Does your dog prefer to cuddle or carry around his toys rather than chew or shake them?
A plush toy may be the perfect toy for your gentle pooch!
Plush toys are super-soft, cuddly and are a popular choice for games of indoor fetch or just to keep your pup company.
All up, we tested over 60 different plush toys, playing hundreds of games of fetch, spent hours watching our dogs carry and interact with them, and laid them alongside our pooped-out pooches as they napped.
We reviewed each for their durability, quality and suitability for breeds. All to answer one simple question:
Which plush toy is best for your dog?
Want the answer? Then read on!
- Best all-around plush dog toy
- Best squeaky plush dog toy
- Best durable plush dog toy for strong biters
- Best no-stuffing plush dog toy
- Best squeaker-less plush dog toy
- Best giant plush dog toy for large breeds
- Best plush dog toy for puppies
What is a plush dog toy and does your pooch need one?
Do you remember that super-soft, stuffed animal you used to hug when you fell asleep as a kid?
Well, a plush dog toy is essentially the same thing – except it’s for your pooch.
Out of all the dog toys we have reviewed, plush toys came in the widest range of varieties…
From animals like frogs, raccoons, octopuses and dinosaurs…
Food like tacos, pizza, hamburgers and donuts…
Sports equipment like footballs, soccer balls and basketballs…
Even plush versions of your own dog…
In fact, for anything you can imagine, there is probably a plush version of it. With so many choices, you have endless options to add to your dog’s toy collection.
Many dogs love the super-soft, cuddly texture of plush toys. My mom’s Golden Retriever constantly roams around the house with her favorite plush toy – a large, orange carrot.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for dogs to become particularly attached to their favorite plush toy.
Some dogs get so attached that they even insist on carrying them when going for a walk…
Or, refuse to go to sleep without them…
Does your dog show a similar attachment to his favorite plush toy? If so, you’ll want to buy another and keep it on hand as a spare. Your dog will thank you when his overly loved toy finally falls apart.
You might be wondering why you can’t give your dog any old plush toy. After all, your local dollar store has plenty of cheap stuffed animals sitting on the shelf.
To be honest, you could. But even with gentle play, these toys won’t last long. A traditional plush toy is designed to be cuddled and hugged not bitten – your dog’s mouth can dish out some serious damage.
Plush dog toys, on the other hand, are designed with your pooch’s sharp teeth in mind. Some dog-proof features include…
- Reinforced stitching – to prevent snagging on sharp teeth
- Multiple layers – to prevent sharp teeth from puncturing it
Some plush toys go a step further and don’t contain any stuffing. These unstuffed toys are less “plush” but don’t make a mess if your dog tears it open.
These features result in a plush toy that is more durable than your traditional stuffed animal.
Do you have a German Shepherd or Pit Bull? Then you should know that plush toys are less suited to aggressive chewers. Those that don’t just bite but rip into stuffed toys. Even the best stitching and durable material won’t stop a determined dog from destroying a plush toy.
Even a small dog can quickly chomp its way through a plush toy. Mini Dachshunds and Jack Russell Terriers excel at shredding stuffed animals.
Plush toys designed for dog play hold up well enough to light chewing and throwing around. But if your dog is a toy destroyer, then a plush toy isn’t going to be much of a challenge at all.
Unfortunately, indestructible plush toys don’t exist. If your dog is a chewer, skip the plush toy altogether and choose a heavy-duty dog toy instead.
The same goes for teething puppies. Those razor sharp baby teeth can make short work of stitching and seams. Save the plush toy until after your pooch’s adult teeth come through.
Yes, I know there are many plush toys that make claims of being heavy duty, extra tough, unrippable or even go so far as to call themselves indestructible. Don’t believe the hype! At the time of writing this, I have not come across a single stuffed toy that would hold up to an aggressive chewer.
Unfortunately, these sales pitches seem to work. After reading hundreds of reviews and interviewing dozens of customers, the number one complaint with plush toys is that they don’t hold up to destructive dogs. Some people I spoke to had spent hundreds of dollars trying to find an invincible plush toy.
So, save your money. Buy a tough chew toy instead. Your wallet will thank you for it.
Have a new dog or puppy and don’t know how your dog treats toys? You should only give your dog a plush toy under supervision. This way you can monitor how your pooch plays. If you notice your dog aggressively biting or shaking his toys, quickly remove them.
On that note, if ever you notice your plush toy has a torn seam or visible stuffing, dispose of it immediately. You don’t want your dog to swallow the stuffing. Many dogs will immediately start devouring the insides of their “kill.”
Even if your dog doesn’t eat it, do you really want to spend your time sweeping up ripped stuffing from all corners of your home? But if you do need to sweep, we have you covered. Check out our review on dog hair brooms.
Oh, and while I’m on the topic of durability, you don’t want to get into a game of tug-of-war with your dog over a plush toy. Tugging places a tremendous amount of stress on the seams, which can result in the toy ripping to pieces. If you want to play tug-of-war, check out our review on dog tug toys.
I would also add that plush toys make a great fetch toy when the weather turns bad. I live in Upstate New York. As I type this, snow is swirling around outside and temperatures are set to hit 19˚F (-7ºC).
Yeah, it looks like I won’t be taking Banjo for a walk today. I’ll make do with an indoor game of fetch. Mind you, I’m not very coordinated, but Banjo’s favorite plush toy is soft enough that I don’t have to worry about breaking a window if my aim is off.
Speaking of which, plush toys are best used as indoor toys anyway. Their soft fabric will quickly become stained with mud and grass if used outside.
Finally, you should be aware that many plush dog toys contain squeakers sewn inside. When pressed down on or bitten, it will make a high-pitched squeaking noise. Many dogs love squeakers. In fact, it’s often the reason they choose one toy over another.
However, you need to consider if you love squeakers. Many owners find that the constant sound of squeak… squeak… squeak… begins to get old rather fast. If you are noise-sensitive, buy a squeak-less plush toy instead.
Best plush dog toys
In our hunt to find the best, we tested and reviewed over 60 different plush dog toys.*
It was a long journey, but eventually we narrowed down the competition to 7 winners – each unique in its own way.
To start, I’m going to show you the best plush toy for most dogs. From there, I’ll make recommendations for those looking for something a little more specialized, such as a plush toy with a silent squeaker and one that soothes lonely puppies.
*Note: Due to plush toys being available in such a wide range of designs, some of these were tested in our other reviews, like the best dog soccer ball, where we reviewed super-soft soccer balls, or the best dog rope, where we reviewed plush toys that had rope inside them.
1. Best all-around plush dog toy
Does your dog chase squirrels every time you go for a walk? Then your pooch will love the Hide-A-Squirrel by Outward Hound.
The Hide-A-Squirrel is known as a puzzle plush toy. You load each squirrel into a hole and then give it to your dog. Your dog will be entertained as he burrows his snout into each hole in an attempt to grab each squirrel. All our testers loved it!
Some dog owners go a step further and hide treats inside the log to keep their pooch busier for longer.
Oh, and as if your dog needed more encouragement, each squirrel has its own squeaker. Every time our testers heard the squeak, they excitedly doubled their efforts to remove the squirrel from the log.
Either the squirrels or logs can be played with separately too. The variety of this plush toy makes it our top pick for most dogs.
Also, don’t worry if a squirrel breaks or gets lost. You can buy them separately in a pack of 3. I think this is the only dog toy I have come across that has “spare parts” available.
The Hide-A-Squirrel is available in 4 different sizes.
|Junior/Small||5 x 5 x 5 inches||3 squirrels|
|Large/Medium||6 x 6 x 7 inches||3 squirrels|
|Jumbo/Large||7 x 7 x 8 inches||3 squirrels|
|Ginormous/X-Large||7 x 7 x 12 inches||6 squirrels|
It’s not immediately clear that the squirrels found in the Jumbo are considerably larger than the other sizes, about twice the size of the regular squirrels. They can also not be bought separately if they tear or break. Be careful, when buying online because these differences are not apparent.
Unless you have an incredibly small pup, like a Chihuahua or Pomeranian, I recommend buying the Ginormous. It comes with an extra 3 squirrels for a total of 6. Even with the extra length, the log and squirrels are light enough that medium-sized dogs, like Beagles, can carry them without difficulty.
Tiny dogs will be best suited by the junior size. The holes of the log are considerably smaller than the other sizes, making it more difficult for your pint-sized pooch to squeeze his face inside the hole and remove the squirrel. The larger sizes won’t provide the same challenge – our mini Dachshund tester was able to remove all the squirrels from the ginormous size in seconds.
It is also worth mentioning that Outward Hound also has this same type of plush puzzle in different themes: rainbows, birds, bees and hedgehogs. However, these don’t come in the same range of sizes and were considerably more expensive. It’s for this reason I can’t recommend them to the same degree as the Hide-A-Squirrel.
One of our testers, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, didn’t understand how to play with the toy at first. She sniffed and pawed at the log before becoming disinterested and wandering off.
We were able to overcome this by showing her an individual squirrel, squeaking it a few times, and then placing it in the log. With her attention now fixated on the squeaky squirrel, she didn’t want to do anything else but remove it from the log.
2. Best squeaky plush dog toy
There were plenty of squeaky plush toys tested, some of which won other categories. But if you just want a good squeaky plush toy, then one stands above the rest…
Duckworth Duck by Multipet is a classic. I can remember buying one of these as a gift for a “doggy birthday” waaaaay back in 2008. The birthday pooch adored it. I am surprised to see that this toy is still around 10 years later. I am even more surprised that it’s still able to take the crown of best squeaky plush toy.
I think the reason this plush toy has stood the test of time is its simplicity. Its rounded bottom and narrow neck give small and large dogs an area to easily grip. I was pleasantly surprised that even a smaller dog, such as a Corgi, had no difficulties carrying it around.
The mouth of a Great Dane can make any toy look tiny. However, at 13-inches long, we found that this plush toy was appropriate for even the largest of breeds.
However, smaller breeds like our Yorkie had to drag the toy around. Is your dog a similar size? Then, your pooch will struggle to carry this toy around the home or climb on your couch with it in his mouth.
Fortunately, Multipet has created a smaller version that is perfect for toy breeds…
The squeaker is buried deep inside the belly of the duck, surrounded by stuffing. Despite this, the squeaker is loud enough to get attention. All our testers came running when we squeezed the duck from the other side of the house.
During testing, Duckworth was:
- Used in games of fetch with a Corgi
- Carried around for hours at a time by a Golden Retriever
- Gently nibbled on by a Border Collie
- Cuddled to sleep by a Labrador that is too gentle for his own good
I am happy to report that the Duckworth Duck showed no signs of wear. Well, besides some caked on dog slobber. But this was quickly eliminated by a trip through our washing machine before being left to air dry. The super-plush material was good as new, and the squeaker still works!
But the icing on the cake? The price. This plush toy hits the sweet spot between quality and value. It was one of the cheapest squeaky plush toys on the market.
For all these reasons, no other squeaky plush dog toy came close to the Duckworth Duck. Highly recommended.
3. Best durable plush dog toy for strong biters
While some dogs are gentle enough to play with soft toys, they still have a heavy bite, like a Mastiff. When they clamp down to pick up a toy, they bite hard – they don’t know their own strength.
Even though your dog might not be aggressively chewing, his bite can still wear through all but the most durable of plush toys.
That’s why we felt it necessary to include a category for those of you with iron-jawed pooches who love their plush toys.
Note: Even though this plush toy is extra durable, it still won’t hold up to a power chewer such as a German Shepherd.
You know the saying, it’s what’s on the inside that counts? Well, when it comes to the durable Knotties, it’s true. Hidden behind the soft outer fabric are layers of material that add an extra level of protection from your dog’s bite…
- Layer 1: Finely woven polyester mesh
- Layer 2: High-density Oxford polyester
You’d never know it’s there. And if it wasn’t for the extra durability, you’d think that this was any other plush toy.
HuggleHounds claims that their Knotties withstand 100 pounds of pressure. Our Labrador tester agreed. His powerful jaws punctured deep into the other plush toys we tested. But even he couldn’t pierce the surface when picking up this toy.
As a lover of cute dog toys, I was overjoyed that I could choose from over 26 different Knotties. Eventually I settled on the duck – but it was a close race between the giraffe, whale and monkey.
Better still, all the styles are available in small and large. The sizes vary somewhat depending on the style you choose. Here are the measurements of our Duck Knottie…
|Small||9 x 4 x 3 inches||Small breeds|
|Large||15 x 7 x 5 inches||Medium/large breeds|
Inside the plush toy are 5 different squeakers to keep your dog entertained during play time. Under supervised play throughout our testing, we didn’t have a single squeaker fail.
Like other dog-proof plush toys, a quick cycle through the washing machine is all that’s needed to clean off all that dry dog drool.
If you’re looking for a toy that is durable enough to throw around and play fetch with, while still being soft enough to snuggle, then your dog will love the HuggleHounds Knotties.
4. Best no-stuffing plush dog toy
When it came to value for the money, few plush toys came close to the ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz. Sold in a pack of three, you’ll have plenty of spares on hand – the play doesn’t have to stop just because your pooch breaks one!
The appeal of these woodland creatures is that other than the two squeakers, there isn’t anything else inside them. Yep, no stuffing at all. It doesn’t matter if your dog tears this plush toy to shreds, he won’t make a mess or, worse, eat the stuffing inside.
I should warn you that these plush toys aren’t all that “plush.” At just ½-inch thick, they are surprisingly flat. This is to be expected. I mean, if you remove the stuffing from a plush toy, there isn’t much left over.
The Skinny Peltz is available in two different sizes…
|Small||11 x 2 x ½ inch||Small breeds|
|Large||18 x 2½ x ½ inch||Medium/large breeds|
We noticed that one of our testers, a Fox Terrier with particularly pointed teeth, popped each squeaker with relative ease. It’s worth mentioning our other testers couldn’t break the squeakers as easily. But if your dog has piercing teeth, then he will likely be able to do the same.
This appeared to be a problem found in all the stuffing-free plush toys we reviewed. In an ordinary toy, the stuffing acts as a buffer, so your pup’s teeth can’t make direct contact with the squeaker and break it.
Fortunately, the busted speaker didn’t stop our pups from playing with the Skinny Peltz. In fact, one of our testers, an Irish Setter, wouldn’t put it down – he carried it everywhere he went.
For the price, you won’t find a better stuffing-free plush toy.
If you love the Skinny Peltz, you should check out the ZippyPaws Jigglerz. This toy is essentially an upgraded version of the Skinny Peltz. It also features crinkle paper in the head and tail that makes a crinkly sound when bitten by your dog. They are also lined with an extra layer of Cordura material and cross-stitched for extra durability.
5. Best squeaker-less plush dog toy
So, your dog loves squeaky toys, but your ears hate them? I get it. That constant squeak… squeak… squeak… soon gets old.
What if I told you there was a plush dog toy that squeaked but wouldn’t bother you? Sounds too good to be true, right?
Well, that’s where the Hear Doggy Ultrasonic squeaker toys come in. These plush toys feature what is known as a “silent squeaker.” Except it isn’t really silent. Instead, the sound is high-pitched, so only your pooch can hear it – similar to how an ultrasonic dog whistle works.
The Hear Doggy toys certainly offer what they promise. The squeaker is very large, almost the size of your fist and takes up the entire body section. When squeezed, it sounds like rushing air – similar to how a broken squeaker sounds when compressed.
If you are a short distance away, you won’t even notice the sound. My Border Collie was playing with this toy by my feet while I sat on the lounge drafting this very review. As I focused on my work, I didn’t notice the high-frequency speaker once!
I recommend this as a visiting toy. One that you can take to the office or a friend’s house, so others don’t have to listen to your pooch’s squeaking.
This silent squeak toy is available as a penguin, whale, blowfish or starfish. After much debate, I couldn’t pass up the adorable stuffed penguin. Each style is available in two sizes. Here are the exact measurements of our penguin:
|Small||7 x 6.2 x 3.5 inches||Small breeds|
|Large||9.5 x 7.8 x 4.2 inches||Medium/large breeds|
All our puppy testers reacted to the plush toy when it was squeezed, so they could certainly hear it. Curiously, one of our testers, an older Dalmatian, didn’t show any interest in the ultrasonic squeaker.
Instead, he much preferred the sound of our other louder squeakers. It might have been that his hearing was going or the sound simply didn’t excite him. It’s hard to say, but all our other testers excitedly followed the plush toy with their eyes every time we squeezed it.
But it wasn’t a total loss. While our Dalmatian wasn’t so keen on the sound, he still happily played games of fetch with this plush toy.
Silent, affordable and fun. There really isn’t another plush toy like the Hear Doggy range.
6. Best giant plush dog toy for large breeds
An extra-large dog, like a Great Dane, can make even normal-sized plush toys look like a bite-sized snack. It’s for this reason that many dog owners give their gentle giant an oversized plush toy to match.
When it came to extra-large plush toys, the choice is limited. Many owners we interviewed reported that they gave their dogs massive teddy bears instead, like the ones you win at the State Fair.
At 24-inches tall, our top pick looks comically big being carried by anything but the largest mouth. Introducing the Loofa Dog… a long plush toy with a ridiculous grin.
Looks a little like those draft stoppers you squeeze under your door, right?
Well, this slender plush toy is perfect for games of fetch, carrying and snuggling. I’ll add that due to how narrow the body is, any sized dog can clamp down and get a good grip – all our testers could carry this plush toy around in their mouth.
Although if your dog isn’t giant, you might want to choose a shorter size…
|Mini||6 x 2 x 2 inches||Extra small/toy breeds|
|Small||12 x 2 x 2 inches||Small breeds|
|Medium||18 x 3 x 3 inches||Medium/large breeds|
|Jumbo||24 x 3 x 3 inches||Giant breeds|
It was the jumbo size that made this plush toy stand out. Small breeds would be better suited to our other recommendations.
Oh, and like most other plush dog toys, it squeaks. Located inside the Loofa are two squeakers. One is in the nose, and the other is about ¾ of the way down, closer to the tail.
I’ll add that you might need to remove any breakables from the coffee table if you buy this. If your dog grabs the Loofa in the middle, it’s going to add some serious width to your dog, bumping into every surface as he carries it around your home. If your dog has ever tried to carry a giant stick home from his walk, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Not feeling the extra-long and slender Loofa Dog? Check out this Chunky Lamb Chop instead. Also from Multipet, this was our runner-up. The only thing that let it down was the cost. For the same price, you could buy two Loofa Dogs – when you have a giant pooch that doesn’t know his own strength, spare toys are a must!
An affordable plush toy for the giant dog in your life. Highly recommended.
7. Best plush dog toy for puppies
Can you imagine what it feels like to be ripped from your family and placed in a scary new home, all on your own? Sounds awful, right? Well, that’s exactly what your new puppy experienced.
Because of this, many puppies experience loneliness, fear and separation anxiety. This can result in unwanted cry-barking and whining.
It might surprise you to learn that a plush toy could be the solution to your pup’s loneliness…
The Snuggle Puppy is a plush toy that keeps your new pup company while he adjusts to his new home. And how it accomplishes this is actually quite clever…
First, this plush toy has a beating heart. Yes, really. Included in the box is a small heart-shaped vibrator. This small device slides inside the plush toy and simulates the pulsing heartbeat of mommy dog.
Powered by two AAA batteries (included), I was able to run the heartbeat 24/7 for just over 12 days. The sound isn’t obnoxious and is barely noticeable when placed inside the plush toy.
But that’s not the only comfort this plush toy provides. A single-use heat pack is also included in the box. This heat pack provides around 15 hours of heat and keeps your puppy warm and toasty as he rests on the plush toy. It’s just like getting warm cuddles from mommy dog!
While replacement heat packs are sold separately, it was more cost-effective to buy hand-warmers instead. These ones to be precise.
At 12-inches long, this plush toy will be bigger than most new puppies. It’s adorable watching your tiny pup snuggle up close.
Now, you might be put off by the idea of continuously buying batteries and heat packs. Don’t worry, I was too. But I’m happy to report that after a few weeks, our pint-sized tester was comforted by this plush toy without the heartbeat and heat. It may take some time, but you should be able to wean your puppy off these features too!
This plush toy is made for snuggling and not play. While it was able to hold up just fine to a gentle machine cycle, it tore too easily when our large Boxer gave it a good shake.
But that’s fine. This toy isn’t designed for that. Its sole purpose is to help your new pup settle in. And, it does this like no other plush toy on the market.
The plush dog toys that didn’t make the cut
While our top picks outperformed, the following plush toys were a letdown in one way or another.
Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t necessarily mean that these are bad plush toys. Some put up a great fight and were only narrowly edged out by our top picks. Others were more flawed. However, based on our testing, we see little reason to choose these plush toys over the recommendations above…
I really wanted to love the West Paw Salsa and Boogey. Made right here in America, they are incredibly durable and come with a money-back guarantee if your dog destroys them. There is a lot to love. Unfortunately, the fluffy coat on these gorilla-shaped plush toys kept falling off. On more than one occasion, we spotted the brightly colored fuzz in one of our testers’ mouths.
Another West Paw Product, the S-S-Stretch Snake, is actually pretty great. It’s made from recycled fabric, right here in the USA. At 34 inches, it was one of the longest dog plush toys we tested. If it were more affordable, it could have won the extra-large plush category. Still, highly recommended.
Haute Diggitiy Dog makes an entire range of pun dog toys, inspired by real-life products. From Starbarks coffees to Red Bulldog energy drinks and Furcedes cars, these plush toys are as adorable as they are hilarious. We tested their Grrrona Mexican Beer. Unfortunately, it was quickly punctured in casual play.
goDog’s plush toys feature what they call chew guard technology. While the body of the Skinny Rooster held strong, the same could not be said for its eyes – these fell off in the second play session.
The Squirrel from Ethical Pets Woodland Series might have had double stitching, but that didn’t matter when the fluffy tail sheds when bitten.
Unfortunately, Ethical Pets had another miss when their stuffing-less plush toy, the Skinneez Jumbo Bite Pig. I loved that it was the was the largest stuffing-free dog toy we tested. Unfortunately, the seam down the spine of the pig soon tore.
There isn’t much bad about the Kong Cozies range of plush toys. Available in10 fun characters, from a pink elephant to a green crocodile, there is a lot to choose from. The super plush fabric reminded us of the Duckworth Duck, which edged out the Kong Cozies on account of being cheaper.
JW Pet’s Crackle Heads were a strong contender for best stuffing-less plush toy. We tested the Ricky Raccoon Plush Toy. It made a crinkling, crackling sound when bitten or gnawed. Our dog testers always chose the squeaky plush toys over the crinkle ones.
Phew, if you made it this far, congratulations! You now know which plush dog toy is perfect for your dog.
A recap of our results…
The best dog plush toys we tested:
- Hide-A-Squirrel – Best all-around plush dog toy
- Duckworth Duck – Best squeaky plush dog toy
- HuggleHounds Knotties – Best plush dog toy for strong biters
- Skinny Peltz – Best no-stuffing plush dog toy
- Hear Doggy – Best squeaker-less plush dog toy
- Loofa Dog – Best plush dog toy for large/giant breeds
- Snuggle Puppy – Best plush dog toy for puppies
Which dog plush toy do you use to play with your pooch? Let me know in the comments below!