How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

New dog owners often are excited about the opportunity to bathe their pet. What some people may not realizing is that too many baths can cause skin problems in their dog. Knowing when to bathe a dog is an important part of pet ownership.


New Puppies

Although a new puppy might be dirty, it should not be so filthy it requires a bath. If a puppy is in horrid condition at its original home, its home environment is either very undesirable (and should be reported), or the puppy could be sick. The only reason a new puppy should need a bath is if it had an upset tummy as the result of the car ride to the new home.

New puppies should be washed only with a wet wash cloth rather than given a bath. Bathing can be traumatic and they are already adjusting to being without their mom, litter mates, and familiar surroundings, they may also be on new food too, and it all adds to stress.

New puppies can be gently bathed after 1 week in their new home (only if needed). Non-shedding breeds, and those who will require regular trips to the groomers, should be taken for their first “puppy cut” at 12 weeks of age, but only after they are fully vaccinated.

Short Haired Dogs

Short haired dogs such as Labs, Pugs, and Beagles, do not need regular bathing. These dogs do shed a lot and particularly in the spring it might be a good idea to bathe them. Scrubbing in a circular motion will release and remove any loose hairs.

Peaches' Bath Time Faux Hawk. by Augie Schwer.

Long Haired Dogs

Dogs with long hair, that sheds, should not be bathed too frequently either, bathing tends to tangle their coat, so unless it is a show dog, or one that got dirty, regular brushing is enough. Again, a bath in the spring will help with shedding. If the dog is taken to a groomer the owner can request that its coat be “blown out”, to release any loose hairs.

Non-Shedding Dogs

These dogs have coats that grow perpetually. They need to be brushed regularly, even daily, or they develop painful mats. Many people take these dogs to the groomers for bathing and haircuts. This should be every 6 – 8 weeks.


Although baby shampoo can be used in an emergency situation it is always best to stick with dog shampoo. The same applies for conditioner.

Shampooing dogs too often dries out their coat and removes their natural oils. Even humans would have healthier hair if we washed it less.

There are specialty shampoos for killing fleas, these should not be used unless the dog actually has fleas.  See Related Links, below, for more information on getting rid of fleas without chemicals.

There are specialty shampoos for dogs with sensitive skin, or itching problems, however it is also important to address the cause of the itching rather than relying on the shampoo as a cure.  See the Related Links, below.

Dogs who itch frequently after a bath may be allergic to the shampoo or were not rinsed well enough.  Other times this can be a problem if the dog is bathed too frequently.

at the dog wash..... by Sideshow Bruce.


Use caution not to get water in the dogs ear canal. This is one of the leading causes of ear infections. Always dry the ear well.  This is very important in dogs with floppy ears.

Drying the whole dog is important, leaving it wet can lead to bacterial, yeast, and fungal, growth.

Dogs who swim in lakes or ponds can be washed with plain water and dried well after to prevent itch.

Bath time is also the best time to trim a dogs nails.

Dogs frequently behave better for a groomer than for their owners at bath time, especially small spoiled dogs.

For the first bath it may be easier to add 3 inches of warm water in the bath tub and put the dog in. Water can be brought up over the dog with a cup. A hose attachment works well. Baths can be given outdoors in plastic kids swimming pools but be aware that outdoor hose water will be cold.

Small dogs can be washed in the kitchen sink.

Some areas have “Do-it-yourself” dog washes.

Schotzy's Bath by brykmantra.

Related Links

How Often should I Brush my Dog?

Why is my Dog Itching?

Guide for Dog Owners

How Healthy is my Dog?

Getting Rid of Fleas Safely

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User Comments
  1. papaleng

    On March 18, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Very interesting post. Regarding my pet Lab, is it okay that I give him a bath twice a week. He is five years old.

  2. Jo Oliver

    On March 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    i like how you broke it down on hair type. Luckily, I have a very short haired dog that doesn’t require much grooming. I have had long haired dogs and oh my those coats that shed can be a real mess. Good post.

  3. thecaliforniapetlawyer

    On March 18, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    This is certainly a good topic. I have a long haired cat, a Persian. and hope to see a similar article about their bathing needs.

  4. Brenda Nelson

    On March 18, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    to Papaleng, bathing a Lab twice a week is too frequent, it will dry out their coat. A very gentle shampoo should be used or none at all, if there is a reason you are bathing the dog this often.. otherwise I would not suggest so many baths.

  5. mo hoyal

    On March 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    This was very interesting B. I’ve also heard that frquent bathing can cause skin problems and that once a month is good. The last bath my short haired dauschand sp-rat terrier had was outside with 2 large cans of tomato juice. She got skunked! But that stuff really works and a follow up with soap did the trick. You have very interesting topics and write very well, I enjoy your articles!
    Best wishes from me-I’m doing better and can drive now so that helps.

  6. PR Mace

    On March 19, 2010 at 1:11 am

    I knew you would write this one next and I was waiting for it. We bathe our dogs once a month, brush them and then apply monthly flea medication. I know someone who has a long haired white dog and they bathe her sometimes three times a week. I have tried to tell them this is too much and will dry out the dogs skin. I am happy you spoke about using shampoo made for dogs. My husband once used regular human shampoo on our dogs as we forgot to buy new shampoo for them. Kole begin to lose his hair and had large dry sores. He had a bacteria infection and the cost was over $100 and weekly medicated baths to correct it.

  7. Darla Beck

    On March 19, 2010 at 8:10 am

    My sister’s little dog stays with us almost all the time now. It stays inside more than it’s outside, so the only time we bathe it is when it needs a flea bath, which isn’t very often.

  8. Alive11

    On March 20, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Very Impressive write

  9. deep blue

    On March 20, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Nice tips. Regarding my former pet reticulated python, I bathe it everytime it excretes. The difference is it doesn’t have a waggily tail. Simply slippery when wet.

  10. Joanne Teh

    On March 21, 2010 at 1:33 am

    mm…after read your article, i think my dogs have too much oof bathing since they are bath everyweek! At the beginning, they keep running away when they now they gonna take bath, but then they seems enjoy about it :)

  11. LewSethics

    On March 24, 2010 at 10:45 am

    A very useful article, concisely written. A pleasure to read.
    I have a beautiful all-white mutt who has a bad itchy spot on her lower back that she can’t seem to stop messing with. Her mother was also all-white and she also had the same problem at about the same place on her back. Is this a genetic thing? Can it be dealt with? The older went missing years ago so we don’t know what, if any, continuing affect this problem had on her. thanks peace

  12. Brenda Nelson

    On March 24, 2010 at 11:34 am

    to LewSethics

    this link should help you find out the reason why the dog is itching.. it could be food related

  13. MommaTyson

    On November 24, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    I have a dogue de bordeaux cross lab, he is my first puppy and I\’m not sure when I should wash him. Also I know it is off this topic but any advice on going with human food or dog food?

  14. Brenda Nelson

    On November 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Congrats on your new puppy Momma Tyson.

    He probably wont need a bath but you can give him one at 8 or 10 weeks of age just to get him use to it, be sure to try him carefully, 12 weeks is also good if you want to have a groomer do it, but he should be fully vaccinated first!

    As for food – cooking for your dog is good if you have the time but most people dont. Knowing how to find a good dog food will help, most dog foods are not too good.
    Any food switching should be done gradually

  15. alex

    On May 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    my dog loves baths we have a hard time keeping her out of the bathroom and she gets so excited when she hears the tub running. if its just water can she keep her every other day swim?

  16. Susan

    On June 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Thank you for the information, was looking to see how often I should bathe my labradoodle, She is 9 weeks old now..

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