How to Bathe Your Dog

cute muddy yorkshire terrier dog, ready for a bath
Bathing a dog seems rather easy in theory. In practice, it's a whole different ball game! Check this FAQ out if you need help.

Bathing a dog needs to be on the list of things you feel comfortable with if you decide to adopt a dog. Bathing is an important grooming practice that should not be neglected. Some dogs can end up with infections if they aren’t bathed regularly to keep their coats clean and free from dust and dirt. This is not the case with all breeds, however. Knowing what a certain breed’s grooming and bathing needs are can help you decide what breed of dog is right for you.

How to Bathe a Dog

  • Unless you’re specifically using a detangling conditioner on their fur, always brush them BEFORE the bath.
  • Placing cotton balls in their ears before they get wet is a well-liked method of avoid ear infection. don’t push them in too far, just enough so they won’t fall out in the bath.
  • Always make sure to give them a few of their favourite treats, so they associate the process with very good behaviour.
  • Always be firm but gentle, and vocalize positive things. Remember to show them you’re feeling at ease and happy, and they are more likely to follow suit.
  • Dog bath water should be warm, but not too hot.
  • It’s best to use a bath mat, so they are not sliding around on the bottom of the bath tub or sink. If you’re doing it outdoors with a hose just make sure the ground is not slippery.
  • Stay relaxed and take your time. Use the time to examine your dog for any bumps or skin issues that may need to be dealt with.
  • If it’s a cold day, make 100% sure they are 100% dry before going outside!

How to Bathe a Big Dog

A point that’s especially important for big dogs: Make sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet! An actual bathing suit is not a bad idea. Outdoors, you can use a hose, or a kiddie pool. If your dog is not used to bathing, you can acclimatize them by getting them to go in the bath while it’s dry, and giving them a treat. You can do this multiple times before the bath day, and begin incorporating commands into the process. That way when it is bath time, they will recognize your commands already, and the experience will be far less overwhelming.

How to Bathe a Small Dog or a Puppy

puppy getting some positive reinforcement during bath time

If they’re small enough, go ahead and use a sink if you want! It could be the easiest way for both you and your pup. You can use a plastic cup or ladel to pour the water over them during the bath. Just like with big dogs, it can be surprising how wet you can get, so be sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet. Also, just because your puppy is small, doesn’t mean you won’t need a big towel! It’s amazing how much water gets retained in their fur. With puppies you need to pay extra attention not to get shampoo in their eyes. Getting “tearless” shampoo can help, but even then, try and avoid their eyes.

How often should I bathe my dog?

Wet Cocker Spaniel dog outdoors, in a lake

The ultimate answer is that it really depends on the breed, as well as the amount of time they spend rolling around outdoors. Some dogs only need it once or twice a year, while some every few weeks or once a week. When in doubt though, use your judgment and sense of smell: if your pooch starts to smell or your hand gets dirty when you pet them, that might mean it’s time for a bath! We have handy guidelines for you, but only you really know your dog!

For more information on how often to bathe by dog breed, just scroll on down!

Can I Use Human Shampoo to Bathe my dog?

Regular shampoo will do the trick if you are out of dog shampoo but do not use it regularly please. In general, you should avoid human soap and shampoo. The soap used by humans is not suitable for dogs. The same goes for many human shampoo products. Oftentimes, they contain ingredients in amounts that are not suitable for dog use. Human shampoo is too acidic for dogs (something to do with the pH balance of humans being lower than that of dogs). This means it can cause damage if you use it regularly to bathe your pooch.

The Best Puppy Friendly Dog Shampoos

EarthBath Ultra Mild Puppy Shampoo

Earthbath ultra-mild tearless puppy shampoo, available on Amazon

This formula includes coconut based cleansers and organic aloe vera!

Burt’s Bees for Dogs Natural Tearless Puppy Shampoo

Burt's Bees tearless puppy shampoo with buttermilk, available on Amazon

Made with classic buttermilk powder! And of course, a bit of beeswax and honey.

Burt’s Bees for Dogs Care + All-Natural Hydrating Puppy Shampoo

Burt's Bees hydrating puppy shampoo with coconut oil, available on Amazon

This one includes lots of coconut based cleansers.

The Most Affordable Puppy Friendly Options

Okay so this is a trick heading… there’s only one low-cost option I know of that will not harm your puppy’s coat. When you initially order it, it will cost the same as the others, but, #1, it’s made to be diluted, (a little goes a long way) AND you can use it for a ton of other household purposes too.

I’m talking, of course, about Dr. Bronner’s genius castille soap. The most Puppy friendly option is the unscented “Baby Mild” version. If you’re looking to cut costs, don’t do it by choosing something made with harmful ingredients like sodium laureth sulfate. Do it by choosing something made with organic coconut oil, that you can use for a dozen other things in your home.

The one drawback with this is that it’s not “tearless”, as in, you’ll need to take extra care not to get it in your pup’s eyes. But it’s much better to be more careful during bath time, than to slather something on made with questionable ingredients.

Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Castille Soap

Dr. Bronner's unscented baby mild castille soap, available on Amazon

The Best Rated Dog Shampoos on Amazon

Richard’s Organics Anti-Bacterial Dog Shampoo

Richard's Organics anti-bacterial dog shampoo, available on Amazon

Tea Tree oil and Neem Oil together are ideal for anti-bacterial action.

Burt’s Bees for Dogs Deodorizing Shampoo

Burt's Bees deodorizing dog shampoo, available on Amazon

With apple & rosemary extracts, as well as avocado and grape seed oils, all combine to make for an effective deodorizing shampoo.

Crocx Natural Dog and Cat Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

Crocx natural hemp dog and cat shampoo, available on Amazon

This is the first shampoo on the list not to be made with coconut-based cleansers. Aloe and hemp oils keep it smooth!

Biosilk for Dogs

Biosilk moisturizing dog shampoo, available on Amazon

It’s not named Biosilk for nothing… there is actual silk protein in this product, which means its been extracted from raw silk.

How Often Should I Bathe My Beagle?

Beagles have a way of looking clean, while secretly getting smellier… On average, most Beagle owners recommend bathing every 3 weeks – once a month. Ear care does not need to happen at bath time; ear cleaning should happen once a week to avoid infections.

How Often Should I Bathe My Boxer?

Boxer’s grooming needs do not revolve around bathing, so much as cleaning the folds in their skin, which can be done as a separate process. Bathing every few months, or “as needed”, will be enough for a Boxer.

How Often Should I Bathe My Corgi?

If their little Corgi fur is extra fluffy and you wanna keep it that way, every 4 – 6 weeks is recommended. Bathing during shedding time can help them, along with regular brushing.

How Often Should I Bathe My Dachshund?

Sweet lil’ Dachshunds! While doxies don’t have reputations for being the messiest players, they are low to the ground and can get dirt on their bellies just from roaming outside. If you notice this frequently, go ahead and bathe them every few weeks as you see fit. Otherwise, up to every 3 months is fine for many happy Dachshund owners.

How Often Should I Bathe My French Bulldog?

The maximum for a French Bulldog is every 3 weeks. They only have one coat, so when they are younger they can get cold easily – make sure to dry them really well after their bath!

How Often Should I Bathe My Golden Retriever?

A Golden Retriever’s coat is water and dirt repellent, so you can start a bathing schedule approximately every 6 weeks, and depending on your dog’s lifestyle, you can evaluate whether that’s enough or if they need it more often – once your dog gets older and less active, maybe they might not need it as often as 6 weeks.

How Often Should I Bathe My Goldendoodle?

The Goldendoodle’s coat is hypo-allergenic and non-shedding. This is part of the reason why they are so popular. However, this lovely fur does require maintenance. Goldendoodles can be bathed up to once a week, if you use a gentle shampoo that does not strip the oils form their coat.

How Often Should I Bathe My German Shepard?

Brushing a few times a week is extra important with German Shepards, who are famous for their shedding! But the shedding does not take care of all the dirt on its own. The same as with Golden Retrievers, bathing for German Shepards is recommended approximately every 6 weeks, which you can modify based on your dog’s lifestyle.

How Often Should I Bathe My Husky?

Whoopee, only once or twice a year in normal circumstances! The special thing about Huskies is that they are bred to be 100% outdoor dogs, so they are very talented at keeping themselves hygienic. They “blow their coat” yearly, which means their undercoat gets completely shed in a short amount of time. Their fur is always regenerating. So, as long as you brush them often enough to help re-distribute the oils, they should be able to shed off dirt and grime mostly on their own.

How Often Should I Bathe My Labrador?

black labrador dog ready to be bathed, with rubber duck

As needed, ie when they get dirty, is usually fine. It’s a good idea to get a puppy used to bathing early on, though. A labrador’s coat is pretty self-maintaining – the other grooming practices should do most of the work. Brushing, cleaning ears, etc.

How Often Should I Bathe My Poodle?

Poodles have fur that is similar to human hair. Many poodle owners bathe them every 2 – 3 weeks. If that doesn’t seem like enough, or if you have the time and enjoy their coat at its softest, once a week or more can work too. Of course at that point you should be alert to any skin irritations that may be caused. That doesn’t always happen though. Get to know your individual poodle’s needs!

How Often Should I Bathe My Rottweiler?

“As needed”… if they aren’t constantly running around outside, and you keep up the other forms of grooming maintenance, every 6 months is fine. if they’re outside quite a lot you may notice that they need bathing more often, at most once a month.

How Often Should I Bathe My Yorkshire Terrier?

It's time for a dog bath for this muddy Yorkshire Terrier
Look at that dirty mug!

Yorkies are similar to poodles, in that they do not have an undercoat. their hair is similar to human’s. Bathing is recommended every 1- 3 weeks depending on what your Yorkie seems to need, or how much time you have.


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