Most of us dog owners are well familiar with KONG toys.

Dogs love these hollow rubber cones that can be packed full of treats.  However, I had no clue there was a connection between VW and my dog, Mr. Jake’s, KONG.

And I’ll bet you didn’t either.  But, in fact, KONG was born from a Volkswagen mini-bus part!  Who would have ever thunk it?

✅  Southern California’s Volkswagen HQ –> Ontario Volkswagen

So, the story is simple and logical… but wow!

Volkswagen Dog Toy: Joe And Fritz Markham’s Inspiration

In 1970, Joe Markham was working as a mechanic in a sketchy part of Denver, Colorado.

Thieves regularly targeted the auto repair shop where he kept his work projects, along with an old VW bus.  Tired of the constant theft, Markham turned to the local police for help.

And, they instructed him to get a guard dog.  Therefore, he brought home Fritz, a friendly German Shepherd that he got for free from the police department.  He’d been expelled from the canine dog training academy because he loved to chew everything in sight!

Markham was thrilled to bring Fritz to the shop.  However, he quickly realized that the officers weren’t kidding when they said that Fritz liked to chew.

In fact, Fritz would chew anything.  Rocks, bones, and radiator hoses were his toys of choice.  Plus, Fritz would chew things to bits, so he destroyed everything in his path.

After making many trips to veterinarians to see if Fritz could be helped, he latched onto a bulbous rubber axle stop from a 1960s VW Type 2 bus.  Remarkably, the rubber part held up to Fritz’s constant chewing.

Volkswagen Dog Toy: Inspiration Strikes

Markham realized that this Volkswagen part would make the perfect dog toy.

Next, he spent six years testing out different shapes, materials, and concepts to create the ideal toy.  He even reached out to VW to order the axle stops in bulk.

Of all the items that Fritz chewed, the axle stop was hard enough to not fall apart.  But it was also soft enough to prevent tooth damage.

Unfortunately, Markham couldn’t find the right contact at VW for his parts request.  Next, he turned to a rubber manufacturer in Germany to perfect the size, style, and composition of his design.

The Birth Of The KONG Dog Toy

Finally, Markham was ready to introduce his product to the world in 1976.

After years of testing, planning, and designing, he felt confident about his destruction-proof chew toy.  And, it turns out that all of his efforts were worth it: customers bought the KONG toy in droves.

Fast-forward many years and even today, it’s one of the most popular dog accessories. Who knew that a Volkswagen dog toy would become so popular?

Pro-Tip For KONG Dog Toys

My dog Mr. Jake loves his KONG.  Not so much chewing it as getting treats from it.  Specifically beef jerky.

Of course, peanut butter is a great go-to but it gets messy in the house.  So we find jerky made specifically for dogs works great.

But take it two steps further:

  1. Turn the jerky-stuffed KONG into what my wife calls a puzzle.  And do this by simply wrapping the KONG in various layers of socks or old t-shirts.  Mr. Jake loves this because then he first has to work to get access to the KONG.
  2. Hide the puzzle somewhere in the house so your dog has to work multiple steps to get to the treat inside the KONG.

Pro-Tip For All Things Volkswagen

Go see our friends at Ontario Volkswagen in the Los Angeles suburb of Ontario, California.  The whole team is passionate about the brand and drives it themselves.