How often should I wash my dog?

The short answer to this question, which we get asked all the time, is…

Just wash your dog when he smells!

dog in bath

Given the hard work it takes to wrestle most dogs into the bath, it’s a surprising fact that most people wash their dog more often than they need to. Washing too often can dry out skin and strip the coat of the oils that give it a lovely shine.

Luckily for you, dogs spend a lot of time keeping themselves clean, which means that the work you need to put in is minimal. If you want to keep the dog hair on the floor to a minimum, brush him every day. Brushing is a great bonding activity for you both and it allows you to inspect him closely while he relaxes. Check in the ears for infections and between the toes for any parasites. 

If you still think he needs a bath, go ahead; soap him up and use room temperature water to rinse. An old towel can be used to speed up the drying process but make sure to keep your dog warm until he’s fully dry. Always remember to wait at least 3 days after applying flea and tick treatments to the skin before washing or you risk it being ineffective.

If you feel confident, clip his nails every six to eight weeks, but don’t cut them too short. Cutting the quick is painful for your dog and means he’s unlikely to trust you again next time. If you’re not sure, head to a doggy groomer to do a professional job.

Still not sure? Read up about the breed of your dog. Breeds with water repellent or double coats (such as retrievers or malamutes) need washing less often. Longer haired breeds may need a little trim occasionally to help them see and keep their faces clean. When in doubt, use your nose to tell you when it’s bath time for your dog and prepare to get wet. 

Emma Greenwood-Petrie is a partner and trainer at Dog Tags Training.