Does your dog love to play fetch? Fetch is a great way to exercise your dog, strengthens the bond between you and your dog, and has the added benefit of helping train your dog's Come-When-Called and Drop-It cues. You can play fetch any time, indoors or outdoors, whenever your dog needs to burn some extra energy.
You might have a breed that's predisposed to love playing fetch (a Labrador or Golden Retriever), or maybe you've trained your dog to play fetch — some dogs prefer a regular ole' ball, while others prefer stick-like toys. Still others prefer to catch frisbees or chase floating toys so they can play in the water on a hot summer day.
Do you have a small breed dog? Tiny pups can enjoy fetch too, as long as their fetch toys are the correct size and weight, and I've included some great fetch toy options for small breeds below.
It's fun to try out different fetch toys and switch them out every so often for your dog's mental enrichment. Let's take a look at some different high-quality toys to try out next time you play fetch with your pup!
What Makes a Quality Fetch Toy
When choosing a toy for your dog to fetch, make sure it's safe, durable, and fun for your dog!
The best fetch toys are made from easily washable and non-toxic materials. There is no oversight in the dog toy manufacturing industry, and even buying a toy made in the United States doesn't guarantee a non-toxic toy. You want to avoid toxins like BPA, Lead, Arsenic, Bromine, and more — check out this article for information on how to find a non-toxic dog toy.
Fetch toys should be soft on your dog's teeth – hard toys can cause severe dental damage if your dog bites down too hard and cracks a tooth, which might require expensive tooth extractions. Tooth damage is one reason why regular tennis balls are not a good fetch or chew toy option (see below for another important reason). The nylon fuzz on the outside of the ball is abrasive to your dog's teeth and wears down their tooth enamel over time.
Your dog's fetch toy should be easy for you to throw, and easy for your dog to catch. There's nothing more frustrating than when you're trying to heave a toy as far as possible to get your dog to run and it only lands five feet away. Good aerodynamics are essential for your fetch toys.
Which brings us back to tennis balls — while they might be easy to throw, they can be a dangerous choking hazard when your dog goes to catch them, especially mid-air. There have been too many reports of dogs choking to death when a ball gets stuck in their throat and blocks their airway. It can happen to anyone at any time; it just takes once, like for this police dog. If you use a ball as a fetch toy, make sure it's bigger than your dog's throat so it can't be swallowed or get lodged behind their back teeth and block their airway.
Top 10 Fetch Toys For Your Dog
1. The Best Fetch Toy for Dogs – Exclusive to Preventive Vet
This fetch toy is the perfect alternative to playing fetch with a regular stick. Mother Nature isn't good at making dog toys! Wood sticks can be dangerous for dogs to catch and chew. This soft, non-toxic rubber stick is easy on your dog's teeth, whether you're playing fetch or tug. It's easy to throw and fun to catch; it bounces in lots of different ways so it keeps your dog guessing! It floats for when you want to play fetch in the water, and is washable for easy cleaning. This is not meant to be a chew toy, just a great fetch stick.
The Tizzi toy by West Paw is quite the versatile toy! It features a hidden treat compartment for when your dog needs a brain puzzle, aerodynamic design when the legs are twisted together to get major air during fetch, and a great tug toy when the legs are untwisted. It's not meant to stand up to vigorous chewing, so keep this toy in the special basket to bring out for playing fetch or other supervised play. Bonus: all of West Paw's Zogoflex toys are manufactured in the USA, are certified-safe, FDA-compliant, and can be recycled through their recycling program. Fun and sustainable!
The Jive ball is a heavy-duty fetch toy that will stand up to all the bouncing and catching your dog can muster! It's dishwasher safe and meets the high West Paw manufacturing standards. I love how its shape makes it bounce less predictably than a regular ball, and the heavier weight stands up to tough chewers. The Jive ball comes in three sizes; make sure the ball is large enough to not become a choking hazard for your pup.
Made from sustainable hemp canvas and eco-felt wool, this flying ring is durable and earth-friendly! Dogs enjoy getting a nice grip on the ring, and the design makes this a great long-distance fetch toy. It also floats if you plan on playing fetch in the water, but isn't machine-washable so plan on hand-washing when it gets dirty.
This medium sized ball by Chuckit is a safe alternative to regular balls that can be a choking hazard during games of fetch. The Breathe Right ball is designed to facilitate airflow and keep your dog's breathing more regular while running and fetching. It fits in Chuckit's Ball Launchers, but doesn't get quite as much distance as other balls because of its hollow and lighter design. If you have a ball-crazy dog (or one that likes to carry multiple balls in their mouth at once), the Breathe Right ball is a good choice to help keep their airway clear. However, this ball isn't made to stand up to dogs that like to chew on their toys, and can still become a choking hazard if your dog bites down on it and it expands in the back of their throat. As with all balls, these should only be used if it's the correct size for your dog and played with under close supervision.
The Pro Ball Launcher from Chuckit is the classic fetch tool, allowing you to throw long distances and pick up that slimy, dog-drool-covered ball without needing to bend over or even use your hands. There are multiple size options based on the size of ball your dog is fetching. Being able to throw faster and further makes it easy to exercise your dog in less time!
The Whirlwheel is a great option for dogs who love to fetch frisbees or disks. While hard plastic frisbees can be tough on your dog's teeth, the Whirlwheel is made from easy-to-clean soft rubber that's fun for your dog to catch and can double as a tug toy; there's even a fun squeak toy at the center! This is a great option for medium to large dogs, but not the best fetch toy in water, as it tends to sink when water gets into the squeaker.
This earth-friendly company has improved on their popular toy balls by adding a convenient rope for better flinging and for playing tug with your dog. The Orbee ball comes in two sizes, 3-inch and 4-inch, so you can make sure the ball is the safest size for your dog to catch. It's a wonderful option for water fetch, as the ball floats and is easy to see!
This update on Chuckit's classic ball launcher makes it easy to throw the included rubber Ultra Ring further, and saves you from slobbery pick ups. The ring toy bounces, jumps, and rolls, making it a fun toy for your dog to chase and grab. This is a great option for dogs that don't like to catch flying objects out of the air, but love to chase things on the ground. The ring also floats for water fetch fun!
The Bull Fit Fetch and Tug toy is made from super durable and non-toxic fire hose material, and can stand up to rigorous games of fetch and tug. Using a floating bumper style toy like this one is great for training water retrievals. It's bright yellow and blue colors are easy for dogs to see, and it features a convenient handle for easy tossing and tug.
If you have a pint-sized pup, fetch can be a fun way to burn their energy! Keep the size and weight of the fetch toy smaller and lighter, to keep the game fun and safe. You don't want to throw the toy as far or as high as you would with a large, long-legged dog either.
There are quite a few options for small dog fetch toys:
1. Stuffed Toys
Stuffed dog toys can make fantastic fetch toys for small dogs, since they are lightweight and easy for little dogs to grab and carry back to you. I love the tiny size of these Kong Squaker dog toys — they're perfect for dogs under 15 lbs. Another crowd favorite for small dog fetch stuffies are the Outward Hound Kyjen Puzzle Animals, which are available with their Hide-A-Squirrel interactive toy, or can be purchased separately.
Tiny balls are great for fetch with your tiny dog, just make sure they are a safe size to prevent choking. The ball should be larger than your dog's throat and large enough to not get stuck behind their back teeth. The Air Kong Squeaker Extra Small Tennis Balls are a personal favorite of mine; they're only 1.5 inches — perfect for dogs less than 5 lbs. — and dogs love that they squeak!
3. Fetch Stick
Does your small dog like to find twigs and sticks to fetch? Wood sticks can be quite the hazard for dogs, and allowing your dog to chew on or fetch sticks puts them at risk of splinters, punctures, and impalement. Luckily, there's this great fetch toy that satisfies your dog's desire to retrieve sticks. It's available in a small size, just 1-inch in diameter, and not too long or heavy which makes it easy for small breeds to grab and retrieve. Our office dog Marshall Jolie-Pitt absolutely loves his fetch stick toy!
4. Discs and Frisbees
Small dogs can be very talented disc dogs and frisbee-catchers! You can throw the disc for your dog to jump and catch, or roll it along the ground for your dog to chase. Look for a frisbee or disc that has a smaller circumference and lighter weight, and made from a softer material that won't damage your dog's teeth when they catch it. The West Paw Zogoflex Zisc comes in a "mini" 6.5 inch size, is a made from soft material but flies like a hard frisbee, and is a great disc to get started with.
Need some frisbee inspiration? Watch this video of Lili the Papillon showing off her small-dog disc moves: