The dog subscription box market has exploded. In 2012, I learned about the first one. Less than a year later, there were 7 boxes on the market.
I found searching the internet for reviews and information to make the right choice confusing. In order to demystify the choices, I wrote a blog post comparing all 7 dog goody subscription boxes side-by-side.
That comparison post was written two years ago and is woefully outdated now. In the last two years I have seen many boxes come and go. In fact, only two of the original boxes compared still exist.
In order to fairly compare boxes, I sought to try them all (although there are so many now, that has proven impossible). I have even received some for several months at a time.
To tell you the truth, after months of receiving the boxes, they all started to have the same stuff in them. Literally. There were one or two brands that seemed to have made the subscription box rounds because they showed up in almost all of the boxes at one time or another. There were months we were happy with most of the items in a box and there were months when we donated everything we got.
Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE getting mystery goodies in the mail for Chester and Gretel. I’ve just noticed some trends and am more discerning about how I judge the boxes… which is actually a good thing for you.
If you want to stop reading now, we can just say they are pretty much all the same. They all come in the mail; they all have 4 – 8 goodies in them; and they all provide a value a bit higher than it would cost to buy the stuff separately in a store.
Are they really the same though?
No, not totally. The quality of the products in some subscription boxes is a bit better. Some have a little bit of special sauce that might sway you one way or another. If you want to know what makes them different, then read on.
Side-by-side Comparison of 7 Dog Subscription Boxes
Related: The 3 Best Dog Subscription Boxes
A Closer Look
I first reviewed BarkBox in 2012 . I started my subscription again in March 2015 to get an updated look at what’s inside. After a long gap. I had a chance to try the box again in spring 2017. I will say that the quality of their products have vastly improved over time.
BarkBox is a box of surprise goodies for your dog that arrive on your doorstep every month. Every BarkBox comes with 2 original toys only available through BarkBox and BarkShop.com, 2 all-natural bags of treats, and a chew all curated to match each month’s uniquely-themed collection. They pick the best US/Canadian made treats and innovative toys to match a dog’s unique needs, including allergies. For $9/month, they’ll add an extra toy to your pup’s BarkBox.
They give 10% of all profits to shelters and, together with their BarkGood program, they are working with over 3,000 shelters and rescues around the U.S. and Canada.
The Barkbox subscription box has been around the longest. That means that they have had the longest to learn from their customers, perfect they way they do things, and have the longest track record. As they put it, “Having shipped over 50 million toys and treats so far, we’ve learned a ton about what engages dogs.”
Read our most current BarkBox review HERE.
PawPals with Annie Gift Box
I like the PawPals with Annie gift box because each one is personalized beyond just putting your dog’s name on the box. They aim to add customized goodies in each box that are specific to your dog’s likes, breed, and size (for example, that little Doxie soap you see in the picture).
Inside the PawPals with Annie Gift Box, you will find all-natural goodies and well-made toys that have been tested and approved by Annie, a fun-loving, tail wagging, blonde Scottie from Savannah. Including only dog-tested products helps ensure great, high-quality products in every box that your own pup will be happy with. PawPals With Annie proudly supports America’s VetDogs Corporation, local rescue shelters, adoption centers, community animal activists, fundraisers, and educational programs.
THE biggest thing that makes this box unique is that it doesn’t auto renew. No more forgetting to cancel and being surprised by an additional charge on your card. Pawpals with Annie gift boxes ship new orders every week (instead of monthly like most).To see inside a couple of these boxes, please see our previous reviews here and here.
Note: As of 4/30/17, this box has gone out of business (I think it happened sometime last year) but I’m leaving the information here in case someone is interested in seeing what the box used to be about.
I’ll admit that it’s been a while since we reviewed the Bugsy’s Box. Based on our past experience, I can say that I was unimpressed by what was in the box. A lot of that can be chalked up to person preference though so I am certainly not knocking them. It’s just that we ended up donating most of what was in the box.
Bugsy’s Box includes 3 to 5, full-size products hand picked just for your dog. You will also find sample sized products, and misc other goodies, from time to time. All of the treats included in Bugsy’s Box are made in the USA. Every month, the Bugsy’s Box blog highlights a new rescue, and for that month they donate $.25 from every box sold to that rescue.
You can read a recent review of Bugsy’s Box from our friends over at 2 Brown Dawgs.
The folks at PupJoy are so into dogs that they created a community around how much they mean to us. Their hope is that, together, the community can help shape industry standards, support artisan manufacturers, and help to make an impact on important causes.
PupJoy is a “monthly box of bliss for your dog”. Their customization raises the bar for dog subscription services. They believe that your dog isn’t a one-size fits all, or a three-size fits most. Boxes can be customized for dogs that only like toys and accessories, multiple dog households, tough chewers, and dogs allergic to grain. Through the PupJoy Care Pack programs, they donate up to 50% of the profits to charitable ventures.
I felt like the items in this box were well thought out and loved that the leash and collar set was from an organization, Bait Free, whose mission is to spread awareness about the use of bait dogs and other survivors of dog fighting. You can read our complete review of the box here.
The Pet Giftbox team of discriminating pet lovers and savvy pet experts, carefully select and curate each box. Every one of the included products gets an exclusive “Paw Print of Satisfaction” before they send it to you. A portion of all proceeds is given to America’s VetDogs,® an organization serving the needs of veterans with disabilities.
There were a whole lot of toys in the box we received for sure. However, I wasn’t thrilled with the treats that were included and most the toys were only suitable for light chewers. You can read our full review of the box here.
Paws & Play
Live in Canada and want to support a Canada-based gift box service, eh? Paws & Play is for you. They receive an A++ for fun and creativity in my book too.
In addition to the ability to order toy-only subscription boxes, Paws & Play offers special occasion/event boxes such as the Earth Rangers Special Edition Charity Box and the Canadian Cottage Hound Gift Box. They also offer three different boxes, with a minimum of three options on each, for over 12 ways to customize your box. Paws & Play believes in curating pet boxes using fresh organic fruit and vegetables, free range meat products, and the freshest human grade ingredients. They strive to use little or no excess packaging. It is my understanding that all of the products are sourced in Canada, further supporting Canadian brands.
Note: Shipping is free on new orders but is normally a $5 flat fee.
I was very pleased with the products that came in the Paws & Play box and there were very few items that I won’t use. You can read our full review here.
Note: As of 4/30/17, it appears this box has gone out of business. However, their website is still live. It appears that they now drive you to sign up for a BarkBox subscription (see above). I’m leaving the information about PetBox here in case someone is interested in seeing what the box used to be about though.
PetBox gives you the option to pack your own box if you want to know what is going to show up on your doorstep. They are THE ONLY monthly pet box that gives you that option.
PetBox offers a “one box for all”. That doesn’t mean you can’t customize your box. In face it’s just the opposite – get items for your cat, dog, pig, or all three! You pick your favorites, their pet experts do the leg-work, and they send a collection built just for you. Their team of pet experts work hand-in-hand with veterinarians, groomers, dog-walkers, and members to source the most healthy, fun products in the world. They pride themselves in great customer service.
You can watch Gretel digging around in the PetBox we got here.
Subscription boxes are great if you like the element of surprise or want to give a unique gift. However, if you are used to buying high-quality products from independent pet stores like us, you won’t be blown away by anything. The theory here is that you get to try some products that you might otherwise not buy and you get a little discount compared to buying everything in the box separately.
Do I have a favorite box? Yes, I do. You’ll have to stay tuned for my top three dog subscription box post for the answer though.
Dog Subscription Boxes We Have Reviewed Since This Post Was Written
There are new subscription boxes coming out all of the time and it is hard to keep up. The boxes we have reviewed since this comparison post will be added to the chart when the next version is published For now, you can check out additional reviews here: