How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?
Washing your dog has many benefits. He will smell cleaner and be healthier in general when he has regular baths. But how often should you wash your dog? Is it bad to bathe your dog every week? Whether your dog is an adult or a puppy, bathing your pet is important, but the ideal frequency varies based on your dog's breed and coat type.
Once a Month Is Often Ideal
A dog with a healthy coat and skin won't typically need to be bathed more than once a month1 and can sometimes wait as long as every three months.2 Of course, if your dog just rolled in the mud and got dirty or smelly, you might need to bathe him sooner than you had planned. The typical recommendation is to avoid washing your dog more than once a week.
The Frequency Depends on Coat Types & Activity Levels
Although the general rule of thumb is to wash your dog about once a month, the specifics can vary depending on your dog's activity level and type of coat.
If your dog has shorter fur, like a Jack Russell Terrier, then you may not need to wash your dog every month. Instead, you might be able to use a damp cloth on your dog to remove dirt after he's been outside and bathe him infrequently.3 Dogs with medium-length fur coats might be bathed monthly. Hairless dogs, meanwhile, may need to be bathed weekly.
Dogs with water-resistant coats, like Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers, shouldn't be washed more than once a month. Because their coats are water-resistant, you want to avoid bathing them too much and stripping away some of their natural oils.4 Follow the same advice for dogs with double coats, like Chows.
Some dogs with very long fur, like Maltese, might need more maintenance. If your Maltese is more active, he may need to be bathed as often as once a week, while a less-active Maltese might only need to be washed monthly.5
Puppies Shouldn't Be Bathed When They're Too Young
When a puppy is less than two months old, she probably doesn't need to be bathed at all.6 She's still very attached to her mom, and it's more important to keep her warm. Her mom can handle keeping her clean. When you bring a puppy home after she's older than two months, you can give a short bath on occasion as needed.
Brushing Is More Important than Bathing
Consistently brushing your dog is actually more important than bathing.7 You'll wash your dog when he needs it (not more than once a week). In contrast, you should brush your dog frequently. Most dogs benefit from daily brushing. It's a great way to make sure natural oils are distributed throughout his coat, it prevents him from getting knots in his fur, and it helps you bond. While short-haired breeds may only need a few minutes of brushing, a longer-haired breed might need more intensive brushing sessions.
Use a Self-Warming Bed After a Bath
Dogs may not love being bathed, but they'll enjoy the process more if they have a self-warming bed to turn to after a bath. Towel dry your dog after a bath and make sure he's damp, not dripping. But he may still want a little extra comfort afterward. The Self-Warming Pet Pad can be washed in cold water on a gentle cycle. The K&H Self-Warming Pet Cot can be used indoors or outdoors and has a self-warming sherpa center that traps your pet's heat and reflects it back to them. You could also try a K&H Original Pet Cot. Its mesh center helps the dog dry more quickly since fresh air flows to the dog in all directions (even underneath!).
Bathing should be part of your dog's natural hygiene routine, and it's a great way for the two of you to bond. Just be sure you don't wash your dog too frequently. For many breeds, once a month is just fine.
1. Madson, Cathy. "Tips for Bathing a Dog at Home." Preventive Vet, 31 July 2020, https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/bathing-a-dog-at-home.
2. Kam, Katherine. "Pet Health: Why Bathing and Brushing Are Important." Pets.WebMD.com, https://pets.webmd.com/features/pets-bathe-groom-important#1.
3. Lotz, Kristina. "How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog? Groomers Weigh In." American Kennel Club, 25 May 2018, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-often-should-you-wash-your-dog/.
4. CCSPCA. "How Often Should You Bathe a Dog?" Central California SPCA, 13 October 2016, https://www.ccspca.com/blog-spca/education/how-often-should-you-bathe-a-dog/.
5. Williams, Jane. "How Often Should You Bathe a Maltese Without Ruining Its Coat?" The Nest, https://pets.thenest.com/should-bathe-maltese-ruining-coat-11447.html.
6. AZPetVet. "How Often Should I Give My Dog a Bath? From Puppy to an Adult." ArizonaPetVet.com, http://www.arizonapetvet.com/blog/how-often-should-i-give-my-dog-a-bath/.
7. Kam, Katherine, https://pets.webmd.com/features/pets-bathe-groom-important#1.