10 best dog shampoos of 2023, according to experts
Feb 10, 2024
After weeks of rolling around in the grass and running across the park, bathtime is inevitable for your pet. Dog shampoos are a great way to cleanse all of that dirt, debris and sweat off of your dog’s fur to keep them looking clean and, most importantly, smelling fresh. But experts told us you should think carefully about what you’re putting on your dog’s skin and coat, especially if you’re bathing them at home consistently.
We spoke to veterinarians and dog grooming experts about how to shop for the best shampoo, what ingredients to look for and what shampoos are best for certain breeds, coat types and skin concerns.
SKIP AHEAD Best shampoos for dogs | How to shop for a dog shampoo | How often should you shampoo your dog? | Tips for bathing your dog at home
The type of dog shampoo you choose can affect how your dog’s coat looks and feels, and address any skin concerns they may have. When choosing the right shampoo for your dog, our experts recommend keeping the following factors in mind:
Below, experts share their recommendations for the best dog shampoos. Each of the following are made from a dog-specific formula and have gentle and moisturizing ingredients, based on expert guidance.
Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat ShampooThis hypoallergenic dog shampoo is a Select’s Best for Your Pet award winner and is made with oatmeal and aloe vera, making it a great option for dogs of all coat types, according to our experts — it’s a favorite of Jun Takama, CEO and founder of DOGMA, a dog daycare and grooming service based in New York City. You can use this shampoo straight out of the bottle (a little goes a long way) or dilute it with water — the brand recommends mixing the shampoo with water in a separate container at a 10:1 dilution ratio (water to product) for the 16-ounce.
I use this shampoo on my 5-year-old havanese and bichon frise mix, Bella, because it’s gentle on her sensitive skin and has a pleasant vanilla and almond scent that isn’t overpowering. Her fur also feels fluffier and softer after using this shampoo compared to others I’ve tried in the past. Since Bella has long, curly hair, I pair this shampoo with Eartbath’s Oatmeal and Aloe Conditioner to keep her fur soft and tangle-free.
This Zoop option won Select’s Best for Your Pet award for the best dog shampoo we tried. NBC Select commerce analytics manager Amanda Smith found that it made bathtime with her 2-year-old rat terrier mix, Mac, easy because she didn’t have to use a lot of product to get a good amount of lather. It also did a great job at cleaning dirt, debris and sweat from my dog Bella after a long day at the park, and she smelled fresh for days afterward. The formula has aloe vera, vitamin E and glycerin to moisturize the skin, detangle fur and prevent shedding, according to the brand.
This dog shampoo from Burt’s Bees has colloidal oatmeal, which is gentle and a great ingredient to relieve dry, itchy skin, according to Takama. NBC Select social commerce editor Sadhana Daruvuri also uses this shampoo on her 1-year-old maltipoo, Bandit. “His fur always feels extra soft after I use it,” she says. I also tried this shampoo on Bella and found it was gentle, left her fur hydrated and fluffy, and made her hair smell great without being too overpowering thanks to its subtle honey scent.
Duoxo’s range of shampoos, including the brand’s antibacterial, ultra-gentle and odor-control formulas, are a favorite among our experts. “The Douxo brand products help protect the skin barrier and help soothe any skin conditions based on veterinary exam and diagnosis,” says Mayhew. Skin conditions the brand targets include dry, itchy and flaky skin. This soothing option is a great choice for dogs with sensitive, allergy-prone skin, according to the veterinarians we spoke to. It has a 0.75% concentration of ophytrium, a natural ingredient that helps strengthen the skin barrier, according to the brand. The brand recommends using one pump for every 4 pounds your dog weighs and gently massaging the shampoo onto the skin.
This shampoo has omega fatty acids, which help loosen tangles and control shedding for double-coated breeds, says Dr. Zay Satchu, a board-certified veterinarian and the co-founder and chief veterinary officer of Bond Vet. This shampoo has a citrus and sea mineral scent, and it contains small amounts of baking soda to act as a natural pet odor eliminator, according to the brand.
This hydrating all-in-one shampoo and conditioner is recommended by Rona, who says it moisturizes all coat types using ingredients like hydrolyzed keratin and vegetable proteins. The brand recommends diluting the product at a ratio of 16 parts water to one part shampoo.
This shampoo is a favorite of Satchu’s because it doesn’t contain harmful ingredients like parabens (which are chemicals typically used as artificial preservatives), sulfates or artificial fragrances. It’s especially great for long-haired and curly coat breeds because it has a combination of oatmeal and jojoba oil that soothes dry skin and leaves your dog’s coat hydrated, silky and soft, according to the brand.
This shampoo from expert-recommended brand Earthbath has a gentle soap-free formula that’s specifically formulated for puppies over 6 weeks of age. It has aloe vera, antioxidants like vitamin E and plant-derived coconut-based cleansers to soothe delicate skin and relieve any itchiness, according to the brand. It’s free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, alcohol and synthetic dyes, which experts say can irritate your dog’s skin, and it also has a small amount of cherry essence for fragrance. Similar to the original Earthbath shampoo, the brand recommends a 10:1 dilution ratio.
Though Doglyness’ line of shampoos and conditioners are pricier, they’re very effective at cleansing and conditioning your pup’s coat, says Rona, who uses the brand in her dog grooming studio. The brand’s Immortelle Rejuvenating Shampoo has a combination of natural, plant-based ingredients, including aloe and glycerin, to cleanse your dog’s hair, according to the brand. Doglyness recommends a dilution ratio of up to one part product to 25 parts water.
This dry shampoo comes in a rinse-free spray formula that’s hypoallergenic, so it won’t cause allergies or irritation on your dog’s sensitive skin, according to the brand. Daruvuri sprays this shampoo on Bandit to keep him smelling fresh in between baths (she usually bathes him every 3-4 weeks). To apply, hold the nozzle 3-5 inches away from the dog’s coat and spray it in a sweeping motion starting at the neck and working toward the tail. You can purchase one bottle or bundle two or three bottles for a discounted price, and you can subscribe to receive automatic shipments of the product every four, six or eight weeks on Wild One’s site.
When shopping for the right shampoo for your dog, our groomers and veterinarians recommend keeping in mind factors like ingredients, your dog’s coat type and any skin concerns.
Dogs have a variety of coat textures, including short, long, curly, wiry or double coats. “Each texture has different needs, and using the right shampoo can help enhance the coat’s natural beauty and texture,” says Satchu. Below are some examples of coat types and textures, and what shampoo to use for each.
You should always use shampoos specifically formulated for dogs because human-grade formulas are more likely to cause skin irritation, says Satchu. Generally, look for ingredients like aloe vera or colloidal oatmeal (consisting of finely ground oats), which are gentle, hydrating and have soothing properties, according to our experts. Tea tree oil can also be an excellent nourishing and moisturizing ingredient for your dog’s coat, says Takama (though keep in mind that pure, undiluted tea tree oil is not suitable for pets).
Dog shampoos shouldn’t contain any harmful ingredients like parabens, sulfates, or artificial fragrances, which are more likely to irritate the skin, says Satchu. And, because dogs have extremely sensitive noses, you should also avoid heavy fragrances in their shampoo, according to Rona.
Some breeds, like bulldogs and shar peis, are more prone to skin sensitivities and allergies, according to Satchu. These breeds will benefit from hypoallergenic oatmeal- or aloe vera-based shampoos that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin. If your dog has skin irritation, infections or inflammation, you should talk to your veterinarian for a medicated shampoo recommendation, according to Mayhew.
Experts recommend bathing your dog at least once every three months, but many breeds may require more frequent baths depending on how much time they spend outdoors or any skin or coat problems they might have, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t bathe your dog more than twice a month because you may strip their coat of natural protective oils, according to our experts.
”Dogs should rarely be bathed unless they are very dirty and the dirt cannot be brushed out,” says Mayhew. “Frequent baths can upset the pH balance, disrupt the protective skin barrier and dry out the skin and coat causing chronic inflammation.”
Our experts share a few tips for successfully bathing your dog at home and keeping their coats clean and healthy — including what to do before, during and after shampooing.
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and without undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
Mili Godio is an editor at Select who covers a variety of pet topics, including dog food, treats and dental chews. For this article, Godio spoke to veterinarians, veterinary technicians and dog groomers about how to shop for the best dog shampoo, and the best ones to shop.
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Mili Godio is an updates editor for Select on NBC News.SKIP AHEAD Best shampoos for dogs | How to shop for a dog shampoo | How often should you shampoo your dog? | Tips for bathing your dog at homeBest overall:Best budget: Best splurge:Best shampoo and conditioner:Best for allergies:Dog-specific formula:Ingredients:Coat type:Skin concerns:Dilution ratio:Short-coated breeds:Long-coated breeds Curly-coated breeds:Double-coated breeds:White-coated breeds:Brush your dog before and after bathing. Thoroughly rinse off any residual shampoo from your dog’s coat. After shampooing, use a cream rinse or conditionerAvoid using human shampooUse a detangling spray after bathing.Sharyl MayhewJess RonaJun TakamaDr. Zay SatchuCatch up on Select’s in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok to stay up to date.