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Choosing the Best Shampoo
and Coat Products for a Pug

Kenda (fawn, 6 months) and Raymer (black, 6 years),
photo courtesy of Janet Rafferty


With the Pug breed, it's important to choose the right coat products including shampoo, conditioner, and a leave-in coat spray. This is because the Pug's coat and skin pose particular challenges. 

Skin and coat go hand-in-hand, and the the Pug, like he is in many ways, is a contradiction in this regard.

The coat is double layered and very dense. However, this breed's skin is sensitive. So, this requires specific coat products. 

Here, we'll go over:
  • Overview of needed coat products
  • Issues that can develop if the wrong ones are used
  • Tips and advice for using these
  • Specialty and medicated shampoos for certain issues 

Overview of Coat Products - Frequency and Uses

There are 3 main coat products that a Pug needs:
  • Used once every 3 weeks unless the Pug has an issue that requires more frequent bathing.
  • Needs to cleanse away accumulated body oils and loose hairs.
  • Can treat common issues such as dry skin and itching.
  • Primes the coat for the conditioner.
  • Use in conjunction with the shampoo, every 3 weeks or more often if there is an issue.
  • Needs to smooth hair cuticles for good coat health.
  • Offers a base of protection.
Leave-in coat spray
  • Used every 1 to 3 days.
  • Offers daily protection from a wide range of elements.
Next, we'll dive into the details of these to go over what should and should not be used.

The Importance of a Good Shampoo

Lots of things are occurring both in and under a Pug's coat's thick coat of hair, and the shampoo must address these. 
  • First, natural body oils are constantly being produced. These provide natural protection for the skin and coat. However, these do not evaporate. Instead, they accumulate.
At just about the 3 week mark, there is enough body oil that problems can arise if they are not properly cleansed away. Tiny hairs and particle debris become trapped in the body oil. Then, this slick smothering substance starts to block skin pores and proper air flow. 

This can lead to a wide range of skin conditions (pimples, bumps, itching, rash) and given enough time this will start to smell quiet bad. 

Inferior shampoos will not properly cleanse away those oils. So, even if you give your Pug a bath, if the wrong shampoo is used, a certain amount of oil will remain deep down under his coat.  

With a quality shampoo massaged in every 3 weeks, this will allow you to start with a clean slate. 
  • At the same time, this breed is a high shedder. Even outside of the normal shedding season, tiny hairs are falling off. Many are falling into the coat. And many are loose yet hanging on. A good shampoo must be effective enough to help remove both fallen and 'ready to fall' hairs. 
  • In addition, what the shampoo does or does not do to the skin is vital. Inferior shampoos with the wrong pH balance for canines can cause an array of issues including developing dry skin, raw, and/or irritated skin. 
On the other hand, a quality shampoo will be beneficial to a Pug's skin. Via correct pH balance (6.5 to 7.5) and natural ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal, aloe, almond oil and more, the skin will be moisturized and soothed. Current issues can be corrected and evolving issues can be resolved. You will see a dramatic difference in skin and fur health. 

Shampooing Tips for a Successful Bath

Once you know that you have a great shampoo for your Pug (more ahead), you'll want to be sure to follow a few guidelines for optimal results. 

1. Before you bathe your Pug, give the entire coat a good brushing. A grooming glove like the Pat Your Pet's 2-in-1 Pet Grooming Glove is one of the best tools for this breed. This is great for pulling out hairs and is super easy to use. 
2. Due to the Pug's super thick coat, be sure that you wet your puppy or dog down extremely well. Using a nozzle is best. 
3. Once the coat is wet down to the skin, apply a generous amount of shampoo. Don't be shy, you do not want the beneficial ingredients to be spread so thin that they cannot do their job. 
4. Small Pug puppies may be able to be scrubbed by hand, however with adult Pugs, a bath brush is best. This is because it takes a lot of effort to work the shampoo down through the coat and to the skin. So, a brush will allow you to do this much easier than by hand. 
5. Massage the shampoo in for 3 to 5 minutes. If your Pug has any sort of skin or coat issues, you can massage for up to 10 minutes to really allow nourishing ingredients to soothe and restore. 
Teddy, at 2 years old,
photo courtesy of Sarah Harrison
Teddy, at 2 years old,
photo courtesy of Sarah Harrison
6. Be sure to properly rinse the shampoo from the coat. 

The shampoo is meant to be dispersed through the coat and onto the skin to bring about its benefits. But, it is also meant to be washed out. If any remains, it will get in the way of the conditioner (a must for Pugs) and any residue will begin to cake.  

Recommended Shampoos for Pug Puppies and Dogs

It takes a lot for a shampoo to be considered a great choice to use on a Pug. It must be effective enough to reach and remove those body oils that we spoke about. However, at the same time it is vital that it is gentle enough on a Pug's skin. There should be no harsh soaps, sulfates, or parabens and the pH must be spot-on.

Since the Pug can easily develop skin issues, it must also have nourishing ingredients that both prevent issues and resolve any current ones. 

Let's look at some great choices (images are below):
  • Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe - This is an awesome shampoo that's perfect for the Pug breed. It also contains almond oil and vanilla. Together these 4 ingredients are super effective as a 'basic' shampoo that will prevent issues from occurring and as a restoring shampoo for Pugs that are having issues including itching or breakouts. 
  • Earthbath Eucalyptus & Peppermint - These all-natural ingredients are excellent for relieving sore spots, hot spots, and providing an all-over cooling relief for problems associated with allergies and irritated skin. 
  • Earthbath Orange Peel - This shampoo has two great benefits. This breed naturally has a shiny coat, so if a Pug's coat is looking dull, orange peel is great at removing stains and allowing a dog's fur to be shiny. 
In addition, orange peel is a natural ingredient that calms and relieves common skin irritations (and is particularly effective for a dog recovering from flea bites). 
These recommended shampoos are below, along with a super effective scrubbing brush. 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, we will cover the importance of using a conditioner at bath time, and also the huge benefits of using a leave-in coat spray for your Pug. 

The Importance of an Effective Conditioner

Shampoo and conditioner are meant to work together, and if you only use a shampoo your Pug will be missing out on the important benefits of a canine coat conditioner. 

When shampooing your Pug, you are rinsing off body oils and cleaning the entire double-thick coat of fur. And during this process, hair cuticles are opening. In this 'clean slate' state, it is imperative to then follow up with a conditioner that will encase the open hair cuticles and send in nourishing elements to boost coat health. 

If you've been noticing that your Pug's fur is not as shiny and lustrous as it could be or that the texture feels wrong, this may be because the wrong combination of shampoo and conditioner is being used. 

Conditioner should be an indulgent product that delivers high levels of moisture and healing elements. Be wary choosing one just because it appears super thick; this alone does not tell you that it is a good one. In fact, some cheaper brands use heavy oils that slick right off and do not penetrate a dog's individual hairs. 

In addition, during times of heavy shed, the right conditioner can help release dead fur from the undercoat. For the Pug breed, this is exceedingly helpful for both your Pug and to keep your house free from loose hairs. 
Ky Ky, at 2 years old,
photo courtesy of Tim Van Allen

The Huge Benefits of a Leave-in Coat Spray

When you shampoo your Pug, that is your every 3-week opportunity to boost skin and coat health. But, what about the other days? If you're not using a leave-in spray, your Pug is missing out on a host of benefits.

Let's look at what a good leave-in will do:

1. Offers round-the clock protection from environmental and weather related elements. This includes both sun exposure in the summer and dry arid air in the winter. 

2. Protects a Pug's coat from contact friction. 

3. Helps repel tiny debris that can be picked up on the coat including pollen and other airborne particles. 

4. Maintains properly moisturized skin and coat.  

5. Keeps a Pug smelling fresh and clean. 

Recommended Coat Conditioners for Pugs

Bath time conditioner, regular: 
If you are using one of the suggested Earthbath shampoos, the best match is their conditioner. This formula has the top four ingredients of oatmeal, aloe, almond oil, and vanilla. So, this will either complement the oatmeal & aloe shampoo, or offer these benefits on top of the eucalyptus or orange peel. It's a win-win.
Bath time conditioner, times of heavy shed: 
If your Pug is shedding up a storm, you'll find Furminator deShedding Conditioner to be super effective. It has no chemicals, parabens, or dyes and it contains great ingredients like Omega 3 and 6, chamomile, papaya leaf, and aloe vera. 
Daily leave-in coat spray:
The Nootie line of canine coat sprays are great for Pugs; these come in some really wonderful scents to keep a Pug smelling awesome, like cucumber & melon, sweet pea & vanilla, Lily, coconut lime, warm vanilla cookie, and Japanese cherry blossom. 

So, whether you have a male or female Pug, your puppy or dog will be smelling wonderful. These are also paraben-free and safe to use with flea and tick treatments. 
Recommended coat conditioners for bath time and daily coat 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. 
Next, we will cover specialty and medicated shampoos for when a Pug is having skin issues. 

Specialty and Medicated Shampoos for Pugs

It should first be noted that if your Pug is suffering from an unknown skin condition or ailment that you believe could be treated with a medicated shampoo, you will want the veterinarian to examine your puppy or dog to diagnose the exact problem. 

While some specialty shampoos do cover more than one problem, you won't want to be treating your Pug for mites when it is actually a yeast issue and vice-versa. Also, some conditions may be at a point of needing a prescribed medicated shampoo.

This said, there are some very effective shampoos that can resolve a host of issues seen with the Pug breed. 
Common Issues Seen
Moderate to severe allergy issues:
Allergies can really do a number on a Pug. Some of the top issues seen are itching, rashes, and hot spots. Fur may be affected as well, turning brittle or even thinning or have developing bald spots.

There can be other symptoms as well, including but not limited to runny nose, coughing, wheezing, watery eyes, and gastrointestinal issues including upset stomach and vomiting. 

It will be important to have the triggers identified and take steps to eliminate or reduce them. But, in the meantime, there are some shampoos and sprays that can offer immediate relief. 

Mites and skin infestations:

Skin mites, mange, yeast infection, and bacterial infections can quickly spiral out of control. You'll want an antifungal and antibacterial shampoo to combat these issues.
Medicated Shampoos that Can Help
Allergy shampoo - if you're searching for a medicated allergy shampoo, what you really want to be looking for is an effective specialty shampoo that does not contain chemicals, as these can be irritating to a Pug that is already dealing with sensitive skin. 

One of the best allergy shampoos for Pug dogs is Moosh (see below). This is an incredible shampoo that contains specific all-natural ingredients that work in a number of ways. 

This has bentonite clay, which pulls away all types of irritants out from the skin. It has both neem and argan oil which is exceptional at providing needed moisturize and healing to irritated skin. And shea butter and aloe vera help restore skin that's been affected by allergies. 

It is 100% all natural and organic with no sulfates, chemicals, or preservatives. This is a great choice for a Pug that has skin allergies, dry skin, itching, flaking, peeling, and/or irritations. 

You will want to shampoo your Pug 1 to 2 times per week, leaving this on for at least 10 minutes, and follow with a quality conditioner. 

Hot spot spray - A leave-on spray that can be applied directly to hot spots can help a Pug feel instantly better. For general irritations and itching, you may wish to opt for an organic product that contains natural ingredients like lemongrass, peppermint, and clove.

If your Pug is having moderate to severe issues, it will be time to step things up a notch with a spray that has hydrocortisone to quickly stop itching and calm any skin swelling. 

Medicated shampoo for skin infections and infestations - A chlorhexidine shampoo with ketoconazole can cover a wide range of issues including yeast infection, bacterial infection, fungus, pyoderma, and even ringworm. 

Since this is a medicated shampoo, it can be harsh if used too often and should only be used if a condition is present. 
Recommended medicated and specialty shampoos, along with effective hot spots 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. 
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