Shopping for Serious Chewers

Buying toys for a dog who is a serious chewer can be a challenge.

Whether you are shopping for a Christmas present for your dog, a birthday present, or just a toy or two to keep him from chewing on your shoes or your couch. One of my previous dogs, Sisko, who has since gone on to his great reward, was a hard chewer. Since he was smaller than normal Australian Shepherd, Sisko wasn’t the worst chewer, but he could demolish most dog toys in seconds. He’d be done with most edible chews before my other dogs had even gotten started. Trying to find toys that Sisko could chew on for more than a few seconds was a challenge.

Sisko wasn’t the only dog like this, though, so I put the question out to dog owners on social media: “What kind of toy or chew does your hard chewer like that will also last a reasonable amount of time?” Read on for the five favorites that dog owners recommended over and over.

Frozen Foods

Many dog owners recommended freezing some natural products to make them harder for the dog to devour. Pieces of dried beef like a dried trachea or an esophagus can be stuffed and then frozen. Bananas, peanut butter, cheese, meat, or even dog food can be stuffed into a four, six, or twelve-inch trachea or esophagus (depending on the size of your dog) and when frozen, the foods become hard. The dog then has to work at it, chewing on the entire thing to get to the good stuff inside. You should be able to find beef trachea or esophagi at an all-natural pet store near you, but if you can’t find them, a hollow dog toy (like a Kong) works as well.

You may have to try some different foods to see which appeal to your dog the most. My dogs, for example, are split on the appeal of bananas. Bones loves them while Hero thinks they are to be ignored.

Hard Knotted Rope Toys

A number of dog owners recommended hard, knotted rope toys. Most of them emphasized that for medium to large sized dogs, the ropes needed to be the big, thick, heavyweight ones, as serious chewers can destroy lighter weight ropes too quickly. The heavy ropes, though, seemed to stand up well for many dogs. However, several dog owners warned that any loose strings from the ropes need to be trimmed so that the dogs don’t swallow them.

Firehose Toys

Several companies produce toys made from used fire hoses or the same material that fire hoses are made from. These seem to stand up well for many hard chewing dogs. I know they did for my Sisko. In fact, he’s been gone for several years now, and a couple of his toys have also survived both Bones and Hero’s puppyhoods.

These toys may or may not be stuffed and are usually stitched using a heavier than normal thread. They are often advertised as good for strong chewers. As with the knotted ropes, any stray threads should be trimmed off.

Nylon and Nylon-Type Chews

Several companies make nylon or nylon-type chew toys. These may be in the shape of a bone or may be in other toy shapes. They are usually scented to attract the dog. Several dog owners mentioned that one brand makes a bacon-scented chew toy that their dogs went crazy over.

These toys are usually pretty tough, but dogs can get some crumbs or small pieces off of them. This doesn’t seem to be a problem, and none of the dog owners commenting had a problem with it. If you are concerned, watch your dog the first time you give him one of these toys and take it away if he chews off pieces. Some dog owners recommended that you should buy toys larger than you may think is right for your dog so that your dog isn’t tempted to swallow it whole.

Tire Toys

A couple of companies make dog toys out of recycled tires. Some are in the shapes of small tires, but almost all have the nice chewy treads of rubber tires on them.

Several dog owners who have big, strong chewers (pit bulls and Rottweilers in particular) mentioned that these stood up to their dogs’ hard play. They could play retrieving games and tug games, and the toys survived. However, one Rottweiler owner said that while the toy withstood playtime, it didn’t withstand regular chewing and needed to be taken away when playtime was over.

Each Dog is an Individual

As dog owners well know, each dog is an individual. This means that some dogs will like some toys better than others. Plus, some dogs are more destructive to their toys than others. Sisko was my smallest Aussie and my toughest chewer, while my largest Aussie was my least destructive chewer. Each dog is different. When you try a new toy, supervise your dog to ensure that they will be safe and have fun.


Meet the Author: Liz Palika, CDT, CABC

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer and Certified Animal Behavior Consultant as well as the founder and co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in northern San Diego county. Liz is also the founder of Love on a Leash therapy dogs; her dog, Bones, goes on visits on a regular basis. A prolific writer, Liz is also the author of more than 80 books. Many of her works have been nominated or won awards from a variety of organizations, including Dog Writers Association of America, San Diego Book Awards, the ASPCA, and others. Liz shares her home with three English Shepherds: Bones, Hero, and Seven, as well as one confident and bossy orange tabby cat, Kirk. To relax from work, or to take work on the road, Liz and her crew travel the West and PNW in their RV. If you see an RV on the road named "Travelin' Dogs", honk and say hi!

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