Of course, you want to bathe your new pup and share the excitement of the new experience but you also need to find the best puppy shampoos for the job. It is important to look after their sensitive skin and make sure that it is a pleasant experience for them.

The best shampoos work in harmony with your puppy's sensitive skin and will not cause skin irritation or eye irritation. We understand how important it is to look after your puppy's skin so we have carried out in-depth research into what the best puppy shampoo needs to contain. And perhaps more importantly, what it should not contain. As experienced dog owners we know what works and what doesn't work in puppy shampoos and can help you avoid costly mistakes.

A Quick Overview of Our Favorites

Editor's PickProduct NamePriceRating
Best Puppy Shampoo and ConditionerBurt’s Bees Puppy Tearless 2-In-1 ShampooBuy on Amazon4.3
Best HypoallergenicPet Pleasant Lavender Oatmeal Dog ShampooBuy on Amazon4.6
Best Soap-FreePET CARE Sciences 5-In-1 Puppy ShampooBuy on Amazon4.6
Best SmellingArm & Hammer Kiwi Blossom Super Deodorizing Dog ShampooBuy on Amazon4.9
Best Detangling ShampooWahl Gentle Puppy Shampoo for PetsBuy on Amazon4.7
Best for Sensitive SkinOster Oatmeal Essentials Gentle Puppy ShampooBuy on Amazon4.7
Best for Soft & Shiny Coat Pets Are Kids Too Premium Oatmeal Pet ShampooBuy on Amazon4.8
Best Flea & Tick ShampooArava Flea & Tick Control Dog & Puppy ShampooBuy on Amazon4.3
Best Tearless Nootie Sweet Dreams Tearless Puppy ShampooBuy on Amazon5.0
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

The 14 Top-Rated Shampoos for Puppies

1 Best Puppy Shampoo and Conditioner: Burt’s Bees Puppy Tearless 2-in-1 Shampoo

Best Puppy Shampoo and Conditioner: Burt’s Bees Puppy Tearless 2-in-1 Shampoo
Key features:
  • Mild and Tearless Formulation
  • Contains Colloidal Oatmeal, Linseed Oil, Beeswax, Honey, and Buttermilk
  • Shampoo and Conditioner Preparation
  • PH Balanced Specifically for Puppies 

If you have a bouncy pup and find it hard to avoid getting dog shampoo on your pup’s eyes, you’d be better off with the Burt’s Bees Puppy Tearless 2-in-1 Shampoo. This is the best puppy shampoo when it comes to a gentle formulation that helps reduce stinging the eyes. This makes it a lot safer for pups. It contains a variety of natural ingredients that are perfect for ensuring healthier and shinier fur for your young friend. It has no harsh chemicals and its pH-balanced formula really makes the Burt’s Bees a standout natural dog shampoo.


Water, Coco Betaine, Coco Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Honey, Beeswax, Colloidal Oatmeal, Linum usitatissimum (linseed) Oil, Buttermilk Powder, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate.

What others say about it:

I’ve used it three times on my 10 week long hair german shepherd and I’m obsessed with it! We have to do short and quick baths because of her attention span right now so 2-in-1 helps a ton and even with the minimal time to really scrub her down she comes out so clean, fluffy, and soft! We do weekly baths right now to get used to it (and because she is outside a lot) and it has been super gentle on her skin.

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2 Best Hypoallergenic: TropiClean Hypo-Allergenic Gentle Coconut Puppy Shampoo

Best Hypoallergenic: TropiClean Hypo-Allergenic Gentle Coconut Puppy Shampoo
Key features:
  • Oatmeal Dog Shampoo with Coconut
  • Hypoallergenic – Suitable for Dogs will Allergies
  • Can Also be Used on Cats
  • Gentle Formula for Young Skin

Tropiclean hypo-allergenic gentle coconut puppy shampoo can also be used on cats and adult dogs with allergies or sensitive skin. This natural puppy shampoo is completely free from parabens and dyes- both are harsh chemicals that could irritate young sensitive skin. The formula is based on the natural cleansing properties of coconut and salt.

One word of caution is that this hypoallergenic shampoo can only be used on pups that are older than 12 weeks. The good news is that it gently moisturizes the skin and has a gorgeous coconut fragrance.


Purified Water, Mild Coconut Cleanser, Avena Sativa Oatmeal, Vitamin E, Aloe Extract.

What others say about it:

I love this shampoo! It smells like coconut and my little Leah smells so yummy after her baths! It’s a gel from the aloe and is easier to use than a liquid. Bonus! Because it’s aloe based I know it’s gentle & safe for my fur baby!!!

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3 Best Soap-Free: Earthbath Ultra-Mild Wild Cherry Puppy Shampoo

Best Soap-Free: Earthbath Ultra-Mild Wild Cherry Puppy Shampoo
Key features:
  • Suitable for Pups Over 6 Weeks Old
  • Tear-free and pH Balanced
  • Aloe Vera to Calm Irritated Skin
  • Gorgeous Cherry Fragrance

The natural cleansers in Earthbath Ultra-mild wild cherry puppy shampoo are super gentle on young skin. This tear free puppy shampoo uses cleaners derived from coconut oil to clean your puppy’s coat without using harsh cleansers. It leaves your dog’s coat with a show-quality shine!

One of the stand-out advantages of this gentle shampoo is that you can use it on pups over six weeks of age which is younger than many other dog shampoos. You can also use it with topical flea treatments but always check the instructions on the flea treatment to find out how long after application you should wait before bathing.


Purified Water, Renewable Plant-derived and Coconut-based Cleansers, Gentle Conditioner & Detangler, Organic Aloe Vera, Vitamins A, B, D, & E, Glycerin, Wild Cherry Essence, Natural Preservative.

What others say about it:

I heard this shampoo was good for puppies. I had a 4-5 pound pup when I bought this product and it worked wonders. I was looking for a product that didn’t cause my pup to itch and wasn’t too harsh on the skin when she was that little. She has very sensitive skin. I didn’t want to buy anything that would make the itching worse, so I decided to try this. This is my favorite shampoo for dogs. It is definitely worth buying. It leaves her fur super, super soft. She does not itch after a bath. Today she is going on 2 years old and it still love it and it still does wonders. I highly recommend this product.

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4 Best Smelling: Arm & Hammer Kiwi Blossom Super Deodorizing Dog Shampoo

Best Smelling: Arm & Hammer Kiwi Blossom Super Deodorizing Dog Shampoo
Key features:
  • Baking Soda Removes Dirt and Odors
  • Leaves a Long Lasting Scent of Rose and Kiwi
  • Can help to reduce shedding
  • Natural Surfactants for Your Skin

If your pup needs a pet shampoo that will help with odors but is also gentle on young skin, the Arm & Hammer Kiwi Blossom Super Deoderizing Dog Snampoo will tick both boxes. It contains baking soda which is highly effective at locking in dirt and odors from dog’s hair and skin. Your pup’s coat is left with a long-lasting lovely scent of rose, white tea and kiwi.

This multi-purpose dog shampoo can also help with shedding – keeping your house smelling and looking clean. The coconut-based surfactants and natural products are kind to immature skin and is perectly safe to use with all flea products.


Water, Coconut Based Surfactants, Sodium Bicarbonate, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Honey, Rosmarinus Officinal (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Verbena Officinalis Flower Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Yogurt Extract, Glycerin, Disodium Edta, Fragrance, Dmdm Hydantoin.

What others say about it:

The scent on the shampoo isn’t over powering. It’s soft but strong enough to eliminate the odor. My dog’s hair feels soft. But most importantly she’s not stinky any more. It lasts longer in leaving her smelling fresh than most shampoos without having to pay alot for it. Definitely will purchase again and again

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5 Best Detangling Shampoo: Wahl Gentle Puppy Shampoo

Best Detangling Shampoo: Wahl Gentle Puppy Shampoo
Key features:
  • Plant-Derived and Gentle
  • Formulated for Sensitive Skin and Eyes
  • The Main Ingredients are Cornflower and Aloe Extract
  • Leaves fur Soft and Tangle-Free

If your puppy has sensitive skin and eyes, the pH-balanced and alcohol-free dog shampoo by Wahl is a fantastic choice. Gentle and plant-derived, this shampoo is perfectly safe for sensitive skin, yet efficient at removing a buildup of sebum and dirt. Thanks to its natural ingredients, including the cornflower, aloe extract, and glycerin, it leaves the fur soft, tangle-free, and pleasantly smelling. This dog shampoo has a rather unique scent – it doesn’t smell like most standard dog shampoos which can be overwhelming. Instead, it has a gentle, “clean” smell that typically lasts for days on dog fur.

As a bonus, since this is a concentrated formula, so it should last a long while.


Purified Water, Naturally Derived Cleansers (Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Triethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine), Conditioner (Cocamide MEA), Thickening Agents (Hydroxyethylcellulose, Cetearyl Alcohol), Conditioning Agent (Stearalkonium Chloride), Fragrance, Soothing Agents (Vitamin E, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice), Coloring Agents Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Preservative.

What others say about it:

Loved the price and that it was for puppies. I have Two black lab puppies and they stuck so bad from being newborns. We washed them twice in this shampoo but never got that dog smell out. I will Not buy again I found top performance pet shampoo and it makes them smell so good for a whole week. But it was worth giving it a shot.

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6 Best for Sensitive Skin: Oster Oatmeal Essentials Gentle Puppy Shampoo

Best for Sensitive Skin: Oster Oatmeal Essentials Gentle Puppy Shampoo
Key features:
  • Natural pH Balance
  • Contains Natural Oatmeal, Wheat Protein, and Rosemary Essential Oil
  • Gentle and Mild Formulation

With oatmeal being its principal ingredient, this pet shampoo from Oster is perfect for soothing and protecting the sensitive skin of young pups. Even older dogs that are prone to a variety of dermatitis can benefit from the health benefits of the Oatmeal Naturals Shampoo. This Oster natural dog shampoo boasts other ingredients such as wheat protein which can help improve the integrity of puppy fur. It comes in a nose-friendly baby powder scent, too.


Purified Water, A Blend Of Coconut Based Cleansers, Oatmeal Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Aloe Vera, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Thickening Agent, Fragrance, and Preservatives.

What others say about it:

I love this shampoo for my dog. I have a soon to be three-year old Shih Tzu, during bath time I wash her three times and it lathers up very nicely. I blow dry or let her air out and either way she comes back fluffy and smells like baby powder. It’s not and over powering smell, it’s just right and like I said she comes back so clean. After her wash it seems that her white fur brightens a little bit.

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7 Best for Soft & Shiny Coat: Pets Are Kids Too Premium Oatmeal Pet Shampoo

Best for Soft & Shiny Coat: Pets Are Kids Too Premium Oatmeal Pet Shampoo
Key features:
  • Designed for Sensitive Skin
  • Made with Organic Oatmeal
  • Soothes Irritated Skin Including Hot Spots
  • Subtle Cookie Scent

For owners that are particularly concerned about their pup’s skin and coat, Pets Are Kids Too Premium Oatmeal Pet Shampoo is a natural dog shampoo that has been specifically designed for sensitive and irritated skin. There are no harsh chemicals to cause concern and plenty of natural ingredients to soothe itchy skin in this natural oatmeal dog shampoo.

The combination of organic oatmeal, baking soda, aloe vera and coconut provides natural itch relief and can even help with hotspots The oatmeal provides a subtle scent that is both natural and long lasting.


Oat Proteins, Baking Soda, Coconut Based Cleanser (plant derived), Deionized Water, Glycerin, DMDH Hydantoin (Natural Preservative) & Vitamins A, D, & E.

What others say about it:

My dog Sammy (golden retriever) loves this shampoo. It’s gentle on his skin and coat, leaves great silky texture. I’ve been happy with the purchase and would definitely repurchase.

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8 Best Flea & Tick Shampoo: Arava Dead Sea Pet Spa Flea & Ticks Botanical Puppy Shampoo

Best Flea & Tick Shampoo: Arava Dead Sea Pet Spa Flea & Ticks Botanical Puppy Shampoo
Key features:
  • Protects Pups Over 6 Weeks from Fleas and Ticks
  • Totally Natural Ingredients Based on Plant Oils
  • Prevents Itching and Irritation
  • Contains Dead Sea Minerals to Promote Skin and Coat Health

For pup parents who want to control fleas and ticks in a natural way, medicated shampoo like this Arava Dead Sea Pet Spa Flea & Ticks Botanical Puppy Shampoo is a great option. The natural ingredients derived from plant oils include geranium, peppermint and clove which can help to prevent parasites.

At the same time, you do not have to worry about your pup’s sensitive skin as there’s soybean and castor oil and 26 different Dead Sea minerals to protect and soothe the skin. It cleans, soothes and protects without causing irritation or dry skin.


Geranium, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Lemongrass, Clove, Thyme, Eastern Red Cedar, Rosemary, Citronella, Soybean and Castor.

What others say about it:

I used this on my 10 week old Boston Terrier puppy today. It lathers up nice and smells great. He has been itching a fair amount lately even with a Nexgard treatment and I saw a few fleas in the tub. I am going to work with the vet to try another flea medication but meanwhile, I am going to use this product going forward as needed. I definitely recommend using this on your dog whether he has fleas or not. Great product.

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9 Best Tearless: Nootie Sweet Dreams Tearless Puppy Shampoo

Best Tearless: Nootie Sweet Dreams Tearless Puppy Shampoo
Key features:
  • Cleanses and Nourishes Puppy Coats in One Go
  • Will Not Irritate Puppy Eyes
  • Contains no Sulfates or Parabens
  • Safe to Use with Flea Treatments

Suitable for dogs and cats over 12 weeks of age, this paraben free shampoo is gentle on pup’s eyes and safe to use with topical flea treatments. It gently cleanses the coat without stripping natural oils and leaves your pup smelling great!

The Nootie Sweet Dreams Tearless Puppy Shampoo has been formulated by vets with pup’s health in mind but is also a great dog shampoo for dog owners. You don’t have to fiddle around with conditioning your dog’s coat as this is a shampoo and conditioner in one. An added bonus is that it comes in a superb leakproof container.


Water, Sodium C14-14 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Cocamido Mipa Sulfoduccinate, Lauramine Oxide, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, PEG-150 Distearate, Lauroamphocarboxyglycinate, Disodium Laureth (3) Sulfosuccinate, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Polyquaternium-7 and Kathon CG.

What others say about it:

Love the smell and gets the dogs nice and clean and they stay smelling nice afterward for many days. Vet tech buddy loved the smell also.

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10 BioSilk for Dogs Puppy Tearless Shampoo

BioSilk for Dogs Puppy Tearless Shampoo
Key features:
  • Made with Vitamin E and Aloe Vera to Nourish Skin
  • Milk Proteins to Cleanse and Nourish
  • No Tears Formulation for Young Eyes
  • Delicious Jasmine Scent for Pup’s Coat

For a pup that looks and smells wonderful, this gentle shampoo will keep your dog’s coat soft and looking its absolute best. The silk enriching vitamins in this formula restore the natural moisture of your pup’s coat making it silky smooth and shiny.

The luxury ingredients of BioSilk for Dogs Puppy Tearless Shampoo are based on the formulation of the company’s famous Biosilk products for humans. The Vitamin E, aloe vera and honey will bring out the natural shine as well as gently cleansing. After washing, the fresh jasmine scent will linger on your pet’s coat.


Water, Mild Cleansing, Silk Protein, Soy, Protein, Argan oil, Milk Protein, Aloe Vera, Honey, Chamomile, Vitamin E, Panhenol, Fragrance

What others say about it:

I love all the BioSilk products for Dogs that I’ve used so far. The waterless shampoo is awesome! I recommend spraying it into your hand & them rubbing into your fur baby the first time & show them it’s not going to hurt. My yorkie puppies are too young to go to the groomer yet & this stuff help clean them up & smelling fresh. The Detangler Spray is great, too! I used some of it on my own hair. Lol. Good stuff! Highly recommend.
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11 CHI Tearless Puppy Shampoo

CHI Tearless Puppy Shampoo
Key features:
  • Cleanses Using Milk Proteins
  • Great for Sensitive Skin
  • Shea Butter, Silk Protein and Coconut for Maximum Shine
  • Gives a Professional Dog Grooming Finish

CHI Tearless Puppy Shampoo is a paraben-free pet shampoo that will be gentle on your puppy’s skin but will keep them clean and fresh. Suitable for sensitive skin, these dog shampoos use professional grooming ionic technology to seal the hair cuticle. This is the best puppy shampoo for you if you intend to show your pup or need them looking their best for a photo shoot.

This dog shampoo is pH balanced and gentle and contains shea butter, silk protein and coconut for maximum shine! It uses only milk proteins to gently clean the skin and coat and has Vitamin E to nourish young skin. This is a dog grooming essential for all pups who want to look their best!


Water, Mild Cleansing, Silk Protein, Soy, Protein, Argan oil, Outmeail coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Avocado Oil, Vitamin E, Panhenol, Minerals

What others say about it:

absolutely love this shampoo! We have a standard poodle (she is a puppy right now). It makes her smell sooooo good! It’s gentle on her skin and makes her coat very soft! Through all the accidents that come with puppy’s she still smells amazing through it all. It should definitely be added to your cart if your thinking about buying! I promise you won’t regret it.

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12 Perfect Coat Mild Puppy Shampoo

Perfect Coat Mild Puppy Shampoo
Key features:
  • Enriched with Jojoba Oil, Aloe Vera, and Keratin
  • Baby Powder Scent
  • Gentle and Mild Formulation

The Perfect Coat is more like a combination of Pro-Sense and Nature’s Miracle whereby keratin, aloe vera, and jojoba oil are blended into one mild and gentle puppy shampoo formulation. It is also safe on your pup’s eyes as its mild formulation won’t sting the delicate mucus membranes of the eyes. The Perfect Coat is a great alternative to more expensive, albeit similarly effective products. 


Water, Mild Surfactant Blend, Moisturizing and Rinsing Agents, Aloe Vera Gel, Jojoba Oil, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Fragrance, Preservatives (Diazolidinyl Urea, Parabens), FD&C Yellow #5, FD&C Yellow #6, Salt.

What others say about it:

This shampoo has a really nice scent. I’m glad to have finally found a puppy shampoo that actually makes my dog smell good after a bath. Most other shampoos don’t actually get rid of the dog smell. But I really like this one!

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13 Nature’s Miracle Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner

Nature's Miracle Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner
Key features:
  • Specifically Formulated to Control Pet Odor
  • Contains Aloe Vera and Jojoba Oil
  • Can Be Used with Spot-on Flea Treatments 
  • No Water is Needed – Ideal for a Quick Clean Up

Nature’s Miracle is a lot like Pro-Sense, but with the addition of aloe vera in its formulation. This strengthens the individual hair shaft to help minimize shedding while also helping stimulate the enhanced growth and development of new hair follicles on your pup.

This natural dog shampoo is specifically formulated for a puppy and is primarily intended for controlling pet odor. The biggest plus is that you do not have to wet your dog to use it making it very convenient and easy to use.


Water, Mild Surfactants, Salt, Odor Control System, D-Panthenol (Provitamin B5), Aloe Vera, Keratin, Jojoba Oil, Rinsing Agents, Fragrance, Preservatives.

What others say about it:

I foster rescue dogs and when they first arrive, they sure have a staaank to them! This product kicks that travel/kennel/dirty dog smell to the curb and leaves the coat feeling clean and shiny. I get compliments on every rescue dogs’ coat after using it and I am grateful this product can cut through the smells and bring out a beautiful coat in the end!

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14 Veterinary Formula Solutions Puppy Love

Veterinary Formula Solutions Puppy Love
Key features:
  • Specifically Formulated for Puppies Natural pH
  • Free from Sulfates
  • Safe on the Eyes

One of the distinguishing characteristics of SynergyLabs Veterinary Formula Solutions is its extra-mild formulation. This minimizes tearing during the bathing of your pup. Whilst we couldn’t find any ingredient that can be considered as ‘natural’ on its list, it does not contain any of the harsher chemicals, such as sulfates, that can cause issues.

Also, its baby powder scent plus tearless formulation are well-received by many puppy owners. The pH balance also works in harmony with your pup’s skin.


Purified Water, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Sodium Alpha Olefin Sulfonate, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Acrylates Copolymer, Glycereth-2 Cocoate, Fragrance, DMDM Hydantoin, Tetrasodium EDTA, FD&C Yellow #6 and Natural Pigments.

What others say about it:

This shampoo smells fresh on my pup for well over a week. She is an indoor dog, so not much opportunity to get dirty outside. Lather’s nicely.

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What is the Best Puppy Shampoo?

Buying your first-ever puppy shampoo need not be very difficult. We have provided you with a list of our top best puppy shampoos to help keep your pup clean, but you may still need some help to choose between them.

We can assist with that too! Here is a guide to help you gain a better understanding of why you need a puppy shampoo, how often you should bathe your pup, some helpful tips on how you can make puppy bath time a fun time, and how you can choose the right shampoo for your own puppy.

Do I Need to Buy a Puppy Shampoo?

Beautiful little rottweiler puppy having first bath in bucket

As a novice pet owner, the huge amount of advice on what you should and should not buy can be overwhelming. Perhaps you could simply use any dog shampoo or even a human one? The answer to that is a resounding ‘no’. You should always use a specially formulated shampoo for puppies and here are the main reasons why.

The Benefits

Puppy skin and fur are simply not the same as that of adult dogs. Their skin is immature and more sensitive to changes in the environment. They can develop irritation and hot spots that can cause them a lot of distress.

As pups grow into adults, they shed their ‘puppy hair’ and get replaced with the fur that is characteristic of a mature pooch. It is because of this difference in puppy and mature hair that puppies will require shampoo that is specially formulated to meet the more sensitive requirements of soft, fluffy puppy follicles.

Can I Use Human Baby Shampoo? 

Some puppy owners think that human baby shampoo can also be used as an alternative to the relatively more expensive pup shampoo. Experts are divided on the issue. If the human baby shampoo is not medicated and is made of mild natural ingredients, then you can try it on your pup but proceed with caution. The important thing to understand is that the formulation of the hair wash should be slightly more alkaline as dog skin is more alkaline than human skin, which is more acidic.

Is it Okay to Use Adult Dog Shampoo? 

Some experts do recommend using adult dog shampoos on puppies, provided, however, that these are specifically formulated to mimic the unique requirements of the skin and coat of puppies. These should also not be medicated or contain any harmful ingredients. Most of all, these should be near the pH level of puppy shampoo.

How About Ordinary Human Shampoo? 

If you’re talking about an ordinary human shampoo, under no circumstances you should resort to such a thing as human hair is different from canine fur. While they may look the same, the morphology of human and canine follicles differs greatly. Most human hair care products are formulated to mimic the more acidic nature of the skin and scalp. Dog skin, on the other hand, is more alkaline in nature. Using ordinary human shampoo can lead to skin irritation, producing itching and redness. Once your pup starts to scratch on these areas, the skin can be cut, providing entry for microorganisms leading to inflammation and skin infection.

How Often Should You Bathe a Puppy?

Brown nova scotia duck tolling retriever puppy dog Having a shower with sun light

There was a time when pet parents bathed their pups only when the young ones were dirty. This was especially true if the pups were still with their mother. Mother dogs lick their young in an effort to ‘cleanse’ their coats, remove debris, and provide an antibacterial coating on their pups’ fur.

However, times have definitely changed. Most pups get separated from their moms and their brood as early as 3 months, some even earlier. What this means is that if you need to take over the role of mom dog when it comes to pup cleanliness. Also, most pups now live inside with their owners rather than in barns and garages so we demand a higher level of cleanliness and are not willing to put up with unpleasant odors!

So, how often do you have to bathe your puppy? The answer will be different for every pup. It is also important not to overdo it! Here are some things that you can think about when you are deciding.

Degree of ‘Dirtiness’ 

Many pup experts say that you should bathe your pup when they begin to be noticeably smelly or dirty. This simply means that if you can still ‘tolerate’ the smell of your pup, then there really is no need to give it a bath just yet. Regrettably, this only works if you’re the only person the pup is interacting with. Your assessment of its ‘smell’ is highly subjective. It may still be okay with you but other people may already be put off by your pup’s smell. The same is true with the degree of ‘dirtiness’ of the puppy. Some people are definitely more finicky than others.

Presence of Natural Oils 

Understand that the skin continuously produces and secretes natural oils to help provide lubrication to the hair shaft, giving it luster and a smoother feel. If you are going to frequently shampoo your pup, you will be removing many of these natural oils which can lead to excessive skin dryness and irritation.

Length of Fur 

It’s true that puppies have a soft, fluffy single coat. However, they differ in the length of their hair follicles. The longer the hair the greater is the risk of it getting tangled with other hair follicles and getting coated in dirt. If this is not addressed it can turn into matting. Bathing may help to keep each hair silky smooth and so prevent tangling.

Tips on How to Bathe Your Puppy

Cute puppy taking a shower American Cocker Spaniel having a bath while being held by hands

Some dogs love a bath, others hate it. You won’t know which applies to your pup before you try. However, a pup’s early experiences of bathing can influence how they feel about it for the rest of their life. It is up to you to make it a positive and enjoyable experience that they will be happy to participate in in the future.

Here are some useful tips on how to bathe your puppy.

  • It is always best to start bathing young pooches as early as 3 months old. This is when the mom dog stops cleaning them and when they start exploring the world and getting in a mess!
  • Always make the bath time a fun time. There are certain breeds of pooches that really love the water. However, even those that are considered to be skittish in water can be trained to love the feel of water on their bodies. You can be as creative as you can. You can use your pup’s favorite toys to entice it to go to the bathtub for its bath.
  • Sometimes it helps to play with your pup first. Remember that pups have tremendous amounts of energy. You don’t want this energy to be overflowing during the bathing process, or else you risk turning it into a watery wrestling match. The idea is to use up this energy before you take them to the bathing area. If they are already too tired by then, they won’t have enough energy left to resist you.
  • Mind the temperature of the bathwater. Make sure that it is warm as this can help relax your pup’s muscles. Avoid using cold bathwater as the lower temperature of water naturally stimulates the muscles to contract. This tenses the muscles and your pup can readily feel it.
  • Keep off your pup’s eyes, ears, and nose. These body parts are rather sensitive so they require a different approach in cleaning. Generally, you will need a clean piece of damp cloth to wipe off any dirt on these puppy body parts.
  • Make sure to work the puppy shampoo onto its skin. You want the shampoo to also clean the skin and not just the shafts of hair on your pup’s fur. Moreover, massaging the shampoo onto your young dog’s skin can help improve blood circulation while also relaxing the muscles some more.
  • Be systematic in your bathing process. Start at the head and work your way down towards the tail, making sure you have applied appropriate amounts of shampoo onto the hair and skin.
  • Rinse your pup very well. Any residue that is left on their fur can damage the strands, producing dry and brittle hair shafts.
  • Completely dry your pup’s fur. You can encourage them to shake off excess water before drying with a dog drying towel. Experts don’t actually recommend using hair dryers on pups even though these are specially designed for dogs. The good news is that puppies’ furs are not really difficult to dry.
  • Always give praises or even reward your pup with a treat once you’re done giving it a bath. This way they will learn to associate the bathing process with something that is pleasurable and rewarding.

To help your pup have an enjoyable bath experience, you may also want to check out our reviews on doggy grooming tables and bath tubs for dogs.

How to Choose the Right Puppy Shampoo

A man in a store chooses a shower gel, carefully reads the composition

Choosing the correct shampoo for your young dog can be a minefield. Here are some things you should read in product labels to help you determine the right shampoo for your puppy.

Correct PH Level 

The skin of dogs is slightly alkaline compared to human skin which is more acidic. That is why you simply cannot use human shampoo on any dog. Likewise, the skin pH of adult dogs is also a little bit acidic relative to the skin pH of puppies. As such, if we are to arrange the skin pH levels of man, adult dog, and puppies, man will be on the acid side of the continuum while puppies will be on the alkaline side. The skin pH levels of adult dogs will be somewhere in between the two. As such, it is imperative to choose a shampoo that is more alkaline.

No Artificial Ingredients 

Just as you don’t want anything artificial for your baby, your puppy also doesn’t need artificial ingredients. These are harsh chemicals that have been proven by science to bring some degree of harm to dogs. If these are already harmful to adult canines, then they are more harmful to pups owing to the still immature organ body systems of young dogs. Artificial fragrances and coloring are typically added in such products so you should steer clear off of these. Phthalates, formaldehyde, isothiazolinones, parabens, and nitrosamines are just some of the substances that you have to watch out for.

Natural Fragrances 

Most pet owners prefer scented puppy shampoos over unscented ones for very obvious reasons. If you also want your pup to smell really fresh, then you will need to choose a product that contains natural fragrances such as chamomile, rose, eucalyptus, and lavender essential oil. These are safer yet equally fragrant alternatives to synthetic fragrances.

Presence of Skin Protectives 

Natural oils are produced and secreted by your puppy’s skin cells onto the surface of the skin, this has the added function of protecting the skin. You can choose a puppy shampoo that contains natural skin protectives like aloe vera, oatmeal, or even vitamin E. This will help keep your pup’s skin and coat healthy.

Specificity to Your Pup’s Overall Health 

If there are specific skin conditions that are affecting your young pooch, it is always best to talk with your vet so that they can advise you on what needs to be done. Depending on the health condition of your pet, it may be that a given shampoo can help address seborrhea, pruritus, parasitic infestations, fungal infections, microbial infections, and even skin allergies.

Puppies deserve a shampoo that is specially formulated for their sensitive skin. With these tips and a helpful guide on how you can choose the right shampoo for your puppy, you now have everything you need to make the right decision.


So, do you really need to buy a puppy shampoo? Yes, you do; unless you opt to have your pup groomed professionally instead, in which case a quick wipe between grooming sessions will be sufficient.

Or, you can use a human baby hair care product that is guaranteed to be milder, slightly more alkaline and doesn’t contain any artificial chemical that might irritate your pup’s developing coat. Think about what you need the product to do and then choose one that has the features of value to you.


  1. Bathing Your Puppy: A Step-by-Step Guide – AKC
  2. How to Bathe Your Dog Pets Web MD

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can bathe your pup at 8 weeks but you need to be very careful about doing so. You need to strike a balance between getting your pup used to baths at a young age when they will accept new experiences and keeping them safe. The main danger in bathing young pups is that they can get very cold afterwards so be sure to dry them thoroughly and keep them in a warm room.

Pups mature at different ages but most reach maturity at between 12 and 18 months of age. This is when you can start to transition them onto adult products. Keep an eye out for any reactions when you start using a new product.

Yes it is. Oatmeal is a natural product that has many benefits for your pup. It can provide relief for dry and itchy skin and is very soothing for sensitive skin. It also hydrates and moisturizes skin so that it is able to retain its natural moisture. Oatmeal will clean and soften your pup’s coat so that they always look and feel their best.

You have three options: air drying, towel drying or blow drying with a hair dryer. Air drying may seem like the most natural option but it is not recommended. Wet dogs have a heavy coat that they find very uncomfortable. They will constantly shake themselves (which is not great for your house) or obsessively rub in carpets, sofas etc until they are dry. Also, they are very vulnerable to getting cold when they are wet.

Towel drying is a good option especially if you use an efficient towel that is designed for wet dogs. Finally, some owners like to use a dog blow dryer (as do many groomers) but it can startle a nervous dog and you need to be careful about overheating and burns.

You will need a tub to wash them in, a spray or cup to pour water over to rinse them, a towel and some tasty doggy treats to reward them for being good!

Sharon Parry

Sharon is a Ph.D. scientist and experienced pet content writer. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a Cockapoo puppy. She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and turning it into easy-to-understand articles that offer practical tips. When it comes to our furry friends, she knows that there is always something new to learn!

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