Last Updated: September 5, 2023 by Lisa Melillo
The iFetch is the original automatic dog ball thrower and still a great choice for small dogs, ~40 lbs or less. It’s extremely easy for dogs to learn to use and designed as well as any launcher on the market.
iFetch Interactive Dog Ball Launcher Review
iFetch is the brand that started all the rage of new dog ball launchers, and today we’re going to review the original model that got this whole product category started – the original iFetch.
We put the iFetch through the ringer with our hands-on review, checking everything from throwing performance to noise levels. See how it stacked up against our top automatic dog ball throwers and if it’s the perfect new toy for your pooch!
Unboxing and Design
When unboxing the iFetch, you’ll find the following –
- iFetch thrower
- Three mini tennis balls
- One AC Adapter
Our box came a little scuffed up, but all the contents inside were all damage-free and functioned great. The act of unboxing and setting everything up took less than 5 minutes, there’s no complicated assembly or lengthy instructions. It’s basically plug-and-play!
In the above photo you can see all the components. The iFetch has a very appealing, almost whimsical design full of rolling curves and rounded edges. The white-and-blue color scheme gives it a very cool, contemporary feel that looks well polished and sleek enough for any home.
The design of the launcher itself is very simple from the outside. The top has a funnel opening that allows you (or your dog!) to easily drop a ball into the launcher without having to be too precise.
Here’s an overhead shot of the funnel. You can see a piece of plastic inside the tube that will hold the ball in place for a moment before it launches the ball. This gives your dog time to get ready for the throw!
The other opening on the device is where the balls launcher from for your dog to chase.
The iFetch is a fairly simple device, with only one real setting to modify – the throwing distance.
You can adjust the power of the throw to 10 feet, 20 feet, or 30 feet.
This gives you a good amount of control to cater the device to your environment. For example, some people who live in an apartment may find the 10 feet setting to be perfect, whereas someone using the device outdoors would find the 30 feet distance to be best.
To change the launching distance, you simply press the button on the back of the device.
As you can see on the back of the iFetch, there is one hole at the bottom that the AC adapter plugs into, then a button above it. When pressing the button, the three LED lights above will react. If one LED is lit, that means it is in the 10 feet mode. 2 LEDs means 20 feet, and if all 3 are lit then it will shoot the balls 30 feet.
iFetch Ball Size
One very important factor to picking out the right dog ball thrower is looking at the ball size and making sure it’s compatible with your dog.
The iFetch uses “mini tennis balls”, which are ~1.6 inches in diameter. A regular tennis ball is ~2.5 inches in diameter. See a comparison of the two below –
Smaller tennis balls are perfect for small dog breeds, so that would be a big selling point for some dog owners. However, if your dog is over 40 lbs, you may want to consider something that launches bigger tennis balls.
The SmartPult uses 2″ tennis balls (see our SmartPult review) and the iFetch Too uses full-sized tennis balls (2.5″) which is great for big doggies! If you have a bigger dog, check out our iFetch Too review now.
The iFetch balls feel well-made, however if your dog prefers to chew rather than fetch, we could see them destroying these if they are a more powerful breed. You can always purchase more replacement iFetch balls as needed.
iFetch Outdoor Use
The iFetch is rated for outdoor use, though you wouldn’t want to leave it outside in extreme cold rain. It’s extremely easy to transport at just 9 inches across and 8 inches tall, and only weighs 2.5 lbs.
One nice feature of the iFetch is that it gives you the choice of using the included AC adapter (great for indoor use), or you may load 6 C batteries into it to use without being near a wall outlet (perfect for using outdoors).
The battery compartment seen above is revealed by unscrewing a Philips-head screw which holds the batteries in place.
We took the iFetch out into the yard and tested their claims and reliability to see how it performed in a real world scenario.
Here’s the result of our extensive testing-
- Low setting – 8.5 ft average vs claimed 10 feet
- Medium setting – 20.5 ft average vs claimed 20 feet
- High setting – ~28 ft average vs claimed 30 feet
Overall, the iFetch came pretty close to their claimed launching distances all around and was very reliable compared to other units we tested. This firing range would be ideal for dogs on an outdoor yard leash.
On a smoother surfaces like indoors, the balls would roll much further which should be noted.
iFetch Review Summary
This is the original iFetch that started it all, and it’s easy to see why! The iFetch is the perfect fetching device for owners of smaller dogs that would enjoy the 1.6 inch tennis balls that it uses.
The large funnel on the top of the device makes it easy for dogs to learn to place the ball into the iFetch in order to launch it for themselves! The iFetch also gets two big “paws-up” for posting an extremely helpful training video that will help you introduce and training your dog to use the device –
The biggest drawback of the iFetch is that it’s only compatible with the mini tennis balls, which could be a choking hazard if you have large dogs in your home. Also, it’s not quite as feature-rich as other dog ball launchers on the market. For the price though, it’s still a great value.
We highly recommend the iFetch dog ball launcher for anyone with small to mid size dogs in their home!