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13 best dog toys to entertain pups and banish boredom

Keep your four-legged friends physically and mentally stimulated with these fun games and puzzles

Clare O'Reilly
Monday 15 April 2024 16:31 BST
We called upon some furry friends to test these toys
We called upon some furry friends to test these toys (The Independent)
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Anyone with a four-legged friend will know how much they like to play – whether digging in the garden, running after balls or finding the squeak in a toy they then don’t want to relinquish.

If you want to treat your dog with a new toy, it can be hard to know where to start, as there are so many on the market. Firstly, it’s worth considering what activity you want to do with your pet pooch. Maybe they love playing fetch, or are they more into tug of war? If they have destructive tendencies at home, maybe some mental stimulation and search-type toys will keep them entertained and reduce any negative behaviours.

Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you, and have come up with a list of the best dog toys, for all breeds, sizes and temperaments. There are squeaky, floaty, interactive, crunchy, digging and cuddling toys and everything in between in our round-up, so you’re sure to find something your four-legged friend will love.

How we tested the best dog toys

Three diligent testers – Luna and Huccaby the labradors and Bluebell the springador – put a range of toys through their paces. They were given each in isolation to play with and presented with all in a box for them to pick their favourites.

Some of the toys that survived the testing period and made it into this round-up
Some of the toys that survived the testing period and made it into this round-up (Clare O’Reilly)

The best dog toys for 2024 are:

  • Best dog toy overall – Nylabone power chew shish kebab alternative mess-free chew: £12.42,
  • Best budget dog toy – Pup Suds tug toy: £5,
  • Best dog toy for active dogs – Dr Zigs doggie bubbles, peanut butter scented: £35.94,
  • Best treat dispenser – Paws Only dog treat toy: 9.99,
  • Best eco-friendly dog toy – Resploot tuffles dog toy: £11.96,

Nylabone power chew shish kebab alternative mess-free chew

Nylabone power chew shish kebab alternative mess free chew.png
  • Best: Dog toy overall
  • Type of toy: Chew
  • Suitable for: Medium and large dogs, up to 23kg
  • Why we love it
    • Lasts for ages
    • Chicken flavoured
    • Promotes clean teeth and fresh breath

This chew comes in small, large or extra large to suit dogs up to 50lbs. It’s chicken-flavoured but leaves no splinters, no grease and no stains and has plenty of textures to promote fresh breath and clean teeth, by controlling tartar and plaque build-up. Despite three testers giving it their best go, this toy lasts and lasts.

Advice is to rough up or scuff the smooth surfaces with a fork to release the flavour and when the testers were taking a break, it rinsed perfectly under warm water ready for another session. Nylabone also makes ergonomic chews in the same durable range, so dogs can hold their chew down while they give it a go. If you have an incessant chewer, this is the one for you.

  1. £12 from
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Pup Suds tug toy

Pup Suds tug toy.png
  • Best: Budget dog toy
  • Type: Tug toy
  • Suitable for: Available for small, medium and large dogs for varying prices
  • Why we love it
    • Machine washable, biodegradable, compostable and recyclable
    • Strong material
    • Cleans teeth and gums

Handmade from 100 per cent recycled cotton, unlike some others on the market, this tug toy is machine washable, biodegradable, compostable and recyclable. Its vibrant colour makes it a more attractive version of a popular style of toy and the recycled cotton isn’t as harsh on human hands as some other tug toys on the market. It also didn’t come undone or start to fray even after hours of play with three testers.

While our four-legged playmate’s might not care about the planet or “green” toys, as dog owners, being able to give them what they want without harming the environment is a huge plus.

  1. £5 from
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Cheerble interactive dog toy ball

Cheerble interactive dog toy ball.png
  • Best: Luxury dog toy
  • Type: Ball
  • Suitable for: Small to medium dogs
  • Why we love it
    • Has automatic obstacle avoidance
    • Charges fast
    • Rolls, bounces and jiggles

Made from natural rubber and with three programmable settings and a light-up centre, not only is this one of the most stylish toys on the list, it gave our testers the perfect balance between rest and play. Safe for teeth and easy to clean with a rinse under a warm tap, this ball can be programmed to roll, bounce and jiggle and the light-up centre changes colour to attract their attention during the chase to retrieve it. It has automatic obstacle avoidance, so shouldn’t knock any vases off tables. It’s also silent when it’s on and charges fast.

  1. £35 from
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Dr Zigs doggie bubbles, peanut butter scented

Dr Zigs doggie bubbles peanut butter scented.png
  • Best: Dog toy for active dogs
  • Type: Chasing toy
  • Suitable for: All dogs
  • Why we love it
    • Nut allergy-friendly
    • Really interactive
    • Provided hours of fun
  • Take note
    • Not the cheapest

While our testers took a while to figure out the fun of these bubbles, once they did, they enjoyed hours of chasing, leaping and trying to pop them. These are great for active dogs, but it’s one of the most interactive toys on the list, too. The bubbles really are peanut butter scented, vegan and don’t actually contain any nuts, so they’re suitable for anyone with a nut allergy, too.

Dr Zigs also supports children displaced by war, conflict or poverty across the globe with its #bubblesnotbombs programme, which has seen the brand send child-friendly bubble kits to Libya, Calais, Romania and orphanages in Delhi and Goa, so your pet is helping others while popping their bubbles.

This isn’t the cheapest option on the list but the bubble mixture comes concentrated and creates a litre of solution when mixed with water.

  1. £35 from
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Paws Only dog treat toy

Paws Only dog treat toy.png
  • Best: Treat dispenser
  • Type: Puzzle toy with treats
  • Suitable for: Puppies and small dogs, medium dogs and large dogs
  • Why we love it
    • Grooves help with dental care
    • Doubles up as a ball that fits in a thrower

A toy and treat dispenser in one, this ball helps with mental stimulation, while the grooves help with dental care. The extra strong elastic rubber is bite-resistant and it comes in three sizes: 6cm x 6cm for puppies, 7cm x 7cm for medium-sized dogs and 8cm x 8cm for bigger breeds. The slits on the side fill with smaller treats and kibbles, while stick treats and chews fit into the hole in the centre.

Unlike a lot of other treat dispensers on the market, this is a ball, too – it throws really well and is lightweight. The 7cm size even fits into a ball-thrower, as long as there aren’t any chews sticking out of the middle. Our testers loved it and it washes with soap and warm water to come out as good as new.

  1. £9 from
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Pup Suds eco snuffle mat

Pup Suds eco snuffle mat.png
  • Best: Dog toy for foragers
  • Type: Puzzle/treat toy
  • Suitable for: All dogs
  • Why we love it
    • Stuck in place perfectly
    • Can be sent back for revamping

Not only does this toy look beautiful, it’s also environmentally friendly. It’s handmade in Essex from recycled fabrics and you can even choose your colour scheme, so it can match even the swishest interiors. Our testers loved digging at this on its own, but they also really loved having their kibble poured into and onto it, for them to forage around for. The rubber mat stuck in place perfectly with excellent grip on varnished wood floors, too. Plus, you can send it back once it’s been ravaged and the kind people at Pup Suds will revamp it for you.

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Resploot tuffles dog toy

Resploot tuffles dog toy.png
  • Best: Eco-friendly dog toy
  • Type: Soft toy
  • Suitable for: All dogs
  • Why we love it
    • Hard-folded seams make it last
    • Natural rubber squeaker with no plastic

Made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles and with a natural rubber squeaker with no plastic, this is a perfect choice for the eco-friendly dog owner. This cuddly hawksbill turtle comes with a label explaining how they’re critically endangered, so there’s learning for dog owners as well as fun for their four-legged friends. It’s multi-layered and double-stitched for extra strength and even the packaging it’s attached to is printed on recycled paper.

Our testers loved the furry toy, while the hard-folded seams mean it’s lasted way beyond testing and is still washing well. It became a particular favourite for our testers to sleep with, too.

  1. £11 from
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Kong squeeze confetti stick

Kong squeeze confetti stick.png
  • Best: Squeaker dog toy
  • Type: Squeaker toy
  • Suitable for: Medium dogs
  • Why we love it
    • Squeaks even when punctured
    • Super durable

A list of the best dog toys wouldn’t be complete without at least one appearance from Kong. Synonymous with pet toys and famed for its durability, the confetti stick not only looks bright, glittery and fun, it’s also the only toy on the list that’ll continue to squeak even when it’s punctured – a must for owners whose dogs make a beeline to demolish anything with a squeaker. It comes in a choice of colours, including green, orange, purple and blue, and our testers proudly carried it around with them on walks for weeks.

  1. £10 from
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Cadbarky doggy milk fruit and mutt dog toy

Cadbarky doggy milk fruit & mutt dog toy.png
  • Best: Squeaky dog toy alternative
  • Type: Squeeky toy
  • Suitable for: Small, medium and large dogs, but not for strong chewers
  • Why we love it
    • Crinkles rather than squeaks annoyingly
    • Washes well

While there’s a lot to be said for a toy with a squeaker, when it comes to relaxing and watching TV, the last thing any owner wants is the constant squeak of a toy your dog is definitely not going to relinquish without a game of “catch me if you can”. This is where the Cadbarks doggy milk fruit and mutt dog toy comes in. The whimsy faux chocolate bar is a crinkle toy rather than a squeaky one and made from a really durable fabric. This toy is sizeable enough for big breeds but squashy enough that smaller breeds can get joy out of it, too. It washed brilliantly and has become a firm favourite for our testers.

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Kong puppy chew treat toy

Kong puppy treat toy.png
  • Best: Puppy toy
  • Type: Treat toy
  • Suitable for: Puppies (beginning to light chewers)
  • Why we love it
    • Offers good mental stimulation
    • Washed OK in the dishwasher
    • Provided hours of fun
  • Take note
    • Might not withstand hard chewers

This treat toy for puppies from Kong didn’t disappoint. It’s perfect for fitting dog treats inside, and our testers had hours of fun chasing it and trying to get at their treats. We’re not sure it’d stand the test for hard, obsessive chewers, but for puppy teething and gentle biting, it’s perfect. It‘s recommended for beginner to light chewers and the treat inside offers mental stimulation, too, so there was lots of licking as well as chewing. It rinses perfectly and even went through the dishwasher OK.

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Ruffer and Tuffer let’s play nibble and chew toy

Ruffer and Tuffer let’s play nibble and chew toy.png
  • Best: Interactive dog toy
  • Type: Tug, fetch and chew toy
  • Suitable for: All dogs
  • Why we love it
    • Hard-wearing
    • Designed by dog behaviourists

Designed with restless dogs in mind, this tug toy is exceptionally hard-wearing, even after weeks of testing it didn’t yield at all or break. The striking block colour and bulky triangular design not only looked good but performed well during play. The experts at Pets At Home worked with dog behaviourists to design the toy, so it’s perfect for playing tug of war, fetch and for having a good old chew on. A diverse toy for all kinds of play.

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Pets at Home crunchy branch squeaky dog toy

Pets at Home crunchy branch squeaky dog toy.png
  • Best: Soft chew dog toy
  • Type: Squeaker toy
  • Suitable for: All dogs, unless they’re aggresive chewers
  • Why we love it
    • Crunches and squeaks
    • Throws well
  • Take note
    • Doesn’t last very long

Perfect for a long and exhausting game of fetch, while this toy looks like it wouldn’t be out of place in a live action Stick Man show, it crunches, squeaks and is ergonomic, so throws brilliantly. It went through the washing machine fine and while it didn’t last as long as some of the others on the list before starting to fail, our three testers’ ears pricked up every single time they caught sight or sound of it.

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Nina Ottosson lickin' layers dog puzzle and feeder in one

Nina Ottosson lickin' layers dog puzzle and feeder in one.png
  • Best: Dog toy for fast eaters
  • Type: Puzzle toy
  • Suitable for: All dogs
  • Why we love it
    • Kept dogs entertained for hours
    • Difficult for even the brightest of dogs

Her name might not be instantly recognisable but Nina certainly knows how to keep dogs busy. Her mantra “dogs have four legs and one head and all five need activity in different ways” rings true to any owner, and her lickin’ layers puzzle and feeder is fantastic. It kept our testers entertained for hours.

Whether it’s peanut butter spread on the layers or kibble in the compartments, this spinning feeder has more than 100 treat compartments in three layers that will take even the brightest mutt a while to get to. It separates and goes through the dishwasher and the colours are just as engaging as the activity – not to mention the fact it spins silently without a squeaker or crackle in earshot, so four-legged friends can entertain themselves even during the quiet parts of a movie.

  1. £16 from
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The verdict: Dog toys

While your choice might depend on the game you’re trying to play with your pup, for us, the Nylabone power chew and Cheerble interactive dog toy ball were hard to beat. They’re both very different toys and stimuli but both tested fantastically with our enthusiastic four-legged friends. The only reason the Nylabone pinched the top spot is it is still going strong seven weeks after testing, and required no setup, compared with the Cheerble.

Special mention has to go to the Pup Suds tug toy, too. With very competitive testers, this lasted incredibly well and is washing brilliantly. With dogs having pretty sizeable carbon paw prints, this one also ticks every sustainable credential out there, so, your pup can have fun without worrying about the impact they’re having on the environment.

Keep your four-legged friend safe and stylish with the best dog collars

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