Whole VS Split Antler Chews – Which is Better?

Updated: March 15, 2024

Antler chews are popular dog treats and you’ve probably seen them sold in your local pet stores. But what exactly are antler chews? Are they good for your dog? What is the difference between split and whole antler chews?

We’re glad you asked!

In this article, we’ll discuss about which antler chew is better for your dog—the whole or the split ones

"Not all antlers are the same, and while some chews are safe and nutritious for your furry best friend, others are bereft of any nutrients."

dog elk antlers, dog deer antlers, antler dog chews

What are Antlers For Dogs Exactly?

Antler chews are exactly what they sound like. Made from the antlers of either deer, elk, or moose, these particular dog chews provide hours of entertainment for your dog along with nutrition, as the middle of the antler is filled with mineral-rich marrow, much like in bones.

And don't worry, no animals are harmed when harvesting naturally shed antlers. Each year deer and elk shed their antlers naturally, then people go out into forests all around the country collecting them for further processing.

Are Antler Chews Good for Your Dog?

Are deer or elk antlers good for dogs? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is – as long as you select the right one. Not all antlers are the same, and while some chews are safe and nutritious for your furry best friend, others are bereft of any nutrients and may not be high-quality or checked for flaws.

According to the American Kennel Club, the right antler chews for your dog help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, and also help curb destructive behaviors, stress, and anxiety into an acceptable and appropriate outlet.

deer antlers for puppies, elk bones for dogs, antlers for dogs

Some of the many benefits of antler chews include:

  • Keeping your dog’s teeth clean
  • Expending your dog’s energy
  • Providing nutrition
  • Keeping your dog physically and mentally stimulated
  • Helping improve your dog’s dental hygiene and oral health
  • Reducing stress

There are two common antler chews on the market - elk and deer antler chews. Pet Parents® only sells Grade A elk and deer antlers, the highest grade of antlers available.

What Antlers Are Safe For Dogs?

Are split elk antlers safe for dogs? Are whole elk? Are deer antlers safe for dogs? Lower grade antlers sold by others may not go through as meticulous of an examination process. There are options for whole deer, whole elk, and split elk antlers safe for dogs. You will want to ensure that any antler chews are Grade A and raw. Our Gnawtlers® are sorted, weighed, cut, sanded, and vacuum sealed, following meticulous safety standards to make sure they are perfectly safe for your furbaby. Our Grade A Gnawtlers® are collected from naturally shed antlers from the rocky mountain and heartland regions of the US. Then they are specially chosen for their weight, density, color, and shape to ensure they are the best quality for your furbaby.

Always be very wary when shopping for antler chews for your dog. If you see one that is marked “premium” yet is priced very low or lacking information on sourcing, you can almost guarantee that it is an overly-processed elk antler. Yes, premium elk and deer antlers are slightly more expensive, but will last longer and are much safer for your dog to be chewing on. They are a superior choice for your dog and one that is more nutritious as well.

Whole VS Split Antler Chews – Which is Better?

Whole and split elk antlers for dogs can both provide major benefits. As far as being better or healthier for your dog, there is no real difference. Split elk antlers for dogs are actually whole antlers that have been halved in the middle to expose the marrow. The marrow is made with nutrients, mostly composed of calcium, phosphorous, manganese, and zinc. On the other hand, whole antler chews are longer lasting but have limited access to the center marrow (your furbaby will have to gnaw first to reach the center).

You may find your dog takes faster to a split antler chew, because that delicious marrow core is exposed, so dogs tend to dig right in. Having said that, split chews won’t last as long as whole chews, for obvious reasons, and whole chews are a bit more durable than split elk antlers.

elk antlers vs. deer antlers for dogs, antlers for dogs

The bottom line is, to determine which antler chews – split or whole – will be better for your dog, you have to know your dog’s chew personality and needs very well.

Split elk antlers for dogs chews are usually the best antler dog chew if your dog:

  • is new to chewing antler chews
  • is a puppy and is teething
  • is a senior dog
  • has periodontal disease
  • has oral issues
  • is a selective chewer that enjoys some chews and ignores some, too
  • is nibbler that takes their time; chews slowly and sometimes loses their interest

Whole deer or elk antlers for dogs chews are usually best antler dog chew if your dog:

  • is experienced with antler chews
  • is a high-energy dog that needs more challenges
  • is an aggressive chewer that is able to devour chews fast
  • is a heavy-duty chewer that is a pro at chewing anything

If your dog is a small breed that only chews a little bit here and there, then split elk antler for dogs will be more than adequate. We also recommend starting with split antlers for dogs if you have never given your furbaby antlers before. If, on the other hand, you have a larger breed that is an aggressive chewer and can go long sessions working the antler, you will definitely want to go with a whole antler chew.

When it comes to whole antlers, you have the options of elk or deer antlers. Deer antlers are harder than elk antlers and recommended for super chewers. We do not recommend deer antlers for puppies or senior dogs who have sensitive teeth. Instead, we recommend starting with split elk antlers for puppies.

Additionally, according to Animal Wellness, identifying your dog’s chew personality is the main step in determining which antler chew is right for them, but it’s not the only factor you should consider. It is also important to consider your furbaby's breed size, age, and health condition.

Why Buy Your Antler Chews from Pet Parents®?

Our Gnawtlers® are not just your average antlers. To begin with, our antlers are specially selected from Grade A premium raw antler for their weight, density, color, and shape. From there, they are meticulously sorted, weighed, cut, sanded, vacuum sealed, and labeled becoming Gnawtlers®. Our pieces are scrutinized from their original raw form laying on the forest ground all the way to your home and your pup to ensure your Gnawtlers® are up to our Gnawtlers® standards. This means you can feel good about giving your dog our deer or elk antler chews because they are safe, delicious, and nutritious.

Gnawtlers® are available in multiple sizes for whole deer antlers, whole elk antlers, and split elk antlers. That way you can find the right chew at the right size for your furbaby.

split elk antlers for dogs vs. whole elk antlers for dogs

"Our antlers are specially selected from Grade A premium raw antler for their weight, density, color, and shape."

Which antler chew is better, split vs. Whole, will depend on your specific dog. Dog antler chews are safe, but you should be careful to select only high-quality antlers to match your dog's chewing needs. Follow these guidelines to help you select the right antler chew for your dog. They will enjoy hours of play and gain benefits from the nutritional elk antler marrow.