If you’ve ever owned a puppy, then you know that their teeth are like razors for the first 8 months. They are sure to leave their mark upon your arms, legs and anywhere else they like to nip while you train them. Finding the best chew toy for a teething puppy is absolutely crucial to saving both your body and your sanity.
Training during this stage is important. This is when your puppy will find out what the world is all about. You’ll need to teach them what’s OK to bite and what’s not. Using a chew toy to keep them occupied while teething is one of the best ways to keep them both distracted and busy. You’ll want to use this time to redirect improper chewing behavior to the appropriate toys.
When puppies are in the teething stage, puppies can get especially destructive. Your dog can start chewing through your shoes, your kid’s toys, and the baseboards of your home. If you don’t correct it now, your pup can develop lifelong habits that you absolutely don’t want.
Below we are going to go in-depth about puppy toys, and walk you through all the things you should consider when keeping your furry friend occupied. We’ve laid out our favorites at a glance, and also a mastiff sized load of information if you like to do your research.
Let’s dive in and find out what to look for when getting your new canine companion their first toys while teething, and then toys for the next step up through 1 year old. If you are looking for some toys that are exceptionally durable past the one year mark, you can see this article here.
Our Favorite Toys For Teething Puppies:
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Below we are going to talk through several important factors you’ll need to consider when picking a puppy toy for your new fur baby. There are many things to consider. You don’t want to buy a toy that’s likely to break, causing a trip to the vet’s emergency room. You’ll also be looking for the right combination of durability and interest from to keep your new canine companion busy for hours on end.
Toy Construction Material
First and foremost, you need to consider what material the toy you want to buy your pup is made of. There’s some critical elements that you don’t want to miss, like making sure your puppy chew toy is BPA free. BPA is known to cause harmful health effects, including cancer – even in small doses.
BPA free rubber or plastic are preferred choices for toy material, and some toys are able to be frozen. Frozen toys almost have a numbing effect, which is similar to when a human goes through the teething stages. Make sure you monitor frozen puppy toys though, as you don’t want your pup to chew on them too long.
Toy Texture Must Be Soft but Firm
You want your pup’s toys to be firm, but also have some give. The purpose here is to be soft so it doesn’t injure the gums, but be firm enough to provide some relief. As your pup presses it’s teeth against the toy, it provides comfort, so having a harder toy isn’t recommended.
Seeing some blood from your puppy’s teeth is not unusual, so there’s no need to call the vet unless you come across a broken tooth. Ideally, toy time will be supervised, although some non-breakable toys are just fine to leave unsupervised if you are crate training and want to keep a toy inside the crate to keep your dog occupied.
Flavored vs. Unflavored
This is a personal choice, as you can go flavored or unflavored. Flavored toys may keep your puppy occupied for longer. A favorite pick is to grab a toy that allows you to pick the flavors. Toys like the Kong are always a winner because you can put something inside the actual toy and just manage what your pup is ingesting.
When picking a flavored toy, make sure you aren’t picking something that contains harmful chemicals. If you prefer to avoid artificial flavoring, stick with toys that can be treat-filled. This will allow you to put in edible treats like peanut butter made with natural peanuts, or a dog treat to keep your pup busy.
Not only will this keep your puppy busy for hours on end, but your furry friend is more likely to keep going back to this toy with the expectation that something yummy is inside. The more you condition your pup to expect this, the more effective it will be in training.
Teething Toys vs. Regular Toys
There can and will be some crossover here. There are some toys that are specifically for teething which we’d recommend, but there are also toys that can be used during the teething cycle that your pup can and will use longer term. It just depends on what your pup responds to and is trained with.
We’d recommend picking up a few different toys to see what your dog responds best with. One dog may respond well to a treat that freezes, while another dog may only be obsessed with a Kong. Pick a few (most are pretty cheap) and see what’s best for your pup.
We’d recommend staying away from toys that are meant for fully grown dogs at this stage, because it’s not going to be as soothing or satisfying as your puppy sheds their baby teeth and looks for relief. One fun dog fact is that puppies actually have two sets of teeth, and they have 42 dog teeth!
Do you have a Shih Tzu or a Pomeranian? Maybe you have a smaller mixed breed dog, like a chihuahua cross bred with a Pug? Maybe you have a giant breed pup like the managing editor here at Love Your Dog? Dog size matters, so you should keep that in mind when buying a teething toy for your furry friend. It also matters because smaller toys can go along for the ride if you plan to travel with your pup.
A smaller toy sized dog is not going to do well with a Dane sized toy. The good news is that most toys come in different sizes, and aren’t just “one-size fits all” situation. If your dog is going to grow into a larger breed, you can generally grab a toy that’s slightly bigger than if you have a small breed that won’t get bigger than 10 or 12 pounds.
In our detailed breakdown below, you’ll find which toys are better for teething smaller breeds versus larger breeds, and everything in between.
Using Toys in Crates
Are you crate training your teething puppy or planning to? This is something that’s important to consider. When you initially crate train, you shouldn’t leave your pup alone for more than a couple hours at a time. If you plan to keep a toy in the crate to keep them occupied, ideally you’ll pick something that’s on the softer side.
The goal here is to give your furry friend relief while teething and chewing constantly, but also not have to worry about a broken tooth. Broken teeth can happen on toys that are excessively hard. You also don’t want to have them chewing on a toy that has the potential to rupture if it’s a toy that can be frozen.
For crate training your pup, toys like Classic Kongs are great because they are soft enough to provide relief. They are also durable, so you’ll have little to worry about as you crate train your dog. Again, you’ll want to keep time in crate to a minimum early on, and make sure to supervise when you initially start.
Toy Types by Age Range
Smaller puppies have the advantage here, as while their growth is rapid, the scale at which they grow is not. A smaller dog toy will likely last your puppy a while, and your smaller breed dog may even be likely to keep the same teething toy for the first several months it’s alive.
Giant and large breeds unfortunately will likely need a variety of toys. When your dog is smaller, you’ll want a toy they can wrap their mouth around during the teething process for relief. As they grow, you’ll not want them to have smaller toys so they don’t ingest them as they grow. Your dog swallowing the wrong sized toy can lead to costly vet bills, or even worse.
Let’s look at what you should be thinking about as your dog ages through the teething cycle as each stretch of time is a little different.
6-8 Week Old Puppies
Puppies that are 6-8 weeks old are just starting the teething process. Usually no matter what the breed, smallere toys are your best bet in this age range. You can find budget friendly toys, like the Nylabone starter back that will help soothe your pup’s teething needs. We don’t recommend using toys like this inside the crate if you are crate training. Get a small Kong in that scenario and call it good.
2-4 Month Old Pups
As your pup ages, this is when teeth start getting sharper, and your arms start getting a little more carved up. At 2-4 months, this is when we’d start really thinking about introducing some type of flavored teething toys. Kongs are always a winner, but a natural teething ring like the N-Bone six pack is also a great option. Your pup is likely starting to grow in flavor and taste, so this is a quick win if you want something that your puppy will go nuts over.
4-6 Month Old Pups
Towards the 6 month mark, your puppy may start to lose some teeth. This is also the time your puppy is starting to grow rapidly. You’ll want to make sure you’ve replaced any smaller toys with medium-sized toys, or larger toys. This is especially true if you have a large breed like a labrador who’s toy needs grow as they age. Your pup may also be growing tired of a single toy, so it’s always good to experiment with other options to keep them busy. It’s also a good idea to make sure you are training avoidance on other behaviors, like keeping your dogs out of the trash can.
7-9 Month Old Pups
Months 7-9 are critical growth periods. What worked at months 2-4 will definitely not hold up unless you have a smaller dog. You’ll want to find larger toys. If your dog hasn’t lost any teeth through month 6, you’ll definitely start to see them grow out of puppy teeth during this timeline.
10-12 Month Old Pups
Your pup will be almost finished with teething and should have lost most of their puppy teeth by the time they reach 10 months. Your arms, legs, and household furniture should be out of harm’s way by this point if you’ve trained your puppy appropriately. This is when you can start considering more adult-sized dog toys.
1 Year Plus
Congratulations! Your puppy is a year old. This means you can now start looking at larger toys that will have a much longer shelf life. You can get an equal lifespan out of toys for bigger dogs versus smaller ones depending on when you buy the toys, and as long as your dog doesn’t destroy them all.
Best Chew Toys For Teething Puppies
Next we look at our favorite dog toys for teething puppies. These are some of the best options as your puppy starts to grow. Each of these toys are sure to help during the training process. This list is not all inclusive by any means, and we are sure that there’s some toys out there that could fit into this list that we’ve not included.
With that being said, here are some of our favorites that we have personal experience with. We’d recommend that you buy several of them and see what your pup responds to best. There likely is no perfect solution as every dog is different and will likely have a preference of one toy over others.
Natural Rubber Classic KONG
- Made of natural rubber.
- Four different puppy sizes.
- Perfect for stuffing with treats.
- Keeps your puppy busy for hours.
- Over 40-year brand history.
- Designed to soothe puppy gums.
- Made in the United States.
What’s not to love about the Classic Kong? These toys are practically indestructible, and you can fill them with whatever you want. Almost all dogs love them, but there are some that may not be as keen on them based on the shape of the toy. You can fill them with peanut butter or other frozen treats to help soothe your puppie’s teething and mouth pain.
Kong products are made in the USA, and all their toys are BPA free. What we love most about the classic Kong is the fact that the toy can be used well beyond puppyhood. They are also very budget-friendly. This means you can grab a couple of them at different sizes so they can be used as your dog grows. The cone shape makes them a smart design. Because of the shape, even if you have a giant breed pup, it’ll be a while before your dog can swallow them.
Chicken Flavor N-Bone Puppy Teething Ring
- Comes with six teething rings.
- No corn, wheat, or soy ingredients.
- Soothes sore puppy gums.
- Tasty chicken flavor.
- No plastic, nylon, or rubber.
- DHA fortified for brain development.
- Made in the United States.
We like the N-Bone Puppy Teething Ring (with chicken flavor) because it’s specifically made for teething puppies. The ring itself is small enough for your puppy to be able to get its mouth around, and it’s both edible & digestible. It’s also fortified with Omega 3’s and fatty acids, making it healthy for your fur baby.
The teething ring helps relieve teething pain and soreness, and this is a great option as long as you plan to supervise your pup’s chew time. They are easier to tear apart than some rubber toys, but their shape also lends itself very well to relieving tooth pain.
KONG Puppy Teething Goodie Bone
- Designed for puppies up to nine months.
- Made with natural rubber.
- Can be used with treats, or snacks.
- Irregular bounce pattern keeps puppies busy.
- Can be used for fetch.
- Extremely durable.
- Soft rubber is easy on puppy teeth and gums.
The Goodie bone was created specifically for teething pups. There’s space at the end of the bone to slide in your puppy’s favorite treat or frozen substance, to help keep them both interested and occupied. The rubber shape at the end of the bone is also helpful in massaging the gums of your puppy.
The rubber material that the goodie bone is made of, is the same rubber that the classic Kong is made from. They are budget-friendly enough that you can grab a few of them so your pup has several.
West Paw Zogoflex Chew Toy
- Stands up to puppies that love to chew.
- Can be filled with treats.
- Made with recycled plastic.
- Non-toxic, and latex-free.
- Dishwasher safe.
- Easy on puppy gums and teeth.
- Made in the United States.
The Zogoflex interactive treat-dispensing dog chew toy will grow with your puppy as they age. They come in small and large, so keep that in mind if you have a smaller pup. They are similar to the Kong, but the design is different, allowing your puppy to have a hold on the toy while they investigate the inside for their treat or frozen goodie.
The Zogoflex Tux is made in the USA, and is also dishwasher safe. It’s BPA free and and guaranteed by West Paw against dog damage, which is a huge plus. This is a great chew toy that will keep your pup occupied for hours and also help satisfy their needs as they grow.
Benbone Flavored Wishbone
- Ergonomic design.
- Bacon flavored.
- Perfect for puppies with softer bites.
- Satisfies a puppy’s urge to chew.
- Comes in four different sizes.
- Supports animal welfare foundations.
- Made in the United States.
The Benebone flavored wishbone is more of a set it and forget it treat. It’s similar to the N-Bone in that it comes already flavored. It’s made in the USA, and only contains real flavors. The wishbone design is clever, as it allows your dog to firmly grasp the chew toy while they chew. Dogs seem to love the scent and flavor which is a plus in keeping them interested.
One thing to note is that these bones are not edible. This is not a toy you’d want to leave along with your dog in the crate. We’d recommend supervising your dog with ANY toy during playtime, and Benebone also recommends the same.
What To Avoid
Cheap toys: You get what you pay for! Don’t buy cheap toys! You’ve spent money on your furry friend, possibly even thousands of dollars if you got him or her from a breeder. Now is not the time to save a few bucks on toys as a cheap toy which could break and put your pup in the Vet’s office. You don’t have to break the bank, but do your research before you buy.
Toys that can break: Don’t buy toys that are likely to break. If you do, and your puppy ingests something, it means a trip to the vet or worse. Buy something that’s durable and provides your pup some relief from the pain of teething. Chew toys shouldn’t break as their sole purpose is to stand up to at least some mildly aggressive abuse.
Toys not meant for specific breeds or sizes: Your teacup poodle isn’t going to be able to fit their mouth around a toy that’s meant for a giant breed puppy. Your great dane pup shouldn’t have access to a toy that it could ingest. Make sure you size the toy appropriately for the breed you’ve selected.
Toys with BPA: BPA is an acronym for bisphenol, which is a chemical used in manufacturing some plastics. Dog toys aren’t regulated like human toys are, so there’s a chance that some toys use this chemical. BPA has been linked to several health issues in humans, but less is known about the reaction with dogs. We’d still recommend you steer clear of any toys that don’t specifically state they are BPA free.
Toys resembling your children’s toys: Don’t buy toys that look like the toys your children play with. If you do, there’s a chance your dog will mistake their toys for the same and you can kiss those toys goodbye. This means you run the risk of those toys breaking apart and putting your pup in the vet’s ER or worse. Try to buy a toy that doesn’t look like it’s for your kids. Make sure their toys are in a special location in your home.
Most plush toys: Let’s be clear – we aren’t saying plush toys are bad. They just aren’t ideal for teething puppies. Your puppy needs toys that are firm with some give, that allow them to chew and get relief. Plush toys are fine for playing and throwing around, but they don’t accomplish what your pup needs during teething times. Keep in mind that plush toys may also look like a child’s stuffed animal, so you could end up losing a child’s toy as a casualty to your puppy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still not sure which toy is best for your teething puppy? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we see from new owners of young dogs.
Are puppy toys breed specific?
Puppy toys are not really breed specific. While there are certain toys that we think do well for more active breeds like huskies or less active breeds, in general – toys can be used with any breed.
Can I use a toy with my puppy while I’m crate training?
Yes, and we actually recommend you do. Crate training your puppy can be a difficult task in and of itself. You want to make sure you set yourself up for success and giving your puppy a treat that it can be comfortable with in their crate is a smart thing to do.
What are the best chew toys for puppies in their crates?
We like toys like the Kong while puppies are crate training. These toys are durable. They provide teething puppies relief from the pain and urge to chew. This makes it less likely they will chew on themselves or their crate as they get comfortable inside their crates for longer periods of time. Kongs can keep your teething puppy busy for hours. Frozen peanut butter is a fantastic snack to allow your pup to lick away at.
Which chew toy should I get if I have a small dog?
Remember that dog toy size should mirror the size of your pup. If you have a smaller puppy, get a small or extra small dog toy. A Pomeranian is going to have different size needs than a german shepherd, so make sure you plan accordingly.
Which chew toy should I get if I have a large breed puppy?
The same thing applies here, although you will have a little more freedom seeing as larger dogs can tend to keep medium sized to larger toys for longer periods than smaller dogs. Make sure the toy size matches your dog size and you should be in good shape. Stay away from smaller toys if you have a larger dog so they don’t have the danger of swallowing it.
Finding the best chew toy for your teething puppy is no easy task. Puppies can be sassy and arrogant during their teething phase, and they will definitely test your patience. To keep your own sanity, you need to make sure you are well equipped to handle the battle of wills that is sure to ensue.
If you stick to our recommendations, or our buying guide at minimum, you should be in good shape. Welcoming a puppy home is one of the most rewarding and enjoying experiences you’ll experience. But dealing with a destroyed home or personal belongings is not. Make sure your puppy has the right toys to satisfy the teething urge. This will make it easier to form that lifelong bond as your dog continues to grow into adulthood.