Most German Shepherds take their play seriously — so it’s up to us to find toys that satisfy this powerful play drive, are safe, and last more than 20 seconds once the dog starts using them!

My German Shepherds love fetch above all games, so toys that feed this frenzy are the ones I gravitate toward. Soft latex or plush toys aren’t suitable for most adult shepherds (although some German Shepherds, females especially, enjoy carrying around a fleecy toy like it’s a puppy). Stuffed animals, particularly those with squeakers, tend to be disemboweled after only minutes of playing fetch, and latex ones are torn apart even faster.

Besides fetch, a game of tug with me or another dog makes my German Shepherds’ list of all-time fun activities, so knotted rope bones, strong rubber tug toys or large plastic bones are in the toy box.

My first criteria when choosing a toy is “Will it last more than five minutes?” If the answer is yes, then the toy likely passes the safety test, as well (no word on dog toys recalled from China). The second is, “Will my dog play with it?” Toy-treat combinations, such as products made from rawhide, might be enjoyed, but unless I use them for hide ‘n’ seek, only the dogs’ jaws will be exercised! Outside of treats shaped like toys, German Shepherds are usually happy to make a toy from anything, but it’s important to start teaching your German Shepherd early in puppy hood which objects are his and which objects belong to you.

Here are four of my favorite German Shepherd toys:

If ever a toy was designed specifically for German Shepherd Dogs, the Kong Company has made it happen. The Extreme Black Kong toy is made for hard chewers and can withstand more abuse than its red counterpart. If you have one of those rare German Shepherds who does not enjoy chasing or chewing the Kong, stuff it full of canned food and freeze — Voila! A doggie Popsicle!

The Jawz disc by Hyperflite is an extremely durable disc that flies just like a regular one. My large male German Shepherd will destroy a regular plastic disc in one 20-minute play session. Although puppies and young dogs should not jump to catch discs until their growth plates have closed, you can begin teaching German Shepherds of any age how to grab short tosses and snatch rollers off the ground.

The Buster Cube is one of my go-tos for occupying busy German Shepherd Dogs on rainy days. Like the Kong, you can fill it with treats (or kibble — I feed my dogs their meals this way), and it stands up to harsh treatment. The hard plastic outside is great for a dog who loves to pound toys with his paws, and stands up well to harsh treatment.

Jute tug toys are a must for big dogs who like to play tug. I particularly like the double-handled version of this toy, which gives the person a better grip. Be sure to follow the rules for tug when playing this game with your GSD!

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