6 Best Dog Shampoos & Conditioners For Pugs in 2023
A surprising amount of people make the assumption that because Pugs are small and short-haired, they are easy to clean, bathe, and groom. This is not the case, and you’re going to need to put in quite a bit of effort if you want to keep your little bundle of joy happy, healthy, and smelling great.
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This article has been a long time coming, we get inundated with questions about the proper bathing and grooming recommendations that Pug owners should take into account. With that in mind, today we are going to be giving you a supersized overview of how to groom, bathe, and generally care for your Pug’s coat. We’re going to talk about the different qualities you should be looking out for in a shampoo, we’re going to give you some bathing and grooming tips, and we’re going to talk about common skin and coat issues the breed suffers from.
To conclude we’re going to give you what is perhaps the most detailed Pug shampoo review on the internet where we rate and review several products that have qualities and properties that make them perfect for a Pug.
Get comfy and grab a coffee, because this is going to be a long one.
Let’s get started.
What is the Best Dog Shampoo for a Pug?
- Buddy Wash’s Refreshing Rosemary & Mint Dog Shampoo – Most Popular & Best Overall
- 4-Legger Hypo-Allergenic, Lemongrass & Aloe Dog Shampoo
- Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Puppy Shampoo
- Paws & Pals Oatmeal, Shea Butter & Aloe Vera Shampoo
- Zesty Paws Oatmeal Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo
- Earthbath Shed Control Green Tea & Awapuhi Dog Shampoo
Popular Types Of Pug Shampoos
Our little bundles of joy may seem low maintenance at first due to their short coat and small stature – but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Pugs suffer from a range of different skin and coat issues that need to be addressed properly with a shampoo and conditioner that’s fit for purpose.
Here are a few things you should be looking out for.
The most important thing you need to take into account when picking the perfect shampoo for your Pug is the sensitive nature of the breed’s skin. Pugs are well known for the myriad of skin issues that they are especially prone to.
The slightest irritation or allergic reaction can leave them in a rash that lasts for weeks. To make matters worse, these rashes are almost always itchy – which your Pug is going to scratch. This compounds the problem, making the skin even more damaged, which in the worst cases can result in an infection that requires medicated shampoo (which we’ll talk about in the next point).
You should do everything you can to find the gentlest, most natural shampoo on the market to minimize the risk of skin issues occurring. Look for all natural products that do not use soap or harsh chemicals as a bare minimum. Ideally, you will use a product that contains some kind of moisturizing or soothing agent (like aloe vera) to soothe any irritation that does rear its head while promoting recovery at the same time.
Anti-Fungal / Anti Bacterial
With the skin issues we have talked about above, it’s not uncommon for Pugs to need specialist medicated shampoo. These products should be used when damaged or sore skin has become slightly infected and requires medicinal treatment. These products are almost always non-natural and get their healing properties from some pretty powerful chemicals. When used properly, they will drastically speed up the healing time required to resolve the issue that made you purchase a medicated product in the first place.
While you can buy some of these products without a prescription, it’s usually recommended that you get a professional opinion from a veterinarian before you decide to apply them to your Pug. Some skin issues and allergies can look like infections that require medicated shampoo to the untrained eye and applying medicated shampoo can actually make things worse if you’ve made an incorrect self-diagnosis.
One of the biggest surprises that new Pug owners have about the breed is the incredible stink that such a small little pooch can carry around with them. It’s honestly almost impressive that something so small and cuddly can easily smell as bad as a breed that is 10 times their size (with 10 times the hair).
The reason that our little Pugs are able to compete with the big dogs in the stink department is the nature of their super thick coat. Despite being a short haired breed, the density of fur a Pug’s coat combined with the thickness of each individual hair creates the perfect conditions for stench creating bacteria.
Every shampoo on the market is going to leave your pooch smelling better after a bathing session than before they got in the bath – but this doesn’t mean that they are all created equally. You should be on the lookout for shampoos that have ingredients in their formula that are dedicated to deodorizing your pooch during bath time, and most importantly – keeping them fresher for longer in between bathing sessions.
No Tear Formulas
As we will learn later on in the article, it’s very important to pay special attention to the creases on your Pug’s face. They are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and a whole host of issues can very easily arise from improper crease maintenance.
Needless to say, your pooch isn’t going to enjoy having their creases cleaned, and there’s not much you can really do about that. However, you can prevent an uncomfortable task from becoming a painful one by using a no tear (or low tear) shampoo. This is a reasonable niche requirement, and providing you’re using a quality product without artificial chemicals, most Pugs will be fine. But if you’ve got a super fussy, or a super sensitive Pug – it’s a consideration that’s worth bearing in mind.
2 Tips On Maintaining The Perfect Pug Coat
Here are a few simple tips that will help you keep your Pug’s coat in picture perfect condition in between bathing sessions.
Use Doggy Wet Wipes
We’ll cover the importance of crease cleaning later on in the article, but it’s a good idea to give them a mini clean in-between bathing sessions. Doggy wet wipes are perfect for this, and they should be used at least once a week (but always follow the advice on the packet).
Wipe in-between each and every crease to remove the bacteria that breed there and to keep your pooch smelling better for longer. Just remember that you should never use human wet wipes on a dog (of any breed). Dogs have very different skin to us humans, and the compounds in human wet wipes are almost certain to cause irritation and redness if used on the delicate skin of a Pug.
Groom Them At Least Once A Week
Pugs have a super short coat, which would lead you to believe that they are a low shedding breed – but unfortunately, that’s not the case (all thanks to their double coat). Unless you like finding hair in every square inch of your home, you’re going to need to break out a bristle brush and remove hair that has fallen out at least once a week.
To be totally honest, even once a week is probably a little too infrequent for most Pugs, and ideally, you’ll give them a brush once every few days. While this sounds like a lot of effort, remember the pint-sized nature of your pooch – it takes 2 or 3 minutes at most if you keep on top of it as part of a regular grooming routine.
Overall Best Shampoo for Pugs
|Our 2023 Picks: Best Shampoo for Pugs|
|Buddy Wash Refreshing Rosemary & Mint Dog Shampoo
|4-Legger’s Organic, Hypo-Allergenic, Lemongrass
|Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Shampoo
|Paws & Pals Oatmeal, Shea Butter & Aloe Vera Shampoo
|Zesty Paws Oatmeal Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo With Aloe Vera
|Earthbath Shed Control Green Tea & Awapuhi Dog Shampoo
Buddy Wash’s Refreshing Rosemary & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner
We now know enough about the bathing, skin care, and coat care requirements of our little Pugs to talk a little bit about what we think are the best shampoos for Pugs on the market right now. As you can imagine, it’s not easy to find products that will cater to the varied (and possibly slightly contradictory) needs of our plucky little Pugs.
We spent a huge amount of time looking at almost every shampoo on the market to bring you the recommendations below. We’re not affiliated with any specific brand, and these are completely impartial suggestions.
There were lots of products that we came across that met some of the coat care needs of a Pug, but very few cater to them all. However, there were two clear winners that stood out above the rest that ticked all the boxes we were looking at. We’ll talk about the runner up in the next section, but in our opinion, the best Pug shampoo on the market (at time of writing) is Buddy Wash’s Refreshing Rosemary & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner.
When we were reviewing shampoos for this article, we were primarily concerned about how the sensitive skin of the Pug would react to the shampoo – everything else was secondary. This product from Buddy Wash is one of the gentlest shampoos on the market that has been designed with natural, cosmetic grade ingredients. Every ingredient in this product has been carefully chosen to ensure the lowest possible chance of causing an allergic reaction or causing redness/dryness.
Like all good doggy shampoos, this is a completely soap free (and alcohol-free) formula, and instead, the cleaning power you’re going to experience with this product primarily comes from the powerful natural infusions. The bacteria that make your pooch stink are going to be decimated by the powerful (yet gentle) combination of essential oils and natural cleansers that make a rich thick lather (which is something other non-soap based shampoos can suffer from).
We can safely say that this is one of the gentlest products on the market, but we also love the fact that it soothes your dog’s skin and promotes recovery from any soreness or irritation they may be suffering from. There’s a massive dose of aloe vera, and tea tree oil inside the formula that will ensure a quicker and more comfortable recovery for your Pug.
The cherry on top for us with this product is the fact that it’s a 2 in 1 conditioner. Carefully blended natural extracts like sage, chamomile, and rosemary work in perfect harmony to leave your pooch looking better than ever. Their coat will retain a glossy, healthy shine for longer in between bathing sessions, and the mint infusion will do its best to keep bad smells at bay for as long as possible.
All of this awesome cleaning, cleansing, healing, and conditioning power sounds like it’d command a high price tag (and with other brands it does). However, the thing that Buddy Wash is famous for above all else is providing premium quality products without the premium price tag. At just under $9 for a 16oz bottle, it’s a product that ticks all of our boxes and is a very deserving recipient of our overall recommendation.
4-Legger Hypo-Allergenic, Lemongrass & Aloe Dog Shampoo
Runner Up – We mentioned above that there were two main products that caught our eyes. The awesome Hypo-Allergenic, Lemongrass & Aloe Dog Shampoo By 4-Legger was just beaten to the top spot above by the Buddy Wash product, but it’s still more than worthy of your consideration.
Again this is a completely soap free and alcohol-free formula that has been designed from the ground up to be one of the most gentle organic products on the market. Instead, it relies on one of the best natural soap alternatives available to cleanse and clean your pooch – lemongrass.
Lemongrass has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties that will destroy any of the stench causing bacteria that can make your pooch super stinky. As an added bonus it also has some mild pest repellent properties, and the formula will not interfere with most topical tick, and flea repellents that you may have applied to your pooch. This is a super concentrated formula, and you’ll need to use much less product per wash compared to many other high-quality products from reputable brands.
Like the product above the 4-Legger shampoo has a huge amount of aloe vera included in its formula that will promote recovery of damaged skin and soothe irritation at the same time (alongside a whole host of other essential organic oils that work in perfect harmony with one another).
The essential oils also act as a powerful conditioner that will leave your pooch silky soft and glossy without removing the oils that your dog produces to naturally condition its own coat. It’s an eco-friendly product that is made from entirely natural and organic materials (there’s not a single artificial chemical or non-vegan compound used in the entire product). In fact, this product is so organic, it’s actually been certified by the USDA as “organic to exceptional standards”.
The only reason this product didn’t get our overall recommendation is that it’s significantly more expensive than the Buddy Wash shampoo. At around $15 for a 16oz bottle, it’s not exactly going to break the bank (especially when you consider the concentrated nature of the formula), and it’s more than worthy of your consideration.
Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner
Best Pug Puppy Shampoo – We quickly wanted to mention a great Pug puppy shampoo we came across almost accidentally during our research. We weren’t initially going to include a Pug puppy shampoo recommendation in this article, but this product was too good to ignore.
Nature’s Miracle Supreme Odor Control Natural Puppy Shampoo & Conditioner does everything you need a Pug puppy shampoo to do (without breaking the bank). Its gentle soap-free formula will cleanse your puppy Pug without irritating their skin. There are no powerful moisturizers in this product like the ones above, but we think that’s intentional – as this is a no-tear formula.
There are arguably few other products on the market at this price point that will let you get your Pug used to having their facial creases cleaned without causing potentially painful eye irritation. It’s certainly one to add to your shortlist.
3 More Top Rated Dog Shampoos For Pugs
To conclude our review section, we are going to quickly talk about a few other products that we liked the look of that we thought worthy of a brief mention.
Paws & Pals Oatmeal, Shea Butter & Aloe Vera Shampoo
This was the third runner up we found suitable for general use with Pugs. It’s an all natural product that is free from soap and alcohol, and it’s super gentle on your Pug’s skin. The conditioner that’s infused into to the formula comes from shea butter, oatmeal, and rosemary and it’ll give your pooch a glossy shine that lasts between bathing sessions. Again, it’s got aloe vera infusions to promote healthy skin, and it’s a tear-free formula that makes crease cleaning a little more “pleasurable” for your pooch.
Zesty Paws Oatmeal Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo with Aloe Vera & Vitamin E
If your pooch is currently suffering from damaged skin, there’s a good chance they are itching the affected area. This obviously further harms the skin and makes the problem worse. This product has been specifically designed to soothe the skin and prevent your pooch from feeling as itchy as they otherwise would. It’s not a magic bullet that’s going to stop all itching, but the difference between this product and other more generic shampoos is anecdotally very noticeable in the itching department.
Earthbath Shed Control Green Tea & Awapuhi Dog & Cat Shampoo
The thick double coat of the Pug is prone to shedding, and many Pug owners are surprised at how much hair a pint-sized pooch like this can spread all over their home. If you’ve got a Pug that seems to be losing more hair than they retain, then this is a great option for you. It’s an all-natural product, from a great brand that’s going to gently clean your pooch, and encourage their coat to stay attached to their body (instead of being littered around your home).
5 Tips On Bathing Your Pug
So now we know about some of the best shampoos for Pugs on the market, any of the products we’ve just spoken about are going to leave you with one of the happiest, healthiest, and best smelling Pugs on the block. In this penultimate section, we’re going to give you a few hints and tips on how to use the shampoo you pick from the list above when bathing your Pug.
Bathe Them In The Sink
One of the best pieces of advice you can give to any small breed owner is to bathe your pooch in the sink. Putting a pooch the size of a Pug in a bathtub can be a very unnerving and anxiety creating experience – even for a breed as brave as the plucky Pug. Your bathtub is easily 4 times the height of your Pug (probably even more) and when you put your pooch inside, they can feel trapped. They instinctively know that they cannot get out of this ceramic prison cell without your help, and even though they trust you, it’s not a fun experience for them.
If you’ve got a flat bottomed sink (like your kitchen sink) then try bathing them in it instead of the bath. Your sink is much more “Pug sized” and the helplessness they feel in your huge cavernous bathtub is removed completely. As an added bonus, it’s also much easier for you to bathe your pooch this way as you’re not going to be crouching down and bending over the tub.
Note: Don’t try bathing your Pug in a sink with a curved bottom (like most bathroom sinks) because it’s difficult for your pooch to remain stable which cause stress, and quite possibly accidents too.
Put A Towel Down
Another great little tip that dog owners of any breed should know is to put a towel down in the bottom of the bath (or preferably sink in the case of a Pug) before bathing them. You’ve probably slipped slightly in the shower once or twice in your life, the ceramic material your bath or shower is made from combined with a healthy dose of soap can be like an ice rink.
By putting a towel down before putting your pooch in the bath/sink you’re going to make things much easier for them. They won’t have to concentrate on maintaining their balance on the super slippery surface as the material of the towel provides much more traction.
Don’t Rush The Rinse
We briefly mentioned the thick nature of your Pug’s coat earlier in this article – it’s one of the reasons that they create a stink that’s much bigger than you’d expect from their small stature. The thick nature of their coat means that it’s much more capable of holding on to shampoo and conditioner than other breeds, which means you need to rinse them very well.
This is important for any breed that has a thick coat that absorbs water, but with the skin issues of the Pug – it’s absolutely essential you remove all the shampoo you have applied during the bathing session. The shampoo is designed to be applied, and then completely removed. If you don’t properly rinse your pooch then the product that has not been removed will cause irritation and skin issues – which as we know, Pugs are already susceptible to.
Clean The Creases Well
The wrinkled face of the Pug is the defining iconic characteristic of the breed. We’re guessing most people reading this find their creases irresistibly adorable, and it’s one of the main reasons people choose to include a Pug in their family.
However, while these creases are adorable – they have the potential to easily cause a wide range of issues if they are not properly looked after.
A Pug’s wrinkles are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, they’re warm, they’re sealed, and they get up close and personal with everything and anything your pooch puts their nose against for a sniff. When they are not properly maintained, there is almost no end to the list of issues that can occur. Dry skin, bacterial infections, yeast infections, bad smells, hair loss, irritation, soreness, redness, itchiness, and general discomfort are just some of the common ones.
When you bathe your pooch, ensure that you intentionally clean inside each and every crease on your Pug’s face. They’re not going to like this, but it’s honestly something you need to pay close attention to. The discomfort they can experience from an improper crease care routine far outweighs the discomfort they feel when you’re scrubbing their face.
Dry The Creases Well
If you forget to dry the creases properly after bathing your Pug you’re going to be giving bacteria all they need to make your Pugs adorable wrinkles their new home. There’s no need to go crazy here, but remember to simply make a point of getting the towel inside each individual crease on your Pug’s face when you’re drying them off.
FAQ Regarding Bathing a Pug
To conclude this article, we’re going to answer a couple of the most frequently asked questions we receive about bathing a Pug properly.
How Often Should I Bathe My Pug?
One of the most hotly debated topics among Pug owners is the proper bathing schedule for the breed. It’s easy to see why there’s some confusion here based on the skin issues the breed suffers from and the stench creating thick double coat.
On one hand, the stench a Pug can create leads people to believe that the breed needs to be washed regularly (once every two weeks for example). There’s no denying that your pint-sized pooch can create a stench much greater than its size, but washing them too regularly is going to cause issues.
This is where the second school of thought comes into the argument. Owners think that the sensitive nature of a Pug’s skin is an excuse for bathing them irregularly (we’ve heard anecdotal reports of people bathing their pooch only 4 or 5 times a year).
Like most things in life, the reality lies somewhere in-between these two extremes. You should bathe your Pug no more than once every 3 weeks as an absolute maximum. Ideally, you’re going to be looking at once every 5 or 6 weeks instead as a happy medium, this keeps your pooch reasonably fresh but doesn’t cause skin issues from over bathing.
Do I Have To Use Cold Water To Bathe My Pug?
Due to the sensitive skin, our Pugs suffer with, many people have heard rumors that you should only bathe your Pug using cold water. While it’s true you need to be careful with water temperature, there’s no need to keep the warm water away completely.
Pugs are sensitive to cold as well as heat, and while there’s obviously no risk of burning them by using only cold water, it’s also not the most comfortable option either. You should use water that is slightly on the cooler side of lukewarm to keep your pooch safe and comfortable. Test it with your own hand before putting your pooch under the water, there should be no doubt in your mind about the temperature – if you think it’s possibly too hot, turn the warm water down.
Remember: What you think is too warm is very different from what your Pug will think is too warm. Colder is always better, but there’s no need to keep the warm water off entirely.
So there you have it, you’re now more knowledgeable about the bathing and grooming requirements of Pugs than the vast majority of Pug owners out there. Any of the products we have recommended today are worthy of your consideration, they beat off stiff competition to be mentioned in this article.
However, we strongly recommend you try our overall pick (Buddy Wash) or our close second runner up recommendation (4-Legger) unless you’ve got a specific reason to try a more specialized shampoo – in our opinion they are by far the best shampoos for Pugs on the market right now.