Here are the top ball launchers for your pooch with most being suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and easy enough for Fido to figure out how to use on his own.
Playing fetch is probably your dog's favorite past time, but it can be exhausting if your pet tends to have more energy than you. Automatic ball launchers help save your pitching arm while still giving your pooch the workout they want and need. Our top pick is the iFetch Too interactive ball launcher because it accommodates most dogs, has multiple distance settings, and includes a rechargeable battery.
Best Overall: iFetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher
The iFetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher is an award-winning machine and a top pick among dog owners. This launcher stands under 15 feet high, making it versatile enough for most dogs. It has three launch distances, 10 feet, 25 feet, and 40 feet, which is easily set by pushing a button. You can also set the launcher to random, and it will toss balls are various distances to give your dog variety. The iFetch Interactive uses tennis balls and other balls of the same size without a problem and comes with three balls. It also includes a power adapter to plug the launcher in and use it indoors, but it also has a rechargeable battery so you can take it outside.
When using the battery mode, this launcher tends to throw balls at shorter distances, and it doesn't hold a charge for very long. The feeder tray is also a bit shallow. Though it is coned shaped and has an incline to help guide balls into the launcher, some overzealous dogs may drop balls at an awkward angle or too hard and cause the ball to pop back out.
- Suitable for all dogs
- Random distance setting
- Rechargeable battery
- Shallow feeder tray
- Weak when used in battery mode
- No safety alarm
iFetch Too Interactive Ball Launcher
This launcher uses tennis and similar sized balls, has four launch settings, and a rechargeable battery. It's good for most dogs.
Best for Big Dogs: iDogmate Big Dog Ball Launcher
For bigger dog breeds, this is the ball launcher you need. The iDogmate is designed to keep your dog going with several launch distances between 10 feet and 40 feet, which can be adjusted using the included remote control. And you can choose the random setting to keep your dog on its toes as it guesses how far it needs to run. The arch of each launched ball is impressive, so your dog can jump and catch balls in the air rather than wait for them to bounce on the ground. The feeder tray is designed to capture retrieved balls easily without bouncing out before being able to reload. The iDogmate Big Dog ball launcher is designed to accept and keep working with wet and slobbery balls.
This dog ball launcher runs with either a power adapter or on battery power. It's designed to accept Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. While using the battery mode balls won't launch as high or as far but will still be enough to give your pup some fun. Owners have also mentioned that when using battery mode that this machine uses up power quickly and needs to be recharged frequently.
- Suitable for large dogs
- Works with wet balls
- Remote control included
- Loses power quickly
- Doesn't launch far in battery mode
Best for Big Dogs
iDogmate Big Dog Ball Launcher
The big one
This ball launcher is designed for big dogs with multiple distance settings, high arches, and a large feeder tray.
Best for Small Dogs: Felix & Fido Playball
Playball by Felix & Fido only launches balls up to 20 feet, plenty far for most small dog breeds. This automatic ball launcher isn't very high, only 12 inches, which makes it easy for your dog to reload caught balls into the feeder. The machine easily switches between regular powered with a plugin adapter, or by batteries. It requires six C batteries when not plugged in. It is recommended for indoor use, though it works outside, too.
This launcher comes with three small balls that are only 1.5 inches in diameter. These balls can easily become a choking hazard for larger dogs and easily chewed to bits by a big pooch. The Felix & Fido doesn't accept balls not sold by the company very well. They tend to jam the machine.
- Perfect for small dogs
- Easy to reload
- Comes with three balls
- Choking hazard for large dogs
- Doesn't accept off-brand balls
- Best for indoor use
Best for Small Dogs
Felix & Fido Playball
Small package, big fun
This is the best ball launcher for small dogs. It works well both indoors and outside and comes with three mini balls.
Most Versatile: PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher
The PetSafe ball launcher is the most versatile of those we reviewed. It has six different distance settings up to 30 feet and nine angles for launch. This means a lot of variety for your dog as you go through the combinations. The ball launcher works with standard size tennis balls and comes with two of them. You can teach your dog to reload the launcher on its own by dropping caught balls into the feeding tray. There is a motion sensor on the front of the unit that keeps it from launching balls if it detects anything moving within seven feet of the machine.
This launcher is pretty big, so it works well with large dogs, but is still small enough for several smaller dog breeds to enjoy it, too. It has a rest most that automatically turns the whole thing off after 15 minutes. Unfortunately, this happens even if your dog is still playing, so you may be stuck turning it back on several times before your pooch is tuckered out. Also, several owners have reported that the loud alarm that sounds right before a ball launches it loud enough to startle timid dogs.
- Several distance and angle settings
- Uses standard tennis balls
- Motion sensor
- Automatic turn off
- Loud alarm
PetSafe Automatic Ball Launcher
Keep them guessing
This ball launcher has more settings and variation compared to other brands and has a motion sensor to keep you and your dog safe.
Non-electric Option: iFetch Frenzy
This ball launcher doesn't use power at all and is created to be more of a brain game than for fetch. While this means balls won't be thrown far distances, it also means you don't have to worry about plugging it in or changing batteries. This machine is also much cheaper than electronic ball launchers. As balls are dropped into, iFetch Frenzy randomly rolls them out of three chutes at a distance between 6 feet and 12 feet.
This toy can be continually available for your dog to play with at will. It uses smaller size tennis balls rather than standard ones and comes with three to get you started. The iFetch Frenzy is made for smaller dogs, so we don't recommend it for larger dogs at all.
- No power
- Random chutes
- Not for large dogs
- Only uses mini balls
No power, no problem
No power is required with the iFetch Frenzy, so you can let your dog have fun for hours without having to stop to recharge.
Keep your dog happy
The most important consideration when choosing an automatic ball launcher is the size of your dog. Some launchers are great for small dogs but won't hold up with a bigger breed. Other launch balls high and far, which is excellent for large and active dogs, but may be too high for smaller dogs to reload on their own. This is why we recommend the iFetch Too interactive dog ball launcher. It accommodates most dog breeds, including shorter ones, and is a good choice if you have more than one dog.
This ball launcher has four different distance settings that range from 10 feet to 40 feet. It also has a random setting that will change the distance each time the ball is launched to keep your dog running and playing for a long time. A power adapter comes with this unit so you can plug it in at home, but it also has a built-in Lithium-ion rechargeable battery so you can take it outside to play without the worry of cords. When used in battery mode, the iFetch Too tends to launch balls closer rather than farther and uses up its charge pretty quickly. But overall, it is the best choice for most dogs.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Nicole Johnston writes for multiple Future Publishing brands, including TechnoBuffalo. She has over 13 years of research and writing experience in both the public and private sector. She has a keen eye for pinpointing good product solutions for consumers and businesses.