BarkBox Review: Is It Worth It?

By Lydia Noyes
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Dec 17, 2019

These days, it’s possible to purchase almost any product on a subscription basis. Pet items are no exception.

BarkBox is a dog-centered subscription service that lets you receive a box of themed toys and treats for your dog each month. Each BarkBox delivery includes toys, treats, and a chew, all based around a monthly theme.

You can customize this delivery based on your dog’s size and capabilities. For instance, pets with strong jaws are best suited for a Super Chewer box that comes with more chews and extra-durable toys.

BarkBox’s goal is to add some whimsy and the thrill of the unexpected to pet ownership while allowing you to spoil your favorite canine. Though you won’t know what will come in your box ahead of time, BarkBox guarantees that every toy, treat, and chew is designed to maximize your dog’s enjoyment while keeping them safe and healthy.

Is a monthly pet subscription from a company like BarkBox worth it? In this review, we’ll go through what you’ll receive and whether other pet owners are happy with the service so you can decide.

Pros: Cons:
  • Cute pet products based around themes
  • Possible to choose how many chews, toys, and treats you want
  • “Original” and “Super Chewer” subscriptions available for different dog personalities
  • You can purchase add-ons from the company website
  • Mediocre reviews on HighYa
  • The company won’t refund payments for subscriptions that automatically renew
  • Customer complaints about toy quality

How Does BarkBox Work?

BarkBox boxes are offered on a subscription basis. You’ll start the signup process by sharing your pet’s name, size (selecting 0–20lbs, 20–50lbs, or 50+lbs), breed, age, and any allergies for ingredient preferences.

If you think your pet is between two sizes or you have two pets of different sizes, BarkBox recommends sizing up your order. The price per box won’t change based on pet size.

Note: BarkBox isn’t available for cats.

The BarkBox default option will include two toys, two bags of treats, and one chew toy. You can adjust this assortment and request more or fewer of one type of product by messaging BarkBox’s customer service at happy@barkbox.com or by using the website’s online chat feature.

Each month’s BarkBox will be based around a theme. For instance, December 2019’s theme was “The Muttcracker” and its options included a nutcracker toy, multipart sleigh toy, sugarplum fairy toy, wearable Santa hat, ginger cranberry “cookies”, and dance of the berry dazzled ducks treats.

May 2019’s “Sniffs from the Abyss” theme included four navy and fuschia hued sea creature toys, including a jellyfish, sea slug, and multi-part “food chain friends,” as well as two bags of treats.

Note that your pet will only receive two of toy options associated with each theme unless you specify otherwise. These toys are chosen randomly for each box.

It’s possible to add additional extra products to your box or double the items included in it through your online account dashboard.

You can also share your pet’s birthday or adoption day as part of the signup process. During that month, BarkBox will offer you birthday-themed products that you can purchase as add-ons for your box.

Are BarkBox Treats Healthy?

The company states online that all BarkBox treats are made from USA-based ingredients and are free of soy and wheat, and corn. You can also request that they be free of chicken, beef, or turkey if your pet has a sensitivity to one of these proteins.

It’s also possible to chat with a company representative to customize your pet’s box if they have other dietary needs.

The Super Chewer Subscription

If you have a pet that loves to chew, you might want to upgrade your subscription to Super Chewer status. These boxes are also delivered monthly, and each one includes two durable toys, two bags of treats and two chews.

These toys are designed for serious chewers and should last longer than toys in the original boxes. They are “fluff-free” and made from a tough-but-tearable fabric cover and a solid rubber or nylon core.

If your pet chews through a Super Chewer toy, BarkBox’s return policy states that the company will replace it with another toy.

What Does BarkBox Cost?

BarkBox subscriptions cost the following prices per month:

Original BarkBox Super Chewer
Month-to-Month $29/month $39/month
Six Months $25/month ($150 total) $34/month ($204 total)
12 Months $22/month ($264 total) $29/month ($348)

Adding bonus items to your order will raise this base cost. For example, you can purchase a premium toy every month for an additional $9.

It’s possible to purchase most items included in BarkBox on an a la carte basis at the brand’s e-commerce site, BarkShop.com. Many of these toys and treats are also available in US retail locations like Target, Amazon, Bluestone Lane and more.

Each of these plans enrolls you in a recurring subscription unless you choose to opt-out online before it renews.

You can also order boxes as gifts, which don’t come as a subscription. Their pricing is the following:

  • 1 box: $35
  • 3 boxes: $89
  • 6 boxes: $149
  • 12 boxes: $249

All orders include free shipping.

How to Cancel Your BarkBox Subscription

You can cancel your subscription at any time through your web account, but it’s not possible to get a refund on any unused months that you already paid for.

This means that those who purchase a six-month or twelve-month subscription need to cancel before it renews if they don’t want to pay for the additional subscription time.

While the company doesn’t have an official return policy, they will work with your privately to ensure you are 100% satisfied with your order.

It’s best to direct any questions to the company support team at happy@barkbox.com.

Are BarkBox Products a Good Deal?

According to the prices on Bark.com (BarkBox’s official supplier), most treats in the boxes can be purchased individually for $5. The toys range in price from $10–$18, and most of the chews are about $10 each.

This brings the total value of each original box to between $40 and $56 if you were to buy each product separately. As you can purchase the boxes for $22–$29 each, you’re getting a benefit of $11–$24 by purchasing them through a subscription instead.

That’s a good deal if your pet loves everything they receive but it might get pricy if you find you aren’t using several items in every box.

Analysis of Customer Reviews

Here on HighYa, BarkBox has an average rating of 2.7 stars after more than 200 reviews. This included about 75 five-star reviews and more than 100 one-star reviews. Below is a summary of some of their main takeaways:

Fun, Engaging Boxes

A large portion of reviewers loved everything about BarkBox. They wrote that their pets enjoyed the treats and toys and that the themes were a fun surprise every month.

Though some subscribers noted that they were eventually going to cancel their subscription because they only needed so many dog toys in their homes, many seemed content to continue their membership longterm.

Box Quality Is Inconsistent

A few reviewers wrote that they were long-term subscribers to BarkBox and that they believed the value had gone down over time. Many reported that they received duplicate toys and full box duplicates and that the toys seemed lower quality because their pets were destroying the toys much faster than they had a few years before.

Others wrote that they felt like their boxes often contained returned items, as the products seemed bedraggled and almost prechewed.

Boxes Not Always Delivered

Some BarkBox subscribers never received their orders because they were sent to the wrong address. Others received boxes for only half the time they had paid for and needed to get in touch with customer service to fix the delivery issues.

Some users struggled to change or cancel their subscriptions and consequently ran into problems when they moved and couldn’t quickly update their listed address.

Inaccurate Pricing

A few Barkbox subscribers wrote that they were charged more than expected for their subscriptions and consequently felt like the company was taking advantage of them.

Pets Chewed Toys Too Quickly

The biggest complaint on HighYa about BarkBox is that pets chewed up their toys too quickly. Many reviewers wrote that the toys in an original subscription lasted less than an hour and that the Super Chewer toys were destroyed within a week.

Some wrote that they requested replacement toys from the company but were usually disappointed because they received the same toys again, which didn’t solve the durability. Others wrote that the company stopped replacing toys in the boxes after about five requests.

Key Takeaways

While a large portion of HighYa reviewers loved BarkBox, others were less positive.

Common complaints involve shipping and billing issues, the materials used in the chews, and the longevity of the toys.

If you have a dog that loves to tear toys apart, you might be disappointed in BarkBox’s quality.

BarkBox vs. Pooch Perks, PupBox, and BullyMake Box

There are many other canine-focused subscription brands to consider besides BarkBox. The following chart goes through key details for four popular options to help you decide what is best for your needs.

BarkBox (Original) BarkBox (Super Chewer) Pooch Perks (Popular Pooch) PupBox BullyMake Box
Cost Per Box $22–$29 $29–$39 $26–$35 $29–$39 $31–$39
Items Inside 2 Toys 2 Treats 1 Chew 2 Toys 2 Treats 2 Chews 5–6 Handpicked toys, treats and chews 5–7 Premium products, including a bag of treats, toys, and training tools 5–6 Premium treats and heavy-duty toys
Key Features Boxes are based around monthly themes Durable toys designed for big chewers, boxes are based around a theme Possible to sign up for toys-only subscriptions Each month’s box is based around your pet’s developmental age and includes training resources Durable toys designed for big chewers, boxes are based around a theme

As this chart shows, each brand offers its monthly subscriptions at a similar price-point to the others, and they each come with at least five products. All four also sign you up for an automatic subscription unless you choose to opt-out.

Pooch Perks is the only company we looked at that offers different prices based on your pet’s size, which could be an incentive for anyone with small dogs.

BarkBox offers the lowest price per box, but you need to commit to a year-long subscription to get it. Likewise, the brand got relatively low reviews on our site for customer service and product quality.

Each company (besides Pooch Perks) bases each month’s products around a theme. These vary from seasonal celebrations to dinosaurs, deep-sea creatures, video games, and more. These themes seem to be a significant selling point for many people, as they add an element of surprise and anticipation to the boxes that make them more exciting than picking out pet supplies at the store.

BarkBox’s Super Chewer subscription is very similar to BullyMake Box, both from a pricing and a product standpoint. While there aren’t any reviews for BullyMake on HighYa, the company averages four stars out of five on MySubscriptionAddiction.

Both companies offer nylon toys, which might be a drawback if you’re concerned about them being too hard on your pet’s teeth.

Key Takeaways

If you are shopping for a puppy, PupBox provides you with age-appropriate toys and training materials that can be a big help to new pet owners.

Those interested in owning lots of “cute” dog toys based around specific themes will likely be happy with BarkBox. Just keep in mind that the toys might not last long if your pup gets aggressive with them.

For those who own a chewing enthusiast, BarkBox’s Super Chewer box or a BullyMake Box are both excellent options. Our research shows that BullyMake boxes often include more bones and digestible chews than chew toys, which might affect your decision process.

The Bottom Line: Should You Consider BarkBox?

BarkBox has a transparent business model. You will sign up for a subscription that renews at a preset point, and then receive a predetermined ratio of pet toys, treats, and chews each month based around a surprise theme.

We like that the company offers customers a choice in what kinds of products are included in each box and that it’s possible to purchase monthly add-ons or buy the same items a la carte from the brand’s e-commerce store.

However, BarkBox gets mediocre reviews overall from HighYa readers. Common complaints involve the toys’ quality and problems with billing and delivery.

We think there’s a good chance that you and your pet will be happy with BarkBox, but you might not want to commit to a long-term subscription until you’ve sampled a box. That’s why suggest buying a few toys and treats individually or purchasing a gift box so you aren’t immediately enrolled in a subscription.


Customer Reviews

Start your review of BarkBox:
  • 203 Customer Reviews
  • 41% Recommend This Company
2.7 out of 5
5 star: 36% 4 star: 3% 3 star: 2% 2 star: 5% 1 star: 50%

 Our Promise to You

To safeguard you and ensure helpfulness and relevance, our compliance team manually assess every customer review before it goes live.

We have a zero-tolerance policy for fake reviews, and companies cannot control or alter any reviews at any time.

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  • Poor customer service

    • By Mariea ,
    • Cincinnati, OH,
    • Aug 8, 2015

    A furry friend just signed up for BarkBox using a referral link. That meant that I was supposed to get two free extra months added to my subscription.

    I received an email from them now they are refusing to send it because the person used a Groupon. I feel like they sent the email and its their error which they should stand behind. All I got was "apologies" from the customer service.

    Boxes were cute and I would have continued to re-order but not now.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Damaged first shipment no response from company

    • By Darlene Morabito,
    • Auburn, NY,
    • Sep 9, 2014

    We received our first shipment approximately three weeks ago. The box was crushed flat as a pancake. We had to throw away most of the treats because they were reduced to crumbs. All of the packaging was damaged for each individual item inside. After several attempts to contact the company with no response, we are disgusted with this brand and wouldn't recommend them to anyone. Still hoping I can get in touch with them, if for no other reason than to cancel my subscription once it runs out. I hear that they automatically renew without advising their customers, so I am very concerned. They are not reliable and their customer service is NON-EXISTENT!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • It was a Groupon Purchase, Bad Customer Service

    • By J,
    • Lubbock, Texas,
    • Jul 7, 2015

    Barkbox has found it, but the incompetence of customer service  people reign and they do not know how to take care of the Groupon without putting my credit card number on their site.

    Three months ago I purchased a Groupon. Paid in good faith for three months of BarkBox. Still haven't seen ANY items. Beware. I have been talking and emailing back and forth – spending way too much time on this issue that should be a non issue. Simple. Pay for items, items get sent out and smiles all around. Not for me, still isn't resolved. They now want my credit card to put on their site - what so I can pay twice? Not.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE

    • By Penny,
    • Chicago, IL,
    • Oct 7, 2014

    I sent a box as a gift and still 1 month later it is not delivered. They did not answer my emails properly and I couldn't speak to anyone in person. They lost a good customer - and they don't even care.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Don't waste your money

    • By SEM,
    • Jun 11, 2015

    Ordered the box on the 8th. I emailed them two times after the 15th (takes that long to ship!) in order to get the tracking number which they explained was their policy. Two times the rep told me it shipped no problem its on its way. 10 days later, I called to talk with someone and lo and behold they had a "Snafu" and it hasn't even shipped yet. Not sure If we will ever get it.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Collegic theme received for November 2014 Barkbox looks like Sept box

    • By Anonymous,
    • Maine,
    • Jun 19, 2015

    Disappointed that we received this box. Prior to ordering I thought, oh so glad I didn't order for this month and now I've received it anyway. Perhaps it would not be bad if it was the free box that I see offered on some three month subscriptions. After I've ordered that, if I had entered a certain code I would get the last months box free so 4 for the price of 3. That would have been cool with the Halloween box but the collegiate box I have also seen mix weak reviews and didn't find the pennant interesting at all.

    Two of the 3 treat items received weak interest from our puppy who is always hungry and he didn't care for the two items.  The only one he liked was the duck chew stick, which he disappeared in less that 15 minutes. The other two felt like he only took them to be polite since he is not polite regarding food. It really registered that he didn't care for either set of treats. Anyway, hopefully it will only get better from here but really wish this wasn't the first box we received.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Piece of crap company

    • By Tammy ,
    • Canada,
    • Jul 9, 2015

    I will start off by saying I would rate no stars if I could. I ordered one box to try. I decided I did not want to continue, seeing as the products are not worth it. After receiving another box, I thought maybe a mistake until I looked at my visa charges. They charged me again. Me being an annoyed costumer, phoned them and said cancel this subscription. After dealing with them for over ten minutes saying they couldn't find my account, finally they find it and say "since it is past shipment day you will receive this month's BarkBox and you can either keep it or send back for money back, this will be your last box".

    Here is the kicker, I got another charge and box this month so guess what BarkBox company, my credit card company will be taking to you today.

    Sincerely, a pissed off person.

    P.S. Bottom line, this company is crap and a scam.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Infuriating company, no customer service

    • By Anonymous,
    • Texas ,
    • Aug 14, 2015

    If I could give them zero stars I would.

    Ordering: online I attempted to order one box. Put in cart, applied coupon, filled out form and hit submit. The screen didn't change. No 'congratulations' or 'we've received your order'. So I waited a few and hit send again. Still no screen change. So I opted to online chat for guidance. No one answered. 5 minutes later I finally found a phone number. These people do not want you to call. I called and got an out of office voicemail. Not what you want to hear just before the holidays when the item is a gift. I regretfully sent an email to address my concerns as by then my email confirmed several purchases.

    Shipping: first, I'd like you to know I ordered the box on the 15th December and it wasn't shipped until 23rd December 'expedited delivery'. Secondly, I had the box sent to a PO Box and found out only after the box was held and denied delivery that they ship FedEx who only ships to PO Boxes outside the US. Funny there was no mention of it on the site nor was it mentioned during the call I received regarding the system limitation order confirmation page to remove excess orders. I sat helplessly watching the tracking say 'delivery denied' as Christmas came and went. Mind you, their answering message changed to 'we are out for the howl-a-days.'

    The box was returned to BarkBox by FedEx. I was told by email that id receive a credit for the 'expedited delivery' with no credit to see on my credit card. Was told a new box would be sent out with no tracking email sent to me for follow up. They prefer one-way email communication rather than a one-and-done phone call. The mystery items in the boxes are probably manufacturer clearance/overstock/giveaways.

    I'm just over it.

    To Don't Listen To The Haters in WI - you're an obvious employee because all you did was post retorts to the many cons listed here and didn't offer your own subscription experience. And guess what, the cons outnumber you.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Not worth the money, and customer service is poor

    • By Denise,
    • Silver Spring, Maryland,
    • Jan 16, 2015

    I paid for 3 month subscription. After I saw how empty the first box was, I called to cancel. Of course, they don't answer the phone. They also did not call me back.

    Several weeks later I noticed in my spam there was a very curt email from two days ago. Then, I look on the site and my subscription was deactivated but it looks like they are saying I am owed 1 box. I don't know what is going on because no one wants to speak to me on the phone. Frustrating!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Nothing for Christmas

    • By Malinda,
    • DeLand, FL,
    • Jul 12, 2015

    I thought this was a great idea. I have cancer and I don't get out much. My dog is my constant companion, and I thought this would be a nice treat for him. After several emails from BarkBox with teaser deals, I signed up. They debited my bank account immediately. It has been six weeks and still no box. I have contacted them several times, they promised to expedite. Still no results. They should not charge you until product has been shipped. I have a feeling it is going to be a nightmare to cancel the subscription.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


  • Scam Alert

    • By JR,
    • Boston, MA,
    • Jan 18, 2015

    They get one star, because the two dogs I bought the two boxes for seemed to enjoy them. (it looks like zero stars isn't an option anyway). The company was nice enough to send a second one to each (at full charge) without my consent.

    You can not really order just one box and have it end there. Anyone with half a brain would assume if you order 1 box, that all you want is 1 (one) box.

    These people don't have half a brain (or moral compass), and assume that 1 box really means 1 box per month unless you cancel before realizing they are scamming you.

    Massive potential here, but for the deceptive and criminal behavior of the company I am unsatisfied.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend


Showing 1-11 of 203

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