How often should you wash your dog?

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Written by Pure Pet FoodPure Pet Food are the experts in healthy dog food and healthy dogs featured in media outlets such as BBC, Good Housekeeping and The Telegraph. Working with high profile veterinary professionals and nutritionists, Pure Pet Food are changing dog food for the better. Dr Andrew Miller MRCVSDr Andrew Miller MRCVS is an expert veterinary working in the field for over 10 years after graduating from Bristol University. Andy fact checks and writes for Pure Pet Food while also working as a full time veterinarian. - Our editorial process

Keeping your pup clean is all part and parcel of being a pet parent. It helps to keep your pooch happy and healthy, but as importantly, it means your home stays clean and smell-free.

It goes without saying you should wash your dog anytime they are covered nose to tail in mud, or if they’ve rolled in something smelly. But it can be hard to tell how often you should bathe your dog if they’re not completely filthy or wafting that doggy smell around the house.

Here’s our guide on how often to wash your dog and why it’s important to keep your pooch clean.

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How often should you wash your dog?

Firstly, you should wash your dog as often as necessary if they have become smelly and visibly dirty. If your furry friend has a habit of making a mess, they’ll probably need more baths than the average mutt. So, if they decided to take a dip in the pond and came out the colour of a Chocolate Lab, they’ll definitely need a wash after walkies.

If your pooch hasn’t become coated in muck and doesn’t smell, you only need to bathe them between once a month or once every three months. Most dogs don’t like bathtime anyway, so bathing them only every few weeks will mean less stress for you and your pooch.

A lot of the time, a quick rub down with a towel after walkies is enough to clean them, or a spot-wash with a damp cloth, or even doggy dry shampoo! Plus, your dog will groom themselves quite well if left alone to nibble and lick at any spots of mud on their fur.

How often you wash your dog will also depend on their breed. Long-haired dogs will need more regular baths to keep their fur matt-free and shiny, and it is recommended to wash a long-haired dog once every 4 to 6 weeks.

Just remember to brush your dog before bathtime, especially if they have a curly coat, because soaking their fur will often cause mats and tangles to tighten, making them much harder to remove.

Meanwhile, a hairless pup like a Chinese Crested Dog will need washing more often and should be bathed about once a week. This is because a dog’s fur acts as a barrier, preventing allergens and dirt from reaching the skin and protecting them from cuts and scrapes. Weekly washing helps to remove any allergens or pollutants that could cause irritation or infection.

How often should you wash your puppy?

You can bathe your puppy as often as an adult dog.

You should feel free to wash them as often as they need if they smell or are covered in muck. Given puppies are mischievous little mutts, they often end up covered in dirt or other grime which means there’s no choice but to bung them in the bath!

If your pup only has a little dirt on them, you can spot-clean them with a warm, damp cloth. And if you’re lucky enough to have a pup that keeps clean and pong-free, then you can just wash them once a month.

However, bathing and grooming your puppy while they are young is an important part of socialisation. Introducing them to bathtime and grooming young teaches them how what to expect and how to behave and prevents stress and fear when they need a clean.

The only rule is not to wash your puppy and immerse them in water before they are at least 8 weeks old. While they are still very small and young, puppies can’t regulate their body temperature effectively and are at risk of chills and becoming ill if they get soaked or aren’t dried off thoroughly.

Should I wash my dog more often?

Although it’s important to wash your dog every few weeks, it is possible to wash your pup too often.

You shouldn’t wash your dog more often than once a month because excessive shampooing can strip the natural oils from their skin and coat. These oils help to keep their skin and fur in good condition, and overwashing will lead to dry skin and fur, which can cause or worsen any skin ailments your pooch has.

Another problem with overwashing your dog is that it can make them more vulnerable to parasites like ticks and fleas. While we might think keeping a dog clean will help to prevent pesky bugs from turning your hound into their home, washing your dog too often will wash away any topical insecticide you’ve put on your pup.

That means the treatment you’ve put on to prevent fleas won’t be as effective or long-lasting as it should be.

Why is it important to wash your dog regularly?

It’s important to wash your dog regularly because it will help your pooch to look, feel, and smell good.

When your dog hasn’t been washed in a long time, the buildup of dust, dirt, and oils can stop their skin from “breathing” correctly and block their pores. They might also feel greasy when you stroke them, and undoubtedly will smell pretty pongy, which makes cuddling your dog much less enjoyable than it should be!

Regularly washing your dog will also prevent the buildup of yeast and bacteria on their skin which could cause infection. And if your dog has any wounds, washing helps to prevent bacteria and other nasties from getting inside them.

If you have an oily breed like a Newfoundland or a Labrador then washing your pooch regularly will help to prevent them from developing that distinctly doggy smell. It’s a balancing act though!

You need to wash them often enough to keep them clean and allow the old and dirty oils to be washed away from their fur, encouraging the production of new oil. But washing too often will strip these oils away and dry out your dog’s skin and fur.

Come shedding season, you should wash your dog more often to help loosen their dead fur. A quick bath and some brushing afterwards will help to remove a lot of the dead hair your dog is moulting. That means less fur floating around your home and a pooch who feels much more comfortable. However, you still shouldn’t wash your dog more often than once a month.

Preventing pests and other problems

If your pup already is suffering from pesky parasites like ticks and fleas, bathing them with flea shampoo several times a week is one of the best ways to kill off those bugs and their eggs.

Meanwhile, if your dog suffers from atopic dermatitis or other skin problems because of allergens they come into contact with, regular bathing will help to remove the offending particles from their fur and skin and hopefully prevent irritation and itching.

Full body baths aren’t always needed though, as rubbing them down with a damp cloth is usually enough though. For example, if your pooch suffers from hay fever, giving them a rub-down after walkies will help to get pollen off their fur and prevent irritation to their skin.

How often should you shampoo your dog?

How often you should wash your dog with shampoo is about the same as how often you should bathe your dog. You can shampoo your dog up to once a month, or leave it as long as once every three months. It all depends on how dirty your dog is!

Sometimes if your pup has been swimming or rolling in the dust, just a quick rinse with the hose or a rub-down with a towel will be enough to get them clean, so you don’t always need to bust out the doggy shampoo and conditioner.

When washing your dog always use products designed for doggies, because these are formulated to maintain the natural Ph balance of their skin. A dog’s skin barrier is much more alkaline than a human’s, which means that human shampoo and conditioner are too strong for your furry friend and will disturb the Ph balance of your dog’s skin. Human hair products will make their skin barrier more acidic, causing redness, inflammation, and dry skin.

How often should you wash your dog with dry skin?

Some dogs do need washing more often than once a month and this is usually because they have a condition that requires treatment with a medicinal shampoo.

Dogs with dry skin, allergies, or other dermatological issues often require regular bathing with a medicated shampoo to relieve their symptoms and improve their skin and fur condition. Bathing with oatmeal shampoo can also soothe irritated skin.

If your dog has skin complaints and requires regular medicated baths, you should follow the bathing schedule as directed by your vet. Typically, you can expect to wash your dog once a week.

However, some dogs can require even more frequent bathing. If your dog has been infected with MRSP, the canine equivalent to MRSA, they will need antibiotic baths as often as once a day, as well as ingesting antibiotic treatment.

How often should you wash your dog with fleas?

If your pooch is being pestered with fleas and ticks, they will need baths with flea shampoo once or twice a week to kill off the fleas and their eggs and end their infestation on your pooch.

These shampoos don’t give your dog a lot of protection once it’s been rinsed off though, so you should still use a topical treatment to help prevent fleas and ticks from hopping on your hound in the first place.


When it comes to keeping your canine clean, it’s all about keeping the balance and not overdoing it. No matter how much your pooch fears bathtime, it must roll around at some point. They don’t seem to realise that if they get themselves absolutely filthy on the outside, they’ll have to have the dreaded wash after walkies!