How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

While at the pet store picking up some doggie dental chews, I overheard a discussion between a customer and sales clerk on how often one should bathe a dog. The clerk was adamant that anything more than once a month was excessive and would dry out the dog's skin and coat. The customer said that she bathed her Labrador once a week with gentle dog shampoo and his coat seemed none the worse for wear and, besides that, there was no way that she could bear it if her dog went unwashed for an entire month. They both also claimed to have received expert advice supporting their positions. After having eavesdropped into this exchange, I was now questioning my own dog bathing practices, so I promptly went home to see what a Google search would yield on the matter. Turns out that BOTH the clerk and the customer were right - because what’s right is different for every dog and every owner. Read on to find out more!

Breed Matters
Breed and coat type determines how frequently a dog can be bathed without depleting the skin's natural oils. The following are typical bathing schedules according to coat type (and assuming the dogs are in good health). Smooth-coated dogs like Chihuahuas and Dachshunds tend to need the least amount of baths, and can generally go as long as 8 to 12 weeks between washings. Non-shedding dogs like poodles can typically go between 6 to 8 weeks between baths. Double-coated dogs like Chows, Pekinese, Huskies, and Rottweilers are usually bathed every 4 to 8 weeks (more frequently when they're molting). Wiry-coated dogs like Airedales, Schnauzers, and Irish Wolfhounds usually need a bath every 4 - 6 weeks. Oiliness will also play a factor in how often you’ll want to bathe your dog, as oily coats tend to pick up dirt and odor faster than dryer coats. Do research on your dog's specific breed for more detailed bathing advice. All dogs, however, should be brushed regularly (typically once a day for long-haired breeds), as this will help keep them clean between baths.

Skin Issues
Regardless of breed, if your dog has a skin condition like ringworm, mange, or seasonal flakiness/itchiness, this will affect how often your dog should be bathed. Depending on the condition, your vet may recommend frequent baths with a special, medicated shampoo. If you're noticing signs of a skin problem like excessive licking, scratching, rubbing up on furniture, scaliness, inflammation, etc., consult your vet immediately. If it turns out to be a skin condition, ask whether you should alter your dog's bathing schedule.

Personal Preferences & Lifestyle
If you're a constant cuddler and/or your dog sleeps in bed with you, you're probably going to want to bathe her more frequently. Unless, of course, your dog just doesn't seem to get stinky very quickly. (For whatever reason, some just don't!) Stinky is subjective, though, and some people are just not as sensitive to smell as others, so let your own nose be your guide.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list. There are other things to consider when figuring out how often to bathe your dog. For example, your dog may have a penchant for rolling around in dirt and jumping in puddles, which may require more trips to the tub or groomer. Age and diet also appear to play a part in dog odor. In sum, all dogs and dog owners have their own unique requirements when it comes to cleanliness and odor control. Do some targeted research about your dog's breed; see what jibes with your personal preferences, lifestyle, and your dog's personality; and check with your vet to make sure that your bathing schedule and bath products of choice are healthy for your particular pooch.

By Maya M.