Even though I prefer dogs of the black-and-tan-and-German variety, I am a huge fan of pit bulls.
Aside from having a soft spot for most maligned and misunderstood animals, I just find them incredibly fun, lovable, and impressive looking.
But they aren’t perfect – many pit bulls (as well as American Staffordshire terriers and combinations of the two) are absolutely murderous chewers. They’ll quickly destroy most mainstream dog toys, and they may even tear apart your car/couch/bomb-shelter if you leave them alone for a half hour.
So, if you’ve got a pit with a steel-trap set of chompers, you’ll need to give him a toy befitting his impressive jaws and tenacious demeanor.
Quick Picks: Best Toys For Pit Bulls
- Best for Treats + Stuffing: KONG Extreme Goodie Bone. Made from KONG’s unique and ultra-durable black rubber. Made in the USA and can be stuffed with treats or paste for hours of amusement.
- Best Chew Ball: West Paw Zogoflex Ball. This funky ball bounces all over the place for tons of pittie fun! Comes in several sizes and is dishwasher safe.
- Best For Water: Goughnuts Maxx 50 Stick. Despite being ultra-durable, it floats too! Uses colored layers to indicate when it’s no longer safe to play with.
The Problem with Power Chewers
Almost all dogs love to chew on stuff – it is a hard-wired instinctual behavior that probably traces back to their wolf-like ancestors, who chewed bones to satisfy their nutritional needs. Despite the fact that modern dogs benefit from complete nutrition in a bag, most still need an outlet for their compulsion to chomp.
That being said, there is a big difference in the chewing tendencies of a run-of-the-mill pooch and a “power-chewer.” These dogs are willing and able to inflict an entirely different level of destruction on their toys, and they’ll make quick work of toys that would last normal pups years.
This causes two problems. The first, and least consequential, is that power-chewing pit bulls and other breeds will go through more toys than normal dogs. This will tend to cause you equal parts money and frustration. But more importantly, power chewers often suffer very serious health problems when they swallow pieces of toys.
In a worst-case scenario, pieces of plastic or any other poorly digested material can accumulate in the intestinal tract, leading to potentially lethal obstructions. Even in the fortunate cases in which the blockage can be successfully removed, your dog will be looking at a lengthy and painful recovery, and you’ll be looking at an empty bank account.
I know what you’re thinking: I just won’t give my pit a toy. That way, he won’t destroy it, swallow the pieces and escort us into the poor house.
But this won’t work either.
Power chewers simply must chew. And if you don’t give them something to chew, they’ll find something on their own, like your shoes or phone. Both of these things can be just as dangerous as a chew toy, and they’re much more expensive.
So, it still makes sense to give them a chew toy. You just need to give your dog one that can withstand his impressive mouth.
What Makes Pit Bulls Such Power-Chewing Pooches?
Let’s be clear: Individuals of any breed can exhibit super-intense chewing instincts. There are Jack Russell terriers that will chew through a flimsy toy as quick as your pit bull. But, pit bulls do seem to exhibit power-chewing tendencies more reliably than many other breeds.
The question is: Why?
First of all, let’s dispense with a few myths. Pit bulls are not “vicious,” “bloodthirsty” or any other hyperbolic adjective commonly associated with the species.
Further – and it pains me to have to actually explain this — pit bulls’ jaws do not “lock.” That is an anatomically absurd suggestion that is not only untrue, but logically ridiculous – how would they eat? Wouldn’t their jaws just keep locking?
But forgetting silly myths and wives’ tales, pits do have three different traits which combine to help make them the power-chewers they are.
1. Most pit bulls have relatively large heads.
While some small dogs can dismantle a rugged toy in a matter of minutes, most problematic power chewers have large heads.
Even relatively small pit bulls in the 40- to 50-pound range often have heads that are the size of dogs weighing twice this much. These larger heads mean larger teeth, jaws and muscles, which usually spells doom for fragile toys.
2. Many pit bulls have exceptionally wide jaws.
While the larger proportions of many pit bull heads provide increased jaw power, the mechanical advantage supplied by the relatively wide jaws of pit bulls also plays a part in their power-chewing prowess.
Because pits often have wider jaws, they can apply more leverage and torque on their toys (or whatever happens to suit their fancy), which allows them to make quick work of even the most durable items.
3. Most pit bulls exhibit remarkable tenacity.
Early pit bulls were selected for their willingness to complete the task at hand, regardless of negative stimuli – a characteristic called “gameness.”
In the old (and tragic) days, this meant that pit bulls were selected for their willingness to fight, despite any pain or injury they had suffered. Of course, few chew toys fight back, so even a run-of-the-mill pit bull is often willing to persevere until their toy is utterly destroyed.
Safe Use of Toys: Keeping Your Pit Bull Safe
No matter what types of claims a manufacturer makes, understand that no toy is truly “indestructible.” Sufficiently motivated dogs can often chew through bones, metal, or just about anything else you throw at them.
Accordingly, it is important to keep a few safety guidelines in mind whenever you give your pit bull (or power-chewing dog of any other breed) a new toy.
Never leave an unattended dog with a new toy. No matter how carefully you scrutinize a product or how much you pay for it, you’ll never know how it will hold up to your dog until you try it out. Always wait to leave your dog alone with a toy until you have seen how well the toy takes what your dog gives.
Immediately take any broken toy away from your dog. The strength of a good chew toy is greater than the sum of its parts, which is to say that a good toy is more resilient when completely intact than it is once your dog rips out a big chunk. These types of pieces can lead to intestinal obstruction, so you’ll want to take away broken toys at once.
Avoid giving your dog a toy small enough to be swallowed. In general, it’s always safer to give your dog a toy that is too large, than one that is too small. In fact, it is almost wise to always err on the large size when selecting chew toys.
Use caution providing toys with large gaps. For example, some of the ring-style toys may fit over your dog’s muzzle, where they could potentially become stuck. While this may not cause any serious problems in itself (assuming you remove it quickly enough), sensitive or nervous dogs may panic, leading to stress and potential injuries.
As with any toy, try to purchase products made in places with high quality-control standards. Poor-quality toys are occasionally tainted with toxic substances, which can make your dog sick. There is no way to ensure complete safety, but by purchasing dog toys made in the USA, you’ll significantly reduce the chances of purchasing tainted products.
Pay attention to safety or wear indicators. Some of the best toys change colors or present some other type of visual cue that alerts you that the toy should be replaced. Always err on the side of caution, and replace such toys immediately – the cost of a new toy is far less than an expensive veterinary surgery.
Best Toys for Pit Bulls: Tough Stuff!
While no toy should ever be considered truly indestructible (I’ve seen dogs chew through chain-link fence before), the following five are among the toughest and most durable on the market.
1. KONG Extreme Goodie Bone
About: KONG is one of the more popular manufacturers of durable dog toys, and their Extreme Goodie Bone is one of their most durable products. Made from KONG’s legendary Extreme Black Rubber, these chews are built to stand up to your pit bull’s teeth for hours of chewing fun.
- The iconic bone shape is appealing to most dogs (and makes for super-cute photos!)
- Each end features a space in which you can stuff treats or flavored pastes
- Available in both medium and large sizes
- Made in the USA
PROS: Most of the owners who tried the KONG Extreme Goodie Bone reported that their dog loved it and it held up for a surprisingly long time (several customers surpassed the 5-year mark). Others praised the shape, which dogs seem to love, or the compartments at each end, into which you can place something tasty. It’s also quite reasonably priced for its quality.
CONS: The only complaint, which was relatively rare, was that the Goodie Bone just couldn’t withstand the jaws of the most hardcore chewers. Some dogs were able to rip through it in less than one hour. However, most owners had much better luck – just be sure to watch your dog the first few times you let him play with it to see how it holds up.
2. Goughnuts Maxx 50 Stick
About: Goughnuts produces a number of super-durable chew toys, and the Maxx 50 Stick is the toughest one in their product line.
Like most other Goughnuts chew toys, the Maxx 50 Stick features a unique two-color warning system, that helps owners know when the toy should be retired. As long as you only see green or black, your dog can continue use; but once red becomes visible, the toy should no longer be considered safe.
- Because the Maxx 50 Stick floats, it is a great toy to take to the pool, lake or beach
- Made with 50% more carbon than Goughnut’s standard chew toys for increased durability
- Measuring 9 inches long and 2 inches thick, the Maxx 50 stick is designed for large dogs
- Made in the USA
PROS: The Goughnuts Maxx 50 Stick has received very impressive praises, and the bulk of the owners who purchased it were quite pleased with their choice. Reviews of the Maxx stick are littered with phrases like “miracle,” “pit bull approved” and “hurray for power chewers!” This is likely the most resilient chew toy on the market for your power-chewing pit.
CONS: The most common complaint about the Goughnuts Maxx 50 Stick was that dogs didn’t seem to like the flavor, and some owners disliked the rubbery smell. It is also more expensive than typical chew toys, but this isn’t surprising, given its durability.
3. KONG Rubber Ball Extreme
About: While tennis balls are a beloved toy for many dogs, they simply don’t hold up well for most power chewers – including your adorable pittie.
Fortunately, the KONG Rubber Ball Extreme works just like a tennis ball, gives your dog the same kind of jaw-satisfying pleasure, and is strong enough to last.
- 3-inch diameter is slightly larger than a tennis ball
- Designed to be puncture resistant for hours of chewing, chasing and catching
- Ball bounces very well for hours of fetch-playing fun
- Made in the USA
PROS: Most owners rave about the KONG Rubber Ball Extreme. It holds up to the jaws and teeth of most dogs (including a number of pit bulls and American Staffordshire terriers) and appears to delight most four footers to no end. If your dog loves tennis balls, but chews through them in seconds, the KONG Rubber Ball Extreme is a great alternative.
CONS: One of the most common complaints about the KONG Ball Extreme was the hole drilled through the center. This enables some especially persistent dogs to get a good grip, allowing them to tear the toy apart. However, this was only mentioned by a relative handful of owners. A few owners also found the ball quite heavy, which made throwing it a chore.
4. West Paw Design Jive Zogoflex Durable Ball
About: The West Paw Design Jive Ball is another super-tough ball toy that will hold up to all of the abuse your pit bull can inflict, and it has an extra added bonus: Thanks to the ball’s unique design, it bounces in crazy, unpredictable ways, which will drive your dog nuts-o.
- Despite being unusually shaped, the Jive Ball still fits in a standard tennis-ball thrower
- 100% guaranteed by the manufacturer against dog damage
- Made in the USA
- Dishwasher safe, making it easy to keep the ball clean and safe for your dog to chew on
- Available in three sizes: 2-inch, 2.6-inch and 3.25-inch to suit pits of different sizes
PROS: The West Paw Design Jive Zogoflex Ball received some of the best user praise of any of the toys in our review and most owners were very pleased with how well it held up. Several users even explained that they were on their second or third Zogoflex – but only because their dog had lost (rather than destroyed) the others.
CONS: A very small number of dog owners found that their pooch was able to destroy the Zogoflex, but such complaints were exceedingly rare. A few owners were disappointed that the ball was heavier than they’d expected, so it may not be ideal for older or mobility-impaired owners.
5. Benebone Rotisserie Chicken Flavored Wishbone
About: The Benebone Flavored Wishbone is a great option for dogs who are picky about their chew toys. These nylon-based bones are not only extremely durable, they are flavored with real chicken.
- Wishbone shape allows dogs to prop up one of the ends for serious chewing action
- Grooved surface increases the amount of contact your dog’s teeth and tongue have with the toy
- Nylon material bristles as your dog chews, which helps to keep their teeth clean
- Made in the USA
PROS: Owners love the durability of the Benebone, and almost all dogs enjoy the taste and texture. Additionally, thanks to the bone’s unique ergonomic shape, most dogs found it quite easy to lay down and chew for hours. Even many power-chewing pups were unable to destroy the toy after a significant period of time.
CONS: As with most other chew toys, there were a few dogs capable of breaking off large pieces, and a few didn’t seem to like the taste or texture. However, these types of complaints were very rare.
That finishes up our recommended list of pit bull-worthy dog toys. However, if none of the toys mentioned above seem right for your pit, be sure to check out our article about indestructible dog toys. Most of the products discussed there should work for your pit bull too!
Have you found a toy deserving of the “indestructible” moniker? Or do you have any experience with the other toys we’ve covered? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below (be sure to describe your dog’s breed or type and approximate size).
And I know all of this talk of pit bulls and their incredible chewing powers has riled up some of you with other breeds that could chew through the side of a submarine. Let’s hear about them!