a dog coat thick with shampoo

We just got an awesome question on our Facebook page, asking how often to bathe a new short haired chihuahua puppy. This is a great question because how often your dog needs bathed is actually unique to your dog. Some dogs may need to be bathed 2-3 times a week, while others may only need bathed every few months.

The reason why it varies so wildly is because of your dog’s skin. If your dog has a raging skin infection for example, your vet will often recommend a medicated shampoo to treat it. This shampoo needs to be applied several times a week to be effective. In this scenario, ignoring the vet’s advice and bathing monthly to avoid dry skin would make the shampoo useless.

On the flip side, a chihuahua with healthy skin who doesn’t frequently go out in the mud or get dirty may not need to be washed for a long time.

How to Evaluate

If you’re not sure how often you should bathe your chihuahua, give your pet a sniff. Do they smell—well—doggy? Did they roll in something gross? Something mysterious and sticky smeared on their side? Yup, time for a bath.

If you don’t smell anything, take a good look at their skin. Do they have dry, flakey skin? Are they itchy? Do they have fleas? If you notice dry skin or itchiness, a bath with a shampoo designed to soothe the skin may help them feel better.

Finally, give their coat a light brush. Does hair fly in every direction, or do just a few hairs come off? If your dog is shedding badly, a bath with deshed conditioner will help reduce that shedding.

Longer coated breeds need to be bathed more often. Their longer coats can trap dirt, fungus, and plant matter like burrs more easily. Bathing every 4-6 weeks is common place, where as an average bath for a short coat might be once every 3 months.

Does your dog need a bath just because?

The reality is healthy dogs don’t need baths. We bathe them for ourselves, because being around a stinky dog is not pleasant. According to Dr. Robert Hilton, a doggy dermatologist, how often you should bathe your chihuahua is up to you. “In general, healthy dogs only need to be bathed if they smell. There’s no reason particularly to bath a healthy dog, unless they’re dirty,” he said in an interview with ABC Everyday.

As a dog groomer, this wasn’t the first time I’d heard this. I was scandalized the first time a veterinarian working at a dog expo informed me his dog had never been bathed, ever. This is now something I hear more and more often.

The general consensus is if your dog is smelly, or has a need for a bath such as to kill fleas or fix a skin infection, wash them. If they don’t smell, their coat is glossy, and their skin looks good you can probably wait on popping them in the tub until you do notice they’ve gotten a bit smelly. Bath time is also the perfect time to get other smelly practices such as anal glands.

Can You Over Bathe a dog?

Bathing a dog too often can strip the natural oils from your dog’s skin and coat. This can lead to dry, itchy skin and a dull coat. Unless you are treating a medical condition under guidance from your vet, you should avoid washing your dog more than once a week.

You can also help avoid dry skin by following up with a conditioner when you do wash your dog and using a gentle shampoo that doesn’t strip oils.

While not their favorite past time, getting bathed is part of co-existing with humans. Most of the time, what ever you choose as your bathing schedule will be fine for your dog.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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