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How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog: What To Know To Keep Your Pup Healthy And Clean

Christin Perry LitteThings writer by Christin Perry
Christin is a mom and editor specializing in lifestyle content. She also hides cookies like a boss.

Got a filthy Fido on your hands? Dogs are wonderful companions, but we can all agree that they’re much more enjoyable when they’re clean. But how often should you bathe your dog? Most people are under the impression that frequent bathing is not only unnecessary, it can actually be detrimental to dogs. But this may not be true anymore, especially with more natural, gentle cleansers hitting the market.

Now that shampoos for dogs are nearly as numerous as they are for people, it’s possible to give your dog more regular baths without stripping his fur of important oils. And although it’s rarely the most pleasant task, bathing your pup actually has plenty of benefits.

Regular grooming and brushing is important for dogs due to a host of reasons. Cleanliness is the most obvious, of course, but it’s important for your pup’s overall health and comfort, too. A regular bath schedule, which will differ based on your dog’s breed, helps reduce hot spots, matting, and tangling. In addition, you’re more likely to spot and catch nasties like fleas, ticks, and other parasites early on if you schedule regular bathing. Scroll down below to learn how to wash your pup — and how often you should be doing so.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Getting ready to bathe dog
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There are several factors to consider when wondering how often to bathe a dog. Of course, the more time your pup spends inside, the cleaner you’ll want him to be. Ruff Ideas says that “iff your dog lives in your house with you and more importantly, if he/she sleeps in your bed, then you are probably going to wash your dog regularly — depending on the breed, anywhere from once a week to once a month.” Here are some other factors to consider if you’re wondering how often you can bathe a dog.

Factor #1: Size

Big and small dog
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When it comes to how often you should bathe your dog, size doesn’t matter. There’s nothing that says that small dogs need to be bathed more frequently than big dogs or vice versa.

When bathing a big dog, you may need to plan a little extra in advance, like having some extra towels handy and making sure your dog fits in the shower or tub. What really matters is the type of fur, not the dog’s size.

Factor #2: Fur Length

Brushing long haired dogs
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In general, the longer your pup’s fur is, the more grooming will be required. According to Dogtime.com, however, there’s an exception to this rule: “Dogs with an oily coat, like basset hounds, may need bathing as frequently as once a week.”

Short-haired dogs like bulldogs and beagles don’t need regular baths.

Labs, with their short, water-resistant fur, don’t require bathing more than a few times a year.

German shepherds have longer fur that doesn’t require much bathing.

Factor #3: Fur Type

Which dogs need regular bathing
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Thick-coated and double-coated dogs like collies and golden retrievers should receive more regular baths to prevent matting in their furry undercoats. Every one-and-a-half to two months should suffice for these breeds.

But curly haired and silky haired dogs like cocker spaniels, terriers, and poodles require regular maintenance to avoid matting and tangling. For these breeds, you should plan to bathe them once a month or more, and maintain a near-daily brushing routine. 

There is also a chance that your dog will need medicated baths in order to treat fleas, lice, and other uncomfortable topical conditions, according to WebMD. Your vet will be able to instruct you on the details.

Is It Bad To Bathe Your Dog Every Week?

Hot spot on dog
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The answer to this question will depend on — you guessed it — what breed of dog you own.

In general, it’s not necessarily bad to bathe your dog every week. If your pup’s cleanliness is of the utmost importance to you, you can maintain a regular bathing schedule for him. However, it’s advisable to closely monitor him for signs of dryness or hot spots.

Some dogs, like Labs and German shepherds, can easily suffer from dry skin if you bathe them too frequently. Others with silky or wiry hair can suffer if you don’t bathe them enough; their fur can become tangled and matted, making grooming much less pleasant.

Talk to your vet and discuss a cleaning schedule for your pup. Your vet will be able to tell you if there are any potential hazards for your specific dog, and suggest some possible alternatives, like regular brushing with the use of a pleasant-smelling spray. PetMD also recommends you follow your nose: “If your dog comes into the room and you can smell him, he needs a bath.”

If you do decide to bathe your dog weekly, be sure to use a high-quality, gentle conditioner on a regular basis. This will help avoid too much dryness and stripping of your pup’s natural oils.

How Often Should I Brush My Dog?

Brushing dog fur
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Now that you’ve learned a bit about how often dogs should be bathed, you may be wondering how often they should be brushed. 

Like we mentioned, brushing is one of the best ways to maintain your dog’s coat between baths. It will keep matting or shedding at bay, and the ASPCA reminds us that “grooming time is a great time to check for fleas and flea dirt — those little black specks that indicate your pet is playing host to a flea family.”

Curly haired, silky haired, and long-haired dogs should be brushed as frequently as possible, even once a day. Dogs with short hair may not shed as much, but brushing them as often as possible is a productive practice to distribute oils, remove excess hair, and prevent dander.

What Do You Need To Bathe A Dog?

What you need to bathe your dog
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When it comes to bathing a dog, the good news is you don’t need many supplies. Regardless of your pup’s size, here are the supplies you’ll need to gather in order to give her a good bath:

  • Towels
  • Dog shampoo
  • Dog brush
  • Cotton balls (the American Kennel Club advises these so water doesn’t enter your dog’s ears)

A small dog can be bathed anywhere from the kitchen sink to a sturdy, plastic trash can — just be sure to always supervise to avoid accidents. If your pooch is plus-size, you’ll be better off opting for the bathtub, an outside hose, or perhaps even taking him to a professional groomer.

How To Bathe A Dog

Giving dog a bath
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Wondering how to bathe a dog without getting soaked yourself? Ideally, the best way to do so is to start when they’re still a puppy. According to the American Kennel Club, “bathing your dog can pose a challenge — if you neglected to show your pet at an early age that a bath can be enjoyable, even fun. The key is to slowly introduce your puppy to being wet and pampered.”

If you haven’t done this, or if you’ve adopted an older dog from the shelter (kudos to you!), it may be best to have your dog professionally groomed a few times to get him acquainted with the whole process. But, as long as you stay calm and treat your pup gently, eventually he will get the hang of it. After all, most dogs do enjoy water!

Ready to get started? Follow our comprehensive guide to how to give a dog a bath.

Step 1: Get your dog’s fur as wet as possible.

While you’ll want to avoid your pup’s face, eyes, and inside his ears (use those cotton balls to avoid water entering the ear canal), the first thing you should do is thoroughly douse your pup, getting his fur as wet as possible. This will help distribute the shampoo and give him a good, deep clean.

Step 2: Apply shampoo and distribute.

After he’s good and wet, apply a quarter-sized dollop of gentle dog shampoo and use your hands to work it through, massaging it into his skin with your fingertips. Don’t forget to get those hard-to-reach spots, like your pup’s belly and under his haunches (those gaps behind his rear legs). Be sure to also pay special attention to his neck where his collar sits.

Step 3: Rinse off.

This may be the most important step when it comes to how to wash a dog. According to Dogtime.com, “Any soap left in his fur can irritate your dog’s skin once he’s dry. Rinse, rinse, and repeat the rinse.”

Step 4: Towel dry.

Before your pup even steps out of the tub, it’s a good idea to toss a towel or two over him and rub gently but firmly to start the drying process. Because you know what’s coming: lots of shakes! If you don’t want your entire bathing area to be soaked by a wet, shaking dog, definitely follow this step! Towel drying isn’t painful for your pup, and it definitely helps cut down on some of the excess moisture.

Step 5: Brush your dog while his fur is still damp.

Right after a bath is the best time to brush your dog. Taking this additional step will keep his fur smooth and shiny, and will help remove excess hair and any other debris that bathing missed. And remember, regular brushing is always a great idea, regardless of how often you bathe your dog.

How often do you bathe your pup? Be sure to SHARE this article with all of your dog-lover friends!