Many dog gear companies sell low cost products that are intended to be replaced on a consistent basis. After all, our doggos are often rough with their stuff and pet parents become skeptical at the life expectancy of their purchases.
Here to change that narrative is the Big Barker dog bed. Let’s face it, this is basically a human quality mattress for your dog. Just like your own bed, you’ll only be replacing your Big Barker every 10 years.
In this detailed review we break down all the features, strengths and weaknesses of the bed and compare it to the other options available.
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So what’s up with this Big Barker brand and is it worth trusting? After all, unless you have put in a lot of research on dog beds you are likely not familiar with them.
Big Barker was created in 2011 by Eric Shannon with inspiration from his dog Hank. A large and aging dog, Hank suffered from the early stages of hip dysplasia. Eric’s vet gave two options to deal with the diagnosis. Terrified by the thought of surgery on his doggo, Eric opted to give Hank the most joint support he could.
Unable to easily find beds that gave sufficient support for his dog, Eric decided to enter the market himself and help other pet parents who are in a similar situation.
Initially Eric started a company that sold high quality dog beds made by other manufacturers. Eventually he decided to start selling his own beds geared specifically towards large dog breeds.
Big Barker has a narrow scope of business which benefits customers looking for great beds. While most bed manufacturers treat dog beds as products to be replaced every few years, Big Barker differentiates by viewing dog beds the same as human beds. A 10 year plus investment in the long term health of the users.
Big Barker Dog Bed Reviewed
While all Big Barker beds share the signature orthopedic foam base, there are several style options to choose from. One style is not necessarily better than another and the one you choose will come down to your pup’s preferred sleeping position. Check out the Big Barker bed on Amazon.
The single bolster on the end is ideal for dogs who like to lay on their side while their head is supported. This is a common model of orthopedic dog bed and several other manufacturers use the simple yet effective design. As far as pricing goes, this bolster bed represents the medium tier of the Big Barker offerings.
If your dog is constantly laying on your pillows or the bolster of your couch, then this option will be attractive to him. If your pup does not use bolsters you may get away with the sleek alternative for a cheaper price.
No bolsters, no problem. This is the simplest version offered by Big Barker but it is hardly lacking. For any dog that likes to lay out without propping up their head, this orthopedic dog bed is ideal. With the most affordable price point of the 3 main designs, the sleek style gives all the orthopedic support at the lowest cost.
Last but not least, sofa style provides bolsters on 3 sides for dogs that enjoy curling up. Many pups feel safer and more comfortable when enclosed by supports on all sides. Although this option costs the most of the 3, the sofa style design matches the most top selling dog beds on the market.
Sizing and Colors
Big Barker makes no debate about it, their beds are designed for large dogs! That is why their sizing options begin with large and go up from there. Here is a quick dimension breakdown from their website.
Large: 48”-30”-7” Geared towards breeds like Labs, Goldens, Pits and Huskies.
XL: 52”-36”-7” Designed for breeds like German Shepherds, Rottie’s and Dobermans.
Giant: 60”-48”-7” Massive pet bed can fit breeds like Great Danes or Irish Wolfhounds!
The color options available for all options are khaki, Chocolate, Burgundy and Charcoal Gray.
Materials: What’s Under the Hood?
You can judge a dog bed by its style all you want but what ultimately matters for your dog is what it’s made of. Where the true value differentiation occurs is in the quality of the mattress and you really get what you pay for.
Memory Foam-Big Barker patented their own unique orthopedic memory foam to use in all of their beds. The main styles covered above use 7 inches of memory foam. We have reviewed hundreds of dog beds at Savvy Doggo and we can safely say this is the thickest mattress on the market. The support for your dog’s joints cannot be overstated.
Fabric– This outside fabric on a Big Barker bed could be placed on an expensive couch and you would be tempted to buy it. While comfortable to the touch it is also designed knowing that dogs love to dig at their beds and is sturdy enough to hold up to rough use.
Zipper– For ease of use the zipper covers 75% of the base of the bed. From personal experience I can say how tough it is to force an expanded memory foam base into a removable cover. If there is only one opening you truly have to fight it into place. While it is a small touch it speaks to the thoughtfulness of the design.
Glue– The final major component of the bed is the part that sticks it all together! You do not normally think about the glue in your products but there are often harsh chemicals used in cheap products. Big Barker makes sure to use only water based-latex glue that is safer than most alternatives.
Made in the USA
All Big Barker products are manufactured in the USA under the strict guidelines for labor and materials. For customers that place a lot of stock in the origins of their products, they can sleep soundly knowing that these beds are ethically made.
Ivy League Tested: A Clinical Study
When doing research on dog bed quality(which believe us, we have a lot of experience in,) it is rare to find clinical research. Big Barker strives to be best in class for quality so they went to the extreme to have an independent study conducted on their product line.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School conducted a study of the impact of the Big Barker bed in action. The study took 3 years to complete and evaluated larger dogs weighing over 70 lbs specifically.
Each dog tested was evaluated weekly over 28 days sleeping on the Big Barker bed each night. Using a standard set of testing criteria the study found an average of 15.6% improvement in joint function and 21.6% reduction in pain severity compared to the control group.
Without comparison studies from other dog beds it is difficult to know how much better Big Barker beds compare to the competition. However it is significant that Big Barker invested the resources to have this test completed. A sign that they believe in the quality of their beds to a high degree.
The Ten Year Warranty
Anything you buy as a dog owner at this price point should last a long time. Big Baker offers a 10 year “will not flatten” guarantee. If you notice flattening or sagging over prolonged use you can return or replace your bed.
In addition to this option you can also return your bed within the first year of use if you are unsatisfied with the purchase. This provides a degree of protection for those who are concerned that the product might not live up to expectations.
What Customers are Saying
To get a feel for how the overall market has responded to the Big Barker brand we checked several of the major online retailers for actual customer ratings. As you can see below the positive responses far exceed the negative ones.
Big Barker Dog Bed 7″
- Walmart- 4.9 stars, 1,994 reviews.
- Target- 5.0 stars, over 1,900 reviews.
Barker Junior 4″
- Target- 4.9 stars, 123 reviews.
- Walmart- 4.9 stars, over 100 reviews.
- Chewy- 4.4 stars, 14 reviews.
- Overstock- 5.0 stars, 10 reviews.
It would not be an unbiased review without a look at the downsides of the Big Barker bed.
The first obvious factor to consider is the cost. Big Barker makes a high end product with a high end cost. Many dog owners would love to outfit their pup with this bed but cannot afford the price point.
Another factor to consider is the needs of your dog. Healthy dogs that are young and do not display any risk factors for joint issues will not need an orthopedic bed as much as older dogs. This dog bed will never hurt to have but you may not have the need yet at this stage of your pup’s life.
Lastly this bed is not ideally suited for highly destructive dogs or dogs with incontinence. If your dog is strong willed and destroys everything in sight I would recommend you look into a chew proof dog bed over an orthopedic option. Big Barker dog beds can be suitable for a senior dog with incontinence but you have to purchase a separate waterproof lining to make it work. For our recommendation of waterproof dog beds check out this list.
Some owners of this bed complain that their dogs do not use the bed very often. They then state that they wasted their money on something their dog doesn’t like. This is a valid concern but it applies to every dog bed on the market. Dogs have to be trained to use their new beds and it sometimes takes weeks for a pup to get used to them.
What if my Dog is Small?
Big Barker makes big dog beds for big dogs with big dog joint problems. However this doesn’t mean that small dogs don’t need orthopedic support too! Expensive vet visits for hip dysplasia hit all breeds of pooches.
Knowing this, Big Barker also offers a range of beds for small dogs. The Barker Junior as it’s known offers the same patented therapeutic foam in a 4” format and is ideally suited for smaller breeds. What is great about this option is that the price is lower and you do not have to overbuy if your pup is on the smaller side.
Other Product Offerings
Big Barker focuses on premium dog beds but they have a few other options to consider for specific everyday uses.
The Orthopedic Crate Pad is great for dogs who spend the night asleep in their comforting crates. Designed to fit evenly in crates, the pad is great for dogs who are not yet trusted to roam at night.
The Backseat Barker is an on the go option that fits in the back of most vehicles. If you are like me and enjoy camping and traveling this bed is a great option to keep your dog comfortable on long rides.
Big Barker Compared to Alternatives
Just like buying a home it is important to evaluate comps in all investments. A high quality dog bed is certainly one of those. While there are many great dog beds that cater to small/medium dogs, we are only comparing alternatives that meet the needs of our lovable large pooches. After all most readers of this article are looking for a large to giant bed!
The Dog’s Bed
Just from a quick glance you can see similarities between the Big Barker Headrest Edition and The Dog’s Bed. The style is similar and this brand also offers size options for giant breeds.
Like most dog beds on the market The Dog’s Bed has a removable and machine washable cover. Unlike the Big Barker bed this comes with a waterproof liner for the memory foam. Although this can absolutely be purchased separately from the bed if needed.
Compared to Big Barker the memory foam is not quite as thick or long lasting. Although it is decently built the Dog’s bed does not offer any guarantees or warranty. Here is a general breakdown between the two.
- Big Barker uses 7″ memory foam compared to 6″ for The Dog’s Bed
- The Dog’s Bed comes in at a lower price point
- Big Barker offers a great warranty
- Although the styles are very similar, Big Barker is superior for joint health
- The Dog’s Bed includes the waterproof liner
PetFusion Ultimate Dog Bed
One of the more popular dog beds on the market, the PetFusion Ultimate Dog Bed offers a wide range of sizes that can fit any dog. This bed comes in one main style which is most similar to the Big Barker Sofa Edition. If you prefer the bolster options this bed is worth looking into.
Although the PetFusion Bed is more affordable than the Big Barker option it is also a premium product. Like the previous option this bed has 6″ foam for the largest size. Slightly less than Big Barker but still very firm.
The included waterproof liner is a nice touch and having curled up on this bed personally I can confirm it is really comfortable. The zipper quality is a bit poor for the cost point of the bed and in comparison to Big Barker. While you probably won’t be returning the PetFusion bed, the warranty is not as impressive as the Big Barker 10 year will not flatten guarantee.
Here are some key differences.
- Big Barker offers an easier to use zipper configuration
- PetFusion gives a better price point
- Big Barker offers several styles to match your dog’s sleep positions
- PetFusion includes the waterproof liner
- Big Barker has been scientifically tested for supporting joint health
Frequently Asked Questions About Big Barker Beds
How do I get my Dog to Use His New Bed?
So you have taken the leap and purchased your first Big Barker dog bed. Great! Now you have to get your dog to actually use it. This may seem odd but it is common for dogs to take some time to warm up to new beds.
When I first bought my pups a bed it took me about 2 days to get them to use it consistently. When I first took the bed out of the box I started encouraging my dogs anytime they stepped on it. This positive reinforcement got the doggos to keep going back to the bed because I had made it a big deal.
Then I used training treats and gave the command “go to bed,” while placing a treat on the bed. The dogs quickly realized what I wanted them to do and could jump up on command.
Once comfortable with the bed I moved it to the exact spot where they typically sleep. Initially this threw off their routine but after a couple days I found them racked out on the bed like it had always been there.
Are Big Barker Beds Waterproof?
The cover and foam are not waterproof on their own. However if you purchase the waterproof lining your bed can be fully protected spills and accidents.
Without the liner the beds are resistant to water damage but not completely protected.
Are Big Barker Beds Chew Proof?
The beds are not chew proof however they generally hold up well against heavy use. The tightly stretched microfiber covers and the well hidden zippers help prevent heavy chewers from getting a starting point. If you are really concerned about your dog destroying his new bed I recommend the Big Barker crate pad as a more specialized alternative.
To conclude the Big Barker dog bed review, this premium orthopedic dog bed is the best option for large dog breeds. The clinically proven effectiveness of this product places it ahead of the competition. If you are looking for a one time bed purchase to last the lifetime of your dog you can safely make this your choice thanks to the 10 year warranty.