Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Our dogs are not just pets, they are often family members or good friends. We want them to be well all round. It's not just fun to walk the dogs, it's good for us.

Not only do we get to walk our dogs, we also get to play with them. So that you and your dog can have a lot of fun playing and your dog can also play alone without destroying the furniture, there are special dog toys.

Depending on the size and type of your dog, different toys are suitable. Dogs often have a mind of their own, so let your dog try out different toys so you can find the right toy for your dog. Some toys are also suitable for training the dog.

In our big dog toy test 2021 we show you what types of dog toys there are and what you should look out for when buying them. We give you comprehensive background information on dog toys.

Contents




Summary

  • Every dog loves to play in between. But the owner is not always interesting enough. If you don't buy your own toys, your dog will grab things from nature on your walks.
  • To avoid this (branches in particular can cause damage in the mouth), we advise you to buy certified, durable toys to provide your dog with indoor and outdoor distraction.
  • Depending on the size and activity level of your pet, different gadgets may be appropriate, and your dog will show you what he likes if you let him try different things.

The Best Dog Toys: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying dog toys

Why should every dog have a certain selection of dog toys?

Whether puppy, senior, huge or tiny - four-legged friends have a strong play instinct that can only be compensated by playing together. Since a busy dog is a happy dog, you'd better get a box full of fun goodies right away.

Which dog toy is perfect for your roommate?

Generally speaking, anything goes when it comes to the fun factor.

Swimming, chewing, fetching, pulling, eating - the many different preferences come together in every dog's dream. So you should ideally put together something from several categories.

Hunde spielen mit Hundespielzeug

Not all dog toys are the same: make sure that the dog toys are bite-proof, unless you want your dog to decorate the living room with stuffed toys in the future. (Photo: congerdesign / pixabay.com)

What are the categories?

On this page we distinguish ten categories:

  • Throwing toys
  • Tug toys
  • Soft toys
  • Squeaky toys
  • Dog balls
  • Chew toys
  • Puppy toys
  • Water toys
  • Interactive toys
  • Kong

There should be something for everyone from this list. Throwing toys, water toys and dog balls are especially recommended for four-legged friends who have a great urge to move. If the dog is underchallenged, interactive games can be used.

Tug toys must be played in pairs, but bring you a little closer together. Specially made puppy toys are available for the little ones, and there are plenty of popular squeaky toys and soft toys. However, if you are looking for very high quality, the Kong category is the place to be.

Interactive toys, such as tunnels and adventure playgrounds, can be very helpful in puppy training.

Why does your four-legged friend need a litter toy at all?

Throwing toys can stimulate your pet's urge to move and make him listen to you better.

Dogs are looking for something to do and often end up with things that are not suitable for them. Good signs that your dog needs a new litter toy in his life are carrying objects around, such as shoes or socks. Furthermore, throwing toys are the best retrieving toys and are perfect for training your four-legged friend.

Which throwing toy suits your dog?

Small, large, rough (hairy), smooth - the toy is as unique as your dog.

To find the perfect toy for your dog, it is advisable to pay close attention to your dog's preferences and characteristics.

Do you have a St. Bernard, a Chihuahua or a Jack Russell? Should he train with it or is it just about the fun factor? Does it have to be easy to wash, very robust or even able to swim? Make sure you know in advance exactly what activities the toy needs to be suitable for.

What should you consider when buying a fetch toy for your pet?

Does your dog like to chew and sometimes destroy his toy? Then it is important that the throwing toy does not break apart again immediately.

Not every toy is suitable for your own four-legged friend. The size is also essential, as your dog must be able to hold it comfortably in its muzzle. If you want to use it in the water, please make sure that the toy is waterproof. Bouncing ability, flight characteristics and weight are other important criteria when hunting for the right gadget.

When buying a toy made of silicone, you should also make sure that it is BPA-free.

How do you make sure the products don't contain toxins like plasticisers?

Plasticisers are toxins that come off certain toys and get into your pet's mouth.

The inexpensive workmanship of some inexpensive toys can be noticeable pretty soon. So if you suspect that the outermost layer, and with it colouring and adhesives, will peel off easily, you should steer clear. Apart from checking the price and quality of the toy, you can also go straight for items that are labelled as plasticiser-free - eco toys made of natural materials, for example.

Why does your four-legged friend need a tug toy in the first place?

Tug toys increase the bond between you and your four-legged friend enormously, as he has to come into direct contact with you.

Many dogs have the urge to pull on something - so that one of your clothes doesn't suffer, you should urgently get a tug toy like a rope.

Which tug toy is perfect for your dog?

Playful, lazy, young, old - your dog's toys are as unique as your dog.

To find the perfect toy for your dog, it's important to consider your dog's characteristics and preferences.

Do you have a dachshund or a Newfoundland? Does it take a lot of strength to stand up to your pet? Make sure you know in advance which characteristics are important to you.

Hunde beim Speilen mit Zerrspielzeug

Rope toys are perfect if you have several dogs, because they are absolutely tear-proof and can be used by several dogs at the same time. They are also great for retrieving - as long as they are not too heavy. (Photo: 825545 / pixabay.com)

What should you look for when buying a toy for your pet?

Is your dog a little destroyer and likes to break his toys? Then robustness is probably the most important feature.

You should also check which materials and which size are most comfortable for your dog's snout, as you don't want to hurt him.

Which tug toy is the most suitable?

When it comes to the category of tug toys, there are several variants.

Ropes and ropes are the classic way to wrestle for power with your dog. Rings, however, can also be great fun to play with and if your dog loves balls, there is also the option of ropes.

How do you make sure the toys don't contain toxins?

Plasticisers are toxins that easily come off certain toys and are therefore extremely dangerous.

Inexpensive toys tend to be poorly made. This can lead quite quickly to the use of toxins and their rapid transfer to the dog. So caution is advised here. Apart from checking the price and quality of the toy, you can also go straight for plasticiser-free items. Eco toys made from natural materials are a good option here.

How much does a tug toy cost on average?

Prices vary greatly depending on the manufacturer, material, size and design.

The fun factor rarely suffers from the price, but better workmanship is reflected enormously in the price.

Quality costs! If you invest a little more, you can be sure of longer playing fun. The prices for tug toys range from €4 to €20, depending on the function and size.

Why does your four-legged friend need a soft toy at all?

Soft toys have many different functions, but the feel-good factor is one of the most important.

Whether they are used as a fetch toy or simply as a cuddle buddy, plush toys simply make your pet happy. Due to the absorbent material, some scents will linger on the toy, giving your dog a feeling of home even when out and about.

What things should you look for when buying a plush toy?

You think a plush toy for dogs is just a stuffed animal? Wrong!

Conventional stuffed animals are usually unsuitable for pets, as small parts, such as the eyes, can easily come loose. Another problem can be the filling, as it is not designed to land in a dog's mouth. Therefore, only designated toys are really recommended for dogs.

How much do soft toys cost on average?

When it comes to pricing, different manufacturers have different views.

Good toys are available at every price point, although higher priced plush toys last longer on average. Prices for plush toys vary between €2 and €20 depending on function and size.

Why do dogs love squeaky toys?

Squeakies, as they are sometimes called, are entertaining for the dog.

The four-legged friends have the feeling of having something alive in front of them and find this hunting game great. But be careful - this is exactly why they are demonised by many dog owners. If your dog has too strong a hunting instinct, or if he hasn't yet learned that squeaking from other dogs must be understood as a stop to play, this type of toy is not recommended.

Which squeaky toy suits your dog and what should you consider?

Not all squeaky toys are the same - so decide wisely depending on your dog's needs.

Do you have a Corgi or a King Poodle? Do you want the toy to survive outdoors or even in water? Do you prefer plastic or plush? Size, material and quality are important keywords. Make sure you know exactly what you want from your squeaky toy before you buy it.

What are the average costs for squeaky toys?

The large range of squeaky toys and the competition determine the pricing, which can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Smaller and thinner squeaky toys are available for as little as €3. However, if you are looking for a longer lifespan due to better workmanship, you can also go for the more expensive products - these can cost up to 35 €.

Why does your four-legged friend need a ball at all?

Dog balls can stimulate your pet's urge to move and keep him busy at the end of the day.

A ball is the perfect toy to play with in your absence and won't let boredom set in. So your couch is safe and won't get shredded for lack of activity. It is also perfect as a retrieval toy for training and can strengthen the bond between human and animal enormously.

Hund mit Ball

The play ball will quickly become your dog's favourite toy. They are available in all sizes and shapes. However, we do not recommend ordinary tennis balls, as they are harmful to your dog's teeth. (Photo: dennisflarsen / pixabay.com)

Which ball suits your dog?

Large, small, smooth, rough (hairy) - dogs come in many different shapes and sizes, and so do balls.

To find the perfect ball for your dog, it is advisable to pay close attention to your dog's preferences and characteristics.

Do you have a Great Dane, a Yorkshire Terrier or a Cocker Spaniel? Should he chew on it, catch it or take it outside? Does he have to be able to swim, fly well or even squeak? Or a ball with a string as a pull toy, perhaps? Make sure you know in advance exactly what your ball needs to be suitable for.

What should you consider when buying a ball for your pet?

Does your dog like to chew and sometimes destroy his toys? Then it is important that the ball can withstand the dog's sharp teeth and is robust enough.

Not all balls are the same and not all are suitable for four-legged friends. Did you know, for example, that tennis balls are not at all good for a dog's mouth? They contain dangerous chemicals.

The size is also important, as he should not swallow it, but must also be able to carry it comfortably back and forth in his muzzle. If you want to use it in water, please make sure that the dog ball floats or is more of a diving ball. Bounce, flight characteristics and weight are other important criteria when looking for the perfect toy.

How do you make sure the ball does not contain plasticisers?

Plasticisers are toxins that come off certain toys and should therefore be avoided.

Many cheap toys have a cheap finish. So if you suspect that the outermost layer, and with it the colouring and adhesives, will peel off easily, you should leave them alone. Apart from checking the price and quality of the toy, you can also go for balls that are labelled plasticiser-free. Eco dog balls made from natural materials are a good option here.

How much does a dog ball cost?

Prices vary depending on the manufacturer, material, size and design. In general, there are balls in every price segment that are suitable for your four-legged friend.

Even with a small budget, your dog can have great fun. However, be careful: higher workmanship is reflected in the price. If you invest a little more, you can be sure of longer playing fun. If you want a more playful ball with a crazy design, you will have to dig a little deeper into your pocket. In addition, for the environmentally conscious among you, there is also the option of ordering a dog ball made of ecological rubber. Prices for dog balls vary between €3 and €25 depending on function and size.

Why are Kongs so important?

A cone made of natural rubber with grooves. Doesn't sound very exciting, but it is!

The Kong is a toy that comes in many different sizes, designs and colours. It is very stable, can be filled with food and is considered to be the top toy to ensure your dog lasting fun.

What things do you need to consider when buying a Kong?

Do you want the classic with food function? Or should it be another special version?

As already mentioned, the classic Kong is a product made of natural rubber. However, in its variation, such as the Kong Wubba, it can also be wrapped in plush or various other materials. There are also other forms of this quality toy.

How much does a Kong cost?

Since Kongs come in different sizes and variations, there are various price quotations.

The original Kong ranges from 7 € to 20 €. However, there are some counterfeits on the market that are cheaper but do not live up to their promise.

Decision: What types of dog toys are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between four different types of dog toys:

  • Snack toy
  • Water toy
  • Fetch toy
  • Employment toy

Due to the different areas of application and the preference of the respective dog, a certain toy is best suited for your pet. This, and the fact that not every dog is the same, results in different advantages and disadvantages in use.

We would therefore like to introduce you to the different types in the following section and help you find out which toy is right for you and your dog. For this purpose, we will introduce you to the above-mentioned types in more detail and then clearly illustrate exactly what their advantages and disadvantages are.

How do you use a snack toy and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A snack toy is used to reward the dog after playing. These toys come in different shapes and materials. However, the purpose is always the same: with the help of the snack toy, your dog can keep himself busy without you having to be active yourself.

You should refill the toy regularly so that your dog doesn't find out that there is no snack waiting for him after playing.

Small dog snacks are placed in the openings and holes of the toy. Your dog then tries to get the snack out of the toy by chewing and thus has an ideal activity for in between. Intelligence toys are also a good alternative that serve the same purpose.

Advantages
  • Reward after play
Disadvantages
  • Can only be used with snack
  • Only suitable as a balance

How do you use a water toy and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A water toy is made to float on the surface of the water and use bright colours to attract the dog. The toy is perfect as an activity for in-between times when you are at the lake or sea with your dog.

A water toy can also be used for retrieving and as a self-occupation for the dog.

However, the water toy should only be used if it is really allowed. Some bathing areas do not allow throwing toys or pets. You can always check with the owner if you do not know the bathing rules.

Advantages
  • Can also be used for fetch
Disadvantages
  • Not allowed everywhere
  • Not suitable for every dog

How do you use a fetch toy and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A fetch toy is usually made of durable plastic or rubber and comes in different shapes. It is usually a ball, a Frisbee disc or a stick or rod that can be used as a training tool for your dog.

On command, after a little practice, your dog will bring you the toy after you have thrown it. The fetch toy is ideal for use in gardens, parks or on long walks with the dog. Your dog gets his daily exercise and gets out of breath faster.

Advantages
  • Always ready for use
Disadvantages
  • Must be trained
  • Not suitable for every dog

How do you use an activity toy and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

An activity toy is used in various forms made of different materials and with numerous additional functions. They are usually balls or plush toys that the dog can use as a self-occupation or sleeping aid. Some models also squeak when chewed.

Advantages
  • Dog keeps itself busy
Disadvantages
  • Breaks down more quickly
  • Not suitable for every dog

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate dog toys

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate dog toys. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable dog toy.

In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Material
  • Size / Diameter
  • Durability / Robustness

In the following, you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense for you to purchase a dog toy under these aspects or not.

Material

Look for quality and compatibility as well as seals of approval. You will also notice your dog's preferences when you present him with different toys.

In addition, the hardness of the material should be adapted to the age (size) of your pet. It is also helpful if the toy is made with as few parts as possible. Too many seams or glued joints will reduce the life span of the toy (more on this below).

Size / diameter

This factor is of course highly dependent on your dog's snout. Make sure that the size of the toy is adapted to this.

If it doesn't match, your pet may either break the toy quickly or lose the joy of it because he can't transport it well, chew on it. Toys that are not meant to be chewed or where small parts could fall off can be larger than the snout and are more likely to be played with by the paws.

Durability / Robustness

Always read customer reviews where it is described when the particular toy showed damage, ideally there are also photos of this.

In any case, adjust the robustness to your pet; larger and stronger dogs will naturally break toys that are too small and soft sooner. Robustness should therefore always increase the life span of the gadget.

Image source: unsplash.com / Marina Laduda

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