How often should I wash my dog?

doginbath-bulldogwithducks(May 16, 2014 This blog post was originally published in 2008 and has been our most popular. We have updated it with some new and fresh info- enjoy!)

Most advice you find on the internet recommends washing your dog just several times per year!

Either these people have outdoor dogs or the articles were written a long time ago when the quality of pet shampoo was very poor! Times have changed! Today, dogs enjoy shampoos and conditioners that are on par with the best human shampoos- that don’t have harsh chemicals and that don’t strip the hair of all of its oils.

The arguments against washing your dog too often are generally about stripping the coat of natural oils. The more often you wash something, the more often the sebum (oil) is going to be removed. Think about your own hair. If you don’t wash it, what happens? It gets oily. Is the oil good for your hair? Probably, but we wash our hair everyday anyway so that it’s clean!

There are several factors you should consider when deciding how often to wash your dog which include:

1. Does your dog live indoors or outdoors, and does your dog sleep in your bed?

If your dog lives in your house with you and more importantly, if he/she sleeps in your bed, then you are probably going to wash your dog regularly–depending on the breed anywhere from once a week to once a month. I know this is radical thinking, but, if your dog sits on your sofa, you probably don’t want him dragging in dirt, poop, insects and other grime onto your sofa. So, the trade off is that your dog’s coat ~might ~ be marginally drier but you will have a fresh smelling dog that you can cuddle without the fear that gross stuff is getting into the sheets.

2. Breed of dog

Dogs that have dry skin can be bathed less frequently than dogs with oily skin. Harsh-textured coats repel dirt pretty well so they don’t get as dirty as a soft-coated dog. Dogs like Maltese, Yorkies, Afghans and Shitzus should be bathed once a week. Harsh-coated breeds, like Shelties and Collies, can be bathed once a month. If you’re not sure, remember, a clean dog is a happy dog!

One of my dog’s is a Maltese and I can’t imagine washing her less than once every week. Little white dogs pick up lots of dirt and by weeks end they are looking brown instead of white. Also, I hate to mention it but long-coated dogs get those famous cling on poops stuck to their bottoms.

My other dog, a Westie, who has a thicker coat, doesn’t get so dirty, but, I have to wash her every week due to the next point– allergies.

3. Is anyone in your household allergic to dogs?

If so, you SHOULD groom & bathe them as often as possible. According to the American Lung Association, doing so will help remove the dander that accumulates on a pet’s fur.

I am allergic to one of my dogs and when I don’t wash her once a week I get wheezy and sneezy.

4. What activities does your dog partake in?

Do you take your dog to the dog park? Does you dog play in the sand or dirt? Does your dog roll in the grass or go swimming or hiking? What about sniffing butts, eating poop or drooling?

Well, if you have a normal dog, she probably partakes in several of the above activities– all of which warrant regular bathing. Again, you have to think of the trade off. Your dog’s coat may be marginally drier HOWEVER, he will be cleaner, smell better, and most important you will be more likely to give a clean dog lots of love. Those smelly dogs we tend to keep at arms length.

5. Does your dog suffer from itchy skin?

Unlike humans who absorb most environmental allergens through their noses and mouths, dogs tend to absorb allergens through the skin. Weekly bathing can prevent itchiness , washing allergens away before they get a chance to penetrate the skin.

So at the conclusion of all of this — the answer for MOST dogs is to wash them once every week to once a month, depending on the above circumstances.

But remember, use a gentle pet shampoo and conditioner. Do not use your own shampoo. Click here for an article of why you should not use your own shampoo on your dog.

Also, if you simply can’t wash your dog for a prolonged period of time you can use a dry shampoo, like Dry Dog Instant Clean – This is a really effective spray on bath replacement that helps to get rid of bad odors. Also, if you feed your dog a non-commercial, all natural grain free diet chances are your canine companion will be less smelly. Our favorite is DOGSFOOD by DOG for DOG

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  1. this is an all too important question. Many bathe their dogs too much, this is a big problem. Breed is also something some may not look at, i have a Golden, so he cannot be washed too often :(

  2. I bathe my dog once a week – she is a runner (non-stop) & with all the sand from the beach, she needs it!

  3. I have a maltise & cocker spaniel and I wash my dogs once every two weeks. They sleep in my bed so they tend to start smelling after the two week mark hits

  4. i have a shitzu and i wash him every other day. his coat is dry but clean enough to get into my bed.

    1. I have a shitzu Yorkie poo 10 wk old puppy what would you recommend bathing her with?

  5. I have an adventurous choc lab who is an indoor/outdoor dog. I wash her every 1 to 2 weeks with an earth friendly oatmeal dog shampoo. She prefers the shower to the tub. Remember to wash their bedding and plush toys every time they get a bath!!

  6. Thanks for the help! I’ve been trying to figure this one out for a while, but this article has cleared up everything for me. Again, thank you.

  7. Please people, I just bought a german shepherd and don’t know often I should bath him.

  8. I have a 3 month old toy poodle. We wash her as needed… sometimes 2x a week. She is a house pet and very affectionate so we always want her to be clean and not have pet odors when we pick her up. I haven’t had any problems with scratching or itchy scalp and as much as she do not like baths she bounce around very happy when everyone is more than happy to hold her and pick her up when she is clean. I would say our rule of thumb is if she smells like she needs a bath then she needs a bath!

  9. I have a 3 month old toy poodle. We wash her as needed… sometimes 2x a week. She is a house pet and very affectionate so we always want her to be clean and not have pet odors when we pick her up. I haven’t had any problems with scratching or itchy scalp and as much as she do not like baths she bounce around very happy when everyone is more than happy to hold her and pick her up when she is clean.

    I would say our rule of thumb is if she smells like she needs a bath then she needs a bath!

  10. This article is only somewhat helpful to me… As with many things, there are many different ways to do something, as well many different levels of something. This being said, I think we should all define “washing” a dog. I assume most people are talking about using SOAP and Water to “wash” their dog. I wash my dog one of 2 ways.. that is with soap and without soap (water only). I have a chocolate lab/doberman mix and she doesn’t shed much at all and has thin coat. She stays in the house with me (which i had hesitation about, seeing that dogs can be very dirty). I am a very clean person and I LOVE my dog… So every time I let her out to play or use the bathroom and she comes back in I use baby wipes on her paws to make sure she’s not tracking in mud, poop, grass, urine, etc… into my clean house. I also wash her off with WATER ONLY about every two days or so. I bathe her with soap and water a minimum of once a week. Either with soap or just water..I then apply organic coconut oil on her coat and I have had NO problems whatsoever. She is a super clean dog and doesn’t sit around scratching all the time. So I guess she’s fine. I also don’t see how people only wash their dog when they “begin to stink”. To me, this is too late… dogs are like feather dusters, they attract filth into their coats. It amazes me how dirty most people are and then they wonder why they and their children stay sick.

    1. I see that you are a fan of capitalization huh? Lol!

      As you have already proffered in the beginning of your statement, this article is obviously making reference to batheing one’s dog with shampoo, and not water only.

      Also, while you are making judge mental statements about how “dirty” you think people are, based solely on how often they choose to bathe their dogs, and even going so far as to state that people’s children are always sick based on their “dog batheing habits” Lol, you should probably consider that insomuch as you have self-proclaimed to be such a “clean” person, there are a ton of people out there who would deem you to be filthy based solely on the fact that you choose to keep a dog in your house! Whether or not you know it, there are plenty of people whose dogs are strictly outdoor dogs, and they would never consider letting them live in the house regardless of how clean they may appear to be. I know people who won’t even eat food prepared by people who have indoor animals, because they consider it to be disgusting. Now none of these views are my own, because we actually do have a new Havanese puppy who is exclusively an indoor dog, but I simply wanted to bring to your attention the fact that your choice to judge the lives of others based on something as silly as how often they bathe their dogs is unfair to say the least.

  11. We have a Mini GoldenDoodle (9 weeks old). He lives indoors and he is almost potty trained (goes outside frequently). Especially when it’s snowy or rainy times, he starts to smell. I give him a bath every 4 days. My wife is dead against it, stating that he will have skin rashes and will shed his hair sooner than later. He spends a lot of time with our daughters and us, so I like him to be clean. At least that’s what my argument is. We use all natural oatmeal shampoo and conditioner which has the best ratings on Amazon. If anyone with a Mini GoldenDoodle or similar ones has any advice for me?

    Thanks a million in advance!!

    1. Thanks. I have a 12.5 week old standard poodle. She lives inside with me. I’m a very clean person and very sensitive to odor; a little ocd on microbes too. But I’m determined to make this work. We live in inland Queensland Australia. Just below the tropic of Capricorn. Summer is ruthlessly hot and humid and winter gets so cold we sometimes see snow, briefly. This is not the sort of place to keep a poodle if you’re not willing to have her inside.
      I’ve been showering her once a week but after 3-4 days she smells like she needs another.
      I was scared to take it up to twice a week as everything that I’ve read warned against it.
      I’m glad to meet another who feels that this is not excessive. I’m sorry that I can’t give you any feedback; but I haven’t changed it up yet. I do plan on using an organic coconut oil in her final rinse.

  12. I have a pug how often can I was it it it am inside dog most of the time

  13. I have a shih tzu puppy, how often can i give him the dry shampoo?

  14. There is a nervousness and hesitation involved when you meet someone personally.
    I read a write-up today that said, “It’s time for that reigning champion from the internet to step aside – the booming industry of online dating services has purportedly surpassed porn. In fact, there have been several weekends when most of my girlfriends took dates and I stayed alone since there simply wasn’t anyone around that interested me.

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