Does your dog chew his way through toy after toy? Maybe he goes a step further and chews your shoes or even furniture!
If so, then it sounds like your dog is the perfect candidate for a chew toy. These tough toys are designed to keep even the most aggressive dogs entertained for hours, without breaking.
So, we put them to the test.
All told, we spent over 500 hours testing and reviewing different chew toys. Our tough testers aggressively chewed, gnawed, chomped and tore into 21+ different chew toys.
All to answer a simple question:
Which chew toy is best for your dog?
Want the answer? Read on.
Our Top Choices
- What is a dog chew toy and does your pup need one?
- How to pick a safe chew toy for your dog
- The best dog chew toys
- Best chew toy for giant dogs
- Best chew toy for large dogs
- Best chew toy for medium dogs
- Best chew toy for small dogs
- Best chew toy for tiny dogs
- Best treat toy for chewers
- Recommended with reservations
What is a dog chew toy and does your dog need one?
When it comes to dogs, there are two distinct chewing personalities:
1. Nibblers – These dogs chew their toys for short periods of time, and when they bite down, they don’t use much force. It takes a lot of chewing for a nibbler to destroy a toy.
2. Destroyers – These destructive dogs aggressively bite and tear into their toys. They will sit and work the toy over and over until it finally breaks. A destroyer can crunch through most dog toys in under an hour.
Destroyers are the most difficult dogs to find toys for. Their powerful jaws dish out serious damage. Many owners find themselves buying toy after toy, only to have their dog chew it to pieces in minutes – those costs soon add up!
As you might have guessed, a chew toy is designed for destroyers. These re-enforced toys are made to withstand your pup’s powerful jaws and sharp teeth.
Typically made from rubber, chew toys are often more expensive than other dog toys. However, they make up for this by lasting considerably longer than toys that were not designed with destroyers in mind – saving you money in the long run.
Another way chew toys save you money is on vet bills. Any dog toy that breaks into pieces poses a choking hazard to your dog. Even worse, if your dog eats any small bits, then that could lead to intestinal blockage.
Now, I must stress that no chew toy is indestructible…
Buying the right chew toy is a balancing act. If your dog doesn’t think he will be able to destroy it, then he will soon give up. But a chew toy that is easy to destroy means playtime ends too quickly.
It is for this reason that people who look for an indestructible chew toy are constantly disappointed. Too hard and your dog will reject it, or worse, break a tooth. Too soft and it will be easily torn into pieces.
The goal isn’t to find a chew toy that your dog can’t destroy, but rather one that will last as long as possible. Don’t worry! We have you covered – check out the best chew toys we reviewed later in this guide.
The only dogs that don’t need a chew toy are gentle pups who nibble. If your dog doesn’t break his dog toys, then you are one of the few dog owners who can skip a chew toy.
But as you know, if your dog is an aggressive chewer, then a chew toy is a must. Not only will it keep your tough pup entertained for hours at a time, but it may very well save his life.
How to pick a safe chew toy for your dog
Does your dog gnaw on his chew toy for hours at a time? Too much of a good thing can be harmful. And chewing is no exception, especially if your dog loves the following…
- Antlers, hooves and horns
- Wood and sticks
Many owners love these hard chew toys. And I can see why – they are incredibly long-lasting. The solid surface holds strong even when being crunched by sharp teeth and powerful jaws. In fact, these hard chews can give your pooch weeks or even months of chewing fun. Now, that’s value for the money!
Well, it would be value if you don’t factor in the vet bills. Each year, dog dentists and vets see hundreds of cases of chipped, fractured and broken teeth. The cause? These rock-solid chew toys.
But problems with teeth are not the only issues brought on by gnawing on unsafe chew toys.
Overly hard chew toys, like bones and antlers, can splinter. These raised, pointed sections can cut your dog’s tongue and gums. If they break off, these sharp needles can get lodged in your dog’s throat or cause internal bleeding.
Now, that’s not to say that these toys are a guaranteed trip to the vet. Thousands of destructive dogs aggressively chew on these products every day without issue. Will your dog be okay? Maybe. But it’s a risk we wouldn’t take – those vet bills hit your wallet hard.
So, what makes a safe chew toy for your dog?
We asked four different veterinarians for their opinions…
All agreed that the safest chew toys for dogs should have some give. Each had their own suggestion on how to determine if a chew toy is hard enough to be unsafe.
Sara, our veterinary consultant, says that if you can tap your knee with it, and it hurts, then the toy is too hard.
Other veterinarians recommended the fingernail method. If you can’t press your fingernail into the surface of the chew toy, then it’s hard enough to break teeth – a good chew toy should dent when under pressure.
Another vet suggested that if you can hammer a nail into a piece of wood with it, without noticeably damaging the chew toy, then it’s unsafe.
Interestingly, there was one chew toy that the veterinarians were divided on…
It is for this reason that we recommend you speak with your own veterinarian before choosing to give your pup a nylon bone.
On the flip side, chew toys that are too soft can also be dangerous. Softer toys are easier to chew to pieces. In the heat of the moment, your dog could swallow a piece of the broken toy. If your pup is unlucky, this could cause an intestinal blockage or even choking to death!
Finally, pay attention to the size of the chew toy. A safe chew toy is wider than your dog’s mouth. This will prevent your pooch from accidentally swallowing or choking during a chewing session.
If you are looking for the sweet spot between safety and durability, then firm rubber chew toys that are wider than your dog’s mouth are the safest options.
At DogLab, your dog’s safety is our number one priority. So erring on the side of caution, all our top picks in this review are soft enough that you can press into them with your fingernail.
However, we include a nylon bone recommendation for those with super-aggressive chewers who want a harder option.
Remember: No matter what chew toy you pick, monitor play closely, and remove it from your dog once it shows signs of wear.
The best dog chew toys
In our hunt for the best, we tested and reviewed over 21 different chew toys. It was a long journey, but we eventually narrowed them down to the 6 best chew toys for dogs.
When it came to tough chew toys, one reigned king. In fact, this brand of chew toy won 4 out of the 6 categories – nothing else came close.
I’m talking about Goughnuts.
The chew toys this company makes right here in America are nothing short of amazing. No other rubber chew toy lasted longer.
While Goughnuts makes a range of different chew toys, we found their rubber rings to be the most durable. The round ring moves around as your dog gnaws and plays, this prevents your dog from chewing the same spot over and over.
Hidden inside these rings is a red rubber core. This is a safety feature not found on any other chew toy we reviewed. If your dog manages to chew his way to this core, you will know it’s time to replace the chew ring. That’s when you take advantage of Goughnuts’ Safety Guarantee.
Mail your broken chew toy back to Goughnuts (along with a check for return postage), and they will send you a new one. The toughest chew toy and amazing customer service too? What’s not to love!
Now, it is worth mentioning that all Goughnuts chew rings come in two different varieties:
1. Standard – A heavy-duty chew toy. Depending on the size, it is available in multiple colors. And, they float in water.
2. 50 (extreme) – Additional carbon is added to the rubber, resulting in the toughest chew toy around. These stronger chew toys can be identified by their all-black appearance marked with a single yellow dot. These do not float in water.
I know what you’re thinking:
I’ll just buy the extreme version.
After hundreds of hours reviewing, I recommend starting with the standard Goughnuts chew toy instead. Especially if you are new to heavy-duty chew toys. Even without the extra carbon, these are already the toughest chew toys on the market.
The reason I suggest this is that the 50 version is considerably harder and heavier. As I discussed earlier, many dogs prefer a chew toy with a good amount of give. The Goughnuts 50 range is hard enough that, unless your pup is a super-aggressive or powerful breed, he may reject the toy.
If your dog does manage to gnaw his way through a standard Goughnuts chew toy, then upgrade. Fortunately, the Goughnuts guarantee allows you to swap up to the 50 version – all you need to do is pay the difference in price.
It is also worth mentioning that new Goughnuts toys give off a noticeable rubber smell, kind of like a car tire. They are made of rubber after all. Luckily, this smell soon faded to the point where I only noticed it if I held the chew toy under my nose.
Perhaps my only complaint is that when shopping online, it can be difficult to tell the Goughnuts toys apart. Each size and version look very similar, and it can be easy to buy the wrong size for your pup. That is not a problem for you because we list the Goughnuts rings that are best for your pup according to size. Let’s start with the largest first…
1. Best chew toy for giant dogs
|6 inches||2.5 inches||90+ pounds|
Let’s bring out the heavy artillery first. And I do mean heavy. Weighing 2 pounds, most dogs won’t even be able to carry this chew toy.
I’m going to level with you… The Goughnuts Buster is going to be overkill for all but the biggest and toughest dogs. Even our German Shepherd, who is a powerful chewer, preferred the next size down.
But if you have a super-strong dog like a Rottweiler, Mastiff or Great Dane, then it’s worth checking out.
Still not strong enough for your aggressive chewer? Send it back for the Goughnuts Buster 50. It’s the absolute toughest dog toy around.
2. Best chew toy for large dogs
|6.25 inches||2.1 inches||60 to 90 pounds|
For large breeds, the Goughnuts MaXX is what you want. Durable enough to hold up to a German Shepherd, Pit Bull or Labrador, the MaXX is not so heavy that it is impossible for a large breed to carry.
Not strong enough for your aggressive chewer? Send it back for the Goughnuts MaXX 50. It’s the toughest chew toy Goughnuts makes in this size.
3. Best chew toy for medium dogs
|5 inches||1.75 inches||30 to 60 pounds|
The Goughnuts Original was the chew toy that started it all. First designed in 2006, this tried and tested design is still going strong today.
Choose from 4 colors:
Perfectly sized for medium breeds like Border Collies, Beagles, Bulldogs and Corgis.
Not tough enough for your aggressive chewer? Send it back for the Goughnuts Original 50. It’s the toughest chew toy Goughnuts makes in this size.
4. Best chew toy for small dogs
|3.75 inches||1.3 inches||10 to 30 pounds|
Confusingly, the medium ring is the smallest heavy-duty chew toy that Goughnuts makes. Despite its name, it’s the perfect size for smaller dogs.
Choose from 3 colors:
Not strong enough for your aggressive chewer? Send it back for the black version. It’s the toughest chew toy Goughnuts makes in this size.
Do you have a particularly tiny pup? Unfortunately, Goughnuts doesn’t make a chew toy that is appropriate for extra small pups, such as a Chihuahuas or Bichon Frises. Don’t worry! We have an equally great recommendation for you…
5. Best chew toy for tiny dogs
I’m going to be honest with you… It was quite challenging to narrow down the perfect chew toy for tiny dogs.
As you might have noticed, the above recommendations are made from a dense piece of rubber. Just one problem. For tiny dogs like Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshunds and Pomeranians, these toys are too heavy and too large to carry around.
In fact, the largest Goughnuts chew toy we tested weighs a whopping 2 pounds. That’s half the weight of an adult Chihuahua! Far too heavy for tiny dogs to carry.
Despite this, tiny dogs still need a heavy-duty chew toy. While the jaws of a mini Dachshund may not be as powerful as a Pit Bull, they are still up to the task of destroying all but the toughest chew toys. What they lack in strength, they make up for in their ability to aggressively chew the same area of their toys over and over again, until it finally gives out.
So, we had to find a chew toy that checked two boxes:
1. It had to be lightweight and easy-to-carry. A tiny dog should still be able to leap onto your couch with the chew toy in his mouth.
2. It had to be durable enough to resist aggressive gnawing from tiny mouths.
After gnawing their way through dozens of chew toys, our tiny testers agreed that one chew toy outclassed all the others…
The West Paw Hurley.
Made right here in the USA, this bone-shaped chew toy is incredibly durable, floats in water, and can even be washed in the dishwasher.
But most importantly, it holds strong even when gnawed upon by the most aggressive of tiny breeds. The hard rubber has enough give to keep dogs interested. In fact, our tiny testers happily bit and chewed the Hurley chew toy for hours at a time.
Like our other recommendations, part of the reason for the durability was the rounded design. As the bone-shaped chew toy rolled around, it ensured our tiny testers were not constantly working on the same place.
At 4½ inches long, the mini size is the perfect chew toy for little mouths. The mini is the ideal size for Chihuahuas and Rat Terriers. Those of you with larger (but still tiny) dogs should choose the next size up, which is 6 inches long. A Havanese, for example, is right on the border for sizing up.
Best of all, it’s light enough for tiny dogs to carry around. Our Pomeranian tester was even able to leap onto his favorite couch with the Hurley chew toy clenched between his jaws.
After months of testing, we noticed most of the wear was on the ends in the form of dozens of tiny little punctures. I’m happy to report that no chunks of rubber were missing, and I saw no signs of tearing. The chew toy was still safe enough for our tiny pups to keep using.
6. Best treat toy for chewers
Add food to a toy and even the gentlest nibbler can become an aggressive chewer. To this end, we felt the need to include a treat toy that would hold up to tough chewing.
Here is a dog toy that I am sure you are all familiar with. The Kong is one of the most recognized dog toys on the market. And now, it’s available in an extra-tough version, perfect for strong chewers.
This rubber toy can be stuffed with various types of dog treats. As your dog chews, treats fall out as a reward. This has an added bonus of making dog treats last significantly longer than they otherwise would.
The Kong Extreme is essentially a tougher version of the classic red toy that everyone knows and loves. The dense black rubber resists punctures and tearing as your dog tries to get the treats out. Best of all, it’s made right here in the USA.
It doesn’t matter if you have a small chewer or a large one, there is a Kong Extreme to suit your pup:
|Small||3 x 1.75 inches||Up to 20 pounds|
|Medium||3.5 x 2.25 inches||15 to 35 pounds|
|Large||4 x 2.5 inches||30 to 65 pounds|
|X-Large||5 x 3.5 inches||60 to 90 pounds|
|XX-Large||6 x 3.9 inches||85+ pounds|
Whichever you pick, the size in the base is about 1 inch in diameter. This hole runs through the entire Kong, with a second hole on top that is roughly half an inch. This hole helps with airflow and drainage when cleaning.
Because dog treats come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, it’s very likely that yours won’t be the correct fit. While Kong sells dog treat paste to help hold things inside, I found it cheaper to use good old peanut butter. For an extra challenge, cram treats inside, add your peanut butter and throw the Kong Extreme in the freezer – it will last much longer!
Of the dog treat toys we reviewed, the Kong Extreme fit the widest range of dog treats inside. While you may need to add peanut butter, I was able to fit in small pieces of kibble, milk bones and even oversized dog biscuits. While Kong also sells a range of stuffings and biscuits that easily fit inside, I prefer to use treats that my pup already knows and loves.
But most importantly, the dense rubber held strong even as tough jaws frantically attempted to reach the dog treats hidden inside.
It’s important to note that the Kong toy is available in a range of colors. These colors are more than a style choice. You see, each color represents a different type of rubber. Only the black Kong Extreme will hold up to dogs that aggressively chew.
While this is a durable treat toy, it may not hold up to use as a full-time chew toy, especially for bully breeds. Once your pup manages to remove all the treats, take away the Kong and give him one of the other chew toys we recommend in this guide.
But as far as a treat toy goes, this is the only one we recommend for aggressive chewers.
Recommended with reservations
Nylon chew toys come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and flavors. Due to their low cost and ability to withstand strong jaws, they are a popular chew toy among dog owners.
Since we could not get consensus on whether or not nylon chew toys are appropriate for dogs, we decided to review them. If you are looking for a suitable nylon chew toy for your dog, then this is as good as it gets.
We tested a variety of different nylon bones from the two most popular brands on the market – Nylabone and Benebone, both are made right here in the USA.
Interestingly, Benebone prominently features a safety warning that their toys are not suitable for aggressive chewers or puppies.
Truth be told, besides the shape, all the nylon bones we tested performed similarly.
They feel like hard plastic and even leave hard burrs once chewed on. These burrs were sharp, and over time, they fell off. I was constantly picking out small pieces of nylon from my socks.
In the end, we settled on the Benebone Wishbone as our recommendation. In addition to being clear about the dangers of their product, the curved wishbone shape was easier to hold between the paws than the straight-bone-shaped nylon chews.
While testing the Nylabone toys, I had a thought…
It’s kind of cheating to use a flavoring in a chew toy. I mean, you look at your dog chewing on a Nylabone for hours on end and assume he enjoys it. But what if you were to offer him a nylon chew toy without flavoring? Would he take to it the same way as a rubber chew toy?
Given the hard texture and the fact that during testing we had dogs reject toys that were too hard or even firm, I am doubtful.
At the end of the day, giving your dog a nylon chew toy is entirely your decision. Many dog owners swear by them. Me, I’m not entirely sold.
As always, monitor your dog closely when introducing a new toy and quickly remove it if it fails.
Phew, if you made it this far, congratulations! You now know which chew toy is best for your tough pup.
A recap of our results…
The chew toys we reviewed:
- Goughnuts Buster – Best for giant chewers
- Goughnuts MaXX – Best for large chewers
- Goughnuts Original – Best for medium chewers
- Goughnuts Medium – Best for small chewers
- West Paw Hurley – Best for tiny chewers
- Kong Extreme – Best treat toy for chewers
Which chew toy has outlasted the aggressive chewer in your home? Let me know in the comments below!