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The best shampoo for German Shepherds gets your dog squeaky clean without irritation and is mild on puppies.
And finding the right cleaning products are important for German Shepherds due to their sensitive skin and thick coats. While bathing your German Shepherd on a regular basis keeps their coat healthy, bathing them too much with the wrong products can strip their fur of essential natural oils.
When you do bathe your Shepherd, use a shampoo for your dog that is created specifically to be gentle while removing dirt, dander, and smells.
So, while there are many good German Shepherd dog shampoos on the market, the following are top-reviewed and ranked for their gentleness to a sensitive GSD’s itchy skin.
And, even better…
They won’t break your bank account and many are especially great for German Shepherd puppies!
Editor’s Top Picks for the Best Dog Shampoo for German Shepherds
Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner
Looking for a gentle way to rid your puppy of odors? Using a natural formula keeps their skin clean and healthy! All while getting rid of smells and dirt.
Your German Shepherd puppy deserves a luxurious bath-time with this gentle, clean-smelling puppy shampoo!
It’s made especially for puppies, but also gentle enough for dogs with sensitive, itchy skin. It cleans and moisturizes your double-coated puppy’s fur and skin, leaving their coat clean, soft, and smelling delicious!
This product is made from naturally derived ingredients and is pH balanced. It contains no soap, dyes, or parabens.
This is your best shampoo for a German Shepherd puppy for a gentle, first-bath experience.
Provides a gentle, moisturizing clean.
Gives a rich lather that degreases fur and leaves your dog’s natural skin oils.
Leaves your puppy’s coat soft and healthy.
Has a pleasant coconut scent that isn’t overpowering to sensitive dogs and puppies.
It’s all natural, pH balanced and contains no soap, dyes or parabens.
Keep your new puppy clean and fresh with Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Puppy Shampoo and Conditioner.
It works to reduce and eliminate smells with a soap-free formula that’s safe to use with spot-on flea and tick treatments. The odor-neutralizing shampoo and conditioner contains no parabens or dyes and is gentle and tearless for your puppy’s sensitive skin.
More than just an odor-reducing shampoo, this natural formula has 4 in 1 benefits for deodorizing, reducing odors, cleaning skin and coats, and even leaving your puppy’s fur conditioned.
Nature’s Miracle uses a natural cocoa surfactant for supreme odor control that gives your puppy an exceptional clean with enhanced fur softness.
Gentle and tearless formula without nasty perfumes which is perfect for puppies.
4 in 1 benefits include neutralizing odors, deodorizing stinky smells, cleansing skin and coat, and moisture-rich conditioning.
Soap-free and is safe to use with spot-on flea and tick products without interfering with their effectiveness.
Ideal for sensitive skin and dogs with allergies.
The natural formula provides exceptional cleaning and a long-term clean that leaves hair soft and silky.
Best Shampoo for Dandruff or Dry, Itchy, and Sensitive Skin
A German Shepherd with sensitive, itchy, and dry skin needs the correct formula to reduce irritations and provide long-lasting relief. Even common dandruff in German Shepherds can lead to further skin problems when left untreated.
Choose a shampoo with effective ingredients to combat the discomfort and reduce irritation in German Shepherds with skin issues.
4. Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo
Best German Shepherd Dandruff Shampoo
German Shepherds are sometimes prone to excessive itching from dandruff, allergies, skin infections, or parasites. Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo helps alleviate these allergic conditions to provide comfort to your dog.
The special, soothing formula contains Spherulites Microcapsules, an exclusive system that encapsulates natural oats in a soap-free anti-itch shampoo.
This formula is suitable for any age to soothe, clean, and control mild itching of sensitive and dry skin conditions in dogs and puppies.
Soothing shampoos are helpful in eliminating and reducing German Shepherd’s itchy skin and dandruff – a product to keep on hand during all seasons.
Special glycotechnology aids in reducing bacterial and yeast on the skins surface, physically disrupting colonization of microorganisms on the skin.
Natural oat-grain derived in a soap free formula for soothing and cleansing itchy, dry and sensitive skin while removing and preventing dandruff.
Ideal for soothing dry and sensitive German Shepherd skin of any age, including GSD puppies.
Long-lasting relief that continuously releases effective ingredients into the fur and skin after application.
Even more effective when used with Epi-Soothe Cream Rinse to provide complete protection.
German Shepherds with allergies and severe skin issues need special attention and soothing ingredients.
Your dog also should see a veterinarian so they can rule out causes and future treatments.
Dermatitis and pyoderma can result from allergies, hormonal disorders, a weakened immune system, trauma from grooming/scratching, and even a more severe fungal infection such as ringworm.
Treating severe skin issues is very important as it affects your pet’s quality of life.
Additionally, prolonged itching can lead to further injury, infection, or even scarring. It’s best to treat these severe skin issues and allergies appropriately with the best shampoo for German Shepherd allergies and itchy skin.
6. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic & Antifungal Shampoo
Through extensive research and development, Veterinary Formula Clinical Care has designed high-quality medicated products with veterinary-recommended ingredients. This paraben-free formula helps to relieve, heal and soothe many German Shepherd skin-and-coat conditions.
With potent, active medicines your dog is provided with fast, effective relief.
Aloe Vera helps to gently heal and soothe your pet’s red, itchy skin.
When used as directed, this antiseptic and antifungal shampoo can relieve skin infections such as dermatitis using effective Benzethonium Chloride to help eliminate bacteria that cause irritation and odor.
Helps relieve fungal and bacterial skin infections such as dermatitis and pyoderma while deodorizing unpleasant smells.
Added natural Aloe Vera soothes skin redness and can help speed healing.
The formula is 100% paraben-free for sensitive skin with allergies and irritation.
Douxo Chlorhexidine PS Dog Shampoo provides an antiseptic lathering solution with special moisturizing ingredients, including chlorhexidine, climbazole, and phytosphingosine for the management of irritating allergies and severe skin conditions.
Chlorhexidine and climbazole help to control bacteria and fungi populations on your dog’s skin surface.
This combination of medicated ingredients can eliminate skin irritations due to allergies and other forms of dermatitis.
Moisturizing lipacid helps restore the skin barrier by leaving a lipo-protidic file deposited on the skin’s surface.
The vet-recommended formula helps to regulate associated seborrhea and skin inflammation.
Pro-ceramides reduce inflammation helping eliminate itching and pruritus.
Deposits a long-lasting film of medication that protects from irritations and loss of moisture.
8. Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs
Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs helps keep your companion from itching with a veterinarian formulated key blend of natural ingredients and essential oils including oatmeal, d-limonene, and tea tree oil specially formulated for a German Shepherd with allergies.
This allergy relief shampoo is designed to soothe sensitive skin and alleviate itchiness from allergies by washing away allergens and soothing inflamed skin that causes itching.
It doesn’t affect topical flea and tick treatments and leaves a fresh scent.
Veterinarian formulated with natural ingredients and essential oils to reduce allergens and prevent itching and scratching.
Provides allergy itch relief for your dog.
Includes oatmeal, d-limonene, and tea tree oil that doesn’t wash away topical flea and tick treatments.
Designed to soothe sensitive skin and prevent itchiness to comfort your dog.
Douxo Calm Shampoo is a formulation of unique, innovative ingredients developed to help relieve atopic skins. Soothing pro-ceramides helps restore the skin barrier and has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties to reduce skin irritation.
Active ingredients in Douxo Calm Shampoo can manage irritations, restore the skin barrier function, alleviate itchiness and scratchiness, and control the local flora.
This soothing formula provides calming relief in an easy-to-apply formula.
Eliminates severe itching of the skin.
Made without artificial fragrance or parabens.
The soothing lathering solution contains pro-ceramides to restore a healthy lipid barrier.
Provides calming relief from itchy, irritated, and inflamed skin.
The unique ‘no-spill’ feature eliminates accidental waste.
Save time and money by using a shampoo and conditioner combined for your German Shepherd. These 2 in 1 combinations help to both cleanse and moisturize your dog’s fur for healthy skin.
While convenient, they are best for GSD’s with normal skin not prone to allergies or skin conditions.
10. CHI Gentle 2 in 1 Dog Shampoo & Conditioner
CHI Gentle 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner simplifies your dog’s bath and keeps them looking and smelling clean. The shampoo washes away dirt and loose fur while the conditioner softens and tones their skin.
Made with mild surfactants that won’t irritate your dog’s eyes or skin this 2 in 1 is easy to rinse for a quick one-step solution!
2-in-1 combination makes washing quick and easy.
Doesn’t irritate your dog’s eyes.
The mild formula leaves your dog’s coat shiny and soft.
Provides maximum moisture to help keep brushing to a minimum.
Best for dogs and puppies 8 weeks of age or older.
German Shepherds have multiple needs when it comes to bathing them compared to other dogs.
Shampooing a German Shepherd means understanding:
they are large and take longer to bathe
their fur is double-coated and requires a bit of massage to penetrate to the skin
they are heavy shedders, especially during the major shedding seasons (spring and fall)
their fur is naturally water repellent and is difficult to saturate with shampoo
they have erect ears, which can easily cause water to enter and cause issues
With these needs in mind, there are several significant factors to take into consideration when choosing the right shampoo for them.
Dog Shampoos are Specially Formulated
First, German Shepherd shampoos are specially formulated for their skin and coat, and the products and ingredients used have a different pH than human shampoo. This is why you should never use your own shampoos on a Shepherd, as it is too harsh and may disrupt the natural oils and pH level on their skin and coat.
Using human shampoo on a German Shepherd can possibly cause many problems to your dog’s coat.
This includes skin problems in German Shepherds, such as:
reddness and irration
dry coat and dry skin
Let’s talk about how often you should bathe your German Shepherd, too.
Bathing Your German Shepherd
Don’t bathe your German Shepherd too frequently, as the breed is known for not only having sensitive, dry, itchy skin but is also bred to require less bathing and shampooing than many other types of dogs.
Even the best dog shampoos for German Shepherds can cause troubles with overuse and unnecessary application. As the owner of a plush-coated GSD, it’s my recommendation to bathe your German Shepherd only when necessary — this means, they can’t pass the hug test. If your dog smells so bad when you hug them it turns your head and nose, it’s time for a shampoo and bath.
Please note, if your German Shepherd has a skin condition that needs regular attention, such as allergies or excessive itchy and dry skin, they may require more recurring bathing in order for the shampoos to had an effect on the skin problems.
Fresh Water Bathing
If you don’t notice any smells or odors, but your Shepherd is dirty from a long walk or playing in the mud, then it’s perfectly fine to give them a warm water rinse without shampoo.
Use a Zoom Groom with fresh water to loosen dead fur and remove embedded dirt from their fur.
I live near muddy fields and have to bathe my German Shepherd more frequently due to the amount of dirt she manages to find. But, I don’t use shampoo every time as this could strip her skin, instead I opt for the Zoom Groom to help remove the dirt more easily with just tepid water and copious rinsing.
Some dog shampoo manufacturers use the phrase “all-natural” to describe their shampoo.
More often than not, this may be a marketing gimmick to make their product or company appear better than shampoos that aren’t labeled “all-natural”. However, all-natural ingredients aren’t necessarily good and chemical products aren’t necessarily bad.
Some so-called natural ingredients can cause severe allergic reactions in sensitive breeds. For example, essential oils are marketed frequently as all-natural, yet many Shepherds are allergic to essential oils. Moreover, your German Shepherd’s skin problems may require a medicated shampoo to resolve their issues, and all-natural products don’t usually require medication that helps heal their irritated skin.
Many medicated shampoos that contain chemicals can help your German Shepherd’s skin issues and keep them comfortable — and chemicals aren’t necessarily bad when they help alleviate issues that cause your dog pain and discomfort.
This is why it’s important to carefully read the ingredient list and not just go by a company’s fancy marketing or “all-natural” slogan.
I advise testing out a small amount of any shampoo first to avoid any later complications.
Use a small dollop of shampoo only
Apply to their lower leg, applying on both their fur and skin
Wait 24 hours for this “test patch” to show any signs of allergic reaction or skin irritations
If there’s no sensitivity, redness, itching, scratching, or dandruff after 24 hours, the shampoo is probably safe to use for them.
Shampoos for German Shepherds with Sensitive Skin
Many German Shepherds with sensitive skin need specialized products to soothe their inflammations.
These dogs need extra attention to the ingredients, and you may find they are allergic to shampoos that contain certain components.
When looking for shampoos for sensitive German Shepherds, keep in mind to avoid ingredients that are considered harsher.
Heavily fragranced products
Essential oils (many dogs are allergic to even gentle, pet-safe essential oils)
Look for products labeled “hypoallergenic” when in doubt. Again, it’s smart to perform a patch test and wit 24 hours when using a new shampoo on your German Shepherd, especially if they have sensitive skin problems.
Beneficial Shampoo Ingredients
Some products contain ingredients that provide known benefits for skin and coat health.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Plant-based oils (jojoba, coconut, sunflower)
While these ingredients alone might not solve or cure your German Shepherd’s itchy or reddened skin, they can help ease the discomfort your dog experiences. Furthermore, these beneficial ingredients are generally considered safe for your dog’s bath.
Medicated Shampoos for German Shepherds with Skin Issues
Medicated shampoos can help your German Shepherd if they are experiencing persistent skin issues.
These skin issues can range from:
dry, flaky skin
and many other skin problems
Medicated shampoos are usually anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial. They also generally contain additional soothing ingredients, such as aloe vera, oatmeal, or fatty acids, to support healthy skin in your dog.
Ideally, a medicated shampoo including both cleansing and therapeutical properties should be applied twice for better benefits. At the second application, the shampoo must be left on for several minutes, to allow the active ingredients to be properly absorbed and reach acceptable levels in the deep cellular layers.
This length of time varies between 5 and 15 minutes according to your choice of product, concentration, type of base, and your dog’s overall skin condition.
The skin and fur should then be rinsed thoroughly, for at least 5 minutes, to prevent irritation and to enable the skin to become adequately hydrated.
If shampoos and other skin treatments aren’t helping your German Shepherd please seek a veterinarian’s attention.
Using Medicated Shampoos Safely
Medicated shampoo may be safely applied several times a week for 2 weeks to treat the skin problem in your German Shepherd. The frequency is then reduced to give your dog the longest interval over which treatment is still effective. This is usually about 1 to 2 weeks, so you’ll then shampoo your dog with the medicated shampoo for every one to two weeks – instead of several times a week.
Please note that these medicated shampoos, while extremely useful in certain skin conditions, are best used sparingly. Don’t use medicated shampoos if your German Shepherd doesn’t need them.
If you notice any of the following symptoms at any time, contact your veterinarian immediately:
Increased discharge or bleeding from the skin
Increased redness, swelling, or heat in the area of concern, especially if your dog has a fever
Increased pain and excessive discomfort upon touching the skin or giving a bath
Spreading of the condition, especially to the face
Unable to give your dog a bath (for example, if your pet is uncooperative, appears to be in pain from the bathing, or because you feel you are unable to perform it correctly)
Be sure to ask your veterinarian about other conditions (such as heart disease, respiratory disease, diseases of the eyes) if your pet has these they could be worsened by giving your dog a bath if not well tolerated. Some conditions might make bathing unwise or harmful to your German Shepherd, so always check with your vet when treating skin conditions at home.
German Shepherd Bathing Tips
Avoid bathing your German Shepherd too often. The German Shepherd breed is known for not needing frequent baths compared to many other types of dogs. Generally, using a shampoo once a month or even every few months is sufficient to keep your dog’s skin and coat in shape. If your Shepherd has an underlying skin prblem and you’re applying a medicated or specialized shampoo, consider that you’ll probably have to bathe them more often than usual.
Brushing your German Shepherd before bathing them helps to release the dead fur and decrease your dog’s bath time. And, brushing regulary reduces mats and tangles, while helping to keep shedding to a minimum. If you must bathe your German Shepherd because they are muddy or have been rolling in the dirt, use fresh warm water and a ZoomGroom brush to loosen the debris and make bathing them quicker and easier.
Don’t stress your dog when bathing them. To help them learn to enjoy bath time, use an Aqua Paw Slow Treater Lick Mat that’s been coated in a thin layer of natural (no xylito it’s hazardous) peanut butter or a soft, wet dog food. Keep some treats in your pocket for when them become too anxious and give them lots of praise for staying in the tub or shower. When the weatehr is warm, bathe them outside to keep the mess to a minimum, but always check the temperature of the water coming from the hose or spout. In summer, water can come out hot enough to burn your dog, so be careful! Be sure the water is lukewarm and comfortable to the touch, especially if your dog’s skin is inflamed or reddened. Water that is too hot or too cold can be very painful.
Take your time to first completely wet your dog’s coat with warm, clean water. Ensure their undercoat is completely saturated before applying any shampoo. Putting shampoo on dry fur isn’t useful and can take you more time to bathe your dog. And, the German Shepherd is known for a thick undercoat and water-repellant fur. To make shorter work of shampooing your GSD, use the ZoomGroom burshto massage their fur and help the water penetrate to the skin.
Once their coat is throughly saturated, apply and begin to later the shampoo. Remember, you need ot perform a patch test, as described previously, to be sure they’re not allergic to any new shampoo before using it on their entire body. Massage the shampoo in gently with the tips of your fingers and the ZoomGroom brush. The brush has soft, rubber nubs that reach down through your dog’s thick coat to the skin. Always keep tha shampoo away from their eyes and ears to avoid any infections or discomfort to your GSD.
Some shapooos need to be left on the skin for a particular time, while other shampoos can simply be lathered and rinsed. Pay attention to the time your shampoo needs to work, especially with medicated shampoos for problematic skin.
After a relaxing massage and lather, you can rinse the shampoo away with fresh, clean water. This step is actually critical for your German Shepherd’s skin and coat. Any shampoo that is left on your dog can cause more skin issues, dandruff, itchy, scratching, and irritation. My advice is when you think you’ve rinsed all the shampoo away, give your German Shepherd one more clean rinse to be extra cautious and sure.
Then, throughly dry your German Shepherd with an absorbent towel, going in the direction of the hair growth to avoid discomfort. Most German Shepherds will also immediately give a big body shake to rid themselves of excess water — so be sure you’re prepared and don’t let them out of the bathroom until most of the water is wiped clear.
Keep your German Shepherd warm and avoid drafts while they’re drying and wet. This is especially true for elderly dogs and puppies that are prone to changes in temperature. Also, a wet coat that is left for too long can cause bacteria on the skin, which makes skin problems worse. Use a wide-tooth comb or undercoat rake to smoothe their fur and allow for quicker drying. If your German Shepherd has skin problems, towel dry (do not blow-dry coat) to lessen the chance of overly drying the skin or causing more irritation.
Finally, enjoy your goregous German Shepherd! You’ll probably also need to change your clothes and have a quick scrub of the shower and clean up of all the loose fur and dirt.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are the most frequently asked questions regarding shampoo and conditioner for German Shepherds.
Can I use a medicated shampoo that is made for humans on my German Shepherd?
This isn’t usually recommended. Because most medicated shampoos made for dogs contain ingredients designed to work with animal skin specifically (human skin is very different from dog skin). Shampoos made for people may cause irritation, drying, and inflammation of your dog’s sensitive skin.
Why are skin and coat health so important in German Shepherd Dogs?
Healthy skin and coat not only keep your German Shepherd comfortable, but they help to prevent irritations, itching, and scratching.
GSDs are known to have allergies and sensitive skin, which can make your dog injure themselves through excessive scratching.
Treating and correcting these allergies help your dog’s overall health and keeps them from further discomfort. You should use shampoos to treat skin issues at home after speaking to your vet.
What can I do for a dry, brittle, or dull coat on my German Shepherd?
To keep a German Shepherd’s coat healthy ensure they are eating a high-quality diet, enjoying the right amount and type of exercise, participating in mental stimulation, and having access to fresh water at all times.
Is human shampoo safe to use on my German Shepherd?
No, human shampoo isn’t safe for a German Shepherd.
The human shampoos have a different pH balance that doesn’t suit your GSD’s skin. This wrong pH balance could destroy your dog’s natural oils and strip their coats, making them dull, brittle, and dry (source).
The normal pH range that humans need is 5.2 to 6.2, which is considered acidic. A pH balance of 5.5 to 7.5 is the healthiest for a German Shepherd’s skin.
Shampoos meant for people will leave your dog vulnerable to skin irritations, viruses, bacteria, and parasites because the incorrect pH disrupts a healthy skin mantle.
Constant shampooing with a product meant for humans will dry out your dog’s skin. This makes them scratch and itch and could injure them.
Is dog shampoo different from ones for humans?
Yes, the pH ranges differ significantly and this can cause your dog to have skin issues.
Most dog shampoos have a pH range of about 6 to 7 and are more neutral and catered to your dog’s skin mantle pH. Human shampoo is not only more acidic but is generally more stripping and can include ingredients not meant for your dog.
How often should I shampoo my German Shepherd?
German Shepherds generally don’t need shampooing often. And their skin produces natural oils, so avoid overbathing them or you may strip them of the protective skin oils that keep them healthy.
A thorough shampooing once every few months, but no more than once a month is sufficient to keep your GSD’s fur and skin clean.
On the other hand, if you’re treating a specific skin issue or disease, then you’ll need to apply shampoo per the manufacturer’s bathing schedule. Otherwise, a quick rinse of mud or debris after a walk, or wiping with dog-specific cleaning wipes, is sufficient for your GSD’s coat.
The Bottom Line on the Best Dog Shampoo for German Shepherds
The overall top choice for dogs with normal skin is the FURminator DeShedding Ultra Premium Shampoo. If your German Shepherd is prone to excessive shedding then the FURminator brand is a definite winning solution. The gentle formula is supplemented with Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids, Calendula Extract, and Papaya Leaf Extract to help give your dog supple skin that is less prone to losing fur.
And the best part?
It’s safe to use on puppies age 6-weeks and older.
Are you looking for a shampoo and conditioner for your German Shepherd puppy?
The 2-in-1 combination saves your time in the tub with a squirmy puppy! And, it’s not specifically for puppies only. Even your adult dog will enjoy the quicker bath time.
Looking for a shampoo that’s gentle enough for sensitive skin?
The best dog shampoo for German Shepherds with sensitive skin is Virbac Epi-Soothe for Dry, Itchy, Sensitive Skin Issues shampoo. This soap-free shampoo soothes and cleanses dry, sensitive skin and has a balanced pH formulated to reduce skin irritations and help prevent and treat dandruff.
And the real bonus of this sensitive shampoo?
It can be applied as often as necessary for a highly affordable price.
Always check with your vet for their advice on shampooing your German Shepherd, especially if they have allergies or skin issues.
While most over-the-counter dog shampoos are safe for your dog, there might be underlying health concerns your vet will catch.
The best shampoo for a German Shepherd is gentle and contributes to overall skin and coat health.
🐾 Use these tips to keep their skin healthy and remember that healthy skin starts with a foundation of healthy nutrition.
Campbell KJ, Schaeffer DJ (1993) Effects of four veterinary shampoos on transepidermal water losses, hydration of the stratum corneum, skin surface lipid concentration, skin surface pH and corneocyte count in dogs. In: Proceedings of the ninth annual meeting of the American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology and American College of Veterinary Dermatology, San Diego, 96-97.
Halliwell REW (1991) Rational use of shampoos in veterinary dermatology. J Small Anim Pract 32: 401-407.
Scott DW, Miller WH, Griffin CE (2001) Muller and Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology, 6th edition, WB Saunders Company, Philadelphia.
Catherine Krasavin owns Shepherd Sense, a dog website aimed at German Shepherd owners and lovers. She has a Bachelor of Science degree, with Honors, and has been training dogs for over a decade. Catherine’s currently attending continuing education courses to keep up with the latest in animal science, as well as earning her diploma in dog training. She owns a plush coat German Shepherd who was awarded Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme Gold Award - the highest level of achievement.
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