How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Key takeaway

How often you bathe your dog depends on several factors, including activity level, coat, skin conditions, breed, and more. Most dogs only need to be bathed once every two or three months, and over-bathing your dog can lead to dry, irritated, itchy skin.

If you're asking yourself, “How often should you bathe your dog?”, the good news is that most dogs don't need to be bathed often, especially if they spend most of their time indoors and have a short coat. Bathing your dog can reduce odors in your home and prevent your dog from tracking in too much dirt. Even though dogs don't require frequent baths, they should be bathed every few months for optimal skin and coat health. Of course, every dog is different, and some will need to bathe more or less frequently than others.

The frequency you bathe your dog will depend on several factors, including their activity level, time spent outdoors, and coat type. In this article, we'll discuss how often you should bathe your dog, including the factors affecting how frequently your dog gets a bath and tips to make bath time a breeze.

Graphic: How often should you bathe your dog?

How Often Should You Give Your Dog a Bath?

If you're wondering, "How often should I bathe my dog?", you're in the right place. Most dogs should not be bathed too often since doing so can cause dry skin and worsen skin irritation. Bathing your dog can also relieve itchy skin, so finding the right time to wash your dog is beneficial.

Most dogs don't need to be given a bath more than once every few months.1 However, you shouldn't stop washing your pet. Bath time is important for your dog's skin and coat health, which can help keep their skin clean and provide itch relief for dogs with skin allergies.

Your nose and sight can often let you know when your dog is ready for a good clean. For example, if your dog is dirty, you'll probably want to bathe them before sharing your bed with them. Additionally, dogs can begin to develop an odor when dirt and other bacteria build up on their fur and skin. Having a regular bathing schedule for your dog can help your dog get more comfortable in the bath. Many dogs don't like baths, so putting your dog on a regular schedule is important to soothe any anxiety they feel.

If you have a puppy, you may wonder if you should bathe them more or less often than an adult dog. So, how often should you bathe a puppy? Luckily, puppies don't require any special grooming schedule. Instead, you can give your puppy a bath at the same frequency as an adult dog, which can help you easily get your pup used to bath time.

Factors That Influence Your Dog's Bathing Frequency

Not all dogs will have the same bathing frequency based on their activity levels and coat type. Other factors can influence how often you should bathe your dog.

Factors that influence your dog’s bathing frequency

Activity level

Your dog's activity level can affect how often they need to be washed. For example, if your dog spends a lot of time outside and playing with other dogs, they'll need more frequent baths. Keeping short-haired breeds clean is typically easier because their fur doesn't touch the ground.1 Instead, you can use a washcloth on your dog between baths to ensure they're always fresh. Dogs playing in water or mud should be bathed regularly compared to dogs that spend most of their time indoors.

You'll most likely know when your dog needs a bath after playing outside by the sight of dirt or mud. You may choose to wash them after playing at the dog park to remove any dirt they picked up while running around with their canine friends.

Type of coat

Your dog's coat will also impact how often they need to be washed. Ultimately, longer-haired breeds require more frequent baths because their fur touches the ground repeatedly, causing dirt, dust, and debris to enter your home. If you're asking yourself, "How often should I bathe my short-haired dog?", the answer isn't so simple.

Short-haired dogs require fewer baths because their fur is more easily maintained.1 However, that doesn't mean your short-haired dog doesn't need to be cleaned at all. Instead, use your best judgment to determine when it's time for your dog to get a bath. Some short-haired dogs may be more active than long-haired dogs, so while coat type factors into grooming frequency, it doesn't mean that one dog is cleaner than the other.

Allergies or skin conditions

Dogs with allergies or skin conditions may require more frequent bathing. For example, canine dermatitis may require prescription shampoo and a recommended bathing schedule from your vet to treat the condition. Ultimately, dogs with infections will need to be bathed more frequently. Other conditions, such as dandruff in dogs, will require your dog to be cleaned more often to remove the flakes on their skin.

Happy corgi getting a bath as they’re washed by a human

Breed

Your dog's breed may also impact how often they need a bath. Of course, dogs with longer coats should be given a bath more frequently, especially if they're highly active and spend much of their time outdoors. Surprisingly, hairless breeds must receive weekly baths to keep their skin clean and soft since they don't have fur to protect it.1

Your dog's breed may also impact their skin health. Some breeds are predisposed to allergies that can cause irritated and itchy skin. For example, Boston Terriers are susceptible to environmental allergies, which can result in itchy skin and several other symptoms.2

Veterinary recommendations

Your vet is an excellent resource for any questions you may have about your dog, so you can always talk to them about how often you should bathe your pet. Depending on your dog's skin health, your dog may need to be washed more or less often. For example, a dog with dandruff may require more baths than one with dry skin.

Additionally, if you're using any veterinary prescribed shampoo, you'll need to follow your vet's instructions.3 These shampoos treat specific problems, so you may have to use them more frequently to help treat your dog's skin conditions.

Dog Bathing Tips

Some dogs enjoy bath time while others run away the second they hear the water running. Creating a regular grooming schedule is the best way to get your dog used to baths. However, you may sometimes need to break away from that schedule if your dog smells or is dirty.

Graphic: Dog bathing tips

That said, here are some tips to help you safely and properly bathe your dog.

Choose the right shampoo

It's always best to use shampoo formulated specifically for dogs because they’re made with pet-safe ingredients that won’t irritate their skin.4 There are many different types of shampoos for dogs, so try to find something that can be beneficial for your pet. For example, if your dog has dandruff, you can use a dandruff shampoo to help remove the flakes and keep your dog's skin healthy and moisturized between baths.

Don't shampoo your dog's head

You don't need to put shampoo on your dog's head because it can easily wash into their eyes and make them hate taking baths. Instead, use a washcloth to wipe away dirt from their head, ears, and face.4

Gather your supplies beforehand

If your dog doesn't enjoy baths, it's best to get them in and out of the tub as quickly as possible. So, gather all the supplies you need to make the process smooth and quick before your dog is in the bathtub or washing area.

Don't scold or punish your dog

Dogs may try to struggle while getting washed, but scolding or punishing them can lead to a bad experience, making them unlikely to enjoy future baths. Instead, you can reward your dog for taking a bath by giving them treats or using a lick mat with peanut butter to distract them.

Get your dog professionally bathed

If your dog is difficult to wash at home, a professional may have better luck. Groomers are trained to handle dogs no matter their temperaments, so it may be easier to let someone else bathe your pet. Professional grooming is more expensive than cleaning your dog yourself, but it can provide a better experience for your pet.

Dog Bathing Frequency: FAQs

Can I bathe my dog once a week?

It's recommended to bathe your dog once every few months for optimal coat and skin health. However, some dogs will need to be washed more frequently. For example, if you have a hairless dog, they may have to be bathed weekly.

If you're unsure how often to bathe your dog, it's always best to ask a vet.

How often should I bathe an indoor dog?

Indoor dogs don't need to be bathed as often as outdoor dogs. However, bathing your dog every two to three months is typically best to help remove dead skin cells and promote healthy skin and fur.

Is bathing my dog twice a month bad?

How often your dog needs to be bathed depends on their specific needs. For example, if your dog has a skin condition, they may need to be cleaned with a special shampoo twice a month or more. However, if your dog is healthy and they don't smell or have visible dirt, you don't need to wash your dog more than once every few months.

Final Notes

How often you bathe your dog depends on several factors, including their activity level, coat, skin health, and breed. If your dog is healthy and doesn't have visible flakes, signs of itchy skin, or allergies, they can typically be washed once every few months. However, some dogs require more frequent bathing based on their coat lengths, vet recommendations, and activity levels.

The easiest way to know if your dog needs a bath is by looking at them and smelling them. It's always best to talk to a vet if your dog suffers from skin problems. A Dutch-affiliated vet can help you find the right bath products for your dog based on any skin conditions they may have. A remote vet can also prescribe medicated shampoos to treat skin conditions and keep your dog's skin clean and healthy. Talk to a vet online today to learn more about your options for pet care.

References

  1. Lotz, Kristina. “How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?” American Kennel Club, 2 Mar. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-often-should-you-wash-your-dog/.

  2. White, Stephen D., and Karen A. Moriello. “Allergies in Dogs - Dog Owners.” Merck Veterinary Manual, 21 June 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/skin-disorders-of-dogs/allergies-in-dogs.

  3. “Bathing Your Dog.” Veterinary Teaching Hospital, 10 Nov. 2021, https://hospital.vetmed.wsu.edu/2021/11/10/bathing-your-dog/.

  4. “Dog Grooming Tips.” ASPCA, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-grooming-tips.