11 of the Best Toys for Small Dogs
Your pint-sized pup will love these fetch balls, plush toys, and treat puzzles. Each one is durable, fun, and safely made to fit Fido's small mouth.
The perfect toy for your small dog depends on several factors: breed, personality, age, and health status are primary factors, says Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM, an integrated veterinarian in Ohio.
Start with breed, as this can tell you a bit about your dog's inherent interests. Were they originally bred to run? They might like to play fetch. Or maybe they were bred to hunt? Some sort of treat puzzle might work well. Next is personality: Is your dog shy, aggressive, active, or a total couch potato? If you're not sure, all you have to do is observe your four-legged friend for a bit, says Jodi Andersen, a dog trainer and co-founder of How I Met My Dog. It won't take long before you have a sense of whether your dog is a digger, a chewer, a problem solver, a chaser, or a wrestler—and whether they prefer to play alone or with a partner.
With small dogs, the size of the toy is also important, says Darris Cooper, CPDT-KA, national dog training operations manager at Petco. "If a toy is too small, it could potentially be swallowed and cause health concerns, while toys that are too large might be ineffective and potentially cause injury to small dogs." As a general rule of thumb, pet toys should be at least twice as long as the distance from your dog's chin to his forehead to avoid choking, says Osborne.
It's also best to avoid any toys that can easily become torn or broken to avoid ingestion or injury—particularly if your pet stays home alone for any period of time, says Cooper. Steer clear of toys with strings, eyes, glued on parts, and even squeakers that can be easily dislodged and become choking hazards. Pet toys with sharp ends can cause lacerations and damage pet teeth as well. Lastly, whenever possible, purchase toys made of organic materials, like cotton. Toys manufactured under less stringent regulations could contain lead or other harmful materials, says Osborne.
Just remember: Whatever toy your dog ends up loving, you should replace toys regularly, says Andersen. "It's always best to replace toys that are starting to wear from use rather than have a choke-able size piece fall off. And always inspect any toys for splinters and other damage that might get your dog into trouble."
Here, a variety of safe toys perfectly suited for your pint-sized pup.
"Soft frisbees are easy to catch and carry and don't damage precious, tiny canine teeth," says Osborne. This one is easy for you to use, too: It's lightweight, but stable, so it flies effortlessly. It also has a floatability for water-based fun.
Shop Now: Chuckit! Paraflight Dog Toy, in Small, $8, petco.com.
For a good game of fetch, make sure the ball is the correct size for your dog. "Most dogs won't play fetch if the ball is too big or too heavy to carry," says Osborne. For extra small dogs, try mini tennis balls like this lightweight set.
Shop Now: Harry Barker Garden Dog Play Balls, in Small, $10 for 3, harrybarker.com.
A rope toy—made from hand-tied cotton and dyed using non-toxic vegetable dyes—acts to eventually unravel and gently floss your dog's teeth.
Shop Now: Jax & Bones Grey Tri-Color Knot Rope Dog Toy, $7, jaxandbones.com.
An interactive game of hide and seek that'll keep your puppy entertained for hours. They'll love digging each squeaky cookie out of the milk jug.
Shop Now: Zippy Burrow Milk and Cookies Toy, $14, zippypaws.com.
Cuddly Plush Toy
More docile dogs who just want to toss around a plush toy or have something to snuggle up to, a lightly stuffed option made with quality non-toxic materials.
Shop Now: Martha Stewart Rabbit Plush Dog Toy for Gentle Play, $6.50, amazon.com.
If your dog tends to chew, choose options without stuffing and avoid flimsy squeakers, as Osborne recommends. This is a favorite, because it fits the bill, but is still extra soft for cuddling.
Shop Now: Outward Hound Invincibles Minis Puppy, $5, outwardhound.com.
Even if you don't have time for an interactive game of tug-a-war, this toy—by the famed brand Waggo—features a variety of textures and squeakers your small dog will love.
Shop Now: Waggo Anchors Aweigh Rubber Dog Toy, in Mint, $15, waggo.com.
A lightweight toy that both grunts and squeaks, depending on how your dog interacts with it. The big bonus for you: The natural latex is very easy to keep clean.
Shop Now: The Foggy Dog Warm Stone Gingham Dog Squeaky Toy, $16, thefoggydog.com.
Frozen, meaty bones are healthy and support dental hygiene, but require supervision. For a similar sensory experience and the same dental benefits, consider an assortment of flexible chew toys shaped like bones.
Shop Now: Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Bone, in Small, $7.19, chewy.com.
Interactive board games like this one challenge pets to problem solve in order to access treats. It's perfect for dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds, plus supports mental stimulation, says Cooper.
Shop Now: Trixie Pet Products Mini Mover Activity for Dogs, $17.19, petco.com.