When Can You Bathe A Puppy: How Old For First Bath?

when can you bathe a puppy

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This content was reviewed and fact-checked by veterinarian Dr. Aukse Caraite, DVM.

When can you bathe a puppy? How often should you bathe a puppy? How old does a puppy have to be to get a bath? These are questions that often come to mind for new puppy owners. While the answers may seem pretty straightforward, they depend on many factors. If you want to know at what age you can bathe a puppy, this guide covers the perfect bathing age, how to shower your puppy, how to provide you with expert puppy bathing tips, and more to ensure a happy, healthy, and clean pup.

When Can You Bathe a Puppy?

There is no set age at which a puppy should receive his first bath. Generally, it’s advised to bathe your puppy once it is 6 to 8 weeks old or older before giving it a full bath. However, most puppies are prone to getting dirty and smelly, so you may have to expedite your puppy’s first shower. If this happens and your pup is younger than 6 weeks, use bath dog wipes or a warm cloth to clean him up before putting a single drop of water on your puppy.

According to veterinarian Destini Holloway from PetCoach, puppies can regulate their body temperature after just 1 to 2 weeks old, so there is no danger of getting your puppy wet. However, waiting until your puppy is a bit older is better to avoid complications, such as getting water into your puppy’s lungs or shampoo in its eyes.

How Often Should You Bathe Your Puppy?

The answer: It depends. For instance, active dogs who spend much time outdoors rolling around in things should shower more often than dogs who spend most of their time inside the house. Your puppy bathing routine will depend on several factors, including:

  • Coat length and type: Shorter hair often means your dog is less susceptible to trapping dirt and debris, translating to less frequent baths. On the other hand, long-coated or medium-coated dogs will require extra brushing, including the frequency of the baths. Puppies with natural oily coats typically require regular bathing to remove excess oil and unpleasant odors from the oiliness. Be sure to use a dog shampoo for oily coats. Puppies with water-repellent coats (i.e., Golden Retriever puppies) should have a more moderate bathing schedule to maintain their natural oils.
  • Puppy activity level: If your puppy is constantly outdoors, roaming around your backyard, playing in puddles, or stepping on stuff he shouldn’t, he may need more baths than puppies with a sedentary lifestyle.  
  • Skin condition and health: Some puppies have skin allergies or other health conditions. If this is your dog’s case, speak with your vet. He may suggest a medicated shampoo along with a bathing regimen.

Bathing your puppy as frequently as once a week is considered perfectly safe for most dogs, according to Terese DeManuelle, a veterinary dermatologist from Portland, Oregon.[1]

However, if your puppy doesn’t need a bath, bathing them once every three months or a couple of times a year may also be fine. If you are uncertain how often to wash your puppy, use your nose and eyes. If your dog starts to smell and looks not huggable, it’s probably time for a bath. 

The Don’ts Of Puppy Bathing

Avoid over-bathing Bathing your puppy daily or several days a week can harm your puppy’s health. It can irritate the skin, damage hair follicles, and increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections, according to  Dr. Adam Denish of Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital in Elkins Park, Penn. 
Don’t be careless Be very diligent when washing your dog’s head. Shampoos and other products, even if made specifically for dogs, can cause an adverse reaction on Fido. Ingestion of pet shampoo can cause symptoms like vomiting, drooling, and decreased appetite, Dr. Denish says.
Not making the bath positive experience Rushing through the bath or reacting negatively to the puppy’s fear can lead to a lifelong dread of bath time.
Not preparing in advance Starting the bath without all necessary supplies within reach leads to a stressful and potentially unsafe situation.
Human products Shampoos or soaps formulated for humans (adults and babies) have different pH and can irritate your puppy’s sensitive skin. Don’t use human products on your dog.
Watch at all times Never leave your puppy alone while the water is running. If he is not supervised, he could drown, scald, or have an accident.
Fear, anxiety or illness If your puppy appears visibly distressed, shakes, or tries to hide at the sight of water or the bath setup, it could indicate a fear of bathing. Forcing a bath in this state can exacerbate their fear, making future baths even more difficult. A puppy that is unwell or recovering from an illness, should not be bathed.
After vaccination If your puppy has recently been vaccinated, it’s advisable to wait a few days before bathing them. Vaccinations can be stressful, and some puppies may have mild reactions that require rest and recovery time.

How to Give Your Puppy A Bath: 9 Tips

Follow these simple steps to make bath time enjoyable for you and your puppy.

1. Determine Coat Needs

A puppy’s coat requires specific skincare products. Some dogs have “double coats” (the outer coat plus an undercoat), and others have water-repellent coats. The type of shampoo and conditioner you use will depend on your puppy’s fur. Research your dog’s coat-care needs and talk to your veterinarian to find out the most suitable product for your puppy. This will minimize potential coat problems and hygiene issues. 

2. Gather All The Supplies

When buying shampoo, conditioners, and other products for bathing a puppy, make sure they are formulated for dogs. Select all-natural products with no additives or chemicals to avoid skin irritation or allergic reactions. Avoid selecting cheap products. Paying a little extra for high-quality and safe products is often better.

Make sure you have these items as well:

3. Positive Reinforcement (Treats)

More than a step, this is a concept to implement. Every positive behavior while showering your puppy should be rewarded with treats or assertive praise such as “good dog.” This combination of positive reinforcement will teach your dog that bathing isn’t scary.  

4. Where to Bathe a Puppy

Consistency and positive association are key in this step. You want your puppy to always relate his bathing spot with a happy and fun experience. A puppy will shower just fine in the kitchen sink or bathroom. A walk-in shower or a regular bathtub is the best place for a larger breed puppy. There are also bathing puppy tubs you can purchase. If the weather is hot you can bathe your puppy outside. Just make sure the water from your garden hose or faucet has the appropriate temperature. Puppies will chill rapidly. You can use a tub, baby bathtub, or even a kiddie pool. Avoid the grass or yard for obvious reasons. You don’t want to create a mud puddle when bathing your pet.  

5. Brush Your Puppy

Often overlooked by pet parents, brushing your puppy is one of the essential parts of puppy bath time. Before even turning on the water, brush your puppy thoroughly to remove tangles and knots. Be gentle when brushing, specifically in areas such as the armpits, groin, or ears. The fur in those areas tends to create firm knots. Brushing without looking can hurt your dog. If a foreign object (i.e., gum) is stuck on your dog’s fur, use scissors to trim it—cut away from the skin to avoid accidents.

Pro Tip: Brushing time is also the perfect opportunity to check for bumps, wounds, fleas, and other abnormalities that could mean a bigger health issue.

6. Use The Right Water Temperature

Never use burning hot water to bathe a dog. It will burn your dog’s skin. It’s not recommended, and most dogs don’t find it fun. Lukewarm water is ideal and will ensure your puppy’s time in the tub is positive. What it’s optimal for bathing a newborn baby should work perfectly for your puppy. Bishop-Jenkins, an internationally certified master groomer, says, “dogs’ body temperatures run higher than ours. Their experience with temperature is different from ours.” This is why it’s important to have the appropriate water temperature when bathing Fido.

7. Puppy Bath Time (Start From Botton to Top)

Assuming that you have taken care of steps 1 to 6, get ready to start washing your puppy. Puppies, like babies, aren’t used to being bathed. You need to be gentle.

  • Get your puppy in his bathing spot.
  • Use a very gentle stream of water to wet your puppy gradually.
  • Lightly lather the shampoo in a circular motion and rub it in thoroughly. Start with their paws and work your way up. Leave the face for last. Pay close attention to places prone to dirt, such as armpits and tails.
  • Wash your puppy’s face separately. Avoid the eyes as much as possible. Even tearless shampoos can irritate your dog’s eyes. Be careful with the nose and mouth. “Dog’s external ear canal is L-shaped. If water gets down in it, it could get trapped and cause ear infections,” says Bishop-Jenkins. It is advised to wash a puppy’s face using a washcloth dipped into lukewarm water and limit the product amount around the face.
  • Rinse your puppy. Start from the head and work your way down. Rinse more than once until all the suds and shampoo residue disappears.

8. Drying The Puppy

After the splish-splash fun is over, immediately wrap him in a dry towel. Gently rub the towel against your puppy’s fur to dry him up. If you want to speed things up, you might want to use a dog blow dryer. Set the blow drier on a low setting, at a reasonable distance from your dog, and constantly moving to avoid burning your puppy with the hot air.

9. Reward The Experience

After the bath experience, you also want to reinforce your puppy’s good behavior with his favorite treat so he can associate bathing with a happy memory.

9 Steps To Bathing Your Dog (Infographic)

Follow these nine steps for bathing a puppy in a visual format to reference easily.

Watch A Puppy Get His First Bath

Check out this video to see an experienced dog dad bathe Husky puppies using some of the tricks and techniques in this post.

Washing A Puppy Common Problems

Here are some of the most common problems when bathing a puppy.

What If My Puppy Won’t Sit Still During A Bath?

For a puppy to remain calm during bath time, teach him to associate the experience with good things. The first treat should always be given when your pup gets in the tub. You can use treats throughout the entire bathing process. Using a lick pad is an excellent trick to get your pup to sit still during a bath. Just stick the pad to the side of the tub and add peanut butter. This little puppy bathing hack should keep your puppy busy and happy during the shower so you can focus on cleaning.

What If My Puppy Is Scared of Water?

Start with small exposure. Dip your finger into water and let your puppy smell or lick it. If your pup seems calm, praise it and proceed to run your wet hand over its fur. If he reacts well, praise him again. Gradually increase water exposure over multiple weeks. A warm cloth or wipes are good tools for introducing water to your puppy. 

Can I Give A Puppy A Bath Without Water? 

There are a few options to contemplate. Use bath dog wipes for a quick and hassle-free bath. These specially-made wipes for dogs will remove bacteria and unpleasant odors. It’s always good to carry wipes for unforeseen accidents that could make your dog smell. Your second option would be waterless dog shampoos. Simply apply it to your dog’s coat, rub the product off, and let it dry without rinsing.

You can also sprinkle baking soda and rub it gently from neck to paws, not the face. This product soaks up any bad odors. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then brush. While these tips for bathing a puppy seem easy and quick, be careful with your eyes or breathing passages. Always consult your veterinarian to determine what’s appropriate for your dog’s breed.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s okay for a 2-month-old puppy to take a bath if he needs one. You can safely give him a nice lukewarm bath head to tail if he is this age.

At two weeks old, puppies have just started to be able to regulate their body temperature. It’s not advised to give a bath at this early age. Wait a couple of more weeks, ideally until six weeks of age. Puppies under 2 weeks old might get overheated or too cold during bathing.

Puppies should not be fully bathed until around six weeks old or older. You can still bathe a 5-week-old puppy by wiping him down with a warm wet cloth or using bath dog wipes.

While a full-on puppy shower is not recommended, it is good to introduce water gradually at this age. A 4-week-old puppy should be cleaned using a wet washcloth or wipes.  

According to our research and expert groomers, the optimal age to bathe a newborn puppy is 6 weeks old. While puppies’ bathing needs vary depending on different factors and breeds, once they’re 6 weeks old, they should be fine with a full shower. However, you must assess the frequency and establish a proper puppy bathing schedule. Remember not to over-bathe, and use our guide above to bathe your pup correctly.  

Yes, bathing a 9-week-old puppy is safe. He is old enough and well over the bathing threshold to have full baths.

Bathing an 8-week-old puppy is possible. It’s safe and doable to give him a full shower. You can use dog wipes or a lukewarm washcloth to clean him up if he is not too dirty. Use our ten-step guide above if you decide to bathe your furry friend.  

At two weeks old, puppies have just started to be able to regulate their body temperature. It’s not advised to give a bath at this early age. Wait a couple more weeks, ideally until six weeks of age.

There is no set age. It’s generally advised to bathe puppies when they are 6 weeks old or older. However, they can safely get wet at three weeks old, as puppies can regulate their body temperature after two weeks. We advise you to wait as long as possible to avoid any complications.

An all-natural and tearless puppy shampoo containing oatmeal and aloe vera works best for 8-week-old puppies. These gentle ingredients can moisturize your puppy’s skin. Never use human shampoo or soap. These products aren’t formulated for puppies and can dry and damage a puppy’s sensitive skin. 

1-month-old puppies should not be bathed until around six or eight weeks old. Older dogs’ body temperature self-regulates, but young puppies don’t have that ability.

Puppies can safely be bathed at one and a half months or two months.

When Can A Puppy Take A Bath?

Improving your puppy’s hygiene is essential, and dogs enjoy being clean, just like people. We hope this guide serves you well and gets you on the right track regarding puppy bathing. Puppies can safely enjoy baths at 6 weeks old or older.

If you are curious about other ways to improve your dog’s lifestyle and health, CBD oil can be a viable option for puppies and dogs who experience anxiety, chronic pain, and cancer. We invite you to read our CBD oil for dogs guide to learn more. 

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Canine Bible uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

[1] Vetmed WSU

DVM Surgeon Veterinarian  at Canine Bible

Dr. Aukse is our in-house Lead Senior Veterinarian. Dr. Aukse is a dedicated and skilled DVM Surgeon renowned for her expertise in small/companion animal surgery and medicine. With a robust academic background and extensive hands-on experience, she ensures her patients receive the highest standard of care. Dr. Aukse is happy to share her knowledge and expertise with our readers.

Dr. Caraite's career experience as a DVM Veterinary Surgeon spans over seven years, marked by comprehensive learning from esteemed institutions and substantial experience in veterinary clinics. She is currently employed at a family-run, day-opening clinic in central Gothenburg, Sweden, where she performs surgery daily and manages a large patient base for both surgical and outpatient care. Her externship at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, with a focus on soft tissue and oncology service, has further honed her skills, equipping her with the essential knowledge and proficiency to excel in her field.

Dr. Aukse holds a Master’s in Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (2017) and has completed an externship in Soft Tissue and Oncology Service at NC State (2018-2023). She is also has a Master’s in Small Animal Surgery with a specialization in Dog and Cat Surgery from the University of Copenhagen.

Editorial Team at Canine Bible

Canine Bible authorship represents the unified voice of our entire editorial team and our in-house veterinarians rather than a single author. Each article, blog post, and review published under the Canine Bible name undergoes a rigorous review process, involving all team members to guarantee accuracy and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research. This collaborative effort is an integral part of our editorial process and aligns with our four pillars of content creation. This approach ensures our content is backed by expert knowledge and factual information, offering our readers reliable, actionable, and trustworthy content.

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