Why Are Dog Toys So Expensive?

Have you ever walked through a pet store and wondered, “Why are dog toys so expensive?” Shouldn’t something that is going to be slobbered and gnawed on by a canine be inexpensive? To be fair, there are some cheap dog toys on the market, but most are poorly made and easily destroyed. The truth is that these toys can actually end up costing you more in the long run since you’ll have to buy replacements.

Why are dog toys so expensive? Well-made dog toys can cost more for several reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Being made from safe, non-toxic materials
  • Extensive product testing and research
  • Innovative designs
  • Manufactured with durability in mind.

But are well-made pet toys really worth the extra dollars that they cost? The answer is yes. Your pet is depending on you to buy him durable toys that won’t make him sick or even worse, kill him. So, to help you find the best value for your dollar, we’ve created this buyer’s guide that will go into more detail about why some dog toys cost more than others.

Why You Should Trust Us

I love to buy my dogs toys. So, you might say that I’ve been conducting research on canine toys for most of my life.

Additionally, dogs have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve had dachshunds, wire hair fox terriers, a Dalmatian, an Australian Shepherd and a Welsh Terrier.

I have also fostered three dogs and volunteer on the weekends at a no-kill rescue.

Because I’ve been around a large number of dogs, I understand that each canine plays differently with his toys. Some are gentle with their play things. While other dog-zillas find immense joy in shredding their toys apart.

I have probably learned the most about how dogs play with their toys from the rescues I have interacted with at the shelter. I tend to own smaller dogs. The dogs at the rescues are larger and stronger – such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. These breeds have strong jaws and the ability to destroy a toy.

In addition, I have also written numerous articles and blogs about dogs over the years. I take pride in carefully researching my writing. This is because I want pet owners to be able to make informed decisions about the products they give to their beloved dogs.

Why Are Dog Toys So Expensive?

Most pet stores offer a large selection of dog toys, including ones that look very similar, but are priced quite differently. Let’s take a look at several very good reasons why one toy may cost more than another.

Manufactured from safe materials

Cheap toys — especially those made in countries with lax safety standards, such as China — may be manufactured from materials that are toxic to dogs. Consumer Affairs discovered that two toys sold at Wal-Mart in 2007 contained elevated levels of dangerous toxins. These include lead and cadmium. Both of these toys were made in China.

Some pet product manufacturers pride themselves on offering toys made from safe, non-toxic materials. West Paw (based in the United States), for instance, crafts its dog toys out of Zogoflex. According to the company, this material is non-toxic and is free of dangerous substances, such as bisphenol A, phthalate and latex.

West Paw manufactures some of our favorite toys recommended here at Outdoor Dog Fun. Take a look at these West Paw Zogoflex toys:

Other manufacturers are turning to hemp to create safe dog toys. This material has some remarkable qualities that make it perfect for use in dog toys. It is non-toxic, naturally antimicrobial, and is resistant to mold. Also, hemp is biodegradable, so it’s also eco-friendly.

Extensive product testing and research

Do you assume that dog toys meet some standard similar to those used to gauge the safety of children’s toys? If so, you would be wrong.

In many countries, pet toys are not tested to ensure that they are safe. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in Australia states that there are “currently no mandatory safety standards for pet toys in Australia.”

The same is also true in the United States.

There are safety standards for making children’s toys . Responsible pet product companies ensure that their items meet the same safety standards. For example, Lucas b. toys are BPA-free and made with only non-toxic lead-free paints and food-based dyes.

In addition, some companies will perform tests on their toys to ensure that they are safe. One of these companies is Kong. This company manufactures most of its toys in the United States but also imports some from China. Kong’s imported toys are tested by independent laboratories — first in China and then, again, in the USA.

We recommend many toys made by Kong here at Outdoor Dog Fun. They are made from natural rubber and materials approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Here are some of our Kong favorites:

best chew toys for puppies in crates
My dog Kuzy the Welsh Terrier, trying to get the treat out of his Kong Classic

Innovative designs

In the old days, a dog had few toy choices.

He might have a squeaky toy, a ball, a stick, or even a frisbee.

Today, it’s not uncommon for a dog to have two or three baskets filled to the brim with a variety of toys.

There are toys for chewing, fetching, squeaking, and playing tug-of-war.

There are also puzzle toys geared towards keeping your pet mentally stimulated.

Starmark uses certified training and behavior specialists to design and create engaging toys. Starmark tests these toys at the company’s Starmark Academy. This is the “largest, most comprehensive training and behavior center in the world.” Products include indestructible balls and chew toys designed to reduce anxiety and boredom.

The Starmark treat-dispensing chew ball is one of the toys we recommend for dogs here at Outdoor Dog Fun. It’s made with a material more durable than rubber.

Durability

It takes more time and effort to create a durable toy than it does to produce a cheap one.

The best soft toys, for example, will have double-stitched seams. Why? Because destructive dogs know that seams are a weak spot on a toy.

Another reason why durable toys may be more expensive? Some companies guarantee their durable toys. They will send a one-time replacement if the “indestructible” toy is destroyed your canine.

Don’t Have Time to Shop?

You probably know a few people who have Barkbox subscriptions. If so, you may have considered getting one for your own pup. But is it a good value and are the toys good quality?

What’s in a Barkbox?

The cost of a box in 2020 for a one-month subscription is $29. The price goes down if you subscribe for a longer period. A six-month subscription is $25/month.

Each box contains:

  • Two toys
  • Two full-size bags of all-natural treats made in the United States or Canada; and
  • A chew toy.

Purchased separately, these items would typically have a value of approximately $40.

Are Barkbox toys safe?

That would be a yes, according to Barkbox. The company uses high-quality materials. Its toys are created by Barkbox’s own in-house designers. That being said, the toys in Barkbox’s standard box are not meant for dogs who are aggressive chewers.

Are aggressive chewers out of luck?

Nope.

Barkbox offers a Super Chewer kit. This contains two durable toys with no stuffing, two full-size bags of treats, and two chews.

Although these toys are more durable, it’s still a good idea to inspect them regularly. Toss them out if you note any problems. Also, you should never leave these or any other toys unattended with an aggressive chewer.

Pros and Cons of Expensive Toys

Expensive toys may initially cost more but will save money in the long run because they because they are:

  • More durable. This means that you will hopefully have to buy fewer toys.
  • Safer for your dog. Cheap toys may contain toxic substances.
  • Safer for your family. Your family, including your children, may also be exposed to toxins when handling a cheap toy.

The con? The upfront cost may be more than you’d typically like to spend on a toy.

Pros and Cons of Cheaper Toys

First, a point of clarification.

There are inexpensive, well-made toys.

The Classic Kong, for example, is a durable toy is very affordable. t

Cheap toys are products that don’t cost a lot of money to make and may be of questionable quality.

The pro of cheap toys? If your dog chews and destroys “indestructible” toys, cheaper toys may save you money.

The cons of cheap toys are that they can be dangerous to your pet’s and your family’s health.

You will definitely never want to leave your dog unattended with cheap toys, as they will be easy to destroy. And you don’t want to chance having your dog swallow any of the broken pieces.

best chew toys for puppy in crate
Rope toys are relatively cheap to buy (made in China). This toy should only be left with a dog when they are supervised. Unsupervised, the rope can unravel and be ingested by your dog.

Do Your Research Before Buying

Good ways to determine if an expensive toy is worth purchasing is to check reviews on a toy or to Google a product.

You may be surprised to discover that a toy you were about to buy was actually dangerous. For example, a quick search showed complaints about Hartz’s Chew N’Clean Tuff Bones. They included a CBS news report about a dog that almost died after swallowing pieces of this toy. Of course, not all Hartz’s products are dangerous. For example, researchers tested Hartz’s Flexa-Foam Round About Elephant, imported from China. The toy was found to be free of toxic chemicals.

DIY Toys for Dogs

If you’re still wondering why dog toys are so expensive, you may want to make your own.

The following are some ideas for super inexpensive toys you can make for your dog:

  • Toilet Paper Roll Toys. To make this toy, just fill an empty toilet paper roll with some treats and then fold in the ends. Your pup will have to figure out how to get this toy open in order to enjoy his yummies. This do-it-yourself toy is easily destroyed. It’s vital that your dog plays with it when supervised and you throw away any cardboard pieces.
  • Sock toy. Do you have a lonely sock that needs a job? Then stuff it with an empty water bottle. Knot the end of the sock to close up the opening. Voila! You’ll have created a toy with a satisfying crunch for your pup.
Toilet Paper Roll Toys
Here are some toilet paper roll toys made up with treats inside for the dogs in the shelter where I volunteer

Conclusion

Hopefully, we have answered your questions as to why dog toys are expensive and why the cost is worth it to keep your fur baby safe. Durability is essential. If a dog can tear a toy, he could swallow the pieces, which could result in an intestinal blockage or choking. And, of course, the fewer toxic materials your dog has to be exposed to, the better.

Why are dog toys so expensive 2
My dog Kuzy in toy heaven

We’re Mad About Toys

Toys are so important to dogs. Toys keep dogs stimulated and well-exercised and it’s a great opportunity to strengthen the bond between you and your dog. That’s why we’re mad about toys here at Outdoor Dog Fun and have dedicated much research to toys so you are informed of the best toys to invest in.

Author - Jane

Jane owns 2 high-energy dogs - Kuzy the Welsh Terrier and Vinnie the Wire Fox Terrier. Jane's favorite thing to do is take her dog on long walks in the woods. They also love hiking, kayaking, and boating together. Jane walks her dogs several times a day whether it's raining, snowing or just plain cold. She is interested in teaching Kuzy how to Barn Hunt. Jane walks rescue dogs on the weekend so that they can enjoy a little fresh air and exercise.

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