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Shampoo

Poodle Shampoo and Coat Products

Overview

For a shampoo to be one of the best for a Poodle, it must be formulated for this breed's particular needs. 

Since the Poodle has a single coat of curly hair (and not a thick double-coat of fur as many other breeds have), being sure to choose the right shampoo is vital for both skin and coat health.

In addition, with Poodles being found in such an array of colors, you'll want to use specific shampoo formulas if your Poodle's coat is looking dulled or stained. 

Here, we'll cover shampoo, conditioner, finishing sprays, and leave-ins, so that your Poodle can look as beautiful as possible while avoiding common skin issues seen with inferior products. 
It must be noted that this section will discuss Poodle shampoo and not any products that dye the dog’s coat. Dyeing the coat with chemicals for better balance or to enrich colors can be exceedingly drying and there are much better ways to bring out natural color on a Poodle. 

Elements of the Best Shampoos

When you have a breed with hair as opposed to fur, there are particular challenges.  In addition, skin and coat go hand-in-hand, so every grooming product that you use on the coat must be healthy for the skin as well. 

A great shampoo should have:
  • Proper pH balance. This should be in the 6.5 to 7.5 range. 
  • No soaping agents. You may think that a dog shampoo should automatically contain soap and often when speaking, soap and shampoo are used interchangeably; however, this can be exceedingly drying to the skin and strip the cuticles. 
  • No chemicals, parabens, sulfate , phthalate , or phosphate, all of which can be terribly detrimental. 
  • Be effective enough to cleanse a Poodle's water resistant coat.
In addition, choosing the right shampoo can offers other benefits as well:
  • Target and resolve a Poodle's individual needs including skin issues such as itching, rash, and dryness. 
  • Since Poodles can have high body oil production which can create an odd smell, a shampoo can offer a long-lasting pleasant fragrance. 
  • Enhance coloring. Most Poodles fade as they mature; however, the coat can appear duller than it should and also hold in stains; both of which blocks the puppy or dog's natural beauty.
If a Poodle is struggling with moderate to severe skin issues:
  • The right specialty or medicated shampoo can resolve such things as allergy-related issues, and skin infection including yeast, bacterial, and fungi. 
poodle-shiny-coat-after-bath
Tilli, photo courtesy of Candy Evans

Poodle Colors and Particular Shampooing Needs

As you probably know, the Poodle coat lightens as the dog matures due to the fading gene. However, this should not be mistaken for other issues.
  • Black Poodles can develop a reddish tint (known as sunburning) due to sun exposure. 
  • With all colors,  Poodles can have hair that's been affected by the elements that cause a dulling. It is not uncommon for this to be in just some areas of the coat, causing an unbalanced appearance. For others, it will be full-body. 
  • Light colored Poodles often have staining. This is from months or years of particle debris and outside exposure gradually staining the hairs without being properly removed during bathing. 
  • White Poodles bring about even more challenges, often with stains around the face, chest, and/or paws. 

List of Shampoos and What They Can Do

Black color enhancer shampoo - It can be tricky to keep a black Poodle super black; however, if a Poodle is genetically black, the right shampoo can bring back a deep, dark, shiny black coat.  But, steer clear of shampoos that contain dyes. 

White and light coat enhancers - For white, cream, silver-beige, café au lait, light to medium apricot, and other light colored Poodles, there are 2 steps. The shampoo must be able to remove stains that may be embedded into hair cuticles.  As those are being drawn out, natural optical brighteners will enhance light colors, allowing them to shine and sparkle. 

Oatmeal and Aloe - If you choose a quality brand, this can be one of the best shampoos to prevent dry skin and resolve skin issues commonly seen with the Poodle breed. 

Eucalyptus and Peppermint - Is great for relieving moderate to severe issues that respond to cooling sensations. 

Orange Peel - Is fantastic for removing stains and for calming skin issues. 

Allergy shampoo - Many owners search for medicated shampoos when their Poodle is suffering from severe allergies with excessively dry skin, rashes, hot spots, and itching. However, chemicals can just exasperate problems. A really great allergy shampoo for Poodles will contain natural ingredients such as neem, aloe, bentonite clay, and shea butter to immediately offer relief and healing. 

Recommended Shampoos

Keeping in mind that the shampoo you use on your Poodle must be correctly pH balanced, be free of the many ingredients that can be detrimental to a Poodle's skin and coat, and should only contain all-natural ingredients to meet a Poodle's particular needs, these are all fantastic choices. 

First, let's look at color enhancing shampoos.  We are steering clear of dyes that can be horrible on the skin, and instead looking to all-natural ingredients that help bring out a Poodle's true color. 

The first is for black coats, the middle two for white coats, and the last shampoo is for cream, silver-beige, café au lait, light to medium apricot, gray, and silver Poodles. You'll find that Earthbath's coat brightener shampoo is particularly gentle due to lavender oil which is excellent for a dog's skin. 

Recommended shampoos are below. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. On mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4. 
Next, let's cover a basic, essential shampoo for Poodles and also those that help with certain issues common to the Poodle breed.

The basic every-3-week shampoo must be able to effectively remove accumulated body oils without stripping the cuticles. It will need to be strong enough to be worked through the coat yet gentle enough to pamper the skin. And it must be able to be properly rinsed away without leaving any residue. 

A specialty shampoo must be able to quickly treat issues that a Poodle may be contending with.  One of the biggest problems seen with Poodles is dry, itchy skin.  If not properly treated, this can quickly spiral into more severe issues such as sores, hot spots, and even thinning coat. If a Poodle is having a strong allergic reaction, there can also be localized swelling. 

There are certain all-natural ingredients that can be quite effective in resolving these sorts of issues, including the above mentioned neem, aloe, colloidal oatmeal, almond,  bentonite clay, and shea butter. 
Recommended shampoos are below. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. On mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4. 

Medicated Shampoos for Poodles

Certain conditions can be treated with canine medicated shampoos.  This includes:

Mites and mange:

There are several types of mite infections and mange (also called red mange, demodectic mange, or follicular mange) is caused by one mite in particular, the demodex canis. 

Some mites are very contagious and infestation can be contracted by coming into contact with another dog that is infected. With the case of mange, a certain number of these mites are always living in a dog's hair follicles but due to a weakened immune system or other elements, the number of the mites may increase or a Poodle may have a reaction to them. 

Signs of mites include intense itching, hair loss, bald spots, skin scabbing, and sores. 

Skin infections:

There are several types of skin infections that can occur with Poodles including yeast, fungal, and bacterial. Signs may vary; however there is typically an odd odor, and with yeast infections this may be a sour-type smell. There may also be scaling, rashes, and/or an oily sheen. 

Severe allergy reactions:

General allergy issues can be effectively treated with the aforementioned oatmeal and aloe shampoo. However, some Poodles can have an intense issue that requires additional treatment. One method that can be very helpful is to use a concentrated spray.  This can offer immediate relief and one with hydrocortisone is usually very good at stopping itching and reducing localized irritation and/or swelling. 
Recommended medicated shampoos and hot spot sprays are below. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. On mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4. 

Shampooing Tips

1) Take note if the shampoo calls out for it to be diluted with water; this is common with canine shampoos. If you see the word 'concentrated' and a ratio number such as 10:1, the first number refers to the water and the second number refers to the product. For example, 10 parts water to 1 part shampoo. 

2) For shampoo to do its job, a Poodle's coat should be thoroughly soaked. And since the Poodle has a water resistant coat, it can take longer to wet the coat down than it would with other breeds. 

Using a spray nozzle is the easiest method, and you'll want to take the time to saturate the coat before adding shampoo. 
3) Rinsing is important. The right grooming product can bring about amazing results; however, shampoo is meant to be massaged in and then removed.

If it is not rinsed out, it will get in the way of conditioner (more info ahead) and residue can cake up which blocks proper air flow. 
cute-toy-poodle-apricot
Bambi, photo courtesy of Veronica

The Importance of Conditioners

Even if you are using one of the best shampoos possible, if it is used alone, you may have less than desirable results. 

This is because during the shampooing process, hair follicles open up. It could be compared to a flower in which the petals unfold. 

In this state, a Poodle's coat is primed to receive a coat conditioner which will be able to penetrate the hairs and work to flatten the cuticles, resulting in strong, resilient hairs.

The Importance of a Leave-in Spray

No matter how beneficial the shampoo and conditioner, these will only be used every few weeks (every 3 weeks is recommended). So, what about all of the other days?

Dogs are barraged with elements that will affect the coat.  

A good leave-in spritz can do the following: 
  • Protect the coat from breakage.  Typically the culprit is contact friction, in which hairs are lightly but continually rubbed, often leading to split ends. 
  • Offer a barrier against arid air in the winter and sun exposure in the summertime; both of which can strip the coat of moisture.  If your Poodle spends a lot of time outside in the summer, a leave-in coat spray can also offer the benefit of a sunscreen. 
  • Repel fine particle debris including airborne allergens. 
  • Keep both skin and coat moisturized, healthy, and shiny. 
  • Allow a Poodle to smell nice and clean in between baths. 
  • Help keep mats and tangles away.
And a good finishing spray can add body and texture to Poodles whose coats appear limp. 
Tips:

Once you have your chosen leave-in product, use this on a regular basis.  Most Poodles do well with every 2 to 3 days.

If you have a quality product, all you need is a light misting. Overdoing things can lead to heavy buildup and weigh hairs down. 

Use the coat spray when you brush you Poodle. Brushing a dry coat often leads to damage. Work in sections, misting as you go. 
Recommend coat sprays for Poodles are below. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. On mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4. 
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