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How Was the Kong Dog Toy Invented?

If you are a dog owner, you may be familiar with the rubber dog toy you can place treats in. It encourages play and is excellent for dogs of all stages in life. But did you know how the nifty toy was invented?

The classic Kong dog toy was created when the owner of an auto-repair shop saw his dog chewing on a Volkswagen bus suspension. Shortly after, the Kong empire rose.

The History of the Kong Toy

If you are one of the millions of people who have adopted or purchased a dog within the past year, you are likely to be familiar with the Kong dog toy. It is a hollow rugged rubber cone that can be filled with treats.

Joe Markham, the inventor of the Kong dog toy, owned an auto-repair shop in downtown Denver. He complained that it was always prone to robbery, as it was not a good time during the 1970s. At the time, he was 25 and quite frustrated. He went to the police and requested that they patrol the area more, but due to budget cuts, his request was denied. Officers then suggested that he get a guard dog for his shop.

Coincidentally, Markham found a pup that needed to be rehomed. And that’s how he ended up with Fritz, his loveable German Shepherd. Fritz flunked out of the police academy’s canine division because of his excessive chewing. Since Fritz was up for grabs, Markham did not waste the opportunity to adopt Fritz.

Although Markham never regretted adopting Fritz, his excessive chewing became a problem.

Fritz would chew on anything he found, but he especially liked rocks. As a result, he was grinding away his teeth. Markham tried everything from animal bones to radiator hoses attempting to curb the dog’s behavior. Nothing worked; Fritz tore everything up and went back to rocks. Joe turned to veterinarians and other dog behavior experts to try to take care of the problem, but he hit dead ends at every turn.

K.D. Decker, President of Kong Company

One day, Markham was working on a customer’s 1960 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus when he saw Fritz going nuts over the bulbous rubber axle. The part was quite durable in that it was not tearing up at all. The piece was so ideal for Fritz, and it was strong enough to manage his powerful bites but soft enough that it didn’t damage his teeth. It was then that Markham decided that it was a great toy for his dog.

Markham went to work and experimented with different materials and designs. By 1976 he started selling the Kong dog toys, and it was an instant hit! (Source: Volkswagen Newsroom)

How Can Kong Dog Toys Help?

Since Kong dog toys are made out of durable rubber, they are great for dogs. They help promote clean teeth and control plaque. They also stimulate mental exercise, which in turn prevents dogs from acting upon their destructive behavior because of boredom. By teaching dogs good chewing habits with Kong dog toys, you keep them away from harmful chewing right from the start. (Source: The Kong Company)

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