Want to keep your dog looking (and smelling) their best? Here’s our pick of the best dog shampoos you can buy right now
There’s a surprising amount of choice when it comes to finding the best dog shampoo. It’s not simply a case of picking up the nearest bottle to hand (and you certainly shouldn’t use human shampoo), as there are a number of things to think about.
How sensitive your dog’s skin is will be a key consideration. So is their age, how long their hair is, how much they like rolling around in something disgusting, and how bad they smell in everyday life.
As tempting as it can be, you should actually only wash your dog when it’s necessary. It’s not ideal to over-wash your dog, but if you have a pooch that can’t resist muddy puddles, stinky fields or something even worse, it’s a good idea to have a product on hand so you can sort it out when you get home.
In this guide, we’ll reveal some of the best dog shampoo products you can buy right now, with each one chosen to meet a particular need.
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How to choose the best dog shampoo for you
What kind of dog shampoo should I buy?
There are a number of things you should think about before buying dog shampoo. However, the most important one is how sensitive your dog is. Dogs actually have more sensitive skin than us humans, so it’s important to treat it with kindness.
Trial and error is probably the best way to figure out exactly how sensitive your dog’s skin is, but if in any doubt, a sensitive shampoo or one with natural ingredients is a good place to start.
Can I use human shampoo for my dog?
In some kind of emergency, yes you can. If your dog has rolled in something particularly unsavoury and you have nothing else available, a one-off won’t harm them. However, regularly using human shampoo can impact your dog’s skin pH levels and do more harm than good. Baby shampoo is the best idea in a pinch, if you have that instead. To avoid this problem altogether, it’s a good idea to always have a healthy supply of dog shampoo at home.
How often should I wash my dog?
It can be tempting to wash your dog as often as you wash yourself. But this is a big no-no. In general, it’s best not to irritate your dog’s skin by over-washing. Too much cleaning can dry out your dog’s skin and cause irritation and other problems. The natural oils in your dog’s coat do a fantastic job of keeping them as clean as they need to be, and if you’ve been using spot-on flea/worm treatments, washing these off can be problematic. Of course, if they’ve rolled in something particularly disgusting or are starting to get unacceptably whiffy, then you will need to wash them, which is where the best dog shampoos come in.
Do puppies need special shampoo?
Shampoos designed for younger dogs tend to be a little gentler. You can use adult dog shampoos, particularly if you’ve bought a sensitive or natural product, but it’s best to use specific puppy shampoo while your dog is still developing – and remember to only wash your puppy when it’s really necessary.
Do long-haired dogs need special shampoo?
Although it’s not strictly necessary, using a shampoo that is specifically formulated for long or thick hair can make a lot of sense. If you have a dog with long, fine hair, a de-tangling shampoo can help simplify the process, too.
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The best dog shampoos to buy in 2023
1. Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo: Best dog shampoo for sensitive skin
Price: £13 | Buy now from AmazonFormulated from natural ingredients such as aloe vera, this is an ideal starter dog shampoo for anyone concerned about their pooch’s sensitive skin.
The gentle formula is designed to help those with itchy and dry skin, with the added benefit of promising not to affect topical flea and tick treatments. It also has no added fragrance, which can often be an irritant.
Suitable for all coat lengths, it’s a versatile product. With a “no-tears” formula it’s suitable for dogs who might wriggle and be uncomfortable with washing. Despite it being a little on the expensive side, a little bit of the product goes a long way, so it works out as good value in the end.
Key features – Ingredients: Aloe vera, allantoin, panthenol (vitamin B5), vitamin E; Coat type: All; Sensitive: Yes; Scent: No added fragrance; Volume: 470ml; Requires dilution?: No
2. Bugalugs Baby Fresh Dog Shampoo: Best-value dog shampoo
Price: £8.49 | Buy now from AmazonThis shampoo is made in the UK using water from the Lake District. Not that your dog will notice, but it gives it a home-grown USP.
It can be diluted at a ratio of 20:1, so the £8.49 bottle lasts for a very long time, making this one of the best-value dog shampoos you can buy.
Despite the cost-saving, you still get lots of excellent features that you’ll likely be keen on. It’s great for dogs who are a little bit pongy, thanks to its baby-powder scent, and it promises to be kind to sensitive skin, too.
It’s not tested on animals (but humans instead) and is suitable for all ages of dog from eight weeks upwards. It’s also gentle on the eyes, so it’s another shampoo that’s great for wriggly dogs.
Key features – Ingredients (top 3): Aqua, sodium laureth sulfate, glycerin; Coat type: All; Sensitive: Yes; Scent: Baby powder; Volume: 500ml; Requires dilution?: Yes
3. Pet Head Puppy Fun Tearless Shampoo: Best shampoo for puppies
Price: £9.99 | Buy now from Rosie’s Hounds at HeartThis kind and gentle sensitive shampoo is ideal for younger dogs, with the added benefit of smelling great, too, which is particularly handy if your pup has a propensity for rolling in things it shouldn’t.
Some of the natural ingredients in this shampoo include shea butter and safflower oils, and it has been designed to be kind to eyes should it accidentally get into them. That makes it ideal for small dogs and puppies who might not yet be used to sitting still during bath time.
As added bonuses, this shampoo is not tested on animals and comes in 100% recyclable bottles.
Key features – Ingredients (top 3): Aqua, cocamidopropyl betaine (plant derived), sodium lauroyl sarcosinate; Coat type: All; Sensitive: Yes; Scent: Orange; Volume: 476ml; Requires dilution?: No
4. Animology Fox Poo Unique Dog Shampoo: Best deodorising dog shampoo
Price: £7.59 | Buy now from AmazonThe favourite activity of many a pooch is rolling in something particularly disgusting, such as fox poo. This shampoo is designed to do exactly what it says on the bottle, and provide a deep clean to remove the horrifically strong odours for which our pets often have a penchant.
Despite it being for a deep clean, it also promises to be sensitive for your dog and features the Animology “signature” scent, which is hard to describe but is fresh and clean – and, of course, certainly better than the scent of what’s been washed off.
To help prevent irritation, the shampoo is designed to be low foaming and easily rinsable to keep washing time to a minimum. It’s worth having a bottle of this in your cupboard, ready for when normal dog shampoos might not be quite so effective. If you have a dog who is particularly fond of this kind of activity, you can also buy this product in a bulk version and dilute it down.
Key features – Ingredients (top 3): Aqua, sodium laureth sulphate, cocamide DEA; Coat type: Any; Sensitive: Yes; Scent: “Signature” fragrance; Volume: 250ml; Requires dilution?: No
5. Cooper & Grace Flea Shampoo for Dogs: Best flea shampoo
Price: £15 | Buy now from AmazonIf you have a pooch that’s afflicted by fleas and ticks, then using a good-quality flea and tick shampoo can help to alleviate and even combat the problem altogether – especially when used as a complementary product to other treatments.
This best-seller from Cooper & Grace uses all-natural ingredients, which also makes it suitable for use on dogs with sensitive skin. That’s particularly useful if you need to treat your dog for pests frequently.
With a low-lathering formulation, the shampoo is designed to quickly get to work killing fleas and other biting pests, and it also does a good job of soothing any itches that come as a result of such pests.
Key features – Ingredients: Lavender, chamomile, avocado, coconut, almond, oatmeal; Coat type: All; Sensitive: Yes; Scent: Natural; Volume: 500ml; Requires dilution?: No
6. Pro Pooch Dry Shampoo: Best dry dog shampoo
Price: £7.87 | Buy now from AmazonThere are plenty of occasions when giving your dog a full bath isn’t practical. Perhaps you’re a long way from home, don’t have much time, or your dog is particularly averse to washing. That’s where a dry shampoo really comes in handy.
You can use this dry shampoo from Pro Pooch in between baths, while out and about, or just to give your dog a quick freshen up if they’re starting to give off that all-too-familiar doggy odour. It’s made from naturally derived ingredients so it’s also good for sensitive skin.
Although the price is a little on the high side, one bottle lasts a long time, so it’s a good one to keep in reserve for a variety of occasions – storing one in the car is an excellent idea, for example.
Key features – Ingredients (top 3): Aqua, lauryl glucoside, polysorbate 20; Coat type: All; Sensitive: Yes; Scent: Aloe vera and avocado; Volume: 200ml; Requires dilution?: N/A
7. Groom Professional Coconut Moisturising Dog Shampoo: best bulk-buy dog shampoo
Price: £14 | Buy now from AmazonIf you’ve got a dog that requires lots of washing, or perhaps you’ve got several dogs at home, it makes sense to bulk buy your dog shampoo to ensure you always have some to hand.
This four-litre pack from GroomProfessional is also designed to help keep the coat shiny and conditioned, as well as helping with issues such as dandruff. Not only is it a four-litre pack, but it can also be diluted to 14:1, meaning this pack should last you a good while before you need to buy again.
Suitable for a variety of coat types, breeds and ages, the shampoo leaves behind a lovely coconut smell that lasts for a decent length of time after use, too.
Key features – Ingredients (top three): Aqua, Sodium Laureth Sulphate, Sodium Chloride; Coat type: All; Sensitive: Not stated; Scent: Coconut; Volume: 4l; Requires dilution?: Yes