Picking Dog Toys that are Tough Enough can be a Challenge
Finding dog toys that can stand up to a couple of rowdy, toothy dogs can be difficult. Many toys that are advertised as tough, indestructible or durable fail to live up to the billing. Other toys that appear too flimsy to survive the chompers of our two mutts end up lasting a long time.
Why Bother with Dog Toys?
It is important for dogs to have a number of fun and distracting chew toys around. Chew toys serve several functions.
- Some types of chew toys can help keep your dog’s teeth clean and her breath fresh.
- Chew toys can help get a puppy through the uncomfortable teething stage.
- Chew toys can be very entertaining, giving your dog an excuse to run and tug and chase.
- And if you don’t want the legs on your dining chairs to sport teeth marks, you might want to keep a handful of chew toys around just to keep your furry friend amused.
How to Choose Tough Dog Toys
Some dogs are harder on dog toys than others. Our two young Lab mix dogs are about as rough on dog toys as any dogs can possibly be. When they play together with a toy, it is usually a fierce fight-to-the-death (of the toy, that is) game of tug o’ war.
When they play individually with any given chew toy, they both tend to fixate on finding a weak spot and tearing the toy to pieces. It simply does not occur to dogs to think of a toy as a keepsake, or as something too cute and expensive to demolish. For example, of the five toys we gave Frankie for Christmas, only one – a soft rubber football – survived to the end of the day.
So, through trial and error, we have learned a thing or two about choosing durable dog toys.
There are no Indestructible Dog Toys
The first rule to keep in mind is that there are no indestructible dog toys. No dog toy lasts forever, particularly if a dog actually plays with it. All toys wear out or come apart or break. That is why dogs should be carefully supervised while playing with any toy. Dog chew toys often come apart or fray during play. You don’t want your dog swallowing pieces of any dog toy because the pieces might not pass easily through his digestive tract. This applies to toys made from any material, natural or synthetic.
For Rough Customers, Dog Toys with Rounded Edges Fare Best
It has been our experience that dogs who tend to fixate on destroying a dog toy will focus on finding a weak spot in the material. For Frankie and Lucy, the weakest spots tend to be angled edges. This is especially true for rubber dog toys, whether they’re made of soft or hard rubber.
We bought Frankie a rubber dog toy shaped like the classic comedy prop, the rubber chicken. He loved it, carrying it everywhere around the house the night we brought it home. By the next morning, Frankie had relieved the poor rubber chicken of its beak. The beak was an angular appendage, so to speak. It gave him something to grab hold of and tug with his teeth. And it didn’t hold up very well.
For rubber dog toys, we have found that some of the most durable products are manufactured by JW Pet Company. Their toys are made from pliable, natural rubber, which tends to hold up better than hard rubber or plastic. The soft rubber football that survived Christmas is a product of the JW Pet Company. Their products are available all over the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and elsewhere.
A couple of caveats are in order, though. Many of the toys manufactured by JW Pet Company have squeakers inside. The squeakers do not seem to last very long at all. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, for the humans anyway.
The other caveat is that JW Pet Company does make several toys with angled edges. One example is the Ruffians Large Dog Toy™ shaped like an octopus. The little octopus arms provide a perfect weak spot for pulling the toy apart.
Aspen Pet Products makes the Dogzilla® line of rubber chew toys. These toys may or may not be very durable for dogs that are tough on their toys. For some reason, our dogs are just not very interested in these toys.
We have had mixed luck with Kong® products. The Classic Kong™ holds up quite well as a treat dispenser and chew toy. However, Frankie figured out very quickly how to best the Wubba™. All it takes is a few minutes of relentless chewing on the fabric covering the small ball on top, and that toy is destroyed.
Fabric Dog Toys
The rounded edges rule applies to fabric dog toys as well. We’ve had mixed luck with toys made by Fat Cats, Inc. Some of the stuffed animals have been known to last only 20 minutes before the fabric is ripped and the stuffing is everywhere. The tossing rings (e.g., Chuck-A-Duck™) are fine for playing fetch games with the dogs. But they won’t last long if the dogs are left to play with them on their own.
Rope Dog Toys
Rope toys are wonderful for cleaning and flossing a dog’s teeth. Some rope toys are treated with fluoride or baking soda to make them even more effective as a dental aid. Rope dog toys also provide hours of tugging fun for the dogs. Aspen Pet Products makes a spearmint flavored Fresh ‘N Floss™ rope toy for large dogs that is quite durable.
Trial and Error
Finding the right dog toy is a matter of experimentation. Our dogs are large and very rough on any kind of dog toy. Smaller dogs, or dogs that are less destructive with toys may do just fine with stuffed toys or toys with angled edges. Such toys do not stand a chance with our toothy beasts, though. And at an average of $15 to $20 per toy, the toys we buy need to last longer than a few hours or a few days.