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How Often Should You Wash Your Dog? Guide To Pup Bathing

Washing a dog in a bathtub

Cats may have the incredible quality of keeping themselves clean, but our canine friends are too busy playing and causing mischief to think about grooming. Dogs adore rolling around in mud and dirt, and as a result, they can quickly get stinky.  Luckily, most dogs enjoy bath time, so cleaning a dog is not as stressful as bathing a cat! But how often should you wash your dog? The frequency of baths a dog needs depends on various factors, such as breed, coat type, and lifestyle. As part of our dog grooming guide, we'll discuss how often to bathe dogs and expert tips on washing them.

Why Bathing Your Dog is Important

Before we break down how often you should bathe your dog, let's explore the benefits of adopting a regular bath time ritual with your furry friend. Of course, some of the benefits are obvious, but there may be other advantages that haven't crossed your mind.

Cleans and removes odors

Washing your dog is the most effective way of removing dirt stuck in their fur. You can clean them with wet wipes, but this will only remove a small amount. Likewise, pet sprays on the market claim to make your dog smell better, but they only mask the odor. Bathing them with dog shampoo is the only way to remove all odors and dirt thoroughly.

Makes your dog's coat softer

You have probably noticed how amazing your dog's coat feels after a bath. With all the dirt and matting removed, your pup will feel soft and fluffy like a cotton ball. In addition, most dog shampoos contain moisturizing ingredients to make dog fur extra silky.

Reduces shedding and allergens

Washing removes loose and dead hairs on your dog before they fall out, thus, reducing the amount of shedding. It also removes trapped dander in your dog's fur, which triggers allergic reactions. So a regular bathing schedule will reduce the allergens in your home.

Helps you spot parasites and infections

When bathing your dog, the close contact you have allows you to spot any abnormalities. For example, you can look for ticks or fleas and check for wounds or infection sites.

Strengthens your bond

Dogs love spending time with their owners, even if it involves a bathtub and sponge. Creating a regular bathing routine can strengthen your bond and build trust. Your dog might not enjoy bath time straight away, but over time they will learn that a bath equals spending quality time with their favorite human.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

There is no set rule for how often to bathe a dog, so you should consider your dog's lifestyle, breed, and coat type when deciding on a bathing schedule.

Coat type and breed

As a general rule of thumb, the longer a dog's coat is, the more regularly you should wash them. Long-haired breeds like the Maltese or Collie may require a bath every week or every few weeks. Short-haired breeds like Boxers and Bull Terriers may only need a bath once a month or less, depending on their outdoor activity. Also, note that some breeds like Poodles and Bichons have soft coats that dirt clings to, so they typically require more regular bathing. The same goes for drop-coated breeds like Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus, and Lhasa Apsos, as their coats collect more oil and debris than others. In addition, Labrador Retrievers and Basset Hounds have naturally oily fur, requiring more frequent cleaning. You may think that hairless breeds don't need many baths, but the opposite is true. Hairless dogs like the Chinese Crested and Xoloitzcuintli require weekly baths as their lack of fur creates excess oil on their skin.


Aside from their fur length and coat type, how much time your dog spends outdoors will determine how often they need a bath. For example, long-haired dogs that stay mainly indoors will require fewer baths than short-haired canines that spend hours playing in the yard every day. In addition, if your pup loves to swim in rivers or splash in puddles on your daily walks, it goes without saying that they will get smelly fast.

Can you over wash your dog?

If your dog seems to get dirty every time they go outside, you may wonder, "can I bathe my dog every day?" We don't recommend bathing your dog every day as overwashing strips the natural oils from their skin and dries it out. This can lead to flaking and a tight sensation, making your pup feel itchy. So, if your dog gets dirty every day, spot clean with wet wipes instead. The very least you should wash your dog is every few months, and the most is once a week to avoid overwashing. Bearing that in mind, the best way to decide when to wash your dog is by its smell. For example, when hugging your dog is no longer pleasant, this is a clear sign that a bath is due!

How to Bathe a Dog: Step-By-Step Instructions

If you're unsure how to give a dog a bath, don't fret. Thankfully, most dogs don't fear water, and some even enjoy it. Follow these steps, and both you and your four-legged friend will have a happy and stress-free bathing experience.
  1. Brush their hair - Before getting their fur wet, brush or comb them to remove any mats. Matted hair retains water, which can irritate the skin.
  2. Wet the coat - Ensure the water is lukewarm, then slowly wet your dog's fur using either a shower head or cups of water. If your dog appears anxious, talk to them in a soothing voice to reassure them and help them relax.
  3. Apply shampoo - Lather them up with fresh-smelling dog shampoo and take a few minutes to massage it into their fur. This rubbing action will help strip the dirt away from the hair and skin. Don't apply shampoo on their face, and take care that it doesn't drip down into their eyes or ears.
  4. Don't forget the paws - It's easy to focus solely on cleaning your dog's fur that you forget to lift their feet. However, a common body part that traps dirt is between the toes, so ensure you clean their paws thoroughly using a cloth. 
  5. Rinse thoroughly - Even if your dog is getting restless by this point, don't rush the rinse. If you do not wash the shampoo out entirely, it can create irritation later. Avoid getting water directly in your pup's eyes or ears, too.
  6. Dry them with a towel or hair dryer - Let your dog shake out the excess water and then pat them dry with a towel or use a hairdryer. Avoid letting your dog air dry as it can make them cold. However, if it's a scorching summer day, you can let them dry off in the sun. 
  7. Give them a treat - Whether it's their first or tenth bath, reward your pup with a treat, building a positive association with bath time.

Final Thoughts

How often you should wash your dog depends on various factors but generally ranges from weekly to monthly. Of course, if your pup gets particularly dirty one day, it's no problem to wash them more often. Still, always be mindful not to over wash and dry out their skin.
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