The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

9 best dog shampoos to keep your pooch clean, shiny and smelling fresh

Make bathtimes for your four-legged friend less ruff with these formulas

Tamara Hinson
Wednesday 25 August 2021 11:24
<p>How often you wash your doggo and the products you use will depend on their coat and lifestyle</p>

How often you wash your doggo and the products you use will depend on their coat and lifestyle

The shampoo market is absolutely enormous, covering everything from cheap and cheerful dirt-busting solutions to heavily fragranced bottles of vitamin-packed loveliness – and that’s just for dogs.

For this reason, we decided it was time to take a look at some of the most popular options for those keen to keep their pooches coats in the best possible condition.

An insider tip? One of the dog grooming-related launches we’re most looking forward to is the new range of dog shampoos from fab beauty brand Faith in Nature – expect to see it on the shelves by late autumn.

How we tested

We’ve got to admit it – this was one of the most fun testing sessions we’ve had (although we do have to admit to a thorough soaking, and not all of our test subjects were as keen as we were).

A shout-out has to go to our two main testers – a Bedlington terrier named Honey and a Rhodesian Ridgeback called Barley, both of whom are now boasting supremely shiny coats, and have recovered from the trauma of being thoroughly washed before being interrogated about their thoughts on the various shampoos.

Read more:

The best dog shampoos for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Ouai fur bébé pet shampoo: £25, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best for pongy pooches – D.Dog deodorising shampoo: £19.50, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best for sensitive skinned dogs – Anicura dog shampoo: £13.99, Anicura.co.uk
  • Best puppy shampoo – Animology puppy love shampoo: £5.50, Animology.co.uk
  • Best for white dogs – Animology white wash shampoo: £5.50, Animology.co.uk
  • Best for shedding dogs – Pride and Groom the shedder shampoo: £25, Selfridges.com
  • Best for quick spruce-ups – Kiehl’s cuddly coat cleansing spritz: £15, Kiehls.co.uk
  • Best for a moisture hit – Pet Head feeling flaky dry and sensitive dog shampoo: £9, Petsathome.com
  • Best smelling dog shampoo – Pet Head sensitive soul coconut with marula oil skin dog shampoo: £10.99, Petsathome.com

Ouai fur bébé pet shampoo

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

Barley, our Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, was especially keen on this one – at least that’s what we’re telling ourselves after she tried to bite the cap of the bottle seconds after we produced it. Although the price is on the high side, the enormous bottle contains 474ml of product, and we loved the tilting lid, which minimises the risk of spills and is a godsend when you’re wrangling a wet puppy.

The pale yellow liquid is packed with the type of goodness we’d like to see more of in our own shampoos: aloe vera and rambutan seed extract are the stars of the show. There’s a delicate, soapy scent which initially reminded us of bubble-blowing liquid, but which quickly faded to a meadow-fresh scent.

D.Dog deodorising shampoo

Best: For pongy pooches

Rating: 9/10

Weirdly, the opening notes of this shampoo reminded us of the scent of plastic babies’ heads (we’re hoping you’ll know what we mean, but we could be wrong). It’s not an unpleasant scent, rather a gentle, comforting one which doesn’t linger longer than it needs to.

Barley was perfectly happy to be subjected to a thorough shampooing, which we suspect is partly down to the low lather, which means quicker rinsing times and less chance of pesky soap suds working their way into irritable areas. It’s another shampoo which is great for dogs with sensitive skin – it’s a pre and probiotic-based formula which works by protecting dogs’ natural skin biomes.

Anicura dog shampoo

Best: For sensitive skin

Rating: 9/10

Our expectations were admittedly lowered by this boring-looking bottle – we expected something pretty basic on the inside too, with either no scent or minimal ingredients. Although, we should point out that the average pooch is unlikely to share our concerns about bottle design. We were wrong on both counts.

To start with, the liquid, which foams up into a soft lather and has plenty of slip (the term used to describe how easily the liquid slides over the skin, or fur in this case), has a wonderful scent which reminded of us of a spa (the human kind) and lingered on the fur for just the right amount of time. And then there are the ingredients – a rollcall of skin-soothing greatness: rosemary, sea buckthorn, chamomile, neem, aloe vera and oatmeal. Buy this shampoo and your dog will have the holy grail of soft skin, squeaky-clean fur and a fresh yet subtle scent.

Animology puppy love shampoo

Best: Puppy shampoo

Rating: 8/10

The jury’s out on whether your puppy actually needs a specialist shampoo, but there’s an argument for the case that younger dogs take a while to develop their self-coating protection. This lightly-lathering shampoo has a built-in conditioner for super soft coats, something which left our test dog’s fur feeling wonderfully soft. It also uses a hit of pro-vitamin B5 to help strengthen and condition the coat without the need for sebum-stripping harsh ingredients.

Animology white wash shampoo

Best: For white dogs

Rating: 8/10

Barring the shampoo bottle’s uncanny resemblance to a tube of white paint (which isn’t actually a problem, unless you slather it over your walls by mistake) this is a brilliant option for dirt-prone dogs. It will easily shift light stains, and has a dose of pro-vitamin B5 which ensures that only the grime is removed – not the essential oils our furry friends rely on to keep their coats in top condition.

Pride and Groom the shedder shampoo

Best: For shedding dogs

Rating: 9/10

Marketed as a brilliant option for dogs prone to moulting – though we’re keen to remind our furry friends that there’s no shame in shedding – there’s no escaping the fact that at £25 this shampoo costs far, far more than the average bottle of (human) shampoo.

That said, this ultra-hydrating formula certainly helps to reduce the shed of both dander and fur by nourishing skin without the use of harsh ingredients which can irritate dogs prone to sensitivity. We can’t help but wish the juice itself was a little thicker – it’s on the thin side, which means it’s all too easy to decant the majority onto your dog, which is no laughing matter at £25 a pop.

Kiehl’s cuddly coat cleansing spritz

Best: For quick spruce-ups

Rating: 8/10

Full disclosure, this isn’t a shampoo, more of an in-between-washes spruce-up. A doggy dry-shampoo if you will.

As weird as it seems to be talking about top notes when it comes to dog shampoo, we’ve got to highlight the delicious top note of cinnamon we got when we first tried out this canine cleaning spritz. It’s ideal for pet owners who don’t want to subject their pooch to regular washes, or who want to keep their dogs smelling fabulously fresh – another ingredient is chamomile flower extract, which gives the spray a wonderfully floral scent.

Pet Head feeling flaky dry and sensitive dog shampoo

Best: For a moisture hit

Rating: 8/10

Even dogs suffer from dandruff, and this is a brilliant option for dogs prone to flakiness. It was love at first sight when it came to the design, the highlight of which is a bone-shaped cap which is easy to remove, even when wrestling with a wet, muddy mutt doing all she can to evade bath time.

The formula is a powerhouse of ingredients guaranteed to transform your dog’s coat – there’s yucca for strength, silk proteins for lustre, shea butter for softness and chamomile for a gorgeous, countryside-inspired scent. What’s not to love?

Pet Head sensitive soul coconut with marula oil skin dog shampoo

Best: Smelling dog shampoo

Rating: 9/10

If our human shampoo smelled like this, we’d be over the moon. The blast of creamy coconut paired with a hint of vanilla, isn’t the only thing we loved about this Crufts-worthy cleanser – which has a hit of marula oil to help keep skin in tip-top condition without aggravating sensitive skin.

It’s a pH-balanced formula, which means it’s great for dogs prone to sensitivity. And the addition of oatmeal and calendula do a great job of soothing any existing flare-ups of dry skin or soreness.

Dog shampoo FAQs

How often should you wash your dog?

This depends on several factors. But one of the most important things to remember is that most dogs don’t need regular washing – they’re self-coating, which means their fur has a natural oiliness which helps to keep them clean.

Additionally, if dandruff is a concern (for your dog, not you, to be clear), then over-washing could well be contributing to the problem by increasing cell turnover.  In which case, either consider washing less regularly (again, we’re talking about your dog, not you) or invest in a medicated shampoo.

Professor Julia Miller, a canine dermatologist at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is a firm believer that a one-size-fits-all approach to dog washing is the wrong way to go.

“It’s very dependent on the dog – their breed, coat type (curly, straight) and length (short, long, double), whether they have allergies or other medical conditions, and their lifestyle,” she says.

“For example, a dog who swims in a mucky pond every day may need a light bath every day (to remove the bacteria) whereas a dog who hangs out in the house most of the time may only need the very occasional bath.”

What ingredients should we look for in dog shampoos?

Again this is very dependent on the dog. “For a medicated shampoo I like ingredients such as chlorhexidine or selenium sulfate because they are excellent antimicrobials. If you’re looking for a good moisturising shampoo I recommend ingredients like colloidal oatmeal or ceramides.” Says Professor Miller.

She adds, “Overall, I’m not too picky about the specific ingredients of a shampoo and I don’t look down on ingredients such as sulphates, lanolin and preservatives. There are certainly many opinions regarding this but I have seen incredible, healthy coats on healthy dogs washed with very basic shampoos. It’s similar to how people have preferences for their hair – take the time to work out what works for your dog and their lifestyle.”

The verdict: Dog shampoos

Ouai’s fur bébé pet shampoo ticks all the boxes – it’s a huge bottle full of shampoo with a thick consistency which means a little goes a long way, and it’s got a fantastic scent. Most importantly, it left our four-legged tester looking fabulous.

Second place goes to D.Dog’s deodorising shampoo – a brilliant shampoo which includes the kind of fur and skin-friendly ingredients we wish we saw more of in our own haircare products.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts dog food and other pet essentials, try the links below:

Look out for your rough and tumble-prone pooch with our best dog first aid kits

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.