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Bissell’s clever BarkBath portable grooming system has been making waves since it was first launched as a crowdfunded project. Dog lovers were quick to embrace the idea of a mess-free carpet shampooer for pets.
So, does it live up to its promise? When Bissell offered to send us a BarkBath to try, we jumped at the chance. Read on for our full review, and then check out the video for more.
If you’re interested in one for your dog, you can purchase a BarkBath from Amazon for $149.
How it works
If you’ve ever seen a carpet shampooer in action, you’ll understand how the BarkBath works. It’s pretty simple: you fill the tank with warm water, pour in the shampoo, prime the pump, and then vacuum your dog clean.
That’s right: it’s a vacuum for your dog.
Bissell explains that specially designed nozzles get beneath the fur and down to the skin to allow water and shampoo to wash the skin clean. Meanwhile, a soft suction pulls dirt and water away into a separate dirty water tank.
Note: the BarkBath comes with a 16-oz. lightly scented bottle of dog shampoo. You’ll have to purchase more later to refill, as they don’t recommend using regular dog shampoo in the unit (it can clog the lines). They do offer a fragrance-free version.
We’ve included a video below so you can see it in action.
Does the BarkBath really get a dog clean?
For those of used to soaking our dogs in a regular bath, the BarkBath might take some adjustment. It’s not the same as being doused with water. Instead, you’re washing your dog from the “skin up” instead of the “hair down.”
Based on our test, the suction and cleaning action do appear to be very effective. With each pass of the nozzle, dirty water fills the tank’s reservoir, which is oddly satisfying to watch.
For dogs with thick double coats, it may take two tanks worth of water to finish the job. For shorter or medium-length coats, one tank is likely sufficient. It was especially quick on our Yorkie’s hair.
The BarkBath lived up to its mess-free promise. Other than some mild dripping at setup, it’s a much neater process than a traditional bath. There’s no tub to fill, no puddle to mop up, and you don’t get shampoo all over your shirt.
Because it’s portable and splash-free, you could easily use your BarkBath in the middle of the living room. The unit does need to be plugged into an outlet, so it’s not as convenient for outdoor use.
The noise issue
The BarkBath sounds a lot like your average vacuum cleaner. It’s not overpowering, but it’s certainly noisy enough to bother some dogs.
If your dog hates the vacuum, the BarkBath probably isn’t for you. Either that, or some desensitization training is in order: you’d want to give your dog plenty of love and treats as they slowly adjust to the BarkBath.
Our office dog Coconut, a Samoyed with a fluffy white coat, falls into the no-vacuums-for-me camp. She wouldn’t sit still as soon as the machine turned on—even with plenty of treats on hand!
However, to our surprise, the noise wasn’t an issue for the majority of our test dogs. Some were skittish at first, but settled in easily. Others simply enjoyed the attention and the grooming.
Best dogs for a BarkBath
Any dog who doesn’t mind the vacuum noise could be a good candidate for this system.
In particular, it could be very useful for:
- Dogs afraid of water
- Senior dogs with reduced mobility
- Dogs with skin allergies or sensitivity
- Dogs recovering from surgery
The bottom line
We’re not sure that this system would entirely replace traditional bathing, particularly for dogs with thick coats. However, it’s very handy for grooming in between full baths, and would certainly reduce the number of full-on baths you’d need to give your dog.
For many dogs and their families, the BarkBath system would be a convenient timesaver. Plus, it has the added bonus of giving you some quality time with your dog.
Just watch how much sweet Hudson, the golden retriever, loved his BarkBath session in our review video.
BarkBath review: the video
Thanks to Bissell for providing us a system to review for this post.
What do you think? Would you try the Bissell BarkBath?