Bully Sticks vs Rawhide Chews

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Today I was at my local pet supply store stocking up on treats and chewies for my dogs.

While I was debating on which items to get, a fellow customer asked my opinion on which was better: the bully stick or the rawhide? She saw I had both in my cart.

Maybe it’s just me, but I love chatting with fellow dog lovers, so I was happy to help.

She had a young Bull Mastiff with her, so she said she was looking for something that would keep him occupied but was also safe to give him.

I had no doubt that the big guy was an aggressive chewer!

I have very diligent and focused chewers but nothing like the jaws on this guy.

There was a large variety of bully sticks and rawhides to choose from, so we were able to find a few things that would likely work for her boy.

As for my household, we keep both.

Related: Rawhide vs Beefhide: Which is Right for Your Dog?

How I Use Bully Sticks and Rawhides

I use rawhides more as more of a short-term distraction.

Bully Sticks vs Rawhide Chews comparison alternatives which treat is better
Click any image for more info on the product pictured

An example of this is:

When we have company over, we give the dogs a rawhide bone to occupy them, so friends and family can come in without being bowled over.

The reason I say short term distraction is because once everyone is settled we take the bones away.

Because rawhide chews are not a high value treat in our house, it is an easy one to get back from the dogs.

Though I buy rawhides for my dogs, I am particular as to how long they can be chewed on, since I know they can be choking hazards or cause intestinal obstructions.

We use the bully sticks for longer distractions or just as fun treats for the dogs.

They all love them, and I know my dogs can’t bite pieces off, so I worry less about them being choking hazards.

I purchase the larger ones since I take them away as soon as the sticks are small enough for the dog to fit the whole bully stick in their mouth.

What are Bully Sticks?What are bully sticks made of beef pizzle bull penis dog treats

Bully sticks are also known as pizzle sticks.

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These are made up of beef muscle.

Specifically the penis[1]!

They are a single protein dog chew that is known to be easily digestible.

Plus, dogs go crazy for them!

We reviewed Raw Paws’ Bully Sticks, which you can find here!

What is Rawhide?

Rawhide is the inner layer of the skin from an animal.

Rawhides come in a variety of proteins, shapes, and sizes.

How to Pick the Right Bully Stick or Rawhide Chew

At first glance, this might seem to be an odd question.

But the reality is there’s a ton of options to choose from.

Both bully sticks and rawhides come in various animal proteins, lengths, widths, and even shapes.

Also, some have added ingredients.

Factors to Consider:What to look for in a dog treat how to choose whats right for my dog

  • Dog’s chewing style – Aggressive, light, or somewhere in between.
  • Dental health
  • Age: Older and younger dogs may not need an extremely durable chew
  • Food allergies or sensitivities
  • Dog’s size
  • Country of origin – Not all countries have the same standards when it comes to pet products.
  • Protein type
  • GI health
  • Ingredients – Bully sticks and rawhides should only have one ingredient listed
  • Look for chews that are in sealed packaging and not just sitting in the open[2]

Which is Better?


   Winner: Bully Sticks    

High quality ingredients bully sticks low fat free range grass fed beef penisI almost chose rawhide as the winner because it has a higher number of protein options.

Rawhide comes in a variety of proteins, making it more available to dogs who have food allergies or sensitivities.

However, rawhide chews are made from a heavily-processed leather by-product while bully sticks are less processed.

While rawhides win in variety of sources, bully sticks win in quality.

Bully Sticks

The two bully stick proteins available are:

  1. Beef
  2. Buffalo

However, there are grass-fed beef bully sticks available too.


There are four proteins available for rawhide:

  1. Bison
  2. Elk
  3. Beef
  4. Wild boar


   Winner: Rawhide    

Rawhide chews are far cheaper than bully sticks.

The price difference is due to the available supply (There’s a lot more hide per animal!).

Bully Sticks

The average price per 6″ bully stick is about a dollar fifty.


The average price per chip is under a dollar, chip being the square rawhide chews.

Durability, Size, and Shape

   Winner: Rawhide    

Rawhide types styles versions variety treat rings for dogs pet safe
Bull “pizzles” don’t come in as large a variety!

Rawhide wins because of the greater variety of shapes and sizes.

Bully Sticks

There is a wide variety of bully sticks.

They range in length from 3 inches to 3 feet.

Also, you can find braided bully sticks, creating a longer-lasting chew

Other styles of bully sticks include extra-thick, ring-shaped, spiral, and straight.


Like bully sticks, rawhides come in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Some of the different forms you can choose from are rolls, chips, twist sticks, bones (these are the ones with knots on the ends), pressed, and braids.

Rawhides can be as small as 2.5 inches or as long as 2 feet.


   Winner: Rawhide    

Most available dog treat for serious chewers lots of dog toys easy to find
You can also get huge boxes of rawhides!

Rawhide treats are available at more retail locations.

Bully sticks are available in pet supply stores, hardware and farm supply stores, and online.

Rawhides can be seen in pet supply stores, hardware and farm supply stores, and online, as well as in grocery stores and other non-specialty shops.

Health Benefits

   Winner: Bully Sticks    

Health benefits of bully sticks rawhide chews which are better for my dog
Dogs can’t make healthy choices themselves so it’s up to you to do it for them

Bully sticks win because they are rich in amino acids.

Bully Sticks Benefits

  • Easily digestible
  • Rich in amino acids
  • High in protein
  • Aids in keeping teeth clean
  • Helps to reduce anxiety

Rawhide Benefits

  • Aids in keeping teeth clean
  • Helps to reduce stress


   Winner: Bully Sticks    

Safest dog chew bully stick or rawhide dangers contamination problems with chew toy
Dog treats are safer when you pick the right size for your dog

Bully Sticks are the safer of the two treats as they are more digestible.

Bully Stick Safety

  • Bully sticks are easily digested
  • Don’t splinter or break easily
  • Can be a choking hazard
  • High in calories
  • Potential bacterial contamination[3]

Rawhide Safety

  • Not easily digested
  • Can cause intestinal blockages
  • Can be a choking hazard
  • GI upset
  • High in calories (100 calories per palm sized piece)
  • Potential chemical contamination
  • Potential bacterial contamination


   Winner: Bully Sticks    

Which dog treat tastes better pizzle sticks or rawhide bonesBully sticks taste better, per my dogs’ opinions.

I’ve never tried either!

Bully Sticks

Although they stink to high heaven, these are my dog’s favorite.

As soon as they come out of the cabinet, my four are dancing around my feet.


My dogs like these, but tire quickly of them.

Also, two of my dogs refuse to start them, meaning they wait for one of the other dogs to soften them up first.

Side Effects

   Winner: Rawhide    

Downsides bully sticks rawhides messy bad smell odor
“Bad smell? What are you talking about?”

I chose rawhide because they don’t smell as bad as bully sticks.

This was a close one since there isn’t a lot of side effects to these treats.

Bully Stick Side Effects

  • Bloody gums
  • Smell
  • Gooey residue left on carpet or dog bed

Rawhide Side Effects

  • Bloody gums
  • Gooey residue left on carpet or dog bed


   Winner: Bully Sticks    

Best Bully Sticks natural rawhide alternative online chew storeAlthough rawhides won in more categories, bully sticks are safer and provide more health benefits.

Those categories are more important than variety or a small difference in price.

Also, bully sticks are preferred by my dogs over rawhide chews.

I’m guessing it’s because of the smell and protein content.

Recommended Brands

Cowboy chews retriever extra thick dog treat rawhide chew toyHere are some of my favorite bully stick and rawhide chew brands:

Bully Sticks



Knowing that both rawhides and bully sticks carry some health risks, if you are uncomfortable using them then consider an alternative treat.

There are several options available as healthy alternatives, but keep in mind all things carry a risk.

Fish Skins

The Honest Kitchen beams ocean chews rawhide alternativeThe thing I like most about these treats is that they are made from human-grade fish.

Also, the fish I recommend are wild-caught from the ocean.

Beams come in two sizes, large and small, so you can pick a size to match your dog.

Note: Be sure to check where the fish are sourced from as some fish skins can contain contaminants from the water.

Sweet Potato Treats

These are a great dog treat that is easily digestible.

These sweet potato treats are a single ingredient treat option.

Plus, sweet potatoes are a superfood full of antioxidants.

Dental ChewsZuke's Z-Bone dental chew toy alternative to rawhides

My dogs love these!

They come in a variety of sizes and flavors.

Additionally, Zuke’s bones work well for dogs with food allergies as they are free of animal proteins, grains, and soy.

Himalayan Dog Chews

Himalayan chews are made from yak’s milk and are lactose-free, reducing the chances of GI upset.

They are pretty durable, but aggressive chewers can break chunks off, which can pose a choking hazard.

Final Thoughts

Dogs need things to chew on, and the truth is all treats and chews carry some form of risk.

If you give your dog a long-lasting treat, it is crucial to keep an eye on them to help avoid potential health hazards.

Dog chews are very useful in our house as distractions and aiding in dental wellness.

I always weigh the pros and cons of anything I give my dog to chew on or eat.

Though both bully sticks and rawhide chews carry a risk, I offer them sparingly and only when I have the time to watch them.


  1. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/bull-penis-dog-chews_n_6879620
  2. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/choosing-the-right-edible-chew-for-your-dog/
  3. https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/11/dangers-of-bully-sticks-popular-treat-can-carry-bacteria-and-add-calories/

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