Ask Dr. Tory: Can You Over-Bathe a Dog?

by Sundays

dog getting a bath

Finding your dog's sweet spot between baths ultimately boils down to their coat type. 

The spring season is finally here to pull us out of the winter blues, but with flowers, sunshine, and rain showers comes one drawback: mud! Dog parents may find themselves tossing their pup in the tub more frequently than usual, which raises a valid question: Can you over-bathe a dog?

Some breeds look and smell fresh for months after their last bath, while others get a little stinky after just a week or two. Finding your dog's sweet spot between baths ultimately boils down to their coat type. 

“The frequency with which you bathe your dog depends greatly on their coat type and lifestyle. Many breeds that require frequent grooming including Doodles and Poodles require bathing and grooming every 4-6 weeks,” says Dr. Tory Waxman. “Other breeds with wash and wear coats such as Labs and Dalmatians may only require bathing every 2-3 months.Although as a Lab-mom myself, my dogs are bathed much more frequently as they love to swim in ponds and I always make sure to rinse them with clean water afterwards.”

There are numerous ways to categorize the different types of dog coats, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll break them down into three categories: double/combination coat, short/single coat, and curly/drop coat.”It is definitely possible to over-bathe your dog, which can contribute to a dry coat,”says Dr. Tory. So determining your dog’s coat type will help you avoid doing just that. 

Double or Combination Coat Type 

Breed examples: Husky, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Bernese Mountain Dog, Cocker Spaniel, Border Terrier

A double coat refers to a dog that essentially has two layers of hair, each with its own density and texture. The outer topcoat's primary job is to repel dirt, water, thorns, etc., while the inner undercoat is there to keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 

Dogs with this coat type produce an abundance of natural oils, which can make them feel "dirty" by leaving a film on your hands after you give them a belly rub. This coat type does a great job of repelling dirt, so breeds with a double or combination coat will require less frequent bathing than many other breeds. 

Depending on the individual dog's lifestyle, these breeds may only need a bath every few months, but they will likely need extra grooming attention during the seasons when they are shedding or “blowing out” their undercoat.

Short or Single Coat Type 

Breed examples: Dalmatian, German Shorthaired Pointer, French Bulldog, American Staffordshire Terrier, Greyhound

Single-coated breeds do not have an undercoat like their double-coated counterparts, but have one single layer of topcoat. Dogs with single coats often have short, sleek, and shiny fur that lies flush with their bodies. Some breeds with single coats are prone to environmental allergies due to having less hair to protect their skin. Therefore, monthly bathing may be necessary to remove pollen and other allergens from their coats.

Curly or Drop Coat Type 

Breed examples: Poodle, Bichon Frise, Maltese, Yorkshire Terrier, Shih Tzu

Curly or drop coat types have a texture closer to human hair than fur, and as a result, they rarely shed. Low-shedding coat types can be perfect for allergy sufferers, but they require frequent baths and grooming maintenance! This type of coat needs haircuts every 4-6 weeks, depending on the chosen grooming style, and they may require baths between haircuts to maintain their appearance. Generally, this coat type can tolerate weekly or bi-weekly bathing, but be sure to always use conditioner to prevent dry skin or coat!

Regardless of your dog's coat type, it is important to pay attention to what your dog's coat is telling you. If your dog has developed dandruff or is itching more than usual, it might be time to dial back on the baths or try out new grooming products. When in doubt, never hesitate to reach out to your local groomer or veterinarian to see what they recommend.

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