Find out how to choose great toys for different dog breeds

Toys for different dog breeds

Choosing what toy to buy your dog can sometimes seem confusing. You do not want to buy him a toy that will bore him, but it can be difficult to know what will be a good fit.

Luckily, there is an easy way to begin: by thinking about your dog’s breed. Dog breeds have certain characteristics that are their defining features. If you buy a toy that challenges these traits in your dog, they are more likely to love the toy you give them.

In this article, we offer examples of toys that would work with a selection of dog breeds. The article should be a starting point for identifying your dog’s strengths, and buying him toys accordingly.

Terrier dog toys

Terriers are typically small dogs, and they tend to be extremely active. They were first bred as hunters in Great Britain and Ireland, especially to control the rodent population. They were also sometimes used to hunt rabbits and badgers.

This ability to hunt is inbuilt in your terrier. They are also very intelligent dogs, as they were bred to follow and capture small animals. Any toy that requires your terrier to use his intelligence to get a reward is a good toy and will likely keep him engaged for hours.

Our top picks:

Puzzle toys that are also treat-dispensing toys. Your terrier will need to bite, fiddle and chew these toys in order to reach the kibble hidden within. He will enjoy the challenge and thank you for it.

happy fluffy terrier

Sighthound dog toys

As their name suggests, sighthounds hunt by using their keen sense of vision, rather than using their sense of smell. They often lock a target in their sights and then use their remarkable speed to catch these targets. A typical sighthound is lean, with long-ish legs, and is incredibly fast.

You will need a toy that allows a sighthound to use all of their talents. Their abilities can be summed up in a single skill: chasing. Sighthounds should be allowed to chase their toys across vast expenses, using both their speed and keen eyesight to capture their target.

Our top pick:

A Frisbee. This classic toy covers large distances relatively quickly when thrown. It will require your sighthound to run as fast as possible, while keeping the Frisbee in their sights.

woman walking through forest with her greyhound

Retriever dog toys

A retriever is a dog breed that was bred to be a ‘gun dog’. This means that when people went out hunting, a retriever was responsible for finding and bringing back the birds and animals they shot in the wild.

They have ‘soft mouths’, which means they do not bite what they carry, and are generally very good at finding and fetching objects. Toys that require your retriever to fetch will be the ideal toys for them.

Our top pick:

A tennis ball or another ball. These balls can be thrown large distances and your retriever will happily go and fetch them. You can even throw the balls into the bushes to make the game slightly harder for your pet.

golden retriever pup running

Scent hound dog toy

Like the sighthound, scent hounds were bred for hunting. However, unlike the sighthound, these dogs use their sense of smell to track and hunt prey.

This bred of hounds usually have large nasal cavities, which allow them to smell better. They also have booming voices, and often cry out when following a trail.

Toys that let your scent hound use their sense of smell are dog toys that will keep them engaged for hours. You can even play scent-based games with them that will help them develop their sense of smell. For a more extensive list of scent-based games you can play with your dog or how to care for your scent hound, see ‘Scent hounds and their care’.

Our top picks:

Any scent-based dog toy. These dog toys usually have treats in them that your dog can smell, and your dog must then learn how to get to the treat. Games such as ‘hide and seek’ or scent-based obstacle courses can also be fun for scent hounds.

beagle gazing straight at camera

Herder dog toys

These dogs were bred to herd and help control sheep. Each type of herd dog has a different method for herding. However, all dogs in this breed love to herd objects or animals towards some sort of order.

Our top pick:

An interactive, electronic dog toy. There are many dog toys on the market which your dog can chase and ‘herd’ to their heart’s content.

border collie outdoors

Additional points to consider

When choosing toys for your dog, make sure you keep the size of your dog in mind. Small dog toys can be dangerous for dogs with large mouths, as they may swallow the toy and choke.

Similarly, large dog toys can be overwhelming for small dogs. It would not make sense to buy your small dog a large stuffed toy, for example; they may find it hard to play with the toy because it is too big.

Also keep in mind your dog’s ideal activity levels. Most dogs like chew toys and to play tug of war, but if your dog is a breed that requires more exercise, you may need to choose a toy that requires them to run around outdoors.

happy young dog with various toys


This guide should be starting point for choosing the right type of toy for your dog. Simply identify the trait that seems to suit your dog best, and buy them a toy accordingly. Do not worry if you have to buy several toys – all dogs love a choice. Also, variety in their play is very important. Above all, make sure you play with them. No toy can replace spending quality time with you.

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