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If talking to a real-life human is more your thing, you can reach our Customer Happiness Team via email (info@uglychews.com).

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About Us.

Ugly Chews started as a way to utilize waste in our community. But it quickly became so much more than that.

Wyoming has a lot of cows. In fact, it has more than twice as many cows as people. Most of our meat comes from small, family-owned butchers who don’t have the volume to ship and sell by-products like hides and organs. In the US, 5 million cowhides are thrown away each year. And all that waste made us sad. In one instance, there was a butcher throwing away meat waste literally across the street from an animal shelter. Ugly Chews was born from a desire to bridge that gap, and turn the waste into all-natural, sustainable dog chews that could provide hours of healthy entertainment to even the most aggressive chewer.

The Mission

What started as a simple project soon became much more. Making a zero-waste product to give to your friends is easy. But making thousands of them is a different story. We couldn’t accept that our waste-elimination product would just end up triple-wrapped in single use plastic, completely undoing the entire point.

It took some doing, but we finally found a method to meet all the regulations and requirements while still staying true to the zero-waste vision. That’s why our chews come in bulk recyclable packaging instead of cute little bags. It’s why we sun-dry our chews, using natural UV rays to disinfect instead of harsh chemicals. It’s why our chews are single-ingredient, with no additives. And it’s why all our products are sourced from local ranches and butchers right here in Wyoming, Utah and Idaho.

While we think we’re doing pretty good, we can also do better. Each purchase you make from Ugly Chews helps us find more ways to eliminate waste from our communities. Your purchase also supports non-profits and animal shelters that align with our mission.

How Are Ugly Chews Made?

We want to be completely transparent about every step your ugly chew takes. This page is for the true researcher that wants to know everything we do, why we do it, and what it means for your pet.

It All Starts With Local Ranchers, Butchers and Cows

At the moment all of our products are beef, primarily because Wyoming, Utah and Idaho have a lot of cows. Most of our cows are raised on small family farms in Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. No factory farms here. The meat from these cows goes to local restaurants and family freezers. We’ve partnered with multiple butchers to take the hides, ears, and trachea to make dog chews. We pick them up each day to make sure that they stay fresh, and transport them to our facility.

Cleaning Them Up

Some other dog chew manufacturers keep their hides fresh by soaking them in salt or lime or bleach.

We always knew that wasn’t what we wanted to be. We want to keep our chews as clean and natural as possible, which is why we take them immediately from the butcher to cleaning. There are two important parts of the cleaning process: washing and fleshing. Fleshing is the removal of excess fat and meat from the hide. One reason we flesh the hides is for caloric impact. If we left meat and fat on the hides, they could easily be several hundred calories each, which makes them incredibly unhealthy for a simple chew. The main reason is because both meat and fat will spoil and go rancid without some form of preservative, and we don’t want your dog to get sick. Washing, is of course used to clean the hides. These are cows that graze mountain pastures, so their hides often carry dirt, grass, leaves, manure, etc that needs thoroughly washed.

We don’t use any chemicals or soaps in our washing or fleshing. We just use water at various pressures and angles for a long time to make sure the hides are left fresh and clean, ready to be transformed into chews.

Cutting, Forming, and Drying

Once the hides are all clean, they are hand cut (using a knife!) into approximately 4, 8, and 12 inch strips. Technically we cut them a little longer than that to account for the size they lose when they dry.

Then they are rolled and put out onto racks in the direct sunlight to dry. This step is super important, because we want to keep our dog chews additive and chemical free. But we also don’t want your dog to get salmonella or E.coli or some other nasty bacteria. Luckily, studies have shown that direct exposure to the UV radiation in sunlight kills these bacteria. Each chew spends at least three days in direct sunlight, being rotated to make sure the entire chew is disinfected and dried. While this process is time-consuming, it allows us to create an all-natural chew without any chemicals, additives, or preservatives, while still providing a near infinite shelf-life to the final product. 

To store they are kept in a cool/dry drying room.

Delivering Them To You!

This was a remarkably difficult challenge for us to overcome. We wanted to be able to ship chews to every state, but this whole thing started because we wanted to save good hides from the landfill.

It didn’t make much sense to save the hides from being wasted just end up wasting a bunch of plastic, styrofoam, and cardboard instead. We wanted to keep our commitment to being a zero-waste, natural option. Luckily, we were able to find a package supplier that provides biodegradable, compostable packaging. The packaging you receive will be pretty simple. It won’t be filled with a bunch of promotional flyers or packing material. Just a big pile of dog chews.

We’re pretty proud of this, because pet treat regulations make it surprisingly difficult to do. But regardless of how you feel about politics or climate change or environmentalism, I think we can all agree that dumping a little less plastic in the oceans is a win for everyone. We like dogs, but we like sea turtles too.

Are Ugly Chews Safe?

Ugly Chews are significantly safer than “conventional” rawhide. Most commercial rawhide has been saturated with tanning chemicals and shaved to leave only a small portion of the skin. Simply put, Ugly Chews are made from the whole hide (no thinning or additives), while rawhide is typically a byproduct of the leather industry, and a thin layer from the hide. That makes them break easily and can cause blockages in your dog’s throat or digestive system.

Ugly Chews are made from fresh, whole cowhide. No processing, no chemicals. And just like wolves, coyotes, and dingoes don’t choke when chewing the hide of their prey, your dog is unlikely to choke on an Ugly Chew.

Now, there are always exceptions. We do our best to make our products as safe as possible, but you should still monitor your dog while they chew. Anything that fits in your dog’s mouth is a choking hazard, so be sure to take the last chunk away when it gets small enough to be swallowed whole.

Always supervise while chewing, and we suggest a set chew time every day. One chew should last your dog multiple sessions. While the hair on our hides has many benefits, chew time should be limited to help avoid blockages.

Our hides are washed with hot high pressure water, and disinfected by UV, but not chemically disinfected, so there is always a small risk of bacteria, especially if not stored properly. And of course, our beef hide chews aren’t safe if your dog is allergic to beef.

Why Are They So Ugly?

To be fair, they aren’t ALL ugly… but most of them are. And that’s because nature is imperfect. We don’t have a cookie-cutter factory dying and shaping every chew to the exact same shape and color.

Our chews are made from cows that have been out in pastures, and often spend summers grazing in the mountains. They have scars and imperfections. We also hand-cut our chews so there may be uneven edges.

And sometimes you’ll get a REALLY ugly chew. To keep our zero-waste focus, we try to use every scrap we can, which sometimes leads to some wild-looking pieces.

How Long Will An Ugly Chew Last?

Chewing time will depend on the dog, but if you have the appropriate size, a single hide chew should last the average dog 2-6 hours of active chewing. It’s recommended to only let your dog chew in 15-20 minute sessions, which helps extend the life of the chew and keep your dog in optimal health. Monitor your dog and make sure you're getting multiple sessions per chew.

Durability is an important element of a good chew, so we tested ours with dozens of dogs of all sizes, ages, and temperaments. They are made for strong chewers!

Can My Dog Eat Hair?

Yes! Hair may actually be helpful in cleaning out a dog’s digestive system, and definitely beneficial for dental hygiene. Most people are a little unsettled by the hair at first, but your dog naturally wants to eat hairy, furry things. That’s part of why they want to chew on a fuzzy slipper or tear the stuffing out of their bed.

While eating hair is beneficial in moderation, it shouldn’t be taken to extremes. Your dog shouldn’t be chomping down a whole hair-on chew every day. One chew should last multiple chew sessions.

How To Get The Most Out Of My Chews?

If your dog is a power chewer, the costs of keeping them entertained can add up. While we try to provide affordable dog chews, it’s still important to get the most bang for your buck. Here are some tips to get the most use and the best experience from your dog chews.

Limit Chew Sessions

Instead of letting your dog chew for hours at a time, consider providing a chew for 15-20 minutes. This will help them get the calming dopamine and serotonin that relaxes them, while also extending the life of the chew. Not every chew works exactly the same, but Ugly Chew’s hide rolls soften as the dog chews on them. If you take the chew away for a few hours between sessions, it will reharden, which will make it last much longer.

There are a lot of benefits to limited chew sessions beyond just the life of the chew. It makes it easier for you to monitor your dog, which makes chewing safer. Every chew comes with some amount of choking risk, so it’s important to keep an eye on your dog while they’re chewing. That’s easier to do over short sessions. Chew sessions also increase the net benefit for your dog. Dogs get a lot of emotional benefits from chewing, but they don’t need to chew a lot to get them. Usually, 20 minutes of chewing is enough to calm most dogs down and leave them chill and relaxed. They may keep chewing after that, but they aren’t getting as much of the benefit. Think of it like having a cookie. If you eat a cookie, you really enjoy it. You probably enjoy a second cookie. By the seventh cookie, you probably aren’t enjoying the cookie near as much as the first one. It would be better to have one or two cookies, then save the rest for later when you’ll enjoy them more.

If you want to get the most value from your chews, do multiple short chew sessions, not one long one. We often hear from our customers that one Ugly Chew will last their dog several days when spaced out across a few chew sessions per day.

Understand Your Dog’s Emotional State

As we just mentioned, chewing provides anxiety relief for your dog. It’s a destresser that changes their brain chemistry. One Ugly Chews customer described his first experience giving his dog one of our chews. He said she chewed on it for a few minutes, but then just kind of cuddled it for a while. That was just before they left town on a big trip. He gave her the chew again after the long weekend spent with family, toddlers, and other dogs, and she went nuts and chewed it like crazy. This is a great example of the role emotions play in chewing. Think of a chew like your comfort food, caffeine, alcohol, or even some recreational drug. Humans use a lot of coping mechanisms to deal with stress. You may turn to any of those mechanisms when you’re having a hard time. You may like a glass of wine with dinner on many nights, but after a particularly hard day, you may want more than one glass. Your dog is the same way. Most days they’ll enjoy something to chew on for a bit. But when they are stressed, anxious, or have been cooped up, they will really be looking for an outlet. And the dopamine and serotonin that comes from chewing make a huge difference.

Get A Properly Sized Chew

It’s very tempting to fall into the trap of buying a smaller chew for your dog. Maybe it’s because you don’t want them to chew too much. Maybe it’s because smaller chews are cheaper. Regardless of your reason, always make sure that the chew you purchase is appropriately sized for your dog. When in doubt, err on the side of a larger chew. Chews that are too small can increase the risk of choking. If the dog can fit the entire chew in their mouth, they are more likely to choke. The smaller the chew, the sooner it reaches this “high choke risk” size.

In addition to safety, smaller chews simply don’t last as long, especially for larger dogs. You’ll get fewer sessions out of them, if you get multiple sessions at all.

Always Monitor Your Dog

You know your dog. You know how they work. Online advice can only go so far. Keep an eye on them and see how they do with any chew that you give them. You’ll find horror stories for almost every type of chew out there, but most of those horror stories happen because people were careless. Keep an eye on your dog.

Rawhide vs. Whole Hide

As more and more people have become aware of the potential dangers of rawhide chews, similar terms have started popping up to avoid the negative stigma and differentiate their products. So now there are rawhide chews, cowhide chews, and beef hide for dogs.

But what’s the difference?

Short answer: marketing.

None of these are regulated labels, like “organic” is, for example. But these terms are used differently and understanding some of the distinctions (and risks) can make a big difference for your dog's health. So let’s talk about what these terms mean and what you should be looking for.

Understanding Rawhide

Rawhide is a general term that can describe any type of animal hide. It can come from any animal, any country, and can be processed in almost any way. Most commercial rawhide is a by-product of the tanning process. Before the hide is made into leather, it’s often split. The thinner lower layer is turned into rawhide, while the top layer continues the tanning process and is turned into leather for shoes, purses, or anything else.

Because rawhides are made from this thinner layer of skin, they can break very easily into chunks that pose a choking hazard or can create blockages in the digestive tract. This danger, combined with the salt brines and lime used to preserve and process the hides, is a major reason why so many pet owners are looking for healthier alternatives to rawhide chews.

Understanding Cowhide and Beef Hide for Dogs

Cowhide and beef hide would still broadly be considered “rawhide”, but specifically rawhide made from cows. However, these terms are frequently used to describe natural chews that are healthier and safer than the highly processed rawhide that most people are familiar with. For example, here at Ugly Chews, we refer to our chews as cowhide or beef hide because they are 100% natural and sourced from local ranches.

Like us, there are other all-natural beef hide makers that follow similar processes. Unlike industrial rawhide, these hides aren’t split or thinned. They are the whole beef hide. The extra thickness makes them last longer and makes it less likely for large chunks to break off and create problematic blockages.

Our beef hides are also completely additive-free. We even keep the hair on them because dogs love it and it helps clean their teeth and digestive system. Some natural beef hide products have the hair removed, but it’s still more or less the same thing.

How To Cut Through The Marketing Tricks

If you want to pick the perfect chew treat for your canine companion, you need to look past simple descriptions like cowhide, beef hide, and rawhide. Instead, identify what’s important to you and find a company that meets those needs. You’ll probably need to read product descriptions and “About” pages more thoroughly to find the details. Here are some factors that may be important to you, and some key terms associated with them:

Price/Quality: Price is pretty easy. If price is your biggest concern, just look for the cheapest number. You will want to experiment with the actual price. That’s where quality comes in. For example, if a chew costs 25% more, but lasts twice as long, it is still more affordable than the “cheaper” option. Quality can be somewhat subjective. But for chews, durability and the dog’s enjoyment are pretty big factors.

Natural/Chemical-Free: If you want to make sure you aren’t feeding your dog any preservatives, additives, or chemicals, you should look out for companies advertising their treats as chemical and preservative-free. “Natural” can be a helpful descriptor, but it is pretty vague and you can legally call a lot of things natural. Ingredients labels will show any preservatives that are added, but they won’t reflect whether the hides were coated in lime or salt brine earlier in the process. Look for sections on the company website that details their manufacturing process. To be extra safe, you can send them an email and ask about it!

Sustainable/Environmentally Friendly: This is another one that can be tricky. Sustainable doesn’t have legal protections or certifications, so people can use it to mean different things. If you want to ensure that your dog treats are environmentally friendly, you should once again take a look at the manufacturing process. Hand-made treats are usually better than machine processed ones since most machines have a carbon footprint. Packaging is also a big factor. A product double-wrapped in single-use plastic is obviously less sustainable than a plastic-free product.

Healthy/Safe: What’s considered healthy and safe will depend on your dog. Of course, if you have a dog with a beef allergy, no beef products will be safe. Natural products that have no preservatives or chemicals reduce the risk of health complications from those additives, but the lack of preservatives introduces the small chance of bacteria or mold growing on the product. Almost every product has risks, but they are all incredibly small risks. It’s up to you to use caution and good judgment in deciding what fits your dog best. If a company claims that their product has absolutely no risk and is completely and perfectly safe…that’s a red flag. It’s better to look at disclaimers. A company with detailed disclaimers and instructions for reducing risk is much more likely to be telling the truth and providing transparent and accurate information.

Local/Ethical/Made in ______ : I know I’m lumping a lot of terms that feel different together on this one, but the concern is usually the same for all of them. We want to make sure that the animals and people involved in creating a product are being treated well. Factory farms and massive slaughter houses don’t always have the best reputation when it comes to animal welfare. Similarly, we don’t want products made by underpaid employees working in slave-like conditions, as is unfortunately common in some countries. It all comes back to knowing where your product is from and how it’s being handled. If a company can tell you exactly where the animals are from and how they were raised, that tends to be a good sign. People have different definitions of what counts as “ethically sourced” products, but this is another area where a company’s about page, FAQs, and contact info can come in handy.

Regardless of what’s important to you, don’t be afraid to dig into the details of a company more. The good ones shouldn’t have anything to hide. And every company is going to tell you that their product is the best. People who source their product from Brazil will say Brazil is amazing. People who freeze-dry their product will say that’s the best way. People who sell these things are biased. Shoot, we’ve tried to write this article in an unbiased way, but we still slipped a few shameless promotions of our products in there.

We do really think that Ugly Chews are a great choice if you’re looking for a local, chemical-free, zero-waste beef hide chew that your dog will absolutely love.

Shipping, Returns & Exchanges

We use all major carriers, and local courier partners. You’ll be asked to select a delivery method during checkout.

What is the shipping policy?

Once your order is placed, you will receive a confirmation email letting you know that our fulfillment team has received your order. Once your order is fulfilled, you will receive an email notification with your tracking information.

Do you ship overseas?

No, we currently are only available Un the United States.

Refunds & Returns

Money Back Guarantee

We want you to feel comfortable trying Ugly Chews, which is why we offer a 7-day money back guarantee. Purchasing Ugly Chews is a completely risk-free experience.

Here’s how the guarantee works. You have 7 days from the time your order arrives to request a refund. You can do that by filling out the form on this page. We ask for a few things from you in order to process your refund:

 1. The reason for your refund. We want to understand what went wrong. We know that not every dog will love every chew, and that’s okay. But your feedback helps us to improve.

2. Email us a picture of the chews you're asking for a refund for to info@uglychews.com

3. Send your purchase back and as soon as we receive them, your issue will be refunded.

Customer Reviews

Based on 174 reviews
84%
(147)
5%
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(10)
4%
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1%
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Emma (Philadelphia, US)
Has become her favourite chew

I'm always on the lookout for different chews for my 1 year old 60 lb pit and I've had my eye on these for a while. I got a pack of the large rolls and and they were an instant hit! I give her yak cheese, antlers, collagen chews, and bully sticks on rotation and other than the bully sticks she usually carries the chew around for a while before she settles to eat it but as soon as I handed it to her she started chewing right away so I think that's a resounding endorsement! I did read the instructions about only letting her chew for 20 minutes and letting it harden back up again which is what I do for her collagen rolls and they will last her a couple of sessions. Considering 20 minutes is how long a regular bully stick lasts with her and she'll eat it all, I don't mind doing a little extra work for something that will last me a few more times.

K
Karsten McKnight (Duxbury, US)
Great stimulation

My pup LOVES her bones! She is a huge fan of the fur on these. She's always hiding it for later 😅

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loriestaub@gmail.com (Williamstown, US)
Great chews

My dogs absolutely love these chews

B
BlackDog Corso (Louisville, US)
Ugly but lovable

Ok so first-- yes they're ugly but after your dog chews on the ends, they won't look any different than any other rawhide. There's no smell whatsoever, even after they've been chewed. There are four dogs in the house and all of them loved them. The Yorkie claimed all the scraps and did her worst with what teeth she has left. Another has a sick tummy all the time and the roughage on the chews worked better than the fiber supplements I've been giving him. We'll definitely re-purchase soon.

T
Tricia (Chicago, US)
High energy/AGGRESSIVE chewers!!

I have 2 GSPs(high energy, can’t stop won’t stop) and the only thing I’ve found that lasts them more than 20 minutes is a hard to find ostrich bone, then one day they decided to say “challenge accepted” and beat that record lol. First day I opened the box for the Hair on Hide rolls they sniffed and sniffed and then fought over them! I took them away after 30 mins since they have sensitive tummies and my youngest was halfway done. Took them out the next day and even if my youngest is the only one that LOVES them every time it’s worth it!! I appreciate Uglychews for the zero waste, natural content, and the time it takes for my INSANELY aggressive chewers to gnaw on these! Keep in mind I work and train with my babies multiple times a day (short increments) so a pup that doesn’t get a lot of exercise/attention/enrichment might go through them a bit faster. But my pups could be the poster children for our local natural petstore and they actually look to me for recommendations 🤣

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