Dog biscuits are defined as a hard supplement for dogs that is made in a similar fashion and ingredients as biscuits for humans. Usually dried longer to a harder texture which is supposed to be good for dog’s teeth. They were made in the shape of a bone by use of a shaped biscuit or cookie cutter.
The history of dog biscuits starts with Dog’s Bread which was particularly bad bread, not fit for human consumption, has been a term used since the times of the Roman Empire. This continued till early to mid-nineteenth century when a dog food made of vegetable mixed with grain to give the less affluent owners of dogs in England an alternative to feeding barley-meal to their dogs. Dogs cannot live off of just barley meal and had to have meat and bones in order to maintain health, proper coat and skin. So Mr. Smith’s dog-biscuit dog food was sold in the area of Maidenhead in 1828. A bag of dog-biscuit would last a family a year. It was usually soaked for an hour or so and mixed with any meat, fat or lard that was handy.
In 1871 an advertisement appeared in Cassell’s Illustrated Almanac for “Slaters meat biscuits for dogs” which contained about 25% meat products. Although not known for sure it seems dog biscuits began with a James Spratt, an electrician from Cincinnati, who was working on a type of lighting conductor. Spratt observe stray dogs eating hardtack that had been thrown out and had an idea. Hardtack is a very hard flour product that was present on ships for sailors on long trips. In 1860 Spratt produced “Spratt’s Patent Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes” and the pet food industry began. The dog cakes contained beef blood as the meat substitute along with some vegetable products.
Soon others were producing dog food one being F. H. Bennett’s Malatoid Dog Biscuits. Spratt lead the pet food industry until 1907 when his competitor Bennett decided to make his biscuits in the shape of a bone and called them “Maltoid Milk-Bones”. The Bennett Milk-Bone led the pet food industry until 1931 when Nabisco (National Biscuit Company) bought the company.
Today dog biscuits or dog treats come in any size, shape and practically any flavor you want. Some even referred to in culinary vernacular such as gourmet dog biscuits. Just as in the early days of the dog food industry marketing is the leader in the field. Most dog biscuits today are made from better ingredients as owners become better educated in nutrition and food products. The industry is growing with people that have a passion for both baking and dogs. Heading this growth was the Three Dog Bakery that has franchised out and gone national with their products. Boutique producers are everywhere. Barbara’s canine Caterers out of Charlotte, NC does a great job and we have been traveling to get birthday cakes and their signature biscuits for years. There are lots of books and recipes to be had where you can even make your own homemade dog biscuits. Baking for you pup is just a little chance to give back some of the love given to you every day.