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Best dog shampoo: Keep coats clean and smelling fresh

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Dog being bathed in bath with best dog shampoo
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best dog shampoo is the answer to all of your prayers if you're looking for an inexpensive way to freshen up your fur baby and take them from smelly to sweet in less time than it would take to make a cup of tea. Yes, that's right, just a few minutes is all you need to have your pup looking like they've just emerged from a professional grooming session. 

But first things first, with so many brands claiming to have the best shampoo or best dog conditioner, how do you know which one to choose? Well, just like we humans tend to choose a shampoo based on our hair and scalp needs, the same rule of thumb can be applied to our canine companions.

Have a quick think about what kind of skin type your dog has. Is it normal or does it tend to get quite dry or sensitive? If your dog has normal skin then the world's your oyster when it comes to picking out a shampoo as their fur will love whatever you lather it up with. But for itchy, dry, or sensitive skin, you'll want to be a little bit more deliberate about the ingredients you go for. We recommend soothing options, such as honey, oatmeal, shea butter and coconut oil, all of which calm the skin and reduce inflammation and irritation.

After you've sussed out your dog's skin type, consider whether their lifestyle leans more towards active or sedentary. If you have a dog that loves barrelling about outside, rolling in dirt and mud and then finishing off their new look with a fine dusting of leaves, you're going to want a formula that penetrates deep down into the coat to remove dirt and odor. Look for baking soda as a key ingredient as not only does it clean well, but it does a great job of getting rid of that doggy smell. 

Now, you may be wondering what you should do if your dog has a current flea infestation. Well, the good news is that most most shampoos can be safely used alongside the best flea treatments for dogs and you can also purchase flea shampoos that can work alongside a medication or topical treatment to keep those pesky parasites at bay. If you have any questions or concerns about which shampoo to use if your pup has fleas, have a chat with your vet who will be able to offer advice and guidance.

The most important thing to remember when bathing your dog is to always use a shampoo that's been specifically formulated for their use. While it can be tempting to just lather them up with your own shampoo, human-grade formulas have been created with our skin in mind and are too harsh for the skin of our canine companions. 

Ready to lather up your canine companion and leave them feeling fresh and smelling sweet? We've got you covered with a selection of the best dog shampoos to suit every skin type and activity level. 

PetsRadar's pick of the best dog shampoo

A bottle of Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Natural Pet ShampooBest buy award

(Image credit: Earthbath)

Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Natural Pet Shampoo in Vanilla and Almond

Best overall dog shampoo

Specifications
Ingredients: Clean, no soap, parabens and cruelty free
Scent: Vanilla and almond
Lather: Excellent
Reasons to buy
+
Excellent for itchy, dry skin
+
Lathers well with all fur types
+
Clean, cruelty free ingredients
Reasons to avoid
-
Smell could be better

Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Natural Pet Shampoo is a classic dog shampoo that owners have been using and loving for years. That's why it's our best overall dog shampoo to buy for your furry friend - it's stood the test of time. 

The ingredient list in Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Natural Pet Shampoo is simple and full of clean ingredients that are biodegradable, phosphate-free, paraben-free, and soap-free. Plus, it's not tested on animals, so you can rest easy knowing no animal cruelty was involved in creating this shampoo. While the almond and vanilla scent isn't groundbreaking, it's simple and fresh and won't be too overpowering for those who may not love a strong-smelling pooch. 

Those who have bought Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Natural Pet Shampoo report that it helps dogs with skin allergies, dandruff, and bacterial dermatitis, which can seriously bother your pooch and cause them to incessantly itch. If you don't keep on top of your pup's skin issues, they can easily irritate their skin further or make the problem worse by scratching until they injure themself, so getting a product like Earthbath will certainly help. 

And Earthbath is great even if your dog has great skin, as it lathers well for especially dirty pooches or those with long coats, which helps clean and detangle impressive manes. The quality of the lather also means this product will last you a long while, as you won't need to use tons to get your dog clean. 

If you happen to own a cat as well, you'll get even more bang for your buck, as Earthbath can be used on cats as well! 

Burt's Bees 2 in 1 Shampoo and ConditionerPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Burt's Bees 2 in 1 Tearless Shampoo & Conditioner

Best 2-in-1 dog shampoo for puppies

Specifications
Ingredients: Clean and transparent
Scent: Fragrance Free
Lather: Good lather
Reasons to buy
+
Natural, transparent ingredients
+
Good for sensitive skin
+
Soothes and softens 
Reasons to avoid
-
Slightly watery formula
-
No strong scent

Burt's Bees 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner is a great value for the price point, with clean and transparent ingredients you'll feel comfortable putting on your pup's skin. It's great for dogs and puppies, and great for owners with sensitive skin too! 

This 2 in 1 formula is fragrance-free but will leave your pup smelling clean and fresh. The ingredients are simple and free from harsh chemicals and sulfates, and include soothing and softening ingredients such as oatmeal and cocoa. Its formula is veterinarian recommended, so you can be sure it's safe for your dog (or your puppy, as it's gentle enough for young pooches, too). 

Whether you're looking for a shampoo that will clean your Golden Retriever's luxurious coat or a gentle shampoo for your Pit Bull's sensitive skin, you can't go wrong with this dog shampoo formula. While the lather will be somewhat lighter than other dog shampoos, that's to be expected considering it's a natural shampoo, so don't fret if you don't see a ton of suds when you start scrubbing, as it's perfectly normal (and healthier). The conditioner will also leave your dog's mane silky soft, making it much easier to brush and will keep it from tangling between washes. 

With a great price point, gentle ingredients that soothe even the most irritated skin, and vets' approval, Burt's Bees 2 in 1 Shampoo and conditioner is one of the best value dog shampoo on the market.

TropiClean PerfectFur Thick Double Coat Shampoo for Dogs

(Image credit: Amazon)

TropiClean PerfectFur Thick Double Coat Shampoo for Dogs

Best dog shampoo for double coats

Specifications
Ingredients: Botanical blend
Scent: Botanicals
Lather: Easy
Reasons to buy
+
Deep clean
+
Gently exfoliates
+
Natural ingredients
Reasons to avoid
-
Pricey

With the heavenly scent that you'd expect from TropiClean, this shampoo has been specially formulated to suit the needs of dogs with thick, double coats such as German Shepherds, Pomeranians and Siberian Huskies. 

Made using a range of natural botanical extracts, it gently penetrates double coats to loosen and remove trapped dirt and debris, helping to promote natural deshedding. As it loosens the undercoat to reduce excess shedding, it exfoliates the skin and strengthens the hair follicles.

Suitable for dogs 12 weeks and over, this shampoo leaves fur feeling soft and silky, eliminating the need for conditioner. It has a thick texture and lathers well, plus the light and refreshing scent will leave your dog feeling like they've just had a professional grooming session. 

A bottle of 4-Legger Dog ShampooPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: 4-Legger)

4-Legger Dog Shampoo

Best dog shampoo for sensitive skin

Specifications
Ingredients: USDA certified 100% non toxic
Scent: Lemongrass
Lather: Easy to lather
Reasons to buy
+
Organic and safe
+
Great for sensitive skin
+
Safe for dogs of all ages
Reasons to avoid
-
Smell can be strong for some

The 4-Legger Certified Organic Dog Shampoo is a fantastic choice for those pooches who have sensitive skin. You have to be extra careful when buying shampoo for your sensitive dogs, as the wrong type can easily irritate their skin further, making them uncomfortably itchy. All-natural shampoos are the safest option for dogs with seasonal allergies or itchy, scratchy skin, and this shampoo is the perfect option. 

The 4-Legger Certified Organic Dog Shampoo is the best sensitive skin dog shampoo because all of its ingredients are USDA-certified hypoallergenic, free from synthetic or chemical ingredients, and organic. The ingredients include recognizable things like coconut oil, aloe vera juice, olive oil, lemongrass essential oil, rosemary extract, and jojoba oil, which are all great things for a pup with sensitive skin! It's also widely approved by vets and groomers, so you know it's good.

This shampoo lathers easily and rinses off well, and has a strong lemongrass scent (which might be too much for some people who are sensitive to strong smells) that acts a natural flea deterrent. Those who have used the 4-Legger Certified Organic Dog Shampoo report it does wonders for their dog's skin, especially those who have incredibly sensitive skin that's prone to flare-ups. If you have a dog with sensitive skin (like greyhounds or pit bulls) or a dog who has suffered from demodex mange or other skin issues, this is absolutely the best dog shampoo for you and your canine.

Best dog shampoo: Arm and Hammer Deodorizing dog shampooPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Arm & Hammer Super Deodorizing Shampoo for Dogs

Best deodorizing dog shampoo

Specifications
Ingredients: Honey, rose, kiwi, white tea, baking soda, coconut-based surfactants
Scent: Kiwi blossom
Lather: Rich later
Reasons to buy
+
Lovely kiwi blossom fragrance
+
Rich lather
+
Deep clean
Reasons to avoid
-
Not suitable for very dry skin

Have a stinky doggy on your hands? Then it’s time to unleash the power of baking soda and natural botanicals to have your hound clean and smelling sweet once more. 

This powerful advanced odor control formula from Arm & Hammer effectively gets rid of unwanted smells from the coat and skin, with the baking soda particles penetrating deeply to dissolve and remove odor.

Infusions of honey, rose, kiwi, and white tea extracts are used to neutralize odors and reduce shedding and the beautiful blossom scent rests lightly on the coat after washing, leaving your hound smelling heavenly. 

Suitable for all dogs over the age of eight weeks, this shampoo is also safe to use in conjunction with topical flea and tick treatments. While it’s not a tearless formula, it’s been designed to be gentle and non-harmful around sensitive areas. 

We'd recommend avoiding this product if your dog has very dry skin due to the baking soda, but other than that, this is a powerful shampoo. Free from harsh chemicals and containing no parabens or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) this natural dog shampoo is gentle on the skin and coat but tough on those strong and unwanted doggy odors.

A bottle of Buddy Wash Original Lavender and Mint Dog Shampoo and ConditionerPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Buddy Wash)

Buddy Wash Original Lavender and Mint Dog Shampoo and Conditioner

Best natural shampoo

Specifications
Ingredients: Pure botanical extracts and natural conditioners
Scent: Lavender and mint
Lather: Rich lather
Reasons to buy
+
Great ingredients
+
Lovely smell and natural deodorizer
+
Great price
Reasons to avoid
-
Smell can be strong

Not only is Buddy Wash Original Lavender and Mint Dog Shampoo and Conditioner a great price, but it's a fantastic product for your pooch, too.

It's made from natural and pure ingredients that naturally clean and condition your dog's fur and skin, including sage, aloe vera, rosemary, green tea, and chamomile. The liquid is coconut-based with no alcohol in it, and natural deodorizers like wheat protein for a gentle, great-smelling wash that will last at least a week, according to reviews. Since Buddy Wash is soap-free, it won't harm your dog's eyes or upset their stomach if it gets in their mouth, but it still lathers easily and rinses off quickly for an effective wash. 

Some owners even suggest that the lavender scent helps soothe their dogs during bath time, which can often be a stressful experience for your pup (especially if they aren't too fond of water). Many report their dogs' coats felt smooth, incredibly soft, and tangle-free after using the Buddy Wash, and that's likely because it's both shampoo and conditioner! For such a low price and with such simple and effective ingredients, Buddy Wash Original Lavender and Mint Dog Shampoo is a great purchase for your pooch, whether you've got a big old Husky or a tiny Chihuahua. 

Best dog shampoo: Veterinary FormulaPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic and Antifungal Medicated Shampoo

Best medicated dog shampoo

Specifications
Ingredients: Coconut oil based cleansers, Benzethonium Chloride, Ketoconazole
Scent: Lavender and mint
Lather: Rich lather
Reasons to buy
+
Excellent for allergies and fungal and bacterial infections
+
Paraben free
+
Gentle smell
Reasons to avoid
-
May not work for every dog

If your pooch is dealing with some skin problems, you'll need a shampoo that's vet-approved. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic and Antifungal Medicated Shampoo is a fantastic option for any pet dealing with bacterial or yeast infections.

The shampoo has benzethonium chloride, an anti-bacterial that can treat skin infections like pyoderma, and ketoconazole, an anti-fungal which will treat yeast infections. Despite all the medicated ingredients, this shampoo is free of soaps and parabens, and won't remove spot-on flea or tick treatments.There's also aloe vera in the formula, which will help soothe irritations, and lanolin, which will moisturize and help decrease itching and flaking issues, both of which are side effects of allergic dermatitis. 

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic and Antifungal Medicated Shampoo is for both dogs and cats, so the fairly cheap bottle will go a long way. It's safe for dogs and cats over 12 weeks of age, and you can use it twice a week while fighting off a skin condition, then once a week to keep all those skin nasties at bay. 

Veterinary-grade dog shampoo can be expensive or difficult to get without a prescription, and that's why Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic and Antifungal Medicated Shampoo is so great. You can help take care of your pet's needs without breaking the bank, which we can all appreciate.

The only downside is that this may not be the right formula for your dog's skin conditions, which is why you should consult your vet before using this shampoo and reach out again if it seems like your pup's condition isn't improving. 

Best dog shampoo: Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo

(Image credit: Amazon)

Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo

Best hypoallergenic dog shampoo

Specifications
Ingredients: Plant-based ingredients such as Aloe Vera and Vitamin E
Scent: Tea tree
Lather: Easy to lather
Reasons to buy
+
Specifically formulated to soothe dry, brittle skin
+
Works alongside other treatments 
+
Relieves itching
Reasons to avoid
-
Very watery

If your dog has sensitive skin or is prone to itching, the Vet’s Best Hypo-Allergenic Shampoo is a must-have. It’s specially formulated with natural, plant-based ingredients such as aloe vera and vitamin E. Designed to moisturize and soothe dry skin, it also relieves itching to keep your pooch content after bathtimes. Best of all, it’s free from harmful parabens, dyes or sulphates. 

Simply lather and massage for 3-5 minutes to get the full benefits of the quality ingredients. Rinse well and repeat if necessary. However, it acts quickly and gives great results. While it doesn’t have a strong fragrance, it does have subtle hints of tea tree and essential oils. 

What’s more, the shampoo can be used alongside other treatments like the best flea treatments for dogs. So you won’t have to worry about your pup missing out on a revitalizing bath! It’s worthwhile noting that the consistency is rather watery, so you may need to use more. However, you won’t be disappointed with the excellent results!

best dog shampoo for smell tropiclean

(Image credit: Tropiclean)

TropiClean Luxury 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner

Best smelling dog shampoo

Specifications
Ingredients: Purified water, mild coconut cleanser, colloidal oatmeal
Scent: Papaya and coconut
Lather: Easy to lather
Reasons to buy
+
Soap and chemical free
+
Heavenly lasting scent
+
2-in-1 formula
Reasons to avoid
-
Not tear free
-
Some may find formula too thick

If you're looking for the best dog shampoo for scent that's also a gentle, moisturizing formula then look no further than TropiClean Luxury 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner.

This luxurious lather features a bright tropical scent without being too overpowering with coconut. Even once bathtime is over, you're still likely smell a subtle hint of fresh coconut on your dog's fur, although some pet owners may find the strength of the scent is affected by factors such as the length of type of your pet's hair and environmental conditions. It's pleasant enough for owner without being too strong for pet. 

The shampoo features a conditioner built in, which is a great timesaver for dogs who hate baths, but also it allows the product to detangle the hair as well as clean. The formula is pH balanced and is free of soap, parabens and dye so expect a formula that's kind to your dog's skin but you'll want to avoid around the face and eyes as it's not specifically tear free.

This shampoo does typically work well for dogs with dry, itchy sensitive skin, helping to soothe the skin and create shine in the fur, however you may choose the brand's medicated Oatmeal option instead if this is a particular problem with your pooch. 

Bodhi Dog waterless dog shampooPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Bodhi Dog)

Bodhi Dog Waterless Shampoo

Best waterless dog shampoo

Specifications
Ingredients: No parabens, sulphates, SLS or Ethyl alcohol
Scent: Lavender, Lemongrass and Oatmeal
Lather: Spray-on
Reasons to buy
+
Easy to use
+
Great for dogs who are afraid of baths
+
Lovely scents
+
Safe ingredients
Reasons to avoid
-
Not easy to spray in hard to reach places 
-
Doesn't replace the need for a bath in all cases

If your dog hates baths, then Bodhi Dog Waterless Shampoo is simply a must-have investment. This convenient spray comes in three gorgeous scents: Lavender, Lemongrass and Oatmeal that not only cleans, but works as a detangler too.

You'll likely be pleasantly surprised by the results on their coat, even without lathering it in. The shampoo features a long-lasting smell that will linger even after a few days and their coat looks soft and shiny. Added bonus is the fact is dries quickly and can work well on dogs that have sensitive skin. 

Many pet owners appreciate that the shampoo's ingredient list features no alcohol, detergents, parabens, sulphates or dyes making it a great option to reach for even with dogs who have allergies.

The product is generally very easy to use as a spray formula, but the design could be updated to allow for better coverage over a dog's body. Sometimes, when you spray it, it comes out in one hard stream. Some pet owners may also find that it doesn't completely replace a bath entirely, rather that it's a light refresher between baths depending on how dirty your dog gets. 

Burt's Bees puppy shampoo

(Image credit: Burt's Bees)

Burt's Bees for Dogs Natural Tearless Puppy Shampoo

Best overall shampoo for puppies

Specifications
Ingredients: free of fragrances, sulfates, colorants, and harsh chemicals
Scent: Buttermilk, honey and beeswax
Lather: Lathers well
Reasons to buy
+
Gentle formula
+
Soft, clean fur
+
Lathers well
Reasons to avoid
-
Not strongly scented
-
Caution should be applied to tearless messaging

While it's tempting to reach for dog shampoo intended for older canines, Burt's Bees for Dogs Natural Tearless Puppy Shampoo is a much better option owing to its gentle formula. The product is by and large tearless but you should still exercise caution when using near your pup's eyes (using your fingertips can be a great option) which is likely to cause some confusion for pet owners. 

Nevertheless, dog owners should expect a soft and shiny coat with this product, and a subtle fresh scent. Anyone familiar with the Burt's Bees brand will know what to expect here: the shampoo features natural products such as buttermilk, honey and beeswax which may make some users expect a stronger smell once applied to your pup. 

However, you'll likely be more than impressed with the ease of lather here. The shampoo applies easily to the coat and lathers well making bathtime a breeze. 

How to choose the best dog shampoo

It's important that you choose the best dog shampoo for your specific pooch, and for you as well. If your dog has dry, sensitive skin, then lean towards getting an all-natural, soap-free, gentle shampoo. And if you're vegan or concerned with animal testing as well, then make sure that whatever all-natural shampoo you choose is cruetly-free. 

If your dogs' skin issues go beyond some dryness or itchy patches and they're dealing with yeast infections or other fungal issues then you'll need a heavy duty veterinarian-approved antiseptic or anti-fungal shampoo. You'll want to make sure those ingredients are safe and as gentle as possible for your pooch, but still effective. 

If your pup has fairly normal skin but an incredibly thick coat or is a big fan of rolling in mud puddles and frolicking in fields, then you'll want a great-smelling dog shampoo with a scent that will linger for a little while. Dirty dogs, dogs with lengthy hair, or pooches with plentiful fur will need shampoo that lathers and rinses well and smells great. 

In short, think about your dog and what they need when buying dog shampoo and factor in your personal purchasing preference, as well. You and your pooch will be happy and smelling great in no time with these shampoo options, especially with the ones we've laid out. Whether you need all-natural shampoo, extra-clean shampoo, or a special medicated shampoo, there's a ton of options for you and your canine – and make sure you check the ingredients! Getting the best dog shampoo is relatively easy, especially with this guide, so don't fret!