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10 Best Toys for Your Dog

From frisbees to plushies to puzzles, these top toys give your pup something to wag about.

best dog toys
Staff, Courtesy of Hear Doggy!
About The Expert: Lindsay Pevny has been using and reviewing dog-related products and gear for over 10 years—everything from dog seat belts and dog coats to doghouses and puppy pads, and more. With the help of her dogs Matilda and Cow, she has evaluated some of the best and most popular dog toys, from long-standing classics to new innovations. These are the products she recommends for all dogs, big and small.

Dogs need a variety of toys to keep them healthy, physically active, and mentally enriched. From chew bones to fetch balls to interactive puzzles, each option in your dog’s toy collection should have a purpose, whether it’s to overcome a behavioral issue, reward good actions, to spend time together, or even to help keep their teeth clean.

Whether you’re in “nesting” mode as you prepare for the arrival of a new puppy, or you’re shopping for the dog who has everything, you’re sure to find something they’ll appreciate on this list.

What to Consider

Durability

For puppies, large dogs, and power chewers, it can take seconds for a toy to break into small pieces that may pose a choking hazard. To keep your dog safe, always supervise them around toys, and for power chewers, seek out tough toys designed to withstand rough play.

Whether your dog is a gentle, average, or power chewer, inspect toys regularly for wear. Throw away toys that have any broken components. Broken parts, loose squeakers, and poly-fill stuffing can all put your dog at risk for choking or a gastric obstruction.

Size

When it comes to size, dogs seem to have unique preferences. Don’t be surprised if your big dog seeks out small toys that they can carry around. A small toy should be both too long and too wide to entirely fit in your dog’s mouth, otherwise it can pose a choking hazard.

Small dogs sometimes enjoy oversized plushies that they can wrestle, tackle, and bunny-kick with their back paws. Large, soft toys are safe for small dogs. But oversized frisbees, balls, and chew toys can hurt more petite pups especially if these toys are thrown. Some may be too large for them to grasp in their mouth.

More Products for Your Pup: Best Dog Car Seats, Best Dog Car Seat Covers, Best Dog Adventure Gear, Best Dog Poop Bags

Washability

Dog toys are a breeding ground for bacteria, especially when they become moist from your dog’s saliva. You may need to wash your dog’s toys if they develop an odor, are left outside in the rain, get covered in body fluids, or are frequently filled with food or treats.

Most soft plush toys are machine washable, as long as they don't have any battery-powered components. It’s easiest to gather them up every few months, wash them on a gentle cycle with mild detergent, and then air dry or machine dry on low heat. High heat can melt plastic components like squeakers.

Rubber and plastic toys are usually dishwasher safe. Always use the top rack to avoid exposing toys to the heating element at the bottom of the machine, or they might melt.

Mental Stimulation

The old dog training adage, “a tired dog is a good dog,” generally holds true. If your pet is under-exercised and under-stimulated, they will often find destructive ways to stay entertained. But running through the park or playing fetch isn’t the only way to wear out your dog. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise, and can have similar effects when it comes to behavioral issues.

Make sure your dog’s toy collection contains a good mix of “fun” toys and “brainy” toys. Some dogs love intricate puzzles, but for others, a simple snuffle mat provides plenty of healthy mental stimulation.

How We Evaluated

As I tested different toys with my dogs, I was often surprised at which ones they played with consistently—and which ones they totally ignored. Cow, my speckled 27-pound Heinz 57 mutt, is obsessed with the tiny toys I buy for her 5-pound Chihuahua-mix “sister” Matilda. Like her namesake from the Roald Dahl book, Matilda is very clever and shows the most interest in mind-bending puzzle toys, but she’s also known to tackle plush toys twice her size.

By shopping with purpose in mind, you can curate a collection of truly useful, fun, and long-lasting toys that your dog loves—but expect to go through some trial and error. No matter how diligently you shop, you’re likely to end up with toys that your dog never touches. I like to donate those unused toys to my local humane society or gift them to friends. That way, each toy in the toy box has a purpose, and our living room floor remains clutter-free.

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Best Overall
Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel
Outward Hound amazon.com
$29.99
$22.99 (23% off)

Key Specs

  • Dog Size: All sizes
  • Chew Rating: Average
  • Washable: Machine

Hide-A-Squirrel from Outward Hound, available in sizes small through extra-large, is sure to be a hit with every member of your pack. The toy includes a soft plush tree stump with 3-to-5 (depending on the size) plush squeaky squirrels. Dogs love pulling the squirrels out through the holes, and you can also hide dry treats or kibble inside for an extra challenge. The squirrels are completely removable and also double as standalone toys. They’re great for fetch or hiding in other places around your home, like between couch cushions or under furniture.

  • Provides mental stimulation
  • Can be filled with treats

  • Won’t stand up to power chewers
Best For Toy Breeds
Kong Low Stuffing with Squeaker Toy
amazon.com
$16.99

Key Specs

  • Dog Size: Small breed puppies and toy breed adult dogs
  • Chew Rating: Light
  • Washable: Machine

Kong is a well-known brand famous for their tough dog toys, but they also offer a line of low-stuffing plushies that are the perfect size for tiny dogs and puppies. Available as a duck, teddy bear, or frog, each cuddly creature has a Velcro opening on its back so you can replace the squeaker. As one of the few options for small dogs, this collection of tiny toys is a rare find. They’re the perfect size for dogs under 10 pounds. Chihuahuas, Yorkies, and other toy breeds love these plushies for playing fetch, carrying around like it’s their baby, or as mock prey for practicing their kill shake.

  • Low stuffing for less mess
  • Replaceable squeaker included

  • Not durable; some dogs can tear these toys apart in minutes
Best for Tugging
TUFFY 3 Way Dog Tug Toy
TUFFY amazon.com
$24.15

Key Specs

  • Dog Size: Medium to large breed dogs and puppies
  • Chew Rating: Heavy duty
  • Washable: Machine wash; air dry

Tug-o-war works your dog’s jaw, neck, and shoulders, making it a great way to tire out your furry friend when you’re both stuck inside on a rainy day. The 3 Way Tug Toy is designed for interactive play, not for chewing, though it’s built to stand up to heavy play. It’s made up of three layers: soft fleece that’s gentle on your dog’s teeth, industrial-grade luggage material, and plastic coating, fused and sewn together with reinforced seams. It’s suitable for play between you and your pup and can also stand up to play between two or more dogs. As an additional layer for your dog’s safety, each squeaker is sewn inside a protective pouch. 

  • Fleece exterior layer is soft on hands and mouths
  • Contains 6 squeakers
  • Squeakers contained in pouch for extra safety

  • Contains stuffing that can pose a choking hazard
  • Does not stand up to chewing
Best Puzzle
Outward Hound/Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Puzzle Feeder
Outward Hound amazon.com
$24.99
$12.60 (50% off)

Key Specs

  • Dog Size: All sizes
  • Chew Rating: Light
  • Washable: Wipe clean

From simple mechanisms to multi-step challenges, Nina Ottosson puzzle toys from Outward Hound have something for every doggy, from bright-eyed puppies to seasoned seniors. Puzzles are categorized by difficulty from easy to expert. For first-timers, Dog Brick is a great choice because it offers your dog three different ways to earn treats. They can flip open the lids, slide the blocks, or remove the bones to reveal snacks or kibble that you’ve hidden inside. Like many of the brand’s puzzle toys, you can adjust Dog Brick’s difficulty to keep your dog guessing.

  • Provides mental stimulation
  • Slows down fast eaters
  • Easy-to-clean plastic construction

  • Impatient dogs may flip the toy over to “cheat”
  • Requires supervision
  • Not appropriate for power chewers
Best For Fetch Fanatics
ChuckIt! Sport Ball Launcher
Chuckit! amazon.com
$8.99
$7.76 (14% off)

Key Specs

  • Dog Size: All sizes
  • Chew Rating: Not applicable
  • Washable: Wipe clean

The Chuckit! Ball Launcher is a must-have for fetch aficionados. Balls go further with a 12” arm that extends your range of motion. For even more throwing power, size up to other available lengths that max out with the 25” collapsible Fetch & Fold. Depending on the size, the ChuckIt! Ball Launcher will send the ball 1.5- to 3-times further than your normal throwing range. It’s great for tiring out a high-energy dog with a game of long-distance fetch across the beach, an open field, or right in your own backyard. The long handle and cupped end eliminate the need to stoop down to pick up the ball, especially if you opt for the 25” option. It’s handy for pet owners with limited mobility or anyone who’d rather not touch a slobbery ball.

  • Great for high-energy dogs
  • Reviewers reported reduced strain on shoulders
  • Compatible with standard tennis balls

  • Included balls break easily with normal use
Best For Food Motivated Dogs
All For Paws Nosework Training Mat
AFP amazon.com
$25.99

Key Specs

  • Dog Size: All sizes
  • Chew Rating: Light
  • Washable: Machine

Snuffle mats have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and it’s easy to see why. They provide mental stimulation, training dogs’ noses and brains to earn their meals, and promote slower-paced eating which can prevent digestive problems. What’s more, research studies have shown that sniffing lowers your dog’s heart rate and cortisol production, which suggests that activities like snuffle mats are great for helping anxious dogs relax. The Nosework Training Mat heightens the challenge by combining a snuffle mat with various flaps and pockets, plus a tunnel with a squeaky toy inside. We love this mat for mealtimes, and it’s also great for keeping dogs quiet during phone calls and Zoom meetings.

  • Provides mental stimulation
  • Prevents gulping at mealtimes
  • Machine washable

  • Some dogs may rip fabric pieces to access food
  • Torn pieces can pose a choking hazard
Silent Squeaker
Hear Doggy! Silent Squeak Crazy Hairs Hedgehog Plush Dog Toy, Large, with Chew Guard Technology
Hear Doggy amazon.com
$24.27

Key Specs

  • Dog Size: All sizes
  • Chew Rating: Heavy duty
  • Washable: Machine 

Hear Doggy! toys have a silent squeak. An ultrasonic squeaker is tuned to a 24-28 kHz frequency—out of human hearing range yet just as alluring to the canine ear as any other squeaky toy. Though it contains stuffing, which can pose a choking hazard if the toy is broken, this toy's extra-durable reinforced seams prevent ripping under rough play. The “Chew Guard” technology consists of a tough interior lining to help keep stuffing inside. While my dogs perk up when I squeak their Hear Doggy! toy behind my back, some reviewers complained that their dogs don’t respond to it.

  • Stands strong even with destructive chewers

  • Some dogs do not seem to respond to the silent squeaker
Best for Separation Anxiety
Kong Extreme
KONG amazon.com
$17.73
$13.99 (21% off)

Key Specs

  • Dog Size: All sizes
  • Chew Rating: Heavy duty
  • Washable: Dishwasher-safe (top rack)

Kong food puzzle toys have been widely recommended by trainers, breeders, veterinarians, and other pet professionals for over 40 years. The hollow, snowman-shaped rubber cone stands up to heavy chewing, but it’s most famously used as a simple food puzzle. Stuff the wide end with food or treats to keep your dog busy for anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. For a longer-lasting challenge, freeze a filled Kong for a few hours. While happily snacking on the contents of their Kong, dogs show fewer signs of separation anxiety and adjust more easily to potentially stressful situations like travel and vet visits.

  • Can last for years
  • Safe for use while dog is unattended
  • Works with any moist food or treat
  • Dishwasher safe

  • Can be difficult to clean
Best Frisbee
West Paw Zogoflex Zisc Dog Frisbee
WEST PAW amazon.com
$12.95

Key Specs

  • Dog Size: All sizes
  • Chew Rating: Average
  • Washable: Dishwasher-safe (top rack) 

While you can find frisbees in sporting goods stores and children’s toy shops, they’re not designed to be gentle enough on your dog’s mouth. To prevent cracked and worn-down teeth, always use a frisbee that’s made for dogs. The Zisc from West Paw is made of Zogoflex, a flexible, durable material that stands up to light chewing—and comes in two sizes. Some reviewers complained that their dogs destroyed their Zisc in minutes, but others found it stood up to daily use for over a year. Fetch toys in general should be used with supervision, and dogs should not be allowed to chew them. Overall, this is a great beginner’s frisbee. For long-distance throws, you’ll want to upgrade to the disc dog competition standard frisbee from Hyperflite.

  • Stands up to normal use
  • Floats in water
  • Can double as food/water dish

  • Does not fly far
  • Thinner material on inside is prone to tearing
Best Budget Toy
Ethical Pet SPOT Skinneeez Stuffless Dog Toys
SPOT Ethical Products amazon.com
$9.87

Key Specs

  • Dog size: All sizes
  • Chew rating: Average
  • Washable: Machine

Skinneeez toys from Ethical Pet may look like nothing more than roadkill, but that’s precisely why dogs love them so much. The designs include: Chipmunk, Fox, Raccoon, Skunk, Squirrel, Hedgehog, Flying Squirrel, Spotted Deer, and Woolly Sheep. The lifelike colors and fuzzy textures engage your dog’s prey drive, and with their stuffing-less construction, they’re safer for dogs who love to “kill” their plush toys. However, they do have two built-in squeakers (in the head and tail), which can pose a choking hazard if your dog manages to rip them out of the toy.

  • No stuffing explosion when broken
  • Great for snuggling

  • Squeakers are a choking hazard
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