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How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

Different breeds have different needs! Find out how often you should bathe your dog according to fur type.

Vets often hear the question, “How often should I bathe my dog?” This is not an easy question to answer, as how often you need to bathe your dog depends a lot on his breed and hair type, as well as your personal preferences.

“Breed can greatly influence bathing and grooming requirements,” says Dr. Leon Freeland of Freeland Animal Hospital. “Long-haired dogs in general need to be groomed and bathed more often to avoid matting and skin irritation. Shorter-haired dogs, on the other hand, generally require a lower frequency of baths. Some breeds, such as the Shar-Pei and some cocker spaniels, can have very oily, greasy skin that requires frequent shampoos to control.”

For the most part, dogs do not need a weekly bath. In fact, many can go longer than a month without washing. But if you have a dog who sleeps in your bed or spends a lot of time in common areas in your house, you will want to wash him more frequently. And of course, if your dog gets into something yucky, like the trash or mud, a bath is a necessity.

Why? It’s a matter of personal hygiene. You wouldn’t want whatever the dog has been rolling around in all day in your bed, carpet or couch — especially if you or someone in your household has allergies to pollen, dander or other outdoor irritants.

So, if you feel the need suds up Fido on the regular so the house stays fresh and clean, it’s no problem — as long as you use the right shampoo. Never use human shampoo on a dog, as certain chemicals and scents can be irritating to their skin. Pet shampoos have come a long way, and today’s brands are perfectly safe for frequent bathing.

They work to maintain the natural oils in a dog’s coat while washing away dirt. If you don’t have a pet shampoo on hand, baby shampoo will work well enough in a pinch, as long as it’s unscented.

Dogs have natural oils in their skin that keep their coats shiny and healthy. They also protect a dog’s delicate skin, which is much thinner than a human’s and lacks sweat glands. Part of grooming your dog is frequent brushing, which helps spread the oils through his coat, so it’s important to set aside a few minutes a day to brush him. Other than this step at home, other grooming care can be done by a professional.

“The necessity for frequent grooming can be affected by two things. First, how well does the owner do on caring for the coat by themselves – combing, brushing. Also, if owners do not address snarls, matting can occur, and it is both hard to get out and tugs on and damages the skin,” says Tricia Thompson, a certified pet groomer, who gets pets camera-ready at Barbara O’Brien Pet Photography.

Different breeds have different types of coats, but if you are not sure what type of dog you have, it can make things a bit difficult. It’s best to follow these rules of thumb: Oily coated dogs (like basset hounds) should be bathed more frequently, as oil buildup can cause skin issues. You’ll know if your mixed breed has oily fur from touch alone.

Long-haired dogs need more work and should be brushed, groomed and washed more frequently. Their fur can pick up lots of odors and debris, simply because of its length. Short-haired dogs require less frequent bathing. Most dirt is taken care of after brushing, and frequent baths could irritate the skin.

So are you still asking, “How often should I bathe my dog?” Here are the most common pet breeds and how often (in weeks) washing and grooming (which can be done at the same time) are recommended. For those with mixed breeds, check with your groomer, or wash according to your comfort level:

  1. Akita: every 8–10 weeks
  2. Alaskan Malamute: 8–10
  3. American Eskimo: 6–8
  4. Australian Cattle Dog: 6–8
  5. Beagle: 8–10
  6. Basset Hound: 8–10
  7. Bearded Collie: 6–8
  8. Bernese Mountain Dog: 6–8
  9. Bichon: 4–6
  10. Border Collie: 4–8
  11. Boxer: 6–8
  12. Bulldog: 6–8
  13. Cairn Terrier: 6–8
  14. Chow Chow: 6–8
  15. Cocker Spaniel: 4–8
  16. Corgi (all breeds): 6-8
  17. Dalmatian: 10–12
  18. Doberman: 8–10
  19. English Setter: 8–10
  20. German Shepherd: 8–12
  21. German Shorthair: 10–12
  22. Golden Retriever: 6–8
  23. Gordon Setter: 10–12
  24. Great Pyrenees: 6–8
  25. Greyhound: 12
  26. Havanese: 4–6
  27. Irish Setter: 8–12
  28. Irish Wolfhound: 8–12
  29. Kerry Blue Terrier: 4–6
  30. Lab (non-hunting): 8–10
  31. Lhasa Apso: 4–6
  32. Long-Haired Dachshund: 8–10
  33. Maltese: 4–6
  34. Newfoundland: 6–8
  35. Norfolk/Norwich Terrier: 8–10
  36. Papillon: 6–8
  37. Pekingese: 4–6
  38. Poodle (all breeds): 4–6
  39. Pug: 8–10
  40. Rottweiler: 8–10
  41. Rough Collie: 6–8
  42. Samoyed: 6–8
  43. Schnauzer (all breeds): 4–6
  44. Shetland Sheepdog: 8–10
  45. Shih Tzu: 4–6
  46. Siberian Husky: 6–8
  47. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier: 4–6
  48. West Highland White Terrier: 4–6
  49. Wire Fox Terrier: 6–8
  50. Yorkshire Terrier: 4–6

And check out To Groom or Not to Groom

Christina Montoya Fiedler is a Los Angeles-based writer. She lives with her two boys, husband, fur baby and two feathered babies.