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best flying disks for dogs

Best Hard & Soft Frisbees for Dogs

Many dogs love to play Frisbee games with their owner, and the activity usually provides some needed exercise for your pup and smiles for you!

But in order to play disc-oriented games with your pup, you’ll need to have a couple of high-quality Frisbees and a willing pup to get started.

There are a million different flying discs on the market from which you can choose, and they vary widely in terms of their performance, weight and size, materials and overall design. So, you’ll need to learn a little more about flying discs to make the best choice for your dog.

Characteristics of Fantastic Frisbees for Canines

Before going further, let’s be clear about one tiny detail: The circular toy you throw to your dog is best called a disc, throwing disc, dog disc, flying disc or flier.

The term “Frisbee” is a trademarked name, owned by the company Wham-O. However, just as occurs with Q-tips (cotton swabs), ketchup (catsup) and Baby Powder (talcum powder), many people use the brand name when discussing discs made by any company. We’ll use the terms interchangeably, but just be aware that the term Frisbee refers to a specific product.

Your dog doesn’t care if you use a name brand throwing disc or not, so let’s move on to the characteristics that good throwing discs possess.

Generally speaking, the heavier of two otherwise identical discs will fly farther and straighter. However, they will also pack more “oomph,” making them a bit harder to catch.

Good dog discs are easy to throw and fly well. If you aren’t able to throw the toy well, your dog will struggle to learn to catch it. A good catch requires a good delivery!

The best throwing discs are designed so that your dog can grip them easily. Most dogs can grip a standard Frisbee, but many designed explicitly for dogs have features that make them better suited for Fido’s mouth. For example, many flexible dog discs are easier for pups to pick up off of flat surfaces.

Throwing discs must be rugged and durable enough to stand up to the wear and tear you and your dog will dish out. Cheap, low-quality discs will likely fall apart before you can get good value from them. Models labelled as bite-resistant are especially deserving of consideration.

If you are interested in learning more about the physics behind flying discs, and better understanding the principles at work, check out this Scientific American article, which delves into the subject and also provides some Frisbee-throwing tips.

dog frisbee reviews

The Rigidity Tradeoff: Hard vs Soft Disks

There are two basic types of discs available on the market: rigid (hard) and flexible (soft). Both are acceptable choices, and each have their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll just have to prioritize your concerns.

Hard Flying Disk Pros & Cons

Hard Frisbees are exactly like those you casually toss around the beach with your buddies. They are essentially a concave piece of plastic with a curled lip. Although they are not completely inflexible, they keep their basic shape at all times.

Hard discs are the primary type used by serious Frisbee aficionados – whether they are throwing them to a dog or another person. They fly for long distances and – given sufficient skill on the part of the thrower – can be tossed very accurately, enabling a more complex level of training and gameplay.

The main issue with hard Frisbees is that they can pack quite a wallop, and it isn’t hard to envision scenarios in which your dog takes a disc to the face or loses a tooth while trying to snatch it from the air. This may be especially problematic for small dogs. Hard flying disks can also be more difficult for your dog to grab when lying flat on the ground.

It’s also worth noting that serious Frisbees are very different than the cheap plastic freebies you might get at events or festivals. Your dog can easily make quick work of those flimsy things in seconds – plus when they break, the sharp plastic pieces can injure your dog, so it’s best to avoid the cheap disks all together.

Soft Flying Disk Pros & Cons

Soft Frisbees, on the other hand, flex if you bend them. They can be made of several different materials and fabrics, including semi-rigid rubbers, plastics or nylon. Most feature a pliable hoop or frame, and a softer center to make the toy even more flexible.

Soft flying disks aren’t weighted enough to travel a huge distance, and you won’t get the same kind of gorgeous disk arc as you will with hard counterparts.

However, soft disks have virtually no chance of hurting your dog, as they are so light. They also tend to be more compact, as some can fold in on themselves for easy transportation. This allows you to keep one in your car at all times in case of a last-minute pick up game.

Which is Best For Your Dog?

Hard Frisbees are the better choice for those who intend to take their disc-dog games seriously. They’re easier to throw far, and are more likely to provide those epic dog-leaping-in-air moments you may be fantasizing about.

Casual disc-dogs and their people may prefer to opt for soft discs, as they are clearly better choices from a dog-safety point of view. You’ll just have to deal with the fact that you won’t be able to make long, pin-point throws, and your dog may miss as many as he catches.

You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of different disks. However, once you choose the right one, who knows what your dog may become capable of? You and your four-legged bud might be making videos like this one by Kiki and Charlie!

Just don’t expect to be doing this on your first day of frisbee training!

3 Best Hard Frisbees for Dogs

If you value flight capability over safety, rigid discs are likely the best choice for you and your dog. Three of the best options available are detailed below:

Wham-O Eurablend Fastback Frisbee

About: The Eurablend Frisbee is a descendant of the original Frisbee, but this modern model benefits from years of careful planning, experience and engineering.

Features:

  • 9-inch diameter disc
  • Available in an assortment of colors
  • Flies well and travels great distances
  • Lighter than many comparable discs (140 grams)

PROS: This no-frills Frisbee is a great choice for those just getting into the activity, and in need of all the help they can get with regard to throwing accuracy and distance. Additionally, the Eurablend Frisbee is made of a special material that resists cracking in cold weather, for it is a great choice for owners and dogs living in northern latitudes.

CONS: The 9-inch-wide disc may be a bit wide for small disc dogs.

Hyperflight Jawz Ultra-Tough Disc

About: The Hyperflight Jawz Disc is a hard Frisbee designed by disc-throwing world champions to ensure it performs the way serious disc-dog teams demand.

Features:

  • Puncture resistant materials ensure the disc will last for many years of good times
  • Dual-grip design makes it easy to handle and throw
  • Blueberry color is easy to see at a distance

PROS: This 8 ¾ -inch-wide, 145-gram disc is designed for those dog-disc teams looking for maximum performance. Additionally, because it is slightly narrower than many other discs, it is easier for smaller dogs to catch. According to the manufacturer, this model is the toughest competition-approved canine disc available.

CONS: While not as wide as some other flying discs, it is somewhat heavy for its size. Also, like most other rigid discs, the Hyperflight Jawz Disc does not float in water, so it isn’t the best toy to use at the pool or lake.

Discraft Super Color Ultra-Star Disc

About: The Discraft Ultra-Star Disc is not specifically designed for use with dogs, however it deserves attention from serious disc-dogs and their people.

Besides being one of the best-performing discs available, the Ultra-Star has been the official disc of the USA Ultimate Championship Series since 1991.

Features:

  • 175-gram, 10 ¾-inch-wide disc provides enough heft to fly for long distances
  • Available in a variety of colors and designs
  • Designed for optimal flight performance

PROS: There’s a reason this disc is the world standard for the sport of Ultimate Frisbee: It is one of the best-flying discs available. If you are comfortable with a rigid Frisbee and interested in pushing the boundaries of your throwing skills, this is the disc for you and your pup.

CONS: The Ultra-Star is a heavy flying disc, which means that it will carry more force when your dog catches it, increasing the chances that your dog will suffer injury while using the toy. Think carefully about the inherent risks associated with this disc before deciding.

The Best Soft Frisbees

If you’re willing to give up a little throwing distance to give your dog a softer toy that is less likely to cause injuries, opt for a flexible model.

Note that some flexible discs are more rigid than others, but for our purposes, we considered all discs with an appreciable amount of flexibility to fit into this category.

Three of the best soft Frisbees available are listed below:

Floppy Disc Soft Flying Disc

About: The Floppy Disc is a flexible throwing disc designed to ensure your dog stays safe during play time. Comprised of a flexible rubber rim and a fabric center, the Floppy Disc flexes easily when your dog catches it.

Features:

  • Available in 7-, 10- and 12-inch-diameter models to suit dogs of all sizes
  • Pink-and-green color scheme make it easy to see the disc on any surface, from grass to snow
  • Floats in water, making it a great option for a dog water toy at the beach
  • Made in the USA

PROS: Most owners and their pooches report extreme satisfaction with the Floppy Disc. Additionally, the Floppy Disc is the least expensive Frisbee in our review, making it easy to try out, even if you’re on a budget.

CONS: A very small number of owners reported that the disc did not hold up well to their dog’s teeth, but this complaint can be found amid the reviews of almost every disc on the market.

Kong Flyer

About: The KONG Flyer is a tough, durable flying disc made from the same materials as the other KONG toys dog owners have come to love.
Features:

  • Made from soft, natural rubber in the USA
  • Flexible materials help protect your dog’s teeth, gums and face from damage
  • Available in both 7- and 9-inch sizes to suit dogs of all sizes
  • Grooves around the edge of the disc provide a comfortable, secure grip for the thrower

PROS: The KONG Flyers is one of the best-performing soft discs available. Most owners report that they are able to control the disc well enough to make it “float” or “hover” in the air, as is possible with most rigid discs.

CONS: The KONG Flyer may be safer than most rigid discs, but most owners report that it fails to fly as well as high-quality rigid discs do. The large model is also quite heavy (255 grams), which may make it difficult for some dogs to handle.

West Paw Design Zogoflex Zisc

About: The Zogoflex Zisc is a highly rated throwing disc, designed to fly like a rigid disc, while providing the superior safety of flexible materials. The Zisc is incredibly durable, and 100% guaranteed to hold up to your dog’s abuse by the manufacturer.

Features:

  • FDA-compliant disc is dishwasher-safe, non-toxic and free of BPAs or Phthalates
  • Available in four different colors: Aqua, Glow, Granny Smith and Tangerine
  • Made in the USA
  • Available in a 6 ½-inch (small) and 8 ½-inch (large) diameter models

PROS: Although a few owners did report that their dog eventually damaged the disc, most raved about its durability. Additionally, most owners found that the disc flew nearly as well as a traditional, hard Frisbee does.

CONS: Weighing about 225 grams, the Zisc is heavy; some owners reported that this was off-putting to their dog.

Ideal Frisbee-Fetching Dogs

Just about any dog can learn to play and enjoy disc games, but some breeds and body styles are clearly better suited for the activity than others are. If having a furry friend who can toss the disk around is a requirement, it may be worth seeking out a canine with certain Frisbee-compatible qualities.

best fribees for dogs

Some of the characteristics displayed by dogs that are well-built for the activity include:

  • Most of the dogs who excel at disc games are small- to medium-sized. Those on the small side may require smaller discs, and may never win a long-distance contest, but they are often quite skilled at freestyle competitions and games. Large and giant breeds can certainly have a blast playing disc games, but their size places higher demands on their joints and feet.
  • Disc dogs need to have a strong retrieving instinct, or need to be taught to enjoy the process. Otherwise, they’re likely to chase down the Frisbee, without feeling the need to bring it back to you. Fetching a disc yourself gets old quickly.
  • Most of the best disc dogs have plenty of endurance and love to play active games. Accordingly, your couch-potato pooch may not enjoy playing disc games – at least they won’t enjoy playing these games for very long.
  • Natural jumping ability is an important characteristic that most disc-dogs possess. Such dogs are usually built lightly and have a natural spring in their step.
  • Good disc-fetching dogs must be obedient and accept training readily. Some dogs simply love to learn and please their person, and these dogs are usually capable of learning Frisbee-based games.

Many mixed breed dogs have become disc-dog champions, and you shouldn’t let a pup’s mixed ancestry stop you from playing disc sports with him (provided that he is otherwise well-suited for the activity). However, a few breeds rise above the rest and represent great choices for disc-dog activities.

Some of the best breeds for disc games include:

  • American pit bull terriers / American Staffordshire terriers
  • Australian cattle dogs
  • Australian shepherds
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Border collies
  • Boxers
  • Bull terriers
  • German short-haired pointers
  • Golden retrievers
  • Labrador retrievers
  • Rat terriers
  • Weimaraners
  • Whippets

Staying Safe While Playing Frisbee with Your Dog

Throwing a disc around with your dog can be a great way to get some exercise for both of you. It’s also a fun activity that serves to stimulate your pooch’s brain and give you both another chance to strengthen your bond.

But, like most other outdoor activities, disc-play can be dangerous if you don’t follow a few common-sense guidelines. For example:

Only play disc games with your dog in fenced areas. This will help prevent your distracted pup from accidentally wandering into traffic or taking off after a squirrel.

Try to limit your initial disc-throwing sessions to times in which the park isn’t overrun with other dogs. Failing that, try to go to an empty, quiet portion of the park so you and your dog can play in peace. This will limit squabbles and competition with other dogs, thereby allowing your pup to focus on you and the disc.

Don’t allow your dog to play with his disc during down times – that’s when he should play with designated chew toys or other items. This will limit the damage to both the Frisbee and your dog’s teeth, which will save you money – and help prevent dental problems from developing.

Only engage in disc games and activities on an appropriate surface, such as soft grass. This will help protect your pup’s feet and joints, so that he can play disc games for years. It is also important to encourage them to land on all fours anytime they jump, as this will help distribute the impact better.

Be sure that you build up the duration of your disc-playing sessions gradually, so that your dog doesn’t overexert himself. Always allow your dog to take frequent breaks and that he has access to shade in hot weather. Provide small amounts of water frequently to ensure he stays properly hydrated (consider bringing along a dog water bottle during your flying disk outings).

Stop your disc-game session immediately if your dog suffers an injury. Some of the most common injuries that occur during this type of play include sprained ankles and injured foot pads.

Always consult with your veterinarian before engaging in a rigorous disc-game training regimen. Your vet may caution you that your dog is not ideally suited for the activity, or he or she may clear him to play to his heart’s content.

Playing Frisbee with Your Pup: Tips and Tricks

While some dogs appear supernaturally destined to catch a flying disc and learn the game more quickly than their owners, most dogs need some help learning how to play with a Frisbee.

Like any other time you are trying to teach your dog a new skill, you must break down the activity and teach it to them one step a time.

  1. Start by introducing your dog to the disc during your normal play time. You want to see your dog’s prey drive bubble to the surface, so wave it around a bit and give them a chance to sniff it and inspect it, if need be. You can play a little tug-of-war or keep away if that gets his interest.
  1. Take the toy away after a few minutes and give your dog plenty of affection and praise. Give him a treat if that’s a part of your normal training regimen.
  1. Bring the disc back out during your next play session. Hopefully, he will remember the toy and show immediate interest. If he doesn’t, try to entice him again as you did in the previous session.
  1. After playing with the toy for a few minutes, introduce the concept of the “release” command. If your dog does not already know this command, let him hold the toy in his mouth, say your chosen command (“give,” “leggo,” whatever) and add a hand signal if you wish and take the Frisbee. Give him praise or treats, lather, rinse and repeat.
  1. Once your dog has mastered the release command, it is time to start throwing him the disc from a very short distance. You don’t even have to do this outside – just stand about 3 to 6 feet away from your seated dog and toss him the toy. Praise him for catching it, issue your recall command (“here!”), praise him for coming and then give the release command (“leggo!”). Provide effusive praise or a treat once he’s completed the steps.
  1. Gradually begin increasing the distance between the two of you. As your dog becomes more skilled (and you learn to throw the Frisbee more effectively), you can start teaching him to start while in the heel position, so that he must chase down the racing disc.

best hard soft frisbees for dogs

***

Frisbees are great fun for many dogs and their owners, and you should consider trying one out with your pooch.

Disc games are a great way to spend some extra time with your dog and get him some much-needed exercise! Just be sure to keep your pup’s safety at the forefront of your mind and always start out slowly, as you would with any new activity.

Does your dog love to play disc games? Which disc have you found to work best for your needs? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author Ben Team

Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.

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