Find What You Are Looking For Here
FYI: If you make a purchase via a link on this site, I may receive a commission from various affiliate programs, and as an Amazon Associate and Chewy affiliate I also earn commissions from qualifying purchases—at NO extra cost to you. See the Disclosure page for more information. Thank you!
Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Choosing the Right Shampoo for Dogs More Important Than You May Think

By Anton Hout, author of The Guide to Aussie Training & Care

Choosing a shampoo for dogs may not seem like a very serious process, but when you consider what the wrong shampoo can do, I think you'll agree just how important it is. Dogs can be very sensitive to the ingredients in shampoo and that can lead to skin rashes and other allergic reactions. For that reason you need to choose very carefully to make sure that the shampoo you use doesn't do more damage than good.

Recommended Dog and Puppy Training Videos

Obviously, dogs come in a number of different shapes, sizes, and breeds and they also have a variety of different coat types. Some are very short, others thick and curly and some, like the Australian Shepherd, have a double coat, with a thick undercoat and a longer top coat. Like humans, dogs also have different skin types. If your dog's skin flakes a lot, that's a sign of dry skin. If your fingers come away with a residue after petting him, then it's likely your dog has oily skin. If neither of those conditions are present then your dog has normal skin.

The coat type and the skin type are the two main factors that dictate which shampoo you should choose for your dog. One general rule of thumb for all types of dog is that you should never, ever use a shampoo designed for humans. A dog's skin is much more sensitive than human skin and so shampoo for humans can be very harsh on it. Always choose a shampoo for dogs and you'll be starting off on the right foot.

Why Choosing the Right Shampoo for Dogs Is So Important - Photo: Australian Shepherd in tub covered in dog shampoo suds.

Anton Hout / AI

Ingredients to Avoid and to Look for in a Shampoo for Dogs

Another rule of thumb is to avoid synthetic ingredients as much as possible. Again, these ingredients can be extremely harsh on the skin and may even trigger a dangerous allergic reaction. You wouldn't want to use those kinds of ingredients on your own hair and skin, so why would you trust them for your dog? So always check the list of ingredients on a shampoo first and if there is something you can't pronounce it's most likely something you don't want on your pet.

Instead, when choosing a shampoo for dogs, you want to look for organic and all-natural ingredients that will be safe and gentle on your Aussie's skin. Look for things like oatmeal, aloe vera, herbal proteins, vitamins, and citrus extracts. These are all simple, natural ingredients that can help to soothe the skin and leave the coat looking shiny and healthy.

Do You Need a Specific Kind of Dog Shampoo?

Aside from these general rules, you need to take into consideration the type of coat and type of skin that your dog has and choose a shampoo that will be best suited to his needs.

Cowboy Magic: Detangler and Shine
Cowboy Magic: Detangler and Shine available on Amazon (great reviews and ratings).

You'll find a number of different shampoos on the market, including ones that are designed for specific needs such as killing ticks and fleas, preventing odor, and improving color.

Like human babies, puppies can be particularly sensitive and many manufacturers design shampoos specifically for puppies that have a no-tear formula that won't irritate if it gets in their eyes. Another common type of shampoo for dogs is actually a shampoo and conditioner combination that is designed to reduce tangling and restore moisture.

For stubborn tangles and matting you may need a dedicated detangler product like Cowboy Magic: Detangler and Shine. It has great reviews on Amazon and I'd recommend keeping some on hand.

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

The Right Shampoo for Dogs Can Help With Luster and Odor Elimination

Dogs with white or light coats can benefit from special shampoos that contain brighteners or whiteners. These will help to prevent yellowing and boost the luster and shine of the coat for a healthier overall look. Similarly, a nourishing shampoo that contains vitamins, minerals and protein can help to restore healthy shine to any dog's coat.

Of course, dogs tend to get into a lot of messy situations that we humans don't and unfortunately that can often result in unpleasant odors. This can be a particular issue for working and active dogs like Australian Shepherds, who spend a great deal of time outdoors on the farm. In these cases, you'll want to choose a shampoo for dogs that is specifically designed to eliminate odor.

No matter which type of shampoo you choose, you should have a regular bathing routine in order to keep your dog looking and feeling healthy. That routine will vary depending on breed. Single coated breeds usually don't need to be bathed as frequently as double-coated breeds, like the Aussie. Working breeds like Border Collies, German Shepherds, and Australian Shepherds may need more regular bathing as their everyday routine can be harder on their coats.

Why Choosing the Right Shampoo for Dogs Is So Important - Photo: Young lady shampooing her Australian Shepherd.

Anton Hout / AI

When Shampooing Your Dog, Keep in Mind That Aussies Are a Double-Coated Breed

For double-coated breeds, like the Australian Shepherd, choosing a shampoo for dogs means finding one that will get through both the long top coat and dense undercoat to reach the skin. When bathing your double-coated dog, you may want to massage more deeply as you work to ensure that the shampoo is reaching every layer, but remember that his skin is still sensitive so massage gently.

Unfortunately, many dogs don't see bath time as fun or helpful, so it's up to you to make it easier on them. Brush them first to get rid of excess dirt and debris, and make sure the water is not too hot or cold. Even if you use a gentle organic shampoo, be sure to keep it out of his eyes, mouth, nose and ears, all of which can be very sensitive, and be sure to rinse thoroughly before blotting him dry with a towel.

Whether you have a pampered Pug or a rough and tumble Aussie, as a concerned owner you want to do right by your four legged best friend. That likely means taking extra time to pick out the healthiest food and safest toys but it should also include choosing a proper shampoo for dogs. With the right choice of shampoo bath time can be a treat for both of you.

More Shampoo for Dogs on Amazon icon

Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Have Dog Training Questions?

Check out these introductory dog training videos...

I want my dog to stop being aggressive.

I want some help training my new puppy.

I want my dog to stop barking at everything.

I want my dog to walk nicely and calmly on the leash.

I want my dog to listen and come every time I call! icon
Newsletter for Aussie Lovers!

Get Australian Shepherd Info, Website Updates, Special Offers, and Cartoons...

You'll also receive a free copy of the ebook
My Everyday Dog Training Tools
by professional dog trainer Daniel Abdelnoor, "Doggy Dan"