- This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.
- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
What better way to discover the best dog chews than to let a 6-month-old Doberman puppy have at some of the most popular and see which one reigns supreme?
In February at the Rover offices—what seems like ages ago now that we’re all working from home—we ordered nine of the most popular dog chews and chew toys to see what this excitable, curious, and lanky boy liked best, and over the course of three weeks, whenever he would come into work with his mom, we made some observations about his preferences (and boy, did he have those)!
Here’s our breakdown of how we conducted the test, what Cicero liked (and didn’t), and some of the pros and cons of each chew and chew toy.
Cicero and the Dog Chew Test Ground Rules
As we know all too well here at Rover, dogs—especially puppies—love to chew. With an abundance of dogs coming in to work every day with their moms and dads, it took exactly no time to determine the best test subject for this article: Cicero, who comes into work regularly with his mom, who sits right next to our Pet Shopping Editor (convenient, right)?
Cicero’s the sweetest boy, but he’s still learning, growing, and gets distracted very easily, which can be difficult for his mom while she’s trying to work. Scratch that. For a dog who’s learned how to open desk drawers in search of treats, and once swiped the contents of a co-worker’s desk clear to the floor—it’s a challenge for all of us! He may be a pup, but he’s learned to use his long legs for those hard-to-reach areas.
When we thought about what toys to offer him, we considered various aspects, such as:
- The reputation of the brand. We selected a handful of popular products manufactured by trusted pet companies such as Kong, West Paw, and Nylabone, products with a reputation for quality, that are regularly recommended by our community of sitters and walkers (as well as some of our writers and dog trainers), and are known for designs and styles pets actually use.
- The materials of the chew and chew toy. Problematic items such as pig ears and chemically-processed rawhide were off the table.
- Chews and chew toys we heard were great from our extended network (friends of sitters, and anecdotally) but wanted to test and observe in real-time, with a real, ready-to-chew-anything dog.
Poor Cicero. It was a hard job but some dog had to do it!
Cicero’s Top 3 Favorite Dog Chews
These three chews got the most attention from our chomp-happy volunteer.
Our overall impressions were that Cicero preferred the animal-based, stinky chews the best, and rubber and rope chews were a dud (although some interloping office dogs felt differently—more about that below).
However, a word of caution: Supervision is recommended for any chew or chew toy you give to your dog. This advice goes double for puppies in general, who are still learning and don’t always have the best sense about the best things to put in their mouth.
Paws down, these super stinky pizzle corkscrews were our puppy friend’s favorite dog chews and kept him well occupied.
Don’t know what a pizzle stick is? Click here, you’re in for a treat!
Here’s what we loved:
- The stink factor had Cicero returning to them again and again, giving him hours of enjoyment while we worked in the office.
- Made from free-range, grass-fed cattle, these sticks are free of artificial ingredients and chemicals.
Here’s what to keep in mind:
- Be prepared for the strong aroma and the fact that they can create quite a mess to clean up after.
- Pizzles can go pretty quick, depending on the determination of your puppy or dog, however they come in various quantities so you can order as many or as few as you think you’ll need.
Next up on our Doberman puppy’s preferred chews list were these antler horns, which are a bit more wallet-friendly and great to have lying around for absent-minded chewing.
Here’s what we loved:
- Unlike the chews above, the antlers truly are long-lasting dog chews. They’re just denser and hold up better over the long run.
- Deer antlers contain nothing artificial; they are naturally shed or harvested from deer and elk, and are unprocessed.
- A very slight animal odor will attract your dog, but it’s not even close to a bully stick, and it doesn’t make the slobbery mess a bully stick makes, too.
Here’s what to keep in mind:
- Some reviewers have noted that antlers in the extra-large to gigantic sizes have had some breakage. This is why it’s always important to supervise your dog when using chews. And you can always order different sizes—a variety of options are available.
- When the antler gets chewed down to a swallowable size, toss it in the trash or compost to prevent a choking hazard.
The final chew that our Doberman puppy pal went for was a braided rawhide ring.
While it wasn’t Cicero’s top pick, it was popular with another four-legged office friend, River (a brown Labrador), who would occasionally stop by for a chew session.
Here’s what we liked about it:
- The jumbo size ensured its long-lasting quality and that it couldn’t be eaten in one sitting—or multiple sittings.
- When Cicero turned to this chew, there was a lot of surface area to tackle, so it tended to occupy his attention for longer periods of time, giving his mom more time to work.
- The ring is far less stinky than pizzle chews.
- This chew is made from 100% rawhide from free-range, grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free Brazilian cattle and processed without bleach or other harsh chemicals.
Here’s what to keep in mind:
- The jumbo ring is heavy, and if you chuck it, it lands with a loud thud. Take note if you have hard floors.
- Because of controversial farming practices, products made of Brazilian cattle are not an eco-friendly choice for your dog.
Other Chews We Tested
These chews and chew toys weren’t necessarily Cicero’s faves, but because all dogs are different, and these products are generally well-liked by our community, here are some features you should know about if you’re looking for a quality chew or chew toy.
Our little friend Cicero didn’t go for this bone, but some dogs really enjoy rubber chews and Kong is known for its quality dog and puppy toys made here in the USA.
This chew also has inserts for treats and snacks that act as a challenge your dog to find the source of the scent!
Rover writer and professional dog trainer Shoshi Parks recommends the Kong classic in The 12 Best Dog Toys of 2020.
Like the Kong above, this durable, rubber-like chew toy also dispenses treats.
Made from non-toxic materials in the USA, this chew is recyclable and safe to put in the dishwasher.
Rover writer and professional dog trainer Shoshi Parks recommends West Paw chews in How to Buy a Quality Dog Toy (and Avoid a Dangerous Fake).
This chew is designed as a tug-of-war toy made from tough rubber to stand up to aggressive chewers (though supervision of your dog with chews is always recommended).
But watch where you throw and play, we found this chew toy bounces hard, and even dented the dry wall!
Goughnuts toys are recommended in our article, Our Favorite USA-Made Dog Toys.
Made in the USA, this chew ring is made from durable nylon and is crafted with dents and ridges to clean doggy’s teeth as he chews.
While not Cicero’s favorite, we think it’s because he’s more of a red meat guy (this chew is flavored with chicken).
Nylabone chews are recommended in our post, The Potentially Deadly Treat You’re Probably Giving Your Dog.
The advantage of this non-toxic, natural rubber dog chew is that it rolls and bounces, meaning your dog can also get some much needed exercise into his play time.
Make this chew into a puzzle toy by stuffing treats into the middle.
We recommend this toy in our articles, 20 Chew Toys for Puppies That Will Save Your Shoes and Our Favorite 14 Ball Dog Toys.
This set of rope chews comes with seven different toys all designed for fetch and tug-of-war. Made with natural cotton fibers, these ropes are intended for small and medium breeds and are non-toxic, as well as washable.
They weren’t much of a hit with Cicero, but in general we’ve found these toys to be quite popular with a range of Rover office dogs, including our blog strategist’s schnauzer mix, Vera, and our social media coordinator’s Boston, Olive.
We recommend a similar rope toy in our article, My Dog Is Obsessed With Chew Toys and These Are His Favorites.
In spite of Cicero’s preferences, all dogs are different, so when it comes to introducing chews and chew toys to your doggo, it’s worth testing out a variety to see what your dog prefers.
With any chew or chew toy, key a close eye on your dog to supervise chewing and play. We hope you find the perfect chew that’s just right for your dog!
Learn more about dog chews and toys in one of the articles below.
Featured image by Rover