How Often Should You Bathe a Short-Haired Dog?

A quick guide to bathing a short-haired breed

By Megan Kriss | Dog Grooming

A guide to bathing a short-haired dog

Want to keep your dog clean, but aren’t sure how often to bathe them?  Read on to find out how often to bathe your short-haired dog without drying their skin.

Bathing is an important part of keeping your dog clean and healthy, but it’s not always clear how often a dog should be bathed.

One consideration is coat length. In general, short-haired dogs don’t need bathing as frequently as those with longer coats, as their hair is less likely to matt. There are exceptions – particularly fur-less breeds, which require more frequent bathing – but, generally, less hair requires fewer baths.

So, how often do you need to bathe your short-haired dog?

The short answer is about every six to eight weeks for non-shedding breeds, or when they roll in something messy or begin to smell unpleasant. But, as with so many things with our pets, there are other factors to consider. Let’s take a look at these considerations to help you decide when your pet needs a bath.

Note: You should only ever use dog shampoo when bathing your dog. Human shampoo or other alternatives, such as washing up liquid, can irritate a dog’s skin, eyes and nose.

Avoid Overbathing

Firstly, you don’t want to bathe your dog too often. It may seem like the more frequently you bathe your dog the better – after all, keeping clean is a vital part of good health, right? – but this isn’t the case.

Washing your dog too frequently strips their coat of its natural oils. This damages the skin, hair follicles, and fur itself, and can make your dog more susceptible to fungal and bacterial infection.

In addition, topical flea treatments require your dog’s natural oils to properly spread, so too frequent bathing can make treatments less effective.

Labrador bathing

Fur Type

Aside from length, the type of fur affects bathing frequency.

Short-haired dogs with soft and oily coats, like the Basset Hound, will need bathing more frequently than dogs with hard and dry coats, like the Greyhound. However, you’ll want to be careful not to bathe oily coated breeds too often and risk stripping the coat of its natural oils.

Dogs with short double coats, such as the Labrador Retriever, are also susceptible to overbathing. Their coats are designed for insulation, so washing frequently can remove too much oil.

If your short-haired dog is a seasonal shedder, you may be tempted to bathe them more frequently during shedding season to remove excess fur, but this isn’t necessary. Instead, brush your dog frequently between baths, and use deshedding products like deshedding spray or slicker brushes.

Activities & Lifestyle

The frequency your dog needs a bath also depends on their daily lives.

It sounds obvious, but active dogs that spend lots of time outdoors need more frequent bathing than those who prefer sleeping on the couch. If your dog spends a lot of time in a muddy back garden, he may also get dirtier than an apartment dog.

Your dog’s favorite activities also affect bathing frequency. Unless your dog gets into something sticky or smelly, they probably don’t need a bath after a trip to the dog park or going on a hike. Using a brush to remove debris and a damp washcloth to remove anything stuck to fur is usually all that’s required.

On the other hand, if your dog spends a lot of time swimming in dirty water, running through mud, or out in the field with livestock, they’ll need more frequent baths.

If your dog’s lifestyle requires frequent bathing, talk to your vet about products that minimize the harsh effects on their skin and coat.

Health

Certain medical conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, can require more frequent bathing.

Your vet may recommend an over the counter shampoo or provide a prescription shampoo to help treat these conditions. In either case, follow the frequency instructions on the bottle or those given by your veterinarian. When in doubt, ask your vet for guidance.

Adult dogs with bladder and bowel control issues that cause them to soil themselves (as well as puppies who are still working on house training) should also be washed immediately after an incident.

Even if your dog doesn’t have a medical condition, you’ll also want to pay attention to the health of your dog’s skin and fur. If it seems dull or dry, you may be bathing your dog too frequently. Try bathing less often, but if symptoms worsen or the skin seems irritated, take your dog to the vet.

Summary

Fur length is just one factor when deciding how frequently your short haired dog needs to be bathed. Others include your dog’s coat type, activity level, favorite activities, and health.

You’ll need to take all of these factors into account when determining how often to bathe your dog. But for most short-haired dogs, between six and eight weeks is usually about right.

Still have questions about how often you need to bathe your short-haired dog? Or do you have any tips for bathing a canine companion? Please let us know in the comment section below.

About the Author

Megan Kriss has been a writer and editor for about five years and a lover of dogs for her whole life. She lives in Georgia with her Border Collie and Chow Chow mix, Ginger, her two cats, Pepper and Misha, and her fiance, Matthew.