When your canine companion needs some new toys, look no further than our guide to the best dog toys you can buy in 2023
Almost all dogs are naturally playful and inquisitive, and although it might not seem like the most important purchase you can make, investing in the best dog toys will keep them happy, occupied – and distracted from chewing something you actually care about.
Most dogs have natural instincts for a number of behaviours including running, chasing, catching, fetching, chewing and tugging.
If you’ve only just got a puppy, you’ve probably already discovered just how much they like to get their little pointy teeth around something. That said, even older dogs enjoy a good chew on something rugged and tough – and without a high-quality toy to munch on, you might find them gravitating towards shoes, table legs or something else you’d prefer they ignore.
Now, it’s fair to say that it’s not difficult to find dog toys, with the average pet store or even supermarket having an abundance. But, if you’ve got a specific need or want the best of the best, then the toys in our guide are all great buys for different purposes. Often, it’s worth investing in a slightly more expensive toy that will last longer than repeatedly buying cheap toys that don’t stay the distance.
Here are our recommendations of the best dog toys you can buy to suit a variety of budgets
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Best dog toys: At a glance
- The ultimate tug and fetch toy: Happy Pet Grubber | £10
- The nearly indestructible fetch and chew toy: Kong Extreme | £13
- The chunky chew toy with added flavour: Nylabone Extreme Chew Wishbone | £10
- The super-powered squeaky ball: Planet Dog Orbee Tuff-Squeak | £13
- The best way to throw and play fetch: Chuckit! Ultra Grip Ball Launcher | From £13
- The best fetch toy that won’t wreck the home: ChuckIt! Indoor Ball | £11
- The best tug-of-war toy: Happy Pets Nuts for Knots Extreme Two-Knot Tugger | £15
- The best interactive hide-and-seek toy: Outwards Hounds Hide a Squirrel Plush Toy | £12
How to choose the best toy for your dog
When choosing a dog toy, you need to keep three things in mind.
First, it needs to be safe. Materials with sharp edges or small parts that might break off and be ingested are obvious no-nos. Likewise, soft toys designed for children: eyes could pull off and disappear down doggy’s windpipe or the stitching could come apart to expose a mass of choking-hazard fluff.
Second, it needs to be durable. Many cheap dog toys won’t survive ten minutes with a determined pooch, and there’s no point wasting money on a toy that’s in tatters by the end of the day. Look for toys made from tough materials such as rubber, and avoid anything that feels light and tearable – it just won’t last.
Finally, dog toys need to be fun. This doesn’t necessarily mean fun for you – dogs don’t really care about Star Wars – but something that appeals to their natural impulses to catch, chew, chase things around and play tug of war. It may be hard to predict exactly which toy will appeal most to your particular pooch, but if you stick to classic toys for throwing, stretching and chomping on, you’re unlikely to go too far wrong.
What about toys that dispense treats?
Some dog toys include a way of incorporating treats so that the dog can shake or throw the toy around to release a tasty snack. This has its pluses – it can get the dog started with a new toy and make them work a little for their treats – but be careful that you don’t end up over-treating your dog and that the treats themselves aren’t unhealthy.
How do I keep dog toys clean?
All dog toys need to be kept clean, not least because they can otherwise quickly get repulsive. Some are dishwasher-safe, although you might prefer not to put a slimy, much-chewed toy in with your cutlery and crockery. If something can be rinsed, scrubbed and dried, that’s usually enough.
Will I regret buying a squeaky toy?
Some dogs love a noisy squeezy toy, but be warned: there’s nothing like constant squeaking to make you think twice about your purchasing decision. You may have to hide it away to get a quiet afternoon. Squeaks can also wear out or come out of the toy, although some now come with a replaceable squeak.
Is there anything else I need to think about?
One final word of advice. Dogs can get obsessive about a certain toy and even grow aggressive when they want to protect it – what animal behaviourists call “resource guarding”. There are good ways to get past this, mostly involving ensuring your dog regards your approach as a good thing and never a threat. Yanking the beloved toy away will only show them that they’re right to guard it!
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The best dog toys to buy in 2023
1. Happy Pet Grubber: The ultimate tug and fetch toy
Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon
Happy Pet’s Grubber range contains a number of lovable, tuggable fetch toys, and this rugby-ball-shaped effort is our favourite. Dogs will love the tough, super-chewable bars and unpredictable bounce, and it’s as good for the odd tug-of-war match as it is for playing fetch. Plus, while they’re chomping, the knobbly design helps clean their teeth and massage their gums.
Key specs – Type: Heavy-duty rubber rugby ball; Sizes: One, Colours: One; Dimensions: 250 x 130 x 130mm
2. Kong Extreme: The nearly indestructible fetch and chew toy
Price: From £13 | Buy now from Pets at Home
Dog owners have been buying Kong toys for years. They’re tough enough to go the distance, good to throw and they bounce in a fun, unpredictable fashion. Better yet, while the toymakers at Kong have said that no dog toy is truly indestructible, even the basic Kong Classic comes pretty close. The Kong Extreme, though, takes that toughness up another level, using Kong’s strongest natural rubber formula to handle even the roughest “power chewer”. Young pups and older hounds might want the softer senior and puppy Kongs, but this is the toy that keeps on going – until your canine chum is fully tuckered out.
Key specs – Type: Heavy-duty rubber throw toy; Sizes: Five; Colours: One; Dimensions: 76 x 44 x 44mm to 152 x 99 x 99
3. Nylabone Extreme Chew Wishbone: The chunky chew toy with added flavour
Price: £6 (S), £10 (L) | Buy now from Amazon
Just about every dog loves a good bone, but not every owner loves the mess or the smell. Enter Nylabone’s artificial efforts. Made from super-tough, durable nylon, they’re not going to go down without a good few months of fighting, and the Wishbone’s paw-friendly shape and textured ends make it extra fun to chew. They will also help keep teeth clean and dog’s breath fresh (within limits), while this particular model has a beefy bison flavour (not that we were keen to try this out). With small and large versions to cover different breeds, this is one hugely satisfying chew toy.
Key specs – Type: Rugged nylon chew toy; Sizes: Two; Colours: One; Dimensions: 122 x 105 x 40mm to 155 x 125 x 45mm
4. Planet Dog Orbee Tuff-Squeak: The super-powered squeaky ball
Price: From £16 | Buy now from Amazon
Love your dog more than your ears or your sanity? We have got the squeaky ball for you. This Planet Dog toy is built from super-tough thermoplastic rubber, so it should last through months of vigorous chewing. It also floats and has a slightly unpredictable bounce, so it’s good both on the land and in the water. Most importantly, where other squeaky balls seem to lose their squeak after a few days, owners report that this one keeps on going. We’re not 100% sure that this is a good thing, but your dog will disagree.
Key specs – Type: 3in rubber ball with a built-in squeak; Sizes: One; Colours: Two; Dimensions: 3in diameter
5. Chuckit Ultra Grip Ball Launcher: The best way to throw and play fetch
Price: From £13 | Buy now from Amazon
Ball launchers are ten a penny, but this Chuckit version gives you lots of range and a comfortable rubber grip. The manufacturer claims it can throw balls up to three or four times further than a standard tennis ball launcher, and the cup can easily pick up the ball, leaving your hands free of slobber. It comes in three different sizes, each with a different sized ball, and it’s worth checking which is safe for your dog before splashing out. Whichever size you choose, you can take your pick of the three types of Chuckit balls, which gives you the option of the robust Ultra ball, the Whistler ball, or the Max Glow ball that’s a bit harder to lose during evening walks.
Key specs – Type: 26in plastic ball launcher with rubber grip; Sizes: Three; Colours: One; Dimensions: 660 x 76 x 76mm
6. ChuckIt Indoor Ball: The best fetch toy that won’t wreck the home
Price: £11 | Buy now from Amazon
Let’s face it: dogs, kids and even the odd responsible adult want to carry on the fun indoors, but hard rubber toys and breakables don’t mix. That’s where the ChuckIt Indoor Ball comes in. It’s a lightweight plush ball with a nice woolly fabric exterior – at least until it’s soaked in dog saliva – and it’s just about heavy enough to make it throwable, but not so heavy that it can do much damage. The only downside is that it’s not as robust as a hard rubber ball, and might not last long if you’ve got a heavy chewer.
Key specs – Type: 4.7in fabric ball; Sizes: One; Colours: One; Dimensions: 4.7in diameter
7. Happy Pets Nuts for Knots Extreme Two-Knot Tugger: The best tug-of-war toy
Price: From £15 | Buy now from Amazon
Rope toys can help keep your dog’s teeth in good condition while also giving jaws a good workout – and if your dog loves to tug, you will be happier with them doing it with this than with a blanket, T-shirt or curtains. This extreme two-knot tugger lives up to its billing, with a hefty length of rope and two chunky knots, all built to withstand a real mauling. The sheer size and weight mean it’s not such a great toy for smaller dogs, and those knots can be a slobber magnet, but if you’ve got a monster hound with a mind for tugging, this rope toy should last and last.
Key specs – Type: Rope chew and pull toy; Sizes: One; Colours: One; Dimensions: 125 x 125 x 800mm
8. Outwards Hounds Hide a Squirrel Plush Toy: The best interactive hide-and-seek toy
Price: From £12 | Buy now from Amazon
Dogs love a game as much as anyone else, and this cheeky squirrel plush toy makes for a great turn of fluffy-tailed rodent hide and seek. You can stuff the squirrels in their fluffy tree stump and watch as your playful pet tries to pull them out, keep putting them back in to confuse them or even throw the cute critters around. Those furry tails might not last as long as the more robust trunk, but this plush toy is sturdier than you might expect. Available in four different sizes, it’s a hit with inquisitive dogs of a whole range of shapes and sizes.
Key specs – Type: Plush sneaky, squeaky squirrel interactive toy; Sizes: Four; Colours: One; Dimensions: 114 x 114 x 114mm (junior), 159 x 159 x 159mm (large), 197 x 197 x 197mm (jumbo), 190 x 203 x 330mm (ginormous)
9. All For Paws: Hyperfetch Ultimate Throwing Toy Interactive Automatic Ball Launcher: the best high-tech toy
Price: £150 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’ve got a dog whose obsession for chasing balls can’t possibly be matched by your propensity for throwing them, then an automatic ball launcher could be just what you need.
Although not cheap, think of the hours you will save relentlessly picking up, throwing and retrieving balls. That’s something money just can’t buy.
The All For Paws Interactive Ball Launcher is an automatic machine that can be used solely by the dog, or with you as well. Clever dogs will soon learn to return the ball to the machine, which can then launch it ten, 25 or 40 feet (selectable).
Bundled with three balls, it’s recommended that you only use the balls that are supplied with the machine for best performance – and of course, being a ball-launching machine, it’s best used in the garden or very large space without any breakables.
Key specs – Type: Automatic ball launcher; Sizes: One; Colours: White; Dimensions: 37 x 37 x 34cm
10. Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Dog Twister Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy: Best dog toy for the easily bored
Price: £19 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’ve got a dog that’s easily distracted or bored, why not challenge it with a toy that requires a solid level of problem-solving?
With toys like this, you can hide treats in a variety of places, with your dog having to figure out how to free them by carrying out a number of sequential steps. For highly intelligent dogs, it can keep them occupied for far longer than the average toy.
Treats are placed beneath the triangular block compartments and locked into place. The dog needs to lift tabs in a specific order to get the treats out. It might take them some time to figure it out the first time, so it’s worth helping them out at first so they don’t lose interest. After a while, they should get the hang of it, but it’s a good test of their memory and problem-solving skills if they keep going back to it.
The Twister Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy has no removable parts and is easy to clean, so it’s nice and safe for your pup. As this is one that you use with food, it’s recommended that you clean it in between each use – but a wipe down should be more than enough to keep it fresh.
Key Specs – Type: Interactive Puzzle; Sizes: One; Colours: One; Dimensions: 30 x 30 x 4cm