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Which dog shampoo is best? 

It’s a good idea to wash your dog every three or four weeks. With the right dog shampoo, you can target specific issues and keep your pet’s coat and skin clean and smelling fresh. The best dog shampoo for those who want an all-around grooming product that uses natural ingredients is the TropiClean Dog Shampoo.

What to know before you buy a dog shampoo

Target areas

There are dog shampoos for general hygiene, but there are also specialty options, such as:

  • Flea and tick treatment: These are medicated shampoos that can help kill and remove pests and fight dry skin and pet dander.
  • Detangling: For dogs prone to mats or tangles, get a shampoo and conditioner combo to combat it.
  • Anti-itch: This is another medicated shampoo that targets and hydrates dehydrated skin.
  • Coat health: Most shampoos help with this, but some are specifically formulated with natural ingredients that promote a shiny, healthy coat.
  • Odor removal: Some options have ingredients that deodorize and clean fur or hair. Others have a fresh scent.
  • Antimicrobial and medical: This type of medicated shampoo targets hot spots and odor-causing bacteria.

Before choosing a shampoo, figure out what your dog needs the most. If, for example, the problem is fleas, using a shampoo for coat health and shine won’t fix the problem. On the other hand, if your dog has itchy skin, a general one with hydrating properties should work.

For dogs with severe coat or skin problems, you need an antimicrobial or specially prescribed shampoo. When in doubt, consult a veterinarian about your pet’s shampoo and grooming routine.

Dog breed

Every breed of dog has its own skin sensitivities, hair or fur length and coat type. Certain large breeds, especially those with a lot of hair, require more frequent brushing and bathing. Others should not be bathed unless it’s necessary since shampoo can dry out their skin.

Short-haired breeds that shed regularly naturally prevent oil or dirt buildup in their coat. Not only are these dogs easier to bathe, but they don’t require frequent bathing.

On the other hand, if your dog has an oily coat, as with retrievers, you need to bathe them less often or with a mild shampoo. Otherwise, you risk removing the natural oils and drying out the dog’s skin.

Breeds with a single coat, such as boxers or Dalmatians, require less frequent shampooing than those with thicker coats. A gentle shampoo designed to redistribute the dog’s natural oils and clean dirt is a good option, though.

Double-coated dogs, such as border collies and German shepherds, require regular shampooing since they’re susceptible to mats, tangles and dirt buildup. For these breeds, a stronger shampoo is recommended.

Skin pH level

The pH level refers to how acidic or alkaline something is. For example, lemons are acidic, drain cleaners are alkaline and water is neutral.

Dog shampoos and conditioners usually have a pH level higher than the pH level found in human shampoos. This is because humans have more acidic skin than dogs do. For this reason, never use a human or other pet shampoo on a dog as it could cause irritation, bacteria growth or odor buildup. This is especially true if your dog has sensitive skin. 

Most dog shampoos list the pH level on the label. If you’re looking for a neutral shampoo that’s safe for most breeds, choose one that has a 6.5 or 7.5 pH level.

What to look for in a quality dog shampoo

Dog age

Some shampoos are meant for puppies, while others are best for mature dogs. Puppy shampoos are recommended for canines with highly sensitive skin because they don’t irritate the eyes and contain gentle ingredients. These shampoos are usually meant for dogs 8 months old or younger, but aging dogs can also benefit from them.


Most shampoos for dogs feature natural or organic ingredients, some of which have medicinal properties. Examples of natural ingredients include honey, oatmeal, proteins, minerals and essential vitamins. These are great for dealing with skin issues, including sensitive skin or dander.

If you’re trying out a new shampoo, test it on a small patch of fur to make sure the dog doesn’t have an allergic reaction. If you see any negative response, such as bumps or a rash, stop using it immediately.

Avoid getting a shampoo with parabens, sulfates, artificial fragrances or dyes as these can cause skin or health problems.


A standard-size bottle of dog shampoo is between 18 and 24 fluid ounces. There are also gallon sizes, which last longer for smaller breeds but are also a great option for larger dogs.


Most shampoos for dogs come with a pump applicator or a cap you can remove to pour out as much as you need. There are also dry shampoos you can brush into your pet’s coat. For long-haired breeds, dilute the shampoo with water to ensure full coverage.

How much you can expect to spend on a dog shampoo

Most midrange options cost $10-$35. These are formulated with natural ingredients and have a pH level ideal for canines. Specialty or medicated shampoos, such as hypoallergenic ones, could cost $35-$50.

Dog shampoo FAQ

What is the best way to shampoo a dog?

A. Start with warm water since dogs are more sensitive to heat than humans. Thoroughly rinse your dog by working your way from the back of its head to the body and legs. Next, work the shampoo into its coat. Loosen any mats as you go to prevent dirt buildup or hot spots. Once you’ve finished lathering the shampoo, start from the head to rinse the dog off. Avoid getting any shampoo or water in its eyes, ears, nose or mouth.

How long do dog shampoos last?

A. Most nonmedicated shampoos have a shelf life of 12 to 18 months, while medicated options usually last around 6 months. Check the bottle for an expiration date. If you don’t see one, or if the texture or scent of the shampoo has changed, toss it and get a new one.

What are the best dog shampoos to buy?

Top dog shampoo

TropiClean Dog Shampoo

TropiClean Dog Shampoo

What you need to know: This 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner is ideal for dogs and puppies who need extra moisturizing or have strong odors or tough tangles.

What you’ll love: It comes in four sizes, including a gallon and a 16-ounce bottle. The formula is free of parabens and dyes, and it uses naturally derived ingredients such as minerals and plant extracts.

What you should consider: The bottle leaks easily.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top dog shampoo for the money

Advantage Flea And Tick Treatment Shampoo For Dogs And Puppies

Advantage Flea And Tick Treatment Shampoo For Dogs And Puppies

What you need to know: This shampoo is the perfect complement to any grooming routine, especially for canines with a pest problem.

What you’ll love: Capable of removing and preventing ticks and fleas, it’s safe for dogs over 12 weeks old. It lathers easily and is available in three sizes.

What you should consider: Even the largest size bottle is a bit small for larger breeds.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Wahl Dry Skin And Itch Relief Pet Shampoo For Dogs

Wahl Dry Skin And Itch Relief Pet Shampoo For Dogs

What you need to know: This shampoo is specially formulated using natural ingredients to combat itchy and dry skin.

What you’ll love: It brings back moisture to dry skin, cleans and brightens dull coats, and provides itch relief. It also is free from parabens and is perfectly balanced for most dogs.

What you should consider: Dogs with extremely sensitive skin might develop a rash from using this shampoo.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Angela Watson writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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