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They make wonderful, loyal pets. They often form strong bonds with children. Their coat is short, straight, and fine in texture. It’s smooth and glossy. The skin is soft and loose, especially around the head, neck, and shoulders. Their head and face are covered with heavy wrinkles. At the throat they have two loose folds that form the “dewlap.” Caring for your Bulldog’s coat is not especially difficult but they can take some special care because of their wrinkles.
The Bulldog Club of America (the AKC parent club for Bulldogs in the United States) recommends brushing your Bulldog two or three times per week for 10 minutes. This will remove dead hair and stimulate the skin, keeping it healthy. If your dog is shedding, you can use a rubber curry comb-type brush first. Or use a soft bristle brush. Inspect your dog while you’re brushing. This way you can spot any problems before they become serious. Look for cuts, scratches, bare patches, flea bites, or the start of any skin conditions. It’s easier to treat any of these problems if you notice them early.
Your Bulldog’s face will need regular care to keep his wrinkles clean, especially the wrinkles over his nose. You can use a cotton ball kipped in peroxide to clean the wrinkles thoroughly. Then use corn starch or baby powder to help the area dry properly. Be careful that you don’t get any powder in your dog’s eyes. Some people simply use a damp, warm wash cloth or even a baby wipe. No matter what you use, it is important to dry the area after cleaning. Some dogs will need this cleaning on a daily basis while others may only need to have their wrinkles cleaned weekly. Food and dirt can get trapped in the folds of the wrinkles easily which can cause discoloration, flaking, and dermatitis.
Skin problems such as dermatitis and acne are common with Bulldogs, especially young dogs. The symptoms of dermatitis include inflamed, red, angry-looking skin. In some cases it may be moist. If your dog’s wrinkles show signs of dermatitis, clean the area gently with a cotton ball soaked in warm water. Dry the area gently and use an antibiotic ointment. The problem should clear up in four or five days. Acne tends to be common in young Bulldogs. It’s the same acne that humans get. Keep the area clean and use peroxide to treat it unless it’s close to your dog’s eyes.
The area around the tail can also be prone to dermatitis so this is another place to check and clean regularly.
If you don’t clean your Bulldog’s wrinkles regularly he can develop skin fold dermatitis. This can occur not just on his face but also in the wrinkles around his tail. If you see signs of infection, take your dog to the vet. Your dog may need a medicated shampoo and baths several times per week to get rid of any bacteria or yeast that have made their homes in the wrinkles.
If you’re thinking that a Bulldog might do well with a good shampoo for dermatitis, you would be right. If your Bulldog is prone to dermatitis or acne, a good shampoo for dermatitis can help. We have recommendations below. But remember that all Bulldogs have wrinkles and need to have them washed regularly, whether they have skin problems or not.
If you brush your Bulldog regularly and keep his wrinkles clean he probably won’t need baths very often. As with other breeds, the Bulldog Club of America cautions not to over-bathe your dog or it can remove the protective natural oils in his coat. Bathe as needed. Darker dogs hide dirt better than light-colored dogs so if your Bulldog is lighter in color he will probably look like he needs a bath more often.
Bulldogs don’t normally shed a lot but during the spring and fall you will notice a little more shedding when you brush. Just brush your dog more until the shedding is over.
If you’re bathing your Bulldog at home, you will need a good shampoo, conditioner, and other grooming products. Everyone has their favorite products, including professional groomers, dog handlers, and breeders. Not all of these products are a good choice for pet owners. In the case of Bulldogs, there’s not usually a lot of difference between products used for pets and show dogs, although show dogs are bathed more often. Dog handlers may use some brightening and color enhancing shampoos but otherwise the products are very similar. Some pet owners may prefer more natural or organic products than are used on show dogs.
There are many good shampoos and other grooming products that will work well for Bulldogs. You can use a good cleansing shampoo or a shampoo for dry skin, for example. If your dog has sensitive skin, there are lots of soothing shampoos and shampoos that have natural ingredients so they are extra gentle. And, of course, there are shampoos if your dog is having problems with fleas and ticks.
If your dog has any kind of skin problem there are also medicated shampoos; shampoos for itching; and shampoos for hot spots. These are just a few of the shampoos available.
Here’s a look at shampoos and other products that can be good for your Bulldog.
What is the Best Dog Shampoo for a Bulldog?
What to look for in a good shampoo for your Bulldog
Short-haired dogs with smooth coats, like the Bulldog, are usually considered easier to groom and bathe than dogs with longer coats. That’s true for Bulldogs, as long as you take care of their wrinkles. We would consider them a “wash n’ go” dog. You can give your Bulldog a bath and usually let him air dry – unless it’s winter. Keep him indoors to dry before letting him go outside. But this breed doesn’t need a blow dryer or a haircut. As long as you keep his wrinkles clean and dry, he should be relatively easy to groom and bathe. Of course, there are always exceptions and some dogs may need a special shampoo or a little more help with their skin and coat.
A good shampoo for your Bulldog should gently cleanse and remove excess oil and dirt but it shouldn’t be harsh or strip away all of your dog’s natural coat oils. Since Bulldogs can have some skin problems it’s best to avoid shampoos that can cause irritation, rashes, itching, or drying. Anything too harsh can be a problem so avoid cheaper shampoos or shampoos made for humans. We generally recommend natural and plant-based shampoos that don’t strip away all of the natural oils in a dog’s coat – unless your dog needs a medicated shampoo for a skin problem.
However, the shampoo you use must clean well or it will leave oil, dirt, and dander behind. Then it will look like you haven’t bathed your dog.
With any dog, it’s important to rinse the coat thoroughly after the bath, removing all traces of shampoo and conditioner. If you leave behind any residue, it can make your dog itch and scratch. This can lead to skin problems later. Make sure you rinse your dog completely any time you use a bath product.
Most shampoos today have fragrances so choose something that both you and your dog can live with. You may like something that smells like Scarlett Johansson would wear it but your Bulldog would probably prefer something that smells like an old shoe. Try to compromise. There are also some nice spritzing products that you can use between baths that aren’t overpowering. Keep in mind that your dog’s sense of smell is much better than yours so don’t choose a scent that will make him miserable.
One of the most important things to look for when choosing a shampoo for your Bulldog is the pH of the product. Dogs have a skin pH that is higher than our human skin. The dog’s pH is about 6.5 to 7 which puts it in the neutral/basic range. Human pH is more acidic. It’s around 4.5 to 5.5. Some low quality dog shampoos can also be in this range. These products can irritate your Bulldog’s skin, making it feel dry and itchy. If your dog starts scratching his skin it can lead to infections. They will also strip the oil from your dog’s coat. Most good dog shampoos have a pH around 6-7.
We probably don’t have to say it but you should not use human shampoos on your Bulldog since they can be harsh and irritate your dog’s skin.
We also recommend that you look for shampoos that are soap-free when possible. You might think of all shampoos as being “soapy” since they have suds but lots of shampoos today don’t use soap. Soap products can dry your dog’s skin and strip the coat of oils. There are many natural cleaners that won’t irritate your dog’s skin or coat.
We like natural and plant-based shampoos for pet Bulldogs unless your dog needs a medicated shampoo for a skin problem. Some pet owners like organic shampoos and they are also available. It’s not always easy to avoid all chemicals in shampoos but many companies are trying to be more natural. Chemicals in shampoos can be hard to wash out of your dog’s coat. This means that your dog can ingest them when he licks his fur. Some chemicals are harsh and they can irritate your dog’s skin. Ingredients to avoid include phosphates, parabens, sulfate, methylparabens, and phthalates. If your dog requires a medicated shampoo for whatever reason, you may have no choice but to use a product that contains some stronger chemicals.
Other ingredients used in some shampoos have been linked to cancer in some studies. Since your Bulldog is likely to lick his fur (like any dog), that means he could ingest these chemicals. Some of these chemicals to try to avoid include artificial coloring such as D&C, FD&C, or Yellow 5. You should also try to avoid Cocomide DEA or MEA. Cocomide DEA and MEA are from coconut, yes, but they are altered in a dangerous way. The same is true about Cocamidopropyl Betaine. The ingredients doazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea or quarternium-15 release formaldehyde. Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol turns into acetone in the body. It can also be listed as isopropanol, 2-propanol, and propyl. Another ingredient to avoid is Methylchloroisothiazolinone – a known carcinogen. There are others but these are some of the most common and most dangerous. If your dog has a serious skin condition and needs a medicated shampoo, you may have limited options. Try to use shampoos that contain these ingredients on a short-term basis.
A good shampoo for your Bulldog should rinse out of the coat easily. Any residue left behind can make the coat look bad and irritate your dog’s skin. You also don’t want your dog to lick the residue off.
If your Bulldog has skin fold dermatitis, your veterinarian will probably prescribe an anti-bacterial/anti-fungal shampoo that contains ketoconazole, an antimicrobial, and possibly some other products to treat your dog’s condition. Follow instructions when using these products. These are medicated shampoos so they should be used when your dog has a specific problem but they should be discontinued when the problem clears up.
The bottom line: Look for a good quality shampoo for your Bulldog that is gentle with a pH between 6 and 7. It should rinse out easily. Natural ingredients are preferable unless your dog needs a medicated shampoo.
Different Kinds of Shampoo for your Bulldog
A good cleansing or deep cleaning shampoo is a good choice for most Bulldogs. Look for something that is gentle so it won’t dry or irritate the skin.
If your Bulldog’s coat is looking faded or stained, some people like a brightening or color-enhancing shampoo. We don’t recommend anything that would dye the coat since those products would be far too harsh and irritating. But there are some gentle shampoos that will brighten a white or light coat and help remove stains. They use optical brighteners to make the coat look lighter again.
You can use a light conditioner on your Bulldog after the bath. They smooth the hair cuticle and restore a protective layer to your dog’s skin.
Most dogs don’t like colognes since heavy scents bother them. Sprays between baths can keep your dog smelling nice but make sure you choose something that won’t annoy your dog.
There are lots of shampoos made for dry, itchy, irritated, and sensitive skin. Most of them contain various moisturizers and soothing ingredients such as oatmeal and aloe. These products usually avoid the kind of chemicals known for skin irritation.
If your dog needs a medicated shampoo for a skin problem, there a lots of good shampoos for these issues. It’s important to identify your dog’s skin problem and know what kind of ingredients will work since there are a wide range of medicated shampoos and they have different ingredients.
If your Bulldog has allergies, there are some hypoallergenic shampoos available. These shampoos can help soothe itchy, red, irritated skin. Most of them also have healing ingredients. If your dog has a serious problem we recommend that you talk to your veterinarian about medicated shampoos. If not treated properly, allergies can lead to sores, coat damage, hair loss, and misery for your dog.
Any dog can pick up fleas and ticks. If your Bulldog brings these pests home, there are lots of flea and tick shampoos available. Shampoos usually work better on fleas than on ticks, but you still have a lot of choices. They range from natural ingredients to shampoos with pesticides. You need to get rid of the pests but do be careful about using products that might be too harsh on your Bulldog’s skin. Before buying a flea and tick shampoo, we would suggest talking to your veterinarian so you are aware of all of the options for getting rid of fleas and ticks today. You might decide to use a topical flea treatment or a one-time pill instead of using a shampoo, for example. There are also flea and tick control products that work with heartworm medications, if that would work for your Bulldog.
2-in-1 shampoos are a good choice for elderly dogs, puppies, and any time you want to save time. These shampoos combine a shampoo and conditioner in one product so your dog doesn’t have to spend as much time in the bath. There’s just one application and one rinse. This can be great, especially if you have an elderly dog. Waterless shampoos are another good choice if you have an old dog or a dog with health problems. You can apply the waterless shampoo to your dog wherever he happens to be and rub it out with a damp wash cloth.
Puppy shampoos are formulated to be especially mild. That’s important because if you’ve ever bathed a puppy you probably know they can wiggle and be hard to hold! These shampoos won’t irritate your puppy’s skin or his eyes. Even if you get shampoo in your puppy’s eyes the shampoo won’t hurt him or cause tears.
If your Bulldog is stinky and smelly – say he encounters a skunk or rolls in something really rotten in your yard – there are good neutralizing and deodorizing shampoos. These shampoos are specially made to get rid of bad odors on your dog.
Most dog shampoos today come in a ready-to-use, 16-ounce size. This is usually a good size if you have one Bulldog. You can also buy gallon jugs of shampoo (concentrated) if you bathe your dog often or if you have multiple dogs. These products have to be diluted but they are economical in the long run if you will be using a lot of shampoo. Expect shampoos that use natural and organic ingredients to cost a little more. Some well-known, popular brands can also be more expensive.
Overall Best Shampoo for a Bulldog
Buddy Wash Original Lavender & Mint Dog Shampoo & Conditioner is one of our favorite shampoos for any breed and it’s a top seller on Chewy.com. We think it’s a good choice for lots of Bulldogs, too. Buddy Wash comes in a 2-in-1 formula so you and your dog only spend half the time in the bath. It also comes in Relaxing Green Tea & Bergamot formula. It uses uses natural, cosmetic-grade ingredients, including botanical extracts and essential oils instead of harsh cleansers. It’s all-natural and soap-free. It makes a rich lather that rinses out easily. This lavender and mint formula features aloe vera and tea tree oil to help soothe irritated skin. It contains no alcohol so it won’t burn your Bulldog’s skin. And it’s safe to bathe your Bulldog often with this formula. The company uses no animal testing. Made in the U.S. For Bulldogs that don’t have skin or coat problems, we think this is a great shampoo.
5 More Top Quality Shampoos for Bulldogs
There are several other top quality shampoos you may wish to consider for your Bulldog. Here are some that we really like.
If your Bulldog has skin fold dermatitis, we think this may be the best shampoo available. KetoChlor Medicated Shampoo contains 1 percent Ketoconazole and 2.3 percent Chlorhexidine Gluconate – both ingredients known for treating bacterial and fungal skin infections. This is an anti-seborrheic cleansing shampoo formulated to take care of these skin-related conditions. It disrupts the colonization of micro-organisms on the skin. It lathers well, rinses out easily, and leaves behind a clean scent.
If your Bulldog is having minor problems with dermatitis or acne, a good benzoyl peroxide shampoo can be helpful. Davis Benzoyl Peroxide Shampoo treats canine acne, along with other conditions. It has 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide. It cleans deeply to promote healing and it is an excellent de-greaser to remove excess oil from the coat. The formula also has natural moisturizing agents that hydrate the skin and coat so it prevents dryness and irritation.
Isle of Dogs is popular with dog handlers, professional groomers, breeders and now it’s becoming well-known with all pet lovers. This deep cleaning shampoo gently and thoroughly removes dirt, grime, and odor without being harsh on your Bulldog’s skin or coat. It contains no sulfate or parabens. It has the Isle of Dogs signature fragrance Red Berries and Champagne. Isle of Dogs also makes a good oatmeal shampoo: Isle of Dogs Silky Oatmeal Shampoo for Dogs. This is another shampoo that would work well on Bulldogs, especially if your dog needs a soothing, moisturizing shampoo. It’s mild and gentle, leaving the coat feeling soft. Oatmeal and jojoba soothe dry skin. The signature fragrance is jasmine and vanilla with natural odor neutralizers. No sulfates or parabens.
If you’re looking for a good soothing, anti-itch shampoo for your Bulldog, look no farther. Zesty Paws Oatmeal Anti-Itch Dog Shampoo has oatmeal, vitamin E, aloe vera, vitamins, quinoa, and almond extract to nourish your dog’s coat and leave it feeling soft and clean – as well as looking shiny. The oatmeal also leaves a moisturizing protective layer on your dog’s skin to help relieve itching. Vitamins E and C help neutralize hot spots, reduce shedding, and improve a dog’s brittle fur. Aloe vera also contains natural antifungal and antibacterial properties to soothe troubled skin. The shampoo has a light vanilla scent and helps eliminate odors and deodorize the fur. This product is proudly made in the USA in an FDA-registered, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)-certified facility.
Bulldogs can pick up stains, especially on the white parts of their coats. If you have a white or light-colored Bulldog, we can recommend Earthbath Light Color Coat Brightening Lavender Shampoo. Earthbath is known for its natural shampoos. This color enhancing shampoo is soap-free and contains a special blend of optical enhancing minerals to lift away dirt and stains on the fur. The lavender scent keeps your dog smelling nice. Brightens the coat without using harsh chemicals. It’s 100% biodegradable, paraben and phosphate-free. Earthbath has many other natural shampoos that we can also recommend.
Most Bulldogs should be easy to bathe and groom as long as you clean their wrinkles regularly. If you run into any skin problems, there are many good shampoos and other products available to help you and your dog. Bulldogs don’t have to be bathed often under normal circumstances. They are a “wash n’ go” breed. Look for a good cleansing shampoo unless your dog has a specific need for something soothing or a medicated shampoo.