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Best puppy shampoo

Which puppy shampoos are best?

Even the most well-behaved puppies can’t resist making a mess from time to time. That means when they stare back at you with their wide eyes with a strand of spaghetti hanging from their snout and sauce across their face, it's time for a bath.

As tempting as it is to use your human shampoo to get your puppy nice and clean, it's likely it'll cause more harm in the long run. You want to use the best gentle shampoo designed for puppies, such as Burt's Bees 2-in-1 Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner

What to know before you buy puppy shampoo


If you have a very young puppy, it's recommended you hold off on giving them their first bath until they're at least 8 weeks old. That's because their skin is still highly delicate and growing. 

When selecting a puppy shampoo, it must have a gentle formulation. Often, that means it's free from harsh chemicals and fragrances and uses natural ingredients. It's best to go with shampoos explicitly formulated for puppies, but if it says it's okay for all ages, as long as it's gentle and pH balanced, it shouldn't cause any harm.

Fragrances and sensitive skin

Similar to humans, puppies can have sensitive skin. There are shampoos that attempt to neutralize odors with chemicals, while others use fragrances to mask the smell. While certain chemicals and fragrances may be safe, your puppy may be sensitive and start showing signs of skin irritation. In that case, use scent-free shampoos or ones with natural scents such as chamomile or lavender.

In some instances, your puppy may require a medicated shampoo specially formulated to ease their ailments. Speaking with your veterinarian is the best course of action because not all medicated shampoos are safe for puppies.

Quality control

The last thing any puppy owner wants is to excitedly purchase the best puppy food, shampoo and dog toys only to find they contain a potentially deadly chemical.

Generally, puppy shampoos processed in the U.S, Australia and Western Europe undergo strict safety guidelines and quality-control inspections. While humans may be fine cutting corners once in a while, one look into your puppy's eyes will make you want to conduct hours of due diligence.

What to look for in a quality puppy shampoo

Tearless formulation

Most shampoos formulated for puppies are tearless or tear-free. However, that label can cause some confusion. Being tearless or tear-free doesn't mean the shampoo can stay in their eyes. Rather, it means you have some time to rinse out the shampoo with a lot of water before your puppy starts to feel the stinging effect of a chemical burn.

So while you must be careful to avoid getting it in their eyes, tearless shampoo is beneficial for owners of any age of dog.

Neutral pH balance

The best shampoos for dogs and puppies have a neutral pH balance. One of the reasons human shampoo isn't recommended for puppies is because human pH balance ranges between 5.5-5.6 while a dog's pH ranges between 6.2-7.4.

It's best to get a puppy shampoo with a neutral pH balance of around 7 to prevent damaging your puppy's coat and skin.

Natural ingredients and protective additives

Many shampoos for dogs of all ages have gravitated toward incorporating natural ingredients in their products. Puppy shampoos, in particular, tend to use oatmeal, various vitamins, herbs and aloe vera for their moisturizing and soothing benefits. These ingredients are also beneficial for puppies with sensitive skin.

How much you can expect to spend on a puppy shampoo

Depending on the size and brand, expect to spend $6-$50 on quality puppy shampoo. 

Best puppy shampoo FAQ

How often should you wash your puppy?

A. Unless your puppy gets caked in mud, it's generally best not to wash them more than once a month. Because their bodies aren't fully developed, washing them daily or even once a week can strip essential oils, leading to dry coats and inflammation. However, active puppies and long-coat breeds require more-frequent baths. If you live in a colder climate, it's recommended you avoid bathing your puppy too often during winter months and use dry shampoo if it's an absolute necessity.

Can you use human shampoo to wash your puppy?

A. Unless it's unscented baby shampoo designed for sensitive skin, using human shampoo is not a good idea. Since baby shampoo uses gentle ingredients, it's a possible alternative. However, shampoos such as Pantene contain chemicals that could harm your puppy by disrupting their pH balance, leading to potentially painful ailments.

What’s the best puppy shampoo to buy?

Top puppy shampoo

Rocco & Roxie Dog Shampoo for All Dogs and Puppies

What you need to know: This shampoo highlights three natural ingredients that promote healthy skin at any life stage.

What you’ll love: Available in three options, the sensitive shampoo is scented with rosemary, aloe and chamomile. The gentle formula is free from parabens, masking dyes and drying alcohols. 

What you should consider: It's a thick shampoo. Minimal amounts go far when watered down.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Top puppy shampoo for the money

Burt's Bees 2-in-1 Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner

What you need to know: This shampoo is the most gentle and tearless puppy shampoo for the cost.

What you’ll love: The shampoo doesn't feature any sulfates, colorants, harsh chemicals or fragrances. The conditioner in the product is the buttermilk and linseed oil that works to soothe your puppy's skin and soften their hair.

What you should consider: The lack of fragrance may be disappointing for some owners.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Chewy and Petsmart

Worth checking out

Bodhi Dog All-Natural Pet Oatmeal Shampoo

What you need to know: This is a gentle and fortified all-natural shampoo designed for sensitive skin.

What you’ll love: This shampoo lathers extremely well and is fortified with various vitamins to improve your puppy's coat and help relieve dry or itchy skin. It's free from detergents, harsh chemicals and alcohol.

What you should consider: It's similarly priced to more-expensive puppy shampoos.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Christopher Lee writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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