Indeed German shepherds can eat deer antlers. And under supervision, they are entirely safe. According to the AKC, bones have a rich amount of minerals. And not to mention how delicious they are to GSDS. (1)
Deer antler bones have many benefits, such as calcium and minerals, they are great at helping calm anxiety, and they help clean teeth tartar and build up.
Deer antler bones can cause health problems if left unsupervised. If your dog can fit the entire antler into its mouth, then the antler is too small. And can if swallowed can cause issues to their intestines organs and cause bleeding.
Unlike other animal bones, deer antler prices are higher. On average, they cost somewhere between $2.45-2.75/oz.
The deer antler has a rugged casing. Make it last for as long as one year. However, this estimate will also depend on how hard and often your GSD is chewing on it.
Pros And Cons Of Antlers For German Shepherds
Knowing the pros and cons of letting your German Shepherd eat antlers is a great way to start understanding its role in your GSD’s healthy life.(2)
- No chewing on furniture: Giving german shepherds antler bones will remove the urge to chew other things in the house, such as shoes, stuffed animals, sunglasses, etc.
- Teeth health: They help remove plaque and tartar buildup from the teeth.
- They don’t stink: They don’t stain and do not stink like other chews, such as pig ears or bully sticks.
- Rich nutrients: They are full of nutrients like calcium
- Duration: Antler horns last a long time.
- Teeth problems: If the antlers are too hard or the wrong size, they can damage the teeth and gums.
- Can cause damage if they break: Dry antlers can easily break and cause splintering and can get logged in your GSD mouth, throat, or intestines.
- Intestine obstruction: If swallowed, the antlers can obstruct the intestines and cause perforation, resulting in septic peritonitis and a 50% mortality rate.
What Different Types Of Racks And Antlers Are Out There?
There are typically three different types of racks and antlers that exist.
1. Moose: By far the hardest of all the antlers. Moose antlers are very solid and have very little marrow. If your German Shepherd chews on a Moose antler, it would be like chewing on a rock. However, it can last longer than other antlers.
2. Deer: Has a middle hardness. Deer antlers have a tough outer casing and only a little marrow.
3. Elk: It has a good balance of casing between hardness and plenty of marrow for the dog to chew on, giving your GSD a good challenge. And a long-lasting bone.
How Long Should I Let My German Shepherd Chew On An Antler
As with any toy, chewing on an antler should have a playtime limit. You should let your GSD chew on an antler for about 15 to 20 mins. Having a time limit will avoid causing health issues on your GSD.
Here are 3 reasons why it is vital to have a time limit.
1. Duration: As mentioned above, antlers can be pricey, so keep your GSD to a playtime limit. It will allow the bone to last longer.
2. Teeth Issues: Chewing too long on the antler can cause too much grinding of their teeth, and they can also start clamping on or snap in half. And can cause damage to their teeth.
3. Size: Unsupervised playtime can cause the antler to waste faster and become dry and brittle, making breaking easy. If swallowed, then it can cause obstruct the intensities and cause perforation, resulting in septic peritonitis.
If you have any doubts, Check with your local vet before giving your dog any bones or antlers.
How Do I Find Deer Antlers For German Shepherds
Antlers and racks for your german Shepherds can come from different places, such as hunters, antler farms, the wild, or stores.
Farms: When choosing antlers for your dog, they can come from antler farms; not all farms are cruelty-free. (3)
Some farms will put the deer, Elk, into these little troughs where they can’t move, and they will saw off their antlers. (4)
Some say it doesn’t hurt the animal but causes a lot of stress.
Hunters: This is another way to get antlers. Hunters shoot the deer, keep the meat and remove the racks after the deer have fallen.
And by taking the racks that way, there is a chance that they won’t fully mature, causing blood to stay in there longer and stop fully calcifying.
When the rack is not fully calcified, you will run into issues with staining, and the antler is not as hard as it should be.
So, when shopping, if the marrow looks dark or has a dark red-brown look, you may want to avoid buying that one.
The ones you want to look for are nice and white. That means it has fully calcified, and all the blood has completely drained out, giving your German Shepherd a much richer, nutrient-dense, and hard antler.
The Wild: Elk antlers can be found in the wild. Without having to kill it.
Elks drop their antlers on the ground every spring. They shake their head, and the racks fall onto the ground.
Millions of pounds of Elk racks are shed on the ground every year. And It only takes The Elk one summer to regrow their massive rack.
I hope this article was helpful and please check out our other posts on German Shepherds.
Justin is a protection dog enthusiast. He has years of experience teaching and training dogs. He enjoys sharing what he’s learned. Read More