How to Select Competition Discs for Your Frisbee Dog (UPDATE)

I wonder how many people are turned off from playing K9 Frisbee after they pick up a cheap $1 disc at the local pet store, take it home and find that Fido immediately cracks it or, worse, cuts their mouth on the sharp shards — and then it’s back to the tennis ball. It’s almost criminal that the leading national pet stores sell these types of discs. Not only are they unsafe for dogs, they have horrible aerodynamics. Shame on them.

Others may opt for the floppy, soft rubber discs sold in pet stores by KONG® or the fabric discs like the ones made by Chuckit™. While these may be fine for backyard play, or even puppy training, they’re aerodynamically worse than the cheap, hard plastic discs and should be avoided in competition settings.

In fact, most disc dog organizations don’t sanction any of the above for competition.

Fortunately today, there are several disc manufacturers who make a range of discs specifically designed for canine frisbee competition play. Unfortunately, you’re generally not going to be able to find these in pet stores and will have to order them online. Below we’ll give you links to the most common competitive disc manufacturers, but first let’s talk about what constitutes a dog-safe frisbee.

What’s a “Dog-Safe” Competition Disc?

In selecting a competition disc, there are a couple things you should consider with the most important being that they’re safe for your dog to play with.

Dog-safe discs are made from types of plastic that either allow the dog’s teeth to easily puncture the disc without cracking, or from a more durable, but heavier bite-resistant plastic.   Dog-safe discs tend to weigh between 90 and 145 grams.

There are plusses and minuses for each type.

  • In the $3 to $6 range, light Plastic discs (~ 100 to 120 grams) are much cheaper and float and fly easier, but may last only a couple days after repeated play, or less. If your dog has a “soft bite,” as my German Shepherd does, a light plastic disc could last for two weeks before it loses it’s flight characteristics and/or becomes too chewed up and therefore unsafe. My hard-biting Malinois, on the other hand, will destroy a light plastic disc after one or two catches.

  • The more durable Bite-Resistant discs (~ 130 to 145 grams) retail between $10 and $20 each. Most dogs, even hard-biting ones, can play with a bite-resistan disc for several weeks before it’s time for the trash can. Because they’re up to 50% heavier than a light disc, they do not float as well — some say they drop like rocks. In fact, they do fly very well and are great for cutting into the wind, they just require more spin, and generally, a little more arm speed to get them to fly well.

Dog-safe discs all have a gently rounded lip on a reinforced rim for the dog to safely bite. Never play with a golf-disc as their rims are too sharp and the discs are too heavy. An errant throw with a golf disc can easily crack a dog’s tooth. That’s not fun. Also, avoid ring discs which fly great but are also too sharp and dangerous for your dog.

As for color, any will do — your dog doesn’t care. Some people think their dogs have difficulty with certain color discs. I think this is just anecdotal.

Where to Buy in the US

In the U.S., there are three main manufacturer direct online stores for dog discs: Discovering the WorldHero Disc USA and Hyperflite.

Most of the discs listed below can also be purchased from SpryDog.com, an online store run by fellow disc doggers, and even Amazon.com.

Where to Buy in Europe
In Europe, dog-safe discs, as well as most of the discs reviewed here (as well as others not reviewed), are available from:

K9discstore.com

FrisbeeWINKEL.nl

MamaDisc.com

Where to Buy in Central & South America

Red Star Discs

Most Common Competition Approved, Dog-Safe Discs

Except for Skyhoundz, which allows only Hyperflite branded discs, all of the following discs are approved for use by the major disc dog organizations including USDDNUFO World CupAshley WhippetUpDog Challenge and K9 Frisbee Toss & Fetch.

Wham-O Frisbee® Fastback | 110 grams, 9 5/16″ diameter (236mm)
(light Plastic)

$3.50 each from Discovering The World

The original Frisbee® Fastback was the first disc suitable for dogs. It’s the one Alex Stein used with Ashley Whippet when he snuck onto the field at an LA Dodgers game back in 1974. For many years, it was the only disc type used in K9 Frisbee competitions and many of today’s discs are variations of the Fastback design. This is a very light disc favored by a few freestyle teams but you do see it in toss & fetch competitions, too.

Wham-O Eurablend Fastback Frisbee® | 140 grams, 9” diameter (228mm)
(heavy plastic – bite resistant)

$10.95 each from Discovering the World

The Eurablend model Frisbee® disc is a classic fastback made with a special, high-durability material. It is puncture and crack resistant, and at 140 grams, is a heavy disc. I’ve heard it’s popular in Europe but I don’t see many people in the U.S. using it.

Hyperflite Competition Standard | 105 grams, 8.75” diameter (222mm)
(light plastic)

$4.35 ea. from Hyperflite

The Competition Standard is the official competition disc for Skyhoundz. An inch in diameter smaller than a Fastback it has a rougher surface to help your grip and reduce glare. It’s a high-quality disc with great flight characteristics. Several World Champions swear by them but it’s probably used by less than 10% of competition disc doggers. It’s not bite resistant but does seem to stand up a little better than a regular Fastback.

Hyperflite Jawz Disc | 145 grams, 8.75” diameter (222mm)
(heavy plastic – bite resistant)

$19.75 ea. from Hyperflite

The Jawz Disc is the most durable, but also the heaviest, dog disc in the market. It’s incredibly puncture resistant and most dogs can play with one every day for a month or more. Because it’s so heavy and only 8.75” across, it floats like a rock. However, if you can impart high spin, make strong throws AND you’re dog is fast enough to keep up, it’s great competition disc.

Hero Xtra 235 Distance | 110 grams, 9.25” (235mm)
(light plastic)

$5.99 ea. from Hero Disc USA

The Hero Xtra 235 is one of the most popular competition discs available. It’s the same size and weight of a Wham-O Fastback but with a slightly higher profile giving it a bit more lift in flight. It’s a great disc to float downwind, adding to your distance while providing enough hang time for a dog to catch up to it. If your dog has a light bite, this is a great disc for beginners and pros.

Super Hero 235 | 140 grams, 9.25” (235mm)
(heavy plastic – bite resistant)

$13.99 ea. from Hero Disc USA

Think of the Super Hero as a Jawz disc that actually floats on the wind. It’s a little lighter than a Jawz and three-quarters of an inch wider in diameter to help it grab a little more lift.  While it’s puncture resistant, it’s not quite as durable as a Jawz but still stands up well to hard-biting dogs and is a very popular disc in competitions.

SuperSonic 215 | 120 grams, 8.5” (215mm)
(heavy plastic – bite resistant)

$13.99 ea. from Hero Disc USA

A little lighter and a little smaller than the indestructable Jawz discs from Hyperflite, SuperSonics have better flight characteristics and are a great choice for intermediate and pro toss & fetchers looking for accuracy and distance and a soft flight finish.

SuperAtom 185 | 85 grams, 7.28” (185mm)
(heavy plastic – bite resistant)

$12.99 ea. from Hero Disc USA

Great for smaller dogs but a fun, accurate disc for anyone, the SuperAtoms are available in the same three flavors as the SuperHero (soft plastic, firm plastic, and taffy plastic). Except for “puppy-specific” discs, these are one the smallest competition discs available.

Small Disc Review: a video showing the difference in the different plastics available in small discs.

Red Star Disc | 115 grams, 9.25” (238mm)
(light plastic)

$4.50 ea. from Red Star Products

Manufactured in Mexico, Red Star Discs are available throughout Central and South America. These are “Lawrence Frederick Approved” discs and are available in a Fastback equivalent (shown here), as well as a 107 gram version that’s lighter and softer to help transition dogs from soft floppies to regular competition discs.

Find the Disc Right for You and Your Dog

In addition to the discs described above, all of the manufacturers offer several other models including small versions for puppies or tiny dogs. You can also find most of these discs on Amazon.com.

Try a couple different types and experiment with them. Most experienced disc doggers rely on a variety of discs depending on the wind conditions, which dog they’re playing with, or the requirements of the competition. Figure out which ones you can throw, which ones your dog can catch and balance that with your dog’s ability to destroy them.

Regardless of the disc you choose, if you play frisbee with your dog regularly, you’ll need a lot of them so stock up when you can. All discs will eventually become unplayable. When the rims become jagged you can sand them down. At some point, you’ll just need to throw them out and play with a fresh one.