How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Bathing your dog can either be a cinch or a chore, depending on your dog. If it’s a chore, then you’ve likely asked yourself how often you should bathe your dog. Is it once a week? Once a week? When they’re stinky? The answer? 

The general rule of thumb is once every four weeks by a professional groomer, but what about home baths? Well, it depends. 

We know, we know. You want something concrete. We’ll do you one better. 

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog? 

Like we said, it depends on your dog and their coat. Generally speaking, a healthy dog who doesn’t run through mud on a daily basis, and has a short and smooth coat with no skin problems doesn’t need a bath every day. They need it when they’re dirty or smelly. 

Think of it like this: you don’t need to wash your hair every day, right? Your dog’s fur gets dirty a lot slower than our hair does. It doesn’t accumulate the same oils and your dog grooms themselves often. You also brush them, which helps dislodge loose fur, debris, and dead skin. That’s why they don’t need to be bathed every single week. 

On the flip side, though, bathing your dog is an excellent time to check them over for any injury or abnormality. It lets you get under the fur and feel their skin and paws more than you regularly would. 

Also, some dogs need to be bathed more often! Here are several factors to consider when deciding if you should increase your dog bath frequency.

Your Dog’s Activity Level

If your dog is highly active and spends a lot of time outside, they’ll probably need a bath more often — especially if they regularly swim or play in the dirt. Even if they’re not prone to getting into messes, a dog’s fur carries smells. If they’ve ever been for a run outside, then you’ll smell it on their fur the moment they come inside. That smell doesn’t go away that quickly, so wiping them down or giving them a quick bath will fix it. 

Their Type of Coat or Skin

Long-haired and curly-haired dog breeds generally require more regular bathing and grooming to keep their coats from matting. Brush them regularly and keep their paws as tidy as you can (trim the fur between their toes) to keep them looking and smelling their best. 

Short-haired breeds such as Labrador retrievers can get away with infrequent bathing as long as they’re healthy

Hairless breeds like the Chinese crested dog, who lack the skin protection a coat provides, need to be bathed weekly. Because they have no protection from the elements, their skin produces oil to keep them safer. That oil gets overwhelming and can lead to skin problems if your pup isn’t bathed regularly. It also helps them dislodge any dried debris that your dog can’t get to themselves. 

Dogs who tend to have oily skin, like cocker spaniels and basset hounds, also benefit from more frequent baths.

Allergies or Skin Problems

Some dogs suffer from allergies or skin conditions that may require regular bathing with medicated shampoo. In these cases, the right dog bath frequency will depend on the instructions provided by your veterinarian or groomer. 

Dogs with itchy skin may also find relief from regular baths with a colloidal oatmeal shampoo. Dogs who don’t respond well to oral or topical parasite treatments might need regular baths to help keep fleas and ticks under control.

Your Health and Comfort

Sometimes pet parents can benefit from more frequent dog bathing. For example, if you’re allergic to pet dander or if your pup tends to bring outdoor allergens into the house, regular baths to clean your pet’s coat might help you breathe easier. If your pooch is allowed on the furniture or into your bed, bathing at the first sign of stink will make them easier to live with.

How Much Is Too Much?

It all depends on your dog. If you notice their skin is getting itchy after bathes, then try to go another few days between them. You could be drying them out! Or, if you notice dog acne and an oily coat, you may not be bathing them enough. Just listen to your dog — they’ll let you know when they need help getting clean!