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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  • Dishonest company!

    • By Madison,
    • Charleston, SC,
    • Mar 2, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Their "you can cancel at any time," which is clearly written on the very front page of their website, is a complete lie. You can't cancel for 12 or 6 months (whatever you sign up for), EVEN IF you complete a cancellation form on their website and go through the fake formalities that they have set up. I did this and was still charged for February.

    I contacted their customer service, and they informed me that "you can cancel at any time" actually means "when your 12 months is up, you can choose to not renew the service, otherwise, it will be renewed for you." Really?

    It's FRAUD. They are literally scamming people left and right. This is my second negative encounter with them too (one time they charged me for a box and never shipped anything to me). Stay away!

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


  • Blaming others

    • By Brandon Jay,
    • New York,
    • May 18, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Reading through these reviews is infuriating. It's pretty clear that when you sign up for a 6 or 12-month subscription, you're committing to the entire length. Why else would they give you a cheaper per month price? I don't understand how you all just assume you can get their cheapest price for absolutely nothing back on your end. They're a business trying to make money, so of COURSE they are going to have practices that benefit them. That's the entire point of their existence. I get that the "cancel at any time" line is a bit misleading, but worse than being misleading is not doing your research before signing up for something, or even worse, having absolutely no common sense and then blaming the company for your idiocy. Sorry, not sorry.

    As for the actual product, I love BarkBox. They save me a lot of time, effort, and money for my little weeny King. Their treats are enjoyed and healthy, and their toys are all great quality for my little destroyer (once I went on their free Tough Chewer option)! I love BarkBox, and I think they're doing a great service for us passionate pup parents. It goes without saying, but do your research before going into business with them! If you think it is right for you, though, I would wholeheartedly recommend them.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • BarkBox is Not Worth the Money

    • By L.N.K.,
    • Minneapolis, MN,
    • Sep 12, 2015

    I signed up for BarkBox on a three month trial with a free toy upgrade for a total of $72. My dog did enjoy some of the treats and a few of the toys, but for the most part BarkBox was not worth the money even with the free toy upgrade. The toys are not very strong and my 13-pound Jack Russell Terrier destroyed some of them in under 10 minutes.

    Also, some of the treat flavors were very odd. In August my dog received Watermelon flavored treats which he detests. The upgrade toy was always some weird, obscure toy that was clearly designed for humans and that no dog wants to play with like a cylindrical shaped toy that you are supposed to put carrots in or a frog shaped rubber toy that floats in water. My dog didn't really enjoy these toys even though he is very smart. They just didn't have enough pizzazz to spark his interest.

    Lastly, and probably the number one reason I don't think BarkBox is worth the money is because they automatically renew your subscription without any notice before it happens. Sure, their website says they do it, but for a company who sends you tons of e-mails you would think that you would receive a courtesy email telling you this is about to happen. I was charged $99 for another three months and they automatically included the toy upgrade. By the time I saw the charge on my credit card (which was done over Labor Day Weekend) on Tuesday, I was told that my September box had already shipped and that it cost $33 and they were only refunding me $66. It seems to me that BarkBox makes its money by offering you a discount or special perk and then automatically renews your subscription at full price in order to make money. The customer service representative that I chatted with still used that dog voice and misspelling of words which simply added to my ire.

    Simply put, BarkBox is not worth the money and the convenience in not having to go to the pet store does not outweigh the inconvenience, lack of quality, and actual cost of their products.

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


  • Disappointed

    • By Adam,
    • OH,
    • Jul 10, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Ordered the Bark Box for a small dog and was really disappointed with the items shipped. There was a strawberry shaped toy that you can put treats in. It took the small dog (6lbs) 15 minutes to chew pieces of the rubber strawberry off and attempt to ingest them. We immediately threw it away. The other toy was a very small butterfly which was pretty decent and probably worth 5-7 bucks. The treats were decent quality but quite honestly I thought this would be more geared toward toys than treats. The rawhide included was just cheap filler.

    In the end, I understand all things do not work for all dogs and that was the reason I did month to month. I canceled the day we opened the box and just discovered today they are continuing to charge me. This is the main reason I never do these services and unfortunately I trusted this was really month to month.

    Summary: I don't feel like the items included are worth anywhere near the price and the hassle is not worth it.

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


  • Beware of Subscription

    • By Hardy Green,
    • Nevada,
    • Oct 26, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I ordered a one time Barkbox to take a look at the contents. I paid for the one month option. I was amazed to see another charge on my credit card for an additional Barkbox. My card was charged 5 days before I got an email indicating the Barkbox was shipped.

    I only wanted ONE evaluation box, but they took that to mean a subscription for the product, even though I paid the one-time price for the product.

    Frankly, the contents consisted of two cheap toys and some treats that my dog won't eat. You would do better to shop at your local pert store.

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


  • Not Impressed

    • By Elle,
    • Sep 29, 2015

    I have a teacup chihuahua and they sent me toys big enough for a great dane -- they were extremely heavy and too large for my friend's cocker spaniel. I clicked "small dog" when I started my subscription so was very surprised. The worst part was that customer service was extremely rude and told me to "donate" the toys if I wasn't happy with them. That message was in response to me simply asking if they had sent me the wrong box. In this day and age, with so many other options available, they might want to think twice about the way they treat customers.

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


  • Excellent Products & Customer Service!

    • By Amy,
    • Loudonville, OH,
    • Aug 18, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    Received our first BarkBox last month. Our Chihuahua loved the toys! He is a chewer, but they have held up great. He wasn't interested at all in the one type of treats they sent.

    I messaged Barkbox via Facebook and received an immediate response. They asked what type of treats our pup prefers and gave us a $15 credit and free shipping on anything in the Barkshop.

    I don't think there are any hidden/sneaky charges, just folks who aren't reading what is plainly stated when signing up.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend


  • Not pleased

    • By Bella's Mom,
    • Florida,
    • Dec 15, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I placed an order because it said cancel at any time. Well you can cancel your subscription anytime, but BarkBox will continue to send you boxes and charge you for them. How wonderfully underhanded of them. Subscribe at your own risk.

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


  • Good luck getting a refund

    • By Sharon Haack,
    • Nashville, TN,
    • Oct 7, 2016
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had to call three times in order to get the amount they charged my PayPal account refunded to me. This is ridiculous, they can't hear you talking to them because they're screaming in the background and dogs are barking. It's a cute idea but way overpriced for what they actually send you and if you have a problem, well good luck.

    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


  • Worst company ever

    • By Kristin Edmond,
    • New Milford, CT,
    • Sep 17, 2015

    I cannot get this company to respond to any of my emails. I ever received my back BarkBox.

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


Showing 1-11 of 203

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