Part of the puppy grooming process is bathing them. Since the skin and coat of young dogs are sensitive, and many dogs may also have skin allergies or sensitive skin due to pH balance, it's important for pet owners to use only the best puppy shampoo without harsh ingredients that are gentle on the puppy's skin.

The puppy grooming process is slightly different as compared to grooming adult dogs. Their skin is more susceptible to a variety of potential irritants and chemicals found in regular dog shampoo products that are full of chemicals. This is why using a gentle puppy shampoo instead of your regular dog shampoo is recommended.

There isn't a big difference between adult dog shampoos and shampoo for puppies, as long as we're comparing products with natural and gentle ingredients. The difference is that an adult dog's skin can handle more harsh products than a puppy's skin can. Below we review some of the best puppy shampoo brands that fit the bill of “gentle”.

Bathing a Puppy vs Adult Dog

I recommend that as soon as you get a puppy that you start regularly playing with their ears and their paws. This will make it easier for both you and a groomer to work with your pet and will ease its anxiety.” – Dr. Mark Stickney, DVM [source]

While the concept of bathing a puppy is similar to that of bathing an adult dog, it still is a little different. It's likely you'll need less time to bathe a puppy because of the dog's small size, but you'll need to pay more attention to details and be extra careful.

It's essential that as soon as you get your new puppy, you begin bathing him and do it gently so as not to scare him off future grooming sessions. Your dog will have to get used to the process and come to associate bathing with a positive experience; not a negative.

Veterinarians and groomers also recommend that when not bathing your pooch, you play with your dog's ears and otherwise imitate what you'd do during his grooming and wash. This helps the dog get used to being touched and handled this way and removes anxiety.

How to Bathe a Puppy

Choosing the Best Puppy Shampoo for Your Dog

This is a subject that would require a separate article to explain in greater detail, but here's the brief of what you need to know on picking the best puppy shampoo and why some other regular dog shampoos (and human shampoos) aren't appropriate.

Most of this comes from the dog's skin pH levels and shampoo's acidity.

So what is pH? The term stands for potential Hydrogen, which is a numeric scale of acidity of an aqueous solution. The numeric scale itself measures from zero to fourteen. pH 7 is the neutral state (that's what water is).

Anything that falls below pH 7 is more acidic; anything above pH 7 is more alkaline.

puppy shampoo pH

For puppies (and dogs in general), all shampoos should be as close to pH 7 level as possible to avoid acidity, because the dog's skin is more sensitive than a human's.

Therefore, we'd assume that all dog shampoos for puppies and adult pets are pH 7, right? Turns out, that's not true. There was a study conducted (and explained here) where several dog shampoos and human shampoos were compared for their pH acidity levels. The purpose was to see if human shampoo may be too acidic for dogs, which it was, but what was surprising is how off many dog shampoos themselves were – two-thirds of pet shampoos were more acidic than they should be. These are the shampoos you'd avoid.

What makes the best shampoo for puppies is a formulation of natural ingredients and a neutral acidity level. The below five mentioned dog shampoos for puppies have been shown to be appropriate for dogs and confirmed by many pet owners who continue to happily use them on puppies or even adult dogs.

The Best Puppy Shampoo (with neutral pH)

1Earthbath All Natural Shampoo for Puppies
by Earthbath

The first good puppy shampoo comes from an all-natural, well-known dog company, Earthbath. This pH-balanced, soap-free dog shampoo is an all-natural best puppy shampoo that promises a gentle and tearless bath for dogs. A dash of baby-fresh cherry extract will leave your dear puppies smelling sweet and clean.

The product is 100% biodegradable, totally safe to use on pets, extra gentle on the skin which is why it's great for puppies, and free of harmful ingredients. It comes in 16-oz bottles, and it’s also available in several color and fruit variations.

According to multiple above puppy shampoo reviews, the mildness of this soap-free puppy shampoo appealed to pet owners with puppies that need to be washed gently. Even with frequent bathing, this pet shampoo doesn’t dry puppies’ skin or cause irritation and flaking. Pet parents use Earthbath All Natural Shampoo for washing paws or cleaning up after the pups take a poop. Being very gentle, it can’t be used for stubborn stains on furs. In fact, it’s too gentle that some customers find the scent immediately fading, the reason why others switched to other shampoos.

earthbath, Ultra-Mild Wild Cherry Puppy Shampoo -...
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Some dog owners contradict the “tearless” feature because their puppies’ eyes were still irritated, although it’s generally wise to avoid shampooing that area of the pups’ face. Pet owners looking for solutions to itching, fleas, dandruff, and other skin problems found solutions from the other variations of this first rated best puppy shampoo. Overall, pet parents consider this doggy shampoo gentle enough for sensitive puppies, smelling of fresh cherries, and mild on the skin.


  • All-natural ingredients
  • Biodegradable and cruelty-free
  • Soap-free
  • Works for itching, fleas, dandruff

  • Not good for stubborn stains


2Paws & Pals Oatmeal Puppy Shampoo
by Paws & Pals

The second product of gentle puppy shampoos is from Paws & Pals. This manufacturer's fifth-best puppy shampoo is also a combo with a conditioner that's made from 100% natural components. It is certified as Organic with aloe vera, oatmeal, and shea butter as its key ingredients. With these natural oils and extracts, our pets will enjoy tear-less baths.

This shampoo and conditioner for puppies are gentle enough for small dogs and other pets and are designed to cleanse and moisturize pets’ skin and furs. Jojoba, olive, and coconut oils will relieve itchiness and restore the natural shine of your pet’s coat. All the vegan ingredients combine and result in an amazing scent.

The majority of these puppy shampoo reviews are very positive. Dog owners liked this product for its nice smell and its cleaning and moisturizing effects on their pets’ skin and coat. It lathers so well at a small amount of liquid, and since it comes in a large bottle, customers find it economical.

Paws & Pals Argan Shampoo for Itchy Skin, Made in...
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This puppy shampoo has attracted quite a number of pet owners, and this is mainly for its all-natural and certified-organic label. Buyers have observed that while ads promoted the shampoo as tearless for puppies, the product label does not say so. Some pets even had reactions to suds getting into their eyes. They also observed that this fifth-best puppy shampoo contained Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) and other chemicals which shouldn’t be there in an all-organic product. Generally, end-users were happy about their purchase. This is a decent dog shampoo that gets the job done of keeping pets clean, soft, shiny, and smelling fresh.


  • Very popular
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Certified organic components
  • Potent and effective

  • Contains SLS
  • Not 100% tear-less


3Wahl Natural Gentle Shampoo for Puppy
by Wahl

The third one on this best puppy shampoo list is from another well-known company, Wahl. This gentle pet shampoo is specially made for puppies and can be used for all types of dog coats. The pet shampoo cleanses the skin and coat thoroughly and eliminates unpleasant puppy odor while leaving the pup’s fur mildly scented, radiant, and easy to manage.

This natural dog shampoo for puppies is formulated with protein, lanolin, and aloe vera to moisturize our puppies’ skin and coats and give them a healthy glow. The tearless variant is best for young dogs. Wahl puppy shampoos are available in 16-oz bottles and in several variants.

The majority of these puppy shampoo reviews point to the fact that puppy owners who bought this product were satisfied with the mildness of this second-best puppy shampoo because it cleaned their pets very well without stinging their eyes or skin. Bathing was more relaxed, in effect. They found it to be just the right consistency – lathers up easily and rinses dogs quickly. It shortens bathing time, and puppies are a lot happier for that.

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Dog owners noticed their pets’ coats to be soft and shiny with the use of Wahl's best puppy shampoo, but the fresh smell doesn’t last very long. Dandruff and ticks could not be addressed by this mild puppy shampoo, but pet parents were happy that variants of this product could. Satisfied buyers thought they’d either buy this inexpensive but effective product again or try its other variants.


  • Cheap
  • Works on all coat types
  • Not irritating to skin and eyes
  • Protein, Lanolin, Aloe Vera formula

  • Not always good for dandruff
  • The scent doesn't last long


4Isle of Dogs Tearless Sulfate-Free Shampoo
by the Isle of Dogs

We're fans of Isle of Dogs products here at Top Dog Tips (and have reviewed a good number of them) because of their approach to manufacturing natural products for dogs. This fourth best puppy shampoo contains a list of ingredients that do not sound scary, eliminates odor, conditions hair, leaves a nice smell on your pet’s coat, and does these things in a tearless bath. This is made possible because of a special formulation that uses only the mildest ingredients for our puppies and jojoba oil to moisturize.

Dog owners who want a pet shampoo that deeply cleanses and conditions the hairs of their puppies, but is mild enough not to cause itching or irritation to the eyes of puppies and sensitive dogs, this product could be what they're looking for. At 20-oz, this is bigger than most dog shampoo sizes.

There are mixed reactions to the baby powder scent, according to the above puppy shampoo reviews. Most dog owners noted that the scent of Isle of Dogs' best puppy shampoo is faint yet lingers for several days to a week. Others, however, thought that the scent was overpowering or artificial, which may only reflect personal preference. Puppies’ coats are soft and shiny with this third-best puppy shampoo, without the itching and scratching that usually went with stronger shampoos and conditioners.

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For some dogs, according to more pet owner reviews, the formulation of Isle of Dogs puppy shampoo may not work for heavy stench and deep stains on pet skins and furs, as observed by puppy owners with breeds that are particularly heavy smellers. A few dogs developed adverse reactions, such as irritations or allergies, which is only natural since dogs do have peculiarities. Generally, buyers found this an effective, cheap, and tear-less dog shampoo for their mutts.


  • Helps with coat shine
  • Scent can last up to a week
  • Helps with itching

  • Reports of allergic reactions
  • Maybe too weak for heavy smells


5Vet’s Best Hot Spot Puppy Shampoo
by Vet's Best

Our fifth best puppy shampoo is from Vet's Best company. For puppies suffering from skin dryness, inflammation, and itching, this dog shampoo is a spot-on solution. Its active components are aloe vera, chamomile, and tea tree oil – all-natural ingredients with proven benefits, primarily known to soothe and relieve these skin problems in puppies.

This pet shampoo's mild formulation provides quick relief and is safe even for puppies at least 12 weeks old. It does not contain alcohol or harsh chemicals that may react with other products, such as tick-and-flea medications.

According to many puppy shampoo reviews noted above, this product is formulated to target skin irritations and allergies, and pet owners could only be so grateful that such an effective product is available. Even those dogs with notorious allergies and itching that kept the whole household awake found relief with this fourth-best puppy shampoo. Reports claim that a bath with Vet’s Best Hot Spot Shampoo usually calmed down allergic episodes quickly. The liquid is quite thick that pet owners dilute it with water, spread the mixture all over the dog’s body, then lather and rinse. It’s more cost-effective that way, too, according to cost-conscious pet owners.

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Not only does this puppy shampoo provide instant relief, it also has a nice smell that lasts and makes the dog’s coat shiny and soft. Since the dogs’ scratching and chewing are much reduced, bite or scratch marks and sores are lessened also. Pet owners are hopeful that with constant use of this fourth best puppy shampoo, hair will have a chance to grow back on their pets’ bald spots.


  • Cheap
  • Works for puppies with allergies
  • Formulated for itching, hot spot
  • All-natural formula

  • Some reports of hives

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5 Top Rated Best Puppy Shampoo for Young Dogs

Katherine is certified in Domestic Animal Sciences and Animal Grooming with primary focus on dogs. She has had her pet canine, Anastasia, for two years now, who is also her ESA service dog. Katherine has written multiple articles about pets and their grooming, and has knowledge on multiple specialty pet grooming products for dogs.