Looking for the right toy for your Shih Tzu Puppy? We’ve put together a list of the best toys for your Shih Tzu starting as a puppy, all the way through adulthood. It can be hard to figure out which types of toys are best, especially for smaller dogs. The Shih Tzu can be especially difficult to pick for, with their unique jaw and facial structure.
Shih Tzu’s are a toy breed, meaning that they are very small. This means it’s important to find a toy that will not cause problems because of their size. Buy a toy that’s too big and your pup will lose interest. Buy one that’s too small and it could become a health hazard.
Because of how unique these pups are, our comprehensive buyer’s guide will walk you through all the factors you should consider when buying an assortment of toys. We’ve also handpicked some of our favorite toys to help you keep your pup entertained for hours. Below you’ll see our favorites at a glance, and if you need more info, carry on and see why we’ve selected our top picks. Let’s jump in!
A puppy has different toy needs than a fully grown adult dog. Puppies need toys specifically designed for their breed and size. These toys should be smaller, and typically also being a firm rubber substance. This way it provides your teething puppy some relief. Below we look at all the important decision points you should be reviewing before introducing your pup to their new toy.
Types of Toys
In our guide, there’s 5 different types we cover that will make a good fit for your pup. Each of these toy groups serves a different purpose, so keep that in mind when making your selection. Your adult dog will have different needs from a 6-month-old puppy.
There’s still plenty of older dogs that love a good chew toy. There’s also plenty of puppies that love to get their brain working with some fun stimulation type toys. Let’s take a look at each type and walk through what we’d recommend for dog based on the age range of your dog.
Chew Toys: This is pretty self-explanatory. These are the toys that your pup is going to chew on all day until their jaws get tired. You’ll typically want a firm rubber, or a firm nylon if your dog likes to abuse a good chew toy. Make sure it’s durable but not too firm so their teeth don’t get damaged.
Interactive Toys: Interactive toys are fantastic for Shih Tzus because this breed is intelligent. These toys are toys that make noises or create movement when your dog interacts with it.
Retrieval Toys: Shih Tzs’s aren’t known for going crazy while chasing a ball. But some dogs do have a higher prey drive, even with this breed, and they end up loving a good chase. Balls fall into this category, as do others like frisbees, that are utilized for throw & retrieve.
Brain Games: Brain games are essentially dog puzzles! These are toys that will require your puppy or adult dog to think, and usually all age ranges can have fun with these. Basically the setup here is to make your dog work for the treat and solve a puzzle to get it.
Treat Containers: Instead of solving a puzzle for the food, the treat containers allow you to load up the interior of the toy while your pup gets after it and starts chewing away at it. These are toys you can fill with your dog’s favorite treats, or human treats like peanut butter.
The materials your toys are made of matters. If you hand your puppy a toy made of rope, it will get torn through quickly unless it’s made of nylon. What’s worse is that your pup may also swallow some of the bits of rope that have come off, making a gigantic disaster that will hopefully exit during your puppy’s next poo break.
Worst case, these rope strings may bind up and put you in a tough spot for an emergency room visit to your vet late at night. This is why making sure the materials your toys are made of is extremely important. As your dog ages, you’ll have far more flexibility in toy materials, as long as playtime is supervised.
Some of the better materials you can leverage for your puppy include specialized rubber toys for teeth and gums. You can also use puppy friendly Nylon bones. As your dog gets older, other toys like ropes and non-toxic plush toys made of fabric are fine to use. You’ll just need to make sure playtime is supervised. Otherwise, you’ll risk the chance they accidentally ingest something that puts them in the ER.
Things to Avoid
There’s also some things you’ll want to keep an eye out for so that you can avoid costly vet bills. Picking the wrong toy material can have longer-term health impacts on your pup. Make sure you aren’t introducing your pup to any toys that have BPA contained plastics. BPA is known to cause health problems and is not safe for dogs.
You’ll also want to avoid toys with smaller pieces that your dog may swallow. This way they can’t become a choking hazard. Also, avoid toys that come apart easily when your dog plays with them. Crazy things can happen. It’s very likely your dog could swallow smaller pieces of a toy, especially if they are puppies.
Most Shih Tzus are not aggressive chewers due to their jaw alignment, so you won’t need to worry about buying toys that are for hardcore chewers. Heavy chewers require special attention because when they destroy something, they typically ingest it which ends up costing pet owners tons of money at the vet every year.
As with any breed, buying dog gear can get expensive. You’ll need to stretch your budget to cover dog crates, dog food, Shih Tzu sized dog harnesses, vet bills, and more. When buying the proper assortment of toys, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t break the bank considering all the other costs you’ll need to prep for. The good news is that generally smaller toys are less expensive. It’s not like buying gear for a giant breed, as usually the bigger the dog, the costlier they are.
Types of Toys For Puppies
Adults have a broader range of toys that you can freely use with them. Puppies require a little more thought. We typically recommend that teething puppies have toys that are firm, yet have some give to them that help relieve teething symptoms. Kongs are great for this. So are other firm rubber toys that allow your dog to chew for extended periods of time.
Types of Toys For Adults
Once your pup crosses into adulthood, it’s now time to start leveraging interactive toys. This includes ropes and brain games. Just remember that if you intend to introduce different tug-of-war type toys with your dog, that you only let the dog win the play session on your terms (if at all). You need to demonstrate your pack leadership. You shouldn’t encourage bad behavior which tug-o-war can often be.
Our Favorite Toys
Below you’ll find our favorite toys for the Shih Tzu. We’ve also gone into detail on the reasons why we really love them for the breed. Our recommendations here are slightly different than other toys we’d typically recommend. This is simply because they have a very different genetic makeup and facial structure than most other dogs. While there’s some crossover (a Kong can likely be used from 3 months on), there are some options below better suited for a puppy versus an adult.
The Kong Puppy Goodie Bone gives your pup a little bit more interaction than just a classic Kong. It’s formed in the shape of a bone, and has open ends at each side of the bone that can have food stuffed inside. This bone is made of a softer rubber, which makes it the perfect companion for teething puppies as they grow and start to lose their teeth.
We love that this toy comes in small and Extra Small, meaning it’s the perfect companion for a Shih Tzu puppy that’s still growing and hasn’t hit their maturity stages yet. If your pup is just now starting to lose it’s teeth, this is a great option to help soothe some of that pain.
It’s practically impossible to go wrong with a KONG. Because Shih Tzu’s aren’t known to be aggressive chewers, a small-sized Kong is perfect to keep them busy for hours on end. KONG does a good job of sizing their toys for all breeds, and the extra small makes a perfect companion for your dog as they start to enter into adulthood. With proper care, the KONG Classic can mast for many years.
We love that the KONG classic chew is customized specifically for small dog teeth. There’s also plenty of room to stuff it full of tasty treats. Peanut Butter is a favorite for most dog owners. This is one of the few toys recommended by Vets and Trainers all over the world. It’s also manufactured in the USA.
The Nina Ottosson Dog Smart Beginner Puzzle toy is a great option for dogs that need a little more mental stimulation. Shih Tzu’s are extremely smart dogs! This means that puzzle toys like this are perfect for keeping them entertained. If your dog is in puppy stages, it may be harder to get them to engage with this type of toy.
We love that this toy is a slow feeder, and it’s a level 1 toy so you can start your dog off slow. It’s easy to clean and is made of a tougher plastic while remaining BPA free. This toy also helps redirect destructive behaviors by keeping your dog occupied looking for food or treats on the inside of the puzzle.
The Wobble Wag Giggle Ball is an interactive toy that will keep your dog guessing for hours! The Wag Giggle ball makes noise each time your pup interacts with it. It will keep your dog a little more occupied by making noise and allowing your dog to chase after it as they nudge it with their noses or paws.
We love that this toy is great for both indoor and outdoor play. Instead of a toy that’s typically best for indoor use, you have something that you can take with your Shih Tzu, anywhere you go. This toy is great for dogs of all sizes. So this is one that you can test with your puppy at an early age through adulthood. It just doesn’t have the same teething relief as the Kong brand toys have. It’s still hard to beat and is one of our favorite interactive toys.
West Paw Interactive makes a number of smaller and firm rubber toys that are specifically manufactured to give you the option of hiding food on the inside. These toys are extremely durable, and they float! If your Shih Tzu puppy likes to chase toys into the pool, this might be a perfect fit because it’s unlikely to get lost based on the bright colors.
We love that this product is manufactured in the United States, and it’s also dishwasher safe. Believe it or not, if your toy suffers some abuse at the hands of your pup, it’s actually recyclable! You can toss it in the blue bin and feel good about saving the environment one more destroyed dog toy! While puppies can use this, the size makes it more suited for young adult dogs or those that are fully grown.
The Outward Hound hide-a-squirrel is recommended for adult dogs only. Even though the Shih Tzu isn’t known to be highly intelligent, this great brain-working toy will keep your pup busy. Because their jaw pressure isn’t too intense, the plush squirrels will stand up to abuse over time. It’s still recommended that you monitor your Shih Tzu while they engage in activity with this toy, just because every plush toy has a shelf life.
We’d recommend the Junior version for your pup, regardless of their age. Your Shih Tzu likely won’t get big enough to really take advantage of the larger sizes. The ginormous version will likely have squirrels as big as your dog. Overall, this toy is excellent for keeping your pup mentally stimulated. The squirrels squeak and will give your dog something to search around and find for hours on end.
We love that this product gives you an alternative to typical chew toys, and fetch toys. It’s a fan favorite for many breeds and is sure to please your pup.
Picking the right toy for your Shih Tzu can be challenging, but truly only because of their size. Because they aren’t destructive like other breeds, you’ll likely be able to provide a couple toys that will keep this breed busy for very long periods of time. They are nothing like mastiffs or pitbulls that destroy their toys in under 30 minutes.
If you are looking for the best toy for your Shih Tzu, any of our picks here should suit your needs depending on the age of your dog. Overall, each of these toys has a different purpose but comes packed with value in small packages. If you feel we’ve missed your favorite, please drop us a line in the comments!