How Often to Bathe a Golden Retriever

Bathing your Golden Retriever is an essential task. There is a happy balance between bathing them too little (risking matted fur, discomfort, and bad smells) and bathing them too often (stripping the natural oils from their skin). 

Some people prefer to bathe their Golden Retriever as and when they need it – if they’ve been swimming, gotten dirty, or if it’s been a while since their last one. While other people prefer to run a bath based on a schedule such as twice per month, or every 6-8 weeks.

You shouldn’t go longer than 8 weeks without bathing your Golden Retriever if possible. A nice frequency to aim for here is every 6 weeks or so.

You can either bathe your Golden Retriever yourself or book them in with a professional groomer – both are good options, so choose which one works best for you.

Read on for tips on bathing your furry friend, information about grooming, and more!

What Affects How Often a Golden Retriever Should Be Bathed?

When deciding how often to bathe your Golden Retriever, there are some situations where you’ll need to bathe them right away, regardless of if it’s on their schedule or not.

You’ll probably need to bathe your Golden Retriever:

  • If they go in muddy or swampy areas. This means they’re at risk of coming in contact with parasites like ticks or fleas. Cleaning them quickly might be enough to nip the problem in the bud early. 
  • If your Golden Retriever plays outdoors. For example, after playing in mud or grass their normally golden fur will be stained and need cleaning.
  • If your Golden Retriever has been swimming (most of this breed love to swim). After a swim, they’ll need at least a rinse, if not a full bath. This includes swimming in the sea, lakes, pools, or any other body of water.
  • If you live somewhere rural (over urban). Whether you walk your Goldie across pavements or fields will affect how dirty they get. Rural locations are typically messier.
  • If your Golden Retriever rolls or goes into anything foul. This includes things like poop, rubbish, a deceased animal, or anything similar. You’ll need to wash them ASAP in this case.
  • If they smell. Sometimes your Golden Retriever might have a funky smell that’ll indicate that they’re due for a bath. 
  • If they’re younger. This is more general, but elderly Golden Retrievers who spend the majority of their time snoozing won’t get half as dirty as a pup racing around the field. 
  • If they’ve been in contact with another dog with an infestation of any kind. Washing your Goldie can help clean off any eggs, larvae, or parasites. It might be a good idea to use a specialised shampoo to try and control any infestations. If this doesn’t help, contact your vet for advice.
  • If they have mud caked on them. This can dry out and mat the fur, requiring a haircut or intervention from a groomer.
  • If your Golden Retriever is a show dog. If so, you’ll want to get them professionally groomed more regularly. 

What Happens if You Bathe Your Golden Retriever Too Often?

If you bathe your Golden Retriever too often, you’re at risk of stripping all the natural oils from their skin. This would leave their coat dull and their skin unprotected. This can then lead to dandruff and potentially result in skin infections.

How to Bathe a Golden Retriever Yourself

Follow these 10 easy steps to bathe your Golden Retriever and you’ll have a clean, pristine pet by the end of it:

  1. Get everything ready first. This means getting the shampoo, the towels, the brush, and anything else you might need. Lay it all out within easy reach.
  2. Brush your Golden Retriever. You should brush out tangles and remove any loose fur beforehand – this makes the bathing part easier. You can use a hairdryer on their coat for a moment before you start brushing to loosen dirt and hair.
  3. Use petroleum jelly as a protective layer. You can dab it in the corner of their eyes and carefully put cotton wool in their ears to repel water and shampoo.
  4. Run the bath lukewarm. Whether you’re bathing them indoors or outdoors, make sure the temperature of the water isn’t too hot or too cold.
  5. Get your Golden Retriever in the tub. They might jump right in on their own accord, but if not, you can either tempt them in with a treat or secure their leash to something sturdy so they can’t escape after you’ve lifted them in.
  6. Wash your Goldie. Thoroughly rinse them, including their undercoat. Once they’re soaked, massage the shampoo all over their coat – from head to tail. Just remember to avoid pouring water or product in their face, instead use a soft washcloth. You’ll then need to completely and thoroughly wash all the shampoo off.
  7. If you want to use conditioner, apply this now. You should let it sit for a few minutes before you wash it off. 
  8. Dry your Golden Retriever. Rub your Golden Retriever to get the worst of the water off – at this stage, they’ll probably shake dry too.
  9. Blow-dry your Goldie. Introduce it slowly so as not to scare them. It’s best to have it at a low temperature, holding it around a hand length away. You can brush them again at this stage if you choose to, or you can let them air dry if it’s the right conditions and if you have enough time.
  10. Enjoy your clean Golden Retriever, and get ready to do it all again as soon as they get dirty again.

By making baths as easy and enjoyable as possible, your Golden Retriever will usually be content and more than happy to get into the tub. Remember to give plenty of praise and comforting words and maybe a treat at the end if they’ve been good.

Things to Know Before Bathing Your Golden Retriever

When bathing your Golden Retriever, there are a few things you need to know to give your Goldie the best bath possible:

  • Make sure that the shampoo you use is dog-friendly, mild, and doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients. Ideally, it should be gentle for your Golden Retriever’s skin and not cause an allergic reaction.
  • Research online before choosing products. You might need to get a tub, shampoo, conditioner, brush, pitcher, and towels. Check out reviews and compare prices before you buy.
  • Plan how to dry them first. Whether it’s hot enough outside for them to air dry, if you use a hairdryer, towels, or another way. What you don’t want is your Goldie being damp and cold for hours.
  • Prepare to get soaked. No matter how well behaved and practiced your Golden Retriever might be at bathing, you’re definitely going to get splashed. Prepare for a big shake at the end that’ll soak anything in their radius.
  • The room (or area) where you bathe them will get dirty. Fur, bits of shampoo, and drops of water can end up anywhere. If you use your bath, it’ll need a good scrub before it’s ready for the next occupant. This is a benefit of outside bathing – less effort to clean up.
  • If you don’t have the wherewithal to bathe your Golden Retriever at home, then there’s always the option of taking them to a professional groomer. For a fee, you can drop them off and collect them a short while later once they’re clean. Groomers also offer other services like nail cutting and ear cleaning. 
  • After the bath, give your Golden Retriever plenty of cuddles and a treat. This helps them associate baths with a positive experience. 

Indoor or Outdoor Bathing for Golden Retrievers?

This one is entirely up to you. There are pros and cons to both, but it really depends on what space and equipment you have available. 

If you have a huge garden and an outdoor tap that has warm water, and if it’s warm weather where you live, then an outdoor bath would be a great idea. If you don’t have a bath at home then you can pick up cheap tubs and pools online or from pet stores.

On the other hand, if you live somewhere cold, then it wouldn’t make any sense to bathe your Golden Retriever outside. Similarly, if you don’t have a garden, then inside is your best bet.

Grooming Your Golden Retriever

In addition to bathing your Golden Retriever, you need to keep up with their dental hygiene and grooming to ensure that they’re as comfortable and healthy as possible.

This includes:

  • Brushing (using a slicker brush, you should aim to brush your Goldie several times per week).
  • Teeth brushing (if they’ll let you, try to clean their teeth a few times per week. You can get dental sticks to help with their dental hygiene, and always visit a vet if your Golden Retriever has any sort of problem with their mouth).
  • Nail clipping (this should be done as often as needed. Once you notice their nails growing long, give them a clip to prevent them from becoming uncomfortable. You can ask a groomer or vet nurse to do this if you’d prefer).
  • Ear cleaning (this is extra important for Golden Retrievers as they’re prone to getting ear infections. Clean their ears often and thoroughly.
  • Cut the fur on their paw (you’ll need to regularly trim the fur that grows on their paws. Leaving it too long can be uncomfortable for your Goldie).

Related Questions

What Age Can You Start Bathing Golden Retriever Puppies?

You shouldn’t bathe Golden Retriever puppies until they’re at least eight weeks old. Up to this age, their mother will keep them clean.

If for any reason, you have to clean them when they’re young, make sure that the room is warm and scrub the dirt patches rather than submerge them in a tub. You’ll need to dry them as quickly as you can afterward. 

How Do I Dry My Golden Retriever After a Bath?

There are three main ways that’ll get your Golden Retriever dried after their bath:
1) Towel dry: Start at their head and back and work your way down in a patting motion. You can also rub but this is more likely to cause tangles.
2) Hairdryer: Using a hand-held dryer, you can set it to a low temperature and hold it around one foot away from your Golden Retriever. Be aware that they might be scared if they haven’t come across a dryer before.
3) Air dry: The final option is if it’s warm outside, you could let your Golden Retriever naturally air dry.

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