Why Do Dogs Prefer Some Toys Over Others?

Why Do Dogs Prefer Some Toys Over Others?

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: May 03 2023


We all know that dogs are playful creatures and will take every second they get to start playing; whether it's with their human or other pets, they are always ready for some action. All dogs are different, and so are their preferences for toys. Did you ever wonder why dogs prefer some toys over others?

For instance, our Presa Canario dog doesn't like balls but goes absolutely nuts over sticks. She could play with sticks all day. On the contrary, our White Swiss Shepherd would do anything to chase a ball down a yard. No matter how tired he is, he is always ready for some more ball throwing.

But why is that? Why do some dogs prefer certain toys over others? Is it something connected to their genetics, or is it just the way they are raised? These are the 8 most common reasons.

1. Breed and instincts

Dog breed will play a significant role in determining dog toy preferences. Different dog breeds have been developed over centuries for specific tasks, which resulted in distinctive instincts and prey drives. These inherited traits can influence dogs' affinity toward certain toys.

For example, it shouldn't come as a surprise if you notice that your Labrador or a Golden Retriever would like to retrieve the toys they could easily fit into their mouths; they were bred for that purpose. On the other hand, little terriers with excellent hunting instincts that excel in hunting smaller animals, such as rabbits or rats, will for sure enjoy playing with squeaky toys or even stuffed animals.

dogs playing with toy

2. Toy texture

Toy texture also plays a vital part in whether the dog likes a certain toy. Most commonly, this applies to puppies since they explore the world with their mouths, and given that they will go through the teething phase, they will always choose rubber toys made out of durable plastics.

Going through the teething phase can play a vital role in developing a preference toward certain toy textures. While some dogs can prefer soft, plush, or stuffed animals, others might enjoy playing with rubber toys.

rubber toy

3. Sound

Squeaky toys will trigger most of the dogs and get their attention, but this is especially true for real hunters. These high-pitched sounds stimulate their prey drive, and since dogs are naturally inclined to investigate and engage with different objects, that makes noise is the reason why they love squeaky toys so much.

However, not all dogs will love noisy toys. Some dogs might find them distressing and will want to avoid playing with them. As a dog owner, you must follow your dog's reaction and choose the best toys for your dog.

Squeaky toy

4. Size and shape

The size and shape of a toy can greatly influence dogs' preferences. Smaller dog breeds often time prefer smaller toys that are easier to carry and manipulate, while larger breeds might be more interested in toys that will be appropriate for their size to play with.

The shape of a certain toy can also trigger the dog's preference. Different toys that roll, bounce, or wobble can encourage the dog to chase them. Other dogs might prefer toys that can easily be picked up, and that will not bounce or roll.

5. Color

You probably already know that dogs don't perceive colors the same way humans do, but they can still distinguish between different shades. During recent research, researchers have found out that most dogs will prefer toys with shades of blue and yellow since they will be more visually appealing to the dogs.

dog and blue toy

RELTED: Are Dogs Color Blind? What Is a Myth And What Is True?

6. Smell

With their incredible sense of smell, it is no wonder that some dogs might choose their favorite toy based on their smell. Toys infused with certain scents may be more appealing to dogs, as the scent will serve as an additional stimulator for the dog.

7. Dogs experience

Past experience of the dog playing with certain toys can also impact their preference. If a dog had a positive experience with a certain toy in the past, it is more likely that he will play with the same toy in the future.

On the contrary, if a dog has a negative experience with a certain toy, he will, in most cases, avoid playing with it in the future.

Dogs thrive on interaction with their owners, and when you choose to interact with your dog, your dog could create a positive memory and will want to choose the same toy in the future since it knows that you will start playing with him.

two dogs one toy

8. Puzzle and treat dispensing toys

If you provide your dog with stimulating, interactive, or puzzle toys that provide treats whenever the dog completes the required move, you can be sure that most dogs will love these toys. These dogs can keep a dog entertained for hours but also prevent boredom and promote the well-being of the dog.


Several factors will influence dogs' preference toward specific toys, and you will have to understand these factors in order to be able to choose the best type of dog toy that your pooch will mostly love. Our advice would be to choose a few different toys, allow your dog to experience them all, and choose a favorite.

World Dog Finder team

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