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The Best Toys for Small Dogs

Updated on March 24, 2015
Photo used under Royalty Free license from
Photo used under Royalty Free license from | Source

Choosing Toys for Small Dogs

Small dogs, like their larger cousins, are naturally curious and playful. Appropriate toys play an important role in satisfying their need to exercise, do something interesting and stimulating, or just cuddle.

Toys also provide an outlet for their natural behaviors like chewing. Smaller dogs are generally prone to more dental problems so it is important that they also have a variety of toys to chew on to help maintain healthy teeth.

You'll love the small dog toys, bones, chews, and more that have been tested and approved by our own little Shih-Tzu (and me) especially for your adorable small little puppy or dog!

Providing safe dog toys for your pet will go a long way towards distracting him from chewing on a pair of shoes, furniture corners and other items around the house. (You might want to check our page about Poisonous Plants to make sure certain houseplants are well out of your pups reach.)

How to Select Toys Safe for Small Dogs

Starmark Treat Dispensing Bob-a-Lot Dog Toy
Starmark Treat Dispensing Bob-a-Lot Dog Toy
A treat-dispensing toy with a weighted bottom that "bobbles." This one has a large food chamber and is a great way to slow down kibble gulpers.

1. Size Appropriateness

Small dogs need toys designed to fit their size, but you need to be careful not to give them something too small. No toy should be small enough for your pet to swallow. For example, a ball should be big enough to NOT fit in their entire mouth.

This seems like common sense but just because a toy is labeled "for dogs under 12 pounds" or something similar, doesn't necessarily mean it is safe for YOUR particular dog. On the other hand, some toys for dogs, even one as ubiquitous as tennis balls, may be too large for smaller dogs like Chihuahuas.

That said, many durable and fun toys are made in a variety of sizes to fit all dogs and sometimes finding the right size alone is enough. However, don't assume that just because a dog is small s/he will be gentle with toys or even interested in it.

Petstages Just For Fun No Stuffing Plush LiL Squeak Monkey Dog Toy for Small Dogs
Petstages Just For Fun No Stuffing Plush LiL Squeak Monkey Dog Toy for Small Dogs
A plush toy with no stuffing and two squeak chambers that squeak even if punctured. Very well made - durable and much loved at our house.
Be careful with toy balls. They can be very dangerous and possibly fatal if swallowed.
Be careful with toy balls. They can be very dangerous and possibly fatal if swallowed.
JW Pet Crackle Heads Crackle Ball, Small
JW Pet Crackle Heads Crackle Ball, Small
Ball has durable rubber body outside, crunchy water bottle plastic inside that dogs love because it makes a crackle sound.
TUFFY Ocean Creature Small Octopus, Durable Dog Toy
TUFFY Ocean Creature Small Octopus, Durable Dog Toy
Multi-layered construction with 2 layers of industrial grade luggage material, 1 layer of plastic coating, and an outer layer of soft fleece. Machine washable.

2. Structural Integrity of Toy

Choosing a toy for a small dog is much like choosing a toy for a small child, except there are no specific rules on appropriateness for pets.

However, if you follow some of the same cautions you would use in purchasing a toy for, say, a two-year-old, you should be fine.

Some of the smallest breeds can be very aggressive chewers so you need to be careful. For example, avoid toys with small parts like buttons sewed on for eyes or a ribbon bow tied around a toy's neck. Small dogs can choke on these if swallowed.

You may not realize it, but small dogs will succeed in detaching small parts and chewing on them just as a larger dog would. However, it can be far more dangerous for a smaller dog. Smaller dogs will choke on it if swallowed more easily than a larger one might and the swallowed item can also cause an intestinal obstruction.

Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Plush Dog Toy Puzzle, Small
Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Plush Dog Toy Puzzle, Small
This is our dog's favorite toy of all time! Also like that you can get replacements for the squirrels (that look a lot more like chipmunks to me)
TUFFY Ultimate Ring, Durable Dog Toy (Junior, Camo Blue)
TUFFY Ultimate Ring, Durable Dog Toy (Junior, Camo Blue)
Tough, durable construction yet not hard and rigid. Can be used like frisbee as well as a squeaky chew toy. Machine washable.

3. Bite Resistance

Choose toys that are bite resistant. Dogs especially love to rip even one-piece squeaky toys apart to get at the squeaker or stuffing which, if swallowed, can be even more dangerous than those button eyes.

Stuffing-free toys are a good choice as are toys that have the squeaker encapsulated in a larger bite-resistant barrier.

Nylabone Puppy Chew Gentle Chewing Dura Chew Original Flavored Dental Dinosaur Chew Toy, Dinosaur Style Varies
Nylabone Puppy Chew Gentle Chewing Dura Chew Original Flavored Dental Dinosaur Chew Toy, Dinosaur Style Varies
Designed for powerful chewers. Gently rounded dental nubs and bristles raised during chewing help clean teeth plus control plaque & tartar build-up.

Of course, it goes without saying that dogs should be monitored when playing with certain types of toys just as you would monitor a dog chewing on a bully stick.

Dogs should not be left alone to play with any toy that might prove to be hazardous.

4. Interest

Just like us, dogs have different interests. The toy should fit your dog's personality.

Some dogs are more easily bored with certain toys than others. Some dogs, for example, enjoy puzzle toys while others will find them uninteresting or frustrating.

Some dog breeds are more sedentary and others are very active. Some will prefer toys to cuddle with, others will ignore those and favor "action" toys that provide more exercise, some will want "thinking" toys, and some will want a combination of types.

Just remember that, to a dog, ALL toys are also chewing toys.

It is Important to Remember...

Dogs Consider All Toys Chewing Toys

One of Our Small Dog's Favorite Toys

Keeps him occupied for hours

PetQwerks Talking Babble Ball Dog Toy

This popular doggie toy comes with sayings or you can get one with animal sounds.

Our dog has both and loves them. He's a small shih tzu but we recommend the large size because the small ones have a tendency to disappear and not be easily found. He has just as much fun with the larger ones and they are much easier to find if they should roll out of reach.

Your pet will enjoy playing with this ball as it makes random sayings or sounds when played with. The sound is softer than some other talking toys and the variety is wide ranging, so it is not annoying for people to listen to and/or ignore.

Playing = Bonding

Play with your dogs...they love the interaction and attention, and will bond with you through playtime!

Fun Interactive Dinosaur Squeeze Toy

Just the right size for small dogs

Squeez Meeze Latex Toy for Small Dogs

Vibrantly colored latex toy with squeaker, extending tail and flaming tongue.

A lot of fun to use when playing with your dog. Our puppy loves this toy!

I do not recommend letting your dog play with this toy alone, but you'll have so much fun watching your dog when you squeeze this and the tongue pops out with a squeek, that won't be a problem at all.

Small Dog Toys for Cuddling, Chewing & Playing

ASPEN Rabbit & Panda Small Dog Toys

Specially sized and shaped for small mouths, sold as a pair.

The perfect size to carry and cuddle.

Exercise Your Little Dogs!

Little dogs require lots of exercise, so walk them 2-3 times daily, and provide lots of play toys for them.

Martha Stewart Pets Bear Rope Toy

It looks sweet, but this is one tough toy!

It features a knotted rope body that is easy for a small dog to carry around and that will stand up to chewing and rough play.

Plus it is hand washable.

Only at PetSmart.

Video: Puppy and small dog playgroup Maltese shows her stuff

Have a Larger Dog?

The Items on this Page are also

available in other sizes to suit your

Medium or Larger Size Best Friend

Visit Our Other Pet Pages

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You'll find all of our articles about pets and other topics on our home page | Source

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© 2012 Chazz


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