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If you’ve got a Golden Retriever, you’re probably on an ongoing mission to find the best long-lasting bones to satisfy their desire to chew.
Most dogs love to chew, but Goldens are an especially mouthy breed, so providing them with plenty of opportunities to chew is a must.
If you don’t, they might find their own outlets, such as a delicious wooden chair leg or your mouth-watering shoe.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- The 8 best bones and chews for Golden Retrievers
- The benefits and risks of chewing
- Tips on how to keep your dog safe while chewing
- And 4 bones to be cautious about or avoid for Goldens
Also, a quick note, while we are using the word “bones,” we mostly mean things created for dogs to chew, rather than just actual animal bones (which we’ll talk about in the end).
Top Dog Chews For Golden Retrievers
Here’s a sneak peek of the top bones for Golden Retrievers:
Now let’s look at the pros and cons of each of these.
The Best Long-Lasting Edible Bones
We’ll kick things off with a list of chews that are intended to be chewed and ingested, but are still durable.
These often hold a Golden Retriever’s attention longer than chews that are not designed to be eaten, which can be nice when you want your dog to be occupied and entertained for a while.
Edible chews can also aid in your dog’s dental health, as they can scrape and clean your dog’s teeth as they chew.
These options tend to be softer than synthetic chews because, well, they are edible.
Let’s start with a classic!
Dogs go nuts for bully sticks, and they can be a great longer-lasting chew option.
You might be wondering what exactly is a bully stick.
There’s no delicate way to say this, so we’ll get straight to it.
Bully sticks are dried bull penises.
While it might seem disgusting to us humans, they are easily digestible and completely natural.
It’s just one ingredient – beef muscle – so they’re a good source of protein too.
Because Golden Retrievers are large dogs, it’s best to get the 12-inch size sticks, rather than the 6-inch sticks.
This is because as the dog chews, the stick becomes smaller and smaller, and the last little nub can be a choking hazard.
By starting with a longer stick, your dog can enjoy the stick for more time before you may need to take it away.
For extra safety, you can also use a bully stick holder, which prevents the dog from swallowing the small, final piece.
The West Paw Qwizl and the Bully Buddy are both good options.
It’s also best to get the thickest bully sticks you can find, such as these jumbo sticks from Best Bully Sticks, as they will last longer.
Full disclosure, bully sticks can be kind of stinky (which is probably why dogs love them so much), so you can purchase them in a “low odor” variety.
Dried beef tendons make for a tasty, durable chew for Golden Retrievers.
Like bully sticks, these are just one ingredient, so you know exactly what’s going into your pup’s digestive system.
Beef tendons are also very low in fat, which is great for dogs with sensitive tummies, as too much fat can lead to digestive distress for some Goldens.
You’ll want to get the biggest, fattest tendons you can find, as most Goldens are heavy chewers and can power through a small tendon quickly.
You could also use the holders suggested in the bully stick section above for beef tendons, if you’re concerned about your dog choking on the end.
Beef Cheek Rolls
While these might look similar to rawhides, they are actually made from cow cheeks.
These rolls can be very long-lasting, and the roll shape provides a challenge for strong chewers.
As the dog chews, the cheek becomes soft and easier to digest than a traditional rawhide.
They also contain nutrients that are good for your dog’s joint health.
Again, the bigger the better when it comes to which size to buy for your Golden Retriever, such as these 10-inch beef cheek rolls.
The Best Long-Lasting Stuffable Chews
Another great choice for Golden Retrievers are durable rubber toys that can be stuffed with any wet food and then frozen.
These can be great for dogs who try to just eat edible chews, rather than actually chewing and wearing them down slowly which can be a hazard.
They are also much more cost-effective, as you can reuse the rubber toy for months and even years.
This option is also excellent for Goldens with sensitive bellies or allergies, as you control what ingredients are going into it.
Some favorites are cottage cheese, plain yogurt, and canned pumpkin.
For dogs on a strict diet, you can soak their kibble for 10-20 minutes, or use an approved canned food to stuff into the toy.
Freezing the toys makes them last longer, and encourages your dog to chew and gnaw to get the food out.
West Paw Toppl
The Toppl is our favorite stuffable food toy, as the design keeps your dog engaged without being too easy.
The shape also allows your dog to get every bit of food out, so it makes cleaning the toy a breeze for you.
What’s cool about Toppls is that they come in three sizes, and you can fit them together to create an even more challenging chew.
But they also work great all on their own.
If you’re only going to get one Toppl, the large size is probably best for most Goldens, though an extra large would also be a good choice.
The classic red Kong has been around since 1976 and is beloved by so many dogs and humans.
Made of durable rubber, this toy can be stuffed with all sorts of food and then frozen for your pup to enjoy.
Kongs have two openings, so you’ll need to plug up the smaller end before putting any wet food in, or else you’ll have a mess on your hands.
A bit of peanut butter or cream cheese will do the trick.
The reason there are two holes is to prevent your dog’s tongue from getting stuck due to suction, as they work to get the food out.
But if you fill the toy with wet food, that safety feature is lost, and there is a chance your dog’s tongue could get stuck.
A simple hack is to put a straw all the way through both holes before you freeze the Kong, and then remove the straw when you give it to your dog.
The straw will create a hole through the toy, so that no suction is created while your dog chews and licks.
You can run warm water through the straw to help you pull it out before you hand it to your Golden.
If you have a strong chewer, Kong also makes Kongs in an even stronger black rubber.
Golden Retrievers do best with Kongs size large or bigger.
- Getting a Golden Retriever puppy? Download the potty training cheat sheet to make potty training faster & easier!
The Best Long-Lasting, Non-Edible Bones
Many Golden Retrievers enjoy gnawing on chews created from synthetic materials.
While they may not be edible, dogs may ingest tiny bits of the chew as they work on it, so they are non-toxic.
These tend to be harder than edible chews.
The benefit of being harder is that they can last longer than something edible.
The risk is that because they are so hard, tooth injuries may be more likely.
It really just depends on what kind of chewer your dog is.
Because they can last so long, these options are typically more cost-effective than edible chews.
These bones are made from super tough nylon.
They are formed into different shapes and infused with enticing flavors that appeal to many Golden Retrievers.
Two of the most popular brands are Benebone and Nylabone.
Benebone provides a helpful safety guide to help you and your dog enjoy their products safely.
This can also help you determine if this product is the right choice for your specific dog.
Additionally, you can refer to their size guide to help you pick the right-sized Benebone for your Golden Retriever, as they can vary so much in size.
The Wishbone and Bacon Stick are popular Benebone options with Goldens.
Nylabone has a chew style and size guide that recommends products based on your dog’s habits and size.
The Gourmet Style Stick is good for strong chewers, and the Power Chew Bones are intended for what Nylabone calls power chewers.
The Nylabone Double Bone is another popular toy among Goldens.
Hard Rubber Bones
Hard rubber has some more give to it than nylon, but can still be quite durable.
One of the best options when it comes to hard rubber bones is Goughnuts.
Made from extremely heavy-duty rubber, Goughnuts come in both a stick and ring shape.
They also offer a lifetime warranty in the unlikely event that your Golden Retriever does destroy the toy.
Goughnuts are designed with safety in mind, making it very hard for your pup to bite through or shred the material.
Many Goldens love this toy and find it very satisfying to gnaw on, but some won’t find it interesting enough, as it doesn’t have a scent or flavor.
Bones to Try with Caution or Avoid Altogether
This one might sound pretty bizarre (though maybe not quite as bad as bully sticks), as cheese doesn’t exactly seem like a long-lasting chew material.
But this isn’t your average cheddar.
Using a centuries-old Himilayan recipe, yak milk is pasteurized and turned into hard cheese, and then aged and dried.
Typically small amounts of salt and lime juice are added during the process.
Dogs love the taste, and you’ll appreciate that these have minimal to no odor.
The downside of this type of chew is that they can break into smaller pieces if you or your dog drop the chew on the ground, which then creates a potential choking hazard.
Additionally, for some dogs, this chew may be too hard to be safe for their chewing style.
If you do want to try them out, go for the largest-sized yak chews you can find.
Pawstruck’s Monster Himalayan Yak Chews are a good option.
Giving your dog a real bone, whether raw, cooked, dried or smoked, can seem so appealing.
There’s something quintessential about a dog chewing a bone.
But before you do so, it’s important to understand the risks.
Bones are typically large, weight-bearing bones from livestock, and as such they are extremely hard… hard enough to break teeth.
Even bones like tails and necks can be hard enough to damage teeth.
Additionally, bones can splinter, putting your dog at risk of a major medical emergency.
Some people have been giving their dogs bones of all varieties for many years and never had an issue.
But with so many other choices out there, real bones just don’t seem worth the risk, especially for powerful-chewing dogs.
If you do decide to give your dog a bone, monitor them very closely.
Like bones, antlers are very hard.
After all, deer and elk use their antlers to fight with other deer.
Some dogs will chew antlers more delicately, and it doesn’t pose much of an issue.
But many other dogs will simply chew too eagerly and the antler can break or fracture teeth.
There are also different grades of antlers, with some being harder or softer than others, and they can splinter or break too.
Again, if you want to try out antlers, be very cautious and keep an eye on your dog.
Rawhide chews are a bit controversial.
They’ve been around for a long time and for many Golden Retriever owners they’re a staple.
But issues can arise if a dog eats a rawhide quickly or bites off and swallows big pieces.
They can be hard to digest and may expand in the digestive system, causing a potential obstruction.
Since rawhide is made from the skin of animals like cows and sheep, which is a byproduct of leather, it makes sense that it’s not necessarily the most easily digested material.
Additionally, some rawhides are treated with ingredients that may be harmful to your pup.
If you do want to try out rawhide for your dog, make sure they haven’t been processed with toxic chemicals, and monitor them closely to make sure they aren’t ripping off chunks to swallow.
Chewing Safety for Golden Retrievers
Now that you know the best bones for Goldens, let’s talk about safety.
Golden Retrievers need to chew.
It’s important for their physical and mental health.
Chewing burns energy, prevents boredom, eases stress, and can help clean their teeth.
Teething pups also need plenty of outlets for gnawing.
But chewing also comes along with some risks, such as:
- Fractured or broken teeth (if the chew is too hard, or the chewer is too intense)
- Choking (if small bits break off of the bone)
- Blockage (if the dog swallows a broken-off piece and it gets stuck in their intestines)
- Mouth injuries (such as scraped or cut gums and tongue)
But the good news is there are some steps you can take to make chewing a safer activity for your Golden Retriever.
Here are a few:
Choose the Right Sized Bone
Your pup shouldn’t be able to fit the entire chew toy in their mouth, as that poses a choking risk.
Make sure you choose a bone that is large enough to prevent them from trying to swallow it whole like a big treat.
Know Your Dog’s Chewing Style
Some dogs are extremely enthusiastic chewers and will chomp down hard on anything and everything in an attempt to get it down their gullet as fast as possible.
For dogs like that, a really hard chew may not be a good choice, because they could damage their teeth as they bite down.
You may be better off with a softer chew, which will preserve their teeth, even if it means they might finish it more quickly.
Other dogs are more gentle chewers and will diligently gnaw, making slow but steady progress.
For those dogs, a wider variety of bones are good options.
Monitor Your Dog While They Chew
It’s always best to keep an eye on your dog while they’re chewing for safety purposes.
You might observe that their chew broke into small pieces and is now a choking risk.
Or that your pup is trying to eat the bone in one bite.
Never leave your dog home alone with a bone, as you just don’t know what can happen when you’re not there to monitor.
Pace Your Dog
Some chews suggest letting your dog work on it for a length of time, and then taking it away, so they don’t eat too much in one sitting.
If your Golden Retriever has a sensitive digestive system, this is a good suggestion, as ingesting too much of the chew at once could make them a bit ill.
It’s also smart to pace your dog if you’re giving them a new chew, to ensure that it agrees with their tummy before they go all in.
Check the Ingredient List
Many dog owners prefer buying chews made in America because of the high standards for ingredients and preparation.
Sometimes questionable ingredients can be added in during the manufacturing process.
If your Golden has a sensitive tummy, you’ll want to check to be sure there aren’t any ingredients that may trigger an allergy or digestive issue.
Choosing the Right Chews
When it comes to finding the best bone for your specific Golden Retriever, you’ll want to consider:
- Your dog’s preferences (flavor, texture, etc.)
- Your pup’s chewing style (how hard or gentle do they tend to chew on things)
- Your budget (some options will be more costly than others)
- Your dog’s safety
- Your tolerance for risk (some options come with more risk than others)
It can also be a bit of an experiment, as you try different chews and see how your dog does with that particular option.
Remember that no matter what your dog is chewing, there are potential risks involved.
On the flipside, your Golden Retriever needs to chew.
Do your best to choose bones that satisfy their need to chew, while keeping them as safe as possible.
If you liked this article, you’ll enjoy this one about how to make a frozen Kong.
P.S. Getting a Golden Retriever puppy? Check out the Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook here.
- Golden Retriever Puppy Supplies Checklist
- Best Brushes For Golden Retrievers (And Which Ones To AVOID)
- Top 6 Dog Beds For Golden Retrievers
About the author:
Alisa Healy is a professional dog trainer in the Chicago suburbs, with a wide range of training experience from shelters to in-home training to dog sports. She is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and is passionate about helping people and dogs live fulfilling, harmonious lives together.