How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Dr. Karie Johnson, DVM
By Dr. Karie Johnson, DVM
Updated: 5/9/20242-4 minutes
woman holding a white dog wrapped in a towel

If you’re wondering, “How often should you bathe your dog?”, the answer is—it depends. In general, most dogs can be bathed once a month, but there are a few important factors that may necessitate more- or less-frequent baths, depending on your individual pet.  

Of course, you can always let common sense be your guide. If your dog looks and smells like they need a good washing, go ahead and put them in the tub. 

Whether it’s your dog’s coat or their activity levels, there are certain conditions that can help you set a bathing schedule that’s right for them. 

Read on to learn more about how often you should bathe your dog, including tips for long and shorthaired breeds. 

Why Dog Baths Are Important 

Knowing how to bathe a dog helps you maintain your pet’s appearance and promote their overall health. Specifically, bathing removes dirt and debris from their coat, facilitates the removal of dead hair and eliminates bad odors.  

Additionally, your dog’s skin is their largest organ. Whether it’s a puppy or senior canine, washing your pet guards their skin from infections and harmful bacteria. 

How Often Should You Give Your Dog a Bath? 

There is no universal recommendation for how often to bathe a dog. Each canine has unique characteristics that influence when it’s appropriate to wash them. 

Here are some factors to consider. 

Coat Length & Texture

The length of your dog’s coat plays an important role if you’re deciding when to bathe them.  

  • Medium to longhaired dogs usually require more frequent bathing. It’s not hard for their coats to become dirty and matted (although frequent brushing between baths can help prevent mats). Consider bathing them every couple months. 

  • Shorthaired breeds may only need to be bathed every one to three months. 

  • Dogs with soft coats (which can retain dirt) and oily coats may need to be washed more frequently. 

  • Breeds with thick fur such as the Bernese Mountain Dog need fewer baths because they shed regularly (shedding removes dead skin cells and bacteria).  

  • Hairless breeds are prone to skin health issues and may need more frequent baths. 

Your Dog’s Skin Health

When determining how often you should bathe your dog, consider their skin health. Allergies in dogs can cause intense itching, which leads to scratching and irritated skin.  

If your canine has allergies, inflammation or another skin condition, talk to your veterinarian. They may recommend medicated or hypoallergenic shampoo for dogs as a treatment for symptoms, depending on their problem.  

Check the bottle for how often to apply the shampoo. You’ll likely need to wash your pet more frequently than a typical bath cadence.  

Your Health

If you’re trying to figure out how often to wash your dog, prioritizing their needs is important. But don’t neglect your own health.  

In addition to your dog’s saliva and urine, you can also be allergic to dander. Dog dander refers to the microscopic flecks of dead skin on your pet and in their shed fur.  

In some people, dander triggers an overreaction by their immune system, leading to symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes. 

What’s one effective way of reducing dog dander? Bathing your canine. While you want to resist washing them too often, bathing more frequently helps remove dead skin, sending it down the drain and out of your home.   

Your Dog’s Activity Level

Very active dogs need baths more frequently than sedentary canines. This particularly applies to dogs who like to go swimming, roll around in the grass or generally tend to get dirty outside. If your pet is always active, wash them more often, if needed.  

Can You Wash a Dog Too Often?

Yes, it’s possible to over-wash your dog. Bathing them removes natural oils from their coat. When baths are paced evenly, this isn’t a problem. In excess, though, removing oils can cause skin irritation.  

If you bathe your dog a lot because you’re concerned about mats, regular brushing can detangle matted hair and may be able to remove some debris.  

When to Visit the Groomer for a Dog Bath

Some pet owners like to wash and groom their dog at home. However, if you have a dog who needs frequent bathing, have multiple dogs, or just prefer to outsource the work, a groomer may be a helpful resource. They can share some of the workload.  

How Often Should You Bathe a Longhaired Dog? 

Long hair on dogs requires more maintenance than short hair. It’s more susceptible to mats and can attract and hold debris.  

That said, every dog is different. So, for example, if you’re wondering, “How often should you bathe a Golden Retriever?”, ask a professional groomer or your veterinarian for advice. 

How Often Should I Bathe My Shorthaired Dog? 

Typically, short- and medium-haired dogs are easier to groom, especially if they are not particularly active. So, for example, if you have a Beagle, bathe them every one to three months, as long as they’re generally clean otherwise.  

How Long After Flea Treatment Can I Bathe My Dog 

Flea treatment can be an effective way to prevent your dog from developing an uncomfortable allergic reaction. If the treatment is topical, check with your veterinarian and read the instructions that come with the medicine before giving your dog a bath.  

Often, you have to wait 48 hours for the medicine to be absorbed, but again, make sure to ask.  

How Often Should I Bathe My Dog with Dry Skin?

If your dog has dry skin symptoms, like flaking or an oily coat, talk to your veterinarian about topical treatment, such as a hypoallergenic shampoo. You may need to start bathing your pet more regularly. Your veterinarian can advise you based on what they prescribe. 

For more expert tips on grooming your canine companion, check out our other dog routine-care articles. 

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