The best dog toys aren't just a great way of banishing boredom, they can also help tackle common behavioral problems while providing the mental and physical stimulation your hound needs to stay happy and healthy.
Just like the best cat toys for our feline friends, the dog toy market is awash with more fun play things than even the most pampered pup could get through in their lifetime. So, with that many options to choose from, how do you know what toys are suitable for your furkid?
Well, the first step is to think about what kind of dog you have on your hands as that will help determine which kind of toys are going to be a good fit. Dog chew toys are ideal if you have a hound that likes to wreak havoc as these can help teach proper chewing behavior and save your furniture from being torn to pieces.
Rope toys can also be a great choice for heavy chewers or for any dog that loves indulging in a bit of play fighting as these give them something to really sink their teeth into. Just be mindful that you don't tug too hard, especially if your pup is young and their teeth and jaw are still growing and developing.
One of the most important considerations for pet parents when it comes to picking out toys is durability. You want something that's made from a high quality material that won't break at the first bite and can withstand plenty of slobbering. The best durable dog toys have been specially designed to offer both outstanding value for money and to ensure safety. Even so, we recommend you always supervise your your pup at playtime to make sure they don't bite off and swallow small parts.
Whatever you're looking for, our pick of the best dog toys has got you covered with fun options to suit every budget.
PetsRadar's pick of the best dog toys
- Best overall dog toy: Outward Hound Stuffingless Snake
- Best for value: White Paw Dog Toys
- Best for chewers: Kong Wild Knots Bear Dog Toy
- Best for boredom: Nina Ottosson Dog Walker Interactive Brain Game Toy
- Best dog ball alternative: Kong AirDog Dumbell Dog Toy
- Best indestructible squeaky toy: JW Pet Bouncin' Bowlin Pin Dog Toy
- Best for gadget-lovers: Wickedbone Smartbone
Outward Hound Stuffingless Snake
Best overall dog toy
Material: Dura-tuff | Includes stuffing?: No | Includes squeakers?: 12 | Tough?: Yes
This toy has a lot of the features we would want in a dog toy. It has a lot of squeakers, is built to last, and looks great as well. Bearing testament to this is the fact that there is no stuffing, meaning less mess to clear up should your pup tear it asunder.
Moreover, it has been reinforced with double-layered seams, so it should be able to withstand a good amount of chewing. Saying this, there are still some reports from pet owners that their dogs have managed to rip it apart (nothing's indestructible, after all), so you might want to closely supervise your dog when playing with this toy, should they have a track record for destruction.
The risk of this is relatively low compared to other toys, however. With so many squeakers to find (there are 12 in the XXL version), that it should keep even the strongest dogs occupied for quite some time. The manufacturer claims that the squeakers should continue to squeak, even if punctured. Again, we think that this will depend on how destructive your dog is, but it’s good news for those whose dogs aren't into wanton vandalism.
There are three sizes, with the largest perhaps best suited for large dogs, or those with a low boredom threshold and want to hunt out all the squeakers. Depending on which size you pick, they come in a variety of colors.
The main drawing back is the high retail price – there are many cheaper toys elsewhere. However, if this one lasts as long as the manufacturers believe it can, then you've got yourself value for money.
White Paw Dog Toys
Best value dog toy
Material: Plush cotton | Includes stuffing?: Yes | Includes squeakers?: Yes | Tough?: Yes
You’ll never drink alone again thanks to this adorable duo set of plush toys that look just like your favorite White Claw tipple. Super soft but oh-so durable, these toys make the perfect fun gift for any dog lover or why not keep them for yourself? We promise we won’t tell!
Measuring 7 x 2.5-inches, these toys are ideal for dogs of all sizes and both are filled with stuffing and contain a squeaker that will keep your pup entertained for hours. The tough inner mesh will hold up well under light to moderate chewing and we love that they’re fully machine-washable.
These toys are a high-quality and affordable set that is great for pet parents on a budget. Not only do they look visually appealing, but they’ve been well designed and constructed to ensure you get your money’s worth. A cute parody toy that both you and your dog will love.
Best for chewers
Material: Rope/Plush | Includes stuffing?: Yes, but minimal | Includes squeakers?: Yes | Tough: Yes
Here’s another product from Kong, who have well-and-truly earned their reputation as the go-to brand of choice for dog toys, especially if you’re looking for a durable product.
We love the Wild Knots bear toy because it manages to blend together cuteness with durability. The interior “skeleton” of the bear is made from rope, which most dogs will find incredibly satisfying to get their teeth stuck into. Meanwhile, the exterior plush is designed to be tough and durable, so if you’ve got a dog who’s keen on chewing, it should last a little while at least.
For any dog that manages to get through the exterior, the inside has very minimal stuffing, so you shouldn’t have too much mess to clean up should that happen. There is also a squeaker inside, which many dogs will go mad for. If you don’t like the bear design, there’s also other animal options, such as a fox, lion, dragon and flamingo.
The bear is available in a range of sizes, so you can match it perfectly to the size of your dog. The larger one is ideal for playing tug, or for two dogs to play with each other.
One of the downsides of this toy, along with other Kong toys, is that it’s not cheap. However, considering the high-quality construction of the toy, we think it’s worth it.
Best for boredom
Material: Food safe material | Includes stuffing?: No | Includes squeakers?: No | Tough?: No
Depending on the type of dog you have, you might find that your pooch becomes easily bored with standard types of dog toys. Toys such as the Interactive Brain Game Toy promise to help alleviate boredom by providing your dog with a challenge.
Such toys can even help modify behaviour, including destruction and separation anxiety, since the mental stimulation from the game provides an excellent distraction for your dog.
Nina Ottoson has been making puzzle toys for dogs for over 25 years, so she has plenty of expertise in what makes a dog’s mind tick. This particular toy features sliding blocks and swivelling flippers which hide compartments for treats. You could place your dog’s kibble inside to encourage speedy eaters to slow down. It’s recommended that you use particularly pungent (to dogs) treats such as cheese or peanut butter to really draw their attention.
Although there are plenty of hidden compartments, none of the parts are removable, which should give you peace of mind while your dog is playing. However, dogs should still be supervised when playing with this toy, especially if they are known for destructive behaviours, just in case.
Considering this dog toy is used to hide treats, you’ll need to clean it regularly – the good news is that it’s designed to be easy to clean. A neat extra is that tips and tricks are included in the box to help you get the most from the toy.
A downside of this toy is its high asking price compared to cheaper, standard dog toys. However, if your dog gets hours of entertainment out of it, then it can be considered decent value for money.
Kong AirDog Dumbell Dog Toy
Best dog ball alternative
Material: Felt | Includes stuffing?: No | Includes squeakers?: Yes | Tough?: Yes
Kong is a brand that is well-known to animal lovers for its range of well-built and durable products. It has lots of products featuring squeakers, but we love this dumbbell for its novel approach to the traditional ball toy. If your dog has already become bored with a standard tennis ball, it’s worth giving this one a try.
As well as being more fun to play with, it features non-abrasive felt designed to be gentle on your pup’s teeth, unlike a standard tennis ball that can be rougher.
There are three different sizes available here (small, medium and large) so you can easily find one to match your dog. We love the way that the toy bounces in erratic and fun fashions when it rebounds off a hard surface – the unpredictable nature will keep your pooch entertained far more than the average tennis ball.
If your dog loves squeakers, then this will also provide hours of fun, with the tough exterior making it hard for the dog to get at the squeaker itself. Some users have reported that the toy is less durable if you have a particularly destructive dog, so it’s worth paying close attention, especially when you first let your dog play with the toy.
For those that find their dog loves the AirDog type of toys, Kong makes a variety of other shapes and designs, including a donut, football and a fetch stick.
JW Pet Bouncin' Bowlin Pin Dog Toy
Best indestructible squeaky toy
Material: Rubber | Includes stuffing?: No | Includes squeakers?: Yes | Tough?: Yes
If you’re after an indestructible, squeaky toy that your dog can happily chew on for hours on end, this bowling pin set from JW is a great option.
Its classic bowling pin shape makes it easier for dogs to grab on to with their mouths, and the tough, natural rubber is designed to be durable. Inside the pins are squeakers, adding to the fun and excitement of the toy. The set also comes in three different sizes and assorted bright colors (pink, yellow, orange and blue), adding more interest for your playful pup.
We like the fact that it’s made from a non-toxic rubber which means that it won’t affect the health of your canine in the long-run. The fact that it’s durable and hard-wearing means that it is likely to last a long time. Plus it’s bouncy and flexible, perfect for throwing up in the air and carrying around. It’s light and easy to maintain and keep clean, which is always handy!
Perhaps the only downside is the price, as they are considerably more expensive than other toys on the market. However, if you’re looking for longevity, these will save you money in the long-term. This toy is ideal for large dogs prone to destroying their toys fairly quickly or teething puppies who can repeatedly chew safely, to their heart’s content.
Best for gadget-lovers
Material: Polycarbonate | Includes stuffing?: No | Includes squeakers?: No | Tough?: Yes
If you want to take your toy-buying to the next level, then check out the WickedBone interactive smart pet toy.
You can control the toy from your phone (“drive mode”), while it will also “react” to what your pet is doing and require no input from you (“interactive mode”). The battery has been designed to last for 40 minutes in drive mode, but up to four hours in interactive mode. The bone can respond to being chased, being touched, being ignored and more.
The body of the toy is made from tough polycarbonate, so it should withstand some chewing – but it’s worth supervising your pet while playing with the toy, especially when they are first using it. The manufacturers state that it is not recommended for “strong chewers”, so be wary if that describes your canine pal.
Despite being an electronic gadget, it is easy to clean with detachable tires and a protective cover.
Since the toy appears to have a life of its own, it’s likely to keep your pet amused for several hours, and is well suited to dogs who are easily bored by conventional toys. Some dogs may be scared of the toy at first, but tips are supplied to help them get used to it, including using treats to encourage them to play with it.
This is a fun gadget that will likely amuse you just as much as the dog, but the big downside with this product is the high price. This is a lot to spend on a dog toy, but if it’s something that lasts for several years, you might consider it a worthy investment.
How to choose the best dog toy
Generally speaking, it’s hard to go too far wrong when picking a dog toy. When your dog is young and you’re still getting to know their personality, it may take you a while to figure out what kind of toys they like, but it should soon become quite clear.
Some dogs love toys with lots of different textures, while others are more concerned about noise. If you have a dog with a penchant for chewing, always look out for toys that claim to be extra strong or durable – bearing in mind that no toy is ever indestructible and supervision is always a good idea.
If you do have a destructive dog, look for toys with little or no stuffing to help prevent mess. If you have a dog that gets bored easily, look for toys that provide stimulation and a challenge, or toys that you can hide treats in to keep them interested.
It’s a good idea to have lots of different types of toys available for your dog to provide variety, a challenge and a good degree of mental stimulation. It can be a good idea to look for cheaper toys when you’re figuring out your dog’s preferences, but be aware that low-cost toys tend to be a false economy as they won’t last as long as their pricier counterparts.
Amy Davies is a writer and photographer with more than ten years’ experience working in the media. She lives with her miniature dachshund, Lola, a rescue dog who is very much the boss.
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