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Best dog toys: Perfect playthings to keep them occupied

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best dog toys
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Shopping for the best dog toys can be both a super fun and super exhausting experience, especially when there are so many to choose from and all claiming to be great for different things - talk about a potential analysis paralysis situation! 

But the good news is that we're here to help take the overwhelm away, so you can focus on the pure joy of picking out some new playthings for your pooch. And when it comes to amazing toys, you truly are spoilt for choice. 

Just like the best cat toys for our feline friends, dog toys come in a range of different varieties, so there are a few things worth considering before you decide which ones are worthy of your precious pennies. 

First up, do you have a heavy chewer on your hands? If the answer is yes, you'll want to look for toys that are made from strong and durable materials that can hold up to some serious biting sessions. You'll find a few of those below, but if you're after more inspiration, check out our guide to the best durable dog toys.

If you have a highly intelligent canine on your hands who loves giving their brain a good workout, we highly recommend you pop at least one of the best dog puzzle toys into your shopping cart. You can select different levels of difficulty depending on how much of a challenge you want to give your pup and once they've sussed it out, you can move them up to a more advanced toy.

And for the hound who loves a bit of rough and tumble, the best rope dog toys are hard to pass up. Tough enough to let the two of you engage in a good game of tug-of-war, rope toys are ideal for giving you a chance to bond with your forever friend. At the other end of the spectrum, soft and cuddly toys can help soothe stress separation anxiety, so if you're in the middle of crate training or are away a lot during the day, these toys can make very comforting companions.

Now that you know a little bit more about what's available, let's take a closer look at the best dog toys lining the shelves in 2022...

PetsRadar's pick of the best dog toys

best dog toys outward hound stuffingless snake

(Image credit: Amazon)

Outward Hound Stuffingless Snake

Best overall dog toy

Specifications
Material: Dura-tuff
Includes stuffing: No
Includes squeakers: 12
Tough?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Lots of squeakers
+
Durable material
+
No stuffing for less mess
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive
-
No match for destructive dogs

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.

Kong Wild Knots Bear Dog Toy is a grey teddy bear for dogsPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Getty)

Best for chewers

Specifications
Material: Rope/Plush
Includes stuffing: Yes, but minimal
Includes squeakers: Yes
Tough?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Good for chewers
+
Very cute 
+
Durable
Reasons to avoid
-
A little expensive

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 dog toys Nina Ottosson Dog Walker Interactive Brain Game Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

Best for boredom

Specifications
Material: Food safe material
Includes stuffing: No
Includes squeakers: No
Tough?: No
Reasons to buy
+
Great for training your dog
+
Fun way to give treats
+
Easy to clean
Reasons to avoid
-
Some dogs may find it frustrating
-
High price

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.

best dog toys Kong AirDog Dumbell Dog Toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

Kong AirDog Dumbell Dog Toy

Best dog ball alternative

Specifications
Material: Felt
Includes stuffing: No
Includes squeakers: Yes
Tough?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Durable
+
Gentle on dog’s teeth
+
Variety of sizes
Reasons to avoid
-
Not suitable for destructive dogs

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

(Image credit: Amazon)

JW Pet Bouncin' Bowlin Pin Dog Toy

Best indestructible squeaky toy

Specifications
Material: Rubber
Includes stuffing: No
Includes squeakers: Yes
Tough?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Durable 
+
Easy to clean/maintain
+
Non-toxic rubber 
+
Easily portable
Reasons to avoid
-
Slightly pricey

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 dog toys Wickedbone Smartbone

(Image credit: Amazon)

Wickedbone Smartbone

Best for gadget-lovers

Specifications
Material: Polycarbonate
Includes stuffing: No
Includes squeakers: No
Tough?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
High tech toy
+
Durable
+
Long-lasting battery life
Reasons to avoid
-
Very expensive
-
Not for tough chewers

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.

best puppy toy separation anxietyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: SmartPetLove)

SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Toy

Best for comfort

Specifications
Material: Plush
Includes stuffing: Yes
Includes sound: Yes
Tough?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Snuggly design
+
Comes with a disposable heat pad
+
Variety of colors available
+
Suitable for all ages and breed sizes
Reasons to avoid
-
Sensitive dogs may be frightened by the pulsing heartbeat feature

If you have an anxious pooch in the family, consider the SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Toy. Although it's generally designed for puppies experiencing separation anxiety, it's actually useful for a dog of any age so whether you've adopted a pup or an adult dog, you're likely to find great value for money here as you pass it on to future generations. 

It's surprisingly tougher than it looks in the durability stakes too: expect a bit of batter here and there, but its teddy-like design should stay together for most dog breed types. 

How it works is that the Snuggle Puppy looks to recreate the intimacy of a dog's mother with a 'real-feel' pulsing heartbeat, a nifty extra that could end up being a lifesaver for you too if your canine struggles to settle and cries through the night. 

Sensitive dogs may find the sound alarming, but the ability to add and remove the heart is a useful feature that will be appreciated by pet owners looking to tailor toys to their dog's preferences. 

Pup Claw Dog Toys

(Image credit: Amazon)

Pup Claw Dog Toys

Best dog toy with squeaker

Specifications
Material: Plush
Includes stuffing: Yes
Includes sound: Yes
Tough?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Unique and fun
+
Squeaker
+
Perfect size for all breeds
Reasons to avoid
-
Not suitable for aggressive chewers

One of the most popular toys of 2021, this duo parody pack that has been designed to look like the adult White Claw drink is likely to be a fan favorite again this year with it's fun and unique appearance and built-in squeaker.

Ideal for small, medium and large dogs, these 7-inch long stuffed toys will keep your pup busy and entertained for hours. Super plush and durable enough for all but the most aggressive of chewers, these toys are the perfect way to spoil your pup and also make a great gift for a fellow pet parent.

And unlike some toys that fall apart in the washing machine, you'll have no such problem with this set - they'll even hold up to a good tumble dry! While they may be a little on the pricey side, the novelty factor alone makes them well worth it.

Kong dog toy

(Image credit: Amazon)

KONG Extreme Dog Toy

Best dog toy for heavy chewers

Specifications
Material: Rubber
Includes stuffing: No
Includes sound: No
Tough?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Strong and durable
+
Great for physical and mental health
+
Fantastic fetch toy
Reasons to avoid
-
Super aggressive chewers may still destroy this one

If you're looking for a toy that you can throw, stuff, bounce and that will hold up to heavy chewing then look no further because this KONG toy really does do it all! One of the most popular toys on the market (and for good reason), it provides outstanding mental and physical enrichment.

By encouraging healthy play and satisfying instinctual needs, this treat dispensing puzzle toy helps solve chewing, separation anxiety, teething, boredom, weight management, crate training, digging and barking. Stuff it with peanut butter, applesauce, banana or any other favorite food and your pup will be kept amused for hours.

The toy is available in a range of sizes to suit all breeds and its unpredictable bounce makes for an exciting game of fetch. The tough and durable rubber means it's ideal for heavy chewers and it's dishwasher safe, so you won't have any problems keeping it clean. 

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 freelance writer and photographer with over 15 years experience. She has a degree in journalism from Cardiff University and has written about a huge variety of topics over the years. These days she mostly specialises in technology and pets, writing across a number of different titles including TechRadar, Stuff, Expert Reviews, T3, Digital Camera World, and of course PetsRadar. She lives in Cardiff and has two dogs, Lola, a rescue miniature dachshund and Raven, a black Labrador who thinks she’s the same size as Lola.