Dog Care

The Best Smelling Dog Shampoo

By: Serena Law | Updated: September 11, 2019

Dogs undeniably have adorable faces and lovable personalities, but they are also known for carrying an unpleasant smell. Dogs have a marked odor that can be strongly offensive that can quickly develop throughout your home furnishings and clothing.

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In nature, dogs are playful but messy canines. They absolutely love rolling around in dirt and accessing the trash. Even the most well behaved pups will get into some stinky trouble every now and again. Although you can’t eliminate their innate smelly habits, there is a solution for keeping doggy odor under control.

Regular bathing is the key way of keeping a dog clean. Yet some people still notice that even after bathing, the odor problem persists. Dog shampoos can help resolve this problem. They are specifically designed for our canine companions, tailored for their sensitive skin and formulated to neutralize odors. This article explores the 5 best dog shampoo for smell, along with a complete buyer’s guide to help you choose the right one your pooch.


Why do dogs have odor problems?

There are a number of explanations why a dog may smell. By finding out the root cause, you can help minimize the potency and severity of the smells.

Here are the most common causes:

  • Rolled in dirt and grime
  • Anal glands and gas secretion
  • Skin conditions and excessive sweating can cause excess oil
  • Medical problems
  • Overall poor grooming regime and irregular bathing

Our buyer’s guide below explores these common causes in more detail.

Can I use my favorite human shampoo for my dog?

The short answer is no. Shampoos designed for humans are made up of harsh chemicals that will irritate a dog’s sensitive skin. Dogs have different pH balances from ours, so human shampoo can dry out the skin resulting in excessive oil production and worsening foul odor. In comparison, shampoos that have been specifically designed for dogs focus on their unique needs.

If you do have to bathe your dog with human products, such as in a particularly stinky emergency with no dog-specific products nearby, try to choose mild formulations used on babies and children.

How often should I bathe my dog?

This highly depends on a dog’s breed, lifestyle and habits. Generally, dogs shouldn’t be bathed too often, at no more than once a month, else you run the risk of drying out the natural oils in the hair that protect the skin. Outdoor dogs that get pongy will inevitably need a wash more regularly than dogs that spend more time indoors.

For more information, check out our separate article for how often should you bathe your dog.

The Best Smelling Dog Shampoos

We dug through oodles of dog shampoos with the aim to find the highest quality products for smelling gorgeous and eliminating bad odor. Below, we have listed the 5 best dog shampoo for odor available on the market.

1. Pet Oatmeal Anti-Itch Shampoo & Conditioner In One

This veterinarian recommended deodorizing dog shampoo boasts a long-lasting oatmeal cookie scent. As it is well suited to dogs of all sizes, ages and breeds, it comes as no surprise that professional groomers use this product. Plus, this shampoo will be beneficial for multiple pet households as it is also friendly for cats too.

The formula is made up of all plant-derived natural ingredients with zero harmful chemicals, such as organic oatmeal and aloe vera. This means the shampoo is perfect for dogs with sensitive skin and coat, providing relief from sores and itches for when they need it most. It can be used as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal treatment, protecting dogs from flea yeast, allergies and foul odor.

Key Features:

  • Scent: Oatmeal Cookie
  • Age Range: Puppy – Senior
  • Size: 17oz (available in a single bottle or a 3-pack)
  • Additional Benefits: Hypoallergenic, Sensitive Skin and Coat, Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal

With its lifetime money back guarantee, the manufacturers are confident you will love the product. As the name implies, it is also a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner. This will save you time and money on purchasing a separate conditioner.

2. Colloidal Oatmeal Dog Shampoo with Pure Lavender Essential Oils

This USA-made product is another veterinarian recommended dog shampoo. Specifically, it is designed for dogs and puppies with sensitive skin. Its natural ingredients such as jojoba have soothing properties for flaky dry skin.

The hypoallergenic and gentle formula is enhanced with lavender essential oil. Not only does lavender smell pleasant, but it also has calming effects to ease the bathing process and for eliminating doggy odor. The real colloidal oatmeal in this shampoo absorbs and eliminates smelly dog odor. Conditioner isn’t necessary as the fur will be left hydrated and moisturized.

Key Features:

  • Scent: Lavender Essential Oil
  • Age Range: Puppy – Senior
  • Size: 8oz
  • Additional Benefits: Hypoallergenic, Sensitive Skin and Coat, Anti-itch, Calming Effects

All the ingredients are natural and free from chemicals, parabens and sulfates. Like the last product, the manufacturers offer 100% money-back guarantee, as they feel confident that your pooch will adore this tear-free shampoo.

3. 4-Legger Certified Organic Dog Shampoo

This all-natural shampoo contains a blend of rosemary and lemongrass, organic aloe vera, coconut, olive and jojoba, creating a fresh and clean scent. These holistic ingredients promote a dog’s own natural oils to clean, moisturize and condition their skin and coat. In particular, lemongrass was chosen as a key ingredient for its natural repellent property for deterring fleas, ticks, flies and mosquitoes.

Being USDA certified means this product has been produced through safe and approved methods. The formula is free from synthetic and artificial ingredients and has no detergents or sulfates.

Key Features:

  • Scent: Rosemary and Lemongrass
  • Age Range: Puppy – Senior
  • Size: 16oz
  • Additional Benefits: Natural Flea, Tick, Fly and Mosquito Deterrent, Anti-bacterial, Anti-microbial, Anti-fungal, Antioxidant

It is easy to build up lather and rinse with this shampoo. A little product goes a long way to eliminate foul odors. If you’re not 100% satisfied, 4-Legger states that you can get your money back.

4. Burt’s Bees for Dogs All-Natural Shampoo

Burt’s Bees for Dogs offers a wide range of shampoos to cater for different needs. The product in question is a budget friendly shampoo designed for deodorizing. The formula contains apple and rosemary extract, known for fighting odors while leaving a dog’s coat clean and refreshed.

All of Burt’s Bees for Dogs products are made in the USA using 80% pose-consumer recycled bottles. Please note that this product does not result in a strong scent. Instead, we chose to review this product for its affordability and effectiveness for eliminating bad odor.

Key Features:

  • Scent: Apple and Rosemary
  • Age Range: Puppy – Senior
  • Size: 16oz (available in 1, 2 or 6 pack)
  • Additional Benefits: Sensitive Skin, Allergies, Alleviates Itching

Veterinarians recommend this mild tearless shampoo. It is free of fragrances, sulfates, colorants and harsh chemicals that can be harmful to dogs. Its mostly natural formula is ideal for puppies and dogs with sensitive skin allergies.

5. Lillian Ruff Brightening & Whitening Shampoo for Dogs

The gentle long-lasting coconut scent deodorizes dogs without irritating their skin. Coconut also helps to calm dogs, making bath time a more comfortable experience. The formula is tear, paraben, gluten and sulphate free.

Not only does this shampoo clean and eliminate odors, it also hydrates and moisturizes the skin with the help of aloe. Aloe is also great for relieving itchy and dry skin. It rinses out easily making it safe for most sensitive skin types.

Key Features:

  • Scent: Coconut
  • Age Range: Puppy – Senior
  • Size: 16oz (also available in 1 Gallon)
  • Additional Benefits: Itchy and Dry Skin, Most Sensitive Skin Types, Brightens Coats

In addition, this USA-made shampoo adds shine and whitens all color coats, particularly white coats. If your dog has developed a dull coat, they will benefit from this shampoo. The formula helps with matting, tangling and flyaway hair. This product is safe for most pets including cats, making it a must-have product for multiple pet households. If you’re not fully satisfied, contact Lillian Ruff to receive a full refund.

So Which Option Is Best? Our Winners

All 5 of the products featured in this article were worth reviewing. But understandably, you’re here to choose a single best dog shampoo that eliminates odors and smells incredible. Here, we pick a winner for the best dog shampoo for smell.

Our Top Rated Best Smelling Dog Shampoo: Pet Oatmeal Anti-Itch Shampoo & Conditioner In One

Here’s why:

  • Delivers a long-lasting oatmeal cookie scent.
  • Used by professional groomers and recommended by veterinarians.
  • Made of all natural ingredients, making it perfect for dogs with sensitive skin and coat.
  • Protects dogs from flea yeast, allergies and foul odor.
  • As it is a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, it saves time, money and effort.

This product is our clear winner, but it is also important to note the qualities of some of the other dog shampoos.

Different dog shampoos use different formulas. In particular, we love the lavender essential oil and oatmeal used in the Colloidal Oatmeal Dog Shampoo. Lavender smells pleasant and has aromatherapy calming benefits to make the bathing process more relaxing. Oatmeal absorbs and eliminates smelly dog odor. With the two working together, it’s no wonder why so many dog owners love this shampoo.

A final dog shampoo that is worth mentioning is the Burt’s Bees for Dogs All-Natural Shampoo. Though this product wasn’t selected for its smell, it does effectively remove foul odor at a much lower price than its competitors on the market.

Overall, all the products listed in this article were worth reviewing and are great for removing odor. Some offer more appealing smells than others, depending on personal preference.

The Best Smelling Dog Shampoos: Buyer’s Guide

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This section provides an extensive buyer’s guide for the best smelling dog shampoo. We discuss the common causes of odor, explore why shampoos are effective in controlling odor and describe what makes a good smelling dog shampoo.

Common Causes of Odor

There are many reasons why a dog may present foul odor. By identifying the root cause, the odor can be effectively eliminated. Here are the most common causes of smelly odor.

Dirt and Grime

An understandable reason why dogs might smell is that they instinctively enjoy rolling around in dirt, garbage or animal droppings. Dogs are curious by nature and use their sense of smell to learn about the world. Once they have identified an odor they’re unfamiliar with, they will follow to examine the source.

The substance a dog decides to roll in can stick to their fur and make their way to the skin. The longer it remains, the more offensive it will smell.

In order to avoid this issue, try to monitor your dog’s movements. Rolling around in stinky substances is usually something that happens when they are left to wander on their own accord. If they find something to sniff, you can easily distract them from going any further.

Overactive Anal Glands

Anal glands can become overactive such as when a dog feels excitement or fear. Anal gland problems can make the smell worse. This type of problem is usually due to a lack of fiber or poor digestion. The glands can become full and excrete an oily substance. When gas secretion occurs, it spreads to the surrounding fur and leave a foul, lasting odor.

Any infection or anal gland related problem would require medical assistance from your veterinarian. If the problem remains untreated, bathing will only mask the odor rather than solve it.

Excess Oil

Glands naturally produce oil to nourish and protect the skin. But, skin conditions and excessive sweating can produce too much oil. This oil clings onto a dog’s fur and linger until it’s removed.

A build up of excess oil can lead to bacterial infections and commonly cause that distinctive wet dog smell. The mixture of oil and water results in an unpleasant odor, which is more evident in dogs with longer fur.

Medical Problems

If you bathe your dog with an effective dog shampoo for eliminating odor but the stink still remains, there may be an underlying medical issue. Infections that produce odor will inevitably persist until the infection is successfully treated. For example, kidney problems are known for causing unpleasant odors. Another cause could be an ear infection, which occurs when water gets into the ear and not removed. The odor could worsen and spread when in contact with water. This issue can be easily prevented by using an ear cleaner.

If you notice any signs of infection presented with a foul smell, be sure to visit your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help determine the underlying cause and begin treatment straightaway. A medicated shampoo may be recommended for skin infections, for instance.

Skin infections can lead to excessive oil production, broken skin from itchiness and general body odor.

Bad Breath

If your dog’s odor comes from their mouth, it is may be a dental related issue such as periodontal disease or infection. If smelly breath is the case, no amount of baths will alleviate the smell that is originating from their mouth.

Check for dental infections and gum sores. You may wish to change your dog’s diet if bad breath is the culprit of the offensive smell. Alternatively, dental chews can help to freshen bad breath.

Why Are Shampoos Effective in Controlling Odor? How Does It Work?

Shampoos designed for odor control contain selective ingredients known for fighting bacteria and eliminating excessive oil secretion. Salicylic acid, for example, helps to neutralize overactive glands that produce excessive oil secretion and wash away odor-causing substances like dirt.

Washing with shampoo is more effective than washing with merely water. They can produce a rich lather of scented bubbles that helps to effectively clean the coat and skin by working deep in the pores. Dirt and grime is washed away while the odor is deodorized with a fragrant scent. The additional infusion of fragrances such as lavender oil or vanilla extract creates a pleasant and revitalized freshness to a dog’s coat and skin.

What Makes a Good Smelling Dog Shampoo?

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There is no single shampoo that will suit all dogs. Ultimately, you must opt for a shampoo that best suits your dog’s needs and the task at hand. To help you with your decision, here are the key features to look for in odor-control shampoos.

Natural Fragrances

Opting for one of the strongest smelling shampoos may seem like a good idea, but these artificial fragrances can be harmful to a dog’s health. Synthetic ingredients can lead to allergic reactions, dry skin, excessive itching and even hair loss.

Using a scented shampoo sourced from natural ingredients can easily prevent these symptoms. Not only are they safe and kind to a dog’s skin, but also the scent tends to last longer than artificial products. The most common natural fragrances found in dog shampoos include aloe vera, citrus, lavender, oatmeal, rosemary and vanilla.

Many of these ingredients are also known for soothing and hydrating the skin, antibacterial qualities and calming effects.

Natural Cleaning Agents

As discussed earlier, dirt and grime is a common reason for dog odor. Because of this, it’s important to bathe your dog with a shampoo that can effectively eliminate dirt and grime from the skin and coat.

Ideally, you want to look for natural cleaning agents such as coconut, oatmeal or an even stronger ingredient like salicylic acid. You also want to choose a product that can easily create a rich and generous lather, even with a small quantity of shampoo. Lather will help with the cleaning process by working deep in the pores. Plus, you’ll be getting more for your money by using less for more.

Other Beneficial Properties

As you may have noticed, all our featured products have multiple benefits in addition to controlling smelly odors. Therefore, it’s worth opting for a shampoo that can offer specific benefits for your pup. For instance, your dog may suffer from dry skin, sensitive skin, skin irritation or flea infestation.

Whatever the problem, look at the ingredients and product description to see what other benefits the shampoo can provide your canine companion.

Final Thoughts On the Best Smelling Dog Shampoos

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Simply put, not keeping up with your dog’s health and grooming regime will lead to a foul odor. With the help of a high quality dog shampoo, you can keep your dog’s coat and skin in optimum condition while eliminating any bad smells. For more tips on grooming and bathing your dog check out this great guide.

If you have any concerns about your dog’s skin or coat health, always check with your veterinarian.

Happy bathing!

Author: Serena Law

serena law Serena is the content publisher for Daydreamdog and a life long dog lover. Between walking them, writing about them and spending too much time liking pictures of them on Instagram, her day literally revolves around dogs! If you want to learn more about Serena you should visit the about us page.