German shepherd taking bath

Exactly How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

Bathing and grooming your dog will no doubt benefit you as a pet parent. But you may be wondering how often you should wash your dog and what products to use.

November 23, 2021

Bathing and grooming your dog will no doubt benefit you as a pet parent. But regular maintenance will help keep Good Boy's skin and coat clean and healthy by removing any buildup of dirt and debris, too. 

With so many breeds, lifestyles, and hair and skin types, figuring out the frequency and what you need is not as simple as determining a routine of how often you should walk your dog. Just as it's possible to undergroom, you can overgroom your pet, too. Additionally, you want to ensure you're using the right products to avoid irritated skin.

In this article, we'll outline how often you should wash your dog when grooming is needed, what you need, and answers to some FAQs on the topic.

Your four-legged friend is just as unique as you, and so are his needs. Many factors can determine how often he'll need to be bathed, such as his coat, skin, and lifestyle. If he's furry and athletic, he'll need much more attention than a dog whose favorite leisure activity is sitting in your lap. Here we'll go through some guidelines to help you get started.

Based on coat type

Dogs with short, smooth fur can go longer without a bath. You may be able to get away with once every two to three months if he's not offensive smelling. However, if your dog's hair is long, he needs to be shampooed every six weeks. Hairless breeds require more frequent bathing, needing a wash every week since their skin is less protected without hair.

Based on skin type

If your dog's skin is oily, he'll benefit from monthly baths to prevent oil buildup, giving his coat a healthier feeling and appearance. Skin allergies and conditions will also require less tending to between baths. But with each pup and symptom being unique, you'll want to follow the advice of your vet or groomer as to how often he needs shampoo. Dogs that react to parasite treatments may also need some extra attention to control fleas and ticks.

Based on lifestyle

Some canines seem drawn to the water like a moth to a flame, and others shy away from raindrops altogether. If your pooch loves swimming and rolling in the dirt regularly, you'll need to bathe him accordingly. Dogs that are active and work dogs will also need an extra bit of care to keep their coats healthy and odors at bay.

How often should you groom your dog?

How often you should brush your dog depends on their hair length. Short-haired dogs are low maintenance when brushing, but brushing every other day is vital in keeping their skin and coat healthy. Breeds like a bulldog can get away with a simple rubber brush or bristle brush. Coat types like that of a Labrador retriever also benefit from a bristle brush. Additionally, a dog with fur like this will benefit from a deshedding tool, as will your furniture. 

A thick undercoat like that of a Husky's will need daily grooming to keep him comfortable. An undercoat rake will help you get through all that fur without damaging it. Taking him to the groomer every eight to 12 weeks will help keep the bulk out of his coat, too.

Long-haired dogs need daily brushing, and as their hair gets longer, twice every day with a comb. You'll also need to take him to the groomer every eight to 12 weeks, depending on the breed, his ideal style, and your groomer's recommendations.

What you'll need to bathe your dog

To bathe your dog, you'll need the right brush for his hair type, for before and after his trip to the doggy spa. You'll also need a proper dog shampoo. Avoid using human shampoos or any other kind of soaps and cleaners not intended for a dog's skin. With so many options available, you're likely to find one within your budget that meets his needs. Dog conditioner is optional but leaves him with a coat that's soft and helps with detangling. Your pup may also feel calmer with a bathmat under him, so he's not slipping in the tub.

When it comes time to dry your dog, you can use a bath towel or a blow dryer specific to dogs if he can tolerate one. Since bathtime is a little stressful for most, a treat once he's all cleaned up will help - how about some dog ice cream? If your dog is heavily matted, needs a medicated soak, or is prone to fleas, a professional groomer can safely handle the job. Groomers know how to work with dogs that are troublesome to bathe. However, trips to the groomer can add up. 

Dog bathing FAQs

How often should you wash a dog with skin problems?

With each dog and skin condition being unique, you should discuss bathing your dog with your vet or groomer to ensure the frequency and products are optimal for his needs. And if you notice that all this dog washing is giving you dry skin, check out this list of moisturizers for a little bit of self care.

How often should you wash your dog with fleas?

Follow the instructions on your flea shampoo bottle. Most typically recommend weekly or biweekly baths.

How often should I bathe my dog in summer?

Unless your dog develops a skin condition or is more active or dirty in the summer, you can keep the same routine year-round.

Is it bad to wash your dog every day?

Daily or overgrooming can strip a dog’s fur and skin of natural oils resulting in skin issues or a dull coat. Unless advised by your vet, avoid daily baths.

Can I wash my dog once a week?

If you want to stay on top of your dog's grooming, bathing him once a week is fine as long as you're using the right products.

Do dogs feel better after a bath?

Bath time may be stressful for your four-legged friend, as his movement is limited, the loud running water is freaky, and the shampoo is likely not his favorite scent. Afterward, he'll be relieved it's over and may even get a boost of energy or a case of the "zoomies" that sends him running around the house like a – you guessed it – mad dog. 

Can you wash a dog with Dawn dish soap?

It's a common misconception that Dawn is a pet shampoo alternative since the soap is effective in helping to remove oil from wild animals like skunks. However, refrain from using the soap on your dog regularly. Dawn cuts grease on dishes, and since it does such a fantastic job, it will wash away his natural oils, leaving his skin and hair irritated if used often. However, when a dog is sprayed by a skunk, going to the pet store for a proper skunk treatment shampoo can be inconvenient. Many claim they use a homemade remedy using Dawn dish soap. Just avoid getting it in his eyes, and make sure you rinse thoroughly.

Keep your dog and your nose happy

Finding a routine to stay on top of your pup's bathing and grooming needs will help keep him happy and healthy and reduce the amount of hair and dander in your home. Ask your vet or groomer if you're still unsure how often you should care for your pet's coat. They'll be able to give you advice on how to wash your dog that's suitable to his breed and unique needs. 

For more doggy care tips, check out our article on how to pick dog food and our checklist for getting a new puppy

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