How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

How often should you bathe your dog? Every pup parent would answer this question differently because bathing frequency depends on many factors such as breed, coat, lifestyle, and more!

Most dogs should be bathed once every couple of months, but some breeds need it more or less frequently. 

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What Determines How Often to Bathe Your Dog?

There are various factors that determine how often we should bathe our dogs. Depending on criteria such as lifestyle, length of coat, and your dog’s breed, your dog may need to be bathed anywhere from once every few months to once a week.

The Coat

Although bathing too frequently can strip the dog’s coats of their natural oil, some dogs’ coats are oily to begin with. As a result, more frequent bathing is recommended to combat their oily and greasy skin.

Breeds such as Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, and Labradors tend to have more oily and greasy coats. If you’re not sure what kind of coat your dog has, ask your groomer or veterinarian.

There is a big misconception that shorter-haired breeds need to be bathed less than longer-haired breeds. Hairless dogs, for example, need to be bathed weekly in order to eliminate toxins and bacteria from being absorbed through the skin. In long-haired dogs, their skin is actually protected from toxins and bacteria by their long coat, prompting them to need bathing less frequently.

Allergies & Health Conditions

Another exception to the rule is owners who have allergies to their dog’s dander. Dog dander, or dandruff, can build up on your dog’s coat and spread onto the furniture and carpet all over the house. Washing your dog more frequently can slow the buildup of dander, and ultimately cause fewer allergic reactions.

Some dogs may develop health conditions that require more frequent washing. Skin conditions may require additional bathing with special medicated shampoos.

Furthermore, exposure to fleas, ticks, or mites is a great excuse to give your pup a bath.

Changing Seasons

Double-coated dog breeds, such as Pomeranians, Huskies, and Golden Retrievers, shed heavily twice a year. This typically occurs when their summer coat is shedding and when their winter coat is growing in.

It is very important to bathe your double-coated dog or take them to the groomer during these times because your dog’s coat can become impacted if you don’t. If you choose to bathe at home, get a de-shedding shampoo and conditioner, which will remove dead hair and prevent impaction. Also, remember to brush your pup’s fur before and after washing. This will prevent their coat from becoming matted.

Even for dogs without a double coat, it may be a good idea to give them a bath when the seasons change.


Activity and lifestyle also have to do with how often your dog should get bathed. A dog that plays in the mud during the rainy season or that swims in the river, lake, or ocean will need a bath more frequently than a dog that likes to hang out with you on the couch.

Some dogs may spend most of their day outside, not necessarily playing, but lounging around and keeping watch. Even though these pups may not appear dirty, they will still need a bath more frequently than those dogs that stay inside all day.

Don’t Bathe Your Dog Too frequently

Keep in mind that bathing your dog too frequently isn’t a good idea either. Just like human skin and hair, a dog’s natural oils get stripped away when they bathe too often. This could ultimately dry out their skin and negatively affect how their coat looks.

If you want to keep your pup’s coat shiny and healthy, bathing too often is not the answer!

How to Bathe Your Dog

If you’d like to bathe your dog yourself, how do you even start? Many people don’t know
how and this article doesn’t feel complete without mentioning it, so here’s a brief how-to:

Gather Supplies

Before bathing your pup, you must gather the necessary supplies:

  • Shampoo
  • Non-slip shower mat
  • Comb or brush
  • Towels
  • Large cup or tupperware for rinsing
  • Lick pad (optional)

It is very important to remember that dog shampoo is different than human shampoo, and you cannot use human shampoo on a dog. Human skin and dog skin is different, and human shampoo may hurt your pup’s skin as a result.

Although the lick pad is optional, it’s a great tool to keep your dog occupied during bathing. Lick pads are a pad or mat that you can put on the shower floor or stick to the shower wall. You can place treats such as peanut butter onto the mat, and your dog will stay busy trying to get their treat instead of putting up a fight in the bathtub.

Get The Water Temperature Right

Since your pup will likely be a little nervous, you want to make sure the water temperature is comfortable for them.

A good rule of thumb is to get the water to the lukewarm level. If the water is too cold or too hot, your pup’s already fast heartrate may jump. The key here is to make your dog as comfortable as they can be, since most pups do not enjoy bath time!

Rinse, Lather, and Rinse

Once your pup is comfortably in the tub, rinse them off.

Using the large cup or tupperware, or even a shower sprayer, get all of their entire fur and body rinsed off. Be sure to keep an eye on the water temperature as you do this, and make sure you are not spraying them in the eyes or directly into the anus.

Once your pup is rinsed, lather them up with dog shampoo. Start at the top of their coat near their neck and work your way down and back, making sure you don’t get any soap in their eyes.

At this point, you can rinse your pup off! Start at the top of their coat and work your way down their spine. After you have rinsed them, make sure there is no more leftover shampoo on their fur or skin. If there is, simply rinse them again!

Once your dog is all clean, carefully get your dog out of the tub. Because they are all wet and likely a little frightened, their first reaction is going to be shaking their fur and maybe even running away.

Dry Off

With towels, dry your pup off. Start at the top of their body, near their head and neck, and work your way down their spine.

Once your pup is mostly dry, you can comb them out with the comb or brush! At this point, it might be good to give them another treat to keep them occupied during the brushing.


There are many variables that affect how often you should bathe your pup. Most breeds need it once every few months, but other breeds may need it more or less frequently. How often you bathe your dog heavily depends on the type of breed, coat, and lifestyle your dog lives.

If you have any questions about bathing your dog, reach out to Caring Hearts Animal Hospital in Matthews, NC at 704-893-2799.