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Which waterless dog shampoo is best?

Canine bath time isn’t an experience most pet parents want to repeat too regularly, but waterless dog shampoo absorbs odors, so you can put off bathing a little longer. Rather than wrangling your dog into the tub, you can let waterless shampoo work its magic with much less mess and stress. 

Picking the right one can seem daunting with so many available. If you’re looking for a cruelty-free shampoo made from plant-derived ingredients, Begley’s Natural Waterless Pet Shampoo is the top choice. 

What to know before you buy waterless dog shampoo

Types of waterless dog shampoo

Waterless dog shampoo comes in a range of forms. The most common are sprays, foams and powders. Some types of waterless shampoo may suit certain dogs better than others, so it’s worth learning more about each. 

  • Sprays: Rinse-free shampoo sprays have a watery consistency and come in a spray bottle that you spritz all over your dog. They usually don’t leave a residue and are unlikely to clog dogs’ oil glands. However, getting an even application can be tricky. Also, dogs who don’t like getting wet may object to the spray. 
  • Foams: These liquid waterless shampoos foam up when you squirt them out of the bottle. You generally have to rub the foam into your dog’s fur and coat, which takes a bit more effort than spraying but makes it easier to apply evenly. They often require brushing out and can leave a residue. 
  • Powders: If you’re looking for something completely waterless that doesn’t need any time to dry, consider a powder-based shampoo. These are great for dogs prone to hot spots and skin-based yeast infections, as they don’t create a moist environment in which yeasts and bacteria flourish. However, they’re more likely to clog up sebaceous glands and interfere with the production of natural oils. 


Ideally, choose a waterless shampoo made from natural or gentle ingredients. Some are formulated from nothing but natural, plant-derived ingredients. These are less likely to cause any skin troubles than those made with synthetic chemicals. 

Although it’s a natural ingredient, avoid shampoos that contain alcohol because it dries out the skin. Also, consider avoiding harsh or controversial ingredients, such as parabens, sulfates and phthalates.

What to look for in a quality waterless dog shampoo


All waterless pet shampoos are scented since one of their primary functions is to leave your dog’s coat smelling fresher. Everyone has some scents they love and some they don’t like, so choose according to your preferences. Ideally, the scent should be fairly light, so it doesn’t overwhelm your dog’s sensitive nose. 


You can find some hypoallergenic options. These are free from all common allergens, making them the perfect choice for dogs with known allergies or sensitive skin. Hypoallergenic shampoos are usually gentle, so they’re great for anyone who wants to avoid harsh ingredients. 


If you own a dog, then chances are you’re an animal lover. Therefore, you probably don’t want to buy a shampoo that’s been tested on dogs and other animals in a lab environment. Look for shampoos listed as “cruelty-free” or “not tested on animals.” Some sport the Cruelty Free International leaping bunny logo. 

How much you can expect to spend on waterless dog shampoo

Most waterless dog shampoos cost $5-$20 a bottle, but you can buy them in larger quantities that can set you back up to $50. 

Waterless dog shampoo FAQ

Do waterless dog shampoos work? 

A. They work in the way they’re supposed to, but you may need to adjust your expectations. Waterless shampoos absorb excess oil and are lightly scented to cover unpleasant doggy odors. However, they don’t clean your dog like a bath with standard shampoo and water would. It’s a bit like putting on deodorant versus taking a shower. 

Is waterless dog shampoo safe? 

A. While it’s safe to use, most waterless shampoo works by absorbing excess oil from the coat and skin. This impacts dogs’ natural oil production and can lead to dryness or other skin issues. It is fine to use every now and again but can do more harm than good if used too regularly.

What’s the best waterless dog shampoo to buy?

Top waterless dog shampoo

Begley's Natural Waterless Pet Shampoo

Begley’s Natural Waterless Pet Shampoo

What you need to know: It’s planted-based, sustainable and biodegradable, making it a great choice for eco-conscious pet parents. 

What you’ll love: It’s USDA biobased certified, so you can be sure it was formulated using plant-derived ingredients. You can choose from four scents: lavender, mango-oatmeal, citrus and tea tree. It comes in a pack of two 16-ounce bottles.

What you should consider: You need to rub it in, then brush your dog after it’s dried. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top waterless dog shampoo for the money

TropiClean Waterless Shampoo for dogs

TropiClean Waterless Shampoo for Dogs

What you need to know: This affordable waterless shampoo is made in the USA from gentle ingredients. 

What you’ll love: It’s pH balanced, so it doesn’t upset skin chemistry, and it’s free from harsh ingredients like parabens. It has a light and pleasant coconut scent. The foam is easy to work into the coat and skin. 

What you should consider: Some formulas are for dogs and others for cats, so make sure to choose the right one. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Chewy

Worth checking out

Mighty Mutt Hypoallergenic Waterless Shampoo for dogs

Mighty Mutt Hypoallergenic Waterless Shampoo for Dogs

What you need to know: Containing just four ingredients, this waterless shampoo has a simple formula that isn’t harsh on the skin or coat. 

What you’ll love: It’s made using natural biodegradable ingredients, so it isn’t harsh on the planet or your dog. The formula is free from parabens, sulfates, dyes and phthalates. It comes in two scents: Fresh Breeze and Spring Meadow. 

What you should consider: Some users found it left a residue on their dogs’ coats. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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