Latest pet craze? Crackers for dogs: And they even have jokes inside!

Latest pet craze? Crackers for dogs: And they even have jokes inside! HARRY WALLOP — and Darcey — test the best

  • Tesco says Christmas sales of treats for pets increased 25 per cent on last year
  • Harry Wallop is among estimated 3.2 million Brits to gain a lockdown puppy
  • He and cockapoo Darcey give verdict on a selection of crackers for canines 

There was one thing that helped many of us get through the pandemic and various lockdowns: our dogs. I — along with an estimated 3.2 million fellow Brits — gained a lockdown puppy, after years of lobbying from my children.

Darcey is a cockapoo and a menace, a hyperactive, slipper-chewing, cheese-stealing ball of fur — but she’s now part of the family. And, as such, my four children have insisted she should be included in our Christmas celebrations.

We are not the only family, it would seem, to ensure Rover is visited by Santa. According to retailers, pet owners across the country are spending money like never before on canine and feline festive treats.

Harry Wallop and his cockapoo Darcey (pictured) give verdict on a selection of crackers for canines ahead of Christmas

Tesco, which sells mince pies and even pigs-in-blankets for pooches, says that Christmas sales of treats for pets are up 25 per cent on last year.

And it’s not just pet owners. Amelia Austin, pet food buyer at the supermarket, said: ‘Last year we noticed a third of shoppers who bought items from our Christmas pet range didn’t buy anything from our wider pet range, suggesting they were picking up a gift for a friend or family member’s cat or dog. With pet gifting being a huge trend, we expect this to rise again this year.’

Dog advent calendars, cat stockings and pet Christmas jumpers have now been around for a good few years, but the latest Christmas treats aimed at dogs are crackers.

Yes, you may have thought loud bangs, small, swallowable plastic trinkets and party hats were not suitable for canines, but these are specially designed to be dog-friendly.

So, which are the best? And, crucially, which ones did Darcey rate?


The Dog’s Cracker, £15, Fortnum & Mason (fortnum

Harry said The Dog’s Cracker (pictured) had a sturdy rope chew toy, which Darcey very much enjoyed 

An undeniably top cracker for a top dog, as you would expect from Britain’s most famous upmarket grocer with two royal warrants (I wonder if the corgis get their festive treats from here).

It comes handsomely packaged in its own box.

Inside the cracker (no scary bang) you get a sturdy rope chew toy, which Darcey very much enjoyed, along with a couple of jokes, including this corker: ‘Dog owner: My dog has a fever. What should I give him?

Vet: Mustard. That’s the best thing for a hot dog.’

At £15 per cracker, however, you could hardly call this cracking value. 4/5


Christmas Cracker by Goodchap’s, £7.95, Natural Pet Store (thenatural

Harry said Christmas Cracker by Goodchap’s (pictured) is eco-friendly but doesn’t have much sparkle or festive spirit 

If your dog is really clever (and of course they are), you can actually ‘pull’ this cracker with them, because it’s been cleverly designed with two rope toys, sticking out of each end. They can grab one end, you the other.

Apart from the toys, there is a small sachet of pungent dry salmon treats, which Darcey thought were delicious and wolfed down.

There’s not much sparkle or festive spirit about this cracker, but it is eco-friendly, with the cardboard and the ropes both fully compostable and recyclable. 3/5


Bud’s Bites Christmas ‘no bang!’ Cracker for Pooches, £6.95 (

Harry said Bud’s Bites Christmas ‘no bang!’ Cracker for Pooches (pictured) contained  a generous sachet of treats 

This is certainly a proper cracker with lovely bows and a little red paw print label, which you could repurpose as a Christmas tree decoration.

Bud’s Bites was set up by Mollie Edwards, based in Poole, Dorset, who started the business during the first lockdown.

Inside is a generous sachet of treats in the shape of dog bones, which Darcey gobbled down, a sturdy paper hat (for the owner, rather than the dog, I presume) and a joke: ‘Q: Why are teddy bears never hungry? A: Because they’re always stuffed.’ Oh, dear me. Warning: there is a small charm, designed to go on to your dog’s collar or harness, which you want to ensure doesn’t get gobbled up by the dog if it goes flying. 4/5


Skipper’s Fish Skin Flatties Christmas Cracker, £7.99 (skipperspet

Harry said Skipper’s Fish Skin Flatties Christmas Cracker (pictured) contains a bag of six pretty large cod skin treats 

Skipper’s was set up in 2013 by Steve Moore, a former fishmonger based in Grimsby, and the company specialises in treats made from fish.

This makes them pretty healthy because they are low in fat and full of omega 3 oil, which is great for your dog’s joints and skin.

The crackers don’t have any hat, jokes or festive sparkle, which is a shame, but they do contain a bag of six pretty large cod skin treats (60g in total) — air-dryed rather than cooked, which means they don’t smell too strong.

Good news if it gets stuck under the sofa! Darcey liked hers so much she immediately took it into the garden and buried it under a tree. 3/5


The Handmade Christmas Co Luxury Pet Treat Cracker, £14.50, Not On The High Street (notonthehigh

Harry said The Handmade Christmas Co Luxury Pet Treat Cracker (pictured) contains a party hat and a joke 

These are nearly as expensive as the Fortnum ones, but they give them a run for their money in the elegance stakes.

And you do get to personalise them — not just putting the name of your beloved pooch on the front, but you also choose whether to include a dog bone biscuit or a cat rattle.

There is also a party hat and a joke. Darcey warns her fellow dogs that it won’t take long to demolish the bone.

And the snazzy box it comes in, frankly, makes just as good a plaything 3/5


BuzzyBearShop Custom Christmas Cracker for Dogs, £7.50, from Etsy (

Harry said BuzzyBearShop Custom Christmas Cracker for Dogs (pictured) contained a hat, dental chew, biscuits and a joke 

Another cracker you can personalise, by choosing the colour of the ribbon — which also corresponds to the colour of the party hat inside the cracker. And this is for your dog! It is made out of felt and has a ribbon to tie around their neck.

Darcey did not look impressed, but my kids thought it was adorable. You can also put the name of your pet on the outside of the cracker.

Inside, along with the hat, you get a mini festive dental chew made by Whimzee, four little biscuits and a joke. Darcey preferred the chew to the hat, it has to be said.

Buzzy Bear is run by Katie McArragher, who says she understands why people want to pull a cracker with their pooch and pop a hat on their head: ‘Especially with the tough past few years, our dogs have been a constant for us with their funny ways and unconditional love.

‘So why wouldn’t you want to treat them as a part of the family and spoil them at Christmas?’ Why indeed not? 5/5

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