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How Often Does Your Dog Need a Bath?

A dog being brushed; a lineup of dog shampoo bottles; a dog grooming clipper tool
Ruff ‘n’ Ruffus/Burt’s Bees/oneisall

If you’re a new dog owner, you likely have no idea how often you should bathe your new BFF. After all, she can’t tell you when she could use a good scrub-down (and she probably wouldn’t even if she could). We’ll help you figure out how often you should wash your doggo, and which shampoos will keep her smelling fresh.

New pet parents have a lot on their minds, so it might be a minute before you think about how often your new pup should have a bath. The good news is it’s really not that complicated! With the right products and a regular routine, you’ll have a happy, healthy, snuggle-ready dog all the time.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

A small dog sitting in a towel; a line of yellow shampoo bottles next to oats, honey, and apple slices
Earthbath/Burt’s Bees

Just like us, dogs need the occasional bath to remove the buildup of oils and environmental grime that can clog their pores, dry out their skin, and cause itching and irritation. Bathing too often, however, strips the natural oils and can lead to those same irritating skin conditions.

Every dog breed has slightly different bathing and grooming needs, depending on their coat and skin.

According to the pet grooming experts at Petco, a good rule of thumb is to give your dog a bath once a month. With some breeds, you can even wait up to six weeks between washes. It’s important to find that sweet spot between bathing just enough and too much.

The exception, of course, is if your dog has gotten particularly dirty while playing outside. In that case, it’s perfectly fine—and necessary—to bathe your dog even if it’s not following the regular schedule.

You’ll also need to get the right dog shampoo for your canine companion. There are many options for specialized concerns, like combatting fleas or shedding, and dry or sensitive skin. Each of these also has a unique set of factors to consider, so check with your vet for a recommendation.

For regular use, though, look for a shampoo that’s free of irritants, like parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and other similar ingredients. Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo, for example, uses natural ingredients to soothe and moisturize, while also getting that fur and skin all clean.

Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo

All natural ingredients won't irritate your pupper's skin.

Natural ingredients are the best way to avoid irritating your dog’s skin or leaving behind a scent you can’t stand. And you don’t have to spend big bucks, either.

Burt’s Bees for Dogs Oatmeal Shampoo is incredibly affordable and is made with colloidal oatmeal, honey, and beeswax. Its also pH-balanced, and fragrance- and dye-free.

How Often Should You Groom Your Dog?

A golden-colored dog being brushed with a green brush; a husky sitting next to a pile of shed fur
Ruff ‘n’ Ruffus/Shiny Pet

In addition to baths, your dog’s coat and nails also need some specific attention. Again, because coats vary so much between breeds, there’s no single answer for how often you should groom your dog.

Generally, long-haired breeds with fast-growing fur might require a “hair appointment” as often as every 6-8 weeks, while short-haired breeds can go a couple of months between visits.

No matter how often your dog goes to the “salon,” it’s important to regularly brush him at home. This will help prevent his fur from getting matted and keep his coat healthy.

Again, how often you should brush your dog depends on how long and thick her coat is. For particularly short-haired dogs, a weekly brushing is usually enough.

Dogs with longer coats, on the other hand, typically need more frequent attention to avoid matting. Brushing 2-3 times per week, depending on the breed, is usually a good rule of thumb, but you can ask your groomer what they recommend.

The tools you need to brush your dog will also depend on his breed and the type of coat he has, but for most, a slicker brush is the most important tool. This brush by Ruff ‘N’ Ruffus features pain-free bristles to gently, but firmly detangle and remove loose fur. It also has an awesome self-cleaning feature—just press the button to instantly release the fur in the bristles.

Ruff 'N Ruffus Self-Cleaning Slicker Brush

Pain-free and even self cleans!

After the main brushing session, it’s often helpful to go back in with a comb to lift away any excess hair and finish detangling. Look for a medium and/or fine-toothed comb with rounded teeth, like this one from Shiny Pet, for best results.

Shiny Pet Dog Comb

Removes tough tangles and excess fur.

For a more all-in-one option, it’s helpful to have some all-purpose dog clippers, like this set from oneisall. Just like those for humans, it includes multiple attachments for grooming different lengths of fur.

oneisall Dog Shaver Clippers

This multipurpose tool will help you keep your dog groomed at home.

It’s also important to keep your dog’s nails trimmed, but that can be far more challenging to do at home. If you cut them too short, you can hurt your furry friend.

That’s why most people have their dog’s nails trimmed by the groomer or a vet. It’s a lot safer, as they’re far more experienced with trimming the nails on squirmy dogs.

If you do decide to try this at home, be sure to read up on the proper procedures first. To avoid the risk of hurting your pet, we highly recommend using a nail grinder instead of trimmers. The handy LED light allows you to see exactly where to trim to, so you can avoid grinding them too short.

Casfuy Dog Nail Grinder with Two LED Light

The safest way to trim your dog's nails at home.

Bathing your dog often enough is an important part of keeping them healthy. Armed with this knowledge and the right shampoo and grooming tools, you can get the job done quickly and get back to having fun with your furry best friend!

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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