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At DogLab, we’ve tested and reviewed 1,000+ different dog toys (seriously!), and we noticed something…
Not all toys are suitable for small dogs.
If you have a pocket-sized Pug, compact Chihuahua, petite Pomeranian or similar-sized small dog, then you can’t just grab any old dog toy from the shelf. Your mini pooch might not play with it or worse – it could actually be harmful to your dog’s health.
In this review, I share the best small dog toys on the market, tested by our team of tiny dogs for safety and suitability.
What is a small dog toy and does your pup need one?
The name says it all: It’s a small-sized toy for tiny dogs.
At first, this might not seem like a compelling reason to buy one, until you consider this:
Most dog products are made for medium to large-sized dogs.
That’s all well and good, but small dogs have unique problems that larger dogs don’t experience.
And because of this, small breeds like Shih Tzus and Pugs need their own special dog toys.
First, small dogs just aren’t as strong as larger dogs. A German Shepherd, for example, is basically a fur-covered ball of muscle. If you have ever played a game of tug-of-war with one, you know just how powerful they are – even holding on tight with two hands isn’t often enough to win.
Compare this with your Chihuahua.
Yep, two fingers are all you need to out-muscle these tiny pups.
My point is that these little pooches just aren’t as strong as larger breeds. This is important to consider as some toys, especially hard-rubber chew toys designed for aggressive chewers, are surprisingly heavy.
In fact, the heaviest dog toy we reviewed weighs a whopping 2 pounds. That’s almost as much as an adult Chihuahua! Far too heavy for a small dog to lift.
If your dog can’t lift it, then he probably won’t play with it either.
But it’s not just weight that you need to consider. The size of the toy also makes carrying it difficult.
See that couch in your living room? We both know that your mini pup loves to climb up. Like Simba from the Lion King, perched atop pride rock, your dog has an amazing view of the entire room – much better than the sight of your ankles while he is down on the floor.
What better place to play with your favorite dog toy?
To you and me, sitting on a couch is simple. But to your tiny dog and his stumpy legs, it’s like climbing Mt. Everest. And with a bulky toy in your dog’s mouth, it’s almost impossible to get up.
Small dogs have small mouths. It is for this reason that any toy you buy your dog should be small enough to carry easily. Dragging that oversized toy around your home is going to get old, and your tiny pup will quickly look for something more fun to do.
And, it goes without saying that the toy you give to your pocket-sized pup needs to be durable. Toy Chihuahuas have small-dog syndrome. I am convinced that if Chihuahuas were the same size as a large dog, they would be the most aggressive dog on Earth.
Don’t let her small size fool you! Those tiny jaws are capable of dishing out some serious damage. Plush toys, in particular, are easily shredded by the sharp teeth of small dogs. In fact, any toy that breaks is particularly dangerous to small breeds.
You see… Small dogs also have small mouths and airways. A small piece of rubber or torn fabric from a broken toy can easily become a choking hazard. As always, if you notice that your pocket-sized pup has broken a toy, dispose of it immediately.
Small dog toys are designed to address all these issues. Safe, light-weight and easy-to-carry, these toys are the perfect present for the miniature pooch in your life.
Let’s take a closer look at our favorite dog toys for small pups.
Best toys for small dogs
It might surprise you to learn that there are hundreds of small dog toys available to choose from. While some are amazing, others are downright terrible.
Today, I share the best of the best. The small dog toys that outclassed all others. It was tough, but we narrowed the winners down to just 6 toys – each unique in their own way.
Does your tiny dog chase after squirrels every time you go for a walk? Then, he is going to love the Hide-A-Squirrel Junior by Outward Hound.
Simply load each squirrel into a hole in the log and give the toy to your dog. Your tiny pooch will be entertained as he burrows his snout into each hole attempting to grab the squirrels.
Alternatively, you can give your pup a single squirrel to play with. Each squirrel squeaks when squeezed, great for getting your dog’s attention. Our French Bulldog was less interested in the log than she was in the squirrels. She preferred to chase after them during games of indoor fetch.
While the Hide-A-Squirrel is available in a wide range of sizes, only the Junior/Small size is suitable for little dogs. The smaller hole sizes mean that Chihuahuas cannot burrow their heads into each hole as easily, which prolongs play time. The larger sizes don’t provide the same challenge.
The Junior size also features smaller squirrels. These squirrels are easier to grip in tiny jaws than the larger Hide-A-Squirrel toys. Be mindful that while Outward Hound sells replacement squirrels, these are larger in size and will not fit into the Junior/Small log holes.
The Hide-A-Squirrel is known as a puzzle plush toy. You load each squirrel into the holes in the log, and your dog is entertained as he burrows his snout into the pockets, trying to grab each squirrel.
Now, it is worth mentioning that one of our testers didn’t understand how to play with the Hide-A-Squirrel. Pooka, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is adorable but also about as bright as a potato. She sniffed and pawed at the log before becoming disinterested and wandering off.
We were able to overcome this by squeaking a squirrel in front of her face a few times before 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.
Your tiny pup will love it… If he can keep it to himself.
When it comes to value for the money, few toys match the ZippyPaws Skinny Peltz. Sold in a package of three, you will have spares on hand – playtime doesn’t have to stop if your pup breaks one!
The main appeal of these woodland critters is that they contain no stuffing. Yep, other than two squeakers, these toys are all-fabric. It doesn’t matter if your plush-toy-shredding Dachshund manages to tear one open, he won’t make a mess or worse, eat the stuffing inside.
If you can’t tell from the photo, these toys are flat. At just ½-inch thick, they can barely be called a “plush toy.” But for tiny dogs, this is an advantage! Without the bulky stuffing, even toy Chihuahuas can easily carry the Skinny Peltz around the home.
Our fussy Yorkie tester, which is more like a spoiled princess than a dog, rejected all the other toys we gave her. However, she quickly fell in love the Skinny Peltz. When I threw them across the room, she chased after them. After brutally attacking the Skinny Peltz… Well, brutal for a Yorkie, she returned her “kill” and begged me to throw it again.
Like all plush toys, the Skinny Peltz is not suitable as a chew toy. Without the extra stuffing to protect the squeakers, an aggressive chewer can quickly pop the squeakers. Our Fox Terrier tester, with particularly pointed teeth, quickly busted the squeakers of the raccoon. Fortunately, he was still just as happy to play with his toy even though it no longer made a sound.
The same can’t be said of the seams, however. After some rough, for a small dog!, games of fetch and tug, the stitching held strong. If you want a stuffing-free plush toy for your miniature pup, then this is as good as it gets!
Do you want to see more options for plush toys? Check out our guide dedicated exclusively to the best plush dog toys.
It’s no secret that the West Paw Jive is the favorite ball of fetch at DogLab. It’s made in the USA, incredibly durable, dishwasher-safe, floats in water, fits in a ball thrower and can be thrown a great distance – as you see, there is a lot to love about this ball.
And, there is even a small size available for mini dogs. At 2-inches wide, it’s the perfect size for tiny jaws to grip and carry. Including toy breeds! You see, it isn’t perfectly round. It has grooves that allow tiny jaws to get a better grip…
The ball has a nice weight to it and travels a great distance when thrown. This weight makes it only suitable for outdoor play. When indoors, it hits the ground with a loud thud and is heavy enough to break a window.
To throw this ball the farthest distance possible, you need to buy a small-sized ball thrower that takes 2-inch balls. The Jive falls out of a standard ball thrower that takes 2½-inch tennis balls.
This is one of the most durable fetch balls we tested. After playing hundreds of games of fetch, these balls only have a few scuffs and scratches to show for their battle. Then, there is West Paw’s generous satisfaction guarantee. They offer either a refund, replacement or choice of a different toy from their product range if the ball breaks – now you see why this is our number-one recommendation for small pups.
… Unless you have a small, flat-faced dog, such as a French Bulldog or Pug. If that’s the case, then check out our next recommendation.
Small breeds such as Pugs and Pekingese have tiny, smooshed-in faces. Cute as they may be, these flat-faced breeds often have breathing problems. Ever seen your Pug just sit there, wheezing at you? You know what I’m talking about.
During energetic games of fetch, that wheezing gets worse. Can you imagine how difficult it must be to breathe through your mouth while carrying a ball at the same time?
If your squashed-faced dog sounds like she struggles to breathe during games of fetch, then check out the Breathe Right ball. The open structure lets air flow through the ball, allowing your dog to breathe easier. No matter how your pup wraps her jaws around it, there is an unobstructed path for air to flow through.
The Breathe Right is available in three sizes, but the smallest of dogs should stick to the small. At 2-inches wide, it’s easy for mini mouths to carry. The next size up is the same size as a tennis ball.
Now, the obvious drawback to the Breathe Right is the throwing distance. The lighter weight and open design just don’t go as far when thrown – even when using a ball launcher.
Fortunately, for Pugs and other small, flat-faced dogs with stumpy legs, the shorter distance was hardly an issue. It also made this ball more appropriate for indoor play.
I’m going to level with you… It was quite difficult to find a perfect chew toy for small dogs because our favorite chew toys, such as the Goughnuts Ring, are made from heavy, hardwearing rubber. Unfortunately, these are both too heavy and too large for the smallest of dogs to carry around.
While a mini Dachshund’s jaws may not be as powerful as a German Shepherd’s, 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, until it finally gives in.
Experts agree that chew toys that are too hard can cause internal damage and broken teeth. Under this guidance, we excluded antlers, hooves, bones, nylon chews and plastic toys as suitable chew toys for small dogs.
Fortunately, even with all these restrictions in place, there is one chew toy that is perfectly suitable for small dogs – the West Paw Hurley.
Made right here in the USA, this bone-shaped chew toy is incredibly durable, floats and can even be washed in the dishwasher!
But most importantly, it holds up to small jaws. At just 4½-inches long, the mini size is ideal for tiny mouths. We found it perfect for Chihuahuas and Rat Terriers. Those of you with a larger but still small dog should choose the next size up, which is 6-inches long. A Havanese, for example, is right on the border for sizing up.
Its light weight made it easy to carry around. Our Pomeranian tester was even able to climb on top of the couch with the chew toy clenched between his jaws.
The Hurley is one tough chew toy. Part of the reason for the durability is the rounded shape. As the bone rolled around, it ensured our testers were not constantly working on the same place.
After weeks of chewing, from various pint-sized pups, there were only a few isolated puncture marks. No sign of tearing or breaking rubber. The patented rubber that makes up the West Paw’s range of toys is certainly resistant to small jaws.
Best of all, the Hurley chew toy is backed by West Paw’s satisfaction guarantee. If the chew toy breaks, they offer either a refund, replacement or alternate product from their toy range.
Let’s face it… Small dogs have small legs. While your pint-sized pup might have dreams of chasing down and grabbing a long, arcing Frisbee throw, it probably isn’t going to happen.
That’s where the Chuckit! Flying Squirrel comes in. This soft, design is perfect for short throws – giving your small dog half a chance of catching it mid-air.
While throwing the unusual shape did take some getting used to, I was eventually able to get enough hang time on a short throw that even a stumpy-legged Dachshund could almost chase it down.
Besides a loose thread, which we cut off, the Chuckit! Flying Squirrel barely showed any signs of wear during our testing period. And, we weren’t exactly gentle with it. In fact, on more than one occasion, it became a tug toy when other dogs became interested in it when we played fetch at the local dog park.
The Flying Squirrel is available in more than one size. For your tiny pup, grab the small size. While it was still quite large for our Chihuahua tester, she had no issues bringing it back. Our runner-up choice, the Kong Puppy Flyer was just a little too rigid. While it might be more appropriate for a slightly larger small dog, our Chihuahua kept tripping over the Puppy Flyer when she returned it.
Want to see the other Frisbees we reviewed? Check out our guide on the best dog Frisbees for more recommendations.
Phew, if you made it this far, congratulations! You now know which toy is best for your small pooch.
A recap of our results…
The small dog toys we tested:
- Hide-A-Squirrel Junior – Best small squeaky plush toy
- Skinny Peltz – Best small stuffing-free plush toy
- West Paw Jive – Best small fetch ball
- Chuckit! Breathe Right – Best small fetch ball for flat faces
- West Paw Hurley – Best small chew toy
- Chuckit! Flying Squirrel – Best small dog Frisbee
What do you think the best toy for small dogs is? Let me know in the comments below!Tagged With: play