Monday, June 22, 2009

Dogs Never Stop Chewing

By Ruthie Bently

I recently bought Skye a sterilized natural bone, and she was in her yard chewing on it when a friend came over. He asked me how old Skye was and I replied that she would be four this summer. That surprised him, because she was still chewing. After all she had all her permanent teeth, so he wanted to know why she was still chewing. As he had never owned a dog and wanted to understand, I explained that it doesn’t matter how old a dog is; they never stop chewing.

Dogs never stop chewing. Sounds funny doesn’t it? But the truth is that while dogs stop teething, they never stop chewing. This should come as no surprise to anyone who owns any dog that is used for hunting or retrieving, as they are very oral by nature. Most Retriever and Terrier owners I know have a good supply of nylon bones or chewies to keep their four legged kids busy.

Dogs’ teeth are not visible when they are born, and 28 puppy teeth begin coming in between three to six weeks of age. This is when a puppy begins to chew. They start losing their puppy teeth by the age of thirteen weeks. Dogs’ adult teeth (they have 42) begin coming in between the age of two and seven months. So you could see some heavy duty chewing between the ages of three weeks to seven months. The chewing will slow down as they get older, but it never stops completely.

Dogs can’t pick up things with their paws the way we do with our hands, so they use their mouths to taste and test the things they pick up. They are curious, so it doesn’t matter if it is the TV remote, a cell phone, glasses or a shoe on the floor; they have to check it out. Chewing helps remove plaque from your dog’s teeth, and is a good addition to brushing your dog’s teeth regularly. So if you have a good supply of nylon bones, sterilized natural bones and other chewies you can keep your dog (and yourself) happy, as they won’t be looking for things that they shouldn’t be chewing and that could be dangerous for them.

I have observed that dogs will work out frustrations when they are chewing. When Skye can’t find a favorite chew toy, she will go after a “non-approved” dog toy. That usually means a plastic drink bottle or cottage cheese container; though it has included wood logs and shoes. She takes the plastic out of the recycle bin and the wood out of the wood box because she can reach them. I would rather that she picked a dog toy, but she just wants something in her mouth and is too lazy to go looking for a real toy. She has a toy box outside and one inside as well, so it isn’t like she can’t find anything to suit her. Skye knows that it’s not a dog approved item, so she could be doing it for the attention factor as well. All I know is that Skye needs to chew.

One way to help your own canine chewer is to have duplicate chewing toys around the house in different rooms, as well as some toys that are designated outside chewing toys. An outside chewing toy would be one that you would not want leaving grease on your leather sofa, or that may get sticky during chewing and leave gooey bits around the house that are difficult to clean up.

Remember, our dogs are like children in that they should not be left alone with any toy no matter how safe you think they might be. You should always supervise your dog with any toy that you choose to allow them to have. By carefully supervising the toys your dog chews, you shouldn’t have the same issues that we have had with Skye and hopefully you can learn from our mistakes. As they say: “forewarned is forearmed.”

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently


  1. Thanks for a great article. I know my lab still chews..alot. I have been supervising him with rawhide bones but did see the sterlized natural bones the other day but was unsure about them. Are they easily broke off by an agressive chewer and would it hurt if they did? Also what size would be good for a 70# or large? Thanks..Donna

  2. Dear Donna,

    If you have an aggressive chewer, the best advice I can give you is to NEVER leave them alone with something and walk away.

    Sterilized natural bones are good for many dogs, and are not usually expensive. However, if you have an aggressive chewer; there are several things to consider. Skye, My American Staffordshire Terrier is an aggressive chewer and does pretty well with a sterilized bone with "knobs" on both ends. However, every dog is different and your dog may be able to "tear" them apart, in which case you may see little flakes of bone or big chunks of bone depending on your dog.

    The best advice I can give you, because Skye is chewing constantly; is to check toy "chew" levels. I have found several on the market that actually have a chew level on them. I am testing some of them now, to see how well they hold up to their reputations. I also want to see how dogs like them.

    Nylon bones are good too, though most of my dogs got bored with them. There is a nylon "puppy" toy on the market that has a fish shape that Skye absolutely loves, and though it is made for a puppy, Skye hasn't been able to chew it apart yet. But, your dog may be different.

    Skye has several favorite balls that we play "chase" with and that seems to help deactivate the chewing factor to some degree, probably because she gets tired out.

    I hope this helps.


  3. I was reading these great articles about dogs chewing. I have a 100lb bull mastiff and a 70lb shephard Lab mix and they chew everything. They have been inside dogs since they were puppies, until today. They chew on my drywall, kids toys, toilet paper, books, dvd movie cases and all. Well this morning we woke up and they had chewed up my eye glasses. So I have to do without at Christmas time until I can get some ordered. We are going to try the outside thing for awhile. It's winter but we are providing them a empty shed full of straw. We were thinking they wouldv'e stopped by now. We also thought that maybe they were lacking something in there diet? Im not going to have them chew up on my kids new toys they get at xmas like they did last year. We thought it was because they were puppies. They will be 2 (one in Jan and the other in Feb). Thanks for all the knowledge though by reading your articles I will mark this page as a favorite so I can see your comment on my matter. Thank you


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