How often do you bathe your dog?

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Real talk: How often do you bathe your dog?

I feel like there are many opinions about the desired frequency of dog baths, usually tending to either side of the spectrum (tons of baths –> very few baths).

I fall on the “very few baths” side, for a few reasons. One: Pyrrha HATES bath time. Really, serious fear; bath time is the only time she’s ever tried to bite me from fear and anxiety. We’ve taken her to a self-serve grooming salon, and that set-up has been helpful. It’s a lot more quick and painless than trying to wrangle her into a tub here. Two: I kept reading things that said that too many baths were bad for a dog’s skin. Pyrrha was very flaky when we first got her, but her coat is in great shape now (it’s very soft and glossy), and we don’t bathe her much at all. And so I don’t want to mess up that equilibrium. Three: And this is the lazy part of me, but our yard is a swamp right now, and with two rambunctious young dogs, I feel like it’s not worth it, you know? They’re just going to get muddy again… and then I’ll towel them off and brush it out so they can go get muddy again in a few hours.

BUT then I saw this magazine article from a popular veterinarian saying that dogs should be bathed at least once a week. I was agape. Once a week?? Pyrrha and I would both die from anxiety if we had to do that. The vet cited things like dust, dirt, and “pathogens” in a home that irritate a dog’s skin, and so they should be bathed more often to combat such things. Which is the opposite of what I’d read, which argued that too many baths dry a dog’s skin out and gets rid of the important natural oils in their coats.

So, that makes me want to crowd-source this question. How often do you bathe your dog? And give your reasons for the frequency! I’m curious and now wondering if I should switch up how I think about bath time. At the very least, it’s a conversation I want to have with our vet next time we go in!


42 thoughts on “How often do you bathe your dog?

  1. I have a German Shepherd as well and I only bathe her two times a year. If you feed your dog a high quality diet (I feed raw) your dog will not smell and their coat will stay healthy. If you over bathe a German Shepherd it will wash away the natural oils and cause itching, flaking, etc. One thing to consider is regular brushing out the coat. This takes care of the dust and keeps your dog free of tangles. My Stormy loves to be combed and there are times of the year that I do it daily. It really has becoming a bonding moment for us. Your girls are beautiful- I love the pictures!

    1. This makes me feel better, Cheri! Thanks; I’ll definitely work on more regular grooming. Bathing all the time doesn’t sound like a good option to me either. They’re on a high-quality, grain-free kibble, but I’m debating raw; I know it has huge benefits.

    2. I agree with Cheri, as Nikita is part German Shepherd/Akita. I do “spritz” our dogs with a spray bottled filled with water and a tablespoon or two of white vinegar and that cleans their fur and take away any doggie smell. The vinegar also shines their coats.

      1. That’s a good idea (water + vinegar in a spray bottle)! Thanks! I will definitely try that. Nikita is such a beautiful girl; you certainly do a great job taking care of her!

      2. I really dote on both our dogs A LOT! They are so precious to me. Since they are home with me all day, I spend lots of time with them, and they are really good listeners too! Bella scared me yesterday when it was -7 degrees outside, as she started limping because her paws got cold in the few seconds we were outside, then she bowed her head like she was going to lay down. I acted immediately, and grabbed her and ran her inside to warm her feet in a towel. It takes people like us who truly LOVE animals to take good care of them. The vinegar spray really works, and although they smell a little like vinegar for a few minutes, I can handle that. I love your blog and Pyrrha so much!

    3. I also feed raw. My girl received a bath in June, because she rolled in poop of some sort…deer?

      Neither of my boys has had a bath since October 2012.

  2. I hardly ever bathe my dog unless there is an important reason to do. In fact one of my dogs has only had 2 baths in his entire life and he’s 6 :). He’s also short-coated and for some reason never seems to get dirty. I think it really depends on the dog and the life-style. I am definitely in the favor of fewer baths though, I really do think it drys out their skin and gets rid of their natural oils. Much like over washing our own hair does.

  3. Raw feeder (and high quality grain free kibble when we don’t make it to the butcher). I think we have only bathed Panzer twice since we rescued him which was about a year and a half ago. Shelby gets baths more regularly because she likes them (sometimes they’re unintentional as she gets in the shower with me) and because she’s sable so when she gets muddy she gets MUDDY lol. We do groom them at least twice a week and once a day when they’re blowing their coats. We have never had a problem with them smelling bad or getting dry or flaky skin. And everyone complains about them itching this time of year…we don’t get that issue either ^.^

    1. Thanks, Aimee! I always appreciate your feedback, owing to your GSD experience. ๐Ÿ™‚ Raw feeding is definitely something I should seriously consider…

      1. Do it! Feed raw! My girl is a GSD mix, and had a notoriously sensitive stomach for the first year of her life. Then I switched to raw. I swear her stomach is “tougher” because she is utilizing the acids and enzymes that she is supposed to.

  4. When I had my larger dogs, they maybe got bathed once a year. It made such a mess, and my elkhound was nervous and reactive so taking her to a self-service wash was quite traumatic for her. Ruby is so easy to bathe – she doesn’t love it but is very cooperative – so she gets a bath when she’s dirty! That seems to be about once a month. When we visit my aunt she rolls around in the dusty yard with her labradoodle cousin and since she sleeps under the covers she gets in the tub as soon as we get home!

  5. I bathe my mastiff about once per month. He has very oily skin and thus always has a bad odor and greasy coat. I don’t like bathing him too often because his skin tends to get itchy. Even on high quality kibble he is like this. But under the sheen of dirt and oil, his coat is gleaming like a show dog.

    But our chihuahua is virtually odorless. He gets a bath either when he has dry, flaky skin and needs moisturizing shampoo or when he finally gets dirty enough to have a strong musty odor. He typically goes 2-3 months between baths.

  6. We’ve had Luna, a Ridgeback mix, for almost 2 years. She’s never had a bath, unless occasional running in a stream counts. She’s never been brushed. She has major fear issues about both. We use our hands to ruffle her fur as a substitute for brushing. . I give her Omega 3-6-9 every day. Her coat is soft and shiny. We live in Tucson so muddy anything is rare.

  7. My schedule varies through the year. I prefer to give baths outside so if the weather is warm, we go about once a week. During winter, we are probably at once a month, because I really hate giving indoor baths. I monitor the dogs coats and the frequency seems to be ok with them. Well they don’t like baths, so *they* would prefer less but their coats are ok with them. I have lots of reasons for why so often: human allergies to the dogs, smell, dirt, and a dislike of oily coats.

    I know what you mean about doggy stress, though. When I adopted my adult dog, bath time is the only time I’ve wondered if he would bite me if he could reach me. Outdoor baths were a necessity for the first 6 months because he needed to be tethered. Quite frankly, he was pissed. Frequent baths actually helped him to overcome this anxiety and now he is pretty calm during bath times. Big improvement from a couple of years ago.

  8. We bathed Millie only when she smelled bad. Sometimes that was once a week. More often it was 4-6 weeks. She was easy to bathe…

  9. This is a great topic – I worried that I wasn’t giving my Lab enough baths either! I rarely bathe my short coated dog (maybe 3 or 4 times a year, tops? Possibly fewer times than that.) I rely instead of good food and elbow grease – lots of thorough brushing, with a curry comb or Zoom Groom (to reach the skin and draw oils up into the coat) and a soft bristled brush, to sweep away fur, dust and dander; and to spread the dog’s natural oils out over each hair shaft. It results in a lovely, smooth, glowing coat. (My Springer gets groomed every six weeks, which includes a bath, or he looks like a tiny Mammoth.)

    One option for dogs who really despise tub-bathing is a method used in the equine industry for cold weather cleaning: Hot Toweling. The general idea is that you dip a towel in hot water, wring it out thoroughly, and gently scrub one section of the dog at a time, allowing the steam from the towel to lift dirt from the skin and fur and sweeping it away with the towel. Most dogs can be trained to tolerate (or even enjoy) being rubbed with a towel; some good treats and slowly building up from being near the towel to actually getting rubbed with the towel doesn’t take long for most! Another benefit is that you can do a few sections of fur at a time, limiting the “bath” to a length that your dog can tolerate. When you bathe in the tub, it’s all or nothing (once the soap is on, it must be washed out! No stopping because the dog is agitated.) The horse version of this method can be found here: .

    1. Thanks for your comment, Steph! I have never heard of hot toweling before; that sounds like a genius idea. Thanks for sharing! That is something we’ll have to try.

  10. I aim for once a month. I don’t actually bathe them though. One of our bathrooms has a stand-alone shower. I get beach towels ready, dog shampoo, put on shorts and go right in the shower with each dog (it has a hand-held shower but I still end up getting wet!). It seems less stressful for the dogs.

  11. The only times I ever bathe Elli are if she’s rolled in something or is brown from mud when she should be white, haha. Raw food keeps her smelling lovely year round otherwise. I will throw her in the tub for foot baths because the mud here in MT gets caked in her paws.

    I dealt with a little bit of fear with bathing, too. I found that teaching her to jump into and out of the tub on cue (no bath required) helped quite a bit. It became a fun thing to do that never meant a bath was coming (even if it sometimes does). We rehearse the behavior whenever she comes into the bathroom with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Great idea (training with the tub); I think we need to at least attempt bathing in our new house (our old one wasn’t set up at all for bathing big dogs). Thanks, as always, for the good advice!

  12. Our two dogs vary quite immensely in their bathing regime. I totally think that it’s based on the dog and their coat quality! For example, Scooter our pomeranian gets groomed and brushed constantly, but bathed only every 2-3 months.

    My border collie/german shep. Bear has pretty bad skin allergies, and so a bath every two weeks keeps his skin happy and healthy. We use a highly moisturizing conditioner with aloe and oatmeal and let it soak in for awhile. He loves bath time, because he feels so great afterwards ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. We only bath our two dogs when they need it, ie. if they’ve rolled in something stinky! ๐Ÿ™‚

    One of our pups gets very anxious about bath time too, and our youngest pup has never had a bath. We did socialise her in the tub when she was a puppy, but she’s never actually had a bath.

  14. I pretty much only bathe my dogs when they roll in something stinky. They hate the bath but they’re patient and being short haired dogs, it only takes a few minutes.

    But our German Shepherd has recently developed really bad skin infections causing hot spots and the vet said we need to bathe her at least once a week and keep her as clean as possible. So far it is actually working. She doesn’t mind it but it sucks. As you know…there is just so much hair and it takes at least an hour:(

    1. So sorry to hear that your GSD has had bad skin infections. Poor girl! Glad to hear that the regular baths have been helping; I’m wondering if that could help our little one. Thanks for sharing, Rachel!

  15. Usually it is 2 per year, unless it is needed in between sometimes they can roll in the most putrid of things and they seem to enjoy that. I have 2 teckels and they don’t mind the bath, it is the ear cleaning that they hate.

  16. We give baths here rarely, truth be told. Kรผster probably gets them more often, because he’s sometimes out in places that require him to have a bath before he comes back into our house. And Morgan sometimes has an odd smell, so she gets them when that sets in. The Greyhounds have really thin coats, though, and unless we’re out and they get into something really dirty, they probably only get them once or twice a year. In the winter, I try not to because it’s just too cold for them. I think that our dogs have better coats and skin when they haven’t had a lot of baths, but I also think they definitely do need them on occasion.

  17. I bathe dogs if their coat starts to feel grimy or if they smell, which isn’t often. Until we moved up here, swimming in the lake kept their skin from getting too greasy most of the time. Our dog park in SC was a mud hole, so a lot of dogs there got frequent baths but I just let it dry, then brushed it off and Gam was just as clean as the rest. We used to bathe more often, but I came to realize that it was the collars that stank from swimming and mud, so the collars started getting baths every couple weeks and the dogs every 2-4 months.

    1. Yes! I’ve realized the collars themselves can often be the smelly culprit. I just washed their two collars, and the bowl was just a pool of mud and red clay. Ick! But the dogs are looking and smelling sweeter for it!

  18. Tala also finds baths traumatic I think perhaps because as a pup in sudan once a motorcycle passed and she had never seen or heard one before and she jumped to the side straight into an oil filled ditch! I had to bathe her three times and twice with swarfega! It was like cleaning a bird that had been in an oil slick! Luckily she doesn’t smell doggy at all so we rarely bathe her. When we run the bath she runs to the furthest sofa and sits shivering and looking shifty. When in the bath bough luckily she just freezes. She even went through a face of stealing and chewing up two bath plugs (but absolutely nothing else in the bathroom) which I think can’t be coincidence even though I know that level of correlation sounds unbeliavable….

  19. Dixie’s [Golden Retriever] only gets a bath every 4-5 months or so. Or if she gets into something nasty. I found early on that if I bathe her even just once a month, her skin becomes very dry. I really see no need for bathing them more often than every few months, with exception of medical reasons.
    Even though she doesn’t get bathed that often, Dixie LOVES bathtime. She’ll jump in the tub and stare at the faucet everytime!

  20. I’m so glad I’m not the only one stressing about baths! Lucas HATES them. He completely shuts down, which breaks my heart. Last year, I think he got 3 baths… one of which was because he had rolled in something seriously gross so I had no choice. Until Emmett retired from therapy dog work, he had to be bathed once a week (before every session technically, but I could only handle once/week) and his skin was a mess. Dry, flaky, and severely itchy. I think good food plus regular brushing keeps them clear of all that debris.

  21. It depends on the type of breed and their’s not uncommon for a dog with hair to be bathed every other week though usually it is every 4-6 weeks. Short haired dogs and some medium coats can go without a bath as often. Instead of using a regular shampoo for dogs…try a derma shampoo for dry, itchy skin, hypoallergenic for sensitive skin, or de-shedding if needed. Some owners with dogs who get really stressed out give them something prescribed from their vet that calms them down.

  22. We’re on the fewer baths couch, and that’s with a white dog! It’s amazing how clean they really do stay on their own. Silas gets bathed sometime between once a month and quarterly, unless he’s filthy.

    I will second the suggestion to teach Pyrrha to jump in the tub on her own. Silas would also get a little mouthy, but only about being picked up to go in the tub. Once he learned to get in on his own, all was well. He doesn’t love it, but he’s fine unless I really try to wash his feet.

  23. We’ve had 2 GSD X and both only got bathed once every 1.5yr……..seriously both never smelled, their fur was/is soft as silk and my non-dog-owner friends compliment me all the time on the fact that my house does not smell like dog at all. My current GSDX, Duke…..cuddliest boy ever even sleeps with us! I really think the Natural Balance limited ingredient diet kibble, Genestra Super EFA Omega3 oil and weekly brushing and weekly house vacuuming is key. Of course they both swim in a lake at least one camping trip a year.

  24. my dog is a terrier and his name is daniel…i bathe him once a week…and he doesn’t mind taking bath..and i have no problem taking him to the bathroom.. is’t a problem if i bathe him that often…

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