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At What Age Can You Give a Puppy a Bath? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Luxifa Le

By Luxifa Le

poodle puppy bath time

Vet approved

Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Bathing your dog might not be the most fun or exciting part of being a dog owner, but it is not a duty you can shirk either. There is no clear-cut answer to when a puppy should get their first bath. The best answer we can give is “If they need it, they can be bathed.” Generally, avoid bathing in the first 7–8 weeks of age.

There are a few different factors that influence when your puppy should get their first bath. Let us strap in and look at those factors.

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Top 3 Factors to Consider When Giving a Puppy a Bath

1. Breed

Not all breeds have the same care needs. Long-haired breeds need to be groomed by their owners more regularly than short-haired breeds and undercoated dogs have special grooming needs, too. If you have a dog with more intensive grooming needs, like a German Shepherd or a Husky, you may find that you need to bathe them sooner than you might expect.

bi color german shepherd puppy
Image Credit: Lurin, Shutterstock

2. Age

For a period at the beginning of their lives, the mother dog maintains the puppies’ cleanliness. As they get older, the maintenance falls on the owners. When most puppies go home, they’re at least 8 weeks old which is around the time that veterinarians recommend you start bathing your puppy. But realistically, the first bath will happen “whenever the puppy needs it.”

In the first few weeks of life, puppies can’t regulate their temperature well and will easily get too cold after a bath.  If they need cleaning during this time wipes may be a better choice.

Puppies get into all sorts of trouble when they are young and may end up getting their first bath before they even go to their forever home just to clean up after their own antics. Mud, poop, food!

3. Activity and Housing

You also must factor in what type of activity and housing your pup has. Kenneled dogs or those with a lot of access to the outside are more likely to get muddy and dirty and need bathing more regularly. Lazy pups lounging around the house are less likely to need a regular wash.

Taking these factors into account you can judge when your puppy would need to be bathed for the first time. It is important to remember that puppies are still young, and everything around them is changing fast since coming home with you. So, be compassionate if your puppy is nervous about getting bathed. Still, getting them in the bath as soon as you can will help them learn to tolerate it better as they get older.

In general, if your puppy is dirty or smelly they can have a bath. Before the age of 7 weeks, it would be better to use wipes or just spot wash if needed to avoid them getting too cold.

puppy beagle takes a bath in the backyard
Image Credit: Easy Morning, Shutterstock


Why You Should Bathe Your Dog Young

Many dog parents have dogs who are frightened of being bathed because they did not properly acclimatize the dog to bathe young. Dogs have a socialization period lasting until around 16 weeks.  This is when they learn the most about their environment and what to expect from it.  So if you want your dog to be comfortable around vacuum cleaners, old ladies wearing hats, or bathing, they need to learn about it in this time window.

So, you can help your dog get used to the bath by beginning the bathing process early but positively.

Bathing your pet can be challenging, but the right shampoo will make it a lot easier! We have two favorite shampoos for the job, both are safe, all-natural shampoos designed with your pets in mind. Our soothing shampoos are pH balanced, made in the USA, and free of glutens, dyes, sulfates, and phthalates. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right option for your pet’s next bath!

Hepper Oatmeal pet shampoo
Hepper Colloidal Oatmeal Pet Shampoo

Hepper Waterless No Rinse Pet Shampoo
Natural cucumber & aloe scent
Natural cucumber & aloe scent:
Natural cucumber & aloe scent:
Safe for cats & dogs
Safe for cats & dogs:
Safe for cats & dogs:
Rinsing required
Rinsing required:
Rinsing required:
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients:
Free of harsh chemicals & nasty ingredients:
Lathers easily
Lathers easily:
Lathers easily:


How to Desensitize Your Dog to Water

Baths should be a regular occurrence from the time your puppy first comes home, around monthly. The early baths you give your puppy should be less about shampoo and more about the water. The thing that is most scary to dogs about being bathed is the water and being restrained.

As a result, your dog fears bath time’s many unknowns, and once you get your dog over the hump of being afraid of water, they will be able to adapt more easily to being shampooed and washed. Start by getting your dog used to the feeling of being slightly wet by using a washrag or a sponge to massage some water into their skin and fur.

Once your dog is okay and starting to tolerate the water, get them in the tub with some water-safe toys and a little bit of water in the bottom of the tub. This will help them get used to the feeling of being wet without shocking them or scaring them. When they are relaxed and happy in the shallow water, start using a cup to pour some water over their back.

Slowly work them up to and graduate to getting sprayed with a shower nozzle. This will help you and any future dog groomers that you employ by getting your dog desensitized to water and being bathed. So, they will act more agreeable during bath time!

Remember that your dog will notice your emotions. So, if you feel stressed about giving your dog a bath, they will start to feel stressed about taking a bath and will build negative connections around bath time. Talk in a quiet and calm voice to show your dog that everything is safe, and they can feel secure even when they are in the bath.

When you are finished with the bath, remember to tell your dog that they did a good job and reward them to build more positive feelings and experiences surrounding bath time. If you are consistent with rewarding good behavior and building positive memories, your dog will be a professional bath-taker in no time!

puppy getting bath
Image By: AmandaCullingford, Pixabay

Other Tips for a Successful First Bath

  • Be Gentle: Do not just be gentle with your hands; make sure you are using a product that is gentle when you wash your dog. That will be the least likely to cause serious issues with your dog’s skin and other health. Rather than scrubbing your puppy, use gentle motions that follow the direction of fur growth.
  • Rinse Twice: It is important to get all the shampoo and conditioner out of your dog’s fur. Even if you feel like you have rinsed all the product out of your dog’s fur, rinse again just to ensure that your dog is fully rinsed and will not ingest any of the shampoo or conditioner while playing.
  • Drying: You can use a blow dryer on your dog if you use the lowest and coolest settings. Blow-dry the fur while brushing the fur in the direction of the fur growth. Brush slowly and start on the rear end of your dog so the noise of the blow dryer does not scare them too much.

hepper-dog-paw-divider 5Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to when a puppy should get their first bath but young puppies can’t keep themselves warm. It is just something that you and your puppy will have to experience together on your new roller coaster together. There are lots of steps you can take to make your dog’s baths more enjoyable for all participants.

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Featured Image Credit: Zachary Pigott, Shutterstock

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