Even the most indoor-oriented and prissy puppies require regular baths to keep them clean and smelling their best.
However, you don’t want to use a soap or shampoo designed for humans on your dog (particularly if your dog is very young), as these can harm your pup’s skin and coat. Instead, you’ll want to use a good shampoo designed specifically for puppies.
We’ll provide you with five great options below, and we’ll talk about some of the important things to keep in mind when trying to select the best shampoo for your puppy.
Check out our quick picks below, or read on for more detailed info and reviews.
Quick Picks: Best Puppy Shampoo
- Earthbalance All Natural Puppy Shampoo. [Best All Around] Features a wild cherry flavor and is formulated to be ultra-mild and extra gentle on puppies, with balance ph levels and with a naturally tearless composition.
- Bodhi Dog All-Natural Oatmeal Shampoo [Best Oatmeal] This oatmeal shampoo is designed specifically for pups with dry or irritated skin. Includes quality natural ingredients like aloe vera, coconut, and vitamins A, D & E
- Burt’s Bees 2-in-1 Tearless Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner [Best 2-in-1] This buttermilk-based gentle shampoo & conditioner combo from Burt’s Bees is free of fragrances, sulfates, colorants, and harsh chemicals.
Continue reading for more in-depth reviews
Why Can’t I Use People Soap or Shampoo for My Dog?
Human shampoos aren’t technically dangerous for puppies and dogs; but, because they are not formulated for canines, they can cause skin and coat problems – particularly if used repeatedly. Instead, it is much wiser to use a shampoo specifically formulated for your dog.
The primary differences between human shampoos and dog shampoos include:
Human shampoos frequently contain fragrances that can irritate your dog’s skin.
Human shampoos are designed for the low-pH skin of humans, not that of dogs, which has a nearly neutral pH.
Human shampoos often contain conditioners and other additives, which may not be good for your dog’s skin.
Human shampoos may strip your dog’s skin and hair of essential oils, which can lead to a variety of skin-related problems.
If you don’t have any canine shampoo on hand, and your puppy just ran outside and rolled around on a dead squirrel or jumped in a mud puddle, presenting a pseudo-bathing emergency, you can use a bit of baby shampoo to help remove potentially dangerous substances from his coat. However, you’ll want to obtain a shampoo designed for dogs ASAP.
Best Puppy Shampoos: Reviews & Ratings
There are a number of high-quality puppy shampoos on the market, but the following six are clearly among the best. Any of the following should work well for most dogs.
1. Earthbalance All Natural Puppy Shampoo
About: The Earthbalance All Natural Puppy Shampoo is a very highly-rated shampoo that uses natural ingredients to clean your pup.
It features a naturally tearless formula that is PH-balanced as well as made in the USA. The wild cherry flavor gives it a unique smell as well! All ingredients are natural, biodegradable, and gentle. It contains no DEA, parabens, phosphates, synthetic dyes, or perfumes.
Owners adore this shampoo, with at least a few owners noting that this was one of the very few shampoos that worked for dogs with allergies, as it has few ingredients and is ultra-gentle.
This product has high review and very little criticism. One owner believed this shampoo gave her dog hot spots, but no other owners had similar issues.
Purified water, renewable coconut based cleanser, aloe vera, natural cherry essence,...,
2. Bodhi Dog All-Natural Pet Oatmeal Shampoo
About: Bodhi Dog All-Natural Oatmeal Shampoo is a gentle and effective shampoo, designed for dogs with sensitive, dry or itchy skin.
This professional-caliber shampoo is made without alcohol, detergents or toxic ingredients of any kind to ensure your dog’s comfort and safety.
- Fortified with Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin E for improved coat health
- Made in the USA and packaged in eco-friendly materials
- Backed by the manufacturer’s 100% money-back guarantee
- Pleasing apple scent makes your dog smell great
Bodhi Dog All-Natural Shampoo received ridiculously good reviews from most owners. The shampoo appears to lather well, soothe dry skin and leave dogs smelling clean and looking their best.
The vast majority of owners who tried Bodhi Dog Shampoo were very happy, but there were a small number of dogs whose skin and fur were not helped by the product. A few owners were displeased with the shampoo’s cost, but Bodhi Dog Shampoo is priced similarly to most other high-quality shampoos.
Oat Proteins, Aloe Vera, Fruit Extracts, Baking Soda, Vitamin A,...,
3. Odie and Cody Natural Dog Shampoo
About: Odie and Cody Natural Dog Shampoo is a premium shampoo that is suitable for all dogs older than 12 weeks of age.
Formulated from natural, biodegradable, nontoxic ingredients, Odie and Cody Natural Dog Shampoo is designed to keep your dog’s coat clean, soft and shiny, without using harsh chemicals.
- Concentrated formula requires you to use only a tiny bit to effectively clean your dog
- Made in and shipped from the USA
- Backed by the manufacturer’s “no questions asked” money-back guarantee
Odie and Cody Natural Shampoo received glowing reviews from most owners. Most dogs appear to enjoy softer, shinier fur after being bathed with this product, and most owners appreciated that the manufacturer donates a portion of their proceeds to animal-related charities. Additionally, those few customers who experienced problems spoke highly of their experiences with Odie and Cody’s customer service.
A few owners found the smell of the shampoo objectionable, but such complaints were rather rare.
Saponified Organic Oils of Coconut, Olive and Jojoba, Natural Essential Oil Blend, Including Lemongrass and Rosemary Oil,...,
4. Burt’s Bees 2-in-1 Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner
About: Burt’s Bees 2-in-1 Tearless Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner is gentle, tearless puppy shampoo and conditioner that includes soothing buttermilk as well as several other natural ingredients.
Burt’s Bees is without any fragrances, sulfates, colorants, or any other harsh chemicals, so you know your pup is getting only the best!
- Includes buttermilk for soothing skin and softening hair, along with linseed oil which serves as a deep conditioner for your pup’s coat
- pH balanced specifically for puppies
- Vet-recommended and without any harsh chemicals, sulfates, or paraben
Owners love the natural ingredients and quality of Burt’s Bees, noting that it cleans their pups without any harsh or un-natural additives.
Some owners are disappointed that this shampoo doesn’t include any fragrance at all – not even natural ones.
Water, Coco Betaine, Coco Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate...,
5. Wahl Natural Pet Shampoo Puppy Formula
About: Wahl Natural Pet Shampoo Puppy Formula is a concentrated shampoo, made with several plant-derived compounds to help keep your dog’s coat soft and smelling great. Wahl Natural Pet Shampoo Puppy Formula is designed specifically for use with puppies or dogs with sensitive skin.
- Made with cornflower and aloe extracts to soothe irritated skin
- Gentle, no-tear formula won’t sting your pet’s eyes
- Made without PEG-80 for your dog’s safety
Most owners loved Wahl Natural Pet Shampoo, and praised it highly. Several owners were very pleased with the way the shampoo kept their dog’s fur clean, shiny and smelling great. It also helped to put an end to the itchy and dry skin some dogs suffered. Additionally, the very low price of the shampoo was a selling point for many owners.
A small number of owners were disappointed in the quality of the shampoo, and reported that it did not get their dog very clean, nor help reduce their dog’s itching and dry skin.
Purified Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Soyamide, EGMS, Cocamidopropyl Betaine,...,
6. Particular Paws Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs and Cats
About: Particular Paws Oatmeal Shampoo is a safe and gentle shampoo that helps keep your dog’s coat soft, shiny and smelling great. Primarily formulated from natural ingredients, this formula is made without many of the harsh chemicals included in other dog shampoos.
- Contains oatmeal and aloe, which often help soothe itchy skin
- Made in a US-based, GMP-compliant factory to ensure product safety and quality
- Backed by the manufacturer’s 100% money-back guarantee (good for one year following purchase)
The vast majority of owners who tried Particular Paws Oatmeal Shampoo were extremely happy with their choice. Most owners loved the way this shampoo made their dog smell, and several noted that it helped to resolve their dog’s problems with dry or itchy skin.
Complaints about Particular Paws Shampoo were very rare, but a few owners didn’t like the way the shampoo smelled. A very small number of owners also noted that it did not help their bad-smelling pup smell any better.
Water, Mild Surfactant Blend, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin...,
What Makes a Good Puppy Shampoo?
Most dog and puppy shampoos produced by reputable manufacturers will work well for your dog, but some are clearly better than others. Some of the things to look for when selecting one for your pet include:
Good dog and puppy shampoos have a pH near 7 (neutral), which matches the pH of your dog’s skin. This will help prevent damaging your pup’s skin or fur.
Consider Fragrances Carefully
While some shampoos are designed to deodorize your stinky pup by including chemicals that neutralize odors, others try to keep your dog smelling better via fragrances. While some fragrances are completely safe, others may irritate your pet’s skin. So, if your pup has sensitive skin, consider avoiding scented shampoos.
Some shampoos contain things like oatmeal, aloe vera or vitamin E to help moisturize your dog’s skin and coat, thereby keeping it soft and shiny.
Extra-Gentle Formulations for Puppies
Puppies often have even more sensitive skin than adult dogs do, so it is generally preferable to select a formula designed specifically for puppies, to avoid causing problems. At the very least, you’ll want to select a shampoo that is labelled as safe for puppies and adults.
Some shampoos are specifically designed for dogs of a given color – usually those with white fur. Some shampoos can stain the coats of white dogs, so it can be helpful to select a product specifically designed to avoid staining white fur.
Country of Origin
Generally speaking, products made in the USA, Western Europe, Australia or New Zealand are produced under stricter quality-control and safety guidelines than those manufactured in some other countries.
How Do You Bathe Your Puppy?
Bathing your puppy isn’t exactly rocket science, but some approaches are better than others. You’ll need to adjust your bathing procedure to suit your pooch and personal circumstances, but the basic procedure is as follows:
- Take your dog outside and brush him with a brush glove to remove as much dust, dirt, debris and hair as possible.
- Go inside and have him hop in the tub or place him in the sink, if he is small – just be sure to clean and sterilize the sink afterward. If the weather is warm, you can wash your dog outside, but some dogs don’t appreciate the cold water from the hose.
- Using the hand-held sprayer or a big plastic cup, wet your dog thoroughly (this can take a significant amount of water for densely furred dogs). Use lukewarm water that is neither hot nor cold for your pet’s comfort.
- Pour some shampoo in your hands and begin working it into your dog’s fur. Move from your dog’s head towards his tail. Use care to avoid getting soap or water in his eyes, nose, ears or mouth.
- Rinse your dog completely. Again, start at your dog’s head and move back as you go.
- Dry your dog off with a towel (don’t use a hairdryer, which may burn your pet. However, you can use a dog dryer if your dog has thick fur or multiple coats.). Be sure to dry any skin folds or creases, if present.
- Stand back, and prepare for the zoomies (many dogs run about the house, rubbing their bodies on the carpet and being general lunatics for a few minutes after baths).
Additional Dog Bathing FAQs
While we’re on the subject of bathing your dog, let’s take a moment to address some common questions and concerns about the issue:
Yes. Dogs groom themselves regularly to remove dirt and debris, but it is still a good idea to bathe them regularly. Although a few dogs seem to go through life without developing a bad odor, these are the exception – most dogs will need regular baths to remain clean and fresh-smelling.
Most dog owners can bathe their own dog, particularly those who own breeds with low-maintenance coats.
Conversely, it is usually a good idea to have bichon frises, poodles and other breeds with high-maintenance coats bathed by a professional, because they require special bathing procedures to look their best. If you are unsure whether you should bathe your dog yourself, ask your vet.
Dogs should be bathed at least four times per year, as well as anytime they get especially dirty. Dogs who spend their days chasing squirrels through the forest and rolling around in the dirt will obviously need more frequent baths than those who live inside and keep themselves pretty clean.
It is important, however, to avoid bathing your dog too much; therefore, you’ll want to avoid bathing your pooch more than 3 or 4 times a month.
There is no reason you shouldn’t bathe your new puppy, although most shampoos are labeled as being appropriate for puppies over 12 weeks of age. Consult your vet before bathing puppies younger than this; but, assuming you use a shampoo designed specifically for the skin of young dogs, it is unlikely to harm your pet.
Baby shampoo is designed to be extra-gentle, making it suitable for puppies when you have nothing else. Still, it’s always best to use a dog-formulated shampoo with the appropriate PH levels.
It’s fine to use a general dog-formulated shampoo on a puppy, although you should avoid medicated shampoos (such as a flea and tick formula) and opt for gentle formulas for sensitive skins.
Have you stumbled upon a puppy shampoo that works really well? We’d love to hear about your experiences. What do you like about it? Does it make your dog’s fur shiny and fresh-smelling?
Let us know in the comments below!