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Bathing puppies: How often?

How often should you bathe your puppy and what’s the best way to do it? Discover everything you need to know about washing your puppy with Sainsbury’s Bank.

How often should you bathe a puppy? 

Generally, it’s a good idea to bathe your puppy about once a month. But, this depends on other factors, including their coat, skin sensitivity and how often they get dirty. 

Puppies are naturally curious. They love exploring new places, sights and scents. Sometimes these adventures can result in your pup picking up a few new smells of their own, which means you might need to bathe your puppy more often. 

For example, if your dog loves to roll around in mud, you probably can’t wait a month to bathe your puppy. Likewise, some breeds have more sensitive skin than others, so you might have to wait longer than a month between baths. 

Regardless of your dog’s breed or skin sensitivity, you should always use a shampoo that’s designed for dogs. Both puppies and adult dogs have natural oils in their coats that keep them healthy and shiny. Too much bathing and you could remove these oils, resulting in brittle or damaged hair. If your dog has long hair, you might need to bathe your puppy more often or see a professional groomer to prevent matting.

When should you start bathing a puppy?

Puppies can’t self-regulate their body temperature until they are about eight weeks old so it’s advised not to wash them before they reach this age. They can struggle to maintain a healthy internal temperature in certain environments so bathing them before this can pose a risk to their health. While we might see bath time as a chance to relax, a young puppy can become too cold or overheat when bathing. 

If you need to wash your puppy while they’re younger than eight weeks old, it’s best to wipe them down with a clean warm cloth.  

What you need to bathe a puppy

When it’s time to bathe your puppy, you’ll need several things. These will likely include:  


Getting your dog wet shouldn’t be too hard but drying them might be. While your dog might take longer to dry if they’ve got longer fur, a towel will come in handy regardless of their coat. 


Brushes can help stop tangles from turning into matted clumps. They can also help remove loose hair and even brush out dirt. Be sure to get a brush that’s suited to your puppy’s hair type.


Puppies love treats, and if you’re bathing your puppy for the first time, it can be an overwhelming event. Treats can be used to reward good behaviour and to help establish bathing as a positive experience.

Bathtub, container, or sink

Where you bathe your puppy is up to you, but account for their size. It’s also highly likely your puppy will shake water from their fur at some point so it’s important the surrounding area can get wet.


Human shampoo can be bad for dogs so it’s important to make sure the shampoo you use is dog friendly. There are a wide range of puppy shampoos specifically designed for their skin and fur. 


Like a vacuum cleaner, the loud noise of a hairdryer can frighten a puppy, but you can help them overcome this by introducing it slowly and rewarding them with treats. When your puppy is comfortable with a hairdryer, be sure not to hold it too close to their skin – or for too long – to make sure they don’t overheat. 

How to bathe a puppy

Bathing your puppy shouldn’t be difficult or stressful, follow our steps and you’ll have a happy and clean pooch in no time.

1. Introduce bath time when they’re young

You shouldn’t bathe your puppy until they’re at least eight weeks old. You can then begin introducing bath time to get them used to it, and they’ll soon start to expect it as part of their routine.

2. Prepare the space

Before you and your puppy take the plunge, prep the space with everything you think you’ll need close by. Puppies rarely sit still for long, so you don’t want to be searching for a brush mid-bath.

3. Use lukewarm water 

While you might like your bath’s piping hot, it can overheat your puppy – so make sure the bathwater is lukewarm at most. 

4. Get them completely wet

Be sure to wash all of your puppy, including their ears and tail – but this doesn’t mean submerging them. Instead, gently pour water over them using a cup or jug. Alternatively, a moveable showerhead can be good for washing those hard-to-reach places.

5. Use the right shampoo

It’s time to scrub down your puppy. Be gentle while massaging the product into their fur. The right shampoo for your dog can make all the difference. You might have to try several before you find the right one, especially if your puppy has sensitive skin and be careful to not get any shampoo in their eyes.

6. Rinse and dry your puppy thoroughly

Once your dog is all lathered up, be sure to rinse all of the shampoo off. Just like us, leftover shampoo can result in itchy and dry skin. When you’re rinsing your dog try not to get shampoo in their eyes or ears. 

Be sure to dry your puppy properly too. They’ll probably want to shake themselves off, but you might get around it by throwing a towel on them and drying them first. If it’s cold outside, make sure they’re fully dry before you let them out.

7. Reward your puppy

Once everything’s done and your puppy is nice and clean, reward them with their favourite treat so they associate bath time with a good time.  

Check your puppy’s skin

When you’re bathing your puppy and gently scrubbing them down, be sure to take the opportunity to check their skin. This means feeling them all over and making note of any unusual lumps or bumps. Because your puppy is covered in fur, it makes it hard to spot the condition of their skin. 

If you notice anything that shouldn’t be there, or anything that concerns you, contact your vet. Sainsbury’s Bank dog insurance might be able to help cover the cost of treatment required if your dog needs it. 

Frequently asked questions 

Can I bathe my puppy once a week?

Bathing your puppy more than once a month can strip away the natural oils that keep its coat strong and shiny. While some breeds might need bathing more than once a month it’s best to avoid washing them too often. If you absolutely have to, try and use a shampoo that’s suited to their fur and skin type.

How do I know when my puppy needs a bath?

A good rule of thumb is once a month. Some breeds, temperaments and skin types might need baths more or less regularly though. If you’re unsure speak to your vet, who should be able to help.

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