For small dogs, playtime is more than just a game. It’s a calling. In fact, for some small dog breeds, their ancestors were bred to chase or even dig for small animals. Most of these petite pups are no longer needed to perform the jobs they were bred for, but you can’t remove what’s in their DNA. Appeal to those instincts with dog toys!
“Many toy breed dogs are scaled down versions of full-size breeds or types of dog,” explains Amy Shojai, a certified animal behavior consultant (CABC) in Dallas, Texas. “For instance, the Chihuahua and Pug are Mastiff-types that may, as a result, enjoy toys they can wrestle and tug, [while] Toy Poodles are still retrievers at heart and often love fetch toys.”
To get the most out of your dog’s playtime, here are some of the best dog toys for small breeds.
Most dogs love to chew, but when it comes to smaller dogs, you need to watch what you give them.
“I don’t recommend hard chew toys that can break teeth,” Shojai says.
Instead, she recommends a soft chew toy, such as Planet Dog’s Orbee-Tuff bone.
Nicknamed the “doggie pacifier,” this bone toy is designed to be durable, yet flexible for soft chewers.
“The Orbee-Tuff products tend to be softer with more give, so this offers something the small dog can really bite down hard [on] without a danger of breaking teeth,” Shojai says.
The Orbee-Tuff bone toy is made out of recyclable, non-toxic material and is available in three colors: blue, green and red. Plus, it’s buoyant, which means you can take your game of fetch to the pool.
Retrievers aren’t the only dogs who can recover items. Small dogs bred to hunt typically excel at retrieving items, especially furry toys that squeak like the vermin they were trained to catch.
“[Since small dogs] generally don’t have the gnawing ferocity as larger canines, plush toys with squeakers inside work well for them,” Shojai says.
Frisco’s squeaking fox dog plush toy is made with ultra-soft plush fabric and is constructed with minimal stuffing for more play and less mess. Though this plush fox is soft and snuggly, it’s made to be tough, too, with durable nylon to stand up to what your little canine can dish out.
For a squeak-less option for small dogs there is the All Kind Toss & Play toy. Made with durable rubber, nylon and polyester, this 7.5-inch-long dog toy is designed to be tough for every type of play. The bow-shaped toy has handles on either end, perfect for a game of tug-of-war without the fear of accidentally getting nipped. And of course, you can toss it for a game of fetch. Plus, it’s constructed with reinforced Oxford piping to help stand up to strong jaws.
Small dogs who are more curious-minded may get bored easily if they’re not entertained and challenged. For these dogs, Shojai recommends the KONG classic dog toy.
“I’m a fan of the KONG toys and there are some sized just for the little guys,” she says.
The KONG Classic dog toy is made for energetic chewers, who love to keep busy. What makes this toy especially enticing to small breeds is what’s inside. Stuff your dog’s favorite treat inside the KONG or fill it with KONG Stuff N’ Easy Treats, available in peanut butter or bacon and cheese flavor, to help keep your petite pooch engaged for hours.
Most active small dogs love chasing after balls, especially balls that bounce around as much as they do!
“Small dogs may relish balls, but it’s important to find those sized appropriately for their mouths,” Shojai says.
Chuckit’s Ultra Rubber balls are available in a small size for little mouths. And if your dog likes water with his game of fetch, these balls are made to float, too.
Mental stimulation and play are equally important as physical play. With a dog interactive toy, you can entertain your canine through the power of wits.
“An interactive toy is a great option, as it can keep busy minds free of boredom,” Shojai says.
Give your pup a real brainteaser with Trixie’s puzzle toy. Designed with four treat-hiding compartments, your pup will have to scratch, pull and push his way to the rewarding treats. And after playtime is over, this dog toy is made to be easy to clean—just throw it in the dishwasher.
For a toy that can be used for different play styles there is the Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff raspberry toy.
“I like this toy because it has multiple purposes,” Shojai says.
Orbee-Tuff raspberry toy can be used for playing fetch, as a chew toy and it even dispenses treats.
Play is an important way to keep your small dog happy and healthy. With the right toys, you can appeal to your small breed’s unique instincts and provide him with the activity and mental enrichment he needs.
By Chris Brownlow and Lauren Bronston