No dog toy is indestructible, especially when locked in the jaws of a German shepherd, but some come pretty close. Shepherds are notorious chewers and the last animal most toys will ever see, which makes it all the better when you find a stuffed alligator that thwarts your shepherd's plans of toy ruination.
Thick rubber toys can withstand the powerful jaws of a German shepherd, even one that makes it his sole goal to break down the toy into tiny pieces. But plain old rubber is only going to entertain your dog for a few days. Instead, choose toys that squeak, roll easily or dispense treats. Some shepherds enjoy a ribbed texture on rubber toys; it feels good on their gums. Thin rubber rings or bones aren't usually well-suited for shepherds, as they break apart too easily.
Soft, plushy toys aren't usually synonymous with German shepherds, but dog toys have come a long way. Those that only have one or two layers of material probably won't last more than a few days of being thrashed about, but plush toys that have been sewed multiple times with multiple types of material can last nearly a lifetime. They're tough enough to withstand direct gnawing, even from a full-grown shepherd. If your shepherd doesn't go for the throat of new toys, less durable plush toys and even stuffed animals for children are OK for a few months.
Although your dog would almost certainly disagree, rawhide bones are off-limits, even compressed rawhide. They break off too easily in the mouths of strong chewers, like German shepherds. Long-lasting and durable bones, such as femur bones, provide years of teeth-grinding action and without the dangers of your dog breaking off and swallowing tiny pieces. To keep your pup busy for a few hours, give him stuffed femur bones, where you can slide a dab of peanut butter or other type of food in the middle of the bone.
A variety of ropes exist, from a single rope with two knotted ends to two ropes joined together by a bone in the middle. Those that have knotted ends and a knotted middle are best and less likely to break apart. If you want to join in on the action, choose a handled rope.
Some German shepherds take a methodical approach of gutting every toy they have. That means a lot of stuffing on your floor and sometimes in your dog's stomach. Toys that have a flat appearance and contain no stuffing laugh at your dog's attempts of ripping it apart, because there's no treasure inside. The lack of stuffing bores some dogs, but choosing toys that are stuffed with squeakers fixes that problem in a hurry. The squeakers are usually packed tightly together and are difficult for your pup to remove.
Size-Appropriate and Supervision
Tossing a small, 3-inch toy in front of a German shepherd puppy is fine, but a larger shepherd can easily choke on a toy that size. Toys 6 inches or longer and tennis ball-sized round objects are usually safe for adult shepherds, but always supervise your dog when he's kicking back and relaxing with the toy of his choice. If you notice the toy is going too far into his mouth, take it away. Some shepherds enjoy tossing their head back and chewing on toys with their back teeth. If your dog does that, discourage him by saying "Ah" or saying his name in a non-threatening way. If you notice a toy is breaking apart, or if a bone has split, take it away from him immediately.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.