No matter what kind of dog you have, you’ll certainly want to have a few good chew toys on hand. Chew toys not only keep your dog entertained, they give him a constructive way to exercise his natural chewing instincts.
If you don’t give your dog a proper chew toy, he’ll likely find something that suits his purposes on his own. If you’re lucky, he’ll only take out his chewing frustrations on something inexpensive, rather than you brand new shoes. But as experienced dog owners will tell you, they never seem to chew on cheap things, unless they are exceptionally messy.
Below, we’ll talk a little about what makes a dog toy indestructible (or nearly so), which dogs need them and how to ensure your dog remains safe while enjoying his plastic plaything. Then, we’ll provide recommendations for five of the most indestructible toys currently on the market.
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It’s really quite impressive to watch a dog happily destroy some poor innocent item while gleefully wagging his tail. Dogs not only have very strong jaws and rock-hard teeth, they are skilled with these tools and smart about how they use them.
Dogs destroy some things via brute force, simply crushing down on whatever unfortunate item happens to be between their teeth (especially the back teeth, where they can employ the most leverage).
But they’ll systematically pull apart other items piece by piece, or thread-by-thread in the case of rope toys. They’ll even use their mouth to manipulate the things they’re chewing. For example, some dogs are quite adept at twisting plastic bottle tops off.
Taking these factors into consideration, it becomes apparent that durable dog toys must share two traits:
As explained by veterinarian Greg Magnusson of Leo’s Pet Care, toys should be hard enough that your dog cannot bite off pieces, and yet soft enough to be dented with your thumbnail. This rules out things like antlers and bones, which are far too hard; as well as tennis balls, which most dogs can easily tear them to pieces. Tennis balls make great fetch toys, but they shouldn’t be used as chew toys.
Because dogs will quickly figure out the weak point in any chew toy, you want to use a chew toy that is essentially uniform in shape. For example, your dog won’t find a weak-point on a stick-, bone- or ring-shaped toy no matter where they chew it.
By contrast, some of the chew toys designed to clean your dog’s teeth feature small tabs or prongs, that a power-chewer can easily bite off and swallow. Because dogs often attack the ends of their toy with particular passion, bones and rings are two of the best chew toy shapes – bones have reinforced ends, and ring-shaped toys don’t have ends at all.
Be aware that no toy is truly indestructible. Even if you find a toy that keeps your dog happy and holds up for years, there’s certainly a dog out there somewhere, who just destroyed the same toy in a matter of minutes. But some are much, much more likely to hold up than others are (don’t worry, we’ll point out a few in a moment).
Chew toys are important for virtually all breeds; including the tiniest Chihuahuas and the most gentlemanly Boston terriers. But some dogs are harder on their toys than others are, and benefit from the toughest, most durable toys you can possibly find. This includes large breeds, those with exceptionally strong jaws and those for whom chewing is an Olympic-caliber event.
For our purposes, we’ll say that large breeds include anything over about 75 pounds, so German shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, most retrievers, Great Danes, Cane Corsos and comparably sized mixed-breed dogs should always get durable chew toys.
Additionally, you’ll need armor-plated toys for English bulldogs, American Staffordshire terriers and pit bulls, whose strong jaws help make up for their slightly smaller size. As for those who chew until they’ve either fallen asleep or completely destroyed the item, there are two breeds that come to mind: bull terriers and boxers.
There are plenty of other breeds and mixed breed dogs that require strong chewing toys; but if you have just adopted a puppy from one of these mentioned breeds, you should just go ahead and assume your little gnawer will need heavy-duty chew toys.
No matter which kind of chew toy you select, it is important to keep your dog safe while gnawing. Keep the following tips in mind to minimize the chances of an unplanned trip to the vet.
In an ideal world, you’d never leave a dog alone with a chew toy. But it’s sometimes hard to avoid, especially if you are away from the house for long periods of time. Nevertheless, it is absolutely essential that you select and thoroughly “test” the toys to be used when you’re away, by letting your dog play with it in a few supervised sessions before assuming it’s safe for unsupervised use.
If your dog can fit the entire toy in his mouth, the toy is too small. You’ll quickly learn what size suits your dog best, but if you are new to the chew toy game, you can start by measuring the length and width of your dog’s muzzle. Then use this information to help aid you in the selection process.
The vast majority of premium dog toys are made from relatively safe, non-toxic ingredients. Unfortunately, many dog toys do not identify the materials used in its construction, so this can be a tough nut to crack.
If you have any doubts about the safety of the toy you select, consult with your veterinarian who can provide an informed perspective. Generally speaking, you can decrease the chances of purchasing a toxic toy by sticking to those made by high-quality manufacturers, such as Kong and West Paw Design, among others.
Again, no chew toy is truly indestructible and you’ll need to test each one carefully before leaving it with your pet. However, the following five are among the best available choices.
Kong is famous for producing ridiculously strong chew toys, and most pet owners are at least familiar with the brand. However, for those champion chewers who are capable of destroying standard Kong Goodie Bones, the Extreme Goodie Bone is a great option.
It’s hard to beat a good old fashioned Kong, and their super tough Extreme Goodie Bones are ideal for power-chewing pups. In addition to being durable without being dangerously hard, you can stuff treats or tasty pastes into the ends, which adds further chewing pleasure for your dog.
Goughnuts toys are designed to stand up to the worst abuse your dog can dish out, while keeping him safe in the process. Goughnuts is so confident in their product that they offer a safety replacement guarantee – if your dog manages to break through the outer layer, exposing the red layer underneath, the company will send you a new one.
The Goughnuts Black 50 Dog Chew Ring is a great choice for owners who want to use their dog’s chew toy for playtime too. The built-in safety indicator will help provide peace of mind, while the safety guarantee will help you get great value for your dollar. Additionally, because they float, Goughnuts Chew Rings are a great choice for dogs that love to swim.
West Paw Design makes some great toys for dogs, and the Hurley is perhaps their best effort. Made from FDA-compliant materials, the Hurley is light enough to be used as a play toy and yet durable enough for most toothy terrors.
Owners who prefer to make environmentally friendly consumer choices will love the Hurley, thanks to its BPA-and-Phthalate-free construction. Most dogs appear to love working on a Hurley, and they are built in a great shape and with excellent materials. Additionally, like the Gouhnuts toy detailed above, the Hurley also floats, making it a great choice for dogs that like to play in and around the pool or lake.
Goughnuts makes another appearance on our list, thanks to their durability and built-in safety features. Like the Goughnuts Ring, the Maxx 50 Stick features a black outer layer and a red inner layer – should the red layer become visible, you simply take the toy from your dog and contact the manufacturer for a replacement.
If your dog has destroyed every other toy you’ve tried, make the Maxx 50 Stick your next choice. Approximately 20% stronger than the already-durable original Power Stick, this is one of the strongest options available anywhere. And despite its resiliency, it floats and works well as a play toy as well as a chew toy. This is the best choice for owners of power chewers, who don’t mind spending top dollar for maximum value.
The Planet Dog Orbee Ball is as tough as you’d expect of any product with “diamond plate” in its name. Because it has just the right amount of give and a subtly textured surface, dogs love how the Orbee Ball feels in their mouth.
The Orbee Ball is a safer option for dogs who love to chew on tennis balls, and it throws, bounces and floats just like a regular tennis ball does too. Most owners report that this product stood up to their pup’s jaws, and many loved using the ball for playtime too.
But aside from tennis-ball devotees, the Orbee Ball is perfect for value-minded owners: It is one of the more affordable toys we recommend and it is backed by a lifetime guarantee. However, you should use caution when using the Orbee Ball with Great Danes, Mastiffs and other really big dogs.
It can be tough to find a chew toy that will stand up to everything your dog can throw at it, but the five products above are some of the best options available. Look over each of the products carefully and try to make the best choice for you and your pup.
Have you happened upon an incredibly indestructible toy? Are you a Kong fan, or do you prefer the West Paw Design products? We’d also love to hear about any of the great chew toys out there that we may have missed.
Let us know about your chew toy stories, questions and comments below.