How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?
Some dogs love a good bath, while others want nothing to do with it. But baths are an important part of providing regular care for your dogs, even if they're resistant to this hygienic practice.
How often should you bathe your dog, exactly? It can depend on your dog and its circumstances. There's no prescribed bathing schedule that suits all dogs, and several factors need to be considered when determining bathing frequency. Here's what you need to consider when planning your bathing routine for your dog.
How often do dogs need a bath?
A general rule for bathing dogs is that the longer their coat of hair is, the more frequently they'll need to have a bath. While a dog with a medium-to-long coat of hair may require baths as often as every four to six weeks, many short-haired breeds can go well over a month before it's time to take a bath.
There can be some exceptions, though. Certain short-haired breeds of dog have very sensitive coats and skin that can require as much as weekly baths. And some long-hair breeds may not require a monthly bath if their activity level is low.
The activity level may play a significant role in determining how often to bathe a dog. In the summer months, or during periods of high activity, dogs may produce more oils through their skin and develop an odor faster. Many owners may find themselves giving more regular baths during warmer months, and going longer between baths during the fall and winter.
Note that you can also over-bathe your dog; excessive bathing and harsh soaps can dry out your dog's skin and lead to itching. If you're uncertain about the bathing needs of your dog, you can always consult your veterinarian for their expert advice.
How often you should bathe specific breeds?
Here are some breed-specific answers for how often should you bathe your dog:
- How often should you bathe a Labrador? In most cases, the short coats on Labradors only require bathing on at most a monthly basis, or as little as once every three months. Too much bathing can strip away important natural oils on their skin and in their coat, causing irritation.
- How often should you bathe a golden retriever? Golden retrievers have a much thicker coat than Labradors, so it's no surprise that they need more frequent baths. Experts recommend a bath at least every six weeks for this family pup.
- How often should you bathe a shih tzu? The thick, curled coat on a shih tzu is more high maintenance than what you'll find on many other breeds. Typically, a shih tzu should be bathed every three weeks to keep its skin and hair healthy and to avoid bad smells from developing.
- What about bathing poodles? Much like a shih tzu, the coat on a poodle is best-served by a bath every three weeks.
- How often should a bichon frise get bathed and groomed? This breed has famously high-maintenance hair and may require a bath every two weeks. In addition, the hair also needs to be trimmed to prevent matting and other issues.
- Any tips on grooming dachshunds? Both long-haired and short-haired dachshunds only require a bath every three months, assuming they aren't getting into messes. With long-haired dachshunds, it's recommended that you brush their coat to keep it in good health.
How can you improve your dog's comfort during a bath?
Baths can be a stressful experience for your dog. Here are a few tips to make the process easier on your dog—and maybe even turn it into an event that they look forward to:
- Gather your supplies before the bath begins. By minimizing your dog's time in the bath, you can reduce the stress of this necessary task.
- Check your bathwater temperature before placing your dog in the water. Hot water can be painful and even damage your pet's skin, while cold water is unpleasant and can exacerbate stress. Lukewarm to mildly warm water will keep your dog safe and maximize their comfort.
- Use dog-specific shampoo or baby shampoo. These shampoos will have gentler cleaning agents that will save your dog from becoming irritated by the soap, or from developing a stinging sensation when the soap gets into their eyes.
- Bathe your dog in the same tub, whenever possible. Whether it's a tub, a basin or another location, this consistency will improve your dog's comfort.
Some dogs will never love the bathing process, no matter how many steps you take to improve your comfort. But these accommodations can still make regular baths more tolerable for your dog, and easier for you to handle on your own.
What are some tips for bathing your dog due to fleas and other issues?
Fleas, mud, irritated skin and other complications can prompt an immediate bath, even if it's earlier than your dog's regular schedule. It's important to get your dog into the bath quickly to save them from additional discomfort associated with their condition. Here are some tips to help you tackle these challenges head-on:
- Use a medicated shampoo designed to kill fleas or alleviate itching. This can be useful if they've come into contact with some type of irritant, or if they've developed dried or itching skin due to allergies or environmental factors.
- If your dog is covered in mud, consider washing them outside. Too much mud could clog your indoor plumbing, creating an even bigger—and more expensive—mess.
- Use a detachable showerhead to provide a deeper clean. These showerheads can help you clear our salt and other debris in your dog's paws, and provide a more thorough cleaning of their underside.
Bathing your dog isn't always easy, but it's important to keep their coats and skin healthy. Keep up on this caretaking tasks to avoid additional problems that could affect your dog's quality of life.