Like their feline toy manufacturing counterparts, the list of companies now producing dog toys in the U.S. is growing, and their home-based entrepreneurial spirit and commercial success is being recognized and winning them awards.
Last year, West Paw Design, headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, was voted one of America’s Best Small Companies by Forbes magazine. Then, this past February, the company was named the top manufacturer in the state by the Montana Manufacturing Association.
Coinciding with this latest accolade, the company launched its newest Zogoflex toy called the Qwizl, a flexible toy that can be filled with various treats, such as bully sticks and dental chews. The idea is to keep dogs engaged and make those expensive treats last longer. Made from West Paw’s proprietary non-toxic Zogoflex material, the product is dishwasher safe and is available in two sizes and the bright colors of aqua blue, tangerine and apple green. The Qwizl joins the Tux, Toppl and Tizzi in the Zogoflex product line-up.
Colleen McCracken, owner and CEO of Planet Dog, describes her Portland, Maine, company’s toys, the Orbee-Tuff Nooks, as a “‘hole’ new ball for a ‘hole’ new ballgame.”
The balls feature whimsical cutout designs, such as the peace sign, a shamrock, a heart and a smiley face. The cutout areas can be filled with tiny treats and other favorites, such as a liver paste and peanut butter.
Planet Dog’s proprietary non-toxic Orbee Tuff material is known for its durability and bounce, making Orbee Tuff toys great fetch toys and distraction toys for dogs that have to spend hours home alone.
Popular with Pet Owners
Regarding both Planet Dog and West Paw Design toys, AdreAnne Tesene, who owns the Two Bostons Pet Boutique & Gourmet Bakery stores that are located throughout Illinois, has endorsed their products’ durability with her customers who enjoy supporting U.S.-made pet products. Tesene explains how consumers have taken to the two brands.
“Consequently, we merchandise them next to one another since they share other similar traits,” she said. “The designs from both toy lines keep dogs both mentally and physically stimulated. Also, the fact that both toy lines are fully guaranteed, and the respective companies replace damaged toys if necessary, is also a huge selling point with our customers.”
Tesene added that one of her own Boston terriers, a pooch named Beamer, has made himself a self-appointed ambassador for Planet Dog toys and always has a minimum of three different items within his reach at all times.
“He is a great sales associate, and our customers often buy what he is playing with at the time,” she said.
Jerry Moffett, vice president of sales and marketing for Ruff Dawg, a division of Jefferson Rubber Works, confirmed that the company’s American-made dog toys are all manufactured in Worcester, Massachusetts.
“Our rubber throw and retrieve toys are designed to withstand rugged interactive play both indoors and outdoors,” he explained. “Our Ruff Bone chew toys come in three sizes and five flavors, such as roast turkey, grilled steak, smokehouse bacon, peanut butter and mint. They are made of FDA-approved inert recyclable thermoplastic polymer and flavored with natural flavors.”
The retrieval toys include several catapult launcher-styled toys in different shapes, such as a football and a spiked ball. They are designed for fun in the water, too.
Something to Chew on
Pet Qwerks‘ 100 percent nylon antler chew toys are inspired by real elk and deer antlers. The products are available in three sizes and the three flavors of peanut butter, chicken and liver.
“We consider these chews to be a safe alternative to genuine antlers as no shards can break off, leaving sharp points,” said Jeff Fowler, the company’s director of sales. “There’s also significant cost savings to consumers versus real antlers.”
New from the company are BarkBones, chew toys made from nylon and maple wood. The new products have a patented curved design for easy pickup. The nylon BarkBones are infused with peanut butter and chicken mesquite flavors and are designed for aggressive chewers. The wooden BarkBones are mint-flavored and designed for moderate chewers. The wooden chew bones also allow dog owners to fill the flavor cells on the products with their dog’s favorite spreadable treat, such as peanut butter, cheese and banana.
All the products have a “sniff here” feature to allow consumers to “smell test” before purchasing.
Fuzzies Duraplush Bones, which are toys that are hand-sewn in Portland, Oregon, are the newest products from Cycle Dog. The company owes its name to the fact that it uses bicycle inner tube rubbers that would normally end up in landfills for its products.
“We like to draw attention to the fact that they are designed and manufactured in America by stating it on the label,” said Paul Fidrych, co-owner of the company.
Retailers are always welcome to visit the company’s showroom and factory in order to see the products being made by the sewing team. Cycle Dog also produces special custom products on request that are specifically tailored to the needs of a beloved pet.