Tough Dog Toys: Indestructible Balls You Wouldn’t Think Of

Finding tough dog toys that last more than a couple of minutes is not an easy task. If you want to know what constitutes an indestructible dog ball, ask a Rottweiler.

Tough Dog Toys: Indestructible Balls You Wouldn't Think Of. If you want to know what constitutes an indestructible dog ball, ask a Rottweiler.

{Most] dogs have a special relationship with balls–I haven’t met a dog who didn’t love them. I doubt though that balls share the same sentiment.

Why do dogs love balls so much?

Dogs love chasing things whether they are appropriate or not–if it moves, a dog will pursue it. In the wild, chase games are a preparation for the real deal–hunting for food. You can take the dog out of the wild, but you cannot take the “wild” out of the dog. If you want a happy dog, you need to find an outlet for their innate instincts. Most dogs love to play fetch.

The game of fetch provides an outlet for dogs’ natural hunting [or herding] drive. While you can throw just about anything and your dog will run after it, no object measures up to a ball.

What makes balls special?

Firstly, they are much safer than sticks. While dogs love sticks and they are readily available anywhere, there is a potential for serious injuries. I stopped using sticks after JD, our boy Rottweiler, nearly impaled himself on one. JD was always more enthusiastic than coordinated, and when the stick landed like a spear, sticking upward from the ground, JD missed an emergency surgery by millimeters.

Some of the potential injuries from sticks include

  • splinters in the tongue, gums, or soft palate
  • mouth and throat punctures
  • eye injuries
  • chest penetration injuries

Your dog can fetch sticks their entire life and be fine. However, stick injuries are way more common than you’d think.

You can read more about it on Preventive Vet.

There are, of course, plenty of other safe options to choose from, and some of them I highly recommend.

Balls, however, have a property other toys don’t.

Think about it. When you toss a rope, stick or any other fetch toy, it flies through the air for a bit and then flops on the ground and plays dead. A ball, on the other hand, rolls, bounces, and performs evasive maneuvers. That makes a ball is as close to a living pray as a fetch toy can get, which brings us to the essential characteristic.

What makes a ball a ball?

A ball needs to roll and bounce. And it can only do that when it maintains its roundness. A flat ball doesn’t perform any better than a wet rag. Unfortunately, most balls get punctured within minutes, at least with our dogs.

Dog Toys: Indestructible Ball Fail
Cookie’s soccer ball has not been indestructible

I couldn’t recount how many balls we’ve gone through–balls of all sizes, materials, and brands.

Tennis balls worked well after a fashion. But they get lost easier and, believe it or not, can pose a health risk too, especially for large breeds with powerful jaws. Rottweilers, Labradors, German Shepherds, and other big dogs have jaws strong enough to bite down on a small ball and compress it. That sounds fine and dandy unless the ball pops open in the back fo the throat, blocking air supply.

Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Retriever died after choking on a small ball and, sadly, it’s not an incident which is that rare. You can get away with risky things for a long time, but it is best to avoid a disaster catching up with you.

You can read more about that on Vetstreet.

It is crucial to carefully match the size of the ball to the size of your dog. Even though we opted for a large ball for other reasons, I am glad we did.

We figured that if a ball is larger than our dogs could get a good grip on, it will save it from being punctured–wrong. We thought that a tough material could keep them puncture-proof–wrong. Moreover, the more sturdy the material, the heavier the ball gets and Cookie, our Rottweiler girl, in particular, does not like that at all. And neither did our toes.

The long and the short of it is that we couldn’t find a ball that would work for our dogs.

And then, incidentally, we stumbled upon the perfect ball..

While we were visiting friends on a horse farm. Cookie was running around, having a good time, when she came back bouncing with a ball in her mouth. Oh, no, we thought, another ball bites the dust, and it’s not even ours.

And a strange ball it was–it came with a handle. We didn’t learn what kind of a ball it was until later, but it has redefined our definition of an indestructible ball.

Redefining the definition of an indestructible ball.

The main misconception about what makes an indestructible ball indestructible is that it needs to be puncture-proof. But does it?

That’s where the miracle of the jolly ball comes in.

The jolly ball I am talking about is not a dog toy–it is a horse toy. That is probably why it comes with a handle although the dogs and ourselves appreciate that feature as well. The handle, however, the least indestructible part of the toy. It is the easiest to grab onto and as a result, expect it to be gone fast, especially if your dog is a power chewer. Luckily, the handle is not essential for the ball to function, even though it leaves a hole behind. Wait, you can have a hole in a ball dog toy?

You heard me. The jolly ball is not puncture-proof. But it is indestructible by our new definition. How?

A half of the ball can be gone and it will still stay round and behave like a ball.

Say what? As long as there is enough of the material left, the ball cannot be destroyed even when it is destroyed. It will not deflate.

Dog Toys: Indestructible Balls - Jolly Ball
This ball remained round and bouncy in spite of the holes it sustained

That is a whole different solution to the problem. It also allows the ball to remain soft and light-weight.

Your dog might eventually take the jolly ball apart. But unless you let them use it for a chew toy, it will last a very long time. It is not the cheapest ball you can buy for your dog, but with a bit of care, it can last years.

Sometimes, to find a solution, you need to redefine the problem.

Do you need a ball that is indestructible or do you need one that keeps its function?

Because our dogs manage to put out of commission any other ball that comes their way. The one exception is the Kong ball, but that thing is like a bowling ball–that heavy for its size. Cookie hates it, and she has the last word.

The jolly ball is the ultimate dog ball toy for us.

Does it fit the definition of an indestructible ball? Or does it qualify as virtually indestructible? What does virtually indestructible mean anyway? Does it mean that it lasts longer than the rest of the ball dog toys? How much longer? Or that it will survive a Border Collie but not a Lab mix? Or maybe it means that it gets broken just a little bit? And what happens to its function then? Beware of superfluous adjectives which might virtually negate what comes after them.

How does the jolly ball stack up then?

I consider the jolly ball indestructible if you change your way of looking at it. It will retain its function in spite the abuse your dog might inflict on it.

What dog ball toy has worked best for your dog? Did you find an indestructible ball your dog was not able to destroy?

If you haven’t tried the jolly ball yet, I highly recommend you do.


Jolly Pets Tu-N-Toss


Jolly Tug-N-Toss

Jolly Tug-N-Toss is the ball I described above. Jolly Pets offers a bunch of other products which might be just as good.

Tug-N-Toss is the one we used, and I can vouch for, but your dog might enjoy any of their other toys just as much.

The ball is make in the USA. It works on land and in the water.

It seems they now come scented, which I don’t quite understand, especially since the choices are fruity or vanilla.


I don’t play fetch with Cookie any more.

There are two reasons for that.

Firstly, Cookie gets bored fetching toys quickly–she prefers chasing real prey such as frogs, mice or moles. Ultimately, she would love chasing bigger things too, but her insufferable mom discourages that. Cookie looks like a pure-bred Rottweiler though I would swear she has a Hound blood in her somehow.

In order to establish a simple, singular rule, I tell her that if she needs to lift her head to smell the prey, it is too big or too far in the distance to chase it. In spite of that, she is ready to pursue a moose should the opportunity present itself.

More importantly, because of Cookie’s existing musculoskeletal challenges, high-impact activity, and sudden stops are not the best activity for her.

According to the x-rays, when Cookie was little, she suffered a pelvic injury. It looks like the injury went untreated. Cookie didn’t heal properly and, as a result, her hind end isn’t quite right. Further, one of Cookie’s back legs is longer than the other. For this reason, Cookie gets hurt easily. And while we nurse her back every time, prevention is the best medicine.

Always consider your dog’s health when selecting their activities.

That said if Cookie were a fetch addict like JD was, I would find a way to make it work. If fetching on land might be hard on your dog’s constitution, by all means, consider water retrieving. That is much easier on the joints and promotes healthy muscles. Jasmine loved retrieving.

At first, we used tennis balls. There are two problems with that. Eventually, every tennis ball sinks. So that’s a problem. As well as not only tennis balls pose a choking hazard, but for Jasmine, they were hard to grab.

Among other challenges, Jasmine had arthritis in her jaws. That made opening her mouth wide enough to get the tennis ball painful. The toy Jasmine immediately fell in love and enjoyed retrieving was Chuckit! Flying Squirrel.

Chuckit! Flying Squirrel is another fantastic dog toy.

It is indestructible in the same way the Jolly Ball is. In other words, your dog can mostly destroy it, and it will still work. I have seen mere remnants of the toy still perform its job.

You can use the Flying Squirrel as a frisbee, as a tug-of-war toy, and for water retrieving. Unlike a tennis ball, it never sinks. And I mean never.

Cookie enjoyed it as well. It is on our list of top two toys for dogs who love to chase things. Stayed tuned for a post about the Flying Squirrel.

Further reading:
Why Do Dogs Love Balls? Examining a Truly Fantastic Phenomenon

Categories: Dog toysIndestructible dog ballTough dog toys

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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