Dog Shampoo

Dog shampoo options seem to be endless, so how do you know which shampoo is best? With so many factors, such as breed and coat type, determining the appropriate shampoo can be challenging. This expansive guide will explain various types of dog shampoo, their purposes and how to select what shampoo will work best for your pet or client. 

What is the difference between dog shampoo and human shampoo?

Dog shampoo is specifically created for the pH balance of dogs and is used to cleanse and repair their skin and coat. While dogs have an neutral to alkaline skin type of 7.5, humans are around 5.5 on the pH scale. Additionally, dog skin is thinner than ours, with around 3-5 layers instead of our 10-15 layers. Since human shampoo and dog shampoo are formulated with this in mind, it is not recommended to use human shampoo on dogs as this could cause skin irritation and vulnerability to parasites, viruses, and bacteria.


Within dog shampoo, molecules (also known as surfactants) bond themselves to oil and dirt on the hair of a dog and water is used to wash it away. 

Types of dog shampoo

There are various types of dog shampoo, each with its own purpose. Types of dog shampoo include, but are not limited to: 

• Argan Oil Shampoo 
• Black Dog Shampoo 
• Brightening Shampoo or Whitening Shampoo 
• Clarifying Shampoo 
• Degreasing Shampoo 
• Deshedding Shampoo 
• Flea and Tick Shampoo 
• Greek Yogurt Shampoo 
• Hypoallergenic Shampoo 
• Medicated Shampoo 
• Oatmeal Shampoo 
• Probiotic Shampoo 
• Puppy Shampoo 
• Sensitive Skin Shampoo 
• Senior Dog Shampoo 
• Skunk Shampoo

• Texturizing Shampoo

• Volumizing Shampoo
• Waterless Shampoo 

What dog shampoo do groomers use?

Though some shampoo formulas can be used on most coat and skin conditions, it is important for groomers and pet owners to consider these factors when selecting dog shampoo: 


Condition of Skin and Coat 
Dogs with skin irritation or allergies will require specific shampoo. 

Breed of Dog 
Coat types vary from breed to breed. Different coat types require different maintenance, and, therefore, different shampoos may be needed. For example, dogs with wire coats, such as terriers, need volumizing shampoos to assist with hand stripping. This type of coat also doesn’t need conditioning. 

Age of Dog 
Puppies are fragile and so is their skin and coat. It is important to use gently-formulated shampoo when bathing puppies. 
Senior dogs are prone to developing skin conditions and, therefore, can benefit from shampoo formulas with relieving properties, such as aloe or menthol. 

Additional Needs of Shampoo 
In addition to cleaning the skin and coat, there may be other needs when bathing a pet, such as removing fleas and ticks, whitening the coat or loosening the undercoat to help with deshedding.  

Quality of Shampoo 
When shopping for dog shampoo, it is important to view the ingredients list. High-quality shampoo is made with naturally derived ingredients. Only a few ingredients are needed to yield a high-quality, mild formula that performs. 


Without question, dog shampoo, conditioner and other coat care products must be pH balanced for dogs. A dog’s skin has a pH range of 6.5 to 7.5. For reference, humans have a pH balance range of 5.5 to 5.6. Human shampoo, including baby shampoo, should not be used on dogs or cats. Using products that are not pH balanced for dogs’ skin can make them vulnerable to viruses, bacteria, parasites and other risks that may cause irritation or discomfort. 


Other factors to consider when buying pet shampoo include: 

Ease of use: How easy is it to lather and rinse out? Leaving shampoo residue in the coat after washing can lead to irritation and leave the coat looking dull. 

Is it soap free? Dog shampoo should be soap free. 

Is it cruelty free? Protect all furry friends by buying cruelty free products. 

Is it biodegradable? Ask yourself ‘What impact will this product have once it goes down my drain?’ 

Is it dilutable? Though shampoo can be purchased in a ready-to-use formula, purchasing shampoo that is dilutable is going to save you money and last longer. 

Cost: How much am I spending and what am I paying for? Dog shampoo costs will vary, but it is important to evaluate cost, especially when comparing ready-to-use and dilutable shampoo options. 

When selecting dog shampoo, Groomer’s Choice believes high-quality coat care is derived from all natural products, soap-free, cruelty-free and 100 percent biodegradable. 

These are just a few of the well-loved favorites of Groomer's Choice customers:

What shampoo is best to use?

Although determining the best dog shampoo requires evaluating the previously discussed factors, there are plenty of tried-and-true shampoos guaranteed to safely and thoroughly clean a dog’s coat. 


• For puppies: Puppies have delicate, sensitive skin, and, therefore, it is best to use a gentle or hypoallergenic shampoo to bathe them. Top products for bathing puppies include Bark2Basics Baby Bark Shampoo, Petology Puppy Faces Shampoo and BatherBox Hypo Shampoo

• For adults: Adult doggos have a variety of grooming needs, but top shampoos include: 
     • For double-coated dogs, The Coat Handler Undercoat Control Deshedding Shampoo 
     • For dirty dogs, Green Groom Odor Eliminator Shampoo 
     • For sensitive-skin dogs, Petology Sensitive Therapeutic Shampoo 

For senior dogs: It is important to consider the additional medical needs of senior dogs when selecting their shampoo. Overall, a gentler formula or 2-in-1 product should be considered. Top products include Bark2Basics Senior Bark Shampoo, Bark2Basics One Step Silky Shampoo and Green Groom Aromatherapy Shampoo

Have a specific need for your dog’s shampoo? Here are our top recommendations: 

For dry, itchy skin: Dogs with dry and/or itchy skin will benefit from an oatmeal dog shampoo, such as Bark2Basics Oatmeal Shampoo. An oatmeal conditioner will also assist with dry or itchy skin. Dry brittle coats may need a moisturizing conditioner as well, such as Bark2Basics Re-Moisture Conditioner

For irritated skin: For dogs with irritated skin, it is important to select a soothing shampoo to help temporarily relieve irritation, such as Bark2Basics Skin Remedy. Severe cases of skin irritation may require a medicated shampoo. 

For dirty dogs: Green Groom Odor Eliminator Shampoo will help remove the dirt and grime from the dirtiest coats. Also consider a brightening or whitening shampoo for lighter coated dogs or a black dog shampoo for darker coated dogs to help restore coat color. 

For shedding dogs: The Coat Handler Undercoat Control Deshedding Shampoo helps loosen undercoat and combats shedding by adding strength to the hair root. 

For dogs with allergies: Hypoallergenic shampoos greatly reduce the possibility of a dog having an allergic rection. Top picks include Bark2Basics Sensi-Skin, Bark2Basics Crystal Clear and The Coat Handler Hypoallergenic Shampoo

For fleas and ticks: Trust Bio-Groom Flea and Tick Conditioning Shampoo to help remove fleas and ticks. Bark2Basics Citrus Plus Shampoo perfectly complements a flea and tick regimen. 

For skunk sprays: Wash away skunk spray with Bark2Basics Skunk Solution Treatment

For in-between baths: If a dog needs a touch-up, a waterless shampoo is a great way to spot clean the coat. It also provides a waterless option for bathing cats, when needed. 

For cats: When using dog shampoo on cats or other pets, please read the product’s description and directions before using. It is vital you use cat safe shampoo. Certain ingredients, such as witch hazel, menthol and citrus, can be toxic to felines. 

How to dilute dog shampoo

To dilute shampoo, you will need your shampoo, a mixing bottle, water and a funnel (optional). 

Step 1: Check the shampoo’s label for recommended dilution rate*.  
Step 2: Fill bottle will warm water to the dilution rate line. 
Step 3: Slowly fill shampoo up to the fill line (Pro tip: Using a funnel when diluting shampoo from a gallon bottle.) 
Step 4: Shake, shake, shake that ‘poo! 

*The dilution ratio explains how many parts of water will be used to one part shampoo. For example, if a shampoo dilutes 16 to 1, you will use 16 parts water to one part shampoo. A dilution bottle makes diluting shampoo quick and easy.

Common dilution ratios include 8 to 1, 16 to 1, 24 to 1 and 32 to 1.


Check out more dilution bottle tips.

Dog bathing systems

Dog Bathing Systems are a very useful asset and a great investment for dog groomers. A bathing system automatically dilutes shampoo and delivers it through the water hose, saving groomers time and money. 

Most bathing systems connect to multiple shampoos at once, allowing different varieties to be accessible with a flip of a switch. Some bathing systems, such as the BatherBox Bathing System, have their own line of shampoos, designed specifically for the system to operate as efficiently as possible.