Best Dog Toys Not Made in China

Best Dog Toys Not Made in China

I’ve already recounted the story of how in 2007, China manufacturers intentionally laced dog food ingredients with two ingredients, melamine and cynauric acid, to produce a false positive in protein testing. On their own each of these ingredients is harmless (other than the economic fraud). Together, they produced a chemical reaction that led to kidney failure in thousands of pets.

Honestly, I don’t blame the China manufacturers. They were the lowest bidders to American contracts and thus their job was to produce products at the minimum possible cost. The real people to blame were American executives and product managers at brands like Purina, Blue Buffalo, and Hills.

What did these American brands do once they were caught? They poured millions and millions of dollars into PR. They swore that they would never buy ingredients from China again. But what they really did was to lie low for 16 years and hope that the American public would forget. And we did. Today, the vast majority of dog owners see “made in USA” on the bag and don’t question the source of their raw ingredients, just as they did in 2007.

What about Dog Toys?

It’s exactly the same with dog toys. Ten years ago, no one in their right mind would buy a dog toy made in China. Today, walk up and down the toy aisle in a pet store and you’ll see product after product manufactured in China. Look no further than the executives of companies that produce dog toys and the private equity firms behind them. They don’t care about your dog, they just care about their bonuses.

Just to show you how much the industry has learned over the years, when I looked up the best dog toys on Wirecutter, only THREE of their top 12 recommendations were made outside of China.

Are dog toys from China unsafe? Not necessarily.

Does a portion of the money you spend for every dog toy that’s made in China to go fund a government and a society that’s inculcated with communist “ideals” about the value of life, and where animal cruelty is rampant? Absolutely, 100%, yes.

Dog toy manufacturers who made toys there before 2007 were foolish. Dog toy manufacturers who make toys there today are sociopaths at best and evil at worst. Don’t give them a penny.

The Dance

One of the vendors that Wirecutter identified, BarkBox, is a good example of how brands that have rushed to China for their manufacturing try desperately not to show it.

Here was the response of their “automated chatbot” when I asked where its toys were made.

Here was the answer from a human when I asked the same question.

And here is the “real” answer that someone on BarkBox posted on Amazon.

I don’t want to just pick on BarkBox—at least they attempted to give a transparent answer. Most brands just do their best to hide the country of origin.

The good news is that because of what happened in 2007, this category is much easier to research than most. That’s because more pet owners are educated on the dangers of China manufacturing and the consequences of sending more of our money to China. If only every product category was like this.

Shop on Chewy

One thing I found in my research is that Amazon is getting more and more unreliable as far as being able to trust them for country of origin information.

I was happy to find that Chewy does provide the country of origin on at least some of their products. It was a conscious and deliberate choice on Chewy’s part to trust you with this information, and all dog owners should reward them by buying from them and not sites like Amazon and Walmart who intentionally hide this information from you.

It looks like Chewy makes it optional for brands to provide this information, and some brands like KONG intentionally leave out Country of Origin on some of their products. IMO, if they do leave it out there’s a 100% chance that particular product is made in China. Hint: to verify, cross-reference that product in Amazon, and there’s good chance that an Amazon reviewer will disclose the country of origin.

Best Dog Toys Not Made in China

1. Chuckit! Ultra Rubber Ball Tough Dog Toy

My sister’s dog Clancy is famous for destroying every toy that came his way. There was one toy he cannot destroy: his Chuckit! rubber ball. There are days I’ll be playing fetch with him and when he gets tired, he’ll take his “prey” into a corner and start gnawing and gnawing at it, just to make sure it’s dead.

He loves that thing so much that my sister gave it a name: “Chuck”. Whenever she asks him “where’s Chuck?” his eyes light up and he searches frantically for it.

Some Chuckit! products are made in China. This one is made in Vietnam. It comes in small and medium sizes; the medium size is about the size of a tennis ball.

As I said, your best bet is to buy it on Chewy, but if you really prefer the other folks here it is on Amazon (while you’re there, notice how Amazon lies about the country of origin).

2. KONG Classic Dog Toy

This iconic toy from KONG was invented by Joe Markham, an auto-shop owner in Golden, Colorado, who noticed his German Shepherd named Fritz damaging his teeth by chewing up rocks, and later chewing a suspension device made for the Volkswagen Bus made of hard rubber. He experimented with different compounds before coming up with this. It got its name when one of Markham’s friends commented that it looked like an earplug for King Kong.

Since then, it’s been called the best known dog toy in the world. The way it works is simple: take your dog’s favorite treat and stuff it inside the big hole (make sure the treat is slightly bigger than the hole so it won’t fall out easily). Alternatively you can put a slab of peanut butter in there.

Your dog will spent hours chewing and throwing the toy trying to get it out. A lot of pet owners who anthropomorphize their dogs see this and are horrified—isn’t this incredibly frustrating for the dog? But a dog behaviorist will tell you the exact opposite. They love it. It gives them a challenge, helps them expend some energy, and lets them explore a lot of other hunting instincts their ancestors enjoyed. It also reduces boredom and is an especially way to divert their attention and occupy their time if they have separation anxiety.

One eye-rolling moment I had when I read the list of best dog toys on Wirecutter was seeing a cheap plastic ball that was obviously a ripoff of this idea. Don’t fall for it; your dog will love this a thousand times more.

You can buy it from Chewy. Here it is on Amazon.

3. Benebone Bacon Flavor Wishbone Tough Dog Chew Toy

Nylabone is of course the most well known of the “fake bone” products out there, and their main product is still made in the USA. You can buy it on Chewy or Amazon. But I cannot in good conscience name them as one of my top picks, because Nylabone is making other products like this in China (notice how they conveniently leave out country of origin on that particular product). Do you think for a second that Nylabone will NOT shift all of its manufacturing to China at some point?

Why would any dog owner continue to support Nylabone when Benebone doesn’t just MAKE their products in the United States (specifically from two factories in New York)…

…they SOURCE all of their ingredients from the United States as well.

Oh yes, and they’re flavored like bacon. Bacon!!!!

This is what you call a “no-brainer” as far as which company to support. Let’s just hope that once they get big, they don’t forget who and what got them there—as Nylabone is in the process of doing.

Get them at Chewy or Amazon.

4. Himalayan Dog Chews

I’ve been using the phrase rawhide for years, and yet it wasn’t until now that I realized what it meant. Rawhide is literally “raw hide”, the hide of an animal like cattle, sheep, goat, or pig that hasn’t been tanned to turn it into leather.

Since the first wild dog took down the first wild cow, dogs have been enjoying chewing rawhide. And if you can get your rawhide from a reputable source it’s probably fine to give to your dog. There’s not a ton of nutritional content, but most dogs can spend hours enjoying the pleasure of chewing it. If you must give your dog a rawhide chew, watch them carefully. If they’re strong chewers and start ripping it apart, exposing large and jagged pieces, take it away. But if they take their time to slowly chew it, it’s probably okay. Or was okay.

Cheap manufacturing in China changed all that, of course. If you see a rawhide chew lying in a pile at your local pet store or drug store without any label, it was almost certainly made in China. The AKC describes the process: hides are brined before they’re sent to a tannery. At the tannery they’re treated with chemicals to remove the hair and fat. Any hide that’s considered not fit for use in making leather for your Coach bag is discarded and sent to your dog. The AKC is diplomatic in their advice when they say “it is best to fully rinse a rawhide in water prior to giving it to your dog”. I’m not going to be so diplomatic. Anyone who buys rawhide for their dog after understanding where it comes from is crazy.

In one of the only picks it actually got right, Wirecutter recommends the Himalayan Dog Chew as one of its three choices not made in China (Chuckit! and Nylabone are the other two).

Surprisingly, Himalayan Dog Chews are made…in the Himalayas. Specifically, they’re made in Nepal.

Nepal is a country that sits between China and India, but somehow they’ve managed to stay independent. I’m not necessarily a fan of Nepal’s government, which doesn’t believe that Tibet or Taiwan should be independent, but to say otherwise would be suicide with China on their border.

These chews are made using an ancient technique to make extremely hard cheese out of yak and cow milk—the result is called cheese, but it’s really the hardness and consistency of rawhide. Unlike rawhide, it’s easily digestible and improves your dog’s dental health and breath.

Himalayan Pet Supply gets all of its original cheese chews from small family farms in Nepal. They’ve since expanded their product line to make chews out of chicken, peanut butter, and bacon that are all reportedly made in the USA, but my suggestion is to stick with the original cheese where you know where the ingredients came from.

Buy them on Chewy or Amazon.

5. Cycle Dog Plush Toys

Unfortunately when you search on either Chewy for stuffed dog toys you invariably see toys made in China from brands like Multipet, Kong, Frisco, Zippypaws, GoDog, and Outward Hound. It’s even worse when you search on Amazon, where China manufacturers like LECHONG, FUUFOME, JEEFOME, and PLEASEEDO have edged out all American brands while clueless consumers snap them up. The last link in the chain will be when clueless American consumers realize they can go to Temu so that 100% of their money bypasses the USA. Great job, America.

You will never find a Cycle Dog dog toy using an Amazon search, but if you’re looking for a cute plush toy for your dog to play with you cannot go wrong with these adorable stuffed animals, made in Portland Oregon.

Cycle Dog also makes collars and leashes and poop bags in the USA.

6. American Dog Toys and Accessories

American Dog is a company based out of Colorado that is unabashedly committed to making all of their toys in the USA—forever. Contrast this attitude with that of brands like Nylabone and KONG whose philosophy is “we’ll make it in America long enough to establish our brand reputation, and then when no one’s looking we’ll shut down all our American factories, fire all our American workers, contract out to China factories, and get rich.”

Who do you want to support?

American Dog is one of those brands that I could write a whole post about. They don’t just sell toys, they sell dog frisbees, tug toys, collapsable bowls, dog beds, and collars, leashes, and harnesses. All, believe it or not, made in the USA.

7. West Paw Toys and Accessories

West Paw, like American Dog, offers a proudly displays the “Made in the USA” logo on their Web site. They make both plush toys and durable toys out of “Zogoflex”, their made-up word for a kind of polymer called TPE, or thermoplastic elastomer, which has a rubber-like feel but can be processed like plastic. Don’t let the scientific mumbo-jumbo scare you: TPE is used in all kinds of applications, including food and beverage containers and water bottles. It’s perfectly non-toxic and safe.

They also make toys out of a material they call “Seaflex”, which is a combination of 88% Zogoflex and 12% plastic. Again, perfectly safe.

Their most popular toy is the Hurley bone, that’s build for tough chewers but unlike Nylabone won’t ever come apart. They also have a collection of durable plush toys. All made in the USA.

Like American Dog, they also sell other pet products made AND sourced in the USA, such as dog treats, dog bowls. Unlike American Dog, they do feature products on their site that are made in countries like Vietnam or China, but to their credit they’re pretty transparent about it so you can easily avoid them.

Do you know of other dog toys that are not made in China? Let us know in the comments!

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