Even if you’re the most attentive dog owner who would do anything at all for your furry family, throwing a ball over and over for a pooch who just can’t get enough of playing fetch can be exhausting. Every dog owner also knows precisely the face your dog gives you when your throw is sub-par and doesn’t go even half as far as they were hoping to run. That’s why dog ball launchers are such an awesome thing.
Equally awesome to the launchers themselves is the fact that so many of them are available for sale online and for great prices. We’ve been gathering the links for different kinds of dog ball launchers in order to compare and contrast their features and make sure we really choose the best one for our dog’s needs.
What is a dog ball launcher?
In essence, a dog ball launcher is a tool that’s designed to help you exercise your dog with a rigorous game of fetch, but in a way that makes the game as fun as possible for the pooch without wearing you out too. There are different kinds of launchers, but they all share the goal of aiming your ball a little farther and getting it there a little faster, all for a more exciting chase.
What kinds of dog ball launchers are there?
Dog ball launchers are the kind of thing that companies are always revamping and redesigning in order to keep things as fun as possible and make them interesting, beneficial, and useful. In general, however, there are two main kinds of dog ball launchers: manual launchers that are still powered by your own energy but make throwing the ball farther easier, and automatic launchers that fire the ball very fast, long distances for you.
Best Dog Ball Launchers
If you still feel like you could use some help figuring out the best choice for you, check out this pros and cons style outline of the ten best dog ball launchers that we came across in our search.
If you’re a total tech lover who is looking for the ultimate interactive experience with your dog, then this first design from iFetch is absolutely the one for you. This battery-powered (but rechargeable) dog ball launcher has surprising power behind it for its size. It features multiple different distance settings and a fun randomized setting that will keep your dog on its toes. This launcher was developed primarily to be a training tool on top of providing exercise and play.
Because the gears that grip the ball on the inside are made of rubber, some buyers have noticed a wearing over time that prevents them from gripping the ball quite as well as in the beginning. This can affect how far the ball is thrown after heavy use.
- Many distance settings
- Battery-powered use (with durable, rechargeable battery)
- Fun randomized settings for play
- Great training tool
- Rubber gears can wear down and affect distance ability over time
Is your dog a great distance runner but the kind of pooch who could play fetch for days on end, and you want to make sure it stays interesting for them? Then we think you’ll get a kick out of this machine from Franklin Pet Supply. This high-powered launcher has several different distance settings ranging from close by, gentle throws that are safe for indoor use to long-distance ones that will really get your dog running. However, the coolest part is that the feet are adjustable so that you can customize the angle of the ball’s trajectory, too, not just the distance.
This launcher is actually electrical cord-powered primarily. It does have battery compatibility, but the batteries are sold separately, and it doesn’t come with a rechargeable model. For those who do decide to put batteries in it, the cord comes detached, so it’s not in the way.
- High powered for good speed
- Multiple distances ranging from easy and close to cross-park
- Adjustable feet for custom angles
- The launcher does not come with a rechargeable battery and requires alkaline batteries that are sold separately
Do you already have a manual ball launcher, and you’ve considered the automatic kind, but you’ve convinced yourself that you’d actually be completely happy powering this launcher yourself if only you had better-suited balls for it? Then we think you’ll love these specially designed launcher balls from Chuckit!. These rubberized balls are perfectly weighted for throwing, make enticing squeaking sounds, are durable enough for any kind of play, and even float on water.
The balls get their ideal weight and air pressure from being hollow but with an air plug. This isn’t usually a problem, but a few dog owners have reported that rough play has caused the plugs to pop out, which can be dangerous because single-hole balls cause suctions, posing a choking hazard if a dog gets their tongue stuck there.
- Perfect throwing weight
- Durable and suitable for use on water
- Make enticing squeaking sounds
- Can become risky for suction if the air plug falls out
Speaking of manual dog ball launchers, have we got your attention about those now too, since you’ve always loved using them and just feel like you need an upgrade? Then check out this manual launcher from Chuckit! that’s actually designed to work with the balls you saw above. This launcher is easy to load, easy to launch from, super affordable, and great for backyard use where space is a little more limited. The grip of the launcher is perfect because it’s not hard to get the balls in or out, but it’s also tight enough that they don’t fall out.
Although this particular offer does actually come with its own tennis-style ball, most owners have complaints about this ball’s durability. It’s easily punctured by sharp canine teeth and works better with a more durable ball, as the above rubber ones from the same brand.
- Flexible and easy to throw with, but light
- Good grip; easy to load and doesn’t let the ball fall
- Very affordable
- The ball it comes packaged with isn’t very durable and will likely need quite quick replacing
If you’re going to upgrade the experience of playing with your dog, do you want to get something totally awesome and novelty that’s just about as much fun for you as it is for them? Then you’ll be just as obsessed with this Nerf Dog launcher gun as we are. This fun is made from very durable plastic and is capable of launching your ball up to 50 feet. Its system is very easy to use; simply pull back the handle, load the ball, and pull the trigger to launch.
Some people find the task of having to complete all three steps of pulling, loading, and launching a little slow for their tastes, as opposed to just dropping several balls at once into an automatic launcher.
- Very durable materiality in fun colors
- Novelty appeal for you
- Impressive launching distance, especially for a manual piece
- Extremely simple to use
- Completing all three steps every time can slow the game down a little
Do you have a very small dog who adores fetch and would go crazy for a dog ball launcher but who is simply too small for most large tennis balls or to run the long distances of most automated designs? Then you’re going to simply adore this cubic design from iDogmate. This launcher was designed specifically with small dogs in mind. The felted balls are smaller than standard tennis balls and made for dogs with non-abrasive teeth. The launcher works with smaller distances and sits low to the ground so your dog can learn to reload the balls into the tray themselves for independent play.
Some previous buyers have noted that as the surface of the balls softens with use, the machine cannot grip them as well and therefore might not be able to throw them as far as time goes on.
- Specifically made for small dogs
- Shoots shorter distances for shorter legs
- Balls are smaller and soft for small teeth
- Sits low to the ground for dog accessibility in reloading
- Grip for launching can wear out as balls soften with play, reducing distance over time
Did you love the idea of a handheld dog ball launcher that’s also like a childhood toy for you, but you like seeing more than one brand option before you choose? Then here’s another water gun-style launcher, this time from Hyper Pet. This launcher works with standard-sized tennis balls, making them accessible and the balls easy to replace. The pull, load, and launch system are easy and fun, and the handle actually gives you custom control over the distance the balls will launch; the more you pull, the farther it will go.
Be aware that, even though the launcher is made from durable plastic, pulling too hard or fast on the handle risks either bending it so the launch power and distance are affected or breaking the inside connections so it won’t launch at all anymore.
- Durable plastic materiality and fun colour
- Easy pull and launch system
- Launches impressive distances for manual tool
- Handle gives you custom control over distance
- Rough play and overuse risk bending the handle or breaking the inside connections
Do you have an elderly pet that can’t run long distances very fast anymore or grows tired quickly? Maybe you’re just trying to promote independent play while you get things done around the house. Either way, this next gadget from iFetch is a fantastic choice. This option is actually not a launcher but more of a doggie brain game. Teach your dog to put the ball on the top. When it falls down the hole, it will fall into one of three pathways and shoot out in one of three different directions, leaving your dog guessing which until it materializes and they can chase after it.
Be aware that this device does pose a bit of a tripping hazard if your dog adores it and uses it often. It doesn’t shoot the balls with high power, but it does put some roll behind them to make the game exciting when they pop out the hole. Keep in mind that you might have random balls rolling across the floor in unexpected directions as you walk around the house.
- Stimulating doggie brain game and learning activity
- Low impact fun for small or less mobile dogs
- Encourages indoor play that won’t break windows
- Independent play for while you’re busy
- Be aware of rolling balls in all directions and look out for tripping hazards
Are you actually still thinking about how you have a quality launcher already, whether it’s automatic or manual, but the balls that you have for it aren’t quite perfectly suited are wearing out too quickly, and you want more durable ones? Then you’ll appreciate these specially designed Chew King balls. These medium-sized balls are a good fit for most dog launchers and most dogs’ jaws. These balls are durable, have good bounce, retain their shape well, and are perfectly weighted for distance launching.
The occasional previous buyer has reported that, even though most find the balls very durable, some very large dogs who are heavy chewers have caused the balls to crack and split by squishing them heavily or strongly between their teeth, so they begin to fold.
- Bouncy, durable rubber
- Perfectly weighted for throwing and launching
- Work in most manual and automatic launchers
- Might not withstand some large dogs who are heavy chewers, might result in cracking
This launcher is like a combination between average automatic launchers and the independent play game you saw earlier. Although it is intended for dogs to learn how to use independently, this piece from All for Paws also is a launcher that can pitch the ball great distances. Its size and throwing power is designed for medium-sized dogs, but dogs of any size can still enjoy it. It even comes with its own durable, specially created balls for launching.
Although it comes with an adaptable cord and plug, the machine does not come with its own rechargeable battery. It is battery compatible, but they are purchased separately.
- Promotes independent play
- Suits dogs of all sizes, but especially medium dogs
- Comes with three custom made balls
- Has adjustable distance options
- Does not come with a rechargeable battery, so batteries have to be purchased separately for cordless use
Who should use a dog ball launcher?
In reality, anyone can use a dog ball launcher! Dogs who have never seen one before will have a particularly fun time. If your dog is very old, small, or has mobility issues, however, it might not really be necessary. In fact, it might actually launch the ball too far and fast to keep your dog’s interest. They’re a tool most suited for young, energetic, agile dogs who really require a thorough workout every day for maximum health.
Do you know a fellow dog lover who has been thinking about investing in some kind of dog ball launcher but could use some help deciding on which one? Share this post with them, so they have all kinds of options to consider.