PupBox vs BarkBox: Must Read Before Signing Up (2022)

Filed in Dog Subscription Boxes on March 7, 2022

PupBox vs BarkBox

Are you debating whether to sign up for PupBox vs BarkBox?

Learn some of the key differences between these popular dog subscription box services.

I’ll go over the basics of each box, what comes in each box, pricing, shipping, and key differences between them.

Spoiler Alert: I have to recommend BarkBox over PupBox since I’ve received many complaints from PupBox customers in the last year about the quality of treats and toys. Additionally, BarkBox is cheaper in price than PupBox, plus offers more alternative plans.

Just so you know, I may collect a small commission from the links below, but costs you nothing extra and helps run my site.

PupBox vs BarkBox Basics

First, let’s start with the basics of each box if you’re new to these two dog subscription box services.

What is PupBox?

PupBox is a monthly subscription service that’s customized to your dog’s specific life stage. They offer toys, treats and training guides in each box. Previously, they catered to puppies, but now they have boxes directed to puppies, young pups, grown pups and soon senior pups (starting sometime in 2022).

What comes in a PupBox?

what comes in a PupBox

The contents of my first PupBox

In each of their boxes, you’ll get:

  • Training materials based on the age of your dog
  • 1 bag of training treats
  • 4-6 additional products including toys, chews, and grooming/cleaning accessories based on the age and characteristics of your dog (adult dogs get 4-7 products)

Note: As far as the toys, recent customers complain that the toys are not as high quality as they expected. If you read the comments at the end of this post (and on other articles on my site), you will find several complaints. I don’t know if PupBox has or will make any changes.

Their training material guides owners through exact steps they need to take in order to raise their little one in the best way possible. For example, new dog owners might not even consider crate training and its importance with potty training as well as safety.

For an experienced dog lover, the material might not be as useful. You could probably find this information online, although you will be trading your time in exchange.

For the training material, you’ll learn things like:

  • How to’s of Crate Training
  • Teaching Puppy to Come on Command/Recall
  • Visual/Hand Gestures/Commands
  • Potty Training
  • Puppy Proofing Your Home

PupBox Coupons/Promos

Get 50% off your first box (Use Code PUPPY50 on multi-month plans)

What is BarkBox?

Madagascar unleashed barkbox

My recent Madagascar Unleashed themed BarkBox for March 2022

You may already know about BarkBox if you’re comparing PupBox vs BarkBox, so skip over this if you already know the basics.

BarkBox is also a monthly subscription service for your dog with entertaining treats, toys and chews that they should love. All treats are made in either the U.S. or Canada.

Each box is based on a unique theme, so that each month you’ll receive new and unique items. Some past BarkBox examples include New York City, Sniffin’ Safari, Chewrassic Bark, Knights of the Hound Table, Australian Outbark, and Bark Scoob. They even had some sports themes like BarkBox NCAA, BarkBox NBA, and BarkBox WWE.

I recently received the Madagascar Unleashed box with an extra toy included. In the past, I also received the New York City theme and took advantage of a coupon offer where I received twice the amount of toys and treats in my first box.

All of BarkBox’s toys are unique and designed in house. Owners can further choose what they like by working with their customer service if their dog is not happy with some of the products. Additionally, you can choose toys for a small, medium, or large dog for further customization.

What comes in a BarkBox?

Unboxed themed BarkBox

Unboxed BarkBox with extra toy due to special deal

Their basic box includes (without any customization):

  • 2 high quality toys
  • 2 full-size bags of treats
  • A chew each month

The size of the toys get customized depending on if you have a small, medium, or large dog. For example, they offer some toys that are meant for specific size dogs, while others are just given to all dogs but in the appropriate size. Their treats also come in different textures and sizes as well.

Occasionally, they’ll offer deals or special boxes with extra items like the Madagascar Unleashed Box (see photo) with an extra toy. In my recent box for March 2022, I received the following:

  1. Volana Iguana Squeak Dog Toy– this toy is filled with fluff, has crinkles, and a squeaker inside
  2. Mora Mora Mouse Lemur Squeak Dog Toy– this toy also has crinkles and a squeaker inside along with a tail
  3. Tiana Tomato Frog Squeak Dog Toy– this toy has crinkles, a squeaker and a bungee
  4. Oinky Jerky Bars– This jerky is packed with pork and real bacon
  5. Clucky Yummies– these biscuits are made with chicken and sweet potato
  6. Pork Stick Recipe for Dogs– These high protein treats are made with real pork and made in the U.S.

In my most recent box, the toys appear to be plush toys, but you have other options as well if you need stronger toys. There’s a More Durable Classic Plan for no extra charge or Super Chewer if your dog is a very heavy chewer for an extra charge (see below).

Additional Options with BarkBox

When it comes to PupBox vs BarkBox, BarkBox offers more alternatives with their plans. Here are some of them:

More Durable Classic Plan: Does your dog tear up their toys? BarkBox offers stronger enforced toys for no extra cost (See Super Chewer for the real strong chewer). These toys are reinforced with a liner, plus offer stronger stitching and materials.

Barkshop: Don’t want to sign up for a subscription? The Barkshop is the ecommerce portion of BarkBox. You can order recent items from past boxes plus other goodies instead of committing to a subscription.

BarkBox Lite: Don’t want so many items each month? They’ve also introduced their BarkBox Lite plan, which consists of 1 toy, 1 treat, and 1 chew.

The cost of BarkBox Lite is $14.99/month before taxes.

Super Chewer: Have a strong chewer? Super Chewer is owned by the same parent company as BarkBox. This plan offers more durable toys for the heavy chewer who tends to rip apart their toys. It comes with 2 toys, 2 treats, and 2 chews. Check out my article on BarkBox vs Super Chewer.

The cost of Super Chewer is $30 per box for a 12 month plan, $35 per box for a 6 month plan, and $45 per box for a 1 month plan.

There’s also a Super Chewer Lite plan for $19.99/month.

Is there a BarkBox for puppies?

BarkBox is preferably for puppies 6 months or older, according to the company. However, they do cater to all dogs and the preferences of your pup.

If you aren’t comfortable giving items to a younger pup, BarkBox also offers an all-toy box that you can use until your pup reaches 6 months. You can then switch to a variety of treats, chews, and toys.

Ultimately, it sounds like BarkBox can be used for puppies with some consideration and possible replacement of certain items. They also offer a Scout’s Honor program where they give free replacements if not happy with an item.

BarkBox Coupons/Promos

  1. FREE Nerf Tennis Ball Blaster from BarkBox When You Sign Up! (Value $43.99) (Valid from 9/1/22-9/30/22 on 6 and 12 month plans)
  2. FREE Blues Clues Bundle from BarkBox! (Valid from 9/13/22 until supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  3. Free YETI dog bowl when you sign up for BarkBox! (value $40) (Valid from 7/21/22 until supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  4. FREE Cuddler Bed (value $65) when you sign up for BarkBox! (Valid from 7/21/22 until supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  5. Free Extra Toy Exclusive Offer! Get a Free Extra Toy in every box when you sign up for BarkBox! (Valid from 7/7/22 until supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  6. FREE FunBoy Sprinkler for your pup when you sign up for BarkBox! value $59 (Valid from 7/1/22 until supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  7. FREE FunBoy Splash Pad for your Pup when you Sign-Up for BarkBox! (Valid while supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  8. FREE Dog Bed when you sign up for BarkBox! (Valid while supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  9. FREE Extra Month Added to Your Subscription! (Valid on 6 and 12 month plans)

While you do receive less products with BarkBox, you will also pay a lower monthly cost compared to PupBox.

Price of PupBox vs BarkBox

If price is important to you, let me discuss the monthly price and shipping cost for each service. Quick answer: Overall, PupBox is more expensive than BarkBox for the same length of subscription.

PupBox cost

  • 12 months: $29 per box
  • 6 months: $32 per box
  • 3 months: $34 per box
  • 1 month: $39 per box

You must pay on a monthly basis for your subscription plan regardless of length.

Shipping is free anywhere in the U.S. After November 15, 2021, PupBox is stopping all shipments to Canada due to logistical issues.

BarkBox cost

  • 12 months: $22 per box ($19.5 per box if choosing upfront billing after purchase- total $234)
  • 6 months: $26 per box ($23.16 per box if choosing upfront billing after purchase- total $139)
  • 1 month: $35 per box

With BarkBox, you can pay on a monthly basis just like PupBox. However, after purchase, they’ll offer you upfront billing for an additional discount that will be prorated to reflect your first payment made.

Shipping is free for BarkBox customers in the contiguous 48 states. If you live in Canada, Alaska, or Hawaii, you pay an additional $8 per month for shipping.

According to their customer service, they can also ship to any U.S. territory such as Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, etc. for $8-$10 per box.

When do their boxes arrive?

When comparing BarkBox vs PupBox, you may want to know when your boxes will actually arrive. Here is that information:

PupBox shipping timeframes

For PupBox, your first box ships out within one week after they process your payment. You can then expect it to arrive within 5-10 business days after they send you the tracking notification.

BarkBox shipping timeframes

delivery of BarkBoxFor BarkBox, for new customers in the 48 contiguous states, your box normally ships within 1-2 business days from your order date, and then another 2-8 business days to arrive. If you’re in Alaska, Hawaii or Canada, you have the same shipment time of 1-2 business days, and an additional 4-12 business days to arrive. These times may be longer for Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

For future boxes, they ship out within the first two weeks of the month, and then get delivered within the same time periods as described above depending where you live.

Cancellation Policies of BarkBox vs PupBox

With both services, they have auto-renewal set up for their subscription plans, so you will need to cancel before the end of the term. You can cancel auto-renewal online through their websites. I personally did this for BarkBox within a few days of signing up.

I see the most complaints from customers on this issue. Even if you turn off auto-renewals, you’ll still continue to receive boxes until the end of your committed subscription term.

Additional Differences

Contacting customer service

PupBox does not currently have a phone number to call, so you must contact their customer service by email. They state they’ll get back to you within 2 business days.

With Barkbox, they also don’t have a phone number, but they do have a live chat on their site or you can email them. I even chatted with a rep on their site over the weekend.

Quality of toys between PupBox vs BarkBox

PupBox vs BarkBox toys

Unique BarkBox Plush Toy

BarkBox offers unique toys that are designed by their company. I see many more complaints over PupBox’s toys, which recent customers claim are flimsy and low quality.

Additionally, if you have a stronger chewer, you can try BarkBox’s More Durable Classic Plan as a free upgrade with better reinforced toys, along with stronger stitching and materials. If that doesn’t work, you can pay more for Super Chewer, which is owned by the same parent company as BarkBox.

PupBox doesn’t have specific toys for the heavy chewer, although they claim to include tougher toys for the appropriate age and size of your dog.

Which dog subscription box is more popular?

BarkBox is the leader in this space and delivers boxes to more than 1 million dogs each month. In 2020, they had revenue of $224.3 million, with revenue projections for 2021 of over $369 million.

Since PupBox is part of Petco, it was hard to find specific numbers, but the CEO claimed on September 8, 2021 that over the last two years, PupBox has tripled in size.

Satisfaction Guarantee and Returns

BarkBox has a 100% satisfaction guarantee (Scout’s Honor guarantee) and will work with you to make it right, with no questions asked, if your dog isn’t happy with an item. This usually includes replacing the item with something else. It doesn’t appear they offer returns though.

PupBox states on their homepage that if there’s something your dog didn’t love, then they’ll replace it. They also do not appear to offer returns unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Allergy-Friendly?

BarkBox treats without fillers

BarkBox chicken treats with no wheat, soy, corn, or other fillers.

BarkBox states that they can accommodate almost all allergy and diet needs. When signing up,  you can specify whether to exclude treats with chicken, turkey, or beef. You can contact customer service afterwards for them to accommodate additional allergies. Their treats do not contain corn, wheat or soy. 

PupBox includes common food allergies to exclude when filling out your profile, which includes chicken, beef or pork. They state that they’ll do their best to accommodate or substitute for a suitable product. They also say you can add a note to your profile if your dog’s allergy is not included.

Charitable Donations

BarkBox claims that since 2017, they’ve worked with over 1,000 partners in animal and dog welfare across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada to give around $1 million each year in goods, services and direct funding to help dogs remain in homes.

They also just announced a partnership with Greater Good Charities where they’ll donate $10 million in products to expand Greater Good Charities’ initiatives by their partner rescues and shelters to help increase adoptions.

I cannot find any information on donations by PupBox, but will email their customer service to confirm.

Ownership

Some people think that PupBox is the same as BarkBox, but they’re entirely separate companies.

PetCo currently owns PupBox when they purchased the company back in November of 2017.

Barkbox has recently entered into a merger agreement with Northern Star Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company. It’s now a publicly traded company with the symbol BARK.

Headquarters

PupBox has their headquarters in San Diego, CA, while BarkBox is located in New York, NY.

Comparison Chart

I created the following infographic comparing important differences mentioned above (I will be updating this to reflect certain recent changes):

This is an infographic showing a comparison list for PupBox vs BarkBox.

Conclusion on PupBox vs BarkBox

For PupBox vs BarkBox, I would recommend BarkBox for the time being. They’re less expensive and receive less complaints regarding their toy quality compared to PupBox.

PupBox does offer training material, which somewhat differentiates them from BarkBox. As a result, PupBox could save you time with learning how to train your puppy.

Additionally, PupBox is now beginning to offer more customized boxes for dogs other than puppies.

However, with the complaints I have read, I only feel comfortable recommending BarkBox at this time. I’m still offering coupons for both services though.

See current deals below for each service:
PupBox Promos
:

Get 50% off your first box (Use Code PUPPY50 on multi-month plans)

BarkBox Promos:
  1. FREE Nerf Tennis Ball Blaster from BarkBox When You Sign Up! (Value $43.99) (Valid from 9/1/22-9/30/22 on 6 and 12 month plans)
  2. FREE Blues Clues Bundle from BarkBox! (Valid from 9/13/22 until supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  3. Free YETI dog bowl when you sign up for BarkBox! (value $40) (Valid from 7/21/22 until supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  4. FREE Cuddler Bed (value $65) when you sign up for BarkBox! (Valid from 7/21/22 until supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  5. Free Extra Toy Exclusive Offer! Get a Free Extra Toy in every box when you sign up for BarkBox! (Valid from 7/7/22 until supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  6. FREE FunBoy Sprinkler for your pup when you sign up for BarkBox! value $59 (Valid from 7/1/22 until supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  7. FREE FunBoy Splash Pad for your Pup when you Sign-Up for BarkBox! (Valid while supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  8. FREE Dog Bed when you sign up for BarkBox! (Valid while supplies last on 6 and 12 month plans)
  9. FREE Extra Month Added to Your Subscription! (Valid on 6 and 12 month plans)

Comments (27)

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  1. Bob Bobby says:

    This helped me decide whether to get a PupBox or a BarkBox for my new puppy.

    • Allison Boruff says:

      I have both for my pup and its been so worth it toys are expensive and in doing the math both are great value and money saver

  2. Christa says:

    Thank you. This helped me understand the difference in the products and which would be best for my pup and me as I raise my first pup on my own.

  3. Tracy Ortiz says:

    How do you cancel membership

    • Todd says:

      For PupBox, you want to visit your account page on their site to cancel your subscription.

      For BarkBox, the renewal can be disabled through your account page or by contacting their customer service.

  4. Grace says:

    This was a fantastic help to us as we are getting a Westie soon and are all about researching and learning how to take care of our new fuzzy friend! Thank you so much! 🙂

  5. Don Larkin says:

    Can I feed my puppy the treats that bark box provides? How do I know?

    • Todd says:

      Hi good question. My understanding is that you can feed your puppy treats, but you want to make sure the treats are the appropriate size. With BarkBox, you give the size of your dog, so they can customize the items. Here is an article on a site run by them regarding what is appropriate: https://barkpost.com/answers/dog-treats-safe-for-puppies/ I would still check with your vet on anything you feed your dog, since I am not a professional in this area.

  6. Miranda Fritts says:

    Don’t do it! You can’t cancel and get your money back. They contract you into it for a freaking dog box! Just ridiculous. I’ve never felt more trapped as a customer before.

    • Todd says:

      Hi I have read this complaint before, but it’s due to a misunderstanding of their terms. If you sign up for a 6 month plan and cancel after 1 month, you still will receive and pay for the remaining 5 months. I personally signed up for the monthly plan and all I did was turn off auto-renewal on the website, and it was done. Did you sign up for a long term plan?

    • Team PupBox says:

      Hi Miranda,

      Thanks for the feedback. Our cancelation terms are listed on our site here: https://pupbox.helpscoutdocs.com/ However, we never want pups to receive unwanted PupBoxes. Please do feel free to shoot an email to info@pupbox.com so our team can assist you.
      Woofs and wags,
      -Team PupBox

  7. Lizzie says:

    Could you list the contents of the pup box specifically. I would really like to know exactly what I’m getting

    • Todd says:

      It should be different for each dog. I would contact PupBox to get a better idea. I only know the types of items in each box (1 bag of treats, training materials and 4-6 additional products of toys, chews, and other accessories).

      • Lizzie says:

        Good to know
        Thank you, I will contact them. And just so you know this article was a huge help. Thank you!

    • Team PupBox says:

      Hi Lizzie,
      Thanks for reaching out! Each PupBox has different product that is handpicked based on your pup’s size and age. Each month, we also feature a variety of different toys and brands of treats in our adult PupBoxes so that your pup can discover new faves! If you have any other specific questions, please feel free to check out our site here: https://pupbox.com/how-it-works/ or email our team at info@pupbox.com 🙂
      Woofs and wags,
      -Team PupBox

  8. Toni says:

    I want to cancel my puppy box it’s way to expensive and the contents are nothing. I already have barkbox and much more for your money and I only pay $20 a month so I’m going to cancel puppy box is much cheaper. And I’m much happier with there products. I

    • Todd says:

      Sorry to hear that. Certain boxes are better for some people than others depending on your needs.

    • Dana Barber says:

      I have had Barkbox for 3 years and canceled to switch to pupbox as I just got a new pup. Granted, I’ve only had the first box, but I am already disappointed. Barkbox has VERY HIGH QUALITY treats and toys! Pupbox sent “blue” brand treats(garbage) and the toys are much LOWER QUALITY than we had in Barkbox. Pup box has a nice informational page enclosed, but it is baswhat I’ve read on the internet for puppy training. Oh…and I signed up for 12 months, so I cannot get out of the contract until the 12 mos are up. (At $30/month) 🙁

      • Todd says:

        I am sorry to hear you are disappointed. I would contact customer service to see what they can do for you. When you say blue brand, could you tell me more about what that means? From Blue Buffalo?

      • Team PupBox says:

        Hi Dana,

        Thank you for the feedback! We are so sorry to hear that you are unhappy with your PupBoxes. We never want pups to receive unwanted boxes. Please feel free to shoot an email to info@pupbox.com so our team can assist you.
        Woofs and Wags,
        -Team PupBox

  9. J Sanborn says:

    Warning, Pupbox is by the huge retail giant PETCO.
    It does not say that on their site so you think you are getting a quality product like Barkbox. We have given Barkbox as gifts multiple times and loved the quality. We just got a Puppy so signed up to give Pup box a try. Shipping from California took a long time, then got our first box and it contained an empty plastic bottle with a bag of powder for pee/poop cleanup. Who owns a puppy who doesn’t already have this? Also received a regular small Nylabone. Really? Not special at all, extremely disappointed. Logged on to request a refund and it says that not only can the box not be returned but that we have to buy five more because we signed up for the six month plan. PUBOX BUYER BEWARE

    • Todd says:

      Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Have you tried contacting their customer service to see what can be done? I recently received a box and did not have any issues: https://dogendorsed.com/my-pupbox-unboxing-experience/

      As far as shipping, there are some delays due to the pandemic.

    • Team PupBox says:

      Hi J Sanborn,

      Thanks for the feedback. Although there have been some delays due to the ongoing pandemic, our team is always here and more than happy to assist with tracking information. Feel free to give our team an email at info@pupbox.com so we can help look into your plan for you!
      As for the disappointment in product, we are so sorry to hear this. Please give our team a bark so we can help make things right for you.
      Woofs and wags,
      -Team PupBox

  10. Barbara S Baldwin says:

    Bark Box has horrible customer service if you ask a question they don’t agree with they will try to embarrass you on FB.
    When I asked a question about the weed toys for dogs in front of kids their answer was, “we don’t sell kids” well thank goodness for that!!! They do sell weed toys that kids see dogs with way to soon in life. Very irresponsible as a company

    • Todd says:

      I appreciate your comment and I tend to agree that those toys are not appropriate in front of kids. My only response would be that you would have to specifically choose those “herb” toys, so if you have kids, I would definitely be against someone ordering them. Maybe with more comments like yours, BarkBox will reconsider this product.

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