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We Tested Dog Subscription Boxes So You Don't Have To

No matter which one you choose, your pup will love the paw-ty in a box.

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Hi all, we're Claire and Emmy, and our dogs are the lights of our (respective) lives.

Claire de Louraille / BuzzFeed

Claire + Ruggie: I'd been searching for a dog that fit both my and my boyfriend's insane list of needs for over a year and a half. When we found Ruggie, (short for Rugelach!) at Smash Face Rescue it was love at first sight. She's a 4-month-old shmaltzipoo (shih-tzu, Maltese, poodle) and she's the best puppy I could have ever hoped for.

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Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed

Emmy + Tico: I adopted Tico from the Brooklyn Animal Care & Control shelter last year, and he's 45 pounds and about 5 years old. According to his DNA test — because of course I needed to know — he's a pit bull mix and potentially part rat terrier! Tico is a medium- to high-energy dog, and the sweetest pup in all the land; he was even tasked with being a "greeter dog" during his stint at the shelter, and made new dogs feel comfortable. 😭

Being the 100% certified obsessed dog moms that we are, we thought we'd test some of the most popular dog subscription boxes to see if they lived up to the hype.

We were mainly looking to see how much better of a deal the boxes are in comparison to buying everything individually, but had some other parameters:

• Did they cater to "power chewers" and allergy-prone dogs like Tico, who can destroy most toys with lightning speed and who's allergic to a few ingredients that are in plenty of dog treats (like beef)?

• Are they actually a better choice than going to the pet store or shopping online?

• And most importantly, would we (and our dogs) even like the boxes?

So we checked out the Barkbox, Dapper Dog, and PupJoy subscription boxes — and here's what we thought!

Macey J. Foronda, Taylor Miller, Zoe Burnett / BuzzFeed

Price: Starting at $21 per box (available as 12-month, 6-month, 3-month and 1-month subscriptions).

Total price of items, if bought individually: $42 for "Sniffin Safari" box (Hangry Hangry Hippo, Chewfasa The Lion, Dynamo Beef Chew, Banana Bacon Safari Snacks, Trek Treats); and $53 for "Bark University" box (Lambda Treata Phi Treats, Spirit Stick Pork Chew, Rad Chad, Pup Noodles, Brewery Treats, Shar-Pei Highlicker). All prices sourced from BarkBox's website.

BarkBox's commitment to themes and dog puns are wonderful, and the attention to detail is 💯.

Claire de Louraille / BuzzFeed

Ruggie likes: Hippo frend. is my everything. my everything frend.

Claire likes: I *adore* a good theme, which made opening this box an utterly delightful experience for my extreme type-A soul. The hippo has easily become Ruggie's favorite toy of all time; it was one of the only things that comforted her after her surgery. It's part rope, part stuffed animal, part nubby ball with squeaker inside, and while Ruggie hasn't done much damage to it yet, I'm betting this would be a great toy for power chewers since it's basically toy-ception.

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Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed

Tico likes: I loved the stuffed "pup noodles"! Mom doesn't let me have any real noodles (something about allergies, I don't know what that word means), so this is the closest I could get to the real thing. I even wondered if there were real noodles inside, so just in case, I made sure to destroy the whole thing in under 10 minutes flat. There weren't any noodles.

Emmy likes: The collegiate-themed box, including a frat bro and bona fide Bark University "acceptance letter," was *adorable*. (Or should I say...adogable? No, I shouldn't. I'm sorry.) Tico doesn't discriminate when it comes to treats (we're talking about a dog who ate a slimy days-old banana lying in the dirt the other day), and he loved them all equally — but it's great that you can customize the box to accommodate any allergies your pup has. Oh, and you can join its "extra toy club" and receive an additional toy in your box for an extra $9. Starting at $21/month, Barkbox is also the most affordable subscription we tried.

There was nothing Emmy and Tico disliked in the Barkbox, but Claire and Ruggie had questions about a couple items in their box.

Claire de Louraille / BuzzFeed

Ruggie dislikes: The meaty bone. Smells so good...but I cannot have it...yet.

Claire dislikes: So Ruggie loves the Hippo, Trek Treats and the Banana Safari Snacks but tbh, I didn't even give her the lion toy because even though she would love it, toys with that kind of long hairy stuff make her gag. And maybe I'm being paranoid (new dog mom over here!), but that butcher's bone seemed kinda gross. I mean, it had a "no carpet" warning on it because it would leave stains, and if I can't have something on a carpet, why would I want the bone gunk all over her fur, which then would get all over her bed? Idk, maybe I'll give it to her as a puppy kindergarten graduation present and have her eat it in the kitchen.

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Tico dislikes: There was nothing I disliked!

Emmy dislikes: All the toys were stuffed, which means I knew they'd be dead meat within hours. BUT thats not Barkbox's fault, it's mine — I didn't realize that you can upgrade to a "heavy chewer" box with toys of varying durability for free, or step it up a notch and order a "super chewer" version of the Barkbox for an additional $8–$10 a month, depending on your subscription plan, with extra-durable toys that have been tested on freakin' WOLVES. Regardless, I don't mind giving Tico stuffed toys every so often, because he has a lot of seemingly satisfying fun entertaining himself by pulling them apart, and he's not the kind of dog who eats non-edible things (thank god).

Macey J. Foronda, Taylor Miller, Zoe Burnett / BuzzFeed

Price: $29.99 per subscription box; $34.99 for a one-time gift box

Total price of items, if bought individually: ~$45.96 for Ruggie's box (grain-free turkey jerky chips, mini donut toy, "Puppy's First Bone" toy, pineapple bow tie, snail-hippo toy, aloha-print bandana) and ~$48.98 for Tico's box (grain-free turkey jerky chips, antler chew, AppleBerry Zensations treats, hippo treat-dispensing toy,aloha-print bandana). Prices sourced from Amazon and Dapper Dog's website.

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Claire and Ruggie loved pretty much everything about the Dapper Dog box, while the treats were the main highlight for Emmy and Tico.

Claire de Louraille / BuzzFeed

Ruggie likes: All the things i love. so much. so fancy i feel. in my bandana. it's also a chew toy...when my mom isn't looking.

Claire likes: I was pleasantly surprised at Dapper Dog's great customer service — when I said I had a young puppy, someone emailed me within a day confirming that I did indeed have a puppy, so they could make sure to include age-appropriate toys. I appreciated the thoughtfulness and that Dapper Dog followed through by adding a puppy teething bone to Ruggie's box, which she gnaws on with the passion of a thousand suns.

Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed

Tico likes: I love the antler chew toy! It tastes like peanut butter, which is my favorite thing in the world (next to my mom). Sometimes I sit on my bed and just chew on it for a while and it's soooo satisfying. The hippo is fun to chew on too, especially when mom stuffs it with treats. I also loved the treats. Did I mention I LOVE treats?!??!

Emmy likes: The blue hippo toy is super durable and has a little slot where you can slip in some treats, which will keep Tico occupied for a wee bit when I leave the house. Also, wow: the appleberry treats smell like cinnamon cookies! (They're made from all-natural ingredients including applesauce, blueberries, honey, and cinnamon.) The jerky treats are "chippable," so you can break off just a little at a time, which is great for ~portion~ control or as training treats. Also, the "heavy chewers" box is just $5 more than the cost of a regular box, and it's customizable for common allergies; you can also email them if your pup's allergies aren't listed and they'll be happy to accommodate.

While Claire and Ruggie (okay, mainly Claire) appreciated Dapper Dog's bandana and bow tie, the wearables weren't really Emmy and Tico's thing.

Claire de Louraille / BuzzFeed

Ruggie dislikes: My mom says. the donut squeaks. but alas, i cannot squeak it. one day i will. when i am big.

Claire dislikes: Ruggie and I loved everything from this box. I thought it was a great mix of wearables, toys, and treats. The only questionable thing was the weird snail hippo squeaky toy because I still can't figure out why someone would mash these two animals together.

Natasia Hanratty / BuzzFeed

Tico dislikes: I couldn't destroy any of the toys :( And I wasn't very interested in the bandana, but everyone said the word "aw" when I put it on. IDK what that means.

Emmy dislikes: The bandana was a little too snug for Tico, and because of his sensitivities to literally everything, he's not much of a bandana dog, so I could've done without that (though it is super cute!). Also, it's the most expensive subscription box out of all three, though just by a few dollars, and it's the same price whether you buy just one or go with a year-round subscription.

Macey J. Foronda, Taylor Miller, Zoe Burnett / BuzzFeed

Price: Starting at $26 per box (available as 12-month, 6-month, and 1-month subscriptions, as well as a one-time gift box).

Total price of items, if bought individually: ~$51.89 for Ruggie's box ("iBalls" dog toys, elk antler chew, salmon and ginger treats, chicken-flavor training teats, stuffless crinkle bone toy) and ~$76 for Tico's box (turkey and duck burger treats, salmon and ginger treats, chicken jerky treats, rocket dispenser toy, nubby toss toy, stuffless crinkle bone toy). All prices sourced from Amazon and Pupjoy's website.

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While our pups appreciated all the great snacks, we were impressed with PupJoy's extensive customization options.

Claire de Louraille / BuzzFeed

Ruggie likes: Is Rosie. a saint? her snacks. are so tasty. my mom gives me a piece. every time. i poop outside. which is....

....most of the time.

Claire likes: While I don't want to know exactly what's in my box because it kinda takes some of the surprise and fun away, personally, PupJoy's customization options are a godsend for people who have allergy-prone dogs or already have a trunkful of toys. I thought the red bone thing was really cool — it had a soothing feel to it and a crunchy texture on the inside. Also WOW, this box is a good deal.

Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed

Tico likes: The orange chew toys are *so* fun, and I feel like I'll never get tired of them! Also, sometimes mom puts treats or peanut butter in the one shaped like a bottle. It's a little hard to get out but it gives me something to do when there aren't any squirrels to look at outside the window. ALSO OMFG SO MANY TREATS!!!! I LOVE TREATS.

Emmy likes: You have the the option to choose a treats and toys *or* a treats-only or toys-only box, which is very cool — and can specify whether you'd like the treats to be all-natural, organic, grain-free, or protein-sensitive. You can also choose how frequently you'd like to be sent the box (monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly) and how many items you'd like to be in the box; the "uno" comes with four to five items, and the "grande" with five to seven. The power chewer option is only $7 more than a regular box, which makes it an incredible deal, overall.

Buuuuut, Ruggie either didn't love or couldn't have a bunch of things in her PupJoy box, and Tico wasn't a huge fan of the red bone toy.

@ruggietherescue

Ruggie dislikes: The chicken snack. is not my frend.

Claire dislikes: Tbh, I was mildly exasperated by this box. They sent three of the same kind of toy, which was so disappointing because for the same gagging/choking hazard reasons I couldn't give Ruggie the lion toy from the BarkBox, I couldn't give these "iBalls" to her either. The antler I received was so, so small, and while I know Ruggie's a tiny beeb, she still goes to town on her chew toys and was worried she'd swallow it accidentally or something.

Emmy Favilla / BuzzFeed

Tico dislikes: I wasn't really into the red bone toy.

Emmy dislikes: The turkey and duck burger treats (which Tico is *really* into, because food) are shaped like discs, and they're pretty big, so I have to break it apart into smaller pieces so Tico doesn't scarf it all down whole. They also contained sweet potato, which he has a *slight* allergy to.

In short, our dogs loved all the things, and we'll probably be subscribing to a dog box in the future.

Claire de Louraille / BuzzFeed

Ruggie's and Tico's thoughts: MOAR TREATS. MOAR TOYS. PLZ.

Claire's and Emmy's thoughts: First off, every one of these boxes helps other dogs in need, which is just so incredibly awesome and something you can feel good about. Barkbox donates 10% of profits to different shelters and rescues in the US and Canada; Dapper Dog donates $1 per box different rescues, shelters, and other pet organizations; and PupJoy donates $2 from every subscription box to the Bissell Pet Foundation, which works with rescues to provide resources for pet adoption, spay/neuter programs, microchipping, and foster care. Yay for giving back!

Since your dog is pretty much going to always love what you give them, ultimately choosing a dog subscription box is all about what ***you*** want. If you're someone who loves a theme and wants treats and toys at an affordable price, BarkBox is for you. If you want a mix of treats, toys, and wearables for your pup, then The Dapper Dog is a pretty solid bet. If you're someone who loves customization for a great deal, then PupJoy could be up your alley.

Our personal faves?

NBC

Claire and Ruggie's: It's a tie between BarkBox and Dapper Dog! I love the themes / aesthetics of Barkbox, but am also a sucker for Dapper Dog's good customer service and chic bandana.

Emmy and Tico's: PupJoy, for its high-quality products at a steal!

Now go out there and spoil your pup!

UPDATE

Picky pup alert: BarkBox, The Dapper Dog Box, and PupJoy all offer free toy and treat replacements if your dog doesn't like one (or more) of the things in their box!

Some subscription boxes were provided to BuzzFeed free of charge, but we were not obligated to positively review them.

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