To keep your Labrador clean, you need the correct shampoo. Surprisingly, this can be a bit more complicated than it seems. Many dogs are sensitive to specific ingredients, which can curtail the shampoos you can safely use. Others may have specific skin problems that can be treated with the correct shampoo.
In the end, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the best shampoo out there, making shopping a bit more complicated than you might imagine.
In this article, we’ll help you sort out which shampoo is best for your Labrador Retriever. We’ll review some of the top shampoos on the market and discuss which one may be best suited to your canine.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022
10 Best Shampoo for Labs
1. Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo – Best Overall
Most dogs will benefit from the gentle ingredients of the Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo. This shampoo is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to shampoos of similar ingredients. It contains gentle cleansers like oat flour and honey, which are suitable for dogs with dry or otherwise sensitive skin. The oat flour helps with itchiness due to conditions like eczema or even dermatitis. The honey helps regulate your dog’s skin moisture, which helps dogs with dry and itchy skin.
Even if your canine doesn’t have any apparent skin problems, this shampoo is a great way to keep it that way. It is relatively gentle and doesn’t include many of the harsh chemicals other shampoos do. The formula is pH-balanced to prevent dry skin. It is suitable for relieving redness and flakes. Plus, it is also made of 97% natural ingredients and is entirely cruelty-free. It contains no sulfates or colorants.
Burt’s Bees is an environmentally-friendly company. Many of their bottles are made of recycled materials, and they do not include artificial ingredients in most of their formulas, including this one.
2. Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo – Best Value
The Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo works as both a shampoo and conditioner. It is excellent for dogs that may develop mats and tangles, which sometimes occurs with Labrador Retrievers. It is formulated in the USA with cosmetic-grade ingredients, making it higher quality than most market options.
It is perfect for smelly dogs, as it includes essential oils like lavender and cucumber to keep your pup smelling fresh for as long as possible. While this shampoo is not the gentlest on the market, it does include ingredients like aloe vera, which can help dogs with inflamed skin. We do not recommend it for dogs with susceptible skin, however. The essential oils can irritate some dogs.
As a soap-free formula, this shampoo is easy to rinse and entirely safe for your canine. It is alcohol-free and made with a coconut-based liquid. The wheat protein helps deodorize your pet naturally and is safe for frequent use. It is even suitable for puppies. It is even much less expensive than most other options, making it the best shampoo for labs for the money.
3. Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Dog & Cat Shampoo – Premium Choice
For dogs with susceptible skin, the Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Dog & Cat Shampoo is your best option. It is more expensive than most other shampoos on the market. However, it contains prescription-strength ingredients that can fight and prevent a variety of skin conditions. If your dog has a skin problem, this is a great shampoo to try.
Some of the ingredients it includes are chlorhexidine, climbazole, and phytosphingosine. To help fight bacteria and fungi growth, chlorhexidine and climbazole are included. Both of these are very effective at preventing bacteria and fungal growths, which helps them control various conditions. Lipacid helps build the skin’s natural barrier and moisturizes the skin. This prevents new problems from developing.
This shampoo deposits a long-lasting film resistant to water and helps protect your dog’s skin from irritants. It is beneficial against environmental irritants for this reason.
The main problem with this shampoo is the higher-than-average price. It is significantly more expensive than most options, but it does include many medications that most shampoos don’t.
4. Ark Naturals Don’t Worry Don’t Rinse Me Waterless Shampoo
As a foam shampoo, the Ark Naturals Don’t Worry Don’t Rinse Me Waterless Shampoo is relatively easy to use. It is straightforward to see where you’re putting the soap thanks to the foaming design. You do not have to use a brush or saturate your pet’s coat with it. It cleans and moisturizes your pet without you even needing to bathe them thoroughly. This is perfect for dogs who don’t like water or those that tend to get messy often.
Some dogs are sensitive to water and may develop dry skin after baths. For these dogs, in particular, this shampoo may be beneficial. As a natural shampoo, it includes things like balsam, cedarwood, rosemary, and orange oils. It leaves your pet smelling very nice afterward but doesn’t include some of the harsh fragrances that other shampoos do.
We found this shampoo particularly useful for puppies, as they tend to get dirty very often. This shampoo is a great alternative to thoroughly washing your dog every few days, which is why we rated it so high on our list.
5. Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Dog Shampoo
Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Dog Shampoo costs about average. It is soap-free, which makes it suitable for dogs with decently sensitive skin. It can be used with flea and tick products without washing them away and contains no parabens or dyes. It is gentle enough for puppies and will not sting if it comes into contact with their eyes.
It is designed to deodorize your pooch, cleans their coat, and condition their fur. In other words, it does everything you need a dog shampoo to do. It smells decently good, though the scent is not necessarily as strong as some other options on the market. It is made in the USA as well. As a cocoa surfactant shampoo, it enhances the softness of your dog’s coat and is ideal for sensitive skin. It is quite good at keeping your dog clean for longer, which makes it a suitable choice for puppies and other dogs that seem to get dirty a lot.
With all that said, this shampoo does seem to be a bit watery. It doesn’t lather very well and is very fluid, making it somewhat challenging to use. It easily slides off your hands and makes a mess as it does so.
6. Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Fragrance-Free Dog Shampoo
Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Fragrance-Free Dog Shampoo is a bit more expensive than some other options. It is soap-free and includes oatmeal and organic aloe vera, as the name suggests. It is designed specifically for sensitive and dry skin in mind. It is perfect for skin that needs soother or moisturized. However, it is not suitable for treating skin conditions, though it can help contact dermatitis and similar problems.
For this reason, it is also fragrance-free. Therefore, if your pet has any allergies to fragrances or just sensitive skin in general, this shampoo should not bother them. It is designed for cats and dogs over six weeks of age, so you cannot use it on tiny puppies or kittens. It is 100% biodegradable, which makes it very environmentally-friendly. It is also free of parabens and phosphates.
Of course, this shampoo does not work for all dogs with sensitive skin. While it is designed to be free from as many allergens as possible, it can’t be free from everything. For this reason, it may not work for your dog. It is also more expensive than most options, so we generally don’t recommend it unless your dog is very sensitive.
7. Paws & Pals Oatmeal Dog Shampoo
The Paws & Pals Oatmeal Dog Shampoo is another shampoo that is a bit more expensive than most. It is made with all-natural ingredients, though, which does drive up the price a bit. All the ingredients are vegan and organic. It contains aloe, jojoba, and coconut oils. All of these ingredients can help relieve painful and itchy skin. While it can’t treat any significant skin problems, it is suitable for minor contact dermatitis, treating fleabites, and similar problems.
This formula is also tear-free and non-toxic. It is entirely safe for your dog; they could eat it if they wanted to. It is made with particular essential oils that are chosen for their coat-care properties. However, some dogs may be sensitive to these oils, which can cause reactions and other problems.
This shampoo also doubles as a conditioner, though it isn’t as powerful as some other market options. It is best for dogs that don’t get matted very often – like Labrador Retrievers.
Despite the product name, this shampoo isn’t designed for dogs that have sensitive skin. It includes essential oils and other problems that can cause your dog to become itchy.
8. HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo
As the name suggests, the HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo is designed for dogs with sensitive skin. It is meant to be free of all common allergens. Thus, it is very suitable for dogs who have sensitive skin and are allergic to many different ingredients. If lots of other shampoos make your dog itchy, this may be one of the few options you can use.
This formula is soap-free and non-stripping. It won’t interrupt your pet’s natural skin barriers and doesn’t have much in it at all. It can help control flaking and dry skin. In minor cases, it may help control seborrhea as well. It contains various natural ingredients that can moisturize your dog’s skin and prevent future itchy problems. Plus, you can also use it with topical flea and tick products.
With that said, this shampoo is not suitable for all dogs. Despite what it claims, it is not free from all potential irritants. It may make some dogs itchy. It is also missing some key ingredients that may help dogs with sensitive skin, like aloe vera and oatmeal.
9. Mighty Petz 2-in-1 Oatmeal Dog Shampoo
The Mighty Petz 2-in-1 Oatmeal Dog Shampoo is designed for dogs with sensitive skin. It contains oatmeal, which is a common ingredient in these sorts of shampoos. This formula is designed to make bathing a pleasant experience and protect your dog from the drying effects of water. It has a naturally balanced pH and contains only natural ingredients, like aloe vera. It also works as a conditioner, so you can work out some of those tangles while washing.
We did like that this shampoo includes naturally occurring vitamins, like A, C, E, and B. These can help improve your dog’s coat and skin, allowing them to protect themselves from everyday irritants. In all, this formula only contains seven ingredients.
This shampoo is not very foamy, so it can be a bit difficult to tell which parts you have rinsed and which you haven’t. This does not affect the quality of the shampoo, though, just the ease of use. This shampoo also doesn’t stretch very far. In many cases, you may find yourself going through more shampoo than you usually do, which can drive up the costs.
This product doesn’t work for all animals. Some are still itchy after using it.
10. 4Legger DS-1227 Organic Dog Shampoo
The 4Legger DS-1227 Organic Dog Shampoo isn’t terrible, but there are better options out there. It is a bit more expensive than other options, so it isn’t budget-friendly. It is designed to be 100% hypoallergenic. However, it does contain a few essential oils, which some dogs react to. No shampoo is going to work for all dogs, of course. This shampoo does not contain any harsh chemicals or synthetic fragrances.
You may like the 30-day risk-free guarantee they provide. This guarantee allows you to return the shampoo within 30-days if you find that it doesn’t work for you.
On a more negative note, the bottle design is too slippery. It is not ergonomically made at all. You also need quite a bit of shampoo to wash any dog. This factor drives costs considerably, so you may find yourself spending more money than you originally intended. The shampoo is relatively thin as well. We found that this characteristic caused it to drip more often than not, which wastes an already expensive product.
Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Shampoos for Labs
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to shampoo. Some dogs get dirty more often and need more baths, affecting the shampoo they need to use. Other dogs are sensitive to specific ingredients or smells. Some dog owners may prefer a thicker shampoo, which others prefer a thinner shampoo.
In this section, we’ll help you figure out precisely what shampoo is the best decision for your canine. We’ll cover some frequently asked questions that might affect your decision, as well as essential factors to consider when choosing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often should Labradors be bathed?
These dogs have a weather-resistant coat, so they do not need to be bathed very often. You only need to bathe them when they seem reasonably dirty. If they roll in mud or swim in a dirty pond, they may need a bath!
You shouldn’t over-bath them, however. This can affect the natural oils and moisture in their undercoat, which usually remains completely dry. There is no need to bathe your Labrador more often than that unless direct to by your veterinarian.
If your dog is itchy, a bath will often make it worse. The natural oils in your pet’s coat are essential for their skin’s wellbeing. A bath will remove these, which will often cause the itchiness to get worse. If you’re using a shampoo full of chemicals and synthetic fragrances, it will probably make them even itchier.
Can I use human shampoo on my dog?
Not preferably. While one time will not hurt them, human shampoo just isn’t made for dogs. It is not designed for their skin and can negatively affect their coat’s pH-balance. This upset can cause all sorts of problems. Dogs need their shampoo to be more alkaline than humans do.
The only human shampoos that are moderately okay for dogs is baby shampoo and shampoos that are coconut-oil based. However, you shouldn’t even use these very often.
Will a hypoallergenic shampoo make my dog not itchy?
If your dog has been incessantly itchy, it probably isn’t a skin problem. Most dogs are itchy because of food allergies. Food allergies are becoming increasingly more common in domestic dogs in America. The number one symptom of food allergies in dogs. Redness, inflammation, and stomach upset are other symptoms. The itchiness often causes open sores and can lead to secondary infections.
Common misconceptions about allergies
There are many misconceptions about food allergies, leading many people to assume that it is some skin problem when it isn’t. For example, dog food quality doesn’t have any effect on food allergies – similarly to food allergies in people. Someone who is allergic to peanuts is still allergic to organic peanuts. The quality doesn’t matter since dogs are allergic to the protein in certain ingredients, which always stay the same no matter the quality.
Another common misconception is that dogs cannot become allergic to a food they’ve been eating for a while. However, dogs become allergic by eating food for an extended period. If your canine has been eating the same lamb-flavored dog food for the last two years, they’re probably allergic to it! It is best to switch food often to prevent this from happening. Any dog can develop a new allergy at any time. It is not something that they are born with.
Food allergies can’t be helped with shampoo
If a food allergy causes itchiness, shampoos are not going to help. It is an internal reaction, not an external one. Because of this, the shampoo will not have a long-lasting effect on the itchiness.
Shampoos can be useful for externally-caused itchiness, though. For instance, if your dog is reacting to flea bites. Shampoos can help remove the fleas and calm their skin. Similarly, if your dog is reacting to pollen or other environmental factors, shampoo can remove this from their coat and protect their skin from further problems.
In the end, it depends on what is causing the itchiness. If you try a hypoallergenic shampoo and your dog is still itchy, it is likely a food allergy.
Tips for Bathing Your Lab
Not all Labs like baths, even if they like water. Swimming in a pool is different from taking a bath. Labradors are quite fond of the water most of the time, but they may still react negatively to bath time. Here are some quick tips for helping your Lab get used to baths:
- Train your canine. If your dog is reacting negatively to bath time, you can train them to react better. When your dog is acting appropriately in the bath, give them a treat. It’s a simple approach that doesn’t require much extra time outside regular bathing.
- An easy way to keep your dog calm in the bath is to distract them. This is much easier than it sounds. Try smearing some peanut butter on the inside of the bathtub so that your canine can lick it off as you bath them. This teaches them that the bathtub is a yummy, appropriate place and keeps them otherwise engaged.
- Positive conditioning. If your dog is terrified of baths or is too young for regular baths, you can get them used to the bathtub without any of the water or soap that may scare them. Simply put your dog in the bath without water or even in the bathroom, and then reward them for staying calm. Perhaps there is a special treat that they only get in the bathroom? This will make them think of the bathroom as a positive space and make actual baths go much smoother.
For most Labrador Retrievers, Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo is a gentle shampoo that we recommend. It isn’t expensive and should be suitable for most labs, even if they have sensitive skin problems. It contains honey and oats – two ingredients that can help calm irritated skin and protect your pet’s coat.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, we recommend Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo. This shampoo is so gentle that it can be used on puppies. It even includes cosmetic-grade ingredients, so you know you’re getting the best of the best.
We hope our reviews helped you sort through some of the complexity surrounding shampoo for Labs.
Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock