The Best Small Dog Toys for Playful Pooches

Best Small Dog Toys for Playful Pooches by Teri Silver |Updated 04-09-2024

Playing with your pooch is one of the best parts of being owned by a dog. Finding the best toys for small dogs depends on what your furry friend likes to do.

Does your pup like to chew? Fetch? Play “Tug of War” or jump? Here are some small toy ideas for active dogs.

10 of the Best Small Dog Toys for Playful Pooches

1. Chew Toys

A small Yorkshire Terrier is laying in the grass playing with a chew toy

Chewy toys must be thick and tough. Little dogs have small but fierce, sharp teeth! Many small dogs, like terriers and chihuahuas, love a round, rubber chewy ring.

Look for chewy rings with reinforced natural rubber that are made for dogs up to 40 pounds. Quality and durability are important, as is a trusted manufacturer that provides a replacement guarantee.

Rawhide chew toys are also fun for dogs of all sizes. Purchase toys meant for mini or small pups — you don’t want to give your pup something they cannot get their teeth around. Just remember, shopping for chew toys online is convenient, but checking them out in person lets you see them before you buy.

Nylabone Power Chew Toys Variety Triple Pack

2. Rope Toys

A beagle is playing in the grass with a rope toy

Plush critters on a rope are fun for small dogs. Rope toys have smaller knots for little jaws and paws, and your pup will enjoy pulling, tugging, chewing, and wrestling with it.

Rope animals and “people” don’t have a lot of stuffing, but they do have plenty to occupy your furry family members like squeakers, floppy arms, and legs.

Petstages Orka Mini Dental Dog Chew Toys - 3 Pack

(Check availability on Amazon)

3. Puzzlers


Engage your playful pooch in a treasure hunt with a dispenser toy that lures them toward the ultimate treasure — kibble, peanut butter, rawhide, or whatever tempts your furry baby. Puzzlers keep dogs busy and stimulated, and their ingenuity might surprise you. Just be sure the puzzle toys are durable, non-toxic, and safe for your dishwasher. 

Keep a crafty dog from getting bored with toys that hide treats in small compartments. With several levels of play, you can change the puzzle to make Fido work a little harder for his reward. Read the label on puzzle toys to be sure you’ve found one for small breeds. 

 4. Fetch Balls


Fetch toys like whiffle balls have holes that allow small dogs to grab onto them easily. Air flows through whiffle or other open-spaced plastic balls, so little pups can breathe easier, too.

Light plastic fetch balls are best for in-house play, but if you’re playing outside, rubber balls are easier to throw. Tennis balls are always a favorite for small dogs that don't chew them apart. The standard size tennis balls are normally too large for small mouths, so look for miniature versions.

While you're enjoying a game of fetch with lightweight plastic or rubber balls, remember to consider your pup’s protection from pesky mosquitoes. Just as you use mosquito repellants to shield yourself, it's crucial to safeguard your canine companion as well. Mosquito repellents for dogs make your outdoor fetch session a bite-free and enjoyable experience for both you and your four-legged friend.

5. Ball Launchers

Automatic ball launchers are fun for active pets. For small dogs, balls should be less than 2 inches around. Launch machines can toss the balls 10, 20, or 30 feet. They’ll keep your pet running and jumping inside and outdoors while you can tend to other things.

6. Sound and Scent Balls

Squeaks, bells, rattles, and other sounds are entertaining, especially for little dogs. Sound balls come in various sizes and don’t necessarily need batteries (unless there are lights and other gizmos inside).

One benefit to this noisy toy is that when your pup is playing with his ball, you’ll always know where they are. Of course, you can guess what the disadvantages are.

7. Tuggers


Much like rope toys, dogs will try to pull it away from you or other dogs. Available in various animal shapes, these tug toys often have squeaky middles and soft outer rings for comfortable gripping. Look for toys meant for dogs weighing fewer than 20 pounds.

8. Grooming Toys

Much like cats, small dogs (usually) like to be brushed. Much like cats, small dogs (usually) like to be brushed. When you’re not able to groom your dog, they can do it themself with a corner comb.

Available at your favorite pet store, these combs attach to a corner of your home, such as a wall or cabinet. Take care not to connect the comb too high off the floor, and be sure to measure the best height based on the size of your pup. 

9. Mini Discs

Light mini discs are similar to a Frisbee but easier to throw and catch. Made of durable fabric, these lightweight, doughnut-shaped discs for small dogs are about 6 inches across.

Mini discs fit firmly into Fido’s mouth when he’s trying to pick it up, making the playtime experience more enjoyable for all.

Hero Pup 120 Mini Dog Frisbee

(Check for Availability on Amazon)

10. Teeth Cleaners

Bristle-bone toys have rubber nubs and nylon bristles that rub against teeth and gums, slightly cleaning them. Choose a bristle toy chewy for pups under 25 pounds — they should be able to hold it in their paws.

Additionally, watch out for loose bristles that dogs might pull out of the toy’s base. Nubby teeth cleaners disguised as toys are fun for your four-legged friend and enhance their overall health.

A dog teeth cleaner shaped like a corn on the cob

Puppy Chew Toy Dog Corn Dog Toothbrush Interactive Cleaning Toy

Last Words

Staying active helps to keep us and our pets happy and healthy. Most small dogs stay young and playful well into old age.  Dogs love to run and play, and they can never have too many toys!

Author Bio

Teri Silver is a journalist and outdoor enthusiast. She and her husband live on 5 acres with a vast lawn, three gardens, a farm, a pond, many trees, and a lot of yard work! The best parts of the year are summer and fall when home-grown veggies are on the dinner table.

About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles, English Bulldogs, Carin Terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

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