Plush dog toys are always financially rewarding sales for retailers. Consequently, competition remains fierce among manufacturers to stay on top of trends and bring new products to market.
“Knotties remain consumer favorites,” said Allure Pet Products co-founder Julie Krauss, whose company will be adding new characters to their HuggleHounds line. “Consumers are bombarded every day with visual cues on new trends and styles, and it’s our job to respond to those influences and keep our entire line as fresh and inventive as possible. The newest additions are a spotted Knottie Pony and the most ‘ferociously friendly’ king of the jungle Knottie Lion.”
According to Ryan Wills, director of toys at Petmate, there’s an assortment of products for ”soft mouth” dogs that have a tendency to pick up and gently hold or carry their toys.
“Plush toys are the perfect style of toy to provide comfort for such dogs,” he said. “The trend is to keep styles and designs fresh so they are appealing to pets and their parents. We have found that by incorporating stimulating sounds that appeal to dogs’ natural instincts, these toys are more engaging.”
Such engaging plush toys from the company include the MuttNation patchwork football designed for both games of fetch and snuggling. They are made from mixed materials such as faux suede, feature the MuttNation logo and are ideal for dogs of all sizes.
The MuttNation line has been produced in association with country singer Miranda Lambert and a portion of the sales of this line benefit her MuttNation Foundation that runs adoption and rescue programs. Because of Lambert’s music association, a popular toy in the lineup is the MuttNation Faux Suede Guitar, as the guitar shape is a natural fit for endless entertainment during fetch, tug and play.
Ethical Products Inc. is launching a new line of plush toys called Soothers that feature a heart-shaped pouch filled with lavender-infused beads to help calm and relax dogs.
“Soothers are aromatherapy for pets and perfect for pets suffering from stress and anxiety,” said Susan McCann, national marketing manager.
McCann added the company’s Skinneeez stuffing-free dog toys remain their most popular line due to their durability. The company recently introduced Skinneeez Extreme, which are stuffing-free dog toys that are also ultra-durable.
Until now, Hyper Pet toys have been sold primarily in the mass channel under the Hyper Pet brand. However, at SuperZoo 2016 the company launched an exciting new brand targeted specifically for the pet specialty channel.
“We are excited to unveil this new brand called PetLogix at the show,” said Sarah Bell, vice-president of sales for Hyper Pet. “We’ve taken the durability of the fire hose material we use and made it into fun characters and shapes. Apart from being plush and durable, the toys are also interactive, as the material floats and is also easy to fetch.”
Patchwork Pet has expanded its popular Pastel line with the addition of a Lavender Rabbit and Grey Koala. Both are available in two sizes for small and big dogs.
The company’s latest line is called Nautical and features crab, lobster, seahorse, walrus and a shark character as well as anchor and life preserver shapes. All of the toys offer multi-functional play options, as they have squeakers, grunters and braided fabric ropes for tugging and pulling. The toys are in a waffle corduroy fabric in colors that complement nautical home decor accent trends.
Multipet International is in the process of finalizing the product launch of its Dream Works Shrek line.
“The toys will feature Shrek, Donkey and Puss n’ Boots,” said Leslie Yellin, executive vice president. “We are excited about the new licensed products as our existing line of licensed toys are so well embraced by pet consumers.”
The company is also working on a line of toys called the Rescue Me Collection inspired by renowned journalist and animal advocate Jill Rappaport. The toys are set to launch in the fall in collaboration with a new TV show.
Worldwise Inc.’s popular goDog Dragons continue to be top sellers, according to Cristen Underwood, director of research and product development, canine toys and accessories.
“The collection ranges from goDog Skinny Dragons in two sizes, to the goDog Dragon Flats and grunters, and the traditional winged colorful dragon characters,” she said.
Another popular evergreen plush toy is the company’s goDog FurBallz, also available in a selection of bright colors and sizes.
Waggish is the latest product line from the R2P Group Inc. designed for small dogs.
“Options for small dogs are increasingly popular, especially in plush,” said Nancy Waters, the company’s marketing manager. “Instead of just shrinking down regular sized dog toys, we focused on creating a line that actually caters to small dogs’ needs such as to chew, tug, fetch or cuddle. Mixed materials are also very popular right now. Combining plush with ballistic nylon, rubber or rope not only increases durability, but also adds to its playability. Why just cuddle when you can tug or fetch, too?”
The company’s popular Hush Plush line of dog toys has an innovative on/off mechanism that allows pet owners to control the squeaker in the toy. The line caters to both big and small dogs and features colorful designs such as the Shhhark, Rattlin’ Snake, Doggie Duck, the Flappin’ Flamingo and the Pippin’ Parrot.