Don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure there are approximately 8 million pet toy manufacturers currently in business.
Maybe it just feels that way because I not only buy (entirely too many) toys for my pup, but I also write about them on an almost daily basis. And I’m constantly stumbling across new manufacturers and brands in the process.
That sounds like a good thing, but it’s not. If this seemingly infinite number of brands were responsible for a number of significantly different products, this would be of great value to people and their pets. But that’s not what happens – at least, not very often.
The vast majority of these companies are essentially interchangeable. They produce the same kind of stuff made from the same materials in the same sizes and colors. Aside from the marketing used to sell them and their price point, there’s just not much of a difference between them.
But there are a handful of dog toy manufacturers who produce unique toys that are often based around a similar theme or point of emphasis. Some, for example, focus on making toys for aggressive chewers, while others try to implement new safety measures. Others invent entirely new toy categories or produce toys that’ll tickle your funny bone.
By familiarizing yourself with a few brands that are well-suited for you and your pup, you can make the toy-buying process easier for you and more rewarding for your pet.
We’ll try to help you along below, as we point out some of the most important dog toy brands and manufacturers.
Looking for toys right away? Check out our quick picks below, or keep reading for more toy brand info and favorite toy selections!
– KONG –
KONG was founded way back in 1976 when the founder, Joe Markham, began making unusually shaped chew toys out of a very durable (and now proprietary) rubber.
These toys – which some people describe as snowman-shaped – feature an internal cavity, designed to accommodate a treat.
In subsequent years, the company began making several other types of toys out of the same material, and most of these also incorporated a treat compartment of some type. They’ve also grown to produce several different classic KONG sizes and styles to match different canine needs. Eventually, they expanded into a number of other pet-related categories.
They not only produce a vast array of toys, but they also produce things like harnesses and treats that are specifically designed to be used with the toys.
Across all of these categories, KONG tends to emphasize quality and durability above all else. You’ll usually pay more for a KONG product than you would for products made by some of their competitors, but they’ll usually last longer.
Our favorite KONG products:
- Red KONG Classic – The iconic toy we know and love, can be stuffed with treats or even entire frozen meals for hours of amusement)
- KONG Extreme – A variation on the classic red KONG that’s rougher and tougher for aggressive chewers.
- KONG Wobbler – A toy designed to sit on the ground while your dog knocks into and paws at it for treat-dispensing fun!
– West Paw –
West Paw Design is a company that makes a lot of different pet products, but their primary claim to fame is their collection of incredibly durable toys with bizarre names.
They make many different types of toys, ranging from fabric-based toys that are intended for tug-of-war to balls designed to bounce in odd ways. They also make puzzle toys that are designed to stimulate your pup’s mind and keep him out of trouble.
West Paw’s most notable collection of toys is their Zogoflex line, which features a variety of tough chew toys that come in several different forms, designed for dogs who chew with varying intensities.
Many of their toys float in water, and they’re all made in the company’s Bozeman, Montana factory and backed by the company’s “Love It Guarantee.”
The company also embraces a number of environmentally friendly practices, working to create sustainable, eco-friendly dog toys. They even manage a Zogoflex recycling program, which helps keep old toys from ending up in landfills.
Our favorite West Paw products:
- Zogoflex Tux Interactive Dog Chew — This durable, treat-dispensing toy will help keep your pup occupied for hours.
- Zogoflex Hurley Durable Bone Chew — This chew toy is not only supremely durable, but it floats in water too!
- Zogoflex Bumi Tug of War Toy — This uniquely designed chew toy stretches up to twice its length to provide hours of tugging fun. It can work as a great training toy too!
– Nylabone –
Nylabone is a US-based dog toy manufacturer located in Neptune City, New Jersey.
Founded way back in 1955, Nylabone not only focuses on chew toys, edible chews, and dental treats, but they also produce a range of dental products, including toothpaste, dental wipes, and toothbrushes too.
Most of Nylabone’s chew toys are made from a special type of nylon, which is designed to hold up better than the materials found in lower-quality chew toys. Many even feature bristles or other projections, which help clean your dog’s teeth and gums while he plays.
Their chew toys come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, as well as different levels of resiliency (some are made for average chewers, while others are appropriate for power chewers).
Nylabone also produces a few interactive toys, which are designed with a hard-to-access compartment to store a treat. This will keep your dog busy and keep his brain spinning while he tries to figure out how to get the tasty reward. They also produce a variety of edible chew treats, flavored with things like peanut butter or bacon.
If you are looking for a good chew toy for your pet, you’ll definitely want to give Nylabone products a look.
Our favorite Nylabone products:
- Textured Chew Ring — This ring-shaped chew toy features a great texture and a flavor dogs love.
- Dura Chew Textured Dog Chew — This bone-shaped chew toy features raised bristles to help keep your pup’s teeth clean.
- DuraChew Double Bone — A bacon-flavored chew toy with a unique shape that most dogs love.
– Tuffy (VIP Products) –
Some pet toy manufacturers maintain a pretty visible public profile, but others tend to lurk in the shadows a bit, simply pumping out high-quality pet toys.
VIP Products – the Arizona-based company that produces the Tuffy pet toy line – is an example of the latter. They don’t have a giant social media footprint like many other companies, and their website is pretty bare-bones. But their toys are top-notch.
VIP Products makes a number of different types of pet toys, but the Tuffy product line is likely their most popular with pet owners.
Tuffy toys are fabric-based toys that are great for playing fetch or tug-of-war. Many of them float and contain multiple squeakers to keep your pooch excited. You can even machine-wash them (they should, however, be air-dried).
Part of the reason Tuffy toys are so popular with pet owners is their nearly indestructible nature. They’re made from a combination of different fabrics, including soft fleece and industrial-grade luggage material. The toys come in all sorts of fun shapes, including animals (the octopus is my favorite), rings and bones.
While you can certainly toss a Tuffy toy around the backyard (or pool) with your pet, they’re probably most valuable for dogs who like to tug on their toys with mom or dad.
Our favorite Tuffy products:
- Gear Ring — This gear-shaped tug toy is ideally fashioned for playing with your pooch and rated as a 9 on the manufacturer’s TuffScale.
- Boomerang — The Tuffy Boomerang is great for playing tug-of-war or fetch with your four-footer.
- Barnyard Animal Sheep — The Barnyard Sheep is a cute chew toy, rated as an 8 on the TuffScale.
– Outward Hound –
Outward Hound is a pet products brand based in Colorado that manufactures a variety of toys, feeding dishes, collars and more.
Outward Hound describes itself as a single company, made up of five different brands: Outward Hound (the name for one of their brands and the entire company), Petstages, Bionic, Dublin Dog, and Nina Ottosson.
Outward Hound’s namesake product line is comprised of plush toys (including interactive plush toys, which are pretty unique in the marketplace), outdoor toys, interactive toys and a line of toys made from fire hose material.
Many of their toys have a humorous (if occasionally a bit dark) flair, and most are pretty adorable.
Outward Hound’s toy line is really varied, so most owners should be able to find a product that is well-suited for their pup.
Personally, I think their Doggy Drencher – an attachment designed to go on the end of your garden hose – is one of their coolest offerings. After hooking it up to your hose and turning on the water, the toy will spin around in a way that’ll drive most dogs crazy.
After reviewing their marketing materials and videos, you can’t help but feel like the employees at Outward Hound really enjoy what they’re doing and are honestly striving to make the best dog toys possible.
Outward Hound even manages a program called the WOOF Pack, in which owners can test out new product ideas and provide feedback.
Our favorite Outward Hound toys:
- Hide-A-Squirrel Puzzle Toy — This is a multi-purpose, interactive toy that you can use to play in a number of ways with your dog.
- Bionic Bone — The Bionic Bone is not only good for playing tug-of-war or fetch, you can also hide treats in both ends of the bone to keep your dog busy.
- Tail Teaser Flirt Pole — Flirt poles give you a chance to play with your dogs in a number of fun and brain-stimulating ways.
– Benebone –
Benebone is a US-based pet toy manufacturer, whose claim to fame is their original Benebone Wishbone – a nylon chew toy that is flavored with real ingredients, like bacon, chicken, and peanut butter.
Following the Wishbone’s success, Benebone began branching out and producing a few other types of chew toys.
Their Maple Stick, for example, is designed to replace the real sticks dogs often like to chew. It is made in the shape of a real tree branch, and it is made from a combination of nylon and real maple wood.
The company also manufacturers tooth-cleaning toys and interactive toys that are designed to hold a treat.
It is important to note that Benebone toys are not edible – the manufacturer goes to great lengths to ensure customers understand this, and that any Benebone toy that becomes damaged should be discarded.
Because of the nylon used in their construction, Benebone toys are pretty resilient, but some dogs are still able to destroy them. However, Benebone will provide refunds to customers whose dogs demolish the toy in a matter of hours or days.
Our favorite Benebone toys:
- Wishbone Dog Chew — The original Wishbone Dog Chew is available in three flavors and features a dog-friendly shape, which is easy for pups to grip.
- Dental Dog Chew — This double-ended chew toy is features ridges to help keep your dog’s teeth clean.
- Pawplexor Dog Toy — This flavored toy has a special compartment in the center that’ll hold a treat or bully stick.
– Chuckit! –
Chuckit! is a UK-based pet toy company that specializes in producing fetch-related toys.
In the 1990s, the company introduced their first major toy – the ChuckIt! Sports Launcher, a long, plastic wand with a gripping end designed to grip a tennis ball.
The ChuckIt! Sports Launcher not only makes it easy for owners to pick up their dog’s tennis ball without having to bend over, but it also makes it easier to throw the ball long distances.
This is very helpful for owners who may not have a major-league-caliber pitching arm. It even helps you avoid having to pick up a slobber-coated tennis ball with your hands.
After finding success with their original toy, ChuckIt! began producing an array of other fetch-related toys, including several other ball launchers and a variety of balls that work with the launchers.
Most of the balls are designed to do unique things, like whistle when flying through the air, bounce erratically or float in the pool. They also produce a few toys designed for tug-of-war-style play.
ChuckIt’s success gave rise to a number of competitors, but none have been able to supplant ChuckIt! in the marketplace.
Our favorite Chuckit! toys:
- Chuckit! Ultra Ball — The Ultra Ball bounces, floats and flies like a dream. It is a great toy for games of fetch.
- Chuckit! Ball Launcher — The Ball Launcher is available in several sizes, allowing you to select the best one for your ball-throwing needs.
- Chuckit! Flying Squirrel — The Flying Squirrel is a frisbee-style toy that is packed with dog-friendly features, like raised edges, which make it easier for dogs to pick up.
– Hyper Pet –
Hyper Pet produces an array of pet-related gear, including chew toys, flavored nylon chews, tie downs, and retractable leashes. However, they’re probably best-known for their various ball- and toy-launching devices.
They make a few lever-style tennis ball throwers (such as the Hyper Fling), but they also make several that work like guns or slingshots.
Most of Hyper Pet’s toys are designed to be very durable and they’re all made from high-quality materials. Several of their toys are designed to mimic real animals, including ducks, opossums, and raccoons.
They even have a line of toys that are clad with Realtree Camouflage prints.
Many of their toys are specifically designed to work in multiple ways. For example, some are excellent chew toys, but they can also be launched via one of Hyper Pet’s launching toys.
Hyper Pet was founded in 1983, and the company (including their production facilities) are located in Wichita, Kansas.
Some of our favorite Hyper Pet toys are:
- Flippy Flopper Dog Frisbee — Hyper Pet’s frisbees are easier for dogs to use than traditional frisbees and they float in water.
- Throw-N-Go — Hyper Pet’s version of a tennis ball thrower not only works well, but it comes with a place to store a backup ball too.
- Real Skinz Plush Toy with Squeaker — Hyper Pet offers a variety of natural-looking animal-themed chew toys, each containing a squeaker for added stimulation.
The Bottom Line: What Brand Should You Focus On?
You needn’t be a brand snob about your dog’s toys. If you find a good chew toy that works for your pup, then that is all that matters – even if it is made by a relatively unknown brand.
However, you’ll often find that you can simplify the toy-buying process and obtain the best toys for your dog by focusing on the brands that excel in different product categories.
|The Type of Toy You Want||The Brands You Should Consider First|
|Durable Chew Toys||KONG or West Paw|
|Fetchable Toys and Launchers||Hyper Pet or ChuckIt!|
|Flavored Chew Toys||Benebone|
|Plush Toys||Outward Hound|
|Tugging Toys||Tuffy (VIP Products) or Hyper Pet|
|Interactive Toys||KONG, West Paw, or Outward Hound|
These obviously aren’t the only dog toy manufacturers and brands around, but they are some of the best. So, whether you are a new pet owner looking for your pup’s first toy, or a pet-owning veteran simply looking for some other options, check out the brands described above.
Do you have a favorite pet-toy brand? We’d love to hear about it. Tell us about the brand and your favorite toy in their lineup below!
Personally, I’m a pretty big fan of the toys produced by KONG and Hyper Pet. I’ve only purchased one Hyper Pet toy before (the Flying Duck), but it seemed to be exceptionally well-made and my pooch loved it – until, that is, she decided to drop it in the forest when I wasn’t looking. Hopefully, some other dog found it and is enjoying it to this day.
On the other hand, I’ve purchased a number of KONG products over the years, spanning several different dogs. I really appreciate the durability of the products, and my dogs have always loved them. I actually bought a KONG Pacifier for my current pooch the day I brought her home, and she still enjoys it three years later.
She also has a KONG Goodie Bone. She likes when I smear dog-safe peanut butter in the treat compartments and let her have at it (although this does make a pretty big mess).