Untangling Dog Grooming: How Often Does Your Dog Need a Bath?

Dogs are experts at getting dirty. From muddy paws to matted coats after a brushy hike, caring for our canine companion's health and hygiene is a full-time job. Unfortunately, the majority of pet parents haven't taken an expert level course in getting their pup clean again. Dog grooming can be a confusing topic, whether you're a new dog owner or an old pro. 

Loyal Canine Co. is here to scrub away some of the murkiness when it comes to establishing a canine grooming schedule. Learn more about how often to bathe your dog and what to do for those in-between times to keep your pup happy, healthy, and clean!

The Biggest Dog Grooming Question

One of the most important aspects of dog grooming is figuring out a bathing schedule. A simple investigation into how often your dog needs a good scrub can easily yield dozens of conflicting opinions. Neglecting adequate spa days is an invitation to health problems. Parasites like fleas and ticks thrive during the summer months and can be kept at bay by regular grooming. Other common issues that arise from infrequent bathing include dirty and dull coats, skin irritation, and recurrent ear infections. Bath time is also a good opportunity for all-around pampering, including trimming or filing down those stubborn nails.

With your best furry friend's health and wellness on the line, it's easy to assume that "more = better." However, over bathing your dog can cause their sensitive skin to dry out by stripping away essential oils, aggravating allergies, and even making them smell worse than before!

The perfect medium depends on a variety of factors. No two dogs are the same, which means your pup likely needs a consistent grooming schedule that's as unique as they are. Breed, coat type, health conditions, and daily lifestyle can all determine how frequently you should bathe your dog. Pencil in your own salon dates with these helpful tips and tricks for planning a dog grooming regimen.

Breed and Coat Type

One of the biggest factors in determining how often a dog will need to be groomed is their coat type. Not only does the density of a dog's fur vary greatly, but other breed-specific characteristics can affect the need for routine baths. For example, bulldogs are quite prone to chronic skin allergies and dry eyes, while labs have a hardier tolerance for splashing around due to their protective double-layered coat.

It may be surprising to learn that the difference is not simply a matter of short-haired vs. long-haired breeds. Hairless or nearly hairless breeds such as the Chinese Crested actually require a more intensive dog grooming regimen due to their highly specific skincare needs. On the other end of the fluffy furred spectrum are breeds such as Maltese and Newfoundlands whose extra dense coats require plenty of TLC.

A good rule of thumb is that dogs with medium to long-haired coats should generally be bathed every 4-to-6 weeks while maintaining their fur between baths. Dogs with double-layered coats such as huskies, labradors, and golden retrievers have adapted to stay insulated whatever the season. Their protective coats block harsh sunlight in the summer and keep them warm in the winter. These pups can generally go a bit longer between baths -- typically every 3 months. 

Health Conditions

The health of your dog is a good guide for determining a bath routine. Your veterinarian can help develop a regimen that suits your dog's specific needs based on their health history and any underlying conditions. This may include recommendations for gentler products, such as holistic, skin-friendly ingredients that won't expose your sensitive pup to harsh chemicals and hypoallergenic botanicals to soothe seasonal itching and irritation.

Other factors include the age of your pet. Senior dogs may have a harder time staying clean and often need some extra TLC to look and feel their best. In general, all dogs benefit greatly from monthly ear cleaning and nail trimming.  

Lifestyle and Activity Level

Is your best furry friend an adventure buddy or more of a couch potato? Lifestyle plays a key role in taking care of your dog. Active breeds generally require a more attentive grooming schedule that may include more frequent baths as well as looking after their seasonal needs such as cracked paws and chapped noses.

Don't be fooled by your apartment dog's Netflix loving lifestyle, however. Although small breeds may not need a full bath as regularly, they often benefit from routine trims, especially around the eyes and feet. No one likes overgrown bangs! Make sure your furry friend can see the screen clearly for your next movie marathon by looking after their coat.

Couple walking their dog down the street, dog grooming concept

Upkeep and Maintenance for Canine Beauty Gurus

Dry shampoo may be our go-to on off days, but what about our canine companions? Maintaining healthy skin and soft, huggable coats is essential between baths. A proper care routine helps to extend the time between a full spa session and keep your pet feeling, looking, and smelling their best.

Healthy habits for squeaky clean pups include:

  • Monthly nail trimming and ear cleaning.
  • Wipes for paws, skin folds (in wrinkly breeds like pugs and bulldogs especially).
  • Staying up to date on flea and tick treatments.
  • Haircuts, brushing, and coat care to prevent uncomfortably long fur, mats, and dirt build-up.
  • Weekly laundering of beds and blankies.
  • A fresh spritz of conditioner spray to keep your dog's skin and coat moisturized.
  • Daily or weekly teeth brushing (or dental supplements for pups who don't enjoy oral hygiene).
  • Giving extra care to paws in the winter, including investing in a pair of puppy boots for active dogs.
  • A high quality, all-natural dog food diet free of harsh fillers, chemicals, and preservatives that can often exacerbate allergies.
  • Daily care and plenty of patience for the unexpected! From diving into mud puddles to rolling in a fresh mound of grass, be prepared for occasional deviation from the plan. 

Dog Grooming Calendar

For high maintenance breeds, it can be helpful to have a standing appointment with your local groomer. This serves as a good reminder for busy pet parents. However, DIY spa days are often a more convenient and budget-friendly option. Start your own dog rooming calendar, stock up on your favorite holistic pet health products, and get ready for your dog to be the next Instagram worthy model with their shiny coat and wagging tail.

Looking for more great tips for adventurous pups? Check out Hiking with Your Dog: The Essential Guide.

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