How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

If your dog has just come in from the outdoors only to be covered head-to-toe in mud, she’ll obviously need a bath. Same goes if she smells like she’s been rolling around in the dirt all day long.

But what if your dog hasn’t gotten dirty in days? Or even weeks? She seems clean and doesn’t necessarily smell, so is there a need to bathe her? Or is it only necessary if your dog is clearly filthy and is exuding a foul odor?

At some point, your dog will need a bath. But the question is, should your dog be on some sort of bathing schedule? Is it necessary to put your dog in the tub even if she might not seem like she necessarily needs to be washed?

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If your dog is covered in mud, she’ll obviously need a bath. But if she hasn’t gotten dirty in weeks, is it time to give her a washdown?


How Often Should Your Dog Be Bathed?

As humans, we typically need to shower pretty often. But dogs don’t necessarily require the same bathing frequency that we do. That said, bathing is a necessary part of a dog’s life, regardless of how much she might hate the process.

Having said that, the frequency of your dog’s baths depends on a few things, such as your dog’s breed (and therefore her type of coat), her environment, specific activities she takes part in, or any conditions she may have.

At the very least, your dog should probably be bathed a minimum of once every three months. But most dogs do quite well with a once-a-month bath. Of course, you can always bathe your pooch more frequently, such as once every two weeks. And if she’s obviously filthy and smells after a day spent mucking around outside, a bath will likely be warranted.

Your Dog’s Coat Will Determine Bathing Frequency

While bathing may be an important part of your dog’s overall regimen, how frequently you bathe her may be determined by her breed. Use the following guide to help:

  • Dogs with an oily coat, like Basset Hounds, Newfoundlanders, and Alaskan Malamutes might need to be bathed as frequently as weekly.
  • Short-haired dog breeds with smooth coats, such as Boston Terriers, Weimaraners, and Beagles, don’t need frequent bathing. In fact, they may even do better with less frequent baths.
  • Dogs with water-repellent coats, such as Golden Retrievers, Irish Water Spaniels, and Otterhounds, should also be bathed less often in order to preserve the natural oils o their coats. Not only do the oils help keep dirt away from the skin, they also help the coat dry very quickly after getting wet.
  • Dog breeds that are double coated, such as Alaskan Huskies, Australian Shepherds, and Great Pyrenees, also do better with a less frequent bathing routine. Instead, these types of breeds require more brushing to not only make sure the hair remains untangled, but also to help get rid of dirt and debris while distributing natural oils evenly.

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Different dog breeds may need to be bathed at different frequencies, so you may want to bathe your dog based on her specific breed.

As you may have gathered based on the information provided thus far, bathing too often is not recommended in most cases. It may actually be better to bathe your dog less frequently than too often, especially for dog breeds with oily coats, as bathing too often may disrupt the oil production and distribution across the skin. If this happens, you may notice your dog suffering from dry skin, dandruff, and matted hair.

However, in some cases, bathing more often might be the way to go. For instance, some dogs might benefit from more frequent weekly bathing if you or your dog have allergies or if your dog has a skin infection.

At the end of the day, the best way to determine whether or not your dog needs a bath is whether she smells, is obviously dirty, or needs to follow a specific protocol set forth by your vet.

Tips For Washing Your Dog

If it’s time to give your furry friend a good washing, keep the following tips in mind to maximize her bath:

Brush her hair first – If your dog’s hair is prone to getting matted, the water and shampoo won’t penetrate as easily. Brushing her hair first will loosen any knots that may be present and allow for a more thorough cleaning job.

Further, matted hair also retains water, which can cause skin irritation. If your dog’s hair is so matted that you can’t get a brush to comb through, it may be wise to have her groomed first to eliminate any difficult knots.

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Make sure to only use shampoo that is specifically formulated for dogs. And if your dog has a certain medical condition, the shampoo you use may need to be prescribed by your vet.

Be careful with the water temperature – Have you ever noticed that your dog seems to be fine being sprayed with a hose or even jumping into frigid waters? That’s because dogs can handle cooler water compared to humans.

Their skin is different from human skin, and while you may like a hot shower, your dog will definitely not. In fact, water that’s too warm can be dangerous for dogs and actually cause harm. As such, be sure to only use mildly warm water for your dog’s bath. And the larger your dog’s breed is, the cooler the water can be.

Use the right shampoo – Don’t use the same shampoo that you use on your own hair. Shampoo made for humans has a different pH compared to what your dog needs.

Instead, be sure to only use dog shampoo that has been specifically formulated for their skin and hair. It will be more gentle on your dog’s skin and won’t dry it out. And if your dog has any sensitivities or allergies, be sure to choose a shampoo that does not contain any ingredients that would cause irritation. You can always ask your vet to suggest a product that works best for your dog’s breed and situation.

Don’t use too much shampoo – Applying too much shampoo will only make it very difficult to remove all the suds afterward. And if any soap is left on the skin, it can cause dryness and irritation. Instead, a little can go a long way.

Dry your dog’s ears afterward – You might notice that as soon as your dog gets out of a body of water, she immediately starts to rub her ears firmly against the ground. This is likely to get any water out of her ears.

To help her out, be sure to thoroughly dry your dog’s ears after a bath to get rid of any moisture or water that would otherwise cause irritation or even an ear infection.

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Make sure not to over-shampoo your dog when bathing her, as getting the suds out can prove to be a real chore. And any soap left on the skin can end up causing irritation and dryness.

Use a non-stick surface in the tub – If you’re bathing your dog in your bathtub, make sure you lay a non-stick rug so your dog doesn’t slip and fall. As you may already know, it can be very slippery in the tub which can cause harm if your dog takes a slip.

Block the drain – If you have a dog that sheds, you could be allowing a ton of hair to go down the drain and potentially clog it. To prevent this from happening, place a hair catcher in the drain to collect the hair and prevent it from clogging the drain. This can save you a lot of time and hassle, and it’ll work to catch your hair, too!

Have plenty of towels ready – Lay one towel down in front of the tub for your dog to step on after the bath, and another to drape over your dog to dry her. And depending on the size of your dog, you might want to have another drying towel handy, as she can quickly soak a towel with the water on her hair after a bath.

Go easy with the blow dryer – It’s always best to allow your dog to air dry. But if you’re in a bit of a rush, or you simply don’t like the idea of your dog running around the house with wet hair, you may consider using a blowdryer. While this is not generally recommended, if you must use one, be sure to keep the air rather cool and hold the blowdryer a couple of feet away from your dog to prevent any burns.

Offer your dog a treat afterward – Dogs typically don’t like being bathed, and your dog might give you a hard time when you’re trying to wash her. To make subsequent baths easier for both of you, consider rewarding your pup with a dog treat after a bath. That way she may be more willing to be more compliant the next time around.

Final Thoughts

Bath time isn’t necessarily fun for either you or your dog, but it’s a part of a dog’s life – and the life of a dog owner. Keep these tips in mind in regards to how frequently to wash your dog and how to make bath time more successful.

Alternatively, you may also want to speak with your vet to find out exactly how often your specific dog should be bathed based on her breed and any conditions she may have.

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