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BISSELL BarkBath: A Portable Dog Bath (Review)

Bissell BarkBath: A Portable Dog Bath (Review)

 *This post is sponsored by BISSELL, but the content and opinions expressed are my own

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your continued support.

For some people, giving a dog a bath can be a nightmare. For some dogs, getting a bath can be a nightmare.

I’ve seen both people and dogs struggle with bath time and my heart goes out to them. Leroy use to be one of those dogs who struggled with a bath. He would do anything he could to get out of a one. He would buck like a bronco, refuse to move, refuse to stay and a few times he even got a little snappy.

Luckily, after a lot of work and reassurance, we were able to break him of some of his bad bath habits but he’s still never been a big fan of getting them.

But what if there was a product that could make bath time faster, easier and less stressful for all those involved?

Well lucky for us, the good folks at BISSELL have been working hard for the last few years to find a better way to give a dog a bath and this past May they launched their newest pet product called the BISSELL BarkBath.

The BISSELL BarkBath is a portable dog bath that actually works like a small vacuum cleaner.

Bissell BarkBath: A Portable Dog Bath (Review)

How the BarkBath works:
  • The BarkBath bathing tool has a specially designed nozzle that gets beneath the fur and down to the skin to allow water and shampoo to wash the skin clean while a soft suction pulls dirt and water away into a separate dirty water tank. This means that you’re washing the dog’s coat from the skin up instead of from the hair down like a traditional bath.
  • On the BarkBath tool there is a reservoir where the no-rinse shampoo goes. You can set the reservoir to shampoo or rinse. The rinse only setting will just use water and not shampoo. BISSELL recommends that only their no-rinse shampoo be used in the unit.
  • The BarkBath tool attaches to the base unit which has 2 tanks; one tank holds clean water and the other tank collects the dirty water.
  • The tank holds 48 ounces of water, which BISSELL says is enough to wash an 80 pound dog.  The bath tub method can take up to 19 gallons of water to wash a dog that size!
  • The BISSELL BarkBath sounds similar to a BISSELL vacuum cleaner.

Bissell BarkBath: A Portable Dog Bath (Review)

Accessories of the BISSELL BarkBath:
  • Portable Bath Unit
  • Innovative Bath Tool
  • Microfiber Mat for the Portable Dog Bath Unit
  • Storage Bag for all accessories
  • Microfiber Cloth for Face & Paws
  • 16 oz. No-Rinse Shampoo-mulberry scent

You can purchase the entire BarkBath portable system or you can just purchase the innovative bath tool if you have a BISSELL portable deep cleaner.

Where to buy:

My review of the Bissel BarkBath Portable Dog Bath:

Before I get started with our review, since I know many Newfoundland owners are reading this, I want to make it clear that I tested this product on Leroy who is out of coat. This means he has totally blown his undercoat and only has his top coat at the moment. I did briefly use the BarkBath on Sherman, who is in full coat, but he’s not a fan of the noise so in order to fully bathe him with this I need more time to desensitize him to the noise.

The small amount of time that I did use it on him, the shampoo and water did get through his thick coat. After reading some reviews and using this product myself I believe, and I can’t say this enough, there is going to be a learning curve for owners of dogs with thick coats. Owners like us are used to having a soaking wet dog after a bath and you’re not going to get that with the BarkBath but that doesn’t mean it’s not cleaning.

On with our review.

The portable dog bath was very easy to set up, first you have to prime the unit by filling the tank up with clean water and then spraying the nozzle for 15-20 seconds. While you can use the unit anywhere in your house, I chose to use it outside, more for lightning purposes of taking videos and pictures than anything else.  You do have to plug the unit in and it comes with a pretty long cord and hose.

Setting the BarkBath unit on the microfiber mat dampens some of the sounds of the unit. Leroy wasn’t bothered by the sound at all and as soon as the shampoo started flowing, I saw results.


Bissell BarkBath: A Portable Dog Bath (Review)

It obviously cleaned, and the dirty water side of the tank proves that.

The suction power is strong and you can see the dirt being sucked up into the nozzle.

It took me about 30 minutes to completely bathe Leroy and I used 2 tanks of water and a little more than 1/2 of the bottle of the shampoo. I feel like the next time I use the unit, I won’t use as much as shampoo, but it does take a little bit of time to get use to the machine and finding a good system.

Leroy was definitely not as wet as he is with a normal bath and I felt comfortable just towel drying him instead of using a high-velocity dog dryer. Besides dumping and cleaning the dirty water tank, there really was no mess to clean up and that left me feeling a little weird.  Is it really possible to give a Newf a bath without creating a huge mess?! A little water did run off of him while we were using the unit but he was not dripping everywhere as he would be with a traditional bath and I wasn’t soaking wet.

My conclusion:

I like the BarkBath Portable Dog Bath and I believe it does work. It would not totally replace traditional baths for us. I think the boys would still get a regular bath at least once a year, especially after winter. I definitely think that this is a fantastic product for short to medium hair dogs and I would have loved to have had this when we had our Beagle and when Leroy was on steroids and having accidents all over himself.

I believe that the BarkBath does work on dogs with double coats but I believe that there is going to be a learning curve for some owners and it will be a challenge for dogs who are sensitive to loud sounds. I  suggest removing the plate on the bathing tool for dense coats. It’s super easy to unscrew it, so it’s no big deal.

Bissell BarkBath: A Portable Dog Bath (Review)

In my opinion, it is going to use more than one bottle of no-rinse shampoo and more than 2 units of water for dogs with very thick coats but that’s still a lot less water than you would use for a traditional bath. BISSELL does have different no-rinse shampoos that you can get for the BarkBath and my hopes would be that they will consider carrying their line of shampoos in gallon jugs for bigger dogs. The unit will not support a regular shampoo, it’s too thick and it will clog the lines.

The BISSELL BarkBath Portable Dog Bath Is a Great Product For:
  • Senior dogs who have mobility issues
  • Sick dogs who don’t have the strength to stand for an entire bath or who may be soiling themselves
  • Dogs recovering from surgery who can’t have a traditional bath. Good option for dogs recovering from a cruciate repair.
  • Dogs who don’t travel well.
  • Dogs who are regularly bathed at the groomer. While they still made need to go to the groomer, the BarkBath can cut down on the number of times they have to go per year saving owners hundreds of dollars.
  • Dogs that swim in ponds or lakes frequently. You can suck that smelly water right off of them!

Cool information for Newfoundland owners:

The technology behind  BarkBath portable dog bath is based on the Anivac Bathing System which was invented by fellow Newf owner, David Hachey. Hacehy had a Newfoundland with skin allergies and was looking for a better way to help his dog, hence the work from the skin up versus the hair down bathing technique.

“The original idea for the bathing system came from the inability of the inventor to get the family’s big smelly Newfoundland dog clean and odor free. The inventor found that after thoroughly bathing the dog it would smell and look better but after only a few days the masking effect of the shampoo would wear off and the terrible odor would return. He realized it was the thick dense coat of the dog that was preventing him from working shampoo down into the coat to the skin.

After much thought, he came up with the idea of creating wash nozzles that were like a comb and would go down to the animal’s skin where the dirt was, and then spray. After this, he realized that if he combined the comb-like washing system with a vacuüm he would have an all-inclusive bathing system that would not only clean better and use substantially less water but would also eliminate the mess associated with traditional bathing. From the first unit made back in 1995 came the Anivac of today.”

Pretty cool, right?!

Here are some frequently asked questions I’ve gotten from many of our readers. Answers are my opinion only or based off of a FAQ from the manufacturer:

  • Is it loud? Yes. It sounds like a BISSELL vacuum cleaner.
  • Do I have to use a no-rinse shampoo? Yes, if you’re going to use the BarkBath to shampoo your dog, a regular shampoo is going to be way too thick and it won’t make it through the tubbing in the reservoir. If you are just going to use the BarkBath to rinse your dog you can use a regular shampoo and just use the rinse and suction setting only. 
  • Can this be used on show dogs? Kind of. First, most show dogs that I know don’t use a no-rinse shampoo and second, the dog’s not going to get wet enough to be blown out. A show Newf needs to be blown out , however, it would be great to use in between a 4 day show as a spot clean.
  • Can I use this with my BISSELL Spot Cleaner?   The grooming tool is only recommended for use with  BISSELL non- heated portable cleaners. This can include SpotClean and Spotclean Pro, SpotBot, and Little Green.
  • Does this have a heater? No. The temperature of the water is what you put in it.
  • Can the BarkBath be used on other types of pets? BISSELL does not recommend that this product be used on pets other than dogs.
  • Will the BarkBath clog with hair? The nozzle has a metal screen that protects the unit from hair and debris getting sucked in to the unit. A few pieces of hair might get through but it shouldn’t be enough to clog the unit.
  • How much does the BarkBath weigh? The unit, without water weighs 9.65 pounds.
  • Is there only one no-rinse shampoo that Bissell offers? No. As of right now BISSELL’s line of no-rinse shampoo includes Clean & Fresh which is mulberry scented, Odor & Skunk, and Free & Clear. The mulberry one that we used does not have a super strong smell to it.
  • What’s the cost? The BarkBath sells for $149.99 and just the Grooming Tool alone sells for $69.99
  • Where can I buy it? At the writing of this post, I’ve only been able to locate the BarkBath on and
  • Is this going to work on a very muddy dog? If you’re talking about a Newf who just rolled in a mud pit, you’ll probably want to give that Newf a rinse first. 
  • How do you clean the paws and face? For sensitive surfaces like the paws and face,  a microfiber towel is included to help clean. Spray the water/shampoo mixture on the towel and wipe.
  • Can this be used on cats? The BISSELL BarkBath Portable Dog Wash has not been tested on cats.

Have any questions? Let me know! For the third time, I can’t stress enough, after reading many reviews and using the product myself, most of the issues I feel are going to come from user error and issues with a dog not liking the sound of the machine. It’s not hard to use the product but you need to find a system that will work for you and your dog’s coat type.

For dogs with thick coats, you’ll have to take the green plate off and use a bit of pressure to get to the skin. If you’re not getting enough water coming out there’s a chance that you didn’t prime the unit correctly. For dog’s with shorter coats, you might want to place a towel under them to collect some of the water that may run off the dog. I didn’t use this on a dog with short hair so I don’t know for sure.

*This post is sponsored by BISSELL, but the content and opinions expressed are my own

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your continued support.


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Maria Flores

Tuesday 27th of June 2017

This is quite a handy tool for people who are into dog shows as they are always on travel. It saves you the trouble of finding a place where you can wash your dog if they end up with a dirty fur.


Wednesday 28th of June 2017

I agree! And it doesn't take up much space. I know that there was plenty of times this would of came in handy when we were showing!

All Things Collie

Thursday 22nd of June 2017

I like the idea, and I would definitely try it. It might be great for quick clean ups at dog shows. But I agree, a real good scrubbing in the tub is necessary from time to time.


Wednesday 28th of June 2017

I think it would be great for shows that are held during the Fall and Winter months!

Laura worley

Tuesday 20th of June 2017

Ariel does not like the sound of my regular vacuum cleaner but does not mind when I use the Bissel portable Green Machine for quick pick-ups when the kidlets spill something, I will check this out, because of as little as she is for being a Tibetan Spaniel, She does not like baths all that much. Thank you for such a great and detailed review


Wednesday 21st of June 2017

Thanks Ariel! I'm interested to see what people think of it with their existing cleaners so if you decided to get it, please let me know!


Tuesday 20th of June 2017

Really thorough review. So glad you included the video so we could hear the sound and see how it works.

I've been bathing Honey using a hose on the dock. I do it rarely. But it's not fun for either of us and I have to be very careful about what I send into the water.

I could see this tool being very useful for dog people who live on RVs and boats. Or even small apartments without bathtubs.

I think I've decided that our boat is too small for it to be a good addition for us. But I know plenty of people cruising with dogs on motor boats would who probably get a lot of use out of it.

I also wonder if it would be suitable for people with therapy dogs who need to be bathed before visits. Perhaps it wouldn't be enough for hospital visits but it seems like a good option for other places therapy dogs visit.


Wednesday 21st of June 2017

Thanks Pamela!

I normally bathe the boys with a hose too and we use so much water and it gets so messy! This is just a great way to cut down on how many times we do that per year and I also think it will come in handy the older they get! I know that I would of loved to of had this back in the winter when Leroy peed all over himself and it was to cold to give him a bath so I had to take him to one of those self bathing stations. It was a pain in the butt!

I have had a few people comment that this would be nice to use for their therapy dogs before a visit but I'm not familair with the protocol for that so I can't answer honestly if it would be for something such as that.

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