Every pupper loves to wind down at the end of a long day with a good dog chew.
Tasty chews provide an outlet for your dog’s natural urge to gnaw, offer some much-needed mental stimulation, and help his chompers look and feel their best.
Unfortunately, finding healthy dog chews can be tough, as the market is awash with products, which all vary in countless ways.
But amid this crowded product category, a few — such as beef tendons — are starting to break out of the pack, given the number of upsides they present.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know about tendon chews below, including our picks for the best beef tendons for dogs so you can decide if your pooch might like to add them to his goodie jar.
Best Beef Tendons For Dogs: Quick Picks
What Are Beef Tendons for Dogs?
Beef tendons are thick, connective tissue that comes from cows. Tendons attach muscle to bone (just like the Achilles tendon in your heel), so they’re thick and fibrous.
Tendons aren’t as hard as bones that may crack your dog’s teeth, but they can withstand a fair bit of chewing action and are considered a moderately long-lasting dog chew, keeping your doggo busy for a long time.
In terms of size and thickness, they’re roughly comparable to bully sticks.
Besides being a relatively safe dog chew option that shouldn’t splinter, tendons are rich in valuable proteins, including collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and elastin for joint health.
What Should You Look for When Buying Beef Tendons for Dogs?
While tendons can be a great dog chew option, it’s important to keep a few safety precautions in mind before making a purchase. This includes:
- Sizing: To prevent choking, you want to make sure the tendons are large enough that your dog can’t fit the entire piece in his mouth at once. This can be tricky with large breeds, but it’s a must, especially if your dog is prone to swallowing chews whole.
- Country of Origin: Ideally, you want to seek tendons made in the USA. Not every country has strong manufacturing requirements for pet products. Look for a “made in the USA” treat seal or browse a brand’s website to find out for sure. If it’s difficult to spot a manufacturing location, you’re better off skipping a product to be safe. If you can’t find US-made tendons you like, be sure to stick to those made in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or Western Europe.
- Safety: US-made tendons are generally safe, but imported ones can be given a green light if they follow the relevant safety protocols. Several international suppliers adhere to US standards but always visit their website first to be sure. Manufacturers should clearly list what safety checks their plant provides. If none are mentioned, we’d recommend taking your business elsewhere.
- No Unnecessary Additives: Flavorings and dye aren’t necessary with tendons, and they may even cause problems. Not only can they lead to staining around the house, but dogs with sensitivities may experience tummy upset.
- Low Odor: Tendons don’t smell like roses, but they shouldn’t have an overwhelming odor. In fact, beef tendons usually smell better than some other chews, like dried fish or hooves. If you notice an especially funky smell, we’d recommend steering (get it?) clear.
- Resealable Bag: Tendons typically come in multi-chew packs, and to preserve freshness, a resealable bag is best. You can always slip them in your treat jar, however, as long as they aren’t too large.
Beef tendons are pretty safe chews for dogs, but no chew is completely risk-free.
Accordingly, you’ll want to be sure you supervise your pet anytime he’s enjoying a beef tendon — especially the first few times you give him one.
The 7 Best Beef Tendons for Dogs
Tendon chews are relative newcomers to the dog chew market, but a few worthy contenders caught our eye. Check out our picks for the best beef tendons for dogs.
1. Pawstruck 7-9″ Beef Tendons
Measuring 7 to 9 inches long and made from grass-fed cattle, these low-odor beef tendons should please owners and pups.
About: Pawstruck Beef Tendons are single-ingredient chews harvested from free-range, grass-fed cattle. Tough enough for a vigorous round of chewing, these are a pup-friendly pick for dogs of all ages.
- Made in Paraguay, Brazil, or Colombia
- Each tendon is between 7 and 9 inches long
- The manufacturer follows US-grade quality standards
- They do not contain artificial ingredients, colorings, or flavors
Options: Choose between packs of 10, 25, 50, and 100 tendons.
- Ideal length for large breeds
- Manufacturer offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee
- Great mix of size options for buying in bulk
- Not the best choice for smaller pups
- Some pup parents complained about the odor
2. K9warehouse Beef Tendon Chews
A single-ingredient chew that suits dogs of all sizes, made with imported organic beef that’s processed in the USA.
About: Ideal for most dog breeds, K9warehouse Beef Tendon Chews are a solid addition to your treat jar in multi-dog families, as they come in sizes that suit most sniffers and won’t empty your wallet. These chews feature excellent quality, organic beef for a top-notch protein snack without any added fats or flavoring.
- Harvested from grass-fed, free-range South American organic beef
- Made with 100-percent beef tendon with no preservatives
- Each tendon is 4 to 5 inches long
- Inspected and packaged in the USA
Options: Available in 6-, 12-, and 25-count packages.
- Sizing works well for most doggos, including small pups
- Affordably priced for an all-natural chew
- Single-ingredient recipe is ideal for dogs with dietary sensitivities
- Can be a little tough for tiny jaws or old dogs
- Won’t last as long for heavy chewers
3. Hotspot Pets Beef Tendons
US-made beef tendons designed to be easier to chew than most others, making them great for dogs with dental issues.
About: Hotspot Pets’ Beef Tendon Chews are a quality addition to your dog’s chew arsenal. Fully digestible, they provide a safe way for your pup to get his regular chomping in.
- Made in the USA using free-range, grass-fed cows
- Suitable for all breeds, per the manufacturer
- Malleable enough to chew without breaking teeth (ideal for older dogs)
- Contain no additives, hormones, or preservatives
Options: Available in resealable 10-packs or 1-pound packages containing between 20 to 23 pieces.
- Thinner cut ideal for dogs with dental issues
- Lack of odor and grease are wins for pawrents and pups alike
- Sizing perfect for small- to medium-sized doggos
- Not a good pick for large, powerful chewers
- They break easily, potentially representing a choking hazard
4. Natural Rapport Beef Tendons
Made in the USA from US-sourced cattle, these tendons are smoked using real wood, ensuring a great taste dogs love.
About: Natural Rapport Beef Tendons are made using 100-percent USDA-inspected beef. Antibiotic and hormone-free, they offer a fun way for your pup to chew and clean his teeth with no sneaky additives.
- Sourced and made in the USA
- Contains no added dyes, preservatives, or grains — just beef tendon.
- Smoked with real wood
- Each tendon is roughly 10 inches long
- Sizing is excellent for larger dogs
- No offensive smell or greasy residue
- Resealable package allows for maximum freshness
- They’re too large for small-breed dogs
- Some owners and pups found these too hard
5. Sancho & Lola’s Beef Tendons
About: Sancho & Lola’s Tendons are hormone free, letting your doggo enjoy his new snack with no worries of lingering effects. Each chew is odorless and contains no dye, making indoor chew sessions a breeze.
- Sourced and shipped from the USA
- Beef tendons are between 5 and 8 inches long
- Each 10-ounce package contains 8 to 12 tendons
- You can choose between beef and turkey chews (and elk seasonally!)
- Size and thickness ideal for small- and medium-sized breeds
- Alternative protein options are great for dogs with sensitivities
- Tendons are sourced AND shipped from the USA
- Brand donates some funds and supplies to various canine causes
- Don’t last long for heavy chewers
- Lack of flavoring can be a dud with pickier pups
6. Natural Farm Thick Beef Tendons
Oven-baked and made from grass-fed cattle, these heavy-duty tendons are processed in USDA-approved facilities.
About: Natural Farm Thick Beef Tendons are natural goodies that benefit your dog’s dental health by gently cleaning his teeth and gums as he chews. Provided in a resealable bag for freshness, they make all packaging with 100 percent recycled material.
- Use single-source, grass-fed, farm-raised cattle from Brazil
- Processing facility is USDA, FDA, and MPA approved
- Contains no hormones or additives
- Each package has six 4- to 6-inch tendons
- Thicker and meatier than other options
- Taste gets a howl of approval from most dogs
- Longer lasting, which is ideal for heavy-duty chewers
- Messier than other options
- Meatiness can be an issue for sensitive tummies
7. Bully Sticks Central Regular Beef Tendons
Savory, oven-roasted beef tendons made with Argentinian cattle that won't cost an arm and a leg.
About: Reward your pooch with Bully Sticks Central Regular Beef Tendons, low-odor chews that won’t break the bank. These strips of real beef muscle are completely edible and digestible, ensuring your pup enjoys a healthy, protein-rich snack that won’t lead to endanger his tummy.
- Tough but malleable texture for chewing
- Free of wheat, grain, soy, and gluten
- Slow-roasted in an oven for improved taste and texture
- Made of free-range, grass-fed Argentinian cattle
Options: Available in packs of 5, 10, 20, and 50 units
- Pricing is affordable, especially when you opt for larger bulk-buy savings
- Bulk-buy option ideal for families with multiple dogs
- Sizing suits most dogs
- No option to buy a single beef tendon
- Some pet parents may prefer US-sourced cattle
The Nutritional Value of Beef Tendons
Rather than giving your dog an artificial chew with no nutritional value, consider offering an all-natural, palate-pleasing beef tendon containing some of the key nutrients your canine needs.
Beef tendons are:
- Rich in protein: Beef tendons contain a hefty portion of lean protein, keeping your four-footer’s muscles primed and ready for your next adventure.
- A source of joint-boosting nutrients: Beef tendons contain glucosamine and chondroitin, two natural, joint-supporting compounds that help your pup move and groove comfortably.
- Low in fat: While tendons are naturally on the lean side, the drying process renders the fat that is present even further, creating a trim snack that won’t leave your dog’s stomach sour..
- Low in calories: Beef tendons contain about 40 to 60 calories per chew, depending on size, thickness, and additives (if any) present.
Beef tendons aren’t meant to replace your dog’s food, but they’re a healthy chew to enjoy between meals or whenever your doggo needs extra enrichment. They also require a little work to eat, which helps your dog burn some of the calories he’ll ingest by chewing them. So, they shouldn’t pad his waistline much when given occasionally.
The Benefits of Beef Tendons for Dogs
Tendons are among the top-tier natural treats for most dogs, having several perks over their competitors. They may look small, but they pack a wallop of pros.
The top benefits of beef tendon chews are:
- They provide enrichment. Chewing is a canine instinct your pupperino needs to express in a healthy, safe manner. Tendons allow your dog to scratch this itch without destroying your furniture. Whittling the strip down with his chompers is a good form of mental stimulation, especially for older dogs who may not get out as much as their younger peers.
- They help keep your dog’s teeth clean. Chewing tendons helps wear away any built-up debris on your dog’s teeth or gums, aiding doggy dental health. While chewing a tendon doesn’t replace toothbrushing, it can help keep teeth clean and promote general dental hygiene between brushings.
- They’re nutritious. Tendon chews for dogs offer nutrients along with noms, as they contain protein and the compounds glucosamine and chondroitin for supporting joint health. Simply put, they’re simple, tasty snacks that benefit your dog’s nose-to-tail health.
- They’re (usually) all-natural. Tendon chews are natural products; they aren’t made in a factory out of mystery stuff. They’re harvested right from the animal and (high-quality ones) are then dried with minimal processing. This eliminates the scary chemicals seen in other chews like bleach.
- They present a relatively low risk of obstruction. Tendons are a natural substance that your dog’s body can break down, reducing the risk of a dangerous obstruction. That doesn’t mean, however, you should let your dog swallow large hunks, either.
- They’re fairly low in calories. Many chews are calorie bombs, but not tendons. Clocking in around 40 to 60 calories a chew (varying by cut), they’re a healthier option that won’t pad your pup’s middle as much as other chews.
- They’re also low in fat. While fat is tasty, it can wreak havoc on your sniffer’s system, especially if he has existing sensitivities. Tendons are naturally lean, with extra fat lost during the drying process, leaving them not as greasy as other meat-based chews. This potentially saves your dog some tummy trouble.
- They taste good. The beef taste of tendon chews is a hit with most chewers, including pickier pups. Unlike hard, bland antler chews or hooves, these strips from real cattle have a rich beef flavor.
Just remember that all the benefits in the world won’t do your pup any good if he isn’t chewing his tendon safely. Keep an eye on him as he enjoys his new goodie, and take it away if he tries to swallow large portions.
The Disadvantages of Beef Tendons for Dogs
While tendons are an excellent option for many dogs, they aren’t the right chew for every canine. Before bringing them home to your chewy buddy to ensure they’re a good fit, there are some cons to be aware of.
The biggest drawbacks of beef tendons for dogs are:
- They can be a choking hazard. Every chew has the potential to cause choking, including tendons. Always monitor your dog to ensure he has a happy, healthy chew session. If he tends to swallow chews whole, tendon chews aren’t a good fit.
- They’re not especially long-lasting. Heavy chewers can easily power through many tendon products. Longer, thicker cuts may last longer for super chewers, but this isn’t always the case.
- They may be too hard for some dogs. Some tendons are too dense or stiff for small dogs, puppies, or seniors to chew. They also come in long strips that can be tricky for smaller dogs to wield, though sometimes you can safely snap them in half for your pup to enjoy.
- They may cause stomach upset. As may occur with any chew, your dog’s tummy may not tolerate tendon chews. This is usually seen in tendons treated with smoke, bastes, or featuring meaty bits. To lessen your dog’s chances of stomach upset, don’t let your dog eat the entire tendon in one session until you know how his tummy handles them.
- They can be a bit stinky. Tendons may have an unpleasant smell if you have a sensitive sniffer. This is more so an issue with smoked or basted tendons and isn’t as bad as hooves.
- Some tendon chews are messy. Some tendons splinter into smaller bits, depending on the drying process. They may also feature a baste that can stain or leave a film behind on your furniture or dog’s paws.
- Beef tendons are made of, you know, beef. While it is a great protein for many four-footers, beef isn’t something every dog can handle. That said, there are a number of protein alternatives sold in tendon form, including kangaroo, turkey, and even ostrich tendons (also, check out our section about tendon alternatives below).
Consider your dog’s chewing habits, health, and sensitivities when browsing chews like beef talons. This allows you to make the best, safest decision for him.
Beef Tendon Alternatives
Tendons may not be the chew for your pooch, but there are plenty of other chews to choose from that might be. What works best for your pooch will depend on his chew style and health.
Great alternatives to tendon chews include:
- Bully sticks: Bully sticks are made from beef penis, but don’t let that scare you. Also known as pizzle, this material is dried similarly to beef tendon and lasts quite a while for most puppers, and is a natural source of protein. Too much at once can lead to an upset stomach, however.
- Yak chews: Made of dried and hardened yak’s milk, these chews are another natural chew option for dogs that lasts for super chewers. They won’t trigger any beef sensitivities, but they can be an issue for dogs who can’t tolerate dairy or sensitive stomachs, especially yak cheeses that contain cow’s milk.
- Beef collagen chews: Collagen is a protein found in connective tissues and bones that has the same joint-pleasing perks as beef tendon chews. Formed into rolls, these chews are a popular safe chew alternative to traditional rawhides.
- Cow ears: Cow ears have been a tried and true dog favorite for generations. Since they’re severed ears and sometimes processed with greasy additives, they aren’t every owner’s favorite, but they are highly digestible, cheap, and lower in fat than other options, making them a relatively healthy treat.
- Beef tracheas: Also known as a cow’s windpipe, a beef trachea is a good source of glucosamine and chondroitin and is also pretty cheap. Unfortunately, a beef trachea is a messier dog chew option for dogs, and pickier pups may find beef trachea less than appealing.
- Beef esophagus: Also called a beef gullet, this natural chew is made of the tube connecting a cow’s mouth to its stomach. A beef gullet isn’t long-lasting, but it’s a more affordable chew than other options and suits small dogs.
These are the best natural-based options, but you can also try nylon chews or another of the best dog chews that might be good fits for your floof.
Whether you opt for beef tendons or some other all-natural chew, always make sure your pooch has access to plenty of clean, fresh water. This will help him wash it all down and avoid dehydration.
Can You Make DIY Beef Tendons for Dogs?
You technically could if you had any raw tendons lying around, but that can be difficult. Tendons are often discarded as scraps during harvesting and aren’t easy to come by at the local grocery store. You can usually find them at specialty Asian or Latin markets, however.
If you happen to get your hands on some, you can make tendon chews by sectioning tendons into strips that are at least 1 inch thick and 3 to 6 inches long. For larger dogs, you may want to portion them longer, and vice versa for small dogs. Afterward, cook them in the oven for several hours at 250 degrees, usually six hours, turning them halfway through. This may be slightly more or less, depending on the size of the strip, your oven, and your altitude. Some pup parents opt for a dehydrator, but this can make the chews more brittle and less durable for chewing.
Dog Beef Tendon FAQs
Natural chews are all the rage in the dog world, but tendons are relatively new on the scene, so you may still have some questions. Check out these tendon chew FAQs and see what’s what about these muscular meaty bits.
We’ll try to answer some of the most common questions about tendon chews for dogs below.
How often can I give my dog beef tendons?
Most large breed dogs can usually tolerate a tendon daily, while smaller dogs are probably better off sticking to a petite tendon every other day. Frequency should be decreased if your dog has a sensitive stomach, or you can offer the same tendon over several days in short bursts to make it last and prevent digestive issues. Also, just be sure to stick to the 10% rule of thumb – treats should not account for more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
How long do beef tendons last?
Tendon chews are a relatively hardy treat, lasting most dogs an hour or more. However, this greatly depends on the thickness of the individual tendon and your dog’s chewing style. Some tendons are easily crunched down into smaller bits and ingested, while others maintain their shape through gnawing. Similarly, if your dog is happy to nibble lightly at a tendon, it’s likely to last longer than one given to a heavy-duty chewer.
Do dogs like beef tendons?
Most dogs enjoy gnawing on tendons because of their all-natural beefy flavor, but pickier pups may need something more enticing. They do have a bit of flavor, but not as much as some other chews. And some tendons are smoked or feature meaty bits, though they may not be the best option for dogs with sensitive systems.
Can beef tendons cause diarrhea in dogs?
Tendons are a rich source of protein that can lead to stomach upset in some dogs. And as with any chew, overeating can lead to a digestive disturbance. If your dog has a beef sensitivity, tendons are obviously a no-go, but they should also only be offered in small amounts if your dog has a sensitive tummy. Skip tendons with added flavoring or meaty bits to further avoid diarrhea.
Are beef tendons safe for dogs?
For the most part, tendons are pretty safe chews for dogs. They’re a natural product and generally don’t contain any added flavors or bastes, protecting your pooch from a sour stomach. That said, any chew can be a choking hazard, so always monitor your four-footer while he’s chewing. It’s also important not to let him eat too much at once, as not every system can handle ingesting a lot of goodies in one sitting.
Are beef tendons for dogs made in the USA?
As with any dog product, the manufacturing country of origin varies by tendon. Some manufacturers import beef from other countries, such as South American sources, while others opt for American-harvested beef. Imported beef isn’t necessarily bad, but you want to ensure a company does its due diligence with US inspections and packaging for safety’s sake.
Does your dog enjoy tendon chews? Has he sampled any of the products on our list, or is he gaga over another? Let us know in the comments!