These past few years have been hard on everyone—except your dog. As your dog understands it, you're home more than ever now, you're always down for a cathartic snuggle, and when you say the magic words to your computer—"Thanks, everyone!"—it almost always means Walk Time. As for you, you've never been more grateful for the unconditional support and love you get from your canine best bud. In return, your dog deserves nothing less than one of the best dog gifts.
Can dogs understand concepts like "holidays" or "birthday" or even "just because I missed you"? No, probably not. Do they deserve a gift anyway? Of course they do. Maybe it's the anniversary of the day you got them, maybe it's just a random Tuesday—look, I don't care, and your dog doesn't, either. All they care about is that the shiny new thing you put in front of them is something they'll love, and those are the kind of dog toys (and gadgets, and apparel) you'll find on this list. Some of these dog gifts are designed to spark joy in dogs, and others will appeal to their owners. Some of the gifts on this list do both.
As for me and my dog, Captain, we've painstakingly taken the time to test-drive the toys and other products on this list. (Yes, my job is very hard; yes, Captain is very spoiled.) So please allow Captain and I to present: The best gifts for dogs and the people who adore them, from personalized collars, sweaters, and portraits to plush toys, treat makers, and ingenious gadgets that they won't be able to get enough of. A bonus: Every one is great for Instagram.
- Best Plush Dog Toy: Fluff and Tuff Violet Unicorn
- Best Dog Chew Toy: Wild One Bolt Bite
- Best Dog Camera: Furbo 360 Dog Camera
- Best Dog Bed: La-Z-Boy Duchess Fold Out Sleeper Sofa Dog Bed
- Best Dog Leash: Found My Animal Prismatic Cotton Rope Dog Leash
- Best Dog DNA Test: Embark Dog DNA Test Kit
Best Dog Toys
I'm not an expert on many things, but I've lived with and loved—well, my dogs have loved—upwards of 100 dog toys, from plush toys to puzzle toys gifted by friends and relatives and endless "just because" toys. I've also had two dogs to try out the toys for me: Captain, who is so attached to his toys that we have to take several on every vacation, and Skipper, who loved nothing more than destroying toys for hours and proudly showing guests their remains. Without further ado: The best dog toys.
Best Plush Dog Toy
Like I said, we have a lot of dog toys. Few have lasted as long, or are so beloved, as Captain's Fluff & Tuff toys—this blue dinosaur (pictured) and its siblings the purple unicorn and honey bear are his constant companions. I'm not kidding: He brings them into bed with us every freaking night, and we have to put them through the washer and dryer every few months. In spite of this, they've held up for three years now, plus they're filled with high-quality padding that are held to the same non-toxic standards as children's toys.
Best Dog Chew Toy
If you're part of my dog-owning generation—that's to say, older millennials who are hell-bent on spending all their disposable income on high-quality dog accessories—you'll likely already be familiar with Wild One, known for its gorgeous pastel harnesses. But their Bolt Bite, billed as "the ultimate chew toy for dogs," deserves some of the spotlight, too: You can put little treats into each end, or use it as part of a game of fetch, and the middle has a reinforced rubber center so your dog will struggle to tear it apart. (Worth noting, though, that it can be torn apart—it'll just take longer than a typical toy.) Bonus: It's BPA-free and dishwasher-friendly. If your dog chews its way through anything and everything, I recommend the BarkBox Super Chewer collection.
Best Big Dog Toy
Both Captain and his BFF, a rescue cattle dog named Stanley, are obsessed with this brontosaurus. The brontosaurus is taller than Captain, but no matter—he insists on carrying it by the neck everywhere, and will hardly leap up on the sofa without it. Soft, cute, and somehow able to withstand a lot of tug-of-war, it's a fixture in our apartment.
Best Dog Subscription Box
There's no better long-term gift for the dog in your life than a three-month, six-month, or 12-month subscription to BarkBox, a themed and customizable box of treats and toys for your pup. The best way to describe BarkBox is as a monthly box of joy (for proof, here's the full video of Captain on BarkBox day).
Best Personalized Dog Gifts
I have so many personalized dog items, from sweaters and candles to portraits and picture books, that friends give me weird looks when they first see my apartment. (I'm not proud. Actually, I'm a little proud.) A hot tip: For personalized dog gifts, order them well in advance—I'm talking 3 to 4 months—and if you're being quoted significantly less time than that, question its quality. Great personalized dog gifts, like the ones on this list, take time to create, especially around the holidays.
Best Dog Phone Case
Custom pet portraits can run expensive—I've learned this, well, the expensive way—but West & Willow sells a whole line of chic merchandise complete with custom-drawn portraits of your pet, and it's all relatively affordable (between $50-$100). This iPhone case is my favorite (my second-favorite is the bowl, if you wondered), and you can get a version for a variety of iPhone and Samsung models.
Best Dog Portrait to Keep Forever
London-based illustrator Kitty uses watercolors and pencil to create a custom portrait of your dog, taking care to highlight the features you love most. Think those old-fashioned watercolor portraits of aristocratic families that take days to complete—but for your dog. The result, which you can get pre-framed, is the kind of portrait you'll want to hang it in your home for years (okay, decades) to come.
Best Dog Gift for Children
This adorable book is basically Where's Waldo, but with your specific dog—you can pick from breeds and colors to find a pup that looks like yours—instead of Waldo. Perfect for kids and grown-ups alike, you can spend hours trying to find your dog in the middle of the beautifully illustrated landscapes. I have, in fact, spent many hours on the subway investigating each and every page and getting concerned looks from my fellow commuters.
Best Dog-Friendly Candle
Scripted Fragrance makes a candle for just about every major breed of dog, including "service dog" (which is so cute, I nearly cried). And while some candles can be dangerous for your dog, these ones are made of dog-safe soy wax. Plus, they're vegan, cruelty-free, dye-free, additive-free, preservative-free, petroleum-free, and phthalate-free.
Best Nostalgic Dog Gift
Upload a photo of your pup, add some information about what makes him or her special, and bingo—you'll get a metal Pokémon card of your dog to keep forever. The best part is that the artists of PokéPup hand-draw a Pokémon-esque portrait of your dog, so yours is truly one of a kind. You'll also receive a digital copy of their artwork.
Best Customized Dog Sweater
Female-founded small business Sweater Hound takes at least a month to create your new favorite custom dog sweater, but trust me—it's worth it. Just send them a photo of your dog, and you're done. They'll send over the sketch of your dog for you to approve, have you sign off on the colors, and keep you in the loop about delivery dates. The result is one of my favorite gifts I've ever given.
Best Dog Gifts That Give Back
Sorry to get a little dark here: 670,000 shelter animals are euthanized every year in the U.S., according to the ASPCA. Particularly in the South, animal shelters are overcrowded and underfunded, and there's no dog-rescue organization that will ever tell you they don't need more help. To that end, if you're buying a dog gift anyway, why not buy one that gives back—either by funding shelters or other kinds of rescue efforts, or by supporting dog adoption?
Best Coffee That Gives Back
One hundred percent of profits from this delicious blend, which boasts notes of dark chocolate and toasted pecan and comes in whole bean or ground, goes to a rescue organization. For the month of November 2023, for example, all profits from this blend will go to The Sato Project, which rescues and rehomes abandoned and homeless dogs in Puerto Rico.
Best Dog Socks
Yes, these organic cotton socks are super-comfy and embroidered with tiny paws (!), but the best part is that every purchase includes a donation to Best Friend Animal Society, one of the leading nonprofits that works to stop shelter animals being euthanized.
Best Paw Necklace
For the dog mom who has it all, I present: This hand-made seed bead necklace, which is about the size of a dime and almost painfully adorable. A bonus: the brand, Jewels For Hope, a mother-daughter small business, donates 10 percent of profits from all of its products to charity.
Best Dog Beds
Look, I'm not one of those people who builds a custom house for their dog and then outfits it with tiny portraits and a miniature television, okay? I live in New York City. I don't even have an in-unit washer and dryer. But you better believe that while I wait to hit my financial peak (i.e. the time when I can create the custom dog house of my dreams), I'll be outfitting my apartment with these dog beds.
Best Dog Bed
We've gone through a lot of dog beds in the Hollander household. Two have proven winners: This La-Z-Boy bed, and the corner bed, below. The La-Z-Boy, pictured, folds in and out depending on how much space you have, and is known in our household as Captain's "long bed." A true story: I once came back early from vacation while the dog sitter was sleeping and didn't want to wake her, so I curled up in this bed and took a nap. And you know what? It was a good nap.
The Best Dog Pillow-Slash-Bed
This cuddly piece of decor has been a hit from the day we brought it home. More of a large pillow than a traditional dog bed (unless you have a small dog), the neutral color and inviting shape makes it a cozy addition to any room. Filled with hypo-allergenic stuffing and covered in a washable cotton fabric, it's a perfect, low-key addition to a bedroom, a living room (pictured), or a space like a basement.
Best Dog Gadgets
I'm always trying to make the time that I'm at work a little easier on my dog, and by "my dog," I mean me. (My dog sleeps all day while I'm gone. He's fine. Me, I'm a mess.) But I digress: From cameras that toss food while you're gone to treat makers so your dog can munch on custom snacks while you're at work, these dog gadgets make every day a little more delightful.
Best Dog Camera
I held out on getting a Furbo for a long time—it's tricky to justify a $210 camera when you can find one on Amazon for $30—but I finally invested on Prime Day a couple of years ago, and oh, man, what a fantastic decision that was. You can find me panicking over my dog's well-being about 98 percent of the time, and this reassures me enormously—the camera is HD enough that you can zoom in on your dog's breathing (don't judge me), and you can toss your good boy or girl treats whenever you need a little pick-me-up.