Elk vs Deer Antlers for Dogs: Which is the best?

deer vs elk antler for dogs

When it comes to choosing the best chews for your dog, long-lasting chews like antlers are often recommended. Elk and deer antlers are the two popular antler types due to their natural origin, durability, and nutritional benefits. However, deciding which one is best for your dog can be challenging. Let’s explore the differences between elk and deer antlers to help you determine the superior choice for your dog.

Table of Content

Elk Antlers for Dogs

Characteristics of Elk Antlers

Elk antlers are known for their larger size and unique structure. These antlers are generally denser and have a more substantial core compared to deer antlers . Elk antlers are shed naturally, making them an eco-friendly and sustainable chew option for dogs.

Variations in Elk Antlers

Elk antlers for dogs come in different shapes and sizes, catering to various dog breeds and chewing strengths. You can find split elk antlers, which expose the inner marrow, making it easier for dogs to access the nutrient-rich center. Whole elk antlers, on the other hand, are tougher and provide a longer-lasting chew.

Deer Antlers for Dogs

Characteristics of Deer Antlers

Deer antlers are typically smaller and lighter than elk antlers. They have a more porous texture, which can be easier for dogs to chew. Like elk antlers, deer antlers are naturally shed and collected without harming the animals, ensuring a sustainable source of dog chews.

Variations in Deer Antlers

Deer antlers also come in split and whole varieties. Split deer antlers reveal a softer interior, which is more accessible for dogs, especially those that are not aggressive chewers. Whole deer antlers are harder and last longer, making them suitable for dogs that enjoy a more challenging chew.

Elk Antlers vs. Deer Antlers: A Detailed Comparison

Size and Shape

Elk antlers are generally large and thick with bulky cores and broad surface area. Deer antlers are typically small and narrow with dense cores and small surface area. 

Both elk and deer antlers have different shapes and sizes suitable for different sizes of dogs, so it is considered a draw.

Nutritional Content

Both elk and deer antlers provide similar nutritional value such as calcium, phosphorus, and minerals. However, elk antlers for dogs offer higher marrow content, providing nutrients and flavor for a longer duration compared to deer antlers.

Elk antler won this round because of the high marrow content.

Durability and Hardness

Elk antlers are known for being tough and tend to last a long time, even for dogs with aggressive chewing. Deer antlers, despite being more dense and harder than elk antlers, are not as durable for dogs due to their small size and need for frequent replacement.

This round is considered a draw as elk antlers are more durable for dogs and deer antlers are harder.

Safety Considerations

Elk antlers have a soft outer layer and are less likely to splinter or cause tooth fractures in dogs. Deer antlers, on the other hand, have a hard outer layer and are more likely to splinter, pose a choking hazard to dogs, and tend to cause tooth fractures.

Elk antlers win this round as they are safer for dogs due to their softer texture and lower splinter risk.

Chewing Experience

Elk antlers are easier to gnaw on due to the softer outer layer. They are more satisfying and engaging for dogs, especially those who enjoy getting to the marrow.

Deer antlers provide a harder chewing challenge. They might be less appealing to dogs who prefer an easier chew.

Elk Antlers win this round as they are more enjoyable and provide a better chewing experience than deer antlers.


Elk Antlers are easier for dogs to digest due to higher marrow content and less dense structure. They have a lower chance of causing stomach upsets.

Deer antlers are comparatively harder and denser, making them more difficult for dogs to digest. They have a higher risk of causing stomach upsets than elk antlers.

Due to their high digestibility, elk antlers win this round.

Environmental Impact

Both elk and deer antlers are naturally shed and sourced sustainably, causing no harm to the animals. They both are eco-friendly chew options for your dog. 

Because of the similar environmental impact, this is considered a draw.

Cost Comparison

Elk antlers are generally more expensive due to their larger size and higher nutritional content. However, they are long-lasting, potentially offering better value over time.

Deer antlers are typically cheaper, though the price can vary based on size and quality. They might need to be replaced more often due to the risk of splintering.

Deer antlers win this round due to their lower price.

Suitability For Dog 

Elk antlers are ideal for dogs of all sizes, especially larger breeds and aggressive chewers. They are great for dogs who enjoy a tasty, nutrient-rich treat. Here are some of the dog breeds that are likely to enjoy elk antlers:  Mastiff, Boerboel, Great Dane, Leonberger, Neapolitan mastiff, Newfoundland, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Boxer, etc.

Deer antlers are best suited for smaller dogs or those with strong jaws. They are also good for dogs who need a hard and dense chew. Dog breeds that may enjoy deer antlers are Beagle, French Bulldog, Dachshund, Pug, Shih Tzu, Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Schnauzer, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, etc.

Both elk and deer antlers are suitable for different dog breeds, so this is considered a draw.


Here are the results based on the points:

Elk Antler: 4

Deer Antler: 1

Draw: 4

Based on the above antler chew comparison, elk antler is considered a better antler chew for dogs compared to deer antlers. The choice may depend on the size and breed of your dogs but in general, elk antler dog chew exceeds deer antlers in terms of nutrition, safety, and digestibility and offer more benefits for dogs.

You may also like : Are elk antlers good for dogs?

FAQs about Antlers for Dogs

Are antlers safe for all dogs?

Antlers are safe for most dogs when provided under supervision. However, they may not be suitable for puppies, senior dogs, or those with dental issues due to their hardness. 

How long do antlers last?

Antlers can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the dog's chewing strength and the size of the antler. Whole antlers last longer than split antlers in comparison.

What are the pros and cons of antlers for dogs?

Pros of antlers for dogs: Antlers are durable, long lasting and eco-friendly chew options filled with nutrients.

Cons of antlers for dogs: Antlers can be too hard for some dogs, they have a high chance of dental risk and may require supervision.

How should I clean antlers?

You can clean antlers by rinsing them with water and scrubbing them with a brush if necessary. Avoid using harsh chemicals, as these can be harmful to your dog.

Which is the best antler for dogs?

Elk antlers are the best antlers for dogs in comparison to deer antlers. However, the choice may vary according to your dog’s size and preferences.



Choosing between elk and deer antlers comes down to your dog’s needs. Elk antlers are perfect for aggressive chewers due to their size and density, while deer antlers are ideal for lighter chewers or older dogs. Always prioritize safety and consider your dog’s specific chewing habits when making your choice. Happy chewing!

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