This is What Happens if You Don’t Bathe Your Dog

If you don’t bathe your dog can:

  • Have fur that is muddy, dirty and full of debris from going on walks
  • Become smelly, and that will be even worse if they rolled around in something during their walk

Some dogs have a skin condition that is improved by bathing. It also helps dog shed.

Giving a dog a bath is quite an experience. My Bichon Frise Freya likes the bath, but she’s equally happy to be out of there and zooming around to dry off a bit before her blow dry.

Owners have different ideas about how often to bathe the family pet. When I started looking at this topic, I realized there is way more to learn than I thought. Should every owner choose not to give the dog a bath? Are there breeds that don’t need bathing? What about how often you can go without bathing your pet?

If you want to know more about this topic, settle back. I’ve done all the research and come up with the facts you ought to know if you’re wondering whether bathing your dog is necessary.

I also have personal experience of owning a dog that requires a more hands-on approach – a Bichon Frise. So, if you have a high-maintenance pooch, this article will be useful for you, too.


There is No Medical Need to Bathe Most Dogs

If your dog is healthy, giving it a bath isn’t required. When you think about it, wild dogs never see a vet, never bathe, and never brush themselves.

However, wild dogs do not live in the home, go on walks that expose them to exhaust fumes or other pollutants, and don’t live the life of a pet.

So, the health of your pooch always comes first when figuring out whether you could go without giving your dog a bath.


Skin Conditions Can Be Made Better or Worse with No Bathing

I don’t know about you, but I give my Bichon Frise, Freya, plenty of fusses every day. She is partial to a tummy rub, but any fuss will do.

Not only is this a good bonding moment, it also allows me to check her over and make sure her skin is fine, and there are no irritated or sore spots. She had a hot spot a few years ago, and now I know what to look for, I can make sure that if another one appears, I catch it early.

Some skin conditions are made worse through bathing, while others can improve. Allergies lead to dry skin that can end up worsening after a bath. The skin can excessively dry out, making the condition worse.

Conversely, if your dog has dandruff or a similar condition, a bath will help remove it to prevent a build-up occurring.


Always Take the Advice of Your Veterinarian

This is the bottom line – always. If you are wondering whether your dog would be fine to have a bath, ask your vet. If there are no skin conditions present and your dog has no allergies, bathe them whenever it seems right to do so.

If your dog does have a skin condition, your vet may recommend you bathe them at specific intervals using a medicated shampoo for dogs. Using the correct shampoo is vital, otherwise a skin condition can be made worse.


Monthly Baths are Ideal Unless the Dog Smells

Even then, there’s no requirement for any dog to have a monthly bath. Unless your pooch has a skin condition that would benefit from a more regular bath (as determined by your veterinarian), you should go by one thing.

Does your dog smell?

My dog smells lovely when she has been bathed, groomed, and blow dried – all things that are necessary with the Bichon Frise breed. This breed requires far more grooming than, say, a Labrador, which would require far less attention.

She has gone without a bath for a month before now, but this is only possible during a long dry summer. In the winter when it’s cold, raining, or even snowing… forget it. She simply doesn’t stay clean enough to go for that long without a bath.

All dogs can smell if given half a chance to roll in something ‘tasty’. Freya likes dead worms and bird poop. I can make sure she avoids temptation if she is on a leash while out walking but otherwise… sometimes she does it anyway.

If you are thinking of a cute, white, fluffy Bichon, well… she sometimes looks like that, sure, but she is equally happy getting down and dirty with anything ‘nice’ she can find. Fox poop is the worst!

If she wanders indoors and I can smell bird poop, it’s time for a bath. Fortunately, she smells good for a couple weeks after most baths, but that ‘just bathed’ aroma does disappear eventually, whether she helps it on its way or not.

You probably know what I mean if I mention the ‘doggy smell’ lots of pooches get when it’s time to start running the water. The only way to get rid of this is with a proper bath, so rely on your nose to tell you when your dog needs one.


The Breed Can Determine Frequency of Bathing Too

Maybe you’re realizing this now. A Jack Russell with a short coat that likes nice clean walks and doesn’t fancy wandering through muddy puddles isn’t going to need bathing very often at all. Any dirt on those paws is going to lift straight off after a quick shake and a dry off indoors.

Conversely, Bichons, and other similar breeds with coats that need more care do tend to need bathing more often. Freya has a double coat that becomes super curly if left unbrushed and unwashed for too long. That makes it even easier for things to get caught in there.

Her coat also gets knotty very easily if left untouched, and that means more knots and matts that could be avoided. All this means that when we do reach the bath, the whole process is easier and quicker than it might otherwise be. It still amazes me what comes out in the tub though, honestly.

Whatever breed you have, it’s a good idea to get a book or do some research into that breed. It means you can understand what their coat is like and how best to take care of it. For some, that means more brushing and/or bathing.


Brushing Can Lead to Less Frequent Bathing for All Breeds

This might surprise you, but it’s true. If your dog has been out for a walk and waded through puddles filled with thick mud, swum in dirty ponds, and rolled around in heaven knows what, then yes, absolutely… run that bath.

But there are occasions when your dog might have rolled on the ground and gotten covered in dust. Maybe your dog brush up against bushes or other areas during a walk that left it covered in pollen and other similar things.

Brushing is sometimes all you need in these situations. A quick brush with a good quality slicker brush can remove most dry dirt and other bits and pieces from your dog’s coat. If you do this regularly, a bath probably won’t be needed as often as it would if you never brushed your dog.

Another point worth knowing is that the more often you brush your pooch, the more likely it is their coat will remain free of most dirt and grime for longer. It allows you to check the condition of their coat – yes, and the smell – and to see when to schedule their next bath time.


Dogs That Shed Lots of Fur Benefit from More Frequent Baths

Shedding can be controlled by regular brushing, but bathing has a role to play too. You may have noticed that whenever you run out the bath water afterward, there is always some fur left in the tub.

This doesn’t happen with Freya because, as a Bichon, she doesn’t shed. Her bathing schedule is dependent on the time of year and what she rolls in! Any loose hair stays in her coat until she is brushed, or she has her next spa day, as I like to call it.

However, if your dog does shed a lot and you want to bathe it less often, consider increasing the brushing sessions first. You should notice a difference, and the fur will stay cleaner and free from grit and dirt.


Bathing Doesn’t Remove Oils

Maybe you’ve heard of this one. If you bathe your dog too often, the natural oils in its skin and coat will be washed away.

Honestly, unless you are bathing your dog every other day, this isn’t going to happen. Frequent bathing would be an issue with certain skin conditions, as I found out, but if that isn’t a problem you need to be concerned about, just wash your dog whenever your nose tells you they need it.

After all, if you can smell that doggy aroma, chances are everyone else can too!


There is No One Size Fits All with Bathing Needs

If there is a takeaway from this article, this is it. Sure, you can go without bathing your dog for months, even years… I’ve read stories that back this up.

How often you bathe your pooch depends on various factors:

  • Breed
  • Health
  • Appearance
  • Coat
  • Skin

But the most important factor of all is the smell. If they smell good, you’re fine to forget that bath for a bit. If not, it’s time to switch on the faucet and get started.


Writer: Allison Whitehead

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