Hey, Guess What Bully Sticks Are Made Of?

Dried bull penises! Bully Sticks are a popular dog treat, supposedly healthier for dogs than dumb old penis-free rawhide, but if you check the ingredients label on a Bully Stick you’ll often just find the phrase “Meat By-product.”

Elizabeth writes:

A few weeks ago I adopted a retired racing greyhound. A beautiful, loving and well mannered dog. And like every other pet owner I’ve gone nuts buying him squeaky toys, treats, and bones to chew. Of course, having a dog is a bit like having a child so now everyone wants to tell me what I am doing wrong. Just about everyone informed me that rawhide was dangerous to dogs, that I should buy him Bully Sticks.

Sure enough, Robbie loved them but at $7-$10 each, they were a bit expensive. So I went online to try and buy them in bulk. I found them alright, plus a little more info than I needed. Turns out Bully Sticks are dried bull penises that are smoked and then cut to size. Some outifts are upfront and call them pizzles, but the larger companies that sell to Petco and PetSmart refer to them simply as beef muscle.

Now I like penises just as much as any girl, but the joy of picking up a soft, soggy well chewed penis continues to elude me.

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. If you haven’t read Ann Hodgman’s terrific essay “No Wonder They Call Me a Bitch,” you really should.

  2. Cyco says:

    I thought this was common knowledge, but then again, I’ve worked in two pet stores. The second to last sentence dropped my jaw though. Again, women liking penises is common knowledge, but she seems like she doesn’t descrimanate about the type she likes.

  3. man_in_plaid says:

    Well now when you tell someone to “Eat a bag of dicks” You can provide the appropriate prop!

  4. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    Fantastic picture, BTW.

  5. sir_pantsalot says:

    We could only assume she finds much enjoyment in picking up a hard, dry un chewed penis.

  6. JoeTan says:

    “Now I like penises just as much as any girl, but the joy of picking up a soft, soggy well chewed penis continues to elude me.”

    Give this girl whatever it is she is looking for.

  7. Julia789 says:

    Well, bull peckers are not as gross as some of the byproducts in the pet food itself. Most dog kibble contains every other part of the animal, right down to the butt-hole.

  8. shorty63136 says:

    @man_in_plaid: Well said, sir! Well, said!

    @sir_pantsalot: I imagine she can provide the sogginess…but in a good way.

    So crude, I know. I’ve been reading Jezebel.

  9. Gann says:

    A penis that gets softer when it’s slobbered on… how poetic.

  10. Caprica Six says:

    yea, you can buy a bag of ’em at Costco. My dog, who is a girl, loves ’em ;)

  11. NotAppealing says:

    Yep, already knew this.

  12. Why does this story make me picture a fraternity hazing?

    “You made the pledges chew what?

  13. RockStarr says:

    One thing that I miss about working at Petco was the look on customer’s faces when I would inform them of this fact.

  14. demonradio says:

    I (unfortunately) work once or twice a week at the local Petsmart and I always tell customers what bully sticks are made out. It makes for some very horrified people. And I laugh and laugh and laugh..

  15. The_IT_Crone says:

    @man_in_plaid: I think you broke MY bone… my funny bone!

  16. drjayphd says:

    Now I like penises just as much as any girl, but the joy of picking up a soft, soggy well chewed penis continues to elude me.

    You forgot the “Dear Penthouse Forum”.

    @man_in_plaid: Louis CK is eternally indebted to you. ;)

  17. karmaghost says:

    That dog makes for an excellent O RLY? Owl stand-in!

  18. witeowl says:

    Parts is parts. ::shrug::

  19. Conrad says:

    I thought everyone knew this, oh well. Texis Toothpicks are also dried penis.

  20. ArgusRun says:

    OP here, and I have to admit, I didn’t think they’d publish that last sentence. Shame on me!

    I’ll probably still buy them for Robbie, but it does add a nice eeeewww factor.

    Also, after submitting it, I realized I missed the best part of the nutritional information. In case you were wondering, it’s 29 calories per inch!

  21. I’m glad we don’t give our dogs those things. Ack.

  22. vespa59 says:

    So what? The dogs don’t mind, and they are actually a lot better for them than rawhide. Just get over it. It’s not like it’s covered in fresh cow smeg or something.

  23. MyPetFly says:

    I told you people I’m a vegetarian! Oops, wrong forum, and I’m not a dog. Sorry.


  24. MyPetFly says:


    Rocky Mountain Oysters, etc.

  25. jacques says:

    Congrats on the new hound! Soft toys, ice chips, and a comfy couch work perfectly for mine.

  26. PinkBox says:

    Haha… aptly named.

  27. trujunglist says:


    Gahahaha! Congratulations, you win.

  28. The_Gas_Man says:

    So um… Are you guys actually going to post proof that these are made of penises? Or just an anecdotal story?

  29. MyPetFly says:

    What I’d like to know is, are these from Jew or Gentile bulls? And please, let’s not get on the subject of shrink rays…

  30. loganmo says:

    My dog (well bitch, its a lady dog) is a size queen-she wont even touch her bully sticks unless its at least 8″ (and those are real inches, not AOL ones)

  31. sir_eccles says:

    Look, it’s an off cut. It’s either going to your dog or it’s going in your McDonalds (please don’t sue me). Waste not, want not.

  32. RandomHookup says:

    Further proof that Americans have divorced themselves from the natural world.

    OMG, there’s bacteria all over your plate!!! Run!!!

  33. RandomHookup says:


    Actually, I think all bulls are Hindu, not that it helped in this case.

  34. Ereshkigal234 says:

    i thought this was common place know how… I mean, it’s not hard to research these days to figure out what you’re giving your pet. I always do research before i give any of my pets a treat/toy. Our dog loves bully sticks. Only problem is the smell after a bit of chewing. I would assume it’s to be expected.

  35. MyPetFly says:

    @RandomHookup: “Actually, I think all bulls are Hindu, not that it helped in this case.”

    So where’s the dot? (A “bindi,” actually.)

  36. pigbearpug says:

    Finally, a litmus test for gay dogs.

  37. MisterE87 says:

    I had the displeasure of working in a pet store in high school. It was a mom & pop operation, and I often had the responsibility of arranging and signing the pet treats. For pig ears, I would draw an earless pig’s head with a surprised look on its face. The bull was similar, though I couldn’t be too graphic. Good times. One time, I called the manufacturer to confirm what Bully Sticks, in fact, were. The rep cheerfully declared, “They’re made from bull tendons!” Then whispered, “(it’s a penis!)”

  38. MyPetFly says:


    So… what would lesbian dogs get? Moo Poon? Cow Cooter? ; )

  39. Derp says:

    Hehe, before buying bull penis, she went NUTS buying other toys. Where’s Bevis and Butt-Head when you need ’em?

  40. dry-roasted-peanuts says:

    Again, this is why I’m a cat person…

  41. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Now you know why your mom wouldn’t let the dog lick you on the mouth.
    What goes around, comes around.

  42. pigbearpug says:

    @MyPetFly: Ummm…good point. Maybe a bully stick wrapped in flannel? :)

  43. njtrout says:

    And my dog got pancreatitis from chewing on too many bully sticks as a pup. Be Careful!!!

  44. maztec says:

    I think this is appropriate:

    Then again, this is not news and not particularly a “shocking consumer fact”. Worse things are in American hotdogs.

    I have to rate this article as a fail.

  45. theysaidwhat says:

    Most long-time dog owners know what Bully Sticks are made from.

    And I don’t agree that rawhides are more inherently dangerous than other chew toys. You have to monitor your dog with them to be sure that the dog is only getting small, well softened pieces of a rawhide and take it away once the dog is getting large pieces. Also make sure your dog has plenty of access to water.

    The only toys that I would leave a dog alone with are Kongs and Nylabones (after some supervised time to be sure that you bought the right chewing strength and size for your pet).

  46. JanetCarol says:

    Elizabeth – you are awesome and my hero.
    Buy your dog raw bones from the butcher – super cheap and good for them.

  47. hexychick says:

    @The_Gas_Man: Not just anecdotal: [www.bullysticks4dogs.com] that’s straight from the manufacturer.

  48. ElizabethD says:

    Bully stick — yay, a new nickname for hubby’s thang. This could get freaky.

  49. Whoa says:

    So, did Consumerist post this story in order to give us an opportunity to make clever remarks, or are they really that eager to raise hell about the smallest non-issue (and dilute their effectiveness in the process), instead of sticking to things that actually matter?

  50. @dry-roasted-peanuts: What does this have to do with being a cat person? The bits and pieces in their food is no better.

  51. kerry says:

    @Cyco: I just got a dog 3 weeks ago and even I knew that a bully stick was a bull penis. Also, they don’t really get soggy or very penis-like when our dog eats them. We joke that she sure loves to eat cock. I honestly don’t see what the big deal is, humans eat bull penis (I saw lots of pizzle on menus in Ecuador this summer) and even bull testicles (rocky mountain oysters). If they’re just getting tossed, might as well feed them to someone.
    I don’t really like how expensive the bully sticks are, but they’re at least more digestible than rawhide. I will buy some bones the next time I go to the butcher, though.

  52. MercuryPDX says:

    Kudos to the OP For adopting a retired racer. There’s plenty of other “animal parts” available as a rawhide substitute. My grey likes pig/cow ears, pig snouts, and dried chicken strips. The huge dose of protein will give your dog gas, but 1 Tbs. of yogurt daily will fix that.

    If it’s the “animal” part you find “icky”, try Greenies instead.

  53. ManiacDan says:

    Going to have to agree with the people that consider this common knowledge. I’m a dog owner and I know that I’m buying my dog eat, tongue, and penis in addition to the skin and bones that she loves so well. It’s cheap, it’s tough, and it’s still meat. I have no problem with it.

    Also, it’s called “Bully Sticks”, which I think is a clever pun hinting at the true contents.

    As for the “all you will find is ‘meat byproducts'” do you actually expect to see “chicken thighs, legs, and ribs” on your can of soup? Or do you only expect “chicken”?

  54. Mr.SithNinja says:

    “refer to them simply as beef muscle”

    I would call it beef love muscle.

  55. pigbearpug says:

    @MercuryPDX: Greenies are actually not a great choice… [www.cnn.com]

    Plus they are way overpriced.

  56. Jabberkaty says:

    I’m going to be giggling all day now…tee-hee.

  57. stephennmcdonald says:

    Wow, people give things to their dogs without knowing what’s in them? That makes me sad.

    And pigbearpug is right – Greenies kill.

  58. Wubbytoes says:

    That poor dog is so shocked that he’s been chewing on dead penises this whole time.

  59. kerry says:

    @Wubbytoes: I suppose that’s better than chewing on live penises, right?
    @stephennmcdonald and @pigbearpug: That CNN article is two years old, it appears Greenies has changed their formula to be water-soluble since then: [www.oes.org]
    I tried to get confirmation from the Greenies website but it’s apparently too crappy to load any pages for me. Jerks.

  60. The_Gas_Man says:

    It IS just anecdotal if they just go report something that a random person told them and don’t provide a link (like yours) to prove the claim.

  61. Dennis says:


    Bully Stick (29 calories per inch)

  62. Pop Socket says:

    The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten got part of a humor column out of calling customer service and saying he thinks the sticks are delicious.

  63. dogmann says:

    Well it is true what Bully Sticks are made of and they are one of the most popular treats on the market for various reasons. They are low in fat and have a very high protein content. They are save because they do not splinter and are fully digestible unlike rawhide, that is not fully digestible, and pig ears that splinter and are high in fat.

    Because of all of these factors, and the fact that dogs go crazy for them and they last a long time, the price is quite high.

    There are wholesalers out there, but you need to be careful of inferior product. I have had great experience with the company below.

  64. gibbywmu says:

    Yes, 100% correct. Bully Sticks are processed from the remains of a bull (cow) penis. They make dog treats, because they are 100% digestible, all natural, and are full of protein and low in fat. They typically last quite a long time for dogs, depending of course on the shear size and chewing habit of the dog. They dont splinter or break off in huge “chunks”, which can be dangerous for dogs that eat rawhides. Great alternative for all sizes of dogs, and very healthy! Usually come in straight, thick, braided, spiral, and crown sizes. Most popular are the 6″ and 12″……….

    Ive had great luck with Gibdog Pet Supplies (www.gibdogpetsupplies.com). Great delivery, and a very competitive cost compared to that of Petco, PetsMart, Pet Supplies Plus, or any other major retailer.

  65. gibbywmu says:

    I would also recommend cow ears for you dogs, another great source of protein, and low in fat. Much healthier for your dogs than rawhides!

  66. gibbywmu says:

    Gidog Pet Supplies Bully Sticks – Best Prices I’ve Seen

    They have 6″ and 12″ Straight, Thick, Crown, Braided, and Spiral.

  67. gibbywmu says:

    Sorry…….last link was a bit long!

    The correct link for the bully sticks at Gibdog Pet Supplies would be:

    bully sticks

  68. P_e says:

    In england I see them sold as Bull’s Pizzles so it’s a little more obvious.