Few breeds have the drive, determination, and devotion to play seen in German shepherds. These German gems work hard but play harder and are some of the toughest pups on their toys , so finding a good, lasting fit can be challenging.
We’ve rounded up the best toys for German shepherds and some tips for finding the most enriching toys for your pup below.
Quick Picks: Best Toys for German Shepherds
The 11 Best Toys for German Shepherds
Finding the right toy for your German shepherd can be tricky, but we’ve wrangled up the top picks in several categories to give you some solid options. Check out these great German shepherd dog toys.
1. Goughnuts Black MAXX Pro 50 Ring
About: Offer your pup a solid chew or enjoy rounds of fetch with the Goughnuts Black MAXX Pro 50 Ring, a tough rubber toy designed for heavy-duty doggos like German shepherds. It doesn’t have any small portions or squeakers that can be chewed away, keeping your sniffer safe from choking and ingesting things he shouldn’t.
- Made of non-toxic, natural rubber
- Large, broad design safe for chewing (6.25” diameter!)
- Manufacturer offers a lifetime replacement or refund guarantee if damaged
- Made in the USA
- Strong rubber build can withstand a hardcore chewer like a German shepherd
- Comes with a manufacturer’s lifetime replacement or refund guarantee if damaged
- Can be used as a chew or fetch toy
- More expensive than most chews, though it comes with a lifetime guarantee
- Strong rubber smell off-putting to some pet parents
About: Give your smartypants shepherd a brain workout with CleverPet, a canine gizmo that dispenses his favorite treats or kibble as a reward for completing preloaded games and challenges. Using lights, this training gadget presents puzzles for your pup to solve and adjusts the difficulty as he progresses, keeping him interested in ongoing learning and fun.
- Designed by experts in automated animal training
- Connects with an app for monitoring your dog’s progress and setting limits on food intake to prevent pigging out
- Treat reservoir can hold up to 2.5 cups of kibble
- Made with a stainless steel bowl and non-slip base to prevent treat-robbing
- Provides challenges at increasing difficulty to keep smart pups like shepherds engaged
- Lets you control how many treats your dog can access
- New games and challenges are available for free as they’re developed
- Requires WI-FI and app use
- On the pricey side
3. Kong Extreme
About: Tempt your fur kiddo’s taste buds with KONG Extreme, a strong, natural rubber chew you can stuff with peanut butter, cheese, kibble, and more. It’s also freezable, making getting the goods trickier.
- Bouncy material perfect for unpredictable rounds of fetch
- Extreme design meant to withstand aggressive chewers
- Dishwasher safe for simple cleaning
- Made in the USA with natural, dog-safe rubber
- Can be filled with your shepherd’s favorite snacks for engaged play
- Durability won rave reviews from most pet parents
- Can be cleaned in the dishwasher to keep everything fresh
- Some dogs aren’t a fan of chewing rubber
- Erratic bounce can be a problem inside (don’t toss it in your living room!)
4. West Paw Jive Ball
About: Send your shepherd scrambling in every direction after West Paw’s Jive Ball, a bouncy ball whose unusual shape sends it flying erratically during play. It also floats in water, letting you take it to the pool or the lake.
- Made of non-toxic, BPA-free plastic you can recycle
- Dishwasher safe for deep cleaning as needed
- Manufacturer has a Love It Guarantee against damage
- Made in the USA
- Crazy bounce is perfect for wearing out your shepherd
- Owners love its durability
- Comes with the manufacturer’s Love It Guarantee against dog damage
- Somewhat heavy, which can be an issue for older dogs or puppies
- Extreme chewers can damage the ball
5. Goughnuts MAXX Tug HD
About: The Goughnuts MAXX Tug HD is up for handling games of tug with your determined doggo with its thick rubber construction. Its figure-8 design offers both tug players a handle, and when not used in epic matches of tug-of-woof, the toy can be used as a chew or fetch object.
- Made of non-toxic rubber
- MAXX line is specifically for heavy chewers like German shepherds
- Company offers a lifetime replacement guarantee if your dog damages the tug
- Made in the USA
- Most pet parents give the tug a round of a-paws for durability and overall quality
- Comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee from the manufacturer
- Doesn’t have any small pieces or handles for dogs to gnaw at
- Pricier than most dog toys
- Strong rubber smell can be off-putting to some dogs and owners
6. KONG Goodie Bone
About: As cute as it is tough, the KONG Goodie Bone has the classic bone shape we all know and love with the powerful natural rubber construction super chewers demand as a member of KONG’s Extreme line. It’s available in medium and large sizes, with large being best for German shepherds.
- Made with natural, dog-safe rubber
- Ends can be stuffed with your dog’s favorite snacks
- Shape is easy for dogs to hold while chewing
- Made in the USA
- Most owners praise the bone’s durability, even for aggressive chewers
- Stuffable ends add to the chew’s appeal for pickier pups
- Affordably priced
- Not every dog is a fan of rubber chews
- Rarely, super chewers have destroyed these
7. Mammoth Flossy 3-Knot Rope
About: Give your rope-loving shepherd the gift of fun with the Mammoth Flossy 3-Knot Rope, a long strand of knotted dog-safe fibers that can be used for all sorts of games, whether your pup’s a chewer, fetcher, or tug-of-war champion. Gentler on teeth than other tug toys, it’s a great addition to your dog’s toy collection with proper monitoring.
- Made of Norther American cotton-poly blend knotted yarn
- Rope fibers gently clean teeth as your shepherd gnaws and plays
- Offered in 2, 3, 4, and 5-knot styles, plus nine sizes
- Made in Mexico or China
- Good for chompin’, shakin’, tuggin’ fun (and cleaning teeth!)
- Great mix of knot and size options
- Pricing is super affordable
- Not made in the USA
- As with any rope toy, it can be messy
8. Tuff Pupper SuperChewy Disc Toy
About: Keep the fun going with the Tuff Pupper Disc Toy, a durable rubber flying disc that can withstand the strong jaws of big biters. While the disc is meant to take a beating from barkers, it’s still gentle on teeth for safe chomping and playing.
- Constructed of food-safe, non-toxic rubber
- Designed specifically for powerful chewers
- Manufacturer offers a one-time replacement or refund if the toy is destroyed
- Made in China
- Most pet parents are pleased with the disc’s durability
- Rinses clean easily
- One-time replacement or refund guarantee is a nice perk
- Made in China
- Rubber scent can be intense at first
9. PetSafe Manners Minder Treat & Training Remote Rewarder
About: Reinforce commands or teach new ones from a distance with the remote-controlled PetSafe Manners Minder Treat & Training Remote Rewarder. This device offers a tasty snack at the press of a button, redirecting your shepherd from everyday distractions like the doorbell or passersby, making it a solid pick for nuisance barkers.
- Battery-operated by four D batteries
- Handheld remote functions up to 100 feet from the device
- Since it doesn’t need to be plugged in, you can use it at home or in the training ring
- Comes with a training wand that can be used with or without the treat-dispensing base
- Rewards your pup when you can’t be right next to him
- U.S.-based customer support available
- Dispenses treats quietly, which is a win for bashful barkers
- Not capable of remote use when you’re away or solo engagement with dogs
- On the expensive side
10. Hound Games Hide N’ Treat
About: Test your shepherd’s patience and perseverance with Hound Games Hide N’ Treat, a puzzle plaything that offers excellent mental stimulation, rain or shine. Watch your pup paw, nudge, and munch the blocks for the treats hidden inside.
- Comes with four numbered pieces you can arrange in various patterns of difficulty
- Made of non-toxic rubber
- Dishwasher safe for cleaning as needed
- Made in China
- Varying difficulties lets you customize the puzzle to your pup’s needs
- Solid choice for keeping shepherds of all ages occupied
- Manufacturer offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
- Made in China
- Rubber scent can be strong at first
11. PetSafe Chilly Penguin
About: Treat your shepherd buddy to a frosty goodie with PetSafe Chilly Penguin. With a curved base, this chewable wiggles back and forth as your pup tries to lick and chew, keeping him focused on the tasty task.
- Made of vanilla-scented natural rubber
- Can be filled with liquids like bone broth, pastes like dog-safe peanut butter, and solids like kibble
- Safe for washing on the top shelf of your dishwasher for easy upkeep
- Made in China
- Can be used with most common canine treats
- Fun, tasty way to beat the summer heat
- Great pricing (perfect for stocking up and having several ready at a time!)
- Made in China
- Not the toughest chew on the market
Different Types of Toys for German Shepherds
The German shepherd is a large, active dog requiring daily physical and mental exercise. Toys are an excellent tool for making the task easier and provide a fun way to unwind with your pooch and build your bond.
Dog toys come in many forms, however, with some better suited for German shepherds than others.
The most common types of toys enjoyed by German shepherds are:
Balls and Fetch Toys
The German shepherd is a chase-happy floof ready to run, making fetch toys like balls or Frisbees some of the best toys for him. Rounds of fetch burn off your shepherd’s physical energy in bursts, but they’re also a chance to practice commands like “sit,” “drop,” “down,” and “wait,” which put his brain to work, too.
Like retrievers, German shepherds can be a little too fetch-obsessed, giving your arm one heck of a workout. Invest in a dog ball launcher to make things easier and give your arm a break. Incorporating a treat-dispensing ball is another great idea, as these toys keep your shepherd occupied on his own as he paws, nudges, and shakes the ball to free goodies hidden inside.
Chewing is a natural instinct in dogs, making chews and chew toys a must for every dog, whether he’s a big shepherd or a tiny terrier. Regular chewing also helps clean your dog’s teeth of buildup between brushings.
The German shepherd is a power chewer, so stick to the best dog chews, or he’ll gnaw through a product in no time. Doing your homework here is vital since chews come in various types, from chew toys for teething puppies to long-lasting chews for the most determined chewers. Pick what works best for your shepherd’s chewing styles (leisurely or aggressive) and his age, as puppies and seniors typically require softer chews.
Some German shepherd owners like to offer edible chews on occasion, too, such as beef collagen and bully sticks. Treats like these are great for rewarding your pup, but be mindful of how many you’re offering, as too many can lead to stomach upset and weight gain.
Most German shepherds love a good game of tug, so tug toys are a natural choice for the breed. These toys should be large enough that you and your dog (or your dog and another dog) can safely hold either end of the toy. They should also be made of a material tough enough to withstand a shepherd’s power.
Many German shepherds have specialized skills that require ongoing training. This can include working dogs like police pups and herders or those who practice canine sports like Schutzhund or agility. Maintaining these skills takes a lot of training that can get boring or repetitive. Adding dog training toys to the mix makes sessions more fun and engaging.
Not every shepherd is wild about the wet stuff, but water-loving ones are obsessed. Swimming is great exercise that’s easier on your pup’s joints than running and jumping, but adding a water toy like a floating ball or baton makes the activity that much better.
The German shepherd is one smart cookie, but keeping up with his mental needs can be a serious handful, as a simple walk or quick training session doesn’t always cut it. Puzzle toys offer a great test and heaps of fun for your wise woofer, usually with a tasty reward that food-motivated shepherds are eager to work for.
Every dog has likes and dislikes that may not always align with their breed. Plenty of German shepherds aren’t interested in fetch, for instance. Keep your canine’s interests front and center when browsing toys and pick what he’d like, not necessarily what shepherds generally enjoy. Also, consider his age and overall health.
Picking a Toy for Your German Shepherd: Things to Think About
Every dog is unique, but there are some basics to consider while toy shopping, as only some products are a good fit or even safe for your dog. This is especially true with a large breed known to be hard on toys like a German shepherd.
When browsing the toy aisle for your shepherd, consider the following:
Play styles differ from dog to dog, with some shepherds loving to whip around rope toys like nobody’s business, while others need more interactive toys to engage with in a one-on-one fashion. Another dog might prefer a simple chew for laid-back fun. Picking a toy that suits your four-footer’s individual play style is key in getting a product he’ll actually use.
Remember to keep inside toys handy for a rainy day, too, as mental stimulation is critical when your active pup can’t flex his paws around the block. Food-motivated shepherds love Lickimats as an indoor option. Freezing them helps them last longer, too. Snuffle mats are another great option, as they put his sniffer to work for hidden goodies.
For safety’s sake, a large breed dog like the German shepherd needs bigger toys that can’t be swallowed. Err on the side of caution and size up if you’re unsure. Even more importantly, continually monitor your pup when he’s playing with new toys and always when tennis balls and similar-sized items are present.
German shepherds are powerful pups, with most needing dog toys for aggressive chewers to withstand the jaw-lovin’ they offer. Toys made of solid heavy-duty rubber or nylon are ideal, particularly those without small pieces that can be chewed away. While fun for a dog to gnaw at, these nubs are choking and ingestion hazards if chewed free and swallowed.
Dog-safe construction is a must for any toy. All components should be non-toxic, even if the toy isn’t intended for ingestion. Material transparency can be spotty in pet products (especially dog toys), but if you can’t locate the material safety information readily, move on to another product. Your shepherd’s safety isn’t worth saving a few bucks or buying something cute.
Piggybacking on this area of concern is a toy’s country of origin. The U.S. has strict rules regarding manufacturing pet items, while some other countries do not. Dangerous chemicals like arsenic and lead have been found in toys manufactured overseas. For this reason, many pet parents opt for American-made dog toys only.
The best toys have multiple uses, as they save room in your German shepherd’s toy basket and money in your wallet. Multipurpose toys can also hold your shepherd’s attention better than other options, preventing the dreaded “toy fatigue.”
Kongs are a hit in this area, particularly the classic and wobbler varieties that can be used as plain chews, treat dispensers, and fetch items. Other toys can be used for games of fetch on land or in water, and some can double as chew toys and tuggers.
Some manufacturers stand behind their products so much that they offer a money-back or replacement guarantee if your doggo damages or destroys the toy. Sometimes, these have time limits such as 30 days, while others offer lifetime guarantees.
These warranties are great for peace of mind about the product and for getting the most for your money. With an aggressive chewer around, it’s worth taking the extra time to seek brands offering these guarantees.
Ease of Cleaning
Toys can harbor some gross bacteria, making regular cleaning a must for your pup’s safety. Most toys can be rinsed clean with mild soap and water, while others are dishwasher-safe for more in-depth cleaning.
Safe Use of Toys with Your GSD: Tips & Tricks
Dog toys aren’t always fun and games. Sometimes, things can get downright dangerous if you’re not careful.
To keep your German shepherd safe around his toys:
- Purchase responsibly: Only buy size-appropriate toys for your dog made of dog-friendly, non-toxic ingredients. You’re his first line of defense against illness and injury. Don’t invite trouble into your house with the wrong dog toy.
- Use the fingernail test: Dog toys that are too hard can damage your dog’s teeth, leading to steep vet bills. These super hard chews are especially risky for dogs who chomp down on toys versus gnawing at them. To see if a dog toy is too hard, press your fingernail into it. If it leaves a mark, it’s safe, but if not, skip the toy.
- Monitor your dog: Always watch your dog when he’s playing with a new toy or when tennis balls and other small, cylindrical playthings are present to ensure he won’t shred or swallow anything. Some squawk that this is overkill, but it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry, as it only takes one second for something terrible to happen.
- Inspect toys frequently: Check your dog’s toys regularly for signs of wear and tear or sharp edges that could hurt your pup. You also want to see if any are due for a cleaning or if your pup has outgrown them (super important with puppies!)
- Discard damaged or small toys: Promptly trash any broken or damaged toys. These are serious choking and ingestion hazards, as well as risks for mouth lacerations if they have sharp edges. Toys that are too small for your dog should also be trashed or donated to local shelters if they’re still in good condition.
- Clean them regularly: Bacteria and mold can grow on dog toys if you’re not careful. Not only are these foul-smelling, but they can also make you and your dog sick. Clean your pup’s toys with dog-safe soap and water as needed or after every use if the playthings feature food.
Every dog is different. What’s safe for one pooch may be dangerous for another. When in doubt, ask your vet. Whether you’re unsure if a toy is too hard for your dog or if you’re nervous about offering a new type of chew, it’s best to ask a professional for peace of mind.
The Importance of Toys for German Shepherds
All dogs originated with a job, but few take working as seriously as the German shepherd. From herding to police work to sniffing out bombs, these doggos are the floofs-of-all-trades in the dog world. This makes the breed one of many that need a job, which can be hard to offer all the time. This is where toys come in.
Here are a few ways toys benefit German shepherds:
Burning off physical energy.
German shepherds started out herding livestock around the farm, covering large swaths of land with speed and agility. This athleticism remains at the heart of the breed and demands a daily outlet. A long walk or brisk jog is ideal, but not everyone can go as fast or as long as the breed would like to.
Toys help take off some of the physical workload of exercising your German shepherd. Instead of hiking with your dog for an hour every day (which not everyone can do!), chuck a ball around the yard or play a spirited game of tug.
Providing mental stimulation.
A workaholic like the German shepherd isn’t only physically demanding to care for but also mentally exhausting, as this sharp-as-a-tack sniffer has a brain set to go, go, go! He can and will get bored quickly. Training sessions can only do so much in this area, especially on rainy days when he’s cooped inside or when you’re working and your shepherd is home alone.
This is where toys can shine. Interactive toys and puzzles can keep him occupied when you’re busy, so he doesn’t make his own fun, which often involves tearing your house to bits. They’re also good for winding your dog down after exercise when he needs to go from rambunctious runner to couch cuddler.
The German shepherd is prone to anxiety, especially when you’re not around, as he’s the textbook Velcro dog. Anxiety can lead to many issues, from destructive chewing to nuisance barking and even health problems. Anxiety toys focus him on a task rather than worrying about every little noise or where you’ve gone, reducing his overall stress.
Offering a safe outlet for chewing instincts.
Chewing is a natural instinct that dogs need to express. Denying your German shepherd a dog-safe chew or chew toy will only lead to him gnawing things he shouldn’t, like your favorite shoes or throw pillows. This is as costly as it is dangerous, with non-chew items risking potential mouth injury, bowel obstruction, and poisoning.
Does your German shepherd have any of the toys we listed? Is there another he’s wild about? Share the details in the comments for other shepherd parents!