Best Dog Toys: The Ultimate Guide For Athletic And Active Dog Breeds

Whether you're looking for toys for playing tug, ball or fetch, or calming enrichment toys, these are some of the best dog toys out there for busy, active dogs.


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With so much choice out there, how do you work out which are the best dog toys to go for? And how do you avoid cheap toys and stick to the higher quality, safer, and more durable chew, plush, and fetch toys for your pet?

This applies to everyone, whether your dog is a puppy or newly adopted into your family and you’re working out what types of toys and games they may enjoy the most.

This list is especially for you (and your dog) if you’re looking for toys suitable for active, athletic dogs, such as herding breeds (like Kepler), that need plenty of good quality physical and – equally importantly – mental stimulation.

READ NEXT: After reading this, take a look at all the posts Kepler, our resident trail dog has written, including articles like the best gifts for dog moms and dads, how to trail run with your dog, the best dog beds, our dog jacket buyer’s guide, and much more! 🙂

This list includes some very popular plush, chew and tug toy brands as well as products from more boutique pet supply companies offering more unique, cool, and fun toys such as canine enrichment and puzzle games to help them work their brain while they play.

Toys for playing outdoors

Booda Tailspin Flyer Frisbee The Best Dog toy Frisbees Border Collie Trail and Kale

Booda Tailspin Flyer Frisbee

A soft frisbee like this is great for any dog that loves to run and fetch, and unlike a hard frisbee that needs to be caught on the edge, this one can be caught at any angle as it’s soft and bends when caught.

There’s no question that this is one of the best dog toys that we have ever bought our dog Kepler, but then again he is totally obsessed with playing frisbee and will do any trick we ask him in order for us to throw it for him, haha.

Our resident herding dog has also shared a whole dedicated list of the best dog frisbees on this site, with a firm favorite and great choice for any dog being this soft Booda Tailspin Flyer.

Dog flirt pole toy

A Dog Flirt Pole From Squishy Face Studio

A flirt pole is a great interactive dog toy for dogs that like to chase, jump and need plenty of exercise.

Channel your pet’s energy and enthusiasm for the chase with a flirt pole like this one (which is available at Chewy).

To ensure you’re playing safely and making the lure as enticing as possible, it’s worth looking up guidance on how to effectively use a flirt pole to exercise and play with your dog.

Ball toys for dogs

Gnawsome Squeaky Dog Ball Toy

A Gnawsome squeaking, flashing, bouncy, spiky ball

What’s better than a regular old ball? One that has flashing lights and soft spikes, of course!

Introducing the Gnawsome squeaking flashing ball. The texture makes it easy to catch and grab on to, and it’s also designed to promote gum health!

This ball comes in several different sizes so you can find the one best suited to your dog’s size.

Chuckit Indoor Dog fetch ball

The Chuckit! soft dog fetch ball (a great indoor dog toy)

We love these soft Chuckit! balls for indoors, which are also available in different shapes, including a football and roller shape.

This plush toy won’t bounce as high or far as other ball options, to keep things a little calmer for indoor fetch games.

Dog tug toys

Wolf Republic review dog gear Trail and Kale web wm 38

Wolf Republic ‘Rope Toss’ Dog Tug Toy

This is the best dog tug toy we’ve come across for our Border Collie, Kepler: the rope toss tug from Wolf Republic.

Our dog loves this toy because it has a great combination of rope that’s soft on his mouth, while still being ultra-durable for a good old game of tug.

Top tip: Like other very exciting dog tug toys, as well as balls and frisbees, this rope tug gets kept out of reach from him when not being used for a game of tug. This helps keep it from being chewed or getting less exciting for him!

As well as these cool rope toys, California-based hipster dog brand Wolf Republic makes a load of excellent dog gear, including collars and backpacks, which you can read all about in our Wolf Republic review.

Canine enrichment toys and games

While a lot of toys could fall into the category of ‘canine enrichment’, some may only involve only one or two natural instincts, such as chasing or chewing.

For dogs to engage their other innate senses, such as smelling and scavenging, consider other toys that involve less physical activity and more calming enrichment.

These dog sniffing and puzzle toys also have the benefit of helping to calm down an energetic dog, while still tiring them out mentally rather than just physically.

A long sniff session is very tiring (and satisfying) for most dogs!

Another great reason to consider these types of calming puzzle toys is to help occupy a bored pet who is stuck at home or recovering from an injury or procedure.

Zogolex Qwizl how to calm your dog down after exercise

West Paw Qwizl Bully Stick & Treat Holder Toy

A Qwizl is one of the best stuffable, durable chew toys we know of – and it’s especially great for holding a medium-sized bully stick or other expensive dog treat for your dog to chew on.

This dog chew toy has holes in the side, letting the treat aroma out, but makes it harder for your dog to get at the treats, keeping them occupied for long periods and prolonging the life of those expensive dog chew treats.

The Qwizl is one of a whole range of different durable and plush toys offered by US-based company, West Paw. Plus – it’s built for chewers, BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, and it even floats!

Paw 5 Dog Snuffle Mat Enrichment Toys For Dogs

Paw5 Snuffle Mat Dog Feeder

A snuffle ball or mat like this one from Paw5 is great for encouraging calming sniffing and problem-solving, as your dog works to sniff out, reveal and eat the treats or kibble you’ve hidden in there.

This is one of the best indoor dog toy options where you want to encourage your furry friend to use their snoot (and therefore, brain) – you’ll be surprised how much snuffling tires a pup out!

It’s also a great thing to try if your dog tends to eat their food too quickly, as it will take them a lot longer than normal to get through their kibble meal when they have to sniff out the pieces one-by-one.

Kong Dog Chew Toy

A classic stuffed KONG

It’s a chew! It’s a toy! It’s a treat dispenser and bored dog-occupier! You can fill a KONG dog chew toy with pretty much any dog food or treat and let them enjoy themselves working to get the food out.

KONGs come in different sizes so you can pick the one that best suits your dog’s breed and size.

It’s a must-have toy for chewers, and you can also get a puppy version for teething puppies, and senior versions with softer rubber. There’s also an even more durable version of this chew toy for super-chewers, the KONG Extreme!

Use a soft filling such as cream cheese or peanut butter then freeze it for an extra challenge.

Nina Ottosson Interactive Dog Puzzle Toy Boredom Buster

Nina Ottosson Dog Smart Toys

The Outward Hound range of Nina Ottosson’s ‘Dog Smart’ puzzle toys are great for dog owners to get for smart dogs and dogs you want to train to use their brain more.

These are treat dispensing toys which allow the dog to get the treat if they can work out how to solve the puzzle and reveal the prize!

There are different levels of difficulty so you can start your dog on easier puzzles and work up as they improve their puzzle-solving abilities!

Ruffwear Gnawt a Rock Kibble dispenser

The Ruffwear ‘Gnawt-a-Rock’: durable toys that dispense treats

The Ruffwear Gnawt-a-Rock is a durable dog toy that you can fill with kibble and treats and set your dog off on a mission to liberate and eat them.

They can spend a lot of time rolling this unevenly-shaped treat dispenser around the floor on a mission to release the food rewards – great for tiring out a bored or very busy dog.

Plush squeaky toys

Chewy Frisco Soft Plush Squeaking Fox Toy For Dogs

Frisco Plush Squeaking Fox

Chewy’s range of Frisco plush toys are well-made, great value, and are available in a variety of animal designs.

The squeaky fox is one of our favorites – or more accurately – our resident adventure dog, Kepler, is a big fan and likes to carry his plush fox around the house 🙂

ZippyPaws Burrow Squeaky Hiding Chipmunk Dog Toy Best Dog Toys

ZippyPaws Burrow Squeaky Hide-and-Seek Toy

What’s better than a regular squeaky plush toy? A set of them that you have to sniff and pull out of their burrow before you get your jaws on them, that’s what.

This plush dog toy set from ZippyPaws encourages your dog to problem-solve before they get the joy of mouthing one of the three squeaky critters.

West Paw Big Sky Trout Plush Toy For Dogs

West Paw Big Sky Trout Dog Toy

Montana-based dog brand West Paw not only makes great durable toys they can chew (like the Qwizl), they also make dog beds and plush toys in fun designs inspired by Montana’s nature, like the Big Sky Trout!

This toy is made using excess material from West Paw’s Big Sky dog blankets – it’s fleecy soft and stuffed with plush material made from recycled plastic bottles.

Quiet Dog Toys

While you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to quality plush toys that squeak and rustle, what about when you want to give your dog a plush toy that doesn’t squeak?

Cycle Dog Duraplush Toys That Dont Squeak Quiet Toys

Cycle Dog Dura Plush Dog Toys

One of our favorite dog toy brands that offer plush, quiet toys is Cycle Dog.

Their ‘duraplush’ soft toys are surprisingly durable and come in a variety of fun designs, including the Fuzzball, pictured, as well as various animal and bone shapes.

As the founder of Trail & Kale, and seasoned marathoner & ultrarunner, Alastair loves bringing our readers independent running shoe reviews and gear insights to help you run your best. Learn more about Trail & Kale here.


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