Most dogs love toys. They shake, catch, roll, chew, and cuddle with them. Toys also stimulate a dog’s brain, keep them from getting bored, help burn energy, and comfort them when they’re nervous.
But not every dog likes every kind of toy and not every toy can survive even a single play session with a determined pet. So we tested different types of toys with many different dogs, asking their owners to note the dog’s engagement, the toys’ durability, the overall value, and how easy they were for the dogs (and their humans) to play with.
During our testing we made special note of how dogs enjoyed toys compared to their other favorites, and how often a dog returned to play with the same toy.
Thanks to their combined testing efforts, our canine crew came up with the best dog toys. Here's what they picked.
West Paw Zogoflex Qwizl Dog Puzzle Treat Toy
Works as a chew, fetch, or treat toy
A little heavy for fetch (watch your toes!)
The twisty Qwizl can be played with in many ways. Dogs that liked movement had fun pushing it around and would fetch and gnaw on it when thrown. Teething puppies chewed on it and rolled it across the floor. The toy is very durable for aggressive chewers and also floats, if you like to take toys to the beach or the pool.
But the best part is that the Zogoflex Qwizl is built for long-lasting treats. There’s an opening that runs down the center with little openings along the middle and edges. It’s the perfect size for bully sticks, dental chews, carrots, or biscuits. Dogs that weren’t typically interested in this toy were smitten and engaged when it was stuffed with treats.
One of the best ways we found to keep dogs happy and entertained was by smearing peanut butter in the nooks and poking in some treats or kibble, then freezing the whole thing to make it last even longer. If anything is left behind, the Qwizl is easy to clean in the dishwasher.
Kong Cozie Marvin the Moose Plush Dog Toy
Lots of designs
Soft, yet durable
Aggressive chewers can de-stuff
Some dogs love plush toys so much, they will carry them around, cuddle them, and sleep with them. Others view them as a challenge, working diligently to rip out the stuffing and the squeaker. Kong Cozies are amazingly durable and fun for dedicated stuffed animal lovers. They are built relatively tough, are very soft, and have a hardworking squeaker.
All our dog testers loved this plush toy and worked diligently to find the squeaker. A few even carried it around like a pacifier, while a couple of puppies curled up and fell asleep with it. If you have a dog who lives to disembowel stuffed animals, they’ll probably find a way to destroy this one, too. But for cuddlers and squeakers, this is a great choice.
Cozies come in two sizes and a menagerie of 10 animals and colors including a moose, elephant, and sheep. They make a great security blanket for any size dog and are easy to throw in the washer when they get too slobbery.
Best Big Ball
Jolly Pets Tug-n-Toss Dog Toy
Available in four sizes
Handle for carrying or tossing
Handle can be chewed off easily
Jolly Pets balls are based on similar toys sold to keep horses entertained. They’re hollow plastic balls with handles that bounce, float, and roll unpredictably enough to keep your dog engaged. Herding dogs that like to chase and carry are especially likely to enjoy a Tug-n-Toss ball, such as border collies and Australian shepherds.
Several of our ball-obsessed dogs herded these toys around a yard during testing. Some of our testers became possessive of them, toting their Jolly Pets ball by the handle and chasing after them whenever it was tossed. While the handle is great for carrying and throwing, some dogs will chew them off. Still, the ball works great even without its handle.
Jolly Pets Tug-n-Toss toys come in four sizes, from small to extra-large, and they never pop, even when punctured by a rowdy dog having a ball with one.
Best for Fetch
Chuckit! Classic Ball Launcher
Hands-free ball pickup
Allows dog owners to throw farther
Comes in several sizes
Works with regular tennis balls
Included ball isn’t very durable
For dogs that like to fetch, the Chuckit! Classic Launcher should be a required toy. The long-handle lets you scoop the ball off the ground without having to bend down and pick up a slimy ball over and over again.
You whip the launcher forward over your shoulder and it releases the ball, tossing it up to three times further than a normal toss. The technique doesn’t take long to master and it’s been called a lifesaver by people whose dogs just can’t get enough of fetch. One owner of several tester dogs pointed out that the Chuckit! would save them from wear-and-tear on shoulders and rotator cuffs. Plus, their dogs loved it.
However, the Chuckit! isn't suited for all pet owner situations, as it requires a lot of space to get the best use out of the launcher. If you don't have a big backyard or regularly visit the park with your dog, then this launcher might be a little too much for playing fetch in closer quarters. It's very easy to launch the included ball over a fence or into the street.
Each launcher comes with a Chuckit! branded orange ball. It's not very durable, but the launcher also works with normal tennis balls (and other hard rubber dog balls), so it doesn't suddenly become useless should you lose the included ball.
The Chuckit! Classic Launcher comes in several sizes, and even a folding variety.
Best Silent Toy
Hear Doggy Silent Squeaker Dog Toy
Dogs seemed very interested in the sound
Doesn’t look as durable as some soft toys
This plush giraffe toy is a little disconcerting. You press the squeaker and hear nothing, but your dog gets all excited. The silent squeaker is a great solution for dogs that insist on squeaking when you’re on calls or trying to sleep in.
The Hear Doggy Silent Squeaker advertises “chew guard technology,” which means reinforced seams and a durable lining. However, its construction didn't impress some of our testers. That said, no member of our canine testing team ripped one apart. We anticipate it standing up to moderately rough play, though it seems likely that a determined chewer will get through it.
The real appeal of the Hear Doggy Silent Squeaker is that silent squeaker, which was a fun novelty for both our human and dog testers. When the toy was squeaked out of sight, tester dogs went bonkers looking for it. They were less interested in Hear Doggy Silent Squeaker as a chew toy; the novelty of the silent squeaker was more than enough to engage every dog who heard it.
There are six different Hear Doggy Silent Squeaker Dog Toy animals available, including an alligator, cow, chicken, pig, giraffe, and elephant.
Best for Chewers
Benebone Bacon Flavor Wishbone Tough Dog Chew Toy
Several shapes and sizes
Softer version for puppies
Aggressive chewers can wear them down relatively quickly
These heavy nylon chew bones are great for dogs who love to work their jaws. The wishbone shape helps dogs grip them easily with their paws. The bite marks left behind by our testers indicate that some dogs were chewing at the knobby ends so thoroughly, they were likely using their rear back teeth, too. The Benebone chew toys were so great for chewing, it even enthralled two dog testers who didn't typically prefer chew toys.
While all of our dog testers went to town on the Benebone Wishbone chew toys, some sizes were difficult for tiny dogs to maneuver around. However, there are four different sizes available (a fifth "Tiny" size is manufactured, but wasn't available from the retailers we looked at), plus the smaller versions felt slightly softer. These were perfect for puppy testers.
While it's normal for tiny flecks of the nylon bone to come off, bigger chunks are a good indication that you should either try a larger version or a different toy entirely.
Benebone's Wishbone Tough Dog Chew Toy comes in three flavors, including bacon, chicken, and peanut butter.
Spot Skinneeez Forest Series Fox Stuffing-Free Squeaky Plush Dog Toy
Floppy and great for fetch
Short lifespan for determined dogs
Every dog that tested the Skinneeez stuffing-free toy was obsessed. They whipped it around, hurled it, shook it mightily, and carried the flattened fox with them wherever they went. While the squeaker in the Skinneeez is adequate, dogs seemed to enjoy its limp form more, since it's both easy to carry and shake. Our testers treated it like a prize catch (even if it does look a lot like roadkill).
Spot's Forest Series plush toys comes in 14-inch and 23-inch sizes, with versions that look like foxes, squirrels, and raccoons. Our testers played with the smaller-sized fox, which was perfect for smaller dogs. Opt for the larger size if your dog is over 20 pounds or so.
Of course, all that enthusiasm means that the tested Skinneeez was constantly soggy with slobbery, and it didn't seem especially durable to our testers. But since the toy doesn't have any stuffing, there's no interior fill to worry about it, and you only risk having to buy a new one after your dog tears it apart. This seemed like a worthwhile trade-off to our testers since their dogs loved it so much.
Outward Hound Invincibles Snakes
Lots of squeakers that keep making noise, even if popped
Durable fabric and seams
Colorful and cute shapes
Ginormous size can be overwhelming for small dogs
Squeakers can be loud (dogs love this!)
The Outward Hound Invincibles Snake is joyously loud and sure to be a favorite of any dog who likes squeaker toys. Unlike most squeakers, which have a single noisemaker, each segment of this toy has its own squeaker. It will even keep making noise even if your dog manages to puncture it.
The Outward Hound squeaker toy is made from two layers of fuzzy, tough fabric, with reinforced double seams, making this a durable pick. Most dogs would have to work very hard to tear apart the Invincibles Snake. Thankfully, there's no stuffing to make a mess if they do manage it.
These come in 3-squeak, 6-squeak, and 12-squeak (ginormous) sizes. There are also other critters and shapes.
We tested a ginormous snake, which was too big for many of our dogs to actually drag or whip around. Instead, they seemed content making the squeakers squeal over and over. The puppies also liked teething on the outer seams, producing a little wear and tear after a few days of use.
Best for Smart Dogs
Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Squeaky Puzzle Plush Dog Toy
Brain game plus squeakies
Comes in four sizes
Not durable for chewing
This toy combines the challenge of a puzzle game with lots of little squeaking stuffed animals. In order to get to the squirrels, your dog has to pull them out of the holes in a stuffed tree. This combines the fun of a puzzle toy, plus enough little plush creatures for endless squeaking and chewing.
Our test dogs interacted with the Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel in wildly different ways, demonstrating its versatility. One of our testers was obsessed with removing each squirrel from its hiding place, only playing with the stuffed animals after every last one was pulled from the stump. Another dog just carried the whole tree around with them. A third tester was content to gnaw on a single squirrel plush, instead of bothering with the whole group.
As far as plush chew toys go, these squirrels aren't the most durable. But most dogs enjoyed interactions beyond chewing, such as engaging with the "puzzle game" aspect of the toy.
The Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel is available in four sizes, with each providing different play configurations. For example, the "Junior" size is a short stump with three plush squirrels, while "Ginormous" is 17 inches tall and comes with six squirrels.
Fable The Game
Adjustable opening for food
Holds more than 1.5 cups of kibble
Heavy on hard floors
The Game, from pet product manufacturer Fable, is a treat and kibble dispenser with a solid bottom that rocks back and forth as your dog nudges it with a nose or a paw. Several of our test dogs had used these types of toys before and immediately went to work, pushing and pawing at The Game as it wobbled across the floor.
You can vary the size of the opening where the treats pop out to make it easier or harder based on the size of the food. It significantly slowed down how long it took each of the dogs to eat their meals. One tester puppy had never tried a dispensing toy before, but was soon mesmerized after a few minutes of practice with the Fable toy.
The Game has a very heavy base that helps keep it upright. However, it can be loud when placed on non-carpeted floors. It also required a little more active oversight than you might suspect, since our tester dogs immediately started chewing on the Fable toy once it stopped dispensing food. While this didn't damage its operation, it did leave behind some deep scratches on The Game's surface.
The Game can hold up to 1.5 cups of dry food, making it suitable for snacking or whole meals.
The twisty West Paw Qwizl (view at Chewy) is our favorite, and Best Overall Dog Toy, because it encourages many types of physical play by rolling, bouncing, and enticing with treats. Our dog testers found it irresistible. For something more plush (and if you're willing to put up with a squeaker), try out the Kong Cozie (view at Chewy). The Cozie is both soft enough for cuddling and durable enough for chewing.
What to Look For in a Dog Toy
Even a dog that loves squeaky toys or balls isn’t impressed with every one of them. Some toys will hold your pup’s attention for just a short time while others will quickly become a favorite. It’s hard to predict what your dog will like, but one trick is to rotate toys so that your dog doesn’t get bored. Put away a favorite toy or two then tuck it back into the toy box as a surprise for your dog to find.
No matter how much your dog likes a toy, it’s no good if it gets shredded, chewed up, or broken quickly. That makes it no fun and potentially unsafe. If it’s a stuffed toy, look for reinforced seams and durable material. The Humane Society of the United States suggests examining toys and removing any strings, ribbons, eyes, or other parts that could be chewed off and swallowed. Repair or discard toys when they tear or break.
Choose toys that are appropriate for the size of your dog. Toys that are too small can become trapped in your dog’s throat or even swallowed. Toys that are too big can be frustrating for puppies.
Ease of Use
Most toys are pretty simple to figure out. Dogs squeak a squeaky toy, chase a ball, or chew a rugged toy bone. But there are complicated toys that require your dog to work a little harder–like treat dispensers. Many dogs enjoy the challenge, but others might get frustrated. Choose toys based on your pup’s personality and interests.
Do dog toys need to be cleaned?
Absolutely, says Jessica Ek, a spokesperson for the American Cleaning Institute. “Dogs can get sick just like the rest of us, so it’s important to clean their toys every few weeks,” Ek says. “This removes harmful bacteria and germs that thrive in moist environments, like on drool-covered toys, and helps keep the whole family healthy.”
How do you clean dog toys?
For fabric pet toys, first look for any holes or frayed seams and repair those before washing. If there’s a tag with care instructions, check that first.
“If the tag is missing or illegible, your best bet is to either wash by hand or launder in cold water on a gentle cycle,” Ek suggests.
“Squeeze any excess water out before drying on low-heat or air drying (somewhere your pet can’t get it until it’s dry).”
For plastic toys, wash them first in soapy water, Ek suggests. Then add 2 teaspoons of bleach to 1 gallon of water in a plastic dish pan. Stir to mix. Add the pre-washed toys to the bleach solution and let them soak for two minutes. Then drain, rinse well, and air dry.
Why do dogs like squeaky toys?
The constant repetitive noise may grate on your nerves, but many dogs love squeaky toys. Dog behavior experts attribute this to a combination of hunting instincts, attraction to sounds similar to alarmed prey, and the stimulus it provides when chewing. Many of the toys are fuzzy and shaped like animals some dogs would instinctively like to chase.
Their prey-like qualities may appeal even more to dog breeds with strong hunting instincts like terriers. A squeaker toy soon becomes its own stimulus, as your dog connects the sound it makes and the gratification that comes from playing with the toy.
Always watch your dog when using any toy and repair seams or holes when stuffing as squeakers could be removed and swallowed.
Why Trust The Spruce?
For this list, writer Mary Jo DiLonardo tested toys with her personal dog and two of her foster puppies. She also rounded up other pet owners so that several dogs tested each toy. Many toys didn’t make the list because so few dogs were interested in them or their durability or value scores were too low.
Mary Jo has been writing about pets and animals for several decades. She has a rescue dog and has fostered more than 40 dogs and puppies. She is always trying different products to keep the dogs in her care entertained, healthy, and safe.