Best Dog Shampoo for Smelly Pooches

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

Dog shampoo is an indispensable part of any pooch’s grooming routine. Find out how to choose dog shampoo that will keep your pooch clean and their skin healthy!

Pooch bath time–no one likes it. You have to scrub and rinse for what seems like a decade while your dog is looking at you like you’re a criminal. And your pooch treating your like an abuser for giving them a bath is usually the best option–the alternatives include squirming, wiggling, and Houdini-like attempts to escape from the bathtub or shower. (Unless you have a tidy angel dog which I have no experience with–in which case you can scratch that whole paragraph.) Despite everything, though, baths are not optional, and from time to time, your pooch will have to go through the bubbly ordeal. So, how do you make sure that you’re doing it right?

Before you get to the tub, brush out any debris or dirt from your pet’s fur to make things easier for you both. Then, you’d thoroughly soak your pet with warm water, so you’d be able to work up a nice lather in the next step. Apply the shampoo and massage it in the fur with circular motions, taking care to be gentle. After your pooch is all nice and foamy, rinse, rinse, and then rinse again. It’s important to get all traces of shampoo out of their hair so their skin wouldn’t be irritated after bath time is over.

So, apart from your dog washing skills, the most important thing for a successful bath is choosing the right type of shampoo for your dog. If you don’t have a good pet shampoo on hand, you won’t be able to thoroughly clean your pooch (just water is never enough for those stinkers) and using something that’s not suitable for dog’s skin could cause issues.

Can You Use Human Shampoo on Dogs?

Many pet owners wonder if dog shampoo is really necessary and if they can use their own shampoo to bathe their pets. Some even think that baby shampoo, advertised as milder and gentler, can also be a good solution. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Dogs shouldn’t be bathed with human shampoo or soap. The reason for this is that human bathing products contain chemicals and fragrances that are far too harsh for a canine’s skin. Our skin and the skin of our dogs have a different pH balance, and detergent-laden products that we tend to use would completely upset that balance for your pet. As a result, their skin would become dry and flaky and more susceptible to a variety of skin conditions, from bacterial infections to parasitic infestations.

The only type of product you should use to wash your dog, regardless of their breed or hair length, is an appropriate type of dog shampoo. They are specially formulated to contain only ingredients that are gentle enough to be used on a pooch and keep their pH in balance.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

You might need a shower every day, but your pooch wouldn’t appreciate the same hygiene routine. In fact, if your dog had a vote in this, they’d probably say that bathing is for losers in the first place. But, when you ask the experts about the frequency of dog baths, they’ll reply that it all depends on the dog: anything from once a week to once a month could be the answer. For a dog with normal skin and hair that doesn’t trap dirt with ease, bathings can be spaced further apart. Dogs with skin issues that require medicated shampoo, or, for instance, dog breeds that have fine silky fur, need to be washed once a week. In most cases, the ‘nose test’ is enough of a tool to tell you how to organize your dog’s bathing schedule, If they get dirty on their outdoor adventures or start smelling ripe, it’s time to go to the shower!

And if you’re unsure, it’s always better to err on the side of being late. The worst thing that can happen if you wash your pooch less often than they need it is that they’ll stink. If you overdo it with the frequent bathings, you could seriously irritate their skin.

Types of Dog Shampoo

While human shampoo is a no-no, that doesn’t mean that every type of dog shampoo will fit your dog’s specific skin and hair types. It’s the same as it is for us humans, really. What works for someone with oily hair won’t work for some with frizzy curls and so on. There are various different coat types in dogs, skin conditions, grooming requirements, etc. and there is a type of dog shampoo to accommodate for every unique quirk.

The first difference between dog shampoos is their form. You have your regular dog shampoos, that are the most common and come in varieties for different skin conditions, fur types, and so on. There are also 2-in-1 dog shampoos with conditioner, that both clean and soften your pet’s fur–they are often the choice of pet owners with long-haired dogs. Solid dog shampoo bars are also becoming more popular, as are those for humans, since their non-plastic packaging creates less waste and they are usually completely natural. There also no rinse or dry shampoos for dogs that can be used to prolong the period between baths. Similarly, you can take a no-rinse shampoo with you when you travel, as a handy option for keeping your pooch clean on the go.

As for specific types of dog shampoos, there is a formula to match any canine need. Depending on your dog’s coat type and skin condition, you can choose from dog shampoos designed to:

  • Relieve itchiness
  • Exterminate and repel parasites (fleas and ticks)
  • Gently clean puppy fur
  • Soothe hotspots
  • Treat skin issues and illnesses (medicated shampoos)
  • Hydrate and eliminate dandruff
  • Detangle fur
  • Volumize or texturize dog hair
  • Lighten white coat

And much more. If your pet doesn’t have demanding hair and has no apparent skin conditions, you might be unsure which specific type of dog shampoo would be a good choice. In these cases, a mild dog shampoo made from nurturing natural ingredients is a perfect place to start.

To help you find the best option for your pet’s needs, be it just to get squeaky clean or with whistles and bells in the mix, we’ve rounded up 10 best dog shampoos for every dog. From gentle cleansers to medicated heavy-duty performers, we’ve included top choices for each of the many categories. At least we can make the choosing part of the job easier–it’s up to you to get your dog’s butt in the tub, though.

1. Best Overall: Burt’s Bees Shampoo & Conditioner for Dogs

If you’re looking for gentle, natural dog shampoo for a dog with normal skin and regular long or short coat, Burt’s Bees come to the rescue. This 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner for dogs will leave your pet’s fur shiny and soft after just one lathering. Made from natural ingredients, Burt’s Bees dog shampoo is based on colloidal oatmeal, honey, and beeswax. This combination soothes and hydrates skin, conditions fur, and it’s gentle enough for sensitive canines. The only potential downside for some pet owners is that this is one of those dog shampoos that are not perfumed–and won’t leave a lasting scent in your dog’s fur after washing. Burt’s Bees dog shampoo contains no parabens, phthalates, petroleum, SLS, or synthetic fragrances.

2. Runner Up: Fifi & Fido Natural Pet Shampoo

Fifi & Fido shampoo for dogs has a formula that is suitable for dry, itchy, and irritated skin. If your dog doesn’t do well with harsher shampoos and gets dandruff, or has a coat that is not naturally oily, this oatmeal, shea butter, and aloe vera shampoo has everything they need. It will balance out their pH, feed and moisturize the skin, and make their coat glossy and velvety. Made in the USA, Fifi & Fido shampoo contains no alcohol, dyes, parabens, or animal byproducts. It’s also cruelty-free. Another great feature is that this itch-relieving and moisturizing dog shampoo comes in a handy pump dispenser bottle that makes pouring easy and precise. A little goes a long way with this formula!

3. Budget Buy: TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Dog Shampoo

Have you noticed that your dog is scratching constantly? If so, there is a chance that you are dealing with fleas and/or ticks. These horrible little pests can drive our dogs absolutely insane and, if left untreated for too long, can also be dangerous for their health. The good news is that you can get rid of these unwanted visitors and help to prevent them from returning without breaking the bank.

This natural flea and tick shampoo kills up to 99% of fleas, ticks, larvae, and eggs. This is accomplished through a mixture of EPA-approved essential oils including clove oil, lemongrass oil, cedarwood oil, cinnamon oil, and sesame seed oil. In addition to getting rid of the pests, the gentle coconut cleanser helps to soothe your dog’s skin and relieve itching. It will continue to repel fleas for up to 7 days, preventing the problem from returning.

Do you use a topical flea or tick preventative? The soap-free formula lathers up nicely and leaves you with a clean, fresh-smelling dog without washing away those important spot treatments.

4. Best for Long-Haired Dogs: EQyss Premier Pet Shampoo

If you want to treat your doggo to a full-blown salon experience, the luxurious EQyss Premier Pet Shampoo will help you do it. To make sure your pooch’s locks will be fine and feathery, EQyss uses human-grade ingredients that are safe and suitable for the pH balance of a dog’s skin. The combination of salon-quality scientific formula and natural botanical extracts works together to perfectly groom your pet, and this dog shampoo is ideal for long-haired dogs. Their fine fur will be detangled, soft, and lightweight after a bath with EQyss premier, and the coat will have a lovely tropical scent for days. This shampoo also has color-enriching properties and will restore the brilliance to any coat. To boot, this formula works up a great sud but rinses out easily!

5. Best for Healthy Skin and Coat: SKOUT’S HONOR Probiotic Pet Shampoo & Conditioner

Unlike most dog shampoos that are designed to treat a skin issue at hand or correct coat problems such as dullness, SKOUT’S HONOR dog shampoo works preemptively. Their unique formula is designed to prevent skin and hair issues before they occur, by stimulating your pet’s natural defenses to activate. The way this 2-in-1 dog shampoo and conditioner works is protect the beneficial bacteria on the skin with its probiotic properties and protect the healthy microbial community. Tear-free, soap-free, paraben and sulfate-free, SKOUT’S HONOR dog shampoo uses avocado oil and omega 3s to ensure your dog’s hair and skin are in top form. Also, as a bonus treat: each bottle of this shampoo bought feeds three meals to a shelter animal in need.

6. Colloidal Oatmeal Dog Shampoo with Pure Lavender Essential Oils

This hypoallergenic dog shampoo is specially designed for sensitive dogs, both puppies, and adults. If your pet has dry, itchy, or flaky skin prone to dandruff and inflammation, or if they easily get irritations after bathing, this gentle shampoo is suited for them. Based on a clinical formula and potent ingredients, it will thoroughly wash and deodorize your dog’s coat and alleviate any current skin irritation or itchiness. The formula includes colloidal oatmeal, lavender essential oil, and jojoba for a cleaning, conditioning, and soothing effect. Tear-free, cruelty-free, and paraben-free, this gentle dog shampoo rinses out with ease and can be used for shorthaired and longhaired breeds alike.

7. Wahl Pet-Friendly Waterless No Rinse Shampoo

No rinse–no problem! This waterless dog shampoo successfully eliminates the most dreaded part of bathing for most dogs–rinsing. To use it, simply pump out some foam on your palm, massage it into your pet’s fur and wipe them dry with a towel. Voila! Stinkiness is no more! The lavender and chamomile scent will stay on your pet’s hair and dirt and debris will be removed with the wiped down foam. Ideally, this would be a solution for pet owners that are traveling and need an easy option to clean their pet on the go or to keep your pooch fresh between actual bathings. It’s not intended as the only method of washing dogs, but for those canines who can’t be bathed due to extreme anxiety or health issues, Wahl waterless shampoo can be a lifesaver.

The gentle formula is relaxing due to essential oils, and the fact that this no-rinse shampoo is PEG-80 free, alcohol-free, paraben-free, and pH balanced makes it suitable for pooches with sensitive skin.

8. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Shampoo

Sometimes a dog shampoo has to be more than just a cleaning product and serve as a vet treatment aid instead. For dogs who suffer from different skin conditions, treatment can come in the form of bathing with a strong medicated shampoo, and this antiparasitic and antiseborrheic shampoo is one of those. Meant for dogs who have dermatitis, seborrhea, mange or some other parasitic or a bacterial infection this dog shampoo effectively cleans the coat and treats the issues at hand. The main ingredients in this formula are coal tar, salicylic acid, and micronized sulfur that target the infection, parasites, or inflammation. The formula is also enriched with oatmeal and allantoin to heal the skin and hydrate it while your pooch is recovering.

9. DERMagic Shampoo Bar

For environmentally conscious dog owners looking for a product with less packaging, the DERMagic shampoo bar is a great option. This solid shampoo bar offers a green clean by eliminating unnecessary packaging and using organic ingredients. Further adding to their environmentally friendly business practices, the company will plant a tree for every 10 shampoo bars purchased.

To use this product, simply wet down your dog and lather up as you would with a bar of soap yourself followed by immediately rinsing the suds off. The bar provides rich suds despite the fact that there are no sulfates! You can continue your commitment to green pet ownership by also switching to the DERMagic Conditioner Bar. Their shampoo options include a variety of different scents including chamomile sage, lemongrass spearmint, peppermint & tea tree, rosemary, and rosemary lavender, as well as a sensitive skin formula for dogs that need something even gentler.

10. Honest Paws Conditioning Shampoo

This gentle anti-itch shampoos uses oatmeal that will leave a protective layer of moisturizer on your dog’s skin that will help relieve their itching long after the bath is over. Honest Paws Conditioning Shampoo also contains aloe vera which is both an antifungal and antibacterial that will be useful to heal their already scratched skin. It lathers gently and rinses easily. Honest Paws’ plant-based formula has no harmful ingredients and will not irritate your dog’s sensitive skin. Honest Paws is a 5-in-1 cleaning system and in just one step your dogs will be clean, deodorized, conditioned, detangled, and moisturized. Now that is a beauty regained everyone can get behind!

Cloud Star Lavender & Mint Corporation Buddy Wash

Nothing feels better to your pet’s skin and coat than natural ingredients. Unlike us humans, who have grown used to using a ton of different commercial products in their beauty routine, dogs can be sensitive to plenty of different substances that would otherwise feel fine to their owners- so whenever possible, go for the natural solutions. This USA-made dog shampoo is created with “ingredients from the garden” and as such is meant to offer gentle cleansing while it nourishes the skin and strengthens the hair. Some of the ingredients in the formula include botanical extracts such as lavender, mint, chamomile, aloe vera, and tea tree oil, all chosen for their beneficial properties. With 2-in-1 action, this lovely natural shampoo is also a conditioner to boot so you can rest assured your dog’s locks will be as soft and shiny as ever.

Shed-X Shed Control Shampoo for Dogs and Cats

Excessive shedding can become a really frustrating problem- both for the owners and their pet. Routine and thorough baths are just one of the ways you can combat seasonal blowouts or regular loose hair, and it’s an even more efficient method when you’ve got the products with targeted effect. This particular dog shampoo formula is engineered to help control shedding by treating a potential underlying cause for excess hair loss: unhealthy skin and coat. It will gently clean and exfoliate the pet’s skin to make sure all the danger and loose hair go down the drain with the dirty water, and at the same time infuse the skin and coat with much-needed essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and essential vitamins E, D, and A. What’s more, you’ll love the unique white ginger and nectarine fragrance that will have your pupper smelling fresh for days!

PetHonesty Antibacterial & Antifungal Chlorhexidine Shampoo

Pets with allergies or skin issues such as infections, rashes, hot spots or general itchiness can’t just use any generic shampoo: more often than not, a medicated shampoo formula is needed to soothe the irritations and help them heal. The active ingredients in this shampoo are 2% Chlorhexidine and 1% Ketonazole and these are meant to treat skin conditions associated with bacteria and yeast, as well as reduce follicular inflammation. As a result, this antibacterial and antifungal dog shampoo will help relieve a range of symptoms for sensitive pooches and those diagnosed with skin conditions. Of course, if you’re unsure why your pet is itchy or if they have a hot spot that doesn’t go away- be sure to double-check with your vet to eliminate any other causes and get their professional opinion if a medicated shampoo such as this one is enough to help their issues.

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Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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