“How often should you wash your dog?” could be one of Google’s most asked dog questions. And truthfully, that’s because there’s not one single answer. How often to wash a dog depends heavily on the type of coat, activity level and health concerns of the pooch in hand.
While us humans shower or take a bath pretty much every day, the same isn’t needed for our canine friends. In fact, you might be surprised to hear that while bathing your dog every single day might make them smell lovely, it could damage their skin and coat.
So how often should you wash your dog to ensure a happy, healthy, and fresh-smelling pooch?
How often should you wash your dog?
Let’s start with the minimum. You should be washing your dog at least once every 3-4 months. Any longer and your dog is likely to smell pretty unpleasant - and no one wants that! However, it’s quite likely that you’ll need to bathe your pooch more often than that.
Before we get into the different factors which determine how often you should wash your dog, let's look at it in a simpler way:
If your dog smells, they need a bath. If they’re covered in mud or dirt, they need a bath. Simple, right? As long as you’re using a gentle doggy shampoo and not a human shampoo, just use your judgement and give your dog a wash when you feel they really need one.
However, when asking “how often should you wash your dog?” you should take the following factors into account:
Breed or coat type
Margaret H. Bonham in Dog Grooming for Dummies says: “
Hairless dogs require weekly bathing followed by moisturisers and sun-screen. Remember, they’re as unprotected from the elements as you are, so put them in T-shirts or sweaters to keep them warm after a bath at night”
“Short-coated dogs usually need more baths than medium-coated dogs. Bathe your short-coated dog when his coat gets dirty or feels oily”
“Medium-coated dogs need to be bathed when dirty, but they also need to be brushed more, depending on the dog’s skin type and how often the coat gets oily.”
“Bathing double-coated dog depends a great deal on how dirty he gets and how often you brush and comb him. Most people get by with a bath once a month, but this may vary.”
Does your dog seem to love rolling around in mud, jumping in puddles and basically just becoming as mucky as possible? Active, playful dogs who loved the outdoors will need more regular baths than lazy dogs who prefer to stay indoors.
With short-coated dogs, you might be able to get away with giving your pooch a good rubdown with a warm, damp washcloth after getting a little grubby outdoors. But if you’ve got an eager, active medium or long-haired dog, expect lots more bath time!
Use this as a rule. If you can no longer give your dog a cuddle, you can smell them from across the room or you squirm at the thought of them laying on your clean furniture, it’s time to get them in the bath.
There are some skin and health conditions or allergies which might mean your pup needs more or less frequent bathtimes. In these circumstances, it’s best to ask for your vet’s advice. In some cases, your vet might prescribe medicated shampoo which can help manage the condition.
Dog washing - our top tips!
Don’t wash them too much
The one thing that’s important to point out when answering the question “how often should you wash your dog?” is to not overdo it. Frankly, most dogs don’t need baths more than once or twice a month - and bathing them every day or twice a week can actually do more harm than good.
A dog’s skin contains a host of natural oils which promotes hair growth, keeps the skin healthy and the fur soft. Washing it every day can strip these oils away, leading to dry skin, irritation and rashes.
Daily maintenance works wonders
There are lots of steps you can put into practice to help keep your pup’s coat maintained without the need for constant baths. Try to get into the habit of brushing your dog’s fur daily. This will distribute natural oils through their fur, reduce shedding, and get any debris and dirt out between bath times.
And remember, a bath isn’t always essential. If your pooch had a recent bath but got a little grubby whilst outside, a good wipe down with a damp cloth might be all your pooch needs.
Buy products specifically for dogs
Never - we repeat, never - use your own shampoo or soap on your dog. It could dry out their skin, sting their eyes, cause allergies, skin irritation or trigger rashes. We’d recommend purchasing a hypoallergenic, pH balanced shampoo which is made for dogs specifically. A rubber bath mat is handy to avoid slips. Oh, and make sure you’ve got some treats on hand to positively reinforce the process!
Don’t forget to give your pooch a good brush before getting them in the bath. If your dog’s fur is full of knots, they’ll be even trickier to remove after washing and drying. If your pooch is long-haired and prone to knots, it can be handy to brush through with a wide-bristled brush whilst washing, too.
Never mind answering the question “how often should you wash your dog?” - if you can’t get them in at all, you’ve got a bigger problem on their hands! Some dogs just seem to hate bath time!
However, a good way to get them relaxed with the idea of having a wash is to be consistent. Bathing can be uncomfortable and scary for dogs who aren’t used to it, so having a familiar place where they feel at home and at ease is crucial.
There are tubs specifically designed for dog bathing available - although using the same bath each time should be fine, too. Oh, and don’t forget those treats!
Use it as a check-up
Dog bathing isn’t just about getting them clean. Use the time to check up on your dog’s overall health. Check their ears, eyes and teeth. The skin is easy to see whilst a dog’s fur is wet, so check for any changes here too - are there any visible lumps, bumps, bald patches or sores? If so, keep an eye on them and head to the vet should they linger.
Well, we hope we helped you understand how often you should wash your dog! Happy washing - your pooch will be smelling sweet in no time!