Is the BarkBox Dog Subscription Box Worth It?
We recently discovered a dog subscription box called BarkBox and I wondered if it was worth it.
When you sign up for the service, they send you a box in the mail every month with goodies for your dog. It’s like a grab box because you never know what you will get.
They send you stuff based on the size of your dog.
Their website says “you will get anything from bones to treats to shampoos, leashes and innovative Gadgets.”
I love mail, love a surprise and I love to buy a lot of doggie stuff. I decided it was worth a try.
The box arrived in the mail yesterday. T
hey only ship out once a month so it comes pretty much the same time every month. We “ordered” our pretty close to that date so it came fast.
I immediately opened it and, inside, I found a bag of treats, a roll of poo bags, a chewy treat , a squeakie toy and some doggie bubbles (yes, you read that right. They were “peach flavored”).
I looked at the treats first.
To my very pleasant surprise these soft little treats were grain free and contained omega oils.
I immediately dismissed the chewy treat. It was one of those things that is pretty much made out of potato flour and resembles a Greenie.
Greenies can pose a choking hazard and they have no nutritional value (plus they get chewed in 2 seconds in our house) so I don’t give them to my Dachshunds.
I gave Chester the squeakie toy which was made of hard plastic and shaped like a steak. He took off with it like he was hoarding a real steak.
I opened the bubbles and tried them with Gretel.
I guess dogs are supposed to chase, bite at them and pop them. She was confused and showed no interest.
In the trash they went.
I checked on Chester with the squeakie steak because he likes to chew them up ASAP (which is usually 1.5 seconds).
Hard plastic is cheap and easy to chew. Sure enough he had already torn a few chunks off the corner.
In the squeakie steak’s defense, it DID still squeak….all the way to the trash can.
They LOVED the treats (of course) and I loved the cute little pattern on the poop bags.
So out of everything we received in the box, the poop bags and treats were winners but they rest bombed.
I checked the website again and the cost per month is $17 if you buy 6-months at a time.
Opening the box was fun and you never know what you will end up with but $17 seems a little steep to me for a roll of poop bags and a 6 oz bag of treats.
They do say that “a portion of proceeds of each box will go to help doggies in need”.
When I looked further, 10% of proceeds goes to “a shelter” (which is not listed).
They do request that you email them if you have a favorite in-need shelter.
Is the cost of the BarkBox worth it?
Yeah, if you like getting surprises in the mail and accept that some months you may get a lot of items you want (I am guessing here since we only ordered one box) but some you might get only a few or none at all.
Personally, I would rather spend the $17 a month on goodies I know we are going to like (even though the “grab bag” aspect IS really enticing).
I DO think this would make a really awesome gift for the doggie lover in your life.
You can purchase just a one-time delivery, three months delivery or 6 month.
I will keep this in mind the next time I am looking for gifts. It’s definitely fun and unique.
You may also want to check out our April 2017 BarkBox Review, our June 2017 BarkBox Review, and our list of 5 best subscription boxes for Dachshunds
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.
It sounds like a fun concept, but you are right that it just isn’t worth the money. I do love the picture of Chester with the steak, that is hilarious!
OMG….I tried to grab it from him and he picked it up and ran. He does that sometimes with real food when he is outside (like the time I chased him around the yard with the doggie yogurt taking pictures) but this was just a PLASTIC steak! He is a funny one 🙂
Jen! BarkBox is not crazy expensive! I have emailed Lindz@barkBox.com and she worked with me on a plan that fits my budget!
It sounds like a cool concept! I wonder if they’ll do some tweaking and fine tuning to see if they get better fits for what people like as time goes on.
It doesn’t sound like it. They are pretty clear that the idea of this is that it is a total surprise. I think the issue is that every dog (if a particular size range) gets the exact same thing. I am not sure they have the capacity to make each box different. I think what would be good from my end though would be a handful of check boxes of preference categories. For example, you could unclick the box for squeakie toys if you don’t want to get any.
BarkBox sends out multiple themes each month! Also I do know that they have a heavy chewer option as well as and Allergy Friendly option! And all of there treats are made in the USA and Canada!
I stopped giving our dogs greenies when I had to pull one out of Dylan’s throat because he was choking on it. I don’t understand why more people don’t talk about this publicly. I’ve heard lots of similar stories.
It is actually something I have just heard and don’t want to take the risk. I didn’t know anyone whose dog actually choked on one. Now I do. Thanks for proving what I heard was right…..and I am super glad everything turned out ok.
I think it would work if you could give them a guideline and I think the concept is fun … For example, I don’t do hard plastic toys (never liked them – ever) and don’t eat 90% of treats I am offered – the only ones I enjoy are dried liver and Wellness yes, I am that picky. Much to the chagrin of many a kind stranger.
SO out of that box … the poop bags is all that would have been useful. Like you I believe it would be more fun to go to our favorite pet boutique with the same money every month and just “see” what we can get… or give a guideline to avoid too many disappointments.
They are very clear in their FAQ section that the whole idea of this is that it is a surprise. They do say you can submit ideas and they will consider them but it’s not meant to further tailor the box for your own dog. I like supporting local pet stores so just taking the money and shopping at one would make me feel warmer and fuzzier anyway……and we would walk away with exactly what we wanted.
Sample boxes do sound like a fun time! I just read somebody else’s review of one…but it was last night, and though I commented, I can’t remember what the service was (of course!) I keep meaning to check them out sometime.
Unfortunate, those hard plastic squeaker toys are always doomed to fail! I’m pretty sure most dog toy companies just don’t “get it” yet. Some dog treats do cost $17 for not a whole lot of them, though, so maybe you did still come out ahead?
Nah. At best these were the quality of Zuke’s Jerkey treats (Chester and Gretel think these things are crack) which are only about $8 for a same size package. Thanks for being such an optomist though. Ha, ha.
Sounds fun but not worth the cash. Nola absolutely loves that brand of treats
I had never seen them before but we mostly only have eyes for Zuke’s treats 🙂
Chester looks so cute with his steak! We know what you mean about it being worth the price. It seems a bit steep! Thanks for letting us know about this!
xoxo Chloe and LadyBug
I think the cost is pretty reasonable for a fun gift though
Nice review! I’ve seen BarkBox, but I haven’t subscribed to the service. I’m the same as you and would fear that the majority of the items I received would be unusable. I guess a lot of the value is in the surprise.
OMG you should sooo use the poop bags for wedding party favors…that would be so funny.
That would be funny but I don’t think it would go over well with the fam 🙂
Had never heard of them but don’t think they would work for us. Your review was very honest and insightful – thanks! 🙂
There is a competing company with a similar product. It seems to be a better quality box of stuff but it costs $26! Yeah, I can see the appeal if you like surprises. But I bet you’d come up with a better haul just taking $17 to the store (or Mr. Chewy).
Do you know the name of the competing company? I would be curious to take a look. Seeing as how I wouldn’t pay the $17, $26 is probably not going to happen either but I am curious how their service and the box contents compare.
We would have the same reaction to this assortment. Maggie is super picky, and has allergies, so the treat might not even work out. The bag colors are cute though!:)
Greenies can be pretty dangerous, a girl at the shelter told me that some dogs have had intestinal obstructions requiring surgery after wolfing down greenies in big chunks. No thanks.
I think I have heard a horror story about every single treat or toy out there. However, I have heard it most consistently with Greenies so I took it to heart. Gretel and Chester wolfed the ONE I ever gave them down in big chunks too so that was the last of that or any similar kind of chewies.
Reading this, I understand and agree with your assessment. However, there is just a little part of me that is just excited about the “Presents!” aspect of this. I would order, get excited, then disappointed, and then order again. So I pledge to end the terrible cycle before it begins, lol.
Surprise IS really big in my book. That and any mail in general (I sign up for junk mail sometimes just so I have something new to open. Ha, ha.) That is why I was so compelled to try this in the first place 🙂
The $5 shipping fee to Canada really makes it not worth it. Eleanor won’t look twice at hard plastic toys. Gotta be soft, fluffy or a ball (or the cat). Great review though, thanks!
Yeah. Thanks for pointing that out. I didn’t even look to see what the shipping costs were. I guess I assumed it was included in the price.
Grab bag things never seem to work for me. $17 for that stuff does seem expensive.
This month was our 3rd Barkbox (and we had only signed up for 3 months worth) – For us, this box was also a complete flop and I also thought the poop bags were the most useful item in the box. That being said, the other 2 boxes we received were pretty decent. We got a sample of some great dog shampoo, a doggie water bottle (really handy if you and your dog are active and go on hikes etc.) some tasty treats and some nice dog toys. 2/3 boxes being a hit isn’t bad… I am still on the fence though about whether or not I should renew. It is fun to get the boxes in the mail and the overall worth of the products they put in the box is equal to or more than what they charge, it’s just hard when you don’t like certain items.
So glad you commented. I was wondering how this box was compared to others. It’s hard to judge something on just one experience. I LOVE, LOVE LOVE getting surprises (any package really) so I may eat my words and get three months of this “grab box” after all 🙂
I only give my dog home-made treats. Treats from the store have no nutritional value. They are full of fat and cholesterol.
Yes, many store treats have no nutritional value. As you know, dog’s don’t get much, if any, nutrition beyond calories from startches and veggies…which all of the treats are except pure meat ones. Sometimes what comes in the the subscription boxes ARE pure-meat treats. Most of them aren’t though. I am ok with feeding Chester and Gretel “average” treats that are made with some kind of starch (but grain free) because they eat raw food otherwise (are getting a lot of nutrition) and are active enough that they stay slim.
They have really poor customer service. I am still waiting over a month for a box to deliver and no matter how many times I sent an email or called – they did not handle it properly.
They don’t care about you, your dog or anything but money. STAY AWAY!!!!!
Hi Penny. Thanks for sharing your negative experience with the box. Honestly, I am bit surprised to hear that they have been less than helpful. They are one of the most reliable services out there but I admit I have not dealt with them since this review. Perhaps they are slipping. I do know that they only ship boxes out once per month, around the middle of the month. Most subscription boxes work that way. That means that if you order your box, say, on the 10th of the month, the orders for that month may have been processed so you would have to wait for the next months shipment. Considering it takes up to a week after they are sent out to receive them, that could mean a bit over a month between ordering the receiving. That is no excuse to ignore your inquiries though.
We do the barkboxes and if there is an item that your dog does not like they will send you a new item for free no cost to you. Only once per box tho. But they do try to work with you because they do understand that each dog is different!
Wow. That’s great. Thanks for letting us know.
My husband and I have had barkbox for our pups for over a year, we’ve only ever had one dud, most of the time we get two or three bags of really high quality treats, plus toys, brushes, and other goodies. We’ve never gotten greenies, even the chewy treats are usually grain free with some sort of yummy ingredients and nutrition if you read up on them. Plus they help out small time wholesome vendors which I LOVE! Our puppies (large dogs) usually tear through the soft toys (but at least the have fun doing it!) and even they are well made with good materials and last a few days. We do still have the football our first puppy got in her first bark box! It took over a year for the sqeaker to wear out, but we can still play fetch! anything that isn’t plush is still in the toy box! There have been a couple tug ropes too which always last longer than ANYTHING we’ve gotten at a store (including the more expensive ones), though with two huge pups under two years old, nothing last forever (6 months tops for anything they can tug/chew/tear apart)! If you’re really picky or a treat/toy snob, this probably wouldn’t be for you; better to pick out treats/toys you’re comfortable giving your pets. But it’s been great for our family – in fact we’re looking at companies with the same values to sign our new kitten up for! And they DO send information on the shelters they help (ONE isn’t named because they sponsor more than one) in monthly newsletters. And they have great customer service! I had one box go missing and they sent a new one out right away! I’ve never had any issues! We even had one product arrive defective (broken bottle of shampoo) and they sent a replacement!
Thanks for sharing your experience. BarkBox is one of our favorites. I compared all 7 available a year or so ago. Most of the ones we tried have gone out of business though so I am working on an update.
I think it’s expensive and you could buy similar products for less than the box.
For the number of items you get, I think you come out a little ahead if you use everything in the box. I know at my local pet store I would easy spend $30 on two bags of treats and a toy. If you don’t use many items in the box though it can be a break even or lose a little scenario. That has happened to use a few times. I love the surprise of it though. I would pay an extra $5 or $10 a month for that.
We’ve been getting Barkbox for almost 3 years. I’ve only been disappointed once in the cost/value – the toys and treats are great although my bud Brody (65lb Mountain Cur) isn’t always a fan of organic dog treats. He is however crazy happy about getting the boxes each month. He is normally a pretty polite dog, respectful even but when the box comes in (or any other box about the same size) he is hard pressed show any restraint….. we cut the tape and attempt to place the box on the floor. He has knocked it from my hands once the tape is cut and then he does whatever is necessary to get the box open. He doesn’t want help, he’s totally focused on getting the lid up on the box and getting to whatever toy(s) await inside. He’ll grab the toy and parade around the house like he’s just won an award! If you make any move toward the open box, he’ll dash over there and do his best to beat you to it. He takes each item out of the box and lays them in a row before we are allowed to recover the treats(unless it’s a chew bone and then it takes a sales talk or a quick dash for the new toy to retrieve it). I say “go for it” – the “joy” value and entertainment is worth it!
Barbara! Thanks for the comment! I do know that we here at BarkBox are always willing to work with you if you ever get any thing your pup doesn’t like! You can always email Lindz@barkbox.com and workout getting a replacement item for your pup!
We love BarkBox – we’ve got a Husky called Milo who loves his monthly treats!
When you register with Bark Box, if your dog has any allergies or sensativities, or maybe is just not that big on food treats (beleive it or not, those types of dogs do exist!)
you can be put on the sensative stomach list. You will get more toys and less treats because they wont send you anything made of wheat, chicken, and I cannot remmber the list, but anythign that can casuse sensative stomachs.
Thanks for the info.
We’re lover of Bark Box here!
I purchased a 3-month subscription to Barkbox after reading lots of great reviews online. I was sorely disappointed with what ended up receiving. The Barkbox site is set up so you choose a box based on the size of your dog. As my dog is 14 lbs, I went with the “Small & Cute” option, for 0-20 lbs. Each box is supposed to contain at least one toy, along with food/treat items. While the latter were merely “ok” approximately half the toys I received for my 14 lb dog were too small they had to be given away. Barkbox sent me toys that were so small, they were choking hazards and were best suited for teacup dogs that are under 7lbs. One toy, a stuffed cornucopia with mini squeaker toys inside was so dangerous, I threw it out immediately, as the mini squeaker toys were too small for even my friend’s 6 lb chi.
In terms of value, all the treats/toys/food items can be found online or at places like Ross/Marshalls for less. If you live in the US, you might “break even”, but if you live in Canada, like I do, once you add in the exchange rate and additional shipping costs, you’re better to buy from your local pet retailer.
Thank you for the feedback. I am sorry you were disappointed. I think the surprise element is the most fun thing for me but, as you said, some people may be happier just buying a few of their favorite treats and toys from the pet store.
I have been creating “barkboxes” for years before ever hearing of them! Basically, I shop a large retailer online and select the treats and toys and accessories that I know without a doubt my pups will enjoy. They love plush toys not plastic. They like certain flavors and textures of treats. They definitely know what they don’t like, too. I choose collars, leashes, collar charms, etc based on their breed (example: pit bull — super strong collars). The charms are chosen to go with their personalities — a white daisy for one, a pink butterfly for the other. I have the mail to address in their names, c/o my name. They love receiving their special boxes. I get so much joy seeing their reactions. Economically better for me and a surefire hit for them.
I understand the surprise factor but I just couldn’t bear my sweet puppies to be let down by an item.
That’s a good idea. Honestly though, dog subscription boxes are more about MY surprise to me. My dogs eat about anything and don’t really care what’s in a box. I could put the treats I already have in the cupboard in a box, let them root round in it, and they would be in heaven 🙂 I like to discover new products though that I might not have seen on my store shelves or might have passed over because I tend to go with our same favorites every time. It’s true that not everything in a subscription box is a hit with both me and them though so it doesn’t always come out even as far as cost like it would doing it your way.
I’m a member of BarkBox and have found their treats to be of very good quality, all made in the USA. The toys, however, are a dismal choice. Most I receive, come from China which I refuse to give to my babies. I’ve complained to their customer service which got me many apologies and replacement product but every month the toys continue to disappoint. Replacing China made products with other China made products is not acceptable to me. I agree with your other bloggers that the price is only acceptable with the suspense of the unknown gifts that arrive each month but the toys are a complete waste of time. They say that their manufacturers in China use only the best ingredients available but I’ve yet to see anything come through that I feel comfortable letting my dogs enjoy. There’s a reason the manufacturers make things in China. Cost cutting is a big issue but I don’t agree it should be done when it comes to consumables. Love your blog. I’m a huge fan of doxies! Absolutley love them!
Thanks for sharing your experience on BarkBox. It’s been a long time since we tried one so I am glad to have some updated information about what’s in it. It’s too bad that most of the toys are from China. That would freak me out a little. There are several boxes out there now that focus on providing toys made in the US and, in some cases, that comply with human safety standards. Pooch Perks is the best one I’ve found when it comes to toys and their treats are made in the USA. You can check them out here if you haven’t already: http://youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/pooch-perks-subscription-dog-box-review-and-giveaway/
Also, I found my old discount code for Pooch Perks. Use the Code “YDWWYW” for 25% off Your First Pooch Perks Box. They gave it to me a while ago so hopefully it still works.
Would you recommend Barkbox for dogs of all sizes?
I can’t speak for ever dog, especially the super large breeds because I am not familiar with their challenges, but I would say yes.
We recently joined bark box and our beloved mini dachshund Ruby Rose loved it. She is not a picky girl, loves toys even the rubber ones. The treats they sent she loves all of them. I think if you have a dog that seems to like everything it will be a big hit, but if your fur baby is more picky or has sensitivity issues it may not be for you. Maybe a box u can pick what your doggie likes best is better for the more picky pooch. For us we love the element of surprise and really is a huge hit with us. We signed up for the 12 month plan, small dog. You have the option to pay monthly or pay in full. I will post again next month when we receive our next Bark Box.
Thanks for sharing your expereince Rachel. I’m glad Ruby liked BarkBox. I look forward to hearding how you feel about the box over time.
I just subscribed to Bark Box, as my newest dog loves toys (the other one, not so much), so I’ve been looking for reviews. Thanks for your honest review, as well as your updated.
However, I think you have a typo in the update… You say “very likely to go out of business”- I think you mean unlikely!
Thanbks for the heads up Jessi. Yes, that is what I meant 🙂 I’ll go fix it right now.
I signed Molly my pup up for barkbox last month and she loves it! Shes about 25 lbs and I’ve had one box of small items and another of medium to see the difference. The small aren’t too small at all…. maybe around the size of your cell phone. The mediums so far have been big enough for her to have to use two paws and be able to have a happy time ripping apart. They also all have been well made and there was one that she didn’t really like and the company shipped out a new toy in about 1 week. The treats are fantastic and I find for their quality, less expensive then going to petco or petsmart where your going to pay 10 bux for package of truly good treats. Not to mention I can reorder them if she liked them and most are only 3-6 dollars. Plus you can customize the boxes around allergies or if your dog needs tougher toys.
All in all, it’s cheaper to get a bark box than go to the store and I think they have their system down packed. It’s only toys and treats now unlike in 2012 when you first got yours. I also don’t have a huge problem with the toys being made in China because the major retailers for pet supplies get their stuff from china too but most items aren’t labeled with the location that they were made in.
Any way, bark box works for Molly and I!
Glad Molly liked the box and I’m glad you’ve had a good experience. I’ve received a box more recently than this review (it was factored into my other reviews). I’ve tried about 17 different subscription box services. BarkBox is one of my top recommended ones.
I saw an ad on my Facebook page for it and with a discount on the first box. I thought okay, this will be a good way to try it. I chose the month to month subscription because I assumed as the 6 or 12 month subscriptions are lower in cost that they would be billed in full after the first box (and that is correct after much research today). I was just okay with the box and my dog didn’t like the treats so we were left with a squeaky hat and other toy (both destroyed within 24 hours). So I went to my account to cancel as it says all over the website “cancel anytime”. I cancelled and received a cancellation email, but all that really means is that I cancelled my renewal after the year is up. I am still obligated to pay until May 2018. A FULL YEAR! AND I have to pay full price for the “discount” box because you only got the discount if you chose the 6 or 12 month subscription. No where did this info come up on the website. I got a letter back from customer service basically saying it said that on the website but it gets missed sometimes. How do you actually just try the product? Pay for six months as the cheapest alternative? I’ve read reviews all day with so many people who had this problem. You would think with all the negative reviews on the same thing for years now they would have made it much more clear. It’s turned what seemed like a great idea and having some loyal customers into a fraud, bait and switch company with horrible reviews. I only wish I had read the reviews first because I am stuck with $252 of product I don’t want. Seeing the box in the mail is literally going to make me nauseated. Why go to these lengths? It seems they have some loyal customers. Why not let others just try it once to see if they like it rather than pissing them off right from the start. For those of you thinking of trying BarkBox, please know you are locked into whatever subscription you chose regardless of your feelings on the Box and its contents.
I Karen. I am sorry you are so frustrated. That doesn’t sound right to me either. What you are describing to me sounds like what happens when you purchase a subscription for a whole year, not monthly. I understand that you are saying you didn’t think you were doing that though (perhaps a 12-month commitment was necessary to get the first box free in their ad?). I will look into it further.
FYI, BarkBox will allow you to return any item you don’t like and they will send out a replacement item to you at no cost. For people who are worried they won’t get what their dog enjoys, this should change your mind on their subscription service.
Great point and thanks for sharing that. While I’ve also heard some complaints about BarkBox customer service, I’ve found most had a positive experience when they took the time to reach out to them for help.