How Often Should Your Wash Your Dog?

When should you wash your dog? It depends on your dog’s coat, lifestyle, activities, age, and health. Here’s how to reduce allergens, minimize shedding, and keep your dog smelling fresh.


How often should you bathe your dog? Depending on which expert you consult, the answer could be every day, once a week, once a month, every three or four months, every six months, whenever the dog is muddy or dirty, whenever he smells bad, or never. The correct answer for you and your dog is probably somewhere in the middle.

How often can I bathe my puppy?

A puppy who truly needs a bath, such as to remove dirt, flea infestations, or fecal matter, can be bathed whenever necessary. Use a gentle shampoo that’s formulated for puppies, rinse thoroughly, dry the pup well, and keep her warm. Too-frequent bathing or the use of a harsh shampoo can result in dry white skin flakes or itchy scratching.

For more on puppy baths, read “How Often Can Puppies Take Baths.”

How often should I bathe my adult dog?

Again, it depends. Obviously, you’ll want to keep your dog clean, but you can accomplish part of that goal with daily brushing. For best results, use a brush that matches your dog’s coat or is recommended for your dog’s breed.

Your dog’s activity level is a factor because dogs who spend hours outdoors may need a weekly bath while more sedentary indoor dogs might need a bath only once a month.

How frequently should I bathe my short-haired (or long-haired) dog?

The length of your dog’s coat isn’t as important as its density. Some breeds, like Weimaraners and Greyhounds, have single-layer coats that don’t shed much and are easy to wash, rinse, and dry. Bathing is more time-consuming for dogs with dense, wiry, or curly coats. Consult with a groomer to learn what products work well for your dog, everything from shampoos and conditioners to detangling sprays, medicated rinses, or finishing sprays, and follow label instructions or advice from your groomer or veterinarian regarding their use.

How can I make my dog smell fresh between baths?

Dry shampoos, also known as waterless or no-rinse shampoos, are powders, mousses, or sprays that absorb excess sebum, an oily substance secreted by glands near the paws, chin, back of neck, and tail. Dry shampoos are recommended for dogs with itchy skin or skin allergies, to provide a quick touch-up with spot cleaning, to clean dogs whose healing wounds should stay dry, and to clean dogs and puppies who don’t like to be bathed. Look for natural ingredients and avoid products that contain parabens, alcohol, sulfates, or synthetic fragrances.

Warm water rinses between baths can help keep your dog smelling fresh between baths. A deodorizing grooming or freshening spray can be applied after or instead of a plain-water rinse.

Pet wipes designed for dogs remove dirt and dust and they help deodorize coats. Should your dog have a skin or paw infection, check with your veterinarian about antibacterial wipes and other options.