Almost all dogs love toys. Not only are they fun to play with, but they’re also important for your dog’s mental and physical health. Providing your dog with plenty of high-quality toys can prevent problem behaviors like destructive chewing, rough-housing or whining. For large dogs like Labradors, it’s not quite as simple as just walking into a store and buying any old chew toy. Want to know the best toys for big dogs? In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about buying the proper dog toy. Then we’ll list 5 of the very best toys for Labs and other large breeds.
Why dog toys are important
- Relieve boredom and anxiety: Just like humans, dogs need something to occupy them throughout the day to keep their minds and bodies stimulated. Directing this energy toward dog toys will prevent other destructive behaviors, like inappropriate chewing.
- Teething: Introducing novel dog toys regularly is especially important for puppies, who need something to chew on as their teeth come in.
- Improve learning and attention: Certain dog toys, such as puzzles, can even help strengthen your dog’s brain and attention.
- Physical exercise: Walks and runs are important, but your dog’s jaw and mouth needs exercise too. Dog toys provide this easily.
Why labs and other large breeds destroy toys
- Strength or sharp teeth of breed: Many chew toys are not the best toys for labs and other large breeds, since they often get destroyed simply due to the dog’s strength. The dog may not intend to ruin the toy, but do so anyway as a result of their strength and sharp teeth. The best dog toys for large breeds are tough enough to survive their strength.
- Teething: Perhaps the most obvious reason for destroying toys is teething. If your dog is still young, they’re much more likely to chew toys until they’re broken simply because they need to stimulate their gums.
- Boredom: Many dogs destroy toys simply because they are bored. If they have limited toys and no other avenues for play, they will continue to wrestle with the same toy until it’s totally ruined. The seams come undone, the stuffing comes rolling out, and even then they’re not done destroying!
- Anxiety: Other dogs have high levels of anxiety, for which relentless chewing can be a reliable outlet.
- Obsession: Similarly, many dogs can become obsessive over toys — they don’t feel satisfied unless they continue to chew.
- Learning: Whether your dog is young or old, they’re constantly learning new things about the world around them. Of course, dogs don’t have hands to use to learn about the world. Instead, they use their mouth.
- Exercise jaw muscles: Lastly, it can feel satisfying for your dog to chew the a toy relentlessly because of the physical effect it has on their jaw muscles.
Why unsafe chew toys can be dangerous
- Choking hazards: Toys that are too small for your dog represent an inherent choking hazard, as they may accidentally swallow the toy. The best toys for labs to chew are often that little bit bigger. Toys with small moving parts pose the same issue. Steer away from cooked bones or other chewable items that may break off into pieces during chewing.
- Breaking teeth: Hard toys such as antlers, bones, hooves or rawhide, can actually cause damage to the teeth.
- Allergies: Some dogs are allergic to latex, rubber, plastic or certain food ingredients including meat.
- Digestion problems: Many dogs have trouble digesting certain substances, such as dairy or other foods. Pay careful attention to your dog’s digestive response to different foods and toys.
Dog Toy Safety Tips
- Choose only dog-proof toys: All toys are not created equal. A toy made for children is generally not dog-proofed enough to be safe for your dog. It may contain any number of moveable or swallowable parts that could pose a choking risk to your dog. They may also contain materials that are not safe to ingest.
- Avoid toys with squeakers: Toys with squeakers seem like a lot of fun — they get your dog’s attention and make him want to hunt that toy down. However, a lot of dogs won’t rest until they get the squeaker out of the toy. Those tiny plastic balls are the perfect size to go down your dog’s throat accidentally.
- Avoid rawhide chew toys: Rawhide toys are another option that seem wonderful at first, but are actually not such a good idea. Rawhide is hard and brittle. It can not only break off into pieces that can choke or harm your dog, but can also damage your dog’s teeth.
- Watch out for other choking or health hazards: Be careful not to buy toys that contain ingredients that your dog will have trouble ingesting. Buy toys that only contain parts that are too large for your dog to choke on. Remove any ribbons, buttons, eyes or squeakers ahead of time.
The Top 5 Indestructible Chew Toys
Kong Extreme Dog Toy
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Kong toys are well-known for being both safe and durable, making them one of the best dog toys for big dogs. They’re also extremely engaging for many dogs, and they come in different sizes so that you can choose what works for your breed. Even powerful chewers won’t be able to chew through the tough rubber compound used to make these toys.
To draw interest to the toy, you can stuff them with Kong treats or any treats that will fit properly into the toy. Since it’s round, it can be used for catching or bouncing around as well as for simple chewing.
Some users have mentioned that this toy actually still couldn’t withstand their dog’s chewing, as once they obtained the treat they continued to gnaw at vulnerable parts of the rubber. However, for most dogs, this toy will at least prolong their chewing for a longer period of time.
All sizes of this toy are under $20.
Goughnuts Indestructible Chew Toy
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The Goughnuts toy is pricier than the Kong, but for some dogs it’s even more long-lasting. Goughnuts is so confident of this toy’s durability that they include a red “indication layer” that shows when your dog has chewed through the outer black layer. At that point, you can return the chewed toy to Goughnuts and receive a replacement.
The red indication layer is also designed with your dog’s safety in mind. Chewing a toy into pieces can cause parts to come off that can choke your dog, so taking the toy away once they’ve reached the red layer should prevent that risk. This can add some peace of mind for those times when you need to leave your dog alone with a toy.
Users with large, powerful dog breeds say this is one of the only dog toys that can withstand their dog’s chewing for any real period of time. The high price is worth it in this respect. Though your dog may still eventually chew through this toy, it will take such a long time that the toy is well worth the money.
Rocco & Roxie Supply Co Tough Nearly Indestructible Toy
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If your Labrador is into balls, this chew toy from Rocco & Roxie may be the perfect solution. Regular tennis balls can quickly become shredded and unusable, but this toy is made from a tough plastic compound that’s safe for pets and withstands determined chewing.
Dog owners say this toy is sturdy enough for Labs, pit bull types and other strong breeds. It’s great for playing catch, but it will also entertain many dogs while you’re away. They can chew away without causing damage, and the material is flexible enough that they can exercise their jaws.
This ball is among the most affordable on this list — under $15 for either size — and it comes in two colors depending on the size of the ball. It also has a hollow middle, so you could stuff it with a treat.
Himalayan Dog Chew
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This dog chew is quite unique. Unlike other toys on this list, it’s made from an edible material and is not designed to last forever. Instead, it’s meant to be savored and enjoyed over the course of many hours.
These dog chews are usually very safe, but there are some key things you should watch out for. Firstly, this isn’t a toy you necessarily want to leave alone with your dog. The material is tough, but there’s still a chance your dog could break small pieces off. Additionally, when the chew gets small enough, it could be swallowed whole and create an issue. Some users like to microwave the last chunk to make it safely chewable.
These chews are made from yak and cow milk, so if your dog is particularly sensitive to dairy, you may want to steer clear.
Dog owners speak high praises of this toy. When it works, it works. The chews last for hours, so by offering them at strategic times you can stretch out the experience for many days.
Nylabone Dura Chew Textured Toy
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Lastly, the least expensive durable chew toy on this list: the Dura Chew from Nylabone. Nylabones come in multiple different flavors, which can help with maintaining your dog’s interest. They’re made of durable nylon.
Despite the yummy flavors, this toy is actually not designed to be eaten. Instead, it’s meant to be chewed for a long period of time. The flavor is just a plus, and many dog owners say their dogs greatly appreciate it.
The Nylabone will eventually become whittled down by your dog. If it becomes too small or sharp to be safe, simply take the toy away and replace it with a fresh one. These toys are so affordable that replacing them isn’t an issue.
Some buyers with large dogs say these toys last as long as 3 or 4 months, while others say their dogs can go through 3 Dura Chews a month. As always, it depends on the dog, but at such a low price point it’s certainly worth a try.
We all want to provide our dogs with the happiest life possible. With all the unconditional love they show us, the least we can do for them is buy them the very best toys money can buy! Once you try the best toys for Labs, you’ll never want to go back to regular chew toys.
Durable and safe toys are not only great for your pup, but will also allow you to find peace of mind knowing that your dog is safely and happily engaged whether you’re home or not.