Why Does My Golden Retriever Have Dandruff? 6 Solutions That Work

Dogs can get dandruff just like people. It looks the same – dry, flaky skin because it’s basically the same. Dandruff is made up of dead skin cells that fall from the skin and look like white flakes. And just like in people, dandruff is not normal and needs to be taken care of. 

And Goldens, just like all other dogs, can get it, too.

So why does my Golden Retriever have dandruff? Golden Retrievers can get dandruff because of skin conditions, environmental issues, or medical problems. The most common causes of dandruff are Saborrhea, mites, bacterial & fungal infections, dry air, and poor diets. Dandruff can be a sign of an underlying health condition but it’s not a concern on its own.

Even though it’s not a serious condition on its own, it’s still important to pay attention to it before it turns into one. Noticing Dandruff in your Golden Retriever may not be easy especially if their coats are really light-colored. 

Thankfully, there are easy solutions to dandruff that have proven to be very effective. To find out what may be causing your Golden Retriever’s dandruff and the effective solutions you can use, keep reading.

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Why Does My Golden Retriever Have Dandruff and How to Treat it

white golden retriever smiling to illustrate the answer the question of why does my golden retriever have dandruff

To be able to treat dandruff in your dog, you need to first find out what is causing it. There are 6 probable causes for dandruff in dogs. 

I’m going to go over each of them without getting too deep into it because medical issues can get complicated pretty quickly and I know you’re just interested in finding out if this is the cause of your dog’s dandruff and how to treat it. 

The 6 Causes of Dandruff in Dogs 

There are 6 basic causes for Dandruff in dogs: 

  1. Bacterial and Fungal Skin infections
  2. Cheyletiella Mites
  3. Seborrhea
  4. Dry Air 
  5. Poor Diet
  6. Health Conditions 

Let’s discuss each of them in a bit more detail: 

Bacterial and Fungal Skin infections

Bacterial and fungal skin infections can cause dandruff in dogs because they usually kill a lot of skin which leads to dandruff. Unfortunately, they can also create a vicious cycle because they will tire out your dog and weaken the skin’s ability to protect and heal itself. 


Symptoms that your dog has a skin infections are things like hot spots, red areas, greasy patches, and excessive scratching.

 If you notice that your dog is excessively scratching a certain part of their body or doesn’t tolerate you touching them at all, then you should check them out for skin infections. 

Cheyletiella Mites 

Commonly referred to as “walking dandruff”, these mites live in your dog’s skin and coat while they lay their eggs. These are nasty mites and they will cause excessive itching and scratching which in itself can hurt your dog’s skin and coat. 


These are white mites and they are large enough to be seen with the naked eye quite easily under the right light. However, they may be harder to spot in dogs with lighter coats where the mites can blend in more easily. 

If you notice them and are not sure whether they’re mites or just dandruff, get them on a darker surface and squash them. If they leave blood, then you know they’re mites. 

[su_box title=”Pro Tip: ” box_color=”#ec7050″] Brush your dog while they’re over the newspaper to make them fall on the darker newspapers. The contrast with the ink makes it very easy to see their movements.[/su_box]


Seborrhea is a medical condition where the baby skin cells travel to the surface too quickly before they have the chance to be “glued” tightly together, so they flake away like dandruff. 


Seborrhea is often accompanied by greasy skin in dogs. This is caused because the grease glands are also overactive. 

The cause of this condition is still unknown, but certain breeds are particularly prone to seborrhea (Golden Retrievers and Labradors are not on this list). 

Some dog breeds that are more prone to Seborrhea than others: 

  • West Highland White Terrier 
  • American Cocker Spaniel 
  • Doberman Pinscher 

Dry Air 

Do you live in a city far away from water bodies? If you live in a dry area where the humidity is low or if you keep the heating high most of the time, the air could be the cause. The hot and dry air in your area or house could be stripping your dog’s skin of moisture and make it more prone to flakiness and dandruff. 


Dry skin makes dogs quite itchy and you will notice them scratching all over their bodies regularly. This can lead to other skin conditions that will need to be treated later. 

Poor Nutrition

If your dog doesn’t get the nutrients he needs from his diet, his coat will suffer and it may lead to dandruff. If their diet is incomplete and lacks their needs of water, minerals, vitamins, fats, or oils, their coat’s condition will deteriorate. 


You will notice an overall poor health condition of your dog’s coat. For example, the hair may seem a bit “weathered down” and “not as fluffy”, they may shed more than normal, or their hair could even fall in clumps if the condition worsens. 

You can check out those 17 practical solutions to your goldens shedding here.

Health Conditions 

Some health conditions can cause skin scaling and dandruff. For example. Under-active glands – known as hypothyroidism – and some auto-immune conditions. 


Your dog will show the symptoms of these diseases, in which case they must be taken to the vet, of course. 

6 Solutions to Dog Dandruff that Work (Because I’ve Tried Them)

  1. A Regular Brushing Routine 
  2. Improve Their Diet
  3. Get a Specialized Shampoo 
  4. Regular Baths
  5. See a Veterinarian 
  6. Get a Humidifier

A Regular Brushing Routine 

A regular grooming routine can make a large difference in the health of of your dog’s skin and coat, and healthier skin and coat can fight off infections and heal itself better. 

Daily brushing for your dog helps distribute the natural oils from the coat and stimulates the blood supply to the skin. Daily brushing also makes your dog more comfortable with you handling and inspecting their coats, which means you will be able to notice dandruff early and early detection of any problem gives you a much higher chance of treating it successfully 

Improve Their Diet 

If the issue is caused by poor nutrition and a diet, switching to a better diet that has all the nutrients they need will solve it. You will want to find a high-quality pet food that is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. 

Try to find foods that have at least 35 mg of Omega-3 per kg of your dog’s weight and a healthy Omega-3 to Omega-6 balance. 

You should also make sure they always have access to freshwater. 

Get a Specialized Shampoo 

There are many pet shampoos that can help your dog’s skin and coat re-moisturize and get the nutrients needed. They can also relieve flakiness and irritation that are caused by dandruff. 

A medicated Shampoo like the one from Veterinary Formula can be very effective. I personally love this shampoo because it can treat all kinds of parasites and fungal infections. It also treats skin scaling and doesn’t cause any allergic reactions because it’s free from any harmful chemicals like Paraben and Dye. Check its price on Amazon here

You can check my other recommended shampoos here as well. 

Regular Baths

Regular baths play an important part in your dog’s skin and coat health, and a bath every three weeks should be fine. However, you should be careful not to overdo it otherwise it can lead to dry skin which can lead to scaling and dandruff. 

Again, a bath every three weeks should be fine, but a bath every couple of days is not and can get rid of their natural oils and lead their skin to become dry. 

Take them to The Vet 

If the problem is caused by an underlying medical condition and your dog is displaying other symptoms such as: 

  • Constant Itching and scratching
  • Red Spots
  • Sudden Mood Changes
  • Refusing to eat 
  • Changes in their urine or stool 
  • Significant changes in their sleep patterns

Or any other signs that make you worried, you should take them to the vet and see if there’s an underlying medical condition. Dandruff can sometimes be the sign of something important and should not be ignored, so pay attention. 

Get a Humidifier

If the dry air is causing your dog’s flakiness, you can try using a humidifier.

I actually use the TaoTronics Humidifier because it’s super quiet that it doesn’t annoy me or my dogs, and it’s quite affordable and high-quality – like most of TaoTronics stuff, to be honest.

You can check its current price on Amazon here or click on the image above.

Related Questions

Can I use human shampoo on dogs?

No, you can’t use human shampoo on dogs and you shouldn’t. Human shampoos have different chemical balances than those of dog shampoos and are too harsh on your dog’s gentle skin.

You should get your dog their own specialized shampoo that is dedicated for pets, and if they’re puppies, get them one for puppies as these are gentler on the skin and do not hurt their eyes if they get in it.


Dog Dandruff – The Happy Puppy Site


Hey there, I'm Matt, the author behind Retrievershub.com. With a deep love for dogs and a dedication to strengthening the bond between owners and their retrievers, I've created a hub of resources for enthusiasts like you. Through engaging articles, training guides, and product reviews, I aim to provide practical advice that makes a real difference in your life as a dog owner. Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the world of retrievers, my approachable and informative writing style ensures that you'll find valuable insights. Join me on this incredible journey of discovering what makes retrievers tick, unlocking their potential, and creating an unbreakable bond with your furry companion. Let's embark on an adventure of dog ownership together. Thank you for visiting Retrievershub.com and being part of our vibrant community.

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