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Volkswagen Engineering Inspires KONG Dog Toy Legacy

Puppy chewing on KONG Dog Toy

Whether you’re a dog owner or dog lover, you’ve probably heard about the popular KONG toys. The rubber cones are designed for dogs of all sizes as a way to stay occupied by working to get treats from the hollow center. These nearly-indestructible toys are known for their quality and durability, but what most don’t know is how the toys came to be.

Unlikely Beginnings

It all started in Denver, CO in 1970. Auto shop owner Joe Markham was frustrated with break-ins at his downtown Denver shop, and decided to get a guard dog to ward off potential thieves. That’s when he came across Fritz, an adorable German Shepherd puppy with a love for chewing. In fact, it was his love for chewing that got him rejected from the police academy’s K9 training program. It didn’t take long for Markham to notice how much Fritz loved chewing on just about anything – especially rocks around the shop.

As any responsible dog owner would know, rocks aren’t ideal chewing material for a dog like Fritz. Not only did it wear down his teeth, but swallowing tiny pebbles isn’t exactly healthy. Markham tried everything from veterinarian-recommended solutions to regular animal bones. He’d all but given up when he noticed something one day. Fritz was going bonkers chewing on a rubber axel stop from a 1960s VW Bus. It was then that he noticed something even more remarkable; Fritz wasn’t ripping the rubber to pieces.

Continuing the KONG

Over the next six years, Markham experimented with different shapes and materials, ultimately landing on a creation modeled after the Volkswagen part that inspired it. The cone-shaped toy bounces, making a lot of fun for a dog, and the durable German-made rubber is strong enough to withstand a dog’s teeth without causing any damage. Once the design was settled, KONG dog toys hit the market in 1976 to great success that still continues to this day. You can now buy KONG toys for pets from 5 to 85+ pounds in different shapes and sizes, including rings, plushies, and even treats. Cats can get in on the fun, too, with toys like the Kitty KONG and puzzle toys.

VW Bus Rubber Axel

Discover the ingenuity and engineering behind KONG toys and more with a new Volkswagen at Volkswagen of Duluth! Check out our inventory online, or come visit us to test drive one for yourself.