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Antlers for dog chews: How to tell if your antlers are cruelty-free

antlers for dogs australia

Many dog owners choose antlers for dog chews because they’re cruelty free. But how do you really know if you’re getting exactly that?

I walked into a pet store chain the other day. Just sussing out the competition as you do…

As usual, their antlers were pretty over-priced, chalky and felt a bit like pumice stone. However, the thing that really got me – was that some of their antlers still had tufts of hair attached to the base and had clearly been sawn off the deer’s skull. 

Right under the sign saying ‘Naturally shed, ethical dog treats’ was evidence that these antlers were clearly removed from the animal. 


So how can you know whether you're actually getting 'naturally shed antlers'?

The simplest & easiest way to ascertain whether your deer antler dog chews have been ethically sourced is by looking at the base of the antler. When antlers are naturally shed, they leave a more textured base – as the antler slowly works free of the skull. 

In most cases, if the base shows a clean cut or signs of saw marks – or even worse, hair tufts – then it has been forcibly removed. 

If the base is bulbous and textured (like the photo below) then the antler has fallen from the deer of it’s own accord. 


Forcibly removed antlers

Evidence of sharp, clean cuts at the base of the antler.

Naturally shed antlers

A textured, bulbous base indicates that the antler fell from the deer of it’s own free will.

A few things to note

  • It may be difficult to tell if you’re looking at the base.

We use a drop-saw to cut up our antlers. This means it might be difficult to tell if you’re looking at a clean cut from further up the antler – or a clean cut from the base. 

ALL our antlers are naturally shed, and the smaller chews are generally cut from further up the antler (long after it has fallen from the deer – by natural causes.

If you do buy your antler dog chews from a pet store – check out all the antlers they have on display and you’ll probably be able to identify the base (or burr). Make sure it’s rough and natural looking. 

  • The base of the antler is also called the burr. 

The burr is the toughest part of the antler. After all it’s the bit that connects the antler to the deer. 

The burr is the signature section of our popular Chewy Brutes (super tough antlers for super chewers). Unless you have ordered one of them, you probably wont be able to see that the burrs (or base) are rough and textured.

If you’d like to see what the bases of our antlers look like, plenty of people have posted reviews of their Chewy Brutes (see review page here or check out the visitor posts on our Facebook Page). 

antlers for dog
Even though you can see clean cuts on the ‘branches’ – you can see the rough textured burr on this Chewy Brute.
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Deer antler for dogs- Why are people so obsessed?

Deer antlers for dogs: What’s the deal?

  • Antlers are odourless and non-messy: This makes them ideal for indoor chewing. Unlike bones & dehydrated dog chews, antlers are worn down slowly and never become smelly or slimy.
  • Antlers are irresistible to dogs and can help with separation anxiety: The delicious taste of antlers, combined with their long lasting chew time – makes antlers a great comfort for dogs that are stressed, bored or anxious.
  • They last a really, really long time. Most of our customers get many months out of each antler – even the Great Danes & Staffies. Most of our customers get between 4 – 6 months from the sturdy antlers (Like the Chewy Brutes & Gig-Antlers).
  • They’re packed with nutrition. Unlike nylon or rubber alternatives, dogs get protein and minerals (zinc, phosphorus, iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium) from chewing on antlers.
  • They’re cruelty free. Our antlers are naturally shed, meaning they fall from the deer without any human involvement.


Choosing the right size:

When you’re choosing deer antlers for dogs, it’s better to get a larger size antler than a smaller one.

Dogs will still be able to chew on a large antler – however if they antler is undersized they might get through it quite quickly.

If in doubt – don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll gladly suggest the most appropriate size & type for your dog. 

Below we have listed the most appropriate size and type of antler for your dog – based on breed averages and our experience.

Small Deer Antlers for Dogs

Small Antlers for Dogs:

  • Minimum weight 90g. The small whole antler chew is ideal for small breeds (2-8 kgs) and puppies over 3 months old.

Visit the store listing for Small Deer Antlers here.

Small Antler Chews for Dogs

Medium Deer Antler for Dogs

  • Minimum weight 100g.  Ideal for medium breeds 8 – 15kgs and puppies over 3 months old

See the store listings for Medium Antlers here

medium antlers for dogs australia

Large Antlers for Dogs:

  • Minimum weight 150g. Suits breeds weighing 16-24kg

View the store listings for Large Antlers for Dogs here


antler horn for dogs

For the Super Chewers

 We suggest our ‘Chewy Brutes’ which also incorporate the burr – the hardest part of the antler and provides the longest lasting chew. Expected chewing time: 4- 6 months (with some dogs getting over 12 months!)

See more about Chewy Brutes here.

Large Chewy Brute antler for dog

Where do our antlers come from?

Our antlers come from red deer & fallow deer. They are naturally shed and collected from various farms around Australia (including our own family property in the Hunter Valley). 

Most of the big brands get their antlers from overseas (usually China or NZ). 


With deer antler for dogs – what size and type is best?

We have identified a range of antlers suitable for all dog types.  From Fallow Straps for softer chewers right through to the popular Chewy Brutes for serious chewers.

There really are antlers suitable for every size dog.

If you’re looking for something extra special – why not check out our (extreeeeemely) popular Beef & Apple Cider flavoured antlers? Even the fussiest dogs find these antlers completely tantalising. 


What you can expect when you buy an antler for your dog from us:

We haven’t quite made the leap to sophisticated packaging or branding at this stage and maybe we wont. If you’d like to see the full range of deer antler for dogs – please visit our shop page.