By now, most dog owners know about bully sticks. They’ve been around for at least 8-10 years, maybe longer. They’re an especially fibrous, strong all-meat chew made out of … well, let’s say that you can’t make them from female cattle, only bulls. They are made from a fibrous muscle, and are prepared by cleaning, stretching, twisting and then drying them. They can be smoked in a traditional smoker, sun dried or oven baked. The result is a very hard, compressed 30–40 in dark brown stick, which is then sawed into 6″, 9″, 12″, 18″ or even 24″ pieces.
As a dog chew treat, they’re suitable for dogs with wheat and corn allergies because they only contain protein, fat and moisture. And they last a long time (I know, I know), so they’ll keep even aggressive chewers occupied longer than rawhide or other similar chews.
When they first came on the market, folks I spoke to loved them, and so did I. But soon two concerns emerged. The first was cost. A 6″ bully stick often retailed for upwards of $3 each, and the 12″ and 18″ ones could be as high as $6 each. Some variety has entered the market, with buffalo bully sticks, steer sticks, Angus bully sticks, braided bully sticks, jerky wrapped, ends, braided, bully sticks from New Zealand, Australia, North America, South America, India, China, and on and on and on.
I figure it’s time to slow things down a bit and really take a look at what a bully stick should be. I had bought my last bag of stinky bullies from Costco, pondering what “value” really means, when I got a package from www.simplybullysticks.com.
The first thing I noticed was that the bully sticks were very thick and natural-looking. By this I mean that they were at three times as thick as the ones from Costco, which are about the thickness of a Sharpie marker. And they weren’t tightly stretched or rolled, so there was more texture. This means more interest for the dog, and more ridges to help scrape off that dental tartar.
The second thing I noticed was that the bullies weren’t stinky. I even put one right up to my nose and took a big long draught in. They smelled faintly buttery. Hardly any smell at all, and what was there was pleasant and appetizing.
The information contained in the package said that Simply Bully Sticks carries only one type of bully stick. They hand-picked some of their smaller ones because I mentioned I had a four-month-old puppy (albeit a large one). Those “smaller” bully sticks are shown above in the picture with our full-grown, 70-lb Irish Setter, so you can see how big they are. If you order from www.simplybullysticks.com, the ones you’ll receive should be even bigger.
Both dogs love the bully sticks. The Irish Setter goes to town on them with his blunt but strong adult back teeth. The puppy, who’s teething until she’s six months old, tears away at them with needle-sharp milk teeth.
The verdict? Our dogs LOVE these bully sticks. These bully sticks are what dog owners buy bully sticks for … tough, long-lasting, satisfying chews for any type of dog, even those with allergies. Some bully stick brands use chemicals to hide the odor of their bully sticks, or to increase their attractiveness to dogs. But natural bully sticks don’t stink, and dogs don’t need any incitement to like them. So why not go natural?
What about value? Those hard, skinny, stinky bullies from Cadet were $24 for 12 of them, roughly $2 each. The ones I got from Simply Bully Sticks were the same length, and cost for a pound of them is $29.99. At 3 oz per bully, that’s about 4-5 sticks, or $5.99 apiece. If they were the same thickness, a $2 bully vs. a $6 bully would be a no-brainer. But remember, they’re three times thicker than the cheap ones, so they last much longer. Those cheap bullies are gone pretty fast. The equivalent cost in my view is pretty close.
When I have a cost comparison, I like to ask if the increase in price is commensurate with the quality. So are Simply Bully Stick’s bully sticks worth three times more than the cheapy ones? You bet! I actually had to keep the cheap ones in a zipper bag because I couldn’t stand the dead-fish smell. What’s on them or in them that smells like that? Ewwww.
I think there will always be a market for cheaper bully sticks. I bought them, didn’t I? But once dog owners see a higher-quality bully stick available, there is always a market for those, too. I think that high-quality bully sticks like these will appeal to dog owners who are willing to pay a little more to give their dogs a more natural, better chew. In all fairness, there may be other retailers who offer better quality bullies. But as for me, we’ll be getting our bullies from Simply Bully Sticks from now on.