Labrador retrievers are adventurous pups who love water and the great outdoors. This adventurous spirit can lead to a muddy, smelly pup. When it’s bath time, you want only the best for your dog and their sensitive skin.
There is a wide array of dog shampoos and conditioners, but not all are created equal. Some products contain harsh chemicals and other ingredients that can dry out your pet’s skin, leaving them irritated and itchy. Your dog may also have other skin or fur issues to contend with, requiring a special shampoo or conditioner to keep their skin and fur healthy.
We’ve rounded up a list of some of our favorite shampoos and conditioners that are great for your lab’s double coat, sensitive skin, and propensity for messes. Read on to find out more and find the shampoo and conditioner that’s best for your labrador retriever.
About Your Labrador Retriever’s Fur
You may have noticed your lab’s love for the water. Labrador retrievers are specially adapted for water, with webbing between their two and a double coat that keeps them warm, even when wet.
When petting your pup, you’ve likely noticed a difference between the inner and outer fur. The overcoat is coarse and straight, while the undercoat is softer and serves as a layer of insulation. Overall, their fur is short and dense.
Labs are known for shedding a great deal of their coat during the warmer months, so proper grooming, including bathing and regular brushing, is necessary. If you take care of your lab’s coat, it’ll stay healthy and shiny.
Labrador Retriever Skin
Labs often suffer from allergies, and in dogs, allergies often present as skin issues known as atopy. Your dog may itch around the ears, feet, belly, and skin folds. While allergies are typically treated with medication prescribed by your vet, it’s also important to use shampoos and conditioners that are gentle and won’t aggravate these sensitive areas.
Labs can also get dandruff and dry skin, both of which can be helped or hindered based on the type of shampoo and conditioner you use. If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, they may be susceptible to pyoderma, a skin infection resulting from a cut.
What to Look For in Shampoos & Conditioners for Your Lab
When choosing a shampoo for your lab, you’ll want to consider a few things. First, you want a shampoo that has a good lather, as you’ll need something that can get through both layers of fur to get your dog clean.
Labrador retrievers love the outdoors and are notorious for getting into messes. You’ll want a shampoo that can handle any dirt and grime that your dog finds its way into. Lastly, while you want a robust shampoo that can handle your dog’s thick coat and propensity for mess, you also want a gentle enough shampoo for sensitive skin.
When choosing a conditioner, you want something lightweight that can detangle the undercoat. A good conditioner will soften the coat without leaving a lot of residue.
Ingredients to Avoid in Labrador Retriever Shampoos and Conditioners
There are several ingredients to avoid in lab shampoos and conditioners. These ingredients can be irritating to your dog’s skin and can even be absorbed through the skin to make your dog sick.
Avoid shampoos and conditioners with artificial colors, fragrances, or phthalates. These are unnecessary and irritating to the skin. Other ingredients to watch out for include isothiazolinone and paraben preservatives, cocamide-MEA, and triethanolamine. You should also be wary of sulfates.
Even innocuous-sounding ingredients like mineral oil can be harmful, as it prevents your dog’s natural oil production. Lastly, be careful with products that contain “proprietary ingredients.” This phrase can sometimes mean that the company is hiding something about their ingredients.
Our 8 Best Labrador Retriever Dog Shampoos & Conditioners
We’ve curated a list of our most recommended labrador retriever dog shampoos and conditioners. Read on to find out which one is perfect for your pup.
1. Best Overall: Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner
Our best overall labrador retriever dog shampoo and condition is the Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner. There’s a lot to like about this shampoo-conditioner combo.
First and foremost is the ingredients list. Everything on the list is recognizable, such as aloe vera gel, coconut shampoo base, and essence of lavender and mint. There are no chemicals here. There are also no harsh soaps or other ingredients that will irritate your dog’s skin.
Since this is a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner combo, you can save yourself some time by only doing one wash and rinse, a big benefit if your dog hates bath time. Lavender is a flea deterrent and a stress-reliever, helping the bath go a little more smoothly for both you and your dog.
- Buddy Wash contains no alcohol or other harsh chemicals.
- The ingredients are all-natural and botanical.
- Aloe vera is naturally soothing and can help an itchy dog.
- It’s concentrated, so if you’re not careful, you can use too much.
- This product contains wheat, so it could cause a reaction if your dog has a wheat allergy.
2. Best for Dogs With Allergies & Itching: Zesty Paws Oatmeal Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo with Aloe Vera & Vitamin E
If your dog suffers from allergies and itching, you want a shampoo and conditioner to help with those issues and won’t irritate their skin further. Our favorite anti-itch shampoo is Zesty Paws Oatmeal Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo with Aloe Vera & Vitamin E. This product is a powerhouse, with oatmeal to leave a protective coating on your dog’s irritated skin and Vitamins C and E to help with particularly itchy areas.
It contains aloe vera, which works as an antifungal and antibacterial agent, adding another level of protection for your pup. Sweet almond extract and quinoa also moisturize. This shampoo will leave your dog’s skin moisturized and their fur soft and shiny. You’ll love the vanilla scent and other odor-neutralizing ingredients, especially if you have a wet, smelly dog.
- Zesty Paw’s scent is mild to prevent irritation.
- When used regularly, this shampoo helps calm down hot spots.
- This product helps even more with itching when used in conjunction with the conditioner.
- This product contains pine nuts, so you or your dog may have a reaction if you’re allergic.
- Some users report mild flaking.
3. Best for Shedding: FURminator deShedding Ultra Premium Dog Conditioner
Labrador retrievers are notorious for shedding, so it’s important to get a conditioner to help. Our top choice to help with shedding is the FURminator deShedding Ultra Premium Dog Conditioner. It’s recommended that you frequently brush your lab to help with shedding. This conditioner helps loosen the undercoat so that it will shed while you brush. You can reduce the amount of dog fur on your furniture.
FURminator shampoo contains Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to help loosen the undercoat and nourish the fur. This brand has a whole line of products to help with shedding and is considered to be at the forefront of the field.
- It doesn’t have parabens, chemical dyes, or artificial colors that can irritate your dog’s skin.
- Chamomile extract and aloe vera are soothing for your dog’s skin.
- It has a great smell.
- It only comes in a gallon size.
- This product doesn’t prevent shedding on its own. It must be used with brushing.
If you have a dog that’s been outside in the rain and mud, you probably want a shampoo that can help with the smell. Our favorite shampoo to help with a stinky dog is the TropiClean Luxury 2 in 1 Papaya Coconut Pet Shampoo & Conditioner. Once bathed, your pup will smell like a sunny tropical island. This shampoo is a fruit salad with coconut, papaya, kiwi, and mango.
These ingredients not only make your pup smell delicious, but they also moisturize and nourish the skin. These ingredients also help to detangle fur. This shampoo keeps fur soft even weeks after your pet’s bath, making it a good choice for labs, which shouldn’t be bathed more than once per month.
- It can also be used on cats so that you can have one shampoo for all of your pets.
- It doesn’t contain any soaps so that you can use it with any flea or tick product.
- The bottle can leak if left on its side.
5. Best Antifungal & Antiseptic: Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic & Antifungal Shampoo
If your lab has a fungal or bacterial infection, they can be in a lot of discomfort. You’ll want a shampoo that can help get rid of the infection and heal the skin. We suggest Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Antiseptic & Antifungal Shampoo. This shampoo is recommended for use twice a week until the condition is gone, but you should always check with your vet before treating your dog for a skin condition.
This product is formulated to treat skin issues like pyoderma and dermatitis. In addition to medication, this shampoo also contains aloe vera, coconut oil, keratin, oatmeal, and wheat germ oil to soothe your dog’s skin and relieve itching.
- One product can be used to treat various infections such as hormonal disorders, allergies, skin fold issues, weakened immune system, ringworms, and other fungal infections.
- The mild fragrance prevents further irritation.
- This shampoo works well, but it takes some time and regular use before you’ll see the effects.
6. Best Dry Shampoo: Burt’s Bees Waterless Shampoo With Apple & Honey for Dogs
If your pup loves to explore outside, they’ll probably need a touch-up between baths. We like Burt’s Bees Waterless Shampoo With Apple & Honey for Dogs to keep your dog fresh between baths. It’s made with apples to nourish your dog’s skin and honey for a shiny coat. Honey also strengthens hair follicles for healthier fur.
To use this shampoo, you simply spray it directly onto your dog’s coat. Massage the shampoo into the fur and then towel-dry if necessary. You can also use it to spot-clean if your dog has a few dirty spots.
- Burt’s Bees Waterless Shampoo is a great value for the price.
- It’s pH balanced for your dog’s skin to prevent drying, flakes, and irritation.
- It contains eucalyptus, which helps with odors.
- It doesn’t have much of a scent.
7. Best Conditioner: Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Conditioner
If your dog’s coat is dry, dull, and dingy, it’s time to try a conditioner. Our favorite is Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Dog & Cat Conditioner. It’s formulated with food-grade vanilla and almond extracts to detangle your pup’s fur and leave it healthy and shiny. Aloe vera and oatmeal are added to soothe and moisturize itchy skin.
We love the vanilla and almond scent and appreciate that it’s formulated for both dogs and cats, meaning you’ll only have to keep one type of conditioner on hand. It’s great for use with Earthbath’s shampoo or on its own.
- This formula is paraben- and phosphate-free and 100% biodegradable, making it good for your pet and the environment.
- It won’t reduce the effectiveness of any flea and tick treatments.
- Some customers felt it didn’t smell enough like vanilla and almond scents.
8. Best for Puppies: Earthbath Ultra-Mild Wild Cherry Puppy Shampoo
Once your labrador retriever puppy is over three months old, they’re ready for their first bath. You’ll want a shampoo that is gentle on sensitive skin. This shampoo is also tear-free so that it won’t irritate your puppy’s eyes.
We also love the cherry flavor that’ll leave your precious pup smelling delicious. It also has aloe vera, which should help with any itching.
- It’s biodegradable, making it safe for the environment.
- It has a shortlist of familiar ingredients. You won’t have to worry about a lot of chemicals on your puppy.
- It smells great, but it’s not long-lasting.
Tips for Grooming Your Labrador Retriever
Since labs are prone to shedding, one of the most important aspects of grooming is brushing. Invest in a good dog brush that will reach the inner coat as well as the outer coat. Brush your dog at least once a week to cut back on shedding and keep their fur healthy and shiny.
You don’t want to bathe your lab too frequently. Too many baths can lead to dry, irritated skin and itching. You should avoid bathing your lab more than once a month, and you can go up to once every four or sixth month if they don’t get dirty.
In most cases, you can use dog wipes or a warm, wet washcloth to keep your dog fresh. You only need to do a full bath if your dog gets really dirty and can’t be cleaned with a wipe alone.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should a Labrador Retriever Be Bathed?
Labrador retrievers have sensitive skin. Too many baths can stop the production of your dog’s skin’s natural oils and can lead to it drying out. You should only bathe your dog once every month. You can wait as long as four to six months if your dog isn’t dirty.
Can You Use Human Shampoo on a Labrador Retriever?
It’s not a good idea to use human shampoo on a labrador. Human shampoo is formulated for human hair and skin. While we’re both mammals, humans and dogs have different chemical and pH balances, requiring different shampoo formulas.
What Do You Do if Your Lab Hates Bath Time?
It can be frustrating if your labrador hates bath time, particularly because labs tend to love the water. But just as you know that going for a swim and taking a bath are two different activities, so does your dog.
If your lab hates to take a bath, you’ll need to try to figure out what it is that your dog doesn’t like. Sometimes, it’s a matter of bathing your dog indoors instead of outside. Some pups don’t like the cold water from the hose. If your dog hates being bathed in the tub, it may be because the floor is slippery and needs a cushion.
You can also try changing shampoos. Sometimes the smell can get to your dog. If all else fails, try to divert your lab’s attention. Give them a special treat or toy that they can only get at bathtime.
When Can You Bathe a Labrador Retriever Puppy?
Your labrador retriever puppy is likely into everything, dirt and mud included. You may be tempted to give them a bath, but it’s not recommended to bathe a puppy before they’re 12 weeks old. A puppy’s skin is highly sensitive, and bathing can dry it out.
If your puppy gets dirty before the 12-week mark, you should clean them with a puppy wipe or a warm wet washcloth.
With the right shampoo and condition, you can keep your labrador retriever clean and fresh while keeping their skin and fur healthy. Remember not to bathe your dog too frequently, and use puppy wipes in between baths. Keep your dog squeaky clean so that you’re always ready for doggy cuddles.