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How Often Should You Bathe A Puppy? What You Need To Know!

Savanna Stanfield

Getting a new puppy can be really exciting, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. On top of feeding and playing with the puppy, you also have to bathe him regularly to keep him clean and healthy.

Giving your puppy a bath at a young age can also help him get used to the idea of getting bathed. However, bathing your puppy too much can have negative effects on their already sensitive skin. So exactly how frequently should you give your puppy a bath? Keep reading for this information and more.

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How Often Should You Bathe a Puppy?

If your puppy is less than 8 weeks old, it’s not a good idea to give him a bath. For puppies that are older than 8 weeks but younger than 6 months old, you should bathe them once per month. Once your puppy gets older than 6 months old, it may be necessary to bathe him more frequently. But what is the reasoning behind these time frames? It all has to do with your puppy’s skin and fur.

When puppies are younger than 6 months old, they haven’t developed their full coat yet. They have what is known as a puppy coat. A puppy coat is a soft coat that essentially helps to regulate the puppy’s body temperature.

But, the reason why you shouldn’t bathe a puppy that is younger than 8 weeks old is that puppies don’t have a puppy coat until they reach a few months of age. That means that they can’t regulate their body temperature on their own, so bathing them could cause them to get too hot or cold.

Once a puppy is a couple of months old, he will have grown a nice soft puppy coat. However, it is important to remember that this coat still isn’t as full and thick as the coat of an adult dog. This means the skin is more exposed. It is more sensitive to different things, including the shampoo that is used during bathing.

When puppies are bathed, shampoo not only cleans their fur but can also strip away some of the moisture and oils from their skin. Bathing a puppy too frequently can cause their skin to dry out. If a dog’s skin becomes too dry, it can become flaky, itchy, and can even lead to infections.

This is why the time frame of bathing once a month is recommended. It’s frequent enough to keep their fur clean while still getting them used to the concept of being bathed.

Of course, if your puppy rolls in mud or gets dirty in another way, it is okay to bathe him even if you’ve already bathed him this month. You just don’t want to bathe him daily or even weekly because it doesn’t give his skin enough time to produce the oils and moisture that help keep his skin healthy.

Sometime between the age of 6 and 12 months, your puppy’s soft coat will grow into its adult coat. At this point, you’ll have a better idea of what the fur will be like. Depending on the type of coat and the dog’s activity level, you may need to bathe him more or even less often than once per month as an adult.

poodle puppy bath time
Image Credit: Zachary Pigott, Shutterstock

What Do You Need to Bathe a Puppy?

To bathe a puppy, all you really need is a shampoo that is formulated for puppies, a place to bathe them, and some water. Remember that if the puppy is younger than eight weeks old, you want to avoid giving him a full bath. Instead, you can just dampen a washcloth and give him a gentle wipe down.

But if your puppy is older than eight weeks old and can get a full bath, you’ll need to bathe him in either the sink or the bathtub indoors, or you can invest in a kiddie pool or doggie bathtub in order to bathe him outdoors.

Finally, it’s very important that you only use puppy shampoo for bathing a puppy. The reason why this is the case is that puppy shampoos are designed to be gentler on the skin and less drying. They also won’t irritate a puppy’s eyes if the shampoo gets into them, and some are hypoallergenic as well. However, the shampoo can still dry out your puppy’s skin if it is used too often.

What Is The Best Way to Bathe a Puppy?

The easiest and best way to bathe a puppy is indoors in either the bathtub or a deep kitchen or utility sink. There are pros and cons to each of these. If you use the bathtub, your puppy will be less likely to climb over the side, but you’ll have to stoop or kneel down in order to bathe him. If you use a sink, it will be easier for your puppy to climb out but you can bathe him standing up.

Keep in mind that your puppy’s first bath will be a new and scary experience for him. For small-breed puppies, the bathtub may seem intimidating at first so it may be better to use the sink. You can always transition to the bathtub later. But no matter where you decide to bathe your puppy, it is important that you don’t leave him unattended. He could jump out and hurt himself.

1. Wet

bathing puppy in a tub
Image Credit: liilxliil, Pixabay

The first thing you’ll want to do is place your puppy in the sink or bathtub and give him a treat. This will allow him to associate the bath with something positive and can also be a way to distract your puppy from the water. Next, use the showerhead or sink sprayer to wet your puppy with lukewarm water. Avoid using hot water because it can be too hot for your puppy’s skin to handle.


2. Shampoo

puppy getting bath
Image Credit: AmandaCullingford, Pixabay

Once your puppy is wet, squirt a small amount of shampoo into your hands and rub it over your puppy’s fur until it forms a lather. Try to avoid your puppy’s eyes, nose, and mouth, but make sure to get their belly, legs, and tail area. If you need to wash your puppy’s face, use a washcloth to do so gently.

Some puppies may be wary of being shampooed at first and may give you a hard time. It’s important not to scold your puppy since bath time is a new experience. But if this is the case for your pup, it is okay if you just bathe him with water at first. This will be enough to get him clean and used to being bathed. Once he’s used to it, you can try shampoo again during the next bath.


3. Rinse

puppies taking a bath
Image Credit: jenniferhoule, Pixabay

After washing your puppy thoroughly, rinse out the shampoo by running the water back over the fur. Make sure to rinse all the shampoo out. If you don’t, it can make your puppy itchy and irritate his skin. You can stop rinsing when the water runs clear.


4. Dry

puppy with towel
Image Credit: pocketlama, Pixabay

After rinsing, wrap your puppy in a towel. Dry the fur as thoroughly as you can, especially if the puppy is still really young. Younger puppies get cold more easily, so it is important that you don’t let them remain soaking wet for a long period of time. Your puppy may try to dry himself off as well by shaking his fur, so be prepared for that because it can make you wet as well as other areas of the bathroom that you didn’t intend to get wet.

After drying off your puppy, reward him again with a treat, and be sure to give lots of praise. Again, a treat allows the puppy to associate bath time with something positive while the praise lets him know that he did a good job. Once your puppy learns that he’ll get praise and a treat for taking a bath, he’ll be more willing (and maybe even excited) to get a bath in the future.

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Final Thoughts

Taking care of a puppy involves more than just feeding and playing with him. It also involves bathing your puppy so his fur can stay clean and healthy. Remember that a puppy’s fur and skin are still somewhat sensitive, so you don’t want to bathe your puppy too often because it can dry out his skin. Usually, a puppy can be bathed around once a month, unless of course he gets dirty and needs to be bathed sooner. And don’t forget to use puppy shampoo as well. After a few baths, your puppy should be used to it and bath time will get easier and easier.


Featured Image Credit: Kasefoto, Shutterstock

Savanna Stanfield

Savanna is a former science teacher who is now a full-time freelance writer. She is currently living in the United States with her husband and daughter. Other members of her family include a long-haired chihuahua named Penny, three cats (Bubba, Kittylina, and Thunder), and an aquatic turtle named Creek. In addition to writing, her passions include gardening, traveling, and protecting our wildlife and natural resources.