Even the most indoor-oriented and prissy puppies require regular baths to keep them clean and smelling their best.
However, you need the right type of shampoo — 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 delicate 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 some specific product recommendations.
Quick Picks: Best Puppy Shampoo
- #1 Honest Paws Dog Wash [Best Overall Puppy Shampoo]: Made in the USA and designed to keep your puppy’s fur soft and smelling great, this is easily the best option for most owners.
- #2 Bodhi Dog All-Natural Oatmeal Shampoo [Best Puppy Shampoo for Sensitive Skin] Specifically designed for pups with dry or irritated skin, this shampoo features aloe vera, coconut, and vitamins A, D, & E
- #3 Earthbath All Natural Puppy Shampoo. [Best Smelling Puppy Shampoo]: Featuring a wild cherry flavor that most owners love, this shampoo will have your puppy smelling better in no time!
- #4 Wahl Natural Pet Shampoo [Most Affordable Puppy Shampoo]: A no-frills puppy shampoo designed to get the job done without busting your budget, this is a great choice for cost-conscious owners.
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 a regular shampoo 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, rather than the nearly neutral pH of dog skin.
- Regular shampoos often contain conditioners and additives for human skin, 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 human 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 10 are clearly among the best. Any of the following should work well for most puppies.
1. Honest Paws Dog Wash
About: This dog wash from Honest Paws is designed to do it all with the help of its detangling, conditioning, moisturizing, and deodorizing formula. Made in the USA with premium ingredients, this puppy shampoo contains coconut and oatmeal to soothe Spot’s skin.
Honest Paws Dog Wash
A US-made, puppy-safe pet shampoo that cleans, detangles, and deodorizes.
- Safe for puppies and adult dogs
- Detangling, conditioning, and deodorizing shampoo
- Made with gentle ingredients and no parabens or sulfates
- Backed by a 30-day money back guarantee
- Made in the USA
Water, Plant-based surfactants derived from coconut and palm, Oatmeal & aloe extract, Fragrance, Preservative...,
- Pet owners raved about how soft this shampoo left their pup’s fur
- Most owners liked the gentle coconut scent
- Unlike some other shampoos, this one readily creates a rich, thick lather
- You have to pay a bit more to get a puppy shampoo of this quality
- A handful of owners wished the fragrance would cling to their pet’s fur longer
3. Bodhi Dog All-Natural Oatmeal Shampoo
About: Bodhi Dog All-Natural Oatmeal Shampoo is a gentle shampoo, designed for dogs with sensitive, dry or itchy skin. Made without alcohol, detergents, or toxic ingredients of any kind, this shampoo will clean your doggo’s skin and fur without causing irritation.
- Winner of the 2020 Family Choice Award
- 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
Oat proteins, aloe vera, fruit extracts, baking soda, vitamins A,...,
- The included baking soda helps to neutralize stinky puppy odors
- Bodhi Dog is a very eco-friendly manufacturer who uses sustainable ingredients
- Aloe vera and oatmeal help to soothe itchy or dry skin
- This shampoo is a bit more expensive than many other options
- While most pet parents loved this shampoo, a few reported that it didn’t improve their pet’s itchy skin
3. Earthbath All Natural Puppy Shampoo
About: The Earthbath All Natural Puppy Shampoo is an all-natural dog shampoo that features a naturally tearless, pH-balanced formula, containing no DEA, parabens, phosphates, synthetic dyes or perfumes. And it even features a fruity cherry fragrance for extra pet-parent appeal.
Purified water, renewable coconut based cleanser, aloe vera, natural cherry essence, Olive oil squalene (preservative)...,
- Owners loved the gentle formula and minimal ingredient list of this puppy shampoo
- This puppy shampoo worked great for most puppies with sensitive skin
- The shampoo’s fragrance was a hit with most owners
- While you may like the cherry scent, your puppy may not care for it
- Due to the popularity of this product, it is frequently out of stock (so stock up whenever you have the chance)
4. 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 specifically designed 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
- Specially concentrated formula means a tiny bit of shampoo goes a long way
- Made without PEG-80 for your dog’s safety
Purified Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Soyamide, EGMS, Cocamidopropyl Betaine,...,
- The cornflower and aloe infused formula helped soothe the sensitive skin of some pups
- Pet parents found this shampoo created a thick lather very quickly
- This shampoo not only boasts a very attractive price tag, but you don’t need to use much for each bath
- Some owners wished that this puppy shampoo had a stronger fragrance
- A handful of owners didn’t like the consistency
5. 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!
Burt’s Bees 2-in-1 Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner
A gentle, 2-in-1 puppy shampoo and conditioner from a brand owners trust.
- Includes buttermilk for soothing dry, itchy, or inflamed skin
- Linseed oil helps to condition for your pup’s coat and leave it soft
- It is specifically pH balanced for puppies
- Made without harsh chemicals, sulfates, or parabens
Water, Coco Betaine, Coco Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate...,
- This 2-in-1 shampoo-conditioner combo is very reasonably priced
- Made with a gentle formula that won’t irritate sensitive skin
- The included buttermilk helps soothe dry skin
- This shampoo doesn’t have any added fragrance (a bummer for some owners, but a plus for some pups)
- Since the shampoo doesn’t have sulfates, it won’t lather or foam up as much as other options
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.
Particular Paws Oatmeal Shampoo
Designed to work for puppies, dogs, and cats, this is a great option for multi-pet homes.
- Contains oatmeal and aloe, which 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
- Formulated to be appropriate for puppies, adult dogs, and cats
Water, Mild Surfactant Blend, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin...,
- This shampoo serves as a perfect pick for homes with different kinds of four-footers
- Pet parents loved the gentle, neutral smell of this puppy shampoo
- Several owners found that this puppy shampoo’s formula helped resolve dry or itchy skin
- A couple of pet parents wished that this shampoo had a stronger fragrance
- Some owners felt that this was a pretty run-of-the-mill shampoo without any spectacular qualities
7. Pet Care Sciences Puppy Shampoo
About: This ultra-gentle puppy shampoo from Pet Care Sciences is designed to detangle and condition all without harsh ingredients. This US-made puppy shampoo helps soothe sensitive skin with key ingredients like aloe and oatmeal.
- Nourishes skin with aloe, oatmeal, and coconut
- No sulfates or parabens
- Subtle coconut scent
- Designed to soothe sensitive skin
- Made in the USA
Water, Plant-based surfactants derived from coconut, oatmeal; aloe extract, fragrance, preservative...,
- This shampoo left dogs feeling soft and smooth without an overwhelming fragrance
- The moisturizing formula helps to rehydrate dry skin
- Many owners found that this shampoo helped reduce their dogs’ itching
- Some pet parents found this shampoo difficult to lather
- A couple of owners didn’t care for this shampoo’s fruity fragrance
8. BUGALUGS Baby Fresh Shampoo
About: BUGALUGS offers this concentrated puppy shampoo so that you can get a true bang for your buck out of one bottle. This powder-fresh shampoo leaves your dog smelling and feeling great with a vegan, pH balanced formula.
- Concentrated shampoo is designed to be diluted
- Baby powder scent
- Vegan formula
- Safe for dogs over 8 weeks
- Properly pH balanced for your puppy’s skin
Aqua, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Glycerin, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Coco-Glucoside...,
- This concentrated shampoo is a great value since one bottle will last you longer than a typical puppy shampoo
- Owners loved the smell of this shampoo which typically lasted several days
- The shampoo left most dogs with super soft and easy to comb coats
- Taking the time to dilute your shampoo before every bath isn’t exactly convenient
- This shampoo doesn’t appear to be very hydrating for all pupper coats
9. Arm & Hammer For Pets
About: Does your best buddy have dry skin that leaves behind an unpleasant scent? If so, this shampoo from Arm & Hammer is certainly worth checking out. The baking soda infused formula works to combat odors all while the moisturizing flaxseed and jojoba moisturize your mutt.
Arm & Hammer For Pets
An odor-neutralizing, baking-soda-based puppy shampoo made by a household name.
- The baking-soda-infused formula is designed to combat odor
- Hydrating flaxseed and jojoba oil included for sensitive skin
- Made with a light, coconut-lime scent
- Designed to produce a quick, rich lather
Water, Coconut Based Surfactants, EDTA Disodium Salt, Polyquaternium-7, Glycerin...,
- Arm & Hammer provides 7 other scent varieties within this product line so that you can find the perfect pick for your pooch
- Pet parents reported that this shampoo was fantastic at neutralizing odors
- Owners loved how it was easy to generate a lather with this shampoo
- Some pet parents wished that the added fragrance lingered a bit longer
- A couple of owners didn’t like the thicker consistency of this shampoo
10. Pawfume Permanent Premium Shampoo and Conditioner
About: This shampoo by Pawfume is designed to mimic the kinds of shampoos and conditioners professional groomers use. An especially fragrant, US-made shampoo, this will leave your canine smelling like he just returned from the salon.
Pawfume Premium Shampoo and Conditioner
Designed for owners who want the same kind of puppy shampoo the pros use.
- Made in the USA
- A long-lasting, perfumed shampoo
- Designed to detangle and deodorize fur
- Choose between 3 wonderful scents
- Sulfate and paraben free shampoo
Water, Surfactant Blend, Proprietary Fragrance
- This is one of the few pet shampoos that seemed to have a pleasant, lasting fragrance after bath day
- Pet parents loved how this shampoo made their dogs’ coats soft and clean
- With your choice of 3 different scents, you’ll be able to find the perfect fragrance for Fido
- Some owners found the unique lid difficult to open
- The shampoo has a lighter consistency than others, which may not be preferable for some pet parents
What Makes a Good Puppy Shampoo?
Most dog and puppy shampoos produced by reputable manufacturers will work well for your dog at bath time, 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.
Subtle, Dog-Friendly Fragrances
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 natural ingredients like oatmeal, aloe vera or vitamin E to help moisturize your dog’s skin and coat, thereby keeping it soft and shiny. These types of ingredients are particularly helpful for pups with sensitive skin.
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 promote coat health and 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. Also, while most dog shampoos are designed for all coat types, it’s worth double-checking to make sure your pet wash of choice is not labelled as being for a specific coat length or texture.
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. You can use a 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 or an adult dog shampoo on a puppy, although you should avoid flea and tick formulas, unless they’re labelled as being safe for puppies (and your vet gives you the green light) 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 coat shiny and fresh-smelling?
Let us know in the comments below!