Do you give your dog bully sticks? You may be surprised to learn what they really are

Bully sticks are popular treat for pet owners

Generic English Bulldog photo (Pexels)

Most pet owners want the best for their animals, so a single-ingredient, all-natural treat sounds perfect doesn’t it?

Bully sticks, it turns out, are a popular single-ingredient chew treats for dogs. The single ingredient? Pizzle.

In case you’re one of the many people who’ve never heard of pizzle, it’s an Old English word for penis. That’s right, bully sticks are made of steer or bull penises.

If that surprises you, you may be saying, “ewwwwww,” but according to, bully sticks are a pretty good treat option for most dogs.

Pet expert Kristen Levine told the popular online pet shop in 2018 that bully sticks, which are sold raw, dried or cooked, are “easily digestible, plus they have a hard consistency which makes them a long-lasting chew.”

Viral blogger Mary Katherine Backstrom posted a photo of her dog’s treat bag on Facebook Tuesday and said her husband was mortified to find out what pizzle really means.

My poor puppy Charlotte will never get her favorite treat again. Y’all...the absolute mortification on my husband’s face when he finally realized what pizzle is. I am deceased. Will never stop laughing. 🐄 🍆😂

Posted by Mary Katherine Backstrom on Tuesday, November 17, 2020

But Levine says they’re healthy and safe to chew for puppers. She noted that buying cooked bully sticks is the best option as bacteria could become a concern if the sticks are poorly cooked or dried.

So there you have it - pizzle treats are a healthy option for dogs, according to the experts.


About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.