Have you been thinking about bathing your dog but don’t know where to start and what shampoo to use? You’ll have seen shampoos for sale in pet shops, online and possibly in your veterinary practice, but which shampoo do you use? As there’s so many different brands out there – which one do you purchase? Let’s have a look through some factors to consider when looking for the right shampoo. 

Do you need to bathe your dog?

There is no right or wrong with this. It is down to us as owners about if we want to bathe our dogs and how often. Some people choose to do it regularly, say weekly, whilst others may only bathe them when they are stinky. Things to consider about how often to bathe your dog would be, do you have time? Are you able to dry them properly? Do you have facilities to bath them? Does your dog tolerate being bathed? 

If you decide they do need regular bathing – perhaps they’re prone to rolling in nasty things, or have a particularly messy favourite walk – then you need to think about what shampoo to use.

Types of shampoos

Shampoos are made to remove dirt and odours, and so contain soaps or detergents, to strip out unwanted material. In addition, they are sometimes used as a treatment. There are various types of shampoos out there. There are general shampoos, which remove dirt and odour and are designed to be used as and when needed. Then there are hypoallergenic shampoos which would suit sensitive dogs, the ingredients are designed for more sensitive skin and are (supposedly) less likely to cause skin irritation. 

Flea and tick shampoos were really popular a few years ago, to help repel fleas and ticks. How well they work is debatable, they are not a reliable flea and tick treatment. They won’t kill the fleas or ticks, but they may repel to them for a short period of time. Otherwise, medicated shampoos are prescribed by your vet to help treat any skin or allergies and should be used as directed and not used as a daily shampoo unless you’re specifically told to. These typically contain antibiotic, antifungal, and/or keratolytic ingredients. Keratolytics are often used to help with abnormal scale or greasiness of the skin, and should be used under veterinary advice.

Coat type

Different breeds of dogs have different coat types. You have dogs like Jack Russells, Dalmatians and Greyhounds (and many more), who all have single coats, which make them short and dense. Breeds with coats like these don’t usually require regular bathing. Other breeds like German Shepherds, Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Huskies and many more all have a double coat. Which means they have a short under coat and a long outer coat. These will be a bit harder to bathe and take more time as you will have to work to reach the skin through all the hair.

Some brands do sell a shampoo that is for double coated dogs. This is designed to penetrate all the way down to the skin. However, remember it will take much longer for them to dry, too. Finding the right shampoo for the specific coat may help enhance the coat health and make them easier to groom. 


Are you looking for a shampoo that has a nice fragrance to it? Watch out, as some fragranced shampoos may contain harsh chemicals that could cause irritation.

Human shampoo

Human shampoo should always be avoided, even if it’s baby shampoo. (Which a lot of people may think to use as we think it is gentle). Human skin has a different pH to dogs, and so no human shampoo is really suitable for dog skin. Using a human shampoo can alter the pH of the dog’s skin which can cause an acid and even bacterial imbalance and then lead to irritation.


Some dogs do have allergies. We may not know what the allergies are but if we are aware of them then look for shampoos that aren’t going to irritate them. If you’re unsure on what to use then it is always best to contact your vet for advice. The last thing we want to do is to cause more problems!

Medicated shampoo

If your dog has skin problems or allergies, they are sometimes prescribed medicated shampoos to help with the problem. Under the guidance from your vet, always use the shampoo they have prescribed. Treatment might be daily or weekly or monthly. Using any other shampoo may cause irritation so always seek advice. 


There are so many different brands out there. So what do we look for when looking at what brand to use? Read reviews, look online and read reviews from people that have used the products they sell. Ask friends, friends who have dogs have likely bathed them at some point. See what products they use and recommend. You coils also investigate cost, and look at products around your budget.

Above all, though, ask your vet for advice. See what products they recommend for your dog as an individual!


When choosing a shampoo it is all about trial and error. Some you may find work better than others. But before you start, stop and think: do you NEED to shampoo your dog? Shampoo, by its very nature, strips out the oils from the coat. Sometimes that’s great (removing fox-poo, for example!). But if the skin is healthy, and clean, then shampooing is likely to reduce the protective layers, and may even increase the risk of skin problems by disrupting the good bacteria on the surface.

So we’d say definitely shampoo a dirty dog to clean them, or a dog with skin disease to treat it… But if they’re clean and healthy, stop and think if you really need to use any products other than warm water!

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