Your dog definitely doesn’t want to smell like a pineapple. Given a choice he’d rather smell like fox poo or the equivalent!

Ria Winstanley from the Pet Spa at Harrods gets to work on Hannah, a miniature poodle.

As a nation we seem to have gone to the other extreme with pet owners wanting their dogs to smell like fruit, sweets, babies or whatever else seems to be in fashion.

When it comes to choosing shampoos, to be honest it’s a minefield out there. There is a plethora of products available that profess to do anything your want them to, from curing skin problems to making coats perform in a certain way and with a variety of perfumes to accompany as well as shampooing systems that allow you to create a bespoke blend for every dog that comes into the salon.

To start with I wanted to know if the way a dog smelled had an effect on its behaviour and/or how other dogs responded to it. Here’s animal behaviourist Tracy McCrindle’s answer:

“To my knowledge, there are no major scientific studies into the effect fragranced products used on dogs in terms of how they affect a dog’s behaviour. I have, however, experienced instances where behaviour changes post-groom would appear to be scent related. Anecdotal reports of other dogs in the household showing aggression towards a freshly groomed member of the family do come up and many of us will have witnessed a dog rubbing himself on the floor or being mounted by his companion when he is set down after grooming.

“Dogs use scent as their primary sense, experiencing the world through their nose. They have hundreds of millions of scent receptors compared to the average five million a human has. It’s entirely possible that dogs find another dog’s scent being masked just as worrying as we humans would find wearing a blindfold when meeting another person. Also, what smells quite strongly to us must be completely overwhelming to a dog so I personally choose to use as little scent as possible in my salon. Managing owners’ expectations of how their dog should smell post-groom can be a little tricky at times but most are happy when the reasons are explained to them. I jokingly tell them that had I allowed their pet to choose his own cologne he’d have eagerly searched for the nearest dead rodent or pile of fox poo to roll in!

Klaudia Szonyi from Vita Canis starts the bathing process on Ted, a terrier cross

“Another factor in terms of behaviour is that the dog could be making a connection between a scent and an emotion – just like the smell of candy-floss can take us right back to a childhood fairground. If the dog finds the grooming process stressful he may associate the smell of our favourite shampoo or cologne with this negative emotion and react accordingly. Equally, he may enjoy grooming so much that the smell of a certain shampoo sets tails wagging.”

Secondly I spoke to Marcus Norfolk who’s company Astor & Windsor International has manufactured cosmetic products for the last 25 years for many high street retailers and currently manufactures shampoos, conditioners, perfumes and grooming sprays for specific companies within the pet specialist industry to find out about trends. According to Marcus: “We have no ranges with our own branding but are given a brief by the customer to produce product that is based on the following criteria: price, quality, fragrance, current market trend and performance, for example white shampoo for light coloured dogs.

“Trends start in the human cosmetic market and then move slowly over to the pet sector. Plant extracts and nourishing oils being a prime example, yet with the difference between human and pet hair, how effective they are remains to be seen.

Making sure Ted’s beard is clean

“Fragrance is an important factor for the end pet user as they will often choose shampoo based on fragrance with lavender and baby powder leading the market along with coconut and vanilla. For the professional groomer this is not so important; quality and performance comes first. Having a satisfied customer is the most important factor for a groomer so low cost products rarely survive in this market as any good groomer can see the affects. Few of our customers ask for natural products. Putting them into a range appears to be more of a token gesture towards the end use, rather than performance related. If natural shampoos ever provide the quality required then this may change.”

Finding the right shampoo appears to be a bit of a compromise when you have the factors of performance, something with a more neutral aroma for the dog and a product that fits in with current trends in the human cosmetic industry appealing to the customer to consider. Ultimately it will down to personal preference and with such a range of products available on the market there is definitely plenty to choose from. Whatever you opt for the best results will only be achieved if the product is appropriate to the bathing system you use and is used in the correct dilutions in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.  To contact Astor & Windsor International for your own range of shampoos just call 01787 479019 or visit