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7 Best Dog Shampoos for German Shepherds in 2021 — Reviews & Top Picks

Nicole Cosgrove

June 17, 2021

dark sable working german shepherd dogGerman Shepherds are notorious for getting neck-deep in whatever muck they can find — these dogs have a unique enthusiasm for life, and a little bit of mud is not going to stop them! With their thick double coats, regularly grooming and shampooing of your German Shepherd are essential to keep their coat clean, shiny, and matt-free, especially after a good muddy walk.

While bathing your German Shepherd on a fairly regular basis is a great idea, bathing them too much can strip their coat of important natural oils. So, when you do bath your Shepherd, you should try to use the best shampoo possible, one that is made especially to be gentle on the sensitive coats of dogs.

With that in mind, it can be difficult to find a shampoo for your pooch that is guaranteed to do more good than harm, but fear not! We’ve done all the heavy lifting for you and made this list of seven of the best dog shampoos for German Shepherds that we could find.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Dog Shampoo Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Dog Shampoo
  • Formulated with a blend of natural ingredients and essential oils
  • Specially designed to alleviate itchiness caused by allergies
  • Includes oatmeal, d-limonene, and tea tree oil
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo
  • Made with 97% natural ingredients
  • Free from artificial fragrances, chemicals, and sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Includes colloidal oat flour, honey, and green tea extract
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    4-Legger Organic Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo 4-Legger Organic Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo
  • Contains lemongrass and aloe vera
  • Made with sustainably sourced, non-GMO ingredients
  • Free from artificial thickeners, detergents, parabens, and preservatives
  • FURminator DeShedding Ultra-Premium Shampoo FURminator DeShedding Ultra-Premium Shampoo
  • Contains calendula extract and papaya leaf extract
  • Safe for dogs over 6 weeks old
  • Free from parabens, artificial colors, or chemical dyes
  • Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Dog Shampoo Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Dog Shampoo
  • Specially formulated to treat multiple skin conditions
  • Infused with oatmeal and allantoin
  • Contains salicylic acid, coal tar, and micronized sulfur
  • The 7 Best Dog Shampoos for German Shepherds — Reviews 2021

    1. Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Dog Shampoo — Best Overall

    1Vet's Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs

    The Allergy Itch Relief Dog Shampoo from Vet’s Best is veterinarian formulated with a blend of natural ingredients and essential oils to keep your pooch smelling great. It is our top pick of shampoo for your German Shepherd. The ingredients include oatmeal for a gentle, soothing scrub, d-limonene to clean and disinfect, and tea tree oil to soothe your dog’s skin and make their coat smell great. The shampoo is specially designed to alleviate itchiness caused by allergies and soothe sensitive skin while leaving your pooch smelling and feeling great! If your pooch is suffering from any itchiness or other skin issues, we highly recommend this shampoo from Vet’s Best.

    Although this shampoo is designed to alleviate allergic reactions, many users report that the itchiness returned straight after washing, sometimes accompanied by dandruff!

    Pros
    • Formulated with a blend of natural ingredients and essential oils
    • Includes oatmeal, d-limonene, and tea tree oil
    • Specially designed to alleviate itchiness caused by allergies
    • Veterinarian formulated
    Cons
    • May not work for all allergies
    • May cause dandruff

    2. Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo — Best Value

    Burt's Bees Oatmeal Shampoo

    The best dog shampoo for German Shepherds for the money is the Oatmeal Shampoo from Burt’s Bees. This shampoo is made with 97% natural ingredients, including colloidal oat flour, which helps to deeply condition your Shepherd’s skin; honey, which helps regulate and maintain moisture in your dog’s hair follicles; and camelia sinensis (green tea) extract, which helps strengthen their hair follicles. It has a specially balanced pH formula that’s just for dogs and is free from harmful artificial fragrances, chemicals, parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, and sodium lauryl sulfate. On top of all that, the bottle is made from 80% recycled plastic!

    This shampoo is fairly watery and doesn’t seem to form suds, so you’ll need to use quite a bit to get it fully lathered into your Shepherd’s coat. Although this shampoo is inexpensive, you’ll need to use a large amount to give your Shepherd a proper wash, keeping this shampoo from the top spot.

    Pros
    • Made with 97% natural ingredients
    • Includes colloidal oat flour, honey, and green tea extract
    • Free from artificial fragrances, chemicals, and sodium lauryl sulfate
    • The bottle is made from 80% recycled plastic
    • Inexpensive
    Cons
    • Watery consistency
    • Doesn’t form suds or bubbles

    3. 4-Legger Organic Hypo-Allergenic Dog Shampoo  — Premium Choice

    4-Legger

    This organic, hypoallergenic shampoo from 4-Legger is a great choice for dog owners who want only the best ingredients in their dog’s shampoo. It is free from artificial and synthetic ingredients, with a healthy blend of lemongrass that is known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties. There’s also aloe vera to clean and soothe your Shepherd’s skin and coat. The formula has no artificial thickeners, detergents, parabens, and preservatives. Instead, it uses sustainably-sourced, non-GMO ingredients and is 100% biodegradable. It is also vegan and gluten-free and manufactured in a USDA-certified organic facility.

    Some customers reported that this shampoo dried out their dog’s coat and left a white residue on after washing. Also, it has a thin consistency that makes it difficult to lather, keeping it from the top two positions.

    Pros
    • Free from artificial and synthetic ingredients
    • Contains lemongrass and aloe vera
    • Free from artificial thickeners, detergents, parabens, and preservatives
    • Made with sustainably sourced, non-GMO ingredients
    • 100% biodegradable
    • Manufactured in a USDA-certified organic facility
    Cons
    • May dry your dog’s coat out
    • Thin, watery consistency

    4. FURminator DeShedding Ultra-Premium Shampoo

    FURminator deShedding

    This DeShedding Ultra-Premium shampoo from FURminator is uniquely formulated to promote healthy skin and coat and reduce shedding, a huge problem among German Shepherds. The shampoo is enriched with omega-3 and -6 fatty acids to aid in healthy coat and skin. It contains calendula extract for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and to soothe the skin, as well as papaya leaf extract to reduce dandruff and deep clean the coat. It is completely free from parabens, artificial colors, or chemical dyes and is made in the U.S.A. Also, this shampoo is safe to use on both dogs and felines over six weeks old.

    While this product is marketed for shedding dogs, some owners report that it did not stop their dog’s shedding at all, but instead, caused their coat to matt. Some also reported dry, flaky skin after switching to this shampoo.

    Pros
    • Specially formulated to reduce shedding
    • Enriched with omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
    • Contains calendula extract and papaya leaf extract
    • Free from parabens, artificial colors, or chemical dyes
    • Safe for dogs over 6 weeks old
    Cons
    • Pricey
    • May cause matting and dry skin in some dogs

    5. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Dog Shampoo

    5Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiparasitic & Antiseborrheic Dog Shampoo

    Formulated to treat multiple skin conditions, including dermatitis, mange, seborrhea, and parasitic and bacterial infections, this Veterinary Formula Clinical Care dog shampoo is ideal for German Shepherds suffering from skin conditions or allergies. The formula contains salicylic acid, which works by dissolving dead skin cells; coal tar, which treats dandruff by slowing the growth of skin cells; and micronized sulfur, which targets parasitic and fungal infections. This shampoo also contains oatmeal and allantoin to hydrate and soothe your dog’s skin and promote the healing of infections. It is also paraben-, dye-, and soap-free!

    This shampoo is targeted for dogs with skin issues, so it should only be used in this context and not as a regular shampoo. The shampoo also has a pungent smell that stays with your dog after washing.

    Pros
    • Specially formulated to treat multiple skin conditions
    • Contains salicylic acid, coal tar, and micronized sulfur
    • Infused with oatmeal and allantoin
    • Free from parabens, dyes, and soaps
    Cons
    • Ideally for dogs with skin conditions only
    • Pungent smell

    6. Arava Natural Medicated Dog Shampoo

    Arava Natural Medicated Dog Shampoo

    If your German Shepherd suffers from hot spots, itchiness, or dermatologic infections, this natural medicated shampoo from Arava may be a perfect choice. It is formulated with premium Dead Sea minerals that help provide relief from skin issues and contains 28 different natural ingredients, including licorice, rosemary, fennel, tea tree, and kelp. All of these can help soothe your dog’s skin and make them smell great. The anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial formula is designed to heal your pooch from a variety of infections, as well as help heal minor scrapes and abrasions faster. It is also non-toxic and hazardous chemical-free and made from all-natural ingredients.

    Some customers report that this shampoo had little to no effect on their dog’s skin conditions, and some even said that it made them worse. It also has a syrupy consistency that is difficult to lather.

    Pros
    • Formulated with premium Dead Sea minerals
    • 28 different natural ingredients
    • Smells great
    • Anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial
    • Non-toxic and hazardous chemical-free
    Cons
    • May not work for all dog’s skin issues
    • Syrup-like consistency

    7. Paws & Pals Natural Oatmeal Dog Shampoo

    Paws and Pals Combo

    This Paws & Pals 2-in-1 Natural Oatmeal Shampoo and Conditioner combo will thoroughly and safely clean your Shepherd’s coat and leave it feeling soft and conditioned. The shampoo contains various essential oils and natural ingredients, including aloe vera, rosemary, sweet basil, and turmeric. It also has key vitamins, like vitamin E and B5, that work together to keep your dog’s coat detangled, dandruff-free, and smelling great. The conditioner contains shea butter to help soften and soothe your dog’s skin and coat, as well as soothing oatmeal and aloe vera.

    The bottles are fairly small, and you’ll likely only get three to four washes with a fully grown German Shepherd. While the shampoo itself is great, many customers report that the conditioner is watery and chunky, making it difficult to lather.

    Pros
    • Two-in-one shampoo and conditioner combo
    • Contains various essential oils and natural ingredients
    • Formulated with vitamin E and B5
    • Contains shea butter, aloe vera, and oatmeal
    Cons
    • Small bottles
    • Conditioner has a watery consistency

    Buyer’s Guide

    German Shepherds do not have many unique needs when it comes to bathing and shampoos versus other dogs, except that they are large and fairly heavy shedders with a thick double coat. With this in mind, there are a few important factors to take into consideration when choosing the right shampoo for them.

    First, dog shampoos are specially formulated for a dog’s skin and coat, as they have a different pH than humans. This is why you should never use human shampoos on a dog, as it can severely disrupt the natural oils and pH level on their skin and coat, potentially causing many problems in the future, including dandruff, excess shedding, and matting. Also, it’s widely advised to not bathe your German Shepherd too often, as even the best dog shampoos can cause problems with overuse. Our recommendation is to bathe them only when necessary or if they have a skin condition that needs constant attention. For all other occasions, fresh, clean, and warm water is perfectly fine.

    “All-natural”

    Many dog shampoo manufacturers use the term “all-natural” to describe their products. This is often a marketing ploy to make their product seem superior to shampoos that contain chemicals, but this is somewhat misleading because not all-natural ingredients are necessarily good, and not all chemical products are necessarily bad. Of course, natural ingredients are best — if they are safe — and a 100% natural ingredient shampoo is ideal, but “chemicals” are not all bad either. Technically, any prepared or extracted substance can be termed as a chemical ingredient, and essential oils can even fall into this definition.

    On the flip side, some “natural” ingredients can cause severe allergic reactions in dogs, and some of these natural ingredients are contaminated or come from sketchy sources, further complicating the matter. This is why it is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and not just go by the “all-natural” tagline.

    We recommend testing out a small amount of shampoo on a small area of your dog first. Use the shampoo on an area where there is both hair and exposed skin, and then wait 24 hours to make sure there is no allergic reaction. If there is no redness, sensitivity, or dandruff, the shampoo is most likely fine to use.

    Ingredients to avoid

    If any of the following ingredients are listed on your dog’s shampoo, it’s best to avoid the product altogether. The inclusion of these ingredients is a good indication that the shampoo is not, in fact, “all-natural” or non-toxic as the manufacturer may state.

    • Artificial fragrances
    • Phthalates (often listed as “fragrance”)
    • Artificial colors
    • Isothiazolinone preservatives
    • Parabens
    • Sodium lauryl sulfate
    • Sodium laureth sulfate

    Beneficial ingredients

    Now that you know what to avoid, there are highly beneficial ingredients to look for on a shampoo’s ingredient list that serve to improve your dog’s skin and coat. Ingredients like omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, vitamin E, oatmeal, and safe essential plant oils, like rosemary and aloe vera, can all serve as moisturizers to hydrate your dog’s coat and make it smell great.

    Medicated shampoos

    If your German Shepherd is suffering from any persistent skin issues from allergic reactions, hot spots, persistent itching, or dermatologic infections, a medicated shampoo is necessary. These shampoos are often anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial and contain other soothing ingredients, like oatmeal, to help your dog’s skin. It’s important to note that these medicated shampoos should only be used sparingly or ideally, only if your dog has a skin issue — overuse may reduce the shampoo’s effectiveness over time.

    Czech Line German Shepherd Dog_Jess Whitney_shutterstock
    Image Credit By: Jess Whitney, shutterstock

    Tips on bathing your German Shepherd

    You should avoid bathing your German Shepherd too often, even with specialized dog shampoos. If your Shepherd has an underlying skin issue and you are using a medicated shampoo, you may have to bathe them more often than usual for a certain period. But generally, around once a month or two is fine unless your dog gets exceedingly filthy. Even then, using fresh, clean water is best if you can get away with it. It may seem counterintuitive to bathe your German Shepherd so infrequently, but dogs produce natural oils that regulate the health of their skin and coat, and excessive washing can disrupt this process.

    Bathing your German Shepherd should be a fun process, both for you and for your dog. We highly recommend bathing them outdoors if possible, as it can be a messy process! You should completely wet your pooch with warm, clean water, and make sure their undercoat is completely saturated. You can then apply and lather the shampoo. Rub it in gently but thoroughly through their coat, keeping it away from their eyes and ears, to make sure you are getting it evenly spread.

    Depending on the shampoo, you’ll need to leave the shampoo in for at least 2-3 minutes, sometimes longer. You can then rinse the shampoo out with clean water. Make sure that all the shampoo is thoroughly rinsed out, as it can cause dandruff or attract more dirt if not thoroughly cleaned. Lastly, dry your German Shepherd with a large, absorbent towel — if you don’t dry your pooch thoroughly, they’ll simply roll in the dirt to dry themselves, negating all your hard work!

    Conclusion

    There are a ton of different dog shampoos on the market nowadays, and it can quickly become overwhelming when trying to choose the right shampoo for your beloved German Shepherd. We all want the best for our dogs, and having a natural, non-toxic shampoo is an important consideration.

    Our top choice overall for dog shampoo for your German Shepherd is the Allergy Itch Relief Dog Shampoo from Vet’s Best. It is veterinarian formulated with a blend of natural ingredients and essential oils, including oatmeal, d-limonene, and tea tree oil. It is specially designed to alleviate itchiness and soothe sensitive skin while leaving your pooch smelling great.

    The best dog shampoo for German Shepherds for the money is the Oatmeal Shampoo from Burt’s Bees. This shampoo is made with 97% natural ingredients, including colloidal oat flour, honey, and green tea extract, and it has a specially balanced pH formulated just for dogs, all for a highly affordable price.

    With the plethora of dog shampoos available for your German Shepherd, choosing the right one can be confusing. Hopefully, our in-depth reviews have helped you narrow down the options so you can find the best dog shampoo for your beloved German Shepherd.


    Featured Image Credit: LNbjors, Shutterstock

    Nicole Cosgrove

    Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.