Pros & Cons Of Antlers For Dogs, Our Favorite Brands, And What You Need To Know Before Giving Them To Your Dog To Chew On!

Whole elk antler dog chews are long lasting, but they're not good for puppies.

This is Post #3 (The Best Antlers For Dogs) in a series of articles summarizing the pros & cons of 12 Long-Lasting Dog Chews.

Antler dog chews are naturally shed from both elk and deer — and they make fabulous dog chews!


BEST FOR: Power chewers and medium chewers

MY FAVORITE BRAND(S): Pawstruck, Nature Gnaws, and Heartland Antlers

Deer Antlers vs. Elk Antlers For Dogs

The biggest difference between deer antlers and elk antlers is the fact that elk antlers are a little bit softer and easier to chew on than deer antlers.

For both deer and elk antler dog chews:

  • The base of the antler is the most dense and longest lasting as a dog chew.
  • The upper part of the antler is softer and easier to chew into.

…So basically, your dog gets 2 different densities with each deer or elk antler dog chew!

FYI, deer and elk shed their antlers every year. It’s a painless, natural part of the animal’s life, as seen here:

Pros And Cons Of Antlers For Dogs

PRO: Since antlers are naturally shed, giving them to your dog to chew on is a smart way to repurpose them.

PRO: Antlers last a really long time.

PRO: They don’t break off or splinter.

CON: The biggest downside to antler dog chews is the fact that they’re so darn expensive — usually around $20 apiece for a medium-sized one in pet stores!

CON: Some dogs don’t have an “OFF” button and will continue to gnaw and chew — even if it hurts them. You know your dog’s style of chewing better than anyone else. Watch closely to make sure your dog doesn’t chew too hard (like hard enough to break a tooth).

Antler dog chews that I recently saw for sale at Petco.

Fortunately, they’re usually cheaper onlinearound $6 to $10 apiece. The prices change all the time (maybe it’s a seasonal thing), so I use Camel Camel Camel to notify me whenever they go on sale.

How To Choose The Best Antlers For Dogs

Here are my tips for choosing the right antler dog chews:

  1. Select one that’s not too small and not too big. I always thought bigger is better… because your dog has more to chew on. Not so, according to my dogs. My 50-pound dogs have a hard time maneuvering a large antler more than they do a medium-sized one — so I only buy medium-sized antlers now.
  2. Choose one that has some curve to it (or best of all… “branches”). The less straight it is, the easier it will be for your dog to grab onto it, maneuver it around, and enjoy the chewing process. I realize this is hard to do when you’re shopping online, and you’ll pay a bit more for it in a pet store — but it’s worth it because your dog will enjoy it more.
My dogs prefer whole antlers over split antlers -- especially curvy ones with rough edge and extra branches.

We’ve tried both the solid antlers and the split antlers — which are the same thing as center cut antler dog chews.

I was actually surprised to learn that my dogs prefer whole antlers better than split antlers.

I thought they would enjoy being able to get right at the marrow inside the split antlers. But it’s actually the rough edges, curves, and pointy parts on the whole antlers that they seem to like better than the center marrow — which is a bit dried out and I guess not as tasty as I thought it would be.

How To Soften Deer Antlers For Dogs

Here are a few things you can do to make antlers softer for your dog to chew:

  • Use sandpaper or a nail file to file down a few areas on antlers to refresh the scent.
  • Dip the antlers in organic coconut oil for some added flavor (plus healthy gums, and teeth).
  • Smear peanut butter into the nooks and crannies of an antler.
  • Soak antlers in beef broth or chicken broth.
  • Take the antlers away — for a few weeks or months — and then re-introduce them to your dog later. Sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder!

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See all of the pros and cons of giving your dog antlers to chew on.