When it comes to purchasing toys for dogs, how can I determine whether or not it will last just by looking at it or touching it? Websites that sell toys typically include reviews, but they are rarely helpful since any given item will have just as many glowing reviews (it lasted for months!) as it has negative reviews (my dog destroyed it in an hour!).
My dog is a Shiba Inu, and I would classify him as a destroyer of toys. Here are my general guide lines:
- What's on the inside is going to be on the outside in a very short time (applies to plush/stuffed animals)
- If I can cut it with scissors, he's going to shred it with his teeth
- It's not a good sign if the packaging specifically warns against letting the dog play with it unsupervised
- If it is brittle or if I think even I could break it with my bare hands if I squeeze it just right, he's going to break it pretty easily
- The more seams it has (rubber, cloth, or faux fur), the more points there are for the item to fall apart
- There is such a thing as too firm, which may vary depending on the size of the dog (Kong food toys and rubber balls are too firm for my guy)
Types of toys I avoid
- Stuffed animals
- Squeaker toys
- Any rubberized toy that's very thin (~1/4" thick or less)
- Kong squeaker balls
Types of toys I've found to be fairly durable
- Most toys designed to put food inside of them (Kongs, etc.)
- Rope or floss toys (usually 1/2-1 1/2" thick), typically tied in knots
- Nylabones are specifically designed for chewing
- Skinneeez (a stuffed animal without the stuffing -- my dog doesn't feel compelled to rip it up any further once the squeakers are out)
- Tennis balls
My dog's oldest toys that he still plays with regularly and are in decent to good condition:
- Crazy cat track (belonged to my cats long before we got the dog 13 months ago)
- Skinneeez fox (1 year old)
- Chuckit! Erratic ball (6 months old?)
My friendly pet accessories shop owner told me there is no guarantee on toys for dogs. I was looking for a ball for our dogs and asked this same question that you ask now. The shop owner is herself a dog owner and has been selling these things for ages. I trust what she says. She said: "Any toy can last anything between a lifetime and five seconds. There is no such thing as a durable toy for dogs."
This is also my experience from over six years with medium size dogs. No matter how durable the toy seems to be, it may be broken in five seconds.
I have two maltipoos, approximately 14 pounds. When apart, they aren't destructive with toys. But together, they love playing tug-of-war with every squeaker toy until they rip or come apart.
From my experience, squeak toys and stuff animals have a very short life when the two dogs are together (Less than a week).
Anything with a rope lasts substantially longer than the squeak and stuff animals, but will eventually come apart (Around a month)
Any heavy duty puzzle toy, has a much better chance of survival, and can withstand many scratches and bites, such as Starmark Bob-a-Lot.
I avoid toys designed to be chewed and slowly fall apart, like nylabones or other hard snacks that require chewing. These can be potential choking hazards if the pieces break off in the wrong way.