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The Evolution of Dog Toys

Petmate Academy

December 29, 2021

Have you ever wondered about the history of dog toys? Have you ever wondered how they came to be, what they might have looked like, or how the dog toy industry got to where it is today? These days, dog toys are available in a variety of styles, colors, and materials, but we know that hasn't always been the case. If you're curious about the history of dog toys, read on for a brief primer on how some of our dogs' most favorite items came to be.

Early Stages of Dog Toys

Pet-specific toy sections were introduced into department stores in the 1920s, but there was not much variety in the options available. Leather balls were sewn and sold as dog toys, but that was about all you could find. Classic dog toys that we recognize today were introduced in the 1950s, partially due to better technological advancements, manufacturing, and the freeing up of available materials after World War II.

Classic Dog Toys

a dog playing with a stick


For the next several decades, toys that we would consider to be "classic" were introduced into stores and became increasingly popular for dogs.

  • Artificial Bones
    Artificial bones were created to tend to a dog's instinctual need to chew, giving them an outlet to prevent them from chewing up valuable items. Rawhide chews entered the market in the 1950s, followed by options made from other materials such as nylon (Nylabone chews, etc.). While rawhide was a popular choice back then, today it is considered a danger to dogs and many vets do not recommend giving dogs rawhide due to the risks.
  • Balls
    Clearly, the ball has stood the test of time and has evolved through many iterations. Originally made from leather, balls then began to be constructed with rubber and other materials that were more easily available after World War II.
  • Rope
    Like other toys, ropes started out with a simple design and have developed over the years to offer more variety in their shapes, colors, and materials. Today, rope dog toys like Petmate's Fresh N' Floss Rope Toy can even come flavored and are known to benefit your dog's teeth as they chew. Acting like floss, small pieces of rope can get in-between your dog's teeth and remove built-up plaque.
  • Sticks
    Sticks are another classic dog toy that has developed into much more over the years. Back in the day, hunters or families could go outside, find a stick, and start a game of fetch. Sticks are plentiful and easy to find. Today, you can find all sorts of dog toys shaped in the form of a stick, like Pet Qwerks Peanut Butter BarkBone Sticks.

Dog Toys Today

Many of these classic dog toys that were developed in the 1950s have been the inspiration for the toys that we see in stores today. Dogs' instincts and preferences for play haven't changed over the years. However, as we continue to learn more about a dog's wants and needs, we can provide our canine friends with objects that can better appeal to them and provide them with more benefits physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, dogs have been viewed more and more as human companions and extensions of the family, a long way from the days when domesticated animals existed solely to serve us. Therefore, two important developments have been the creation of toys that benefits the dog's well-being, and toys that offer more interaction between a dog and his or her owner.

a dog playing with a JW Twist In Treats Puzzle Treat toy


Today, many dog toys serve dual purposes. They are focused on both the dog's body and mind, made from materials that are safe and non-toxic for your pet as well as created to keep them mentally stimulated and prevent boredom. While it might not seem like a big problem on the surface, boredom can lead to your dog becoming mischievous or even lead to behavioral problems such as destructive chewing.

Modern dog toys are also designed for playing with a purpose. This means that they are created to help a dog learn something new or bond with you. Puzzle toys or treat toys are one example. They require your dog to solve a problem to receive a reward, ideally facilitating behavior modification and play.

Chuckit! Dog Toys

If you're looking for an example of the quintessential modern dog toy, you don't need to look too far.

a dog playing with a Chuckit! Launcher


Petmate acquired Chuckit! toys in the early 2000s and since then, Chuckit! has been one of the leading game-changers in the realm of modern dog toys. Their products are all about promoting more quality time, interaction, and bonding with your dog. Playing fetch has several benefits and Chuckit! toys help you step up your fetch game with their variety of ball launchers and other products. Their line of launchers allows you to throw a ball and other Chuckit! Toys at further distances and eliminate the need to touch slobbery, used balls. As always, every Chuckit! toy is designed with durability in mind to last you and your dog years of use.


Back in the day, if you wanted to get your dog a toy, you were likely only going to find a leather ball or a stick outside. It wasn't until after World War II that dog toys started to evolve due to more materials being available, however, dog toys were not always designed with safety in mind. Today, dog toys are available in a wide variety of materials, designs, shapes, and sizes. Dog Toys are also designed today with safety in mind and are made to benefit your dog both physically and mentally while promoting bonding between dogs and their owners.

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