What is the Best Dog Shampoo?
It's important to choose the right shampoo for your dog. But where do you start when there are so many options out in the market? From hypoallergenic shampoos, to medicated ones, and even waterless, and natural formulations, these products contain different ingredients and boast various benefits for your dog's skin and coat.
With our guide on the best shampoos, we've got you covered to help you suds up your pup with a formula that not only nourishes their skin and coat, but also keeps them smelling fresh and looking their very best.
Why is choosing the dog shampoo important?
Your dog's skin and coat health is an important aspect of their overall health. The skin is the largest organ of the body and it serves as a protective barrier and an indicator of your dog's wellbeing. Choosing the right shampoo for your dog is important to help maintain and strengthen the integrity of the skin barrier and restore moisture and lustre to your dog's coat.
- Specific Skin Needs: Just like humans, dogs can have a variety of specific needs when it comes to what's best for their skin. Grooming needs can largely be breed-dependent but the situation can still vary from dog to dog, factoring in lifestyle, environment, and certain health conditions. When choosing a shampoo for your dog, it's important to get them one that best meets their specific skin needs.
- Quality: In selecting the right products for our pets, quality is essential. Premium shampoos use high quality ingredients that are gentle enough to use on canine skin but are effective at cleaning and nourishing the skin and coat. High quality shampoos may also provide other benefits and have clear and transparent labels that tell you more information about what goes into each bottle.
- Ingredients: There are many different ingredients used for dog shampoos. Aloe vera, oatmeal, coconut oil are just some examples but other formulations also contain various other natural ingredients like botanical extracts and essential oils. While most shampoos are suitable for a variety of dog coats, it's important to check the ingredients, especially if your dog has any known allergies to specific ones.
- Health Conditions: It's important to consider if your dog has any health conditions. For dry skin and dandruff, a more moisturising formula may be preferable. For skin conditions specifically, dogs may be recommended a medicated shampoo instead of a regular shampoo. Some shampoos may not be suitable if your dog has wounds or active skin infections. Skin problems are one of the most common reasons why a dog is brought to the vet so it is best to work alongside your treating veterinarian to determine which shampoo is best for your dog, alongside an appropriate treatment and management protocol.
- Best Puppy Shampoo: Melanie Newman Salon Essentials Puppy Shampoo
- Best Everyday Adult Dog Shampoo: Aloveen Shampoo
- Best Sensitive Skin Shampoo & Conditioner: PAW Blackmore's Sensitive Skin Shampoo & PAW Blackmore's Sensitive Skin Conditioner
- Best Medicated Shampoo: Malaseb Medicated Shampoo
- Best Flea and Tick Shampoo: Fidos Fre-itch Concentrate
- Best Detangler: Melanie Newman Salon Essentials Relax Dog Coat Conditioning Spray
- Best Dry Shampoo for Dogs: Rufus & Coco Water Free Wash
How We Review Our Products
Our Pet Circle Vet Squad comprises 30 vets with over 120 years of collective, independent veterinary expertise. Our Vet team use their health and husbandry knowledge, along with their own personal and clinical experiences to evaluate each product and provide detailed, informative reviews, free of any commercial bias. We then collate this information into our 'best of' recommendations.
Top Dog Shampoos in Australia
- A luxurious, gentle shampoo formula made with natural, plant-derived ingredients
- Has a fresh, floral, rose fragrance
- Suitable for puppies of all breeds
- Scent can be too strong for some
- Comes in only one size bottle on site (500 ml)
Puppy skin can be quite delicate as their bodies are still developing. At a young age, many puppies are still exploring the world and can inevitably get messy and dirty along the way. They require a shampoo formulation that gently cleanses and nourishes their sensitive skin without stripping it of its natural oils.
The Melanie Newman Salon Essentials Puppy Shampoo is formulated with high quality natural ingredients like coconut oil, liquorice root, and essential oils of rose, chamomile, and calendula to gently cleanse your puppy's delicate skin, assist in removing dandruff, and keep your pup's coat soft, shiny, and smelling fresh. It lathers well and a little goes a long way which is especially helpful for larger pups.
What our customers say: "I have been using this product on my cavoodle now for the past 3 months. Every time we bath him he smells amazing and after drying off with the blow dryer his coat is so soft and smells fresh! He also does not have any allergy skin reaction to it like some products out there do. Highly recommend this product for any puppy."
- Gentle, hypoallergenic, soap-free formula
- A fantastic choice for dogs with dry, sensitive skin
- Comes in different size bottles (250 ml, 500 ml, 1 L)
- Proudly Australian owned and made
- May not be as sudsy as other shampoos
- Not suitable if there is an active skin infection
It's always a good idea to have a no-nonsense everyday shampoo handy for your adult dog. For regular bathing, you're going to want a shampoo that's effective at keeping your dog clean and fresh but still safe enough for more frequent use, especially for spring and summer when skin allergies kick in.
Aloveen is an oatmeal-based shampoo that gently cleanses your dog's skin and coat while still keeping it soft and moisturised. It's suitable for dry, sensitive skin and leaves your dog smelling amazing.
For dry and sensitive skin, there is also a matching conditioner for some extra TLC! You may gently rinse it off after shampooing or use it as a leave-on conditioner.
What our customers say: "Our vet recommended us to use this shampoo on our dog as she got itchy paws from pollens. It's delicate enough for her sensitive skin and we love it."
What our vets say: "I recommend and use Aloveen as the best shampoo for regular bathing of dogs. It's soap-free, so it's gentle on the skin and won't harshly strip the coat of natural oils, making it a good choice for regular bathing and for dogs with sensitive skin. It also contains colloidal oatmeal and aloe vera to moisturise the skin, and also comes in a leave in conditioner formulation. But best of all, it leaves your dog smelling divine! Doggy bath time in our house is always followed by an abundance of doggy cuddles, as everyone just loves the smell!" - Dr. Gill
- Hypoallergenic, pH balanced shampoo
- Gently cleanses and moisturises sensitive skin
- Made with natural essential oils
- Only comes in one size
- Fragrance may be too strong for some
PAW Blackmore's Sensitive Shampoo and Conditioner are a fantastic choice for sensitive canine skin. This dynamic duo of non-irritating natural formulas are free of sulphates and artificial fragrances, ingredients that can commonly cause skin irritation.
The shampoo gently cleanses the skin while the panthenol and jojoba oil help preserve the skin's natural oils. The conditioner contains a rich combination of ingredients to moisturise the skin and detangle the coat, making it soft, smooth, and silky.
This duo also keeps your dog smelling amazing with a special blend of botanical essential oils; the shampoo has rosemary and sandalwood oils while the conditioner contains rose, patchouli, and sandalwood oils.
What our customers say: "Lovely gentle shampoo and conditioner. The product really is great for sensitive skin."
What our vets say: "The PAW Sensitive Skin Shampoo and Conditioner duo is a great pick for any dog with sensitive skin. They contain moisturising ingredients such as jojoba oil to help support the skin barrier and have a pleasant, mild scent. I love how soft my dog's coat was after bathing, plus the conditioner is great for detangling if your dog's coat is prone to matting." - Dr. Kes
- Has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-itch properties
- Free of dyes and fragrances
- Also suitable for cats
- Available in 3 sizes (250 mL, 500 mL, 1L)
- May be more expensive than regular shampoo
- Shampoo must be left on for 10 minutes during baths; dogs must be supervised during this time to avoid ingestion or inhalation of the shampoo
When a dog has sensitive and itchy skin, the integrity of the skin barrier is compromised, leaving them susceptible to infections and an overgrowth in the otherwise normal populations of the skin's healthy microflora. Dogs struggling with topical skin infections like bacterial or yeast dermatitis may benefit from a medicated shampoo.
Malaseb is a medicated shampoo that contains miconazole, which targets fungi and yeast, and chlorhexidine gluconate, a broad-spectrum antimicrobial that works against a variety of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
Apart from targeting these microorganisms, it also helps to remove scale and degrease the skin but its gentle formula is also suitable for sensitive skin, making it a great shampoo to have on hand especially for skin allergy flare ups.
As many vets and pet parents may tell you, one skin condition to be particularly wary of is ringworm, which is unfortunately transmissible between dogs and humans. Alongside medication, washing your dog with Malaseb helps to resolve cases of ringworm. If you suspect your dog may have ringworm, please see your veterinarian to discuss treatment options.
What our customers say: "My dog suffers from environmental allergies. This product is a life saver for my dog as we have tried so many products and nothing worked. He would beso uncomfortable and scratching all the time. After using this product my dog's skin started improving and he wasn't scratching as much. The more I use it the better it got."
What our vets say: "The Malaseb Medicated Shampoo is my top recommendation for a medicated shampoo. It is versatile in its uses for both dogs and cats, with well researched, effective active ingredients to provide antibacterial, antifungal and antipruritic (anti-itch) properties. Despite this, it is still a gentle product suitable to be used on sensitive, delicate skin. It's perfect for pets with skin infections, allergies and dermatitis. It's an easy to use product and I recommend it to my clients all the time!" - Dr. Brittany
- Uses natural insecticides
- A little goes a long way; product is a concentrate
- Comes in two sizes (125 mL, 500 mL)
- Short duration of parasite coverage
- CAUTION: Contains pyrethrin, which can be toxic to cats in higher concentrations
For dogs with a heavy flea infestation, Fido's Fre-Itch Concentrate is formulated for a quick knockdown of live fleas in your dog's coat. This is a rinse concentrate that contains a natural insecticide against fleas, as well as ticks, and lice, and it also helps to prevent tick attachment for up to 3 days.
Simply dilute the product before use as per the label instructions and for best results, allow it to dry naturally.
What our customers say: "Great product.. smells lovely and a terrific final rinse to get rid of fleas and ticks. I have been using this for many years.. I highly recommend this product"
- Natural ingredients nourish and help to detangle the coat
- Contains botanical essential oils for a fresh, clean scent
- 100% vegan, free of palm oil as well as harsh, synthetic chemicals
- Suitable for sensitive skin as well as dogs of all ages
- Comes in only one size (250 mL bottle)
On top of your regular washing and brushing routine, try adding on a detangling spray to keep your dog's fur in tiptop shape! The Melanie Newman Salon Essentials Relax Dog Coat Conditioning Spray is a fantastic product for getting rid of those pesky tangles. It's formulated with a nourishing blend of plant-derived ingredients to condition the coat and keep your dog's fur smooth, shiny, and silky.
This Conditioning Spray also smells amazing, with its special blend of lavender, geranium, and bergamot essential oils that also helps make bath time a calming and soothing experience, especially for puppies or anxious pets. It is also a surprisingly lightweight formula, conditioning your dog's skin and coat without weighing it down.
What our customers say: "This smells absolutely heavenly and organic. It leaves my cavoodles coat so soft and healthy. I highly recommend this spray as a relaxing part of your dog's grooming routine."
- Great option for dogs who don't like water or baths
- Made with all natural ingredients
- Suitable for dogs and cats
- May leave a visible powder residue on darker coats
- Only comes in one size (100 g)
For a quick and easy way to freshen up your dog, try out a dry shampoo. Rufus & Cocoâs Water Free Wash is a handy powder formula that absorbs odours, excess oil, and helps to keep your dog clean especially if they're not the biggest fan of baths.
Simply apply this powder to various points of your dog's coat, give them a nice massage, and just brush off the excess powder. If your dog tries to have a taste, fret not, it's a non-toxic formula that's safe even when your dog tries to lick off the product.
It's made with natural ingredients and its signature fresh scent is made to be hypoallergenic, making it a fantastic choice for dogs who may be sensitive to certain fragrances in other grooming products.
What our customers say: "I like this product and so does my Staffy. Easy to use and smells nice."
What to look for in dog shampoos
There are a number of factors to take into consideration when selecting the best shampoo for your dog.
When choosing a shampoo for your dog, you would want a product that is effective. A shampoo labelled hypoallergenic should not trigger your dog's allergies. Detangling products should be able to condition your dog's coat, allowing you to loosen any knots and tangles. Shampoos formulated for sensitive skin should be gentle but still do a good job at cleaning your pet's skin and coat.
It can be a matter of trial and error as what works for one dog may not necessarily work as well for others, but the best shampoo for your dog is one that's effective at addressing their specific skin concerns.
Do flea shampoos work?
On the subject of effectiveness, do flea or tick shampoos work? There are a number of shampoos and rinses that are labelled for helping relieve heavy flea infestations or short term prevention or removal of ticks. However, these do not provide long lasting protection or coverage by themselves; they may do a quick knockdown of external parasites but without a more effective and long-lasting parasite prevention product, your dog may unfortunately still contract fleas and ticks. Tick paralysis is a potentially fatal condition so it is highly recommended to keep your dogs on a regular, effective flea and tick product to ensure they are well-protected. Find out more in our article on Which Flea and Worming Product Your Dog Needs.
Dogs can have different grooming needs depending on a variety of factors.
Breed and coat type are some of the main ones to consider. Curly-coated or long-haired dogs may require more regular grooming while some breeds are more wash-and-wear, requiring only minimal grooming like bathing and brushing.
Age can be another factor; puppies tend to have more sensitive and delicate skin while some senior dogs may have dry or flaky skin, which may be associated with certain health conditions, which are also a whole other story. It's important to choose a shampoo that's suitable for your dog's specific grooming needs and/or appropriate for any skin and coat-related concerns.
Just like human shampoos, dog shampoos come in a variety of different scents and fragrances. Some shampoos may only have a mild, clean scent, while others can have your dog smelling strongly like a garden in bloom for days.
Some dogs may also be sensitive to very strong fragrances which is why many dog shampoos may only contain very minimal fragrance or just a few natural, scented essential oils. It's important to note that humans may also have certain sensitivities to fragrances, so it's important to keep this in mind when choosing a shampoo for your dog.
We all love a product that's great value for money, and this is true even for dog shampoo! Consider shampoos with bottle sizes appropriate for your dog's size. Certain formulations lather more easily than others, so even a small amount can go a long way.
In addition to this, you would also best factor in how often your dog would actually need to bathe. Short-haired breeds can get away with bathing only every 1-3 months, while dogs with medium to long coats may need a bath every few weeks. Playful, active dogs who like to get down and dirty outdoors may also require more regular washing. Certain skin conditions may also mean your dog would need to be bathed twice a week.