Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Product Review: Classic Kong

The classic Kong is a natural rubber chew toy in a distinctive snowman-type shape. It is durable and hollow in the middle, allowing the toy to be stuffed with edible treats. The Kong is available in six sizes to fit every dog from "that's not even a dog" through "pony".
Photo by Erin Koski

This is the flagship product of a highly successful dog toy company. Today they offer dozens of products for dogs, cats, parrots, and horses. The classic Kong dates back to 1976, when it was inspired by a rubber car part and a dog that liked to chew on rocks. The classic Kong shape is designed to bounce erratically for exciting chasing and play. It is non-abrasive on canine canines, and squishes pleasantly when chomped.

Today the classic Kong is a staple of the dog world. There are a variety of toys made from the original red rubber, from plain fetch balls to dental bones. The original snowman shape has been produced in several different types of rubber, from soft formulas for puppies and seniors, to super-tough materials for power-chewers.

Brisbane isn't a big fan of chasing or fetching the Kong, but for most dogs I know, the value of the toy is in its ability to be stuffed. I can cram this thing full of peanut butter, soaked kibble, wet dog food, cooked sweet potato, bananas, anything Brisbane thinks is worth slurping out of a toy. Freeze it solid, and he will spend at least ten minutes unstuffing it. The bigger the Kong, the bigger the challenge. Brisbane can safely chew a Medium Kong, but I prefer to give him a Large like the one shown here. We also have a couple of Extra Smalls for Ru, but he prefers to hide them in the couch rather than lick the peanut butter out of them.

There is really no limit to the ways a Kong can be used to entertain a dog. At one point the company sold a device that contained four Kongs that could be released at set times to help keep a dog busy for an extended period. I have personally duct taped stuffed Kongs inside several layers of cardboard boxes so that Brisbane had to destroy them in order to get to the food. When he was eating a premade raw diet, I would stuff his meals in them and freeze them so I could hand him one before I left for work in the morning.

Pros: Super durable, long-lasting, and dishwasher safe. Endlessly versatile, smear peanut butter inside, jam a biscuit in sideways, wedge it between the bars of the crate, toss it, bounce it. Use it to construct elaborate puzzles fro the dog to solve.

Cons: I want to say these last forever, but my experience has been that they actually have a lifespan of about 7-8 years of freezing, chewing, and dishwashering before they begin to crack. The decay is pretty obvious though, and it's slow enough that it's easy to tell when it's getting close to time to replace them. I think our Planet Dog Orbees have actually lasted longer than the Kongs. Despite the marketing, many dogs don't find an empty Kong terribly exciting.

Bottom Line: Every dog should have a Kong. I still had Oakley's classic Kong until a year or two ago. We have one Large and two Extra Small classic Kongs that I can find, and a Large and Medium that are currently at large under the furniture somewhere. We also have at least four other Kong rubber toys in various sizes and shapes, along with some of their newer offerings, including some Kong Quest toys and a Kong Marathon. At this point, my response to the news that Kong has made a new toy is "shut up and take my money!" Seriously. Kongs.

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