German Shepherds’ coats produce natural oils to keep their coat and skin healthy. But these oils are a double-edged sword. While they’re essential for maintaining your dog’s coat health, they can also contribute to a stinky dog with an unhealthy coat if left for too long without bathing. That said, overbathing can be even worse, depleting your dog’s natural oils and drying out their coat and the skin beneath.
You may not be bathing your German Shepherd that often, but when you do, you want a shampoo that keeps your dog’s coat and skin in peak condition, while also helping to clean your dog and prevent any foul odors.
There are plenty of products on the market that can offer these benefits, but that doesn’t mean they’re all just as nice to use. After some frustrating experiences, we decided to weed out the worst products and put together a list of reviews of the 10 best shampoos for German Shepherds. We’ve even recommended our top choices to ensure your dogs are as healthy and happy as ours.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022
The 10 Best Shampoos for German Shepherds
1. Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo – Best Overall
Out of all the shampoos we tried out for this list, our favorite was the Buddy Wash original lavender and mint dog shampoo. It’s made with cosmetic-grade ingredients, including essential oils and botanical extracts. Not only do these help to keep your dog smelling fresh, these ingredients are also completely safe for humans.
This is a soap-free formula, so you don’t have to worry about unhealthy chemicals seeping into your dog’s skin. It lathers easily though, making bath time a simple and quick process. Because it lathers so well, a little goes a long way and you won’t have to use an excessive amount to get a good wash.
If you’re only bathing your German Shepherd occasionally, they can get pretty smelly between baths. This shampoo does a good job of keeping the scent at bay and replacing it with a nice mint and lavender scent, though it doesn’t seem to last. We’d prefer if it would stay for a week or longer, but the few shampoos that managed this all had overly-strong and often unpleasant odors.
2. Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo – Best Value
Burt’s Bees products are made with natural ingredients, offering a healthy and natural way to keep your best friend fresh and clean. This shampoo is made with 97% natural ingredients and contains no artificial ingredients of any kind. Despite the quality ingredients used to make this formula, it’s one of the most affordably-priced shampoos we tested, which is why we think it’s the best shampoo for German Shepherds for the money.
More than just a shampoo, this formula does double-duty and conditions your dog’s skin and coat while cleaning them to promote a healthy and shiny coat. The colloidal oat flour and honey help to moisturize skin and keep add shine to the coat, while also reducing itchiness caused by eczema and other irritations of the skin.
While we liked this shampoo overall, it’s a bit difficult to work with. This is mostly because it doesn’t lather well. You’ll have to work hard rubbing it in in order to get even a moderate lather, which results in using more product than we had to with other formulas.
3. Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Dog Shampoo – Premium Choice
This antiseptic solution contains many special moisturizing ingredients that are meant to help manage skin conditions ranging from superficial to severe. It’s wildly expensive compared to other shampoos we’ve used, but if your dog has a skin condition such as seborrhea, pruritus, or just itchy skin, it’s worth the extra cost.
Stronger than a standard shampoo, the Duoxo Chlorhexidine PS dog shampoo controls bacteria and fungus thanks to the chlorhexidine and climbazole in the formula. It also contains phytosphingosine, which has anti-seborrheic and anti-inflammatory properties to put a stop to itching and pruritus.
If your dog has excessively itchy skin, it can have a major effect on their quality of life. While this shampoo is prohibitively expensive, it’s an excellent product for any German Shepherds with itchy skin or other skin infections. Because of the high price, we don’t recommend it for everyone, only for dogs with skin problems that require a stronger solution.
4. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Shampoo
Offering great performance for a reasonable price, the Veterinary Formula Clinical Care shampoo is a product we had great success with, though it didn’t work well with all of our dogs, which is why it didn’t make it into our top three. This blend is made with Benzethonium Chloride and Ketoconazole. These allow it to treat fungal infections and eliminate bacteria, preventing irritation and foul odors.
This is powerful stuff that simultaneously deodorizes your dog while treating any existing skin infections like pyoderma or dermatitis. The aloe vera in this formula promotes fast healing and helps to soothe the affected areas. While we did see great results most of the time, we had some dogs with itchy skin or infections that this shampoo did nothing for.
Overall, we liked the way this shampoo works and smells, but we had an issue with the way it’s applied. Once you lather it into your dog’s fur, you have to let it sit and work for 15 minutes. For dogs that don’t enjoy bathing, this can seem like a really long time.
5. Zesty Paws Oatmeal Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo
The Zesty Paws oatmeal anti-itch dog shampoo is meant to relieve dogs that are in itchy, uncomfortable positions. It helps to neutralize hot spots and improve brittle fur. Even better, it goes a step further and helps to reduce shedding. But the main benefit it poses is that it helps to relieve itchy skin.
To help cure these common problems, this formula contains oatmeal, leaving a moisturizing layer to protect your dog’s skin. Furthermore, it’s made with aloe vera, which helps to soothe skin and also has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help to eliminate infections.
After washing, your German Shepherd will give off a light vanilla scent that most of our testers found to be pleasant. But we found working with this shampoo to be a much less pleasant affair. It’s extremely thick, making it hard to even get out of the bottle, let alone lather into your dog’s fur. You’ll have to add water, but that only helps marginally. On top of this, it’s one of the most expensive options, which are the two main reasons that it’s not a top-three contender for us.
6. PetAg Fresh ‘N Clean Scented Dog Shampoo
When a product is dirt-cheap, we try to reserve judgment. But we generally don’t have high expectations for it. The PetAg Fresh ‘N Clean scented dog shampoo actually surprised us, turning out to offer better performance than we expected. Our main issues were in regards to its scent, which can be overpowering. Many of our testers found it to be a very unpleasant odor as well.
Not everyone disliked the scent though. The people who liked the scent were also thrilled that it seems to last much longer than other shampoos, though this was another drawback in the eyes of those who disliked the odor.
Still, it does a great job of cleaning your dog and conditioning their coat, leaving them feeling fresh and visibly clean as well. For such an affordable product, we think it offers excellent performance. However, the odor is just too offensive for some, which makes it a hit or miss product, despite the great performance.
7. TropiClean Luxury 2 in 1 Pet Shampoo
The TropiClean Luxury pet shampoo is a two in one formula that cleans and conditions your pet’s fur. It’s so gentle that it can also be used on cats, making it a great choice for multi-pet families. But that same trait is also a drawback. It might be too gentle, because it’s not quite strong enough to prevent that stinky dog smell that’s the main reason we’re washing our dogs in the first place!
One thing we did like is that this formula helps to relax tangled fur, which makes it easier to brush your dog out. This is particularly true if your dog’s fur is currently matted or tangled up.
But we also had a packaging problem that led to us losing a lot of the shampoo in the bottle. The lid isn’t leak-proof. If your bottle falls over, the shampoo will leak out and you’ll lose most of the bottle overnight. This isn’t the cheapest shampoo, so this is a major bummer. Unfortunately, we found that this is a common occurrence with these bottles and not just a one-off.
8. HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo
Often, you truly do get what you pay for. But we don’t think that’s the case with the HyLyt hypoallergenic shampoo. It’s one of the most expensive shampoos we tested for German Shepherds, though its spotty performance means it’s far from the best. We do like that it’s a hypoallergenic formula. It’s non-stripping and non-dying and contains essential fatty acids to control flaking and scaling while nourishing your dog’s skin.
The problem is, we tried this with several itchy dogs that it just didn’t work on. It didn’t seem to relieve their itching at all. In fact, it felt like it made it worse for some of our poor pooches. These would be disappointing results with any shampoo, but doubly disappointing when that shampoo is more expensive than competing products with superior performance.
9. Paws & Pals Oatmeal Shampoo
Paws and Pals oatmeal shampoo is a pricey formula that’s made with natural, vegan, organic ingredients. We like the concept, but it’s not a product that we enjoyed working with. There were a few good performance points worth mentioning, though they’re overshadowed by the failures. This soap-free shampoo is completely non-toxic, making it safe for you and your dog. It’s also tearless so it won’t hurt your dog’s eyes.
But at this price, we expect to see something special, which this shampoo fails to offer. It’s a very runny formula; hardly thicker than water. This makes it difficult to lather, so you have to use loads of it to get a decent wash. That makes this expensive shampoo go quickly, making it even more expensive and less of a value.
Worse, some of the dogs we used it with became itchy afterward! While it does do well at helping to detangle matted fur, that’s not enough to make up for all the headaches we experienced while using this shampoo.
10. Frisco Oatmeal Shampoo
The Frisco oatmeal shampoo is a reasonably-priced product that we hoped would offer adequate performance, though it fell short in that department. It contains oatmeal and aloe to naturally moisturize and hydrate. What you won’t find in this formula are any dyes or parabens.
But our complaints aren’t about what’s in this shampoo. Our problems are with using this product. It takes a ton of shampoo to get a decent lather going, which really takes away from its reasonable price. Even after using copious amounts of this shampoo, the wet dog smell on our German Shepherds lingered on.
That wet dog smell was layered with the scent of this shampoo, which many found to be off-putting. Some of our other testers actually liked the scent and were disappointed when it didn’t last. But none of our testers enjoyed working with this product and all of our pups had that distinct wet dog smell after bathing, which we certainly weren’t thrilled about.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing The Right Shampoo for German Shepherds
Your German Shepherds are more than just pets. They’re companions, family members, friends, and more. As such, you’re always careful with the care you administer. That’s why you’re researching to find the best shampoo for your furry friend. But that doesn’t make the task easy. You’re always searching through products hoping for results that aren’t guaranteed. Which shampoo should you pick?
We know you don’t want to spend months testing different shampoos on your Shepherd to see how they work. So, we did the hard work for you. You’ve already read about these products, but if you’re still having trouble choosing one, this buyer’s guide is for you.
What Makes a Good Shampoo for German Shepherds?
In truth, any of the shampoos on this list will help keep your German Shepherd clean. But that doesn’t mean they all offer equal performance. Some of these products are better choices than others, and sometimes, your special circumstances can mean that one product is superior for your needs.
Let’s take a look at the most important factors to consider when choosing a shampoo for your German Shepherd.
Does Your Dog Have Special Needs?
The first thing to consider is any special needs that your dog might have. For instance, if your dog is itchy, flaky, or has a skin infection, then you need more than just a regular dog shampoo. You’re looking for something with some additives to help your furry friend in their struggles.
We’ve seen plenty of products that are made specifically to combat these types of problems. These shampoos can help with bacterial infections, fungal infections, and more. They’ll help with dermatitis, itchy skin, eczema, and other infections that your dog might have.
However, these products are quite a bit pricier than other dog shampoos. If your dog doesn’t have a special condition requiring the extra help these shampoos offer, then you’ll be better off with a less powerful formula.
The main reason you’re washing your dog is to get and keep them clean. Dogs accumulate dirt through their antics. Over time, they can also start to stink as oils in their skin and coat buildup as well. If the shampoo you choose doesn’t remedy these problems, you’re not going to be satisfied.
We’ve used several dog shampoos that didn’t seem to make our dogs clean. Some didn’t even stop the odors that we were trying to eliminate. Still, there were plenty of shampoos that neutralized foul odors and made our dogs visibly clean.
Not everyone likes scented products. Moreover, scent is a pretty subjective sense. A scent that some find to be pleasant can be repulsive to others. As such, it’s much harder to gauge scent without using a product.
We used some products that smelled great as we washed the dogs, but failed to leave any lasting scent once the dogs were dry. Other products left lingering scents for many days after a bath. This was seen as a positive trait by people who enjoyed the scent and a negative trait by those who didn’t.
If you don’t like the scent of shampoos generally, then you should look for an unscented dog shampoo. But if you’re looking for a scented shampoo to keep your dog smelling fresh, you’ll have to risk getting a scent you’re not fond of.
Many people are uncomfortable dousing their dogs with chemicals, and rightfully so. As such, manufacturers are offering more products that are made with natural ingredients. We generally prefer natural products for the peace of mind it provides when using them on our best friends, but this is entirely a matter of choice.
Also, it’s harder to stick with all-natural formulas when you need advanced power to fight skin infections. In these cases, we’re more concerned with curing and preventing further irritation for our dogs, so we’re willing to use less-natural products if it’s necessary.
Our dogs will hopefully never smell unpleasant again now that we’ve gone through all of the popular shampoos and determined which ones are best for our German Shepherds. We’ve compared them thoroughly in our reviews, but we want to make sure our recommendations are fresh in your mind, so we’re to quickly summarize them once more.
For most situations, our top choice is the Buddy Wash original lavender and mint dog shampoo and conditioner. This soap-free formula is made with cosmetic-grade ingredients that are even safe for humans. It lathers well and keeps your German Shepherd’s coat clean and free of foul odors.
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, we think you’ll find it in the Burt’s Bees oatmeal shampoo. This affordably-priced product is made with 97% natural ingredients that condition your dog’s skin and promote a healthy, shiny coat.
For dogs with itchy skin or skin conditions ranging from mild to severe, the Douxo Chlorhexidine PS dog shampoo is our top recommendation. It controls bacteria and fungus to treat a wide range of skin conditions. Plus, it’s anti-inflammatory and reduces itching, making it great for any dog having an uncomfortable time in their fur.
Featured Image Credit: Bussakorn Ewesakul, Shutterstock