How and When to Wash Your Dog: Hair Types, Shampoos, and More
Washing your dog can be a daunting task, depending on your comfort level and your dog’s aversion to bath time. The toughest question remains to be how often you should wash your dog?
In this article, we will explain the different types of dog hairs so you can identify your particular puppy’s needs. We will cover the shampoos and well as provide you with a do and do not list. All of your dog washing questions will be answered in this guide on how and when to wash your dog.
Why We Wash Our Dogs
Dogs, unlike cats, do not groom themselves or bath themselves on a regular basis. The only time you will see a dog licking or grooming is generally when there is something wrong. Their fur may be matted due to dirt or mud, and they may have a splinter in their paw or another type of sore that causes them to lick and bite.
However, they will not wash themselves. It is important not only for your home and your nose but for the health of your dog to give them regular baths. Some dogs may have an aversion to the water while other breeds won't’ get out. Either way, it is important that you get them the bath they need.
An odor is one of the most common factors when it comes to washing your dog. They don’t have sweat glands like humans and will not naturally release the odors and oils from their skin and fur like we do when we sweat.
Over time your dog will begin to smell bad just from the natural build up of their oils and fur. Not to mention the dirt and debris they will collect from being outside, playing in the house or even just laying there being a dog.
Other reasons for washing your dog are to keep their fur from being matted, retaining moisture and causing medical issues. Just form their fur holding water they can get sores and infections. If you do not bathe your dog on a regular basis, you may end up with veterinary bills for other issues.
Skin and fur health is the utmost important reasons for bathing a dog. Medical concerns, knotted and matted fur, shed promotion and having your dog looking and smelling their best are other reasons. So how often should you wash your dog? Let’s find out.
The hair your dog has covering their body comes in many different types, textures, thicknesses, and lengths. Each type is important to that breed of dog, and their fur serves many purposes that are beyond the scope of this article.
Aside from keeping their skin protected and their bodies warm, their fur will also be a natural barrier from sunlight, pests and, depending on the breed, the length will also have benefits for the dog.
Dogs can have short, coarse hairs, or fur. They can also have long, soft hair. Some dogs even have natural dreadlocks. Every dog breed is different, and each type needs its own special care routine.
The type of fur your dog has will determine the type of shampoo you use and how much. They type of fur will also dictate the frequency of the bathing cycles, so it is important to note the type of fur, the density and how often as well as how much shed to expect.
There are well over a hundred different types of shampoos for dogs. It is beyond even this article to explain them all in detail. However, there are a few you should take note of as you may find the need for one or more of them over the course of your dog’s life.
Odor shampoos have a tendency to remove odors and leave the dog smelling fresh. Scents such as vanilla, lavender, and oatmeal are not uncommon. These shampoos don’t have any other effects other than to wash the dog to remove dirt and debris and remove their odor leaving a fresh, clean scent.
Flea and tick shampoos, don’t generally have lasting smells as the odor shampoos do. Instead, they serve a purpose other than cleaning. The main purpose is to help remove and prevent flea and ticks from making homes out of your dog’s fur and skin.
These shampoos leave oils behind that these pests find unattractive. While most won’t kill fleas and ticks, they do go a long way in preventing infestations.
Soothing shampoos are designed to help alleviate skin problems with the dog. Rashes, itching, burning or sore will cause your dog to scratch and bite, which can make the problem worse. Soothing shampoos relieve the itching and burning to help promote healing while giving the dog enough relief to not scratch or bite.
Shedding shampoos are made to help dogs shed easier. These are generally used on dog hairs that are thicker, longer and shed year round. Shepherds and Collies, for example, will benefit from these shampoos as they help exfoliate the skin to promote shedding. They also work to remove shed hair that may be tangled with hairs that are still attached.
Budget shampoos are just what they sound like. They have little other properties than sudsing up enough to wash away most of the dirt on the dog's fur and skin, and they save you money. However, in the long run, they will run out faster as you will use more of the product, costing you a return trip to the store for more shampoo, sooner.
Do and Do Not
When washing your dog, there are a couple of things to take note of:
- Brush your dog before bathing, as this will remove tangles and matting in the fur to help the shampoo get to the skin and clean better.
- Use warm water only, so you don’t shock the dog or cause them burns.
- Talk to your dog throughout the process to keep them calm and in the tub, sink or under the water spout as needed.
- Rinse well, then rinse again. Making sure you get all of the shampoo out of the fur and off the skin will prevent rashes and irritations.
- Reward the end of bath time with a treat.
- Use a shampoo designed for people. It will cause more problems than it solves as the PH balance isn’t right and can cause rashes, sores or the removal of too much the dog’s natural oils.
- Use cold or hot water. Cold water will shock the dog; hot water can easily burn dogs (and faster than humans).
- Berate or scold the dog for not wanting to take a bath. They really don’t understand what is going on at first and may fight you. This is because they are scared, not stubborn.
Frequency of Baths
So how often should you wash your dog? It all depends on the type of dog you have. The general rule, though, is about once a month. There are certain breeds that need baths less frequently and some that need them more frequently.
Water dogs such as Retrievers, Labradors, and Setters, will need baths less often. Once per month baths are okay but can lead to the removal of the waterproofing oils the dog needs to be in the water.
Oily coat dogs, like our beloved Basset Hound, Steve, will need baths about once a week. The oil builds up in these dogs will actually cause them problems and needs to be washed away frequently.
Short haired, smooth coated dogs can go 6 to 8 weeks between bathing days. Some breeds like Beagles and Basenjis actually do bath themselves and will need less care from you.
Finally, dogs with long, thick coats will need baths about every 6 weeks. Instead of frequent bathing, you should brush the dogs to help remove the shed hairs and promote healthy growth.
Of course, this is all mute if your dog likes to jump in mud puddles or chase squirrels through the muck. If your dog is dirty, you should bathe them. Otherwise, the general rule of once a month is just fine.
Washing dogs is a routine you need to get used to. However, it doesn’t have to be a weekly ordeal (unless you have a dog that requires weekly baths). The main goal is to keep the dog healthy, their coat shedding properly and any mats or tangles removed.
If you wash too frequently, you can cause rashes or irritations, and if you don’t wash frequently enough, you can cause other medical issues that will need to be looked at by a veterinarian.