If you have a large, powerful dog like a German Shepherd, chances are you’ve spent a significant sum on chews and toys that generally don’t last very long.
Bully sticks are a good option since they are safe, edible, and last long enough to satisfy your dog’s need to chew. But what are the best bully sticks for aggressive chewers like German Shepherds and other large breeds?
Best Bully Sticks For German Shepherds and Large Breed Dogs
The best bully sticks for German Shepherds and aggressive chewers are those that can withstand a significant bite force and yet are perfectly digestible when swallowed. They also need to be processed properly to eliminate the risk of bacterial contamination.
In order to choose a good bully stick for your dog, you should first understand what it is, the numerous benefits it offers, and the best brands recommended for aggressive chewers like yours.
What is a Bully Stick?
Bully sticks are often regarded as a cross between a treat and a chew toy. They’re like treats because they’re tasty and digestible. They also closely resemble chew toys because they last long and can withstand intensive chewing.
Although these are incredibly popular especially among pet parents with large, powerful, and energetic dogs, not many know what they’re actually made of.
Bully sticks are made of animal penis. Most are sourced from bulls, but there are also those sourced from other animals. They range in size from large bulls (about 12 inches) to young steer (about 6 inches).
Depending on the manufacturer, these treats are processed in different ways. Generally, they are cooked and dried to preserve the flavor and achieve the tough texture they are known for.
Benefits of Giving Your Dog Bully Sticks
While its origins may have some pet parents sniggering, it can’t be denied that bully sticks are a healthy, natural, single-ingredient treat that offers plenty of benefits to all types of dogs. Among the most critical benefits are:
They’re safer than a synthetic chew toy
If you’ve already accepted that your dog will destroy anything you give them, you might as well offer something that’s meant to be consumed that way. You won’t need to worry about sharp edges and accidentally swallowing pieces made of synthetic materials.
They keep your dog well behaved
For some dogs, chewing and destroying things is a way to expend some excess energy, boredom, and anxiety.
Offering them a long-lasting chew that’s tastier than your shoe or furniture gives them a positive outlet for all that pent-up energy and can keep them from developing unwanted behaviors.
They provide mental stimulation
Most people don’t realize it, but chewing can actually be very stimulating to dogs. Not only does it relieve their anxieties, but also keep their mind busy.
Chewing on a long-lasting bully stick helps them focus, figure out the best ways to devour it, and temper their excitement in order to enjoy their special treat.
They support good dental health
When gnawed and chewed on, bully sticks rub against the teeth and gums. That helps scrape away plaque, tartar, and food residue from the surface of their teeth.
Chewing also stimulates saliva production, which offers even more oral health benefits. Additionally, chewing helps develop stronger jaws.
They’re a protein-rich treat
Unlike chew toys, bully sticks have nutritional benefits. They’re generally around 75% to 85% animal protein and have very little fat. So, they can support your dog’s muscle growth, energy levels, immune system, and overall health.
Things to Consider When Buying a Bully Stick for an Aggressive Chewer
Of course, palatability is an important factor in whether or not your dog will be interested in a bully stick. However, source, size, and calories are even more critical considerations.
Most bully sticks are made from bulls and steers. But if your dog happens to be allergic or sensitive to beef, you can find bully sticks made of pork or other animals. Some companies have also begun developing vegan alternatives.
As a general rule, treats should comprise no more than 10% of your dog’s total calories per day. That includes all treats, not just the bully stick. In general, bully sticks range anywhere from 9 to 22 calories per inch, which is pretty substantial.
Make sure you consider the total calories in order to avoid problems with weight gain and obesity.
Selecting the right size for a bully stick is critical not just in controlling your dog’s calorie consumption but also their safety. Too long or thick could be too difficult and lose their interest while too short or narrow could be a serious choking hazard.
Best Bully Sticks for Aggressive Chewers
There are plenty of bully sticks available, but not all can stand up to the bite force of aggressive chewers. So if you want something that’s delicious, long-lasting, and safe, here are some of your best options:
Best Bully Sticks – Thick Bully Sticks
The Thick Bully Sticks by Best Bully Sticks comes in 6-inch and 12-inch variants to suit dogs of all breeds and ages. These are 30% to 50% thicker than your average bully stick, so they tend to last much longer. Plus, they’re made without any harmful chemicals, preservatives, or additives.
These Thick Bully Sticks are 100% natural and expertly processed to preserve the animal’s mouthwatering meaty flavor, guarantee a safe and non-splintering chew, and eliminate the risk of bacteria contamination. In fact, every product by Best Bully Sticks is manually inspected to ensure safety and quality.
- 30% to 50% thicker than average
- No harmful chemicals, preservatives, or additives
- Guaranteed safe and non-splintering
- Mouthwatering meaty flavor
- Manually inspected for quality
- Odor caused by a lack of chemical preservatives may be unpleasant for some pet parents.
Jack & Pup – Odor-Free Bully Sticks
The Odor-Free Bully Sticks by Jack & Pup are loved mostly because it doesn’t have the same smell that tends to be off-putting to some people. Thankfully, this is achieved not by chemical preservation but through careful processing.
Every odor-free bully stick is boiled, roasted, and smoked before drying in a slow process that ensures flavor preservation and the perfect toughness and texture.
These bully sticks are made from free-range, grass-fed cattle that aren’t subjected to hormones and antibiotics that could have secondary effects on your dog. Although it comes in two sizes, many pet parents favor the 6-inch version over the 12-inch one.
- Perfect toughness and texture
- Chemical-free processing
- Made from free-range, grass-fed cattle
- No hormones and antibiotics
- Odor-free bully sticks are generally dried for longer periods and so could be harder on your dog’s teeth.
Nature Gnaws – Premium Bully Sticks
The Premium Bully Sticks by Nature Gnaws are excellent single-ingredient chews. Although they come in several types and sizes, the 12-inch Large Bully Sticks are best for large, powerful dogs like German Shepherds.
Apart from sourcing animal products from trusted local farmers, Nature Gnaws uses a chemical-free process to dry these tasty and long-lasting treats.
All Nature Gnaws products are tested by a food safety lab to guarantee a safe and bacteria-free treat for your pup to enjoy. Additionally, these sticks are hand-inspected to guarantee uniform sizing.
Every product that fails the size requirement but passes the company’s quality standards gets donated to rescue dogs in shelters across the United States.
- Single-ingredient treat
- Sourced from trusted local farmers
- Chemical-free processing
- Tested by food safety lab
- Excellent donation program
- Due to its 100% natural source, thickness can vary between sticks.
Redbarn Naturals – Bully Braids
The Bully Braids by Redbarn Naturals range in size from 5 to 12 inches, but parents of medium to large breeds love the 7-inch version best. Since they are braided, they last longer and make for a more substantial and more stimulating chew. The braids are also excellent for scraping off plaque from their teeth and massaging their gums.
Apart from the braid, these sticks are well-loved because they are made from grass-fed, free-range cattle. They’re braided by hand and slow-roasted to maintain the natural flavors that all dogs love.
As with every other Redbarn Naturals product, these sticks are free of artificial flavors, preservatives, and chemicals.
- Braided to last longer
- More substantial and more stimulating
- Made from grass-fed, free-range cattle
- Hand-braided and slow-roasted
- No artificial flavors, preservatives, and chemicals
- Braids require more careful supervision as more parts can break off into smaller pieces.
FAQs About Bully Sticks
Some awareness is necessary to give your dogs bully sticks safely. Here are some answers to some of the most common questions about bully sticks:
How often should you give a puppy bully sticks?
Bully sticks can massage puppies’ gums and help provide some teething relief. You can give your pup a bully stick once per day for no longer than 10 minutes each time. Also, make sure that the size you choose is larger than their own muzzle.
How long should a dog play with a bully stick?
Most adult dogs can tolerate playing with a bully stick until they lose interest or until the stick becomes too small.
However, dogs that might have trouble digesting these protein-rich treats might need strict supervision and be limited to approximately 10 minutes each day.
When should you take a bully stick away from your dog?
Generally, you should take a bully stick away when it has become small enough to swallow whole. These large pieces might cause indigestion, choking, or even injury to the gastrointestinal tract.
How do you store a used bully stick for another chew time?
If you’re keeping a bully stick for another chew session, let it air dry and store it in a cool but dry place. Don’t place it in the refrigerator since the moisture could attract bacteria.
Are bully sticks safe?
Bully sticks are some of the safest chews you can give to aggressive chewers. As with any other treat or toy, these are best used with supervision.
Take them away when they’ve become too small to swallow. Also, be mindful of how much and how often you give your dog access to bully sticks since these are rich in proteins and calories that could contribute to unwanted weight gain.
Bully sticks can be an excellent option for aggressive chewers who have proven time and again that there’s no such thing as indestructible dog toys.
These tough yet safe-to-consume treats can satisfy dogs’ need to chew and also provide a host of other benefits that help make up a happy, well-mannered dog.