Dogs need baths, but owners’ opinions on how often range from “dump him in a tub of suds once a year whether he needs it or not” to “take her to a professional groomer every Saturday.” Too much bathing can dry out a dog’s skin and coat. Too little results in a smelly, itchy, dirty dog. So, how often should you bathe your dog ? In general, no more than once every two weeks, but there are a few caveats, and every dog’s individual needs are different.
Different Breeds, Different Needs
How often your dog really needs a bath depends in part on its breed, or if it is of no identifiable heritage, its coat and skin type. If you’ve got a short-coated dog like a Labrador Retriever, you can wipe it with a damp washcloth weekly and bathe it completely monthly or bimonthly. On the other hand, if your pooch is a rough-coated Collie, it will need baths with a good conditioner every other week to keep its coat in manageable condition.
Wrinkled breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs also have special bathing needs: Their wrinkles should all be cleaned daily with all-natural baby wipes, and baths should focus on cleaning and conditioning wrinkled areas of skin. Then there are the corded breeds, like the Komondor, Havanese, and Puli: When maintaining a corded coat, a professional groomer should take the lead, unless you’re an expert on the breed.
Other Special Considerations
Dogs with environmental allergies often need biweekly baths with a medicated shampoo. This, along with daily wipe-downs with a wet rag, will remove environmental allergens from the dog’s skin and coat, keeping him more comfortable even when pollen, dust, and mold are in the air. Some skin conditions also require timely bathing and/or special shampoos.
On the other side of the coin, some dogs should be bathed less often than others. Dogs that live in a dry climate are more prone to dry skin, which causes itching and flaking. If your area has very low humidity, bathe your dog once a month at most, unless there is a pressing need to do so more often. Young puppies also need fewer baths, although it is important to accustom them to bathing so they’ll accept it during adulthood. Instead of giving a full bath every other week, if your puppy is 16 weeks or younger, use baby wipes every week and bathe completely in lukewarm water with a mild shampoo once a month.
As a final note, remember that in most cases the benefits of bathing your dog are benefits to you, not to the dog. A pleasant scented shampoo for you could be a sensory overload for a hound who smells it many times more strongly than you do. A nice soft coat that you enjoy stroking has no real value to your dog. Bathe your dog as often as is necessary for his health and your comfort, within reason, but don’t go overboard with the “spa” treatments. Most dogs would rather have a bath that’s over quickly and then a good roll in the grass than all the spa treatments in the world.