How Often Should You Wash Your Dog?

Responsible Ownership
How often should you bathe your dog?

The short version:

How Often Should You Wash Your Dog? Unless they have a skin condition, are visibly dirty, or really stink, you don’t actually need to regularly wash most dogs. Some breeds (hairless, longer or oily coats) may require additional care, but they’re the exception.

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This week we put a question to our Off the Leash audience on Instagram. Well, we put a few out, what can we say, we love to chat. But the one that concerns you right now is: How often should you wash your dog?

Most people said that you should wash your dog once every week or two, with a few stretching it to once a month. A handful left it longer or only bathed when necessary, but the consensus was generally that there are a lot of very clean dogs out there.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?

Here’s the crazy thing though, a lot of vets would tell you that washing your dog more than once a month is actually too much. Talking to the ABC, Melbourne vet Samantha Crothers said that assuming there are no skin conditions needing extra care, “you actually don’t have to wash your dog ever.” Mind blown.

Chiming in, Robert Hilton, a veterinarian specialising in dermatology, added: “In general, healthy dogs only need to be bathed if they smell. There’s no reason particularly to bath a healthy dog, unless they’re dirty.” 

Obviously, there are exceptions to that rule. Dogs with longer or oilier coats can often have bathing and grooming needs that call for more care. While breeds like retrievers have thicker coats that need even less upkeep. Interestingly, hairless breeds like Chinese cresteds often require weekly bathing to look after their sensitive skin.

Breeders and vets can provide specific advice on cases that buck the general trend to wash less.

Also, obviously if your dog really stinks or has been rolling around in something foul you’ll be wanting to wash your dog pretty quickly.

While you’re rethinking their beauty routine, take the time to check you’re using the right shampoo. Dogs’ skin is often more sensitive than ours, and fur has different needs to hair, so never substitute your own products. In general, a sensitive, gentle dog-designed product is best.

How often should you bathe your dog?

Watch Out for Over-washing

A lot of the time, we’re probably bathing our dogs to reflect our own ideas of hygiene rather than to keep them in tip-top shape. Outside of the aforementioned breeds and situations that call for more frequent care, over-washing can irritate their skin and cause dryness. It can also interfere with worming and flea treatments if you’re not keeping a close eye on when they were administered.

Things to Remember Alongside Washing

While we have a tendency to over wash our dogs, we also can under groom them. Most breeds need regular brushing to remove excess fur, manage oil that can cause smells, clear away ticks and seeds, and generally help them keep themselves clean.

Brushing also gives you the chance to check them over for lumps, marks, abrasions, or bites you could miss if you’re washing them less. Plus, it can be a nice chance for them to enjoy some one-on-one attention from you. 

Again, this advice is very general, so double check what’s right for your dog with a breeder, vet, or adoption centre. But in general, think twice before picking up the shampoo and consider the brush instead.

For more on being a good owner, check out: 

What To Know About Brushing Dog’s Teeth

A Deep Dive into Dog Smell, the Greatest Pet Mystery

Dog Anti-vaxxers and the Confusion Around Inoculations

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Written by on for Off The Leash

Article last updated on April 28, 2021

Wendy's never met a dog she didn't like. Although she has a special place in her heart for muts: three legs, one eye, missing fur, bit of a weird walk? The scruffier the better. Her favourite dog in the whole world though is her terrier-mix Stevie.

Frequently Asked Questions

Unless they have a skin condition, are visibly dirty, or really stink, you don’t actually need to regularly wash most dogs. Some breeds (hairless, longer or oily coats) may require additional care, but they’re the exception.

Not really. Melbourne vet Samantha Crothers says that assuming there are no skin conditions needing extra care, “you actually don’t have to wash your dog ever.” Unless they really smell, are visibly messy, have a skin condition that requires extra bathing, it’s often not a necessity. 

Some breeds (hairless, longer or oily coats) may require additional care, but they’re the exception.

Yes, and most people do. Unless they’re very dirty, stink, or have a specific breed-related reason, your dog doesn’t need to be washed weekly or even monthly. Overwashing can irritate skin, interfere with worming and flea treatments,  and disrupt their fur’s natural ability to regulate itself. 

Spend that time brushing them to remove excess fur, manage oil that can cause smells, clear away ticks and seeds, and generally help them keep themselves clean.

Ideally daily, but at least twice a week. Most breeds need regular brushing to remove excess fur, manage oil that can cause smells, clear away ticks and seeds, and generally help them keep themselves clean. Brushing also gives you the chance to check them over for lumps, marks, abrasions, or bite. Plus, it’s a nice bonding experience. 

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