Finding the Best Dog Toys (Indestructible Dog Toys — Really?)

If a dog toy’s lifespan can outlast 100 play sessions, then that might just be a toy worth replacing when it finally does bite the dust.

KONG toys are great for puppies. By: xxxxxxxxxx
Kong toys are the ideal solution for puppies and aggressive chewers. By: oakleyoriginals

How indestructible a dog toy is depends on the dog who’s playing with it. In the end, every toy can be destroyed by the most patient and overzealous canine.

In other words, there’s really no such thing as an “indestructible” toy. However, if a toy’s lifespan can outlast 100 play sessions, then that might just be a toy worth replacing when it finally does bite the dust.

Fabric and Plush Toys

Does this sound familiar? You buy your wiggling girl a new plush toy, pull off the tags, hand it over and — boom! — 20 seconds later, your living room looks like a pillow exploded. And that new plush toy is just another mess to clean up.

Plush toys are popular because they’re easier for dogs to grab and play with than their rigid rubber counterparts. Extending the life of a plush toy can be tricky.

If you’re tired of plushies lasting less than a minute in your home, try these options:

1. Unstuffed Toys

Sometimes it seems that the allure of removing the stuffing is all that makes our fanatic pups so destructive. Plush toys without stuffing allow Sparky to shake and toss a soft toy without the urge to disembowel it.

2. Rope Toys

These have the potential to greatly outlast stuffed toys. Rope toys are tightly braided and knotted, meaning your dog is going to be able to chew through it eventually — but chances are, she’s going to tire out a couple times before destroying it.

The drawback? During your dog’s life, rope toys will leave little strings all over your floors, which means cleaning after each playtime.

3. Extra Durable Stuffed Toys

Some plush toys were created specifically for the overzealous dog and are meant to withstand rigorous abuse. Tuffy brand toys (affiliate link) are made with layers of plastic and luggage material beneath the soft exterior to extend the toy’s life. Other brands have created synthetic canvas materials that are more difficult to rip and puncture.

Although not as soft as traditional stuffed toys, they might be exactly what your pooch needs.

Rubber and Nylon Toys

More durable and less messy than stuffed dog toys, rubber and nylon toys can be the ideal solution for an aggressive chewer. Although these toys are usually rigid and better for chewing than tossing around and playing, the heavy-duty rubber can withstand a lot and may have the longest life span of Spike’s toys.

If you find that your dog doesn’t like trying a hard toy, you may consider one that is part fabric and part rubber, such as the Kong Wubbas. Or you can begin with softer rubber toys that are easy to toss and shake, then work your way toward the heavier products.

When you’re shopping for durable rubber and nylon toys, look for these well-known brands:

  • Kong
  • Nylabone
  • Multipet
  • JW
Rope toys are stronger but leave behind strings. By: ralph and jenny
Rope toys are strong but may leave behind strings. By: ralph and jenny

Homemade Toys

Let’s face it: Dog toys aren’t cheap. And that cost only gets more frustrating when the toys don’t last more than an hour. In many cases, the more durable the toy, the more expensive it becomes. So what do you do to keep Patches busy between buying those super-tough toys?

One option is to make your own toys. Don’t go dusting off the sewing machine. All you need is some old clothes that you don’t want any more:

  • T-shirts
  • Jeans
  • Jackets
  • Sweatshirts
  • Tube socks

First things first. Remove buttons, zippers, drawstrings, etc. You want heavy fabric, and that’s it. Now, take a couple of pieces and tie them into big, tight knots. If you can, attach multiple pieces so that you have a floppy toy with lots of really tight knots. And that’s it!

It won’t be indestructible but will last a while, especially if you were able to tie many tight knots and had multiple shirts (or whatever clothing) to include. What makes these homemade toys the best, though, is that they’re free.

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Leroy loves his pink dog bone toy. By: Jennifer Costello
Leroy loves his pink dog bone toy. By: Jennifer Costello/Petful

6 Tips for Finding the Right Toy for Your Dog

Buying a special toy for a dog isn’t as easy as it sounds.

With hundreds of options and dogs that play with toys in different ways, how are we supposed to know what toy is best for our particular dog?

Don’t worry, here are a few simple tips:

1. No Dog Toy Is Indestructible

As we said earlier, some dog toys can be more durable than others — we’re looking at you, Kong.

But be honest with yourself and your dog — if there’s a will, there’s a way. So look for toys that are graded on a destructible scale.

Most of the toys are graded from 1 to 10, 10 being the toughest. A brand called Tuffy Toys has a Mega line of products that are said to be a 10.

Read the labels and find out why they are tough. Double-stitched? Stitched on the inside rather than on the outside? What type of material are they made out of?

2. Check for a Guarantee

Some toys come with a guarantee for a short period of time, such as 30 days. If your dog destroys it, you can take it back and exchange it for another toy. Obviously, you don’t want to get the same toy.

A few products may even come with a lifetime guarantee.

3. Know Your Dog

If your dog isn’t rough with toys, then chances are most toys will work great. However, if you have a dog that goes to town on toys and has a tendency to de-stuff anything, don’t get a stuffed toy. It’s common sense. And don’t get a plush toy with a squeaker.

4. Supervise

No dog should be left unsupervised with a dog toy. So many people buy a toy, give it to their dog, then walk away for hours and later get upset when they come back and find the dog has killed the toy.

A dog toy is not a dog sitter. It’s a toy to be played with.

Remember this:

  • Tug toys are made to be tugged on.
  • Balls are made to be thrown.
  • Squeaky toys are made to be squeaked and tossed around.

None are not made to be chewed on by a bored dog for hours. There are other, safer ways to keep your dog occupied when you can’t be there.

5. Buy Appropriately

If you have a small dog, get a toy that is made for small dogs. A big toy can be intimidating for a small dog, and you just wasted your money.

The same logic goes for large dogs. Small toys given to large dogs can easily be swallowed and lead to choking or intestinal blockage, so make sure the toys you are buying are sized correctly for your dog.

6. You Get What You Pay For

You’ve heard that expression, right?

You don’t want to spend a lot of money on a dog toy, so you buy the cheapest one you can find — and it’s dead within seconds. A $2 dog toy is $2 for a reason. It’s made cheaply, so don’t expect it to last long.

* * *

Jennifer Costello contributed to this article.

Allison Gray

View posts by Allison Gray
Allison Gray gained a wealth of knowledge about animal welfare issues and responsible pet care during her nearly 5 years of work for an animal shelter. She is a writer, photographer, artist, runner and tattooed remedial knitter. Allison also has been researching, testing out and perfecting nutritious pet treat recipes in her kitchen for Petful since spring 2017.

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