Know before You Buy: (Shampoo & Products) - Groomer to Groomer

Know before You Buy: (Shampoo & Products)

By Jenny Farrell

It’s very important that you, as a groomer, are buying quality products created just for dogs. This article covers a few things you need to be aware of when buying shampoo, conditioner or any product that’s going on a dog’s skin.

pH Level

First of all, canine and human skin are not biologically the same. Both have a part of the skin called the acid mantle, which is a film that lays on top of the skin acting as a barrier against pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungus and other microbes that could potentially cause the body harm. This acid mantle needs to be kept at a pH suitable for that species. 

In humans, the acid mantle pH is slightly acidic at between 4.5 and 6.2. The acid mantle on a dog requires a slightly alkaline to neutral pH of 7.5 to function correctly. The pH scale is from 0 to 14, with 0 being extremely acidic such as battery acid, to 14 being extremely alkaline such as drain cleaner and 7 being neutral such as water. 

If you are using a shampoo, conditioner or product with an unfriendly pH level, you can cause the acid mantle to break down or not function correctly leading to skin infections, itchy skin, allergies and sores. 


Not all shampoo and products are the correct pH—even those sold through grooming trade companies. You must look for the pH level. Most good–quality manufacturers will put the pH on the label; if the pH is not labeled, it’s probably not the correct pH.

Dilution Ratio

Another thing to look out for is the dilution ratio. Shampoos come in different concentrates, especially professional–grade shampoos vs commercial–grade shampoos. You want a shampoo with a high concentration and you will know this by looking at the dilution ratio. 

Ratio is displayed by numbers; for example, 2:1. This means 1 part shampoo to 2 parts water. Commercial shampoos often do not need diluting so they don’t have a ratio. However, professional shampoos will, and the better–quality shampoos are usually around 32:1 to 52:1. This means the 52:1 shampoo is very concentrated and a gallon of 52:1 will last a lot longer than a gallon of 3:1 shampoo. Medicated shampoos tend to be less, such as 6:1, because a stronger solution is needed and usually requires a soaking time. 

Often you may think you have a better deal by buying the cheaper shampoo, but they work out to be more expensive as they have a low concentrate and cost almost the same as the higher concentrates which also usually have better pH and better ingredients.

Specialty Shampoos

Shampoo is not always just about cleaning a dog. You can also enhance the color of dogs’ coats by using color–specific shampoos without dye or colors. These shampoos are designed to brighten coats or enhance a specific color; for example, whitening shampoos for white coats, copper shampoos for red coats. They are purposely designed to reflect light which enhances the coat color. Whitening shampoos can really bring out a white coat in comparison to a non–whitening shampoo. You can use them on grass stains and particularly dirty, stubborn areas to help remove dirt and enhance the overall brightness of the coat.

Add–on Services

Offering a variety of shampoos can also be used as an add–on service. Doing this can increase your revenue by offering special shampoos that do specific jobs for additional fees. There is a vast selection of other products based around bathing to enhance the dog’s appearance, health and your revenue. 

Doggy facials can be offered by using dog–specific face scrubs designed to reduce or remove tear staining and/or enhance a white face. Other extras to offer are paw scrubs for cracked pads and nose balms to reduce dryness on noses, which is common in bully breeds. You can really build a great “Extra Services” menu when you explore the variety of shampoos and skin care options now available specifically for our canine friends! 

Remember, dogs can’t choose what we put on their skin, and once it’s on, it’s on. It’s our responsibility as a professional groomer to ensure high standards of animal welfare and health are consistently met. Make sure you only use products that will have a positive impact on the dog’s skin and leave the dog comfortable, clean and happy. ✂️

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