The 4 Best Toys For Dogs That Like To Shred, According To A Trainer
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If your dog destroys everything from plushes to tennis balls, it’s likely time to invest in some of the best toys for dogs that like to shred. However, there are plenty of other considerations to keep in mind beyond sheer toughness — which is why I got in touch with an expert. For example, contrary to popular belief, though, some toys can actually be too hard, especially for heavy chewers. According to a professional dog trainer, “indestructible” dog toys should be durable and well-made, but still safe for your dog’s teeth.
Nicole Ellis is a certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) and pet lifestyle expert with Rover. She has more than 15 years of animal training experience and believes that “with love and positive reinforcement, we can train any dog.” Ellis is also the author of Working Like A Dog, a book about canines in the workforce.
What To Look For When Shopping For Tough Dog Toys
“If your dog is destroying his toys, that means a foreign object can be ingested, which can be extremely dangerous and lead to a blockage,” Ellis wrote in an e-mail to Bustle. For that reason, “you want to make sure it's a product that is tough but doesn't crack teeth.” (According to Ellis, some popular options on the market like Himalayan chews and antlers might be too hard, and they’re actually capable of cracking your dog’s teeth, which could be painful for them and expensive for you.)
“As a rule of thumb,” Ellis wrote, “you should be able to leave an indentation on an edge of the product with your fingernail.” Slightly softer materials, like natural rubber or polymer, are ideal here.
Shop The Best Toys For Dogs Who Chew
In a hurry? Here are the top picks, all recommended by a professional dog trainer.
- The Most Versatile Dog Toy: KONG Extreme Dog Toy
- A Large Dog Toy For Heavy Chewers: Indestructibone
- The Most Durable Plush Toy: Fluff & Tuff Nuts Squirrel
- A Durable Toy For Playing Fetch: WEST PAW Zogoflex
1. The Most Versatile Dog Toy
- Extremely durable, but still safe for teeth
- Versatile (can be chewed, thrown, bounced, frozen, or stuffed with treats)
- Available in five sizes
- According to some reviewers, Kongs have gotten smaller over the years
Kong’s dog toys are a “staple” in Ellis’s house. Thanks to their natural rubber construction and hollowed-out interior, they’re “great for stuffing, freezing, and providing that mental enrichment — but for the strong chewers, be sure to get the black Kong.” (According to Ellis, not all Kongs are created equal; the “colors represent different chew strengths, from puppies to extreme chewers.”)
The black Kong is the most durable option, but is still safe for teeth. It’s also bouncy, stuffable, dishwasher-safe, and available in five sizes to suit any breed. Currently, this toy is a customer favorite on Amazon with an average 4.6-star rating after feedback from more than 40,000 reviewers.
One reviewer wrote: “Border collie pup chewed through all of her many other toys, this is the only one that survives. Plus, it's kinda bouncy and its odd shape makes it roll funny, so dogs can entertain themselves with it longer.”
Available sizes: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XXL | Material: natural rubber
2. A Large Dog Toy For Heavy Chewers
- Virtually indestructible
- Suitable for extra-large breeds
- Hypoallergenic and non-toxic
“I love Indestructibone,” which is “made for the very serious chewers,” Ellis wrote. “Over 250,000 have been sold and I've never heard of any issues with dog teeth cracking from it. This is what I recommend over antlers and Himalayan chews that can crack teeth.”
Instead of too-tough material, this toy is made from a non-toxic polymer that’s BPA-free, hypoallergenic, and abrasive-free. Still, as per its name, it’s virtually indestructible — and the brand is so confident that if it’s chewed down to 7 inches in 90 days or less, they’ll replace it for free. The 12-inch version is suitable for dogs between 50 and 100 pounds, but you can get a smaller option, too.
One reviewer wrote: “My dog destroys everything. [...] Those indestructible soft toys? Ate them. Tennis balls? Breakfast. He's a rottweiler, lab, and pit. I had given up on toys because I couldn't afford to replace them so often. The indestructibone though, is amazing. His first one lasted about a year before it was deemed too chewed up and small. He chews on it over and over every day. Chunks don't get broken off, if anything they are very small pieces, never an issue.”
Available sizes: XXL, XL | Material: non-toxic polymer
3. The Most Durable Plush Toy
- Extra-durable thanks to mesh lining and reinforced, hidden seams
- Stuffed with non-toxic polyfill
- Available in tons of cute designs
- Not suitable for the very heaviest chewers
If your dog loves plushies, but gets to the stuffing in no time at all, “Fluff & Tuff toys are another great option” and a “favorite” in Ellis’s house. While they are “still plush, they are double stitched and have a durable thick mesh liner too,” wrote Ellis. This toy also has concealed seams and non-toxic polyfill, both of which make it safer and more durable for your dog.
One reviewer wrote: “I never write reviews, but I was motivated to write about this dog toy. My small but powerful, highly prey-driven, super-chewer George has never taken more than a day or two to completely destroy a soft toy (the cheapest ones only last hours or less). He's had this for over four months and I think he is actually....starting to love it?”
Available sizes: 12 inches | Material: ultra-plush outer fabric, Tuffweb mesh liner, non-toxic polyfill
4. A Durable Toy For Playing Fetch
- Great for playing fetch (elongated, brightly colored, and floats)
- Way more durable than a tennis ball
- Available in three colors and two sizes
- According to reviewers, it’s not as indestructible as some other toys
“West Paw makes some fantastic tough toys, some for throwing and some for stuffing with treats. For the toughest of chewers, I would go with the ZogoFlex,” wrote Ellis. “This has stood up to my strongest chewing dogs.”
While it’s way more durable than a tennis ball, its elongated shape and floating design still make it ideal for fetch — both on dry land and in the water. It also comes in three bright color options so it’s easy to spot. Plus, it’s dishwasher-safe so you can quickly clean it when your dog brings it in from the yard. Finally, when it reaches the end of its lifespan, it’s recyclable.
One reviewer wrote: “My golden retriever chews toys within days if not minutes. This toy has lastest all summer and it floats!”
Available sizes: Small, Medium | Material: Zogoflex material
Nicole Ellis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Pet Lifestyle Expert with Rover