Why do Dogs Like Squeaky Toys?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Squeaky toys are a popular gift item for dogs, even if their popularity does not always extend to dog owners. There can be no doubt, however, that most dogs like squeaky toys, especially the ones which resemble real life prey. The idea of capturing and ultimately dispatching a rubberized mouse, complete with squeaks, has an appeal all its own to most dog breeds.

French mastiff playing with squeaky toys.
French mastiff playing with squeaky toys.

One theory on why dogs like toys that squeak is the nature of the squeak. In the wild, an injured prey animal would emit similar squeaks and cries, thereby revealing its position and condition. Dogs with strong natural hunting instincts recognize the squeaks of a squeaky toy as the last cries of field mice, birds and other small prey. The noise generated by a rubber or plush variation on a prey animal can be just as satisfying to a dog.

Hunting dogs might enjoy squeaky toys because the sounds they make are like those of dying game.
Hunting dogs might enjoy squeaky toys because the sounds they make are like those of dying game.

There are also those who suggest the squeak of a squeaky toy is somewhat incidental. What dogs like about squeaky toys is what they enjoy about all dog toys. They have complete access to an interactive toy which satisfies their natural chewing habit and keeps their minds occupied. Dogs like squeaky toys because they are more interactive than other toys. A dog bites down on a rubberized bone and it immediately squeaks. This sets up a pleasant cause-and-effect relationship with that particular dog toy.

Dogs like squeaky toys because they are more interactive than other types of toys.
Dogs like squeaky toys because they are more interactive than other types of toys.

Some pet experts suggest matching the dog with the toy, and some larger breeds do not do particularly well with standard squeaky toys. They may chew and bite the toy more aggressively than smaller breeds, which in turn may dislodge the squeak mechanism completely. While this may not be the worst development for dog owners, the squeak mechanism can present a choking hazard to the dog. Smaller dog breeds with gentler play habits tend to do better with squeaky toys.

Many dogs tend to chew on their toys, especially ones which respond to their efforts, so it is generally a good idea to invest in rubberized dog toys rather than plush toys with squeakers. Many dogs like squeaky toys which can follow them from indoor to outdoor environments, and plush toys tend to get soiled quickly when exposed to the outside world. Rubber squeaky toys can also be cleaned and sanitized more easily, although no dog toy is completely safe from a dog's diligent chewing efforts. Owners should replace damaged rubber squeaky toys once they have been structurally compromised.

Some larger breeds of dogs do not do particularly well with standard squeaky toys.
Some larger breeds of dogs do not do particularly well with standard squeaky toys.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


My German shepherd loves her Kong toy that squeaks! Very interesting.


Cats are also hunters, so the squeak imitating a dying/injured animal would be equally as satisfying. We have barn cats and I've been horrified to watch them toy with a mouse for some time. That said, squeaky toys are the preferred toy for our dogs, but our dog immediately and almost surgically removes the squeaky-squeak-em (the squeak mechanism). There is a flurry of noise and then silence.


@cloudel – I found some durable dog toys with squeakers online. They are more expensive than the ones you find in department stores, though.

However, it seemed so impossible for me to find a toy that my pit bull couldn't destroy that I was willing to pay a little extra to see if this super toy would work. It was like a big plush frizbee several layers thick with a hole in the middle, and it had squeakers in it that were muffled a little by all the layering.

I'm happy to say that I bought it two months ago, and it still hasn't been completely obliterated. I don't know if it will last forever, but I've already got my money's worth out of it.


I have a Doberman who only likes plush dog toys with squeakers in them. She isn't interested in toys unless they are covered in fur!

I think this must be because they resemble living animals more closely than rubber toys do. I just have to deal with her getting them dirty on a regular basis, because she won't play with anything that I could keep clean!


I have yet to find any indestructible dog toys, and squeaky toys seem to be the first ones destroyed around my house. Even the ones that claim to be tough and made for larger dogs don't last more than a few days.

I have four large dogs, and they will focus their attention on squeaky toys for hours. Their ultimate goal seems to be to get to the inner parts of the toys, and they work until they accomplish this.

I sigh every time I get home from work and see the plastic squeaker on the ground beside the exterior portion of the ripped toy. I know they love chewing on them, but I feel like I'm wasting money here!


Am I the only one who finds this kind of sad? I realize that dogs are natural hunters, but to think that they are enjoying the interactive dog toys because the squeak resembles the desperate cry of a dying bunny breaks my heart a little!


Nice info. We are proud that all our registering members sign an application form in which they confirm to stand for a force-free dog training that supports animal welfare.


Squeaky dog toys can be really annoying, but there is at least one way to keep from hearing that noise in the middle of the night, for example. With both cats and dogs, my family keeps the noisy toys, as we think of them, hidden until we want to give them to our pets for awhile. In addition to rubbery squeaking toys, this also works for wind up toys, toys with bells, or anything else that might also be kind of fragile, helping to prevent them from hurting themselves.


I think it does relate to the chewy object factor more than anything else. Cats also like toys that make noises, but hate things like rubber dog toys because they don't want to chew the same way dogs do; they prefer things they can chase, pull, or scratch.


This is so interesting! I had never thought about a toy's squeak imitating an injured animal.

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