price. What we liked even more was the high protein and low carbohydrate content that’s great for any type of dog, especially pugs.

    However, we soon realized that things weren’t as great as we first thought. To start, we noticed that this food doesn’t use the highest quality ingredients, listing chicken meal, blood meal, and whole-grain millet as the first three ingredients; no sign of a high-quality whole food protein source there.

    Once we fed it to our dogs, we found that some of them simply weren’t interested in eating this food. Others ate the food but had difficulty digesting it. Many of our dogs ate it without issue though, so it’s not a problem for all dogs. Still, dogs with sensitive stomachs, in particular, would do well to avoid this food.

    • Available in large quantities
    • High protein content
    • Less than 35% carbohydrates
    • Doesn’t use the highest quality ingredients
    • Some dogs had difficulty digesting
    • Not all dogs were interested in eating it

    7. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Dry Dog Food

    Nutro Natural Choice Puppy Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Dog Food

    To save money, many companies opt for low-quality ingredients like meat by-products and GMO vegetables, but not Nutro. Their Wholesome Essentials Puppy Dry Dog Food is made with non-GMO ingredients and no by-products, though they still manage to be reasonably priced. They partially manage this by incorporating several grains into their formula and keeping the protein levels lower than some other foods.

    Still, this food has a minimum of 29% crude protein that’s derived primarily from chicken and chicken meal, the first two ingredients listed. However, some of the remaining ingredients aren’t our favorites, such as brewers rice, whole brown rice, and oatmeal, which is why the Nutro Wholesome Essentials Puppy Food didn’t manage to crack our top five.

    • Reasonably priced
    • Made with non-GMO ingredients and no by-products
    • Made with several grains
    • Not as high in protein as other dog foods

    8. Purina Pro Plan Focus Puppy Dry Dog Food

    7Purina Pro Plan Puppy Chicken

    Purina is a well-known name in dog food, but their Pro Plan Focus Puppy Dry Dog Food isn’t one that we preferred. That said, it’s not all bad since the formula still contains DHA for stronger teeth and bones, plus prebiotic fiber to help support digestive health. The 28% minimum crude protein isn’t the greatest, but it’s adequate to ensure a basic level of nutrition is supplied for your Pug.

    Problem is, we’re not impressed by the ingredients used in this food. Ingredients such as corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, corn germ meal, poultry by-product meal, and more. Looking at this ingredients list, it’s no wonder some of our Pugs wouldn’t touch this food! We wouldn’t either, and we don’t suggest you offer it to your Pug when there are so many other excellent options available.

    • Has prebiotic fiber to support digestive health
    • DHA for stronger teeth and bones
    • Several ingredients contain corn
    • Uses low-quality ingredients
    • Some of our dogs wouldn’t eat it

    9. American Journey Recipe Puppy Dry Dog Food

    8American Journey Active Life Formula


    The American Journey Recipe Puppy Dry Dog Food starts off good with deboned chicken listed as its primary ingredient. It’s also got vital nutrients to support your Pug’s health, such as DHA and ARA for brain and vision development or calcium and phosphorus for bone health.

    Though it looks good on paper, this food didn’t sit well with several of our Pugs, with some of them downright refusing to touch it. Of the pups who would eat it, several had digestive issues afterward. This food seemed to upset their stomachs, possibly due to the grains in the ingredients list like brewers rice, brown rice, barley, flaxseed, and more. Either way, we weren’t happy with how our Pugs reacted to this American Journey food, so we won’t be feeding it to them again.

    • Supports healthy coat, skin, immune system, bones, and teeth
    • Lists deboned chicken as the primary ingredient
    • Many of our Pugs don’t like this food
    • Upset some of our dogs’ stomachs
    • Made with grains

    10. Diamond Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

    9Diamond Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food

    We were immediately drawn to the dirt-cheap pricing and bulk sizing of the Diamond Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food. It seemed like a great way to save some money, but we soon found out that it’s not a great value at any price.

    This food uses poor-quality protein sources. You won’t find deboned chicken or beef listed here. Instead, you’ll see chicken by-product meal listed as the first and primary ingredient, followed immediately by whole grain ground corn. Since it’s a whole grain, this corn is not easily digestible for your Pug, though it is cheap to use as a filler ingredient, which is why it’s in this food.

    It might be hard to walk away from what seems like a budget value based on price and quantity alone, but if you want to feed your Pug proper nutrition to keep it healthy for a long life, then you might want to bypass the Diamond Puppy Formula Dry Dog Food.

    • Dirt-cheap
    • Available in bulk sizes
    • Uses poor-quality protein sources
    • Contains corn
    • Formulated with hard to digest grains
    • Gave our Pugs gas and diarrhea

    11. Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Food

    10Merrick Grain-Free Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato Puppy Food

    Merrick is known for making quality dog foods and we’ve had good luck with their foods in the past. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that experience when feeding the Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Food to our Pugs. To be fair, things started well with high-quality ingredients and multiple protein sources such as deboned beef, lamb meal, and salmon meal.

    But those protein sources cause the price of this food to be out of control, costing considerably more than most other options. And yet, it contains less protein than many other brands we’ve tested with just 28% minimum crude protein.

    Worst of all, many of our Pugs wouldn’t eat this food! Less than half of the Pugs we tried this food with were interested. This was surprising for us, but the results seemed to repeat with each pup we tried to feed this food. Though Merrick is generally a quality producer of dog foods, this food didn’t impress us or our Pugs.

    • Made with multiple high-quality protein sources
    • Vastly overpriced
    • Contains less protein than many other brands
    • Less than half of our Pugs would eat it

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    Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Puppy Food for Pugs

    If you’re just looking for an expedient way to choose the best puppy food for your Pug, then you can skip to the conclusion to read our suggestions and be done with your dog food ordeal. But if you want to know how we compared these puppy foods against each other so you can make better dog food decisions in the future, then read on.

    In this short buyer’s guide, we’re going to discuss the most important things to look at when picking a puppy food for your pug. Looking at these three key areas will ensure you always pick a food that’s good for your Pug and your wallet.


    At the end of the day, no dog food formula can end up at a higher quality than the ingredients that were used to make it. That’s why you the first thing you ought to do when checking out any puppy food is taking a look at the ingredients list.

    Ingredients are listed in the same order as the amounts of each used to make up the recipe. So the first ingredient listed is to be found in the highest quantity, the second ingredient is used in the second-highest amount, on down to the final ingredient which is the least prevalent ingredient used.

    By looking at the ingredients list, you can get a quick idea of the quality of ingredients used in that formula. For instance, if a puppy food lists deboned chicken as the first ingredient, then you know that most of the protein comes from a healthy, whole-food source. But if the first ingredient is poultry by-product meal, then you know it’s a much cheaper formula of lower quality.

    Generally speaking, you want to see a quality protein source listed as the first ingredient. You don’t want to see a carbohydrate listed as the primary ingredient since dogs rely mostly on protein and fats for their nutrition.

    You’ll also want to keep an eye out for grains. Grains are cheaper to use as fillers than many other alternatives, particularly corn, which isn’t great for dogs. These grains are harder for dogs to digest, so if you can, try to avoid them.

    Nutritional Content

    But ingredients only tell you part of the story. Another important component to consider is the overall nutritional content of the food. This means the protein, fats, carbohydrates, and extra nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more.

    Pugs, like most dogs, thrive on a high protein diet, so it’s good to look for foods that are high in protein. Many foods will have at least 27% crude protein, which is a good place to start. Remember, the more fats and proteins in the formula, the less room for carbohydrates that aren’t as good for your dog.

    Also, look for foods that are fortified with nutrients to support healthy functions for your pug. For instance, DHA and ARA to support eye health and vision or calcium and phosphorus to help improve bone health. Many foods are packed with these vital nutrients today and they can help keep your Pug in top health.


    The final aspect to consider when choosing any food for your pug is the price. Though we’d always love to buy the absolute best to feed our beloved companion, it’s not always a cost-effective choice to do so. But that doesn’t mean you have to skimp out on your best friend’s nutrition. There are plenty of puppy foods available at a reasonable price that are packed with precisely the nutrition that your Pug needs.

    First, look for the foods that will supply your Pug with optimal nutrition. Then, narrow down the field by picking the ones that are also affordable and excluding the overpriced options. Finally, compare the remaining dog foods to see which one offers the best bang for your buck.

    Divider 2Conclusion

    Our Pugs seemed to enjoy helping with these reviews, getting to sample so many new foods! Hopefully, they’ve been a help to you on your search for the perfect food to feed your Pug. For us, Ollie’s Fresh Dog Food is our best overall choice!

    For the best value, we think it’s hard to beat the Rachael Ray Nutrish Bright Puppy Natural Dry Dog Food. It’s made with whole-food ingredients that are healthy for your Pug, easy on their stomach, and still priced affordably to provide you with unbeatable value.

    If you want to feed your Pug a breed-specific formula with a premium price and prestige, then we suggest the Royal Canin Pug Puppy Dry Dog Food. Designed specifically for Pugs ages eight weeks to ten months, it contains a special complex of nutrients to maintain healthy skin and coat, support digestive health, and boost a Pug’s immune system.

    Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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