By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 06/11/2020, edited: 08/10/2021
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There’s nothing quite like snuggling up with your pup after they’ve just had a bath. With soft, silky fur and no trace of an unpleasant odor, a washed dog makes a gorgeous cuddling companion. Bathing is also important to ensure a healthy coat and skin, so washing your dog regularly is an important responsibility for every pet parent.
But how often should you wash your dog? Do they need a good scrub every other day, or does a “less is more” approach work best?
How often should you wash your dog? The short answer
It depends. A wide range of factors can determine how often your dog needs to be washed, with their breed and coat type playing a very important role.
For example, a short-coated dog who spends most of their time indoors may only need washing every couple of months. On the other hand, a long-coated dog who loves outdoor play and rolling around in the mud is going to need a bath much more often.
As a general rule, a bath once a month will keep your dog looking (and smelling) great. This will eliminate any dirt and grime and also help prevent the development of skin conditions. And if you ever notice that your pooch is starting to smell, it’s probably time to reach for the doggy shampoo.
However, some dogs, particularly those with skin problems or high-maintenance coats, will need to be washed more frequently.
Factors that affect how often you should bathe your dog
How often you should wash your dog really does vary from one pup to the next. Let’s take a look at the common factors that help determine how often your fur-baby needs a bath.
Coat type and length
Generally speaking, long-haired breeds tend to require more frequent washing than their short-coated counterparts. If you own a breed like the Yorkshire Terrier or the Maltese, your dog’s gorgeous long coat can be a magnet for dirt and debris, so regular washing is essential to keep it in tip-top shape.
On the other hand, a breed like the German Shorthaired Pointer can be easily cleaned with a damp washcloth and will only require bathing when they start to develop an odor.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all shorter-haired breeds are low maintenance. For example, hairless breeds like the Chinese Crested Dog actually need to be washed as much as once a week.
Seasonal shedding may also need to be taken into account. If your dog sheds heavily during spring, bathing them a little more frequently during this time can help remove loose hairs from their coat.
Ask your breeder or veterinarian for advice on how often you should wash your dog.
Your dog’s lifestyle
Next, consider a couple of important questions:
Does your dog spend most of their time indoors or outdoors? Dogs who spend most of their time inside are less likely to get dirty and smelly than pups who love the great outdoors.
What are your dog’s favorite activities? If your fur-baby spends most of their time on the couch or in your lap, chances are they won’t need to be bathed as frequently as a dog that loves hiking through the woods or some “ruff and tumble” with other pooches at the dog park.
Skin conditions and allergies can also influence how often you need to wash your dog. However, depending on the condition, this could mean you need either to bathe them more often or a whole lot less.
For example, dogs with environmental allergies may need more frequent washing to help keep their skin and coat free of allergens. Dogs suffering from bacterial or yeast infections may need to be washed with a medicated shampoo, while pooches with sensitive skin may benefit from less frequent bathing in order to reduce the risk of irritation.
Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on how often you need to give your dog a bath, as well as what shampoo you need to use.
Sometimes the decision to wash your dog has nothing to do with your pup’s needs and everything to do with your own comfort.
Some dogs have a knack for sniffing out unpleasant smells, rolling in them, and then tracking them all the way through your home. And let’s face it: no matter how much you love your dog, there are some odors that are just too much to handle.
If your pup is starting to get a little on the nose, giving them a wash will do them (and you) a whole world of good.
If you have an allergic reaction to your dog’s dander, you may also need to wash your pup more often than normal. Washing your pet once a week, along with cleaning their bedding regularly, can help keep your allergies under control.
What happens if I wash my dog too much?
There’s another bath-related question that worries many new pet parents: Is it possible to wash my dog too much?
The answer is yes, over-washing can be a problem. While it’s unlikely to cause any major health issues, bathing your dog too frequently can strip their coat of its natural oils. These oils help ensure that their skin and coat stay healthy, so over-washing can cause them to dry out and be uncomfortable for your dog.
So while there’s nothing as “pawsome” as cuddling up with your pup after they’ve just had a bath, be careful not to wash them any more often than is needed.
Make sure you use a shampoo specifically designed for dogs, as human shampoos can cause irritation. And if you’re unsure about how often you should be washing your dog, ask your vet for advice.