If a group composed of scientists, dog owners, animal behaviorists, dog toy engineers, and toy-loving pups were assembled together in a lab and tasked with creating the perfect dog toy, it would likely end up being the Kong Classic.
Simple in appearance but endlessly interesting to the dogs who play with it, the Kong meets every criterion that any research and development team could possibly establish.
History of the Kong
But the Kong was not created in some fantasy laboratory. It was actually discovered in 1969 by Fritz, a German Shepherd dog who had a bad habit of chewing rocks. His owner, Joe Markham, had been searching for a substitute for the rocks so that Fritz’s teeth wouldn’t wear down any further than they already had.
While working on his Volkswagen van, Markham tossed aside a rubber bumper stop (a suspension part) and Fritz promptly retrieved it. Again and again. When Fritz started gnawing away on the auto part and Markham saw that it was tough, durable, and easy on Fritz’s choppers, Markham immediately knew that he was on to something.
Markham made some small modifications, started production, and the Kong was invented. As he traveled the country to market his new toy, he wasn’t able to bring his own dog to demonstrate it. So he created Chomps, a mechanical chewer, to show off the durability of the Kong. Watch Chomp in action in the video below.
Over the next few decades, the Kong Company went from producing the single toy to an entire line of dog products. But the original toy is still the most popular, and with good reason.
11 reasons why the Kong is the most popular dog toy ever
Let’s take a look at the many qualities which have made the Kong the standard for dog toys for several decades.
- Fits easily in the mouth and is easy to grip
- Bounces.Its irregular shape makes it bounce unpredictably, and roll along surfaces circularly, not linearly.
- Weighty enough to create good bounce action, but not too heavy to hold in mouth.
- Durable construction so it lasts a long time
- Works as a chew toy for heavy chewers
- Works as a fetch toy for avid fetchers
- Can function as a food dispenser
- Can be frozen to extend the duration of food dispensing
- Acts as an interactive puzzle toy
- Scalable in physical size so dogs of all sizes can enjoy.
The Kong literally checks all the boxes. It’s a fetch toy, a chew toy, a food dispenser, and an interactive toy that rewards with treats. What more could a dog possibly want? It’s hard to say who the Kong makes happier, the dog or its owner.
Choosing the correct Kong for your dog
Kong Rubber Strength
The Kong comes in several models for dogs of varying chewing strength. The red Kong Classic is suitable for most adult dogs with average chewing power.
The black Kong Extreme is made for extreme chewers.
For senior dogs who may have lost some of their chewing power with old age, the purple Kong Senior is recommended. The rubber is much softer and easier on an aging dog’s teeth and gums.
Puppies can develop their Kong addiction through the gateway Kong Puppy, which comes in both pink and blue and easier on a pup’s developing mouth.
Kong Size Chart
With six total sizes, there is a Kong appropriate for every dog. The Kong Classic has the most options with six sizes, the Kong Extreme has five, and Kong Puppy and Kong Senior are each available in three sizes. The following is a rough sizing chart to finding the right Kong for your dog. If in doubt, go with the larger size.
X-Small – Up to 5 lbs
Small – Up to 20 lbs
Medium – 15-35 lbs
Large – 30-65 lbs
X-Large 60-90 lbs
XX-Large 85+ lbs
The Kong as a food dispenser and puzzle toy
And when your dog is not chewing, chasing, or hiding the Kong in its pet parent’s shoe (author experience cited), he can become captivated for periods of time by it when stuffed with edible goodies.
Whether its simply your dog’s regular kibble or a special concoction of dog-safe tasty flavors like peanut butter, yogurt, and carrots, extracting it becomes a focused event. The recipe possibilities are endless.
Freeze that same concoction and you’ve added more time, more dedication, and more excitement to the experience. Many a dog with separation anxiety has been helped by a frozen Kong given to them by their owner right before leaving the house.
Simply put, a well stuffed frozen Kong is to a dog what an iPad is to a child: it provides complete and undivided attention.
They are inexpensive, so we recommend that you buy several, so that you can keep a stocked rotation for play and treat delivery. Your freezer should always have one loaded, frozen and ready to go.
Kongs should definitely be cleaned regularly. Soak them in water and then wash with regular dish soap or put in the dishwasher.
We can’t recommend the Kong too highly. If a dog had to go through its entire life with only one toy, the Kong Classic would be it.