Every product and service on My Pet Needs That is independently selected by our editors, contributors, and experts.
If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a referral fee. Learn more
Playtime with your dog can be one of the best bonding experiences, bringing together exercise, mental stimulation, trust, and loads of fun. And, whilst not the best choice for an overly aggressive or reactive dog, a tug toy is a great way for most dogs to get close to their human for some fun interaction. From rope tug toys to rubber donuts and even fun character shaped, a tug toy needs to be tough enough for hard play but kind on your pet’s mouth, teeth, and jaws. We take a look at some of the best tug toys for dogs in a host of shapes and sizes so you can give your pooch a whole new game to get their teeth into.
The Bumi is an awesome tug toy that’s tough enough for extended playtime with a gentle chewer while staying kind to their mouth. Made from latex-free rubber, the ‘S’ shape enables both you and your pooch to safely take hold while its ability to stretch to twice its length adds to the tugging fun. But the Bumi is much more than a tug toy; if your dog tires of the pulling, it is lightweight enough to get airborne when thrown and it will float in water too. And, when playtime is done, the Bumi is dishwasher safe. While not suited to stronger or aggressive chewers, the Bumi is one of the best tug toys for dogs that can multi-task when it comes to keeping your canine entertained.
Our best price pick is this colorful tug of war dog toy which will bring your pooch hours of fun, without tugging your bank balance. With the credentials of makers Chuckit!, the Ultra Tug is excellent value for money and doubles up as a throw toy. The Ultra Tug is built for tough tuggers, and is made from durable rubber, with a sturdy nylon handle. The ball bounces high, and the handle lets you get some hefty momentum behind your throw, meaning your dog gets plenty of retrieving exercise. And we were impressed with just how much tugging punishment the ball and handle can take. The nylon strap could be vulnerable to chewing but use under supervision and it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
TuG Interactive from the wonderfully named Goughnuts is at the top end of our budget but you do get a tough cookie that can stand the tug of war heat! Made from high quality rubber, the TuG has been designed with large dogs in mind and is easily one of our best tug toys for dogs. In a figure of eight, the whole toy is 11 inches in length and packs a bit of weight but will not put pressure on their mouths. It also has a red and black marble effect, which not only looks cool, but indicates the weaker areas (in red for stop) when it comes to constant chewing. Despite its size, the TuG is also easy to launch, for a game of fetch and will float on water too, for fun times at the beach or by the pool.
If your dog likes to chew as well as tug, then check out this sturdy rope toy from Blue Island. Tough enough to cope with aggressive chewers and large dogs, we were impressed by this rope toy’s durability. Made from natural cotton rope, it has strategically placed knots along the length for a safe mouth grip and at 3 feet long is perfect for a prolonged tug game. The whole rope dog toy is easily washable to keep away the grime and not so heavy that it weighs down his mouth or limits how well it can be thrown. However, although tough, it can fray a bit with time, so this is best to use under supervision, especially if your pooch is more of the determined chewer kind.
Who knew tug of war could be so cute! But if your tug-loving pooch is also a cuddly toy softie, then he’s going to love this Cuddle Tug from Charming Pet. This cow shaped tug is perfect for small dogs or young pups looking to learn how to play and the beauty is, it doubles up as a cuddler when it’s time for junior to have their nap. Stuffed with crinkle paper and a squeaker, the Cuddle Tug makes entertaining noises when played with and the body includes a handle for his human to get a grip. Made from high quality, non-rip canvas with double stitched seams, this tug toy is surprisingly tough, despite its soft furry outer, although it may struggle when up against larger or more energetic dogs.
With its more conventional tug toy looks, the Lechong Dog Rope is a chew toy that’s built to last. The multi-color rope is tightly woven from natural cotton, secured in its figure of eight by a hard PVC pipe joint for stability when under tugging pressure. The result is a pretty impressive rope tug toy that can cope with medium to large dogs as well as more aggressive chewers. We like the fact that while tough, the high quality rope is not harsh on the mouth, and can help to clean your dog’s teeth as they chew and grip. Just always ensure your dog plays under supervision, to prevent eventual chew damage.
While it does look like something you would see in a performing dog show, this novel device is actually a dog tug toy. And for curious, playful pooches it’s a great way to play and learn. With its aluminum alloy telescopic pole, you can adjust the length to match the size of your dog and there’s a non-slip handle for a firm grip. To play tug, you simply dangle and move the long lure around for your dog to chase and catch the woven rope lure. The rope lure is pretty tough and with plenty of tail to catch your pet’s attention. This is a cleverly thought out tug toy that can also work well as an obedience or basic training tool.
Last but not least, we have this jute dog tug toy from Redline K9, which is not only fun but also a great training aid for agility and obedience, even for large dogs. Made from high quality jute, the center ‘sack’ is built to be durable while providing a tooth and mouth kind area for your dog to bite for grip. There are also looped handles for his human on either end, for versality or when you need a double handled grip. The whole tug toy is lightweight enough to throw although the size of the jute bag means it might be too large for younger pups or smaller dogs. However the tug toy has not been created to double up as a chew toy so only play with your dog under supervision.
When buying the right tug toy for your dog, you need to consider the following:
What it’s Made From
The tug toy should be made from dog-appropriate, durable material. Materials to look for include rubber, rope, or quality plastic which must be soft on the mouth when your dog bites but tough enough to withstand the rough and tough of a tug game. It also needs to be non-toxic and totally pet safe.
How Well it is Made
Look for a premium quality tug toy that has been designed to last. Especially if you have a canvas or rope toy, check the stitching, rope weave, or knot to ensure they are secure and heavy-duty enough to withstand the strength and energy of your pooch.
The toy’s size needs to be appropriate to the size of your dog, especially their mouth and bite. Also check it’s not too heavy for your dog to hold, as they could soon develop jaw fatigue. However, too small a tug toy and it could be a choking hazard so ensure it always breeds appropriately.
It goes without saying you want your dog toy investment to last so ensure the whole toy, from the material used to the way it has been put together, is going to stand up to some serious pooch play.
Easy to Grip
The point of tug of war is the two-way tug so always ensure the toy is easy to grip, for both you and your pet. Check out any handles to see if they are comfortable and have nothing that could harm your dog’s mouth as they tug.
As well as ensuring your dog only plays with their new tug toy under your supervision, it is essential the toy itself is safe for your pet. Look out for any unnecessary hanging sections or any part of the toy that could easily break off under pressure and if your pet is a particular chewer, then avoid any tug toy that may have an enticing squeak.
Just like dogs, tugging toys come in all shapes and sizes, each one giving a different take on the tug of war game. The main types include:
One of the simplest designs, rope tug toys are also one of the most popular. They are, as the name suggests, made from a piece of dog-friendly rope, typically with a knot at each end. Rope tug toys are lightweight, easy to play with, and strong, although they can fray over time.
A circular tug toy can be easier for you to handle and many are made from rubber, kinder on your hands, and your pooch’s teeth. Ring tug toys can also be made from rope or plastic. A ring tug toy can also double up as a fetch toy when your pet tires of pulling, just make sure you get the right size for your dog.
These types of tug toys have a handle on either end, so you and your pooch can get a firm grip. The center of a handled tug toy can be made from a range of materials as well as shapes and can be one of the most durable tug toy types you can buy.
Used as part of a varied exercise and playtime routine, playing tug of war has many benefits, including:
It’s a great way to bond: It is you and your pooch pitting your playful wits against each other and having a great time.
Burns off energy: Especially if your pup is feeling fresh or full of bounce, a good tug of war session will get him moving and burning off some of that excess energy.
Provides a good dose of mental stimulation: Tug of war will make your dog think, as he tries to work out your next move. Mix in some throw and fetch moves, and he has to be on the ball and try to anticipate what comes next.
Helps with his training: A game of tug of war can be used with positive reinforcement, for example, if he drops the tug toy when asked, he will get rewarded.
Can be used as a diversion: A good, energetic game of tug can divert your pooch from other negative behavior and can also redivert habits such as destructive chewing.
Q: Are rope toys safe for dogs?
A: If you buy a good quality, well-made rope toy it will be safe for your canine. However, there are a few caveats. If your dog is an excessive or extremely destructive chewer, a tug toy may not be the best, as they can focus on the toy as an object to chew on. So, it’s essential that a rope tug toy is not left to become a chew toy. It should only be used under supervision and taken away from your dog at the end of your tug-game session.
Q: Can tug of war hurt a dog’s teeth?
A: If used properly, a game of tug of war should not hurt your pet’s teeth or jaw. The key thing to remember is to always let your dog win and know when to release so that the pressure of the tug doesn’t do any harm. And always make sure you get the right type of tug toy for your pooch, taking into consideration his breed, size, and most importantly, his age. The teeth and jaws of puppies and young dogs are still maturing so if you are too rough or have a too tough a tug toy, you could do some damage. If you do want to play tug with a pup, go gentle and try not to pull, let the puppy play with you so he quickly wins, to keep those baby bones and teeth happy.
A: For your average dog who doesn’t have any negative aggression tendencies, a game of tug is a fun way to play with his human and won’t make him any more aggressive. However, tug may not be the most appropriate game for a dog with a history of aggression or excessive dominance as there’s the chance he could take the play too seriously and be over-stimulated.
Our Top Pick
With its unique s-shape that stretches to twice its length, Zogoflex’s Bumi is a durable tug of war toy for dogs, including those who like to gently chew. The latex-free rubber is recyclable and the toy is easy to throw and float. The S-shape lets you and your pooch get a good grip and the whole toy is also dishwasher safe, letting the Bumi bounce in as our review’s top pick.