The 20 Best Dog Shampoos in 2023, According to Groomers

February 23, 2023

Updated: October 27, 2023

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As a responsible and loving pet parent, you’ll do everything in your power to keep your fur baby strong and healthy. You feed them the best food, get them groomed by top professionals, and take them to the most qualified veterinarians. But you could be overlooking an important step in your dog’s care regimen: bathing them regularly.

Coat care is an essential part of maintaining your pup’s health and wellness. Regular bathing and brushing has a host of benefits such as:

  • Remove dirt and dead hair
  • Clean and soothe the skin
  • Distribute natural oils across the coat
  • Relieve sensitive or itchy skin
  • Control or eradicate fleas and ticks
  • Regulate body temperature
  • Reduce odors

drying dog with towel

Every pup has his or her own requirements, so we suggest confirming with your vet to find out how often you should bathe your fur baby. You may also be wondering: what is the best dog shampoo? In that case, we’ve got you covered. Check out these suggestions on the best shampoo for dogs below!

What to Look for When Buying Dog Shampoo

First things first — here are some important things to consider when purchasing shampoo for your pup:

  • Age. If you have a puppy, we highly recommend using a shampoo specified for puppies as they’re typically more gentle on the skin, fur, and eyes. 
  • Breed. According to the American Kennel Club, using a shampoo that’s specifically formulated for your dog’s breed can contribute to your pup’s overall health and make grooming your dog easier.
  • Coat type. Similar to using a shampoo made for your dog’s particular breed — different types of coats require different levels of care!
  • Shampoo ingredients. There are certain shampoo ingredients that can be harmful to dog hair. Some ingredients to avoid when shopping for dog shampoo include alcohol, parabens, and dyes. The safest route would be to use a shampoo with natural ingredients that you’re familiar with, such as oatmeal, aloe, and honey.
  • Skin condition. Skin condition is a very important factor to consider in finding the best dog shampoo and conditioner on the market. If your pup has sensitive or itchy skin, there are hypoallergenic shampoos made specifically to reduce irritation and soothe the skin.
  • Scent. Be warned: synthetic fragrances can cause allergic reactions on dogs, so it’s best to avoid any artificial scents altogether.

A good dog shampoo will also have a neutral pH balance, since a dog's skin is very close to neutral pH, or more alkaline than human skin. We also highly encourage you to ask your pup’s veterinarian for their most recommended dog shampoo. After all, your vet knows best.

Best OTC Dog Shampoo

Perhaps you’re considering using your human shampoo on your pup’s coat? If so, we’ll tell you right now that you’re barking up the wrong tree — human shampoo is too acidic for their hair and skin. So whether you’re looking for the top all-around solution, or you’re simply not sure where to start, we recommend looking into a few of the brands below. Each offers a wide range of options for some of the best dog conditioners and shampoos on the market, so odds are good that you’ll find the perfect product for your pup.

  • Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Natural Pet Shampoo. Made with organic ingredients, all Earthbath products are safe and effective, and this formula can be used on puppies six weeks or older. The combination of oatmeal and aloe is designed to moisturize your dog’s coat while reducing odors.
  • Pride + Groom Dog Shampoo. As a self-proclaimed beauty brand for dogs, they offer a variety of pet care products, including dog shampoo and conditioner. They even offer a deshedding shampoo for dogs called “The Shedder.”

Best Shampoo for Allergies

You might be surprised to find out that dogs do have allergies, and in fact, it could be the root cause of other issues like itchy skin. While food allergies are rare, many of our furry friends have sensitivities to pollen and fleas which cause an allergic reaction and irritate their skin. Consider looking into the following shampoo choices to keep your pup allergy-free and happy.

Best Flea and Tick Shampoo

Perhaps your pup picked up a tick or two. Not a big deal in general, but if left unaddressed, causes some real health issues. To take care of your four-legged friend, we highly recommend using one of the top dog shampoos listed below. Flea and tick treatment routines vary based on brand and the needs of your fur baby so be sure to follow the instructions for suggested use, and consult your veterinarian first.

  • Sentry Oatmeal Flea & Tick Shampoo. With a pleasant Hawaiian ginger scent, and perhaps the best smelling dog shampoo, this effective option eliminates fleas and ticks to keep your dog happy and healthy. Do keep in mind that it’s not recommended for puppies under the age of 12 weeks.
  • Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor. Proven to kill fleas, ticks, and lice, Adams is tough enough to do the job, but still soothes sensitive skin. It even has an ingredient which prevents flea larvae from developing for almost a month.
  • Tropiclean Natural Flea & Tick Dog Shampoo. As one of the few natural flea and tick shampoos on the market, Tropiclean might not have the same strength and staying-power as our other recommendations, but its natural ingredients are still very effective against fleas, ticks, and mosquitos.
  • Advantage Flea & Tick Treatment Shampoo. A tried-and-true choice to rid your four-legged friend of fleas and ticks, Advantage also provides a range of products to treat your home and yard as well as your pup.
  • Richard’s Organics Flea & Tick Shampoo for Dogs. This gentle flea and tick formula is made of natural ingredients, including more than five different types of essential oils, but is proven to be effective at eradicating your four-legged friend’s pesky friends.

Best Dog Shampoo for Sensitive or Itchy Skin

If your dog is constantly grooming (licking) themselves, it’s a good signal their skin is irritated. While it could just be an indication that it’s bath-time, your fur baby could also have sensitive skin. Luckily, there are a lot of gentle and safe dog shampoos for sensitive and itchy skin.

Here are some of our top choices to effectively and safely soothe your pup’s skin:

  • Kin+Kind Natural Itchy Dog Shampoo. A blend of avocado and essential oils soothes your pup's skin while a citrusy fragrance will leave them smelling great post-bath.
  • Honeydew Lavender Oatmeal Pet Shampoo. This is one of the best dog shampoos for sensitive skin that we’ve found. Its natural ingredients provide your pup with a gentle, but thorough coat care experience.
  • Rocco & Roxie Calm Sensitive Dog Shampoo. Aloe, rosemary extract, and chamomile combine for a potent combination to moisturize, soothe, and restore your fur baby’s sensitive skin safely.
  • Oliver’s Choice Pet Shampoo. Made with oatmeal, aloe, and shea butter, Oliver’s is one of the best dog shampoos for itchy skin. It’s designed to deodorize your pup’s coat as it cleans and it leaves an enjoyable and fresh smell as it’s only lightly scented.

Best Shampoo for Puppies

As a puppy parent, it’s important to know that many products contain ingredients to avoid as they can be harmful to younger dogs. We don’t recommend bathing your puppy if they’re younger than six weeks old, as they have trouble regulating their body temperature and staying warm when wet. Then you’ll want to have a dog shampoo formula designed for fur babies with fewer than 12 weeks of age. Fortunately, there are a few options available which are safe and effective, but our top choice is almost guaranteed to keep your pup happy, healthy, and growing!

  • Burt’s Bees All Natural Tearless Puppy Shampoo. Specifically designed for puppies, this is our top recommendation to keep your fur baby happy and healthy! Made with natural ingredients like buttermilk, it soothes and softens canine coats so your pup is left looking and feeling good.
  • Earthbath Ultra-Mild Wild Cherry Puppy Shampoo. Safe for puppies over six weeks of age, this extra gentle and tearless formula is perfect for your pup’s coat care routine. Your fur baby will love you as this targeted shampoo cleans and moisturizes, leaving them happy, healthy, and cherry scented!
  • Pure and Natural Pet Tearless and Calming Puppy Shampoo. Eco-friendly ingredients ensure your puppy stays safe while you keep them clean. Their tearless, gentle, and calming shampoo contains lavender and oatmeal to soothe and moisturize your fur baby’s cuddly coat.

What's the Best Overall Dog Shampoo?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, we look for a few key qualities in a brand, like natural ingredients that are safe and effective. But if we’re being honest, we love to spoil our fur babies, so we jump at the chance to make the grooming experience feel more like a spa day for your dog.

Nature's Specialties Shampoos and Conditioners has a variety of all-natural and high quality products made with only the best ingredients. At Barkbus, we use a number of Nature’s Specialties products such as the blueberry, oatmeal, and hypoallergenic dog shampoo and conditioners. With a wide range of offerings, you can find the perfect coat care solution for your four-legged friend.

Each Barkbus vehicle carries an array of specialty products such as a gentle oatmeal shampoo for sensitive skin and a blueberry face wash — both included in every service. Our blueberry facial brightens the coat and gets rid of tear stains, while the oatmeal shampoo soothes and moisturizes dry, itchy skin and provides odor control, making it one of the best dog shampoos for odor. Ask one of our world-class pet stylists about what’s best for your pup! 

Frequently Asked Dog Bathing Questions

We hope this article helped you find the right shampoo for your pup, but you may still have questions on how to bathe your dog properly. Read on for insights on common dog bathing questions!

How often should you use shampoo on your dog?

You don’t need to use shampoo on your dog every time you give them a bath. They can take occasional water baths in between grooming sessions, which is why it’s worth it to invest in a shampoo with quality ingredients, even if it’s on the pricier side. If you shampoo your dog once a month, one bottle of shampoo may even last you a year! With that being said, it’s important to read the label for specific instructions on how frequently to shampoo your pup. If the shampoo you use is specified towards your dog’s breed — even better. But if you want to be certain about shampoo frequency, it’s always best to ask your vet.

For example, a hairless breed such as a Peruvian Inca Orchid might require a weekly bath, while a breed with a thicker coat such as a Golden Retriever could space their shampoos out as far as six to eight weeks.

Can you use human shampoo on dogs?

We do not recommend using human shampoo on dogs. The reason for this is that the pH balance of human skin compared to dog skin is not the same. 

Both human and dog skin consists of a protective outer layer called the acid mantle, which regulates hydration and protects the skin from viruses or bacteria. Bathing too often can strip away the acid mantle. As a result, shampoos are typically designed to protect the skin while the acid mantle restores itself. In order for this process to occur, there must be a balance of acidity and alkalinity — known as the pH balance.

Dogs have a more neutral acidic balance of 6.2 to 7.4, while humans have a more acidic balance of 5.5 to 5.6. Human shampoo is made to accommodate a higher acidic pH balance. Therefore, if you use human shampoo on dogs, it can damage their acid mantle and make their skin irritated, flaky, and susceptible to viruses or bacteria.

Can I use soap on my dog?

Similar to using human shampoo, it is not advisable to use human soap on dogs as this can cause irritation on their skin. Instead, we highly recommend looking for the best dog wash specific to your dog’s breed, made with all natural ingredients.

How do I bathe a scared or anxious dog?

Keeping a dog calm while grooming or bathing them can be tricky. Here are some helpful tips for bathing a scared or anxious dog:

  • Tire them out. Plan your pup’s bath around a full day of physical activity such as a long hike, a beach day, or playtime outside. This can allow them to get all their anxious energy out before taking a bath.
  • Test the water temperature. Ensure that the water you’re using to bathe your dog is not too hot, and not too cold. Temperatures can play a big part in making the experience as pleasant as possible for your pup.
  • Reward with treats. You can do this in two ways: the first is by giving them something else to focus on while you’re giving them a bath. You can add peanut butter to a lick mat in front of your dog while you wipe them down, to keep them distracted. Alternatively, if you’d rather not give them treats in the bathtub, you can reward them after their bath as positive reinforcement.

If all else fails, leave it to the professionals at Barkbus to give your dog a gentle one-on-one bathing experience. If you're interested in more best dog products, check out our roundups of the best dog brushes and best dog treats!

Barkbus employs dozens of world-class dog groomers and canine experts. If you're curious and want to know what other products we love, check out some more of the best dog products below:

  1. Best Dog Treats
  2. Best Dog Brushes
  3. Best Health & Wellness Products

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