The 8 Best Dog Ball Launchers: Tested & Evaluated 2023
For some dogs, the humble ball really is the best dog toy and the centre of their world. They seem to never get tired of playing fetch. And even if your dog is not so crazy about playing fetch, a dog ball launcher can still be a great way to get them excited by the game and sneak in enough exercise.
Today, we walk you through all the options when it comes to ball launchers for dogs. We teamed up with an independent panel of experts comprising veterinarians, dog behaviour experts, and pet parents alike to research and test some of the most popular options out there. After several weeks and more than three dozen varieties tested, we finally agreed on this list of the best dog ball launchers. Let's explore them together!
Quick Picks - The Top 3
Our Number 1 Pick -
iFetch Original Automatic Dog Ball Launcher
- Makes almost no noise when on
- Sturdy and lightweight plastic design
- Comes with three balls (4 cm)
Runner Up -
iDogmate Mini Ball Launcher
- Supports 4 balls loaded at a time
- 4 distance options
- Features side handles for portability
- Doesn’t make much noise
Third Choice -
iFetch Too Dog Toys, Medium
- Suitable for dogs of all sizes
- Has a distance randomising option
- Long-lasting rechargeable battery
Australia's Best Dog Ball Launchers Reviewed
From completely automatic throwing machines, over stomp-launchers, to simple designs that simply extend your reach when throwing, there are many options to choose from for your game of fetch. Below, you’ll find the best launchers on the market.
What sets this product apart from the rest?
The award-winning brand iFetch is one of the automatic ball launcher pioneers. Since it came out, iFetch is the number one selling fetch toy, and our team of experts were quick to discover why. There are a couple of different versions of this product, one of which we list in our number three choice. However, we think the Original is still the most popular option, and probably the best one.
The iFetch Original ball launcher uses balls that are 4 cm in diameter, which is a bit smaller than the standard tennis ball. Beware that for larger dogs these balls might pose a choking hazard.
The iFetch Original Automatic Dog Ball Launcher being tested by our independent expert team.
This dog fetch machine has an adjustable throw distance. You can choose if you want the thrower to launch the ball 3, 6, or 9 metres far. I love how that makes this launcher suitable for both indoor and outdoor games of fetch. It’s perfect for those moments when I'm away or busy with chores and my dog’s ready for playtime. Its funnel design helps your dog throw the ball into the launcher without much effort.
The iFetch Original is a bit more pricey than some other ball launchers on the market, but well worth the price point. It has a streamlined plastic design and rubber feet which keep it in place. Finally, this ball launcher comes with a long power cord but can also run on 6 C-cell batteries so there is no need to worry about where to plug it in.
The iDogmate Mini is a simple yet effective ball launcher that will keep your pooch busy when you’re not home. Its rectangular shape makes it difficult for dogs to knock it aside by accident, while the funnel at the top is convenient for them to load the machine. Our panel of independent experts note that it’s so effortless, their dogs were able to get a hold of it in no time.
This ball launcher is suitable for dogs under 14 kg. The dog’s weight doesn’t have anything to do with the usage of a ball launcher. Instead, the balls are 4.5 cm in diameter, which is the perfect size for a small dog’s mouth. However, larger dogs might swallow the ball, so this product isn’t safe for them.
The iDogmate Mini Ball Launcher being tested by our independent expert team.
The iDogmate Mini comes with three balls, like our number one and number three options, that are made with food-grade organic paste technology. This assures the balls are safe for the dog's mouth. This ball launcher features the patented Arced Wheel design, which prevents drooly balls from getting stuck inside.
The iDogmate Mini comes with a remote control that allows you to adjust the launch distance. You can choose several distances from 3 to 10 metres, as well as a random setting. It runs either on an AC adapter or a rechargeable Li-ion battery, which lasts up to 250 throws.
The iFetch Too is a larger variant of their original automatic ball launcher, our number one choice. The original one is designed for small to medium-sized pooches, so our team of researchers agreed that it was only appropriate to make another one for our large canine companions that enjoy playing with standard tennis balls. The package includes three balls that are non-abrasive to a dog's teeth.
There are three throw distance options you can choose from 3, 7.5 and 12 metres, or you can also choose the feature that randomises each throw’s distance. This is great for outdoor playtime, since it kept my pooch engaged wondering how far the ball would go.
The iFetch Too Dog Toys, Medium being tested by our independent expert team.
Unlike the original version in our number one slot, the iFetch Too comes with a rechargeable battery. It lasts up to 300 throws before it needs to be recharged. That’s long enough to make this ball launcher suitable for dog parks and such. It weighs 5.6 kilograms which is quite heavy for a ball launcher, and the heaviest on this list alongside our number seven choice. However, it features a nice carrying handle which helps with portability.
If you’re searching for an interactive toy that will keep your pooch occupied when you’re busy doing chores, then our panel of independent experts think this automatic ball thrower for dogs from Greenvine is a great choice for you. With such a simple yet effective design, every dog on our testing team was able to learn how to use it in no time.
This launcher features a large bowl on the top into which your dog will drop the ball. The large opening is easy to access and get the ball into, so dogs new to launchers can quickly learn the game. There are three distance settings - 3, 6 and 9 metres. The distance adjustment allows you to adapt to different spaces, changed with the simple click of a button. Like our number three choice, there is also a random function to make the game more interesting for your pooch.
The Greenvine Automatic Dog Ball Launcher being tested by our independent expert team.
Speaking of buttons, the Greenvine also comes with a remote control. We loved how you don’t even need to go to the machine to turn it on or change the setting - you can do it with a remote!
This launcher uses 5 cm diameter tennis balls. That means that the balls are a size smaller than regular tennis balls which measure a bit over 6.5 cm in diameter. These balls are more suitable for small and medium dogs than for larger canines.
Foot-controlled pitching machines are a great way to play the fetch game with your dog while not straining your arm by throwing balls endlessly. Instead, you step on the launcher and watch your pooch chase the ball like crazy. This tennis ball launcher from Zelica is a perfect choice for dogs of all sizes and ages.
This pitching machine features a basic design that resembles a balloon. It works on a simple principle - by stepping on it, you force the air to push the ball out through the shooting tube. The distance varies with these kinds of ball throwers. The harder you step on it, the further you’ll send the ball. That’s what makes this product a great option for playtime in the open, but inadequate for indoors.
The launcher comes with one standard-sized tennis ball. While I think additional balls would be nice, this pitching machine can’t hold more than one ball at a time, so it’s not a big deal. And since it’s so compact, I was abke to throw it in my backpack and take it to a dog park along with my pupper for a morning of fun.
Nerf Dog is a line of Nerf-inspired dog toys made of rubber and plastic. One of their most popular products is this long-distance ball thrower that can launch a ball up to 23 metres in distance. Owners of fast breeds like Whippets or Malinois know the struggle of not being able to throw the ball far enough for their pooches to make more than two jumps before catching it. But with this stomp launcher, that will no longer be an issue.
This ball thrower comes in a bright red colour, and is made of durable thermoplastic rubber. Therefore, you don’t have be afraid to stomp heavily on the launcher, similar to our number five choice. The TMR is a sturdy and moldable material commonly used for making durable toys. We panel of independent experts recommend that you always wear shoes when using this launcher, otherwise you might slip when stepping on it.
The neck is perfectly angled, and one stomp sends the ball flying high in the air before falling. Your high-jumping canine companion will finally feel challenged when playing a throwing game with you. The launcher is designed to work with any standard-sized tennis ball. You also get one Nerf ball with the purchase, however, the quality of that ball is not commendable.
Every dog loves a good game of fetch, but not every pet parent is a talented ball thrower. Luckily, automatic ball launchers can be of great aid with that. With the unique features of this PetSafe product, that is especially the case.
The first thing you notice about this ball thrower is its futuristic design and beautiful grey and purple colour combination. The launcher is pretty large, like our number three option, and it can hold three standard tennis balls. It’s water-resistant, which makes it safe to use outdoors during different weather conditions.
The PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher being tested by our independent expert team.
If you had to use one word to describe this ball launcher, it would be diversity. There are nine distance settings ranging from 2.5 to 9 metres and six different throwing angles. Every member of our independent panel of experts loved how you can customise the throwing game to suit your pooch’s preferences! This personalisation feature makes this launcher great for both indoors and outdoors.
The ball thrower has motion and safety sensors that detect pets and people standing in front of the launch hole. The last thing you want is a black eye from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, there's a beep before a ball’s launched, which is your signal to move out of the way.
This ball launcher has a 15-minute interval rest feature, which ensures your pooch catches a breath for a bit before going for another ball catching session. Like other automatic ball launchers, it comes with a power cord but can also run on 6-D cell batteries.
Automatic ball launchers are practical, but playing one on one with your pooch is so much more fulfilling. For those pet parents who insist on being the main ball thrower, this launcher from Chuckit! is a perfect tool. It's also one of the more unique choices on this list.
It doesn’t take up much space, so you can carry it in a backpack or a car trunk. As it significantly reduces the strain on your arms throwing balls, you will be able to play fetch with your dog for longer without getting tired before they do!
This manual thrower has a simple design. Basically, it’s a long-handled plastic spoon. It comes in different sizes. The longer the thrower’s handle is, the greater the launch distance you’ll have. However, don’t think that the short-handled version is suitable for indoor use. The thrower creates such a strong force that will break any vase or window it comes across.
The Chuckit! Sport Launcher being tested by our independent expert team.
If your dog is an excessive drooler, then you’ll love this manual launcher. The same goes for outdoor plays in the mud, of which my dog is an expert. With Chuckit! you can pick a ball up without getting your hands dirty or wet. You can also do that without bending over or kneeling, which is great for elderly pet owners.
What I Look for in Ball Launchers for Dogs?
Getting enough physical and mental stimulation every day is essential if you want your dog to be happy and healthy.
“Dogs whose exercise and social needs are met are better behaved and more enjoyable pets. Many unruly behaviours that clients are concerned about are a result of a pet being under stimulated. Exercise and play are important for the pet’s mental and physical health and social development.” - Authors of Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses (1).
However, it often happens that we don’t have as much energy to match the entertainment levels our dogs require. Your arm can get tired way before your dog even shows signs of having enough ball time! In this case, a ball launcher can be the perfect solution you need. But how do you begin the process of shopping for one. Our panel of independent experts share what you need to consider before buying a ball launcher for your dog:
Distance and Variability
How far does a launcher throw the ball? These distances can vary - the distance ball launchers can reach starts from about 3 metres to over 20 metres. What you’ll want to do is find a launcher that matches your dog needs.
For a small dog, you don’t want too much distance or the dog will get confused. For larger, energetic dogs, you’ll want the ball to go as far as possible. Therefore, make sure to check the distance before settling on a launcher. My favourite ones we tested were the automatic throwers that offer the option of adjusting the distance or even randomised throwing that kept my dog interested.
Many ball launchers use standard sized tennis balls. However, some of them provide mini tennis balls. Checking the size of the balls is very important in order to avoid dangerous accidents. You want a ball that is not too big, so your dog can grab it, but not so small that they could swallow it!
Automatic or Manual?
The type of launcher you get depends on the level of engagement you want to have with it. With fully automatic launchers, your dog will essentially be able to play alone (once property trained). Other options include semi-automatic launchers that you need to stomp on, for example, or something as simple as a manual launcher (essentially a ball-grabber that extends your hand).
My Final Verdict
So which ball launcher should you get? Our team of independent experts all agree that the iFetch Original Automatic Dog Ball Launcher is definitely amongst the most popular options. It’s an automatic ball thrower that works flawlessly and is easy for dogs to use.
The iDogmate Mini Ball Launcher is an alternative that comes pretty close and has a similar design to the iFetch. Overall, I loved how both throwers let you choose how far you want the balls to fly and can work using batteries.
Want more information on dog toys? Check out our below guides:
There are a couple of ways to get a dog used to the ball launcher, but the easiest one is using positive reinforcement and going slow. If you are using an automatic ball launcher, first get the dog used to it when it’s turned off. After that, you can turn the machine on and allow the dog to acclimatise to it. After that, the trick is mostly getting the dog to put the ball inside the hole. Most dogs quickly start liking the game after that.
Most ball launchers use air pressure in some way. Automatic launchers for dogs usually work just like tennis ball launchers. They draw the air inside using a fan and then create air pressure to push the ball out at high speed. The launchers that you have to stomp on operate on the same principle - only without electricity.
Most ball launchers work with standard tennis balls. However, some manufacturers make throwers that use balls in a different size. In that case, you’ll have to get specific balls. Always make sure to follow the instructions of the manufacturer, otherwise the thrower can get damaged.
- Martin D, Campbell L, Ritchie M. 2017. “Problem Prevention”. In: Martin, D., Shaw, J., Eds. Canine and Feline Behavior for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.: Chichester; pp. 145-203