I have made my own braided tug/chew toys for about 10-11 years or so, because we never found any that our Dobes couldn't/wouldn't destroy. We made them out of either white cotton clothesline rope (but ONLY cotton, not with nylon core, and it's now rather hard to find), old denim jeans or heavy canvas drop-clothes - a wonderful material to use, not so much for its longevity, but for how very much fun it is for them to play with, and finally, and now most often, from fleece... we had 3 various fleece tugs I had made when our Alex was a young guy - he's been dead for 5 years, and our current 2 played with them until we were ready to move in August, and I finally threw them away... but still have 2 or 3 that are at least 5 years old.
I make mine very thick, and sometimes use other toys to braid in with them, for added interest... I've made some with 3 or 4 "arms", so all the dogs could tug with each other at once, or we could join in - lots of fun.
Anyway, I buy any fleece that's on sale, as long as it isn't flimsy, and is non-pilling, so they won't be swallowing little bits of fleece. I usually buy a yard or 2 each of at least 4 different colors or patterns. I cut strips about 3" wide, and the full width of the material. I cut anywhere from 12 to 18 strips (has to be divisible by 3 for braiding). I braid VERY tight, so I get my husband to hold one end for me, bcause I don't have any window or door that holds the very thick bunch of strips tight enough for me not to yank it out!
Anyway, braid them as tightly as you are able, as this is what makes them so durable. When you get to the very end, tie a large knot at the end, and really work it as tight and compact as you can, and as close to the end - you will be left with "tassles" of various lengths - I usually trim them to about 3-5" long. Then go to the beginning 'end' and make sure it is very tightly braided, as sometimes the very end loosens as it's being worked on. After you're happy with that end, tie it in the same kind of dense knot (again, I use my DH's brawn to get it as tight and compact as possible)... then depending on the length of it, I tie 1 or 2 more knots along the length of it, for more chewing fun, for tugging challenges, or for smacking themselves in the head when they shake and fling it around.
Some of the items that I have incorporated into our toys over the years include rubber rings, old rubber chew toys that they lost interest in but now find very appealing again since they've been "repurposed", large pieces of hollow marrow bone they've finished with - again, with the tug snaking through it, it regains allure. I've also mixed materials (fleece, rope, denim, canvas, old sheets) - they enjoy the interesting textures - these don't last as long, but they get a kick out of them - and we just keep tying new knots in them to reinforce them, until they are basically nothing but a single dead knot!
Hope this helps. Lois
their pawprints in our hearts never fade