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Shampoo for Boxer Dogs

Boxer dog looking at reflection
Mufasa, 10 weeks old
Photo courtesy of Christina Knowles 


We've received quite a few emails asking us what is the best shampoo to use for Boxer dogs and this is often due to several reasons:

1) Many owners feel that a product is doing its job… it suds up nicely and gives the coat a nice scent; however just a few days later the pleasant smell is gone and there's a slight but odd odor that builds and builds until the next bath.

2) This breed's skin and coat can be very sensitive to drying out and the wrong shampoo can clean well but it causes skin to dry out and it dulls and dries the fur as well. Boxers should have super shiny coats that look really healthy; it can be a bummer when a shampoo doesn't offer enough shine.

3) For puppies and dogs with allergies (sores and/or irritation), dry skin, dandruff and other issues, it's important to find the right medicated shampoo that will actually work well after just the first use and continue to work, making improvements with each use.

This section will discuss:
  • What good shampoo will do for your Boxer 
  • The negative effects of the wrong shampoo
  • The best shampoos to use for this breed and why
  • Why the use of secondary products such as conditioner and leave-in spray are beneficial

What Good Shampoo Will Do for Your Boxer

Scrubbing the coat really needs to go far beyond bubbling up and cleaning the fur. A really good shampoo will do the following:

1) Properly cleanse away accumulated body oils - This is one of the biggest factors in whether a shampoo is working well. When a Boxer dog is washed correctly, 99% of excess body oils are cleansed away. 

The body will naturally start to produce oil almost immediately after the bath. Each day, there is a bit more and this mixes with water (rain water, puddle water, etc.) fine debris particles, fine dirt particles and small dead hairs (even when not in a shedding phase, tiny hairs are constantly being renewed and many fall back into the coat). 

These elements mix with the oil and by just about the 3 week mark, this begins to smell.  

Inferior shampoos will only partially remove the accumulated body oil… and this is where they fail miserably. You're not actually starting with a clean slate; while the fur may have been cleaned, the skin was not properly washed and this can lead to a situation where there is never truly a fresh foundation to begin the cycle of a 3 week bathing schedule. 

2) Remove dirt and debris - This is part of what all products do, however cheap shampoos will do one of two things: They will not have the strength to do this correctly or they are made of such harsh cleansing ingredients that they are abrasive. The former leads to a bathed Boxer dog that really isn't clean and the latter leads to the issue of very dry skin.
3) Moisture without being heavy - This plays a huge role in healthy skin which is directly responsible for a shiny, health coat. If a shampoo is too heavy and if it does not contain quality moisturizers, it will not be absorbed. Instead, it will smother skin pores and clogging them. For the Boxer breed, blocked pores can lead to body acne and will affect how well the fur grows. The best shampoos for Boxer dogs will lightly and correctly moisturize the skin.

4) Properly clean and treat the coat - This is another huge element to receive the desired results of your Boxer dog looking great. Each strand of fur has inner fibers, a middle layer and the outer layer which serves to protect each hair.
If the right product is not used (often those with the wrong PH balance and a shortage of quality ingredients), the shampoo will clean so harshly that the outer layer of the fur will be damaged. Depending on what you use, this can happen almost entirely the first time you use it or it can happen gradually each time you wash your Boxer… 

This is why some owners think that they've found the perfect shampoo and then realize that after 3, 4 or 5 baths that something is wrong… the coat is beginning to look dull and it's not working as it used to… But in reality this is an instance of the effects of the shampoo becoming evident more and more each time it's used. 

A truly effective, quality shampoo will be strong enough to actually clean the entire Boxer (skin and fur) but will do so without stripping away the protective outer layer of the fur.

5) Prep the Boxer for next step - Even if you use the best shampoo available, you will still want to use a conditioner. These are two complete different products and they work together to give a Boxer a nice finished look. A good shampoo will do its job without leaving behind residue that would otherwise get in the way of allowing the conditioner to do its job. 
Boxer dog male 1 year old
Jaxx, 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Marciano , N.Y 

The 3 Essential Bath Products and Why They are Needed

1- Shampoo: As we discussed the shampoo will clean away dirt, debris, fine particles, tiny shedded hairs and oils. It will do so without drying the skin or leaving behind residue. 

2- Conditioner :This only works well if a really good shampoo was used, since a foundation of either dry or oily skin and/or fur that has been damaged (partially or fully) will not allow the conditioner to do what it is supposed to do. When good products are used, the shampoo will properly cleanse and the conditioner will then give the Boxer's coat a nice smooth appearance.

If you were to look at a single strand of fur under a microscope, you'd see that the outer layer (cuticle) has a bunch of flakes or 'scales'. When these stick out and this happens on every strand on your Boxer dog's entire body, it leads to a coat of fur that looks ragged. The coat does not look smooth and it also will not look shiny. However, with a good conditioner that is allowed to work well based on the proper prepping by the shampoo, it will makes all those tiny scales lay flat… and this is what gives a dog a really nice smooth coat and allows the light to reflect which makes the coat look super clean and shiny. 

3- Leave-in : Once the coat is clean via an excellent shampoo and the cuticles of the dog's fur are tightly bound together via a good conditioner, a leave-in product will do 3 things: 

1) It will help to keep the coat in its pristine state.  

2) It will protect the fur and skin from damage. Whether your Boxer dog is outside for 20 minutes a day or 2 hours, sun damage via UV rays gradually damage both skin and coat and this is of course more severe in the summer

A good leave-in product is similar to a sun block. Sun exposure over the course of years can lead to skin cancer and for a Boxer's coat, it can lead to super dull and dry fur… and the effects are not easily reversed. It's better to protect the coat now then try to fix it later. 

Also, contact friction is a huge issue with the Boxer breed. This is a dog that is often on the floor where elbows and other parts of the body are constantly rubbing against carpeting, grass and other ground surfaces. The leave-in will help guard the coat from contact and static friction. 

3) Even with a super good shampoo, the scent will eventually wear off within a week or so. A light misting of a quality spritz can make a Boxer dog smell great. 
four Boxer dogs of all ages
Mocha (13 yr old Boxer/Amer.Bulldog mix), Bailey (6 months), Bella (Bailey's sister) & Jake (11 years old) Photo courtesy of Markus Nolte

Shampoo Ingredients that are Good for Boxers

With skin that is prone to dryness and the type of fur that this breed has, the best shampoos for Boxer puppies and dogs will have oatmeal as one of the ingredients. Aloe is another ingredient that works well for the Boxer. When a product contains both oatmeal and also, you've got a winning combination. 

It's important to choose a top-rated brand that is properly PH balanced for canines, so that it cleans in a healthy way. 

The scents of almond and vanilla tend to compliment the Boxer dog and shampoos that have this usually work well for leaving a lasting fragrance that is not overpowering but definitely rids both dog and house of the faint but lingering 'dog smell' that can happen. 

You'll also want to stick with a shampoo that is alcohol free and also one that does not remove flea and tick topical preventatives.

Special Shampoos

If a Boxer has skin sores from allergies, pyoderma (skin infection) issues and/or really itchy skin due to yeast infection or allergies, you'll want to use an antiseptic foaming solution that contains Chlorhexidine as well as a light moisturizer. A quality product will actually resist full rinsing, which allows the medication to remain on the skin to heal sores and other issues. These shampoos are normally left on for 5 to 10 minutes and then rinsed out. 

If a Boxer has dandruff issues or super dried out skin that is flaking, you'll want to use a medicated yet gentle shampoo that works to relieve irritated, dry scaling. The best shampoo products for these problems will contain Chamomile and Aloe Vera and also are formulated to aid in the sheeting of water which reduces the total bath time. 

Look for a shampoo that is sulfate free; avoid those that list Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or Ammonium Laureth Sulfate as one of the ingredients since these can be very abrasive on sensitive skin. 

Shampooing Tips

1) Have all your supplies within reach so that the process can go seamless from start to finish.

2) If the weather is warm and sunny - above 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C) - you can shampoo your Boxer outside. Be sure that the ground surface is free of dirt, sand and other outside elements. If you don't have a good spot for this, using a small kiddie pool can work great. 

3) Be aware of the water temperature; dogs can get the chills from cold water just like us (and being washed with cold water is really uncomfortable and can lead to a dog running from baths). If it's too hot, it not only can burn but the hot water also prevents shampoo from working well; it triggers cuticles to close and the fur will not be able to be properly cleansed. Test the water temp with the inside of your wrist. 

4) Give your Boxer a good, whole body brushing right beforehand. This will pull out any dead hairs and loosen those that were soon to naturally fall out. 

5) Be sure to really scrub the suds down to the skin. A Boxer dog's fur is rather thick and to really reach down deep and clean away everything that is at the bottom of the coat, it's often best to use a quality bath brush. These are often unnecessary for small dogs with thin, long coats, but for Boxers and other breeds with thickly packed fur, it makes a big difference. 
6) It's vital to properly rinse the shampoo from the coat. The rule is that when you think you've rinsed enough, go over the Boxer's entire body one more time. Any leftover shampoo residue will clog pores and if any is on the fur, it will prevent the conditioner from appropriately bonding the cuticle scales as mentioned earlier. Using a water nozzle works well. 

7) Unless your Boxer has a health issue such as dandruff, allergies, skin sores, etc. that calls out for frequent use of medicated shampoos, it is best to wash your Boxer once every 3 weeks.

For most dogs, this is the tipping point of when oils have accrued just enough that a bath is in order. If you clean him/her more often than this - even with good products - you'll be striping away and cleaning too often which will lead to drying, dulling and damage issues. 

If you wait much longer than this, your Boxer may start to have a funky smell. When you take the time to groom your Boxer on a regular basis and stick to a schedule (baths, brushing, dental care, etc.) you'll have a well-groomed dog that always looks great and smells clean. 
two Boxer dogs sitting outside
Wilson (1 year) & Bruce (7 months)
Photo courtesy of Salina Harmon
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