How Often Should I Bathe my Golden Retriever, and Why?

Updated: August 9th, 2022

2 golden retriever puppies in a bath on grass
© / EpicStockMedia

Odds are, you wash your hair several times a week at least. This is necessary to keep it clean and healthy because it is constantly exposed to the elements.

Your Golden Retriever has far more hair than you do, and not only is it always exposed, it is also frequently in contact with the ground and other surfaces.

So, how often should you bathe your Golden to keep it healthy and looking its best?

Do Golden Retrievers Need to be Bathed?

A Golden Retriever is blessed with a warm and durable double coat of fur. This is a common characteristic of water dogs.

The natural oils a Golden secretes help to keep the coat water-repellant and dirt resistant. Regular brushing will keep the oils well spread, and help prevent matting and tangling.

Nevertheless, your Golden will require bathing from time to time. How often will depend on certain lifestyle and environmental factors including:

  • Frequency of swimming excursions
  • Amount of time spent outdoors
  • Rural vs. urban environment
  • Local parasite issues

Environmental and Lifestyle Factors to Consider

Although your dog is built for the life aquatic and is capable of flinging away the majority of water accumulated after a dip with a good shake, frequent swimming may lead to a dirty coat and an unpleasant smell.

This is especially true if your Golden has a penchant for algae-filled ponds and other less-than-pristine bodies of water.

Naturally, a dog that spends a lot of time indoors is going to pick up less dirt and debris than one that is regularly outdoors. And whether or not those outdoor romps are in the country or in the city can also make a big difference to how quickly a Retriever gets dirty.

If you are aware of a parasite problem in your area (check local websites or ask your vet), it is important to be on high alert, and more frequent baths and grooming may be in order.

How Often Is Often Enough?

The answer to the question is: there is no definitively right or wrong answer. It is very important to not wash your dog too often. This can be just as detrimental as not washing often enough.

Too frequent bathing may strip away the natural oils I mentioned earlier. Losing this protective coating can leave your Golden with a dull coat, which is disappointingly unattractive.

More importantly, it will leave the skin unprotected and prone to dandruff and infections. It’s recommended that you use a very mild shampoo, but even the mildest soaps can have a negative impact on the skin if overused.

On the other hand, not bathing often enough can cause obvious problems. Though Goldens tend not to emit strong odors like many other breeds do (yes, Goldens are superior!), they may still develop a bit of a funk if left unwashed for too long.

What Should My Bathing Schedule Be?

Plan on giving your Retriever a bath about once every six weeks. Depending on circumstances (like those listed above) you may need to hit the suds once each month.

However, some dogs, especially older, less active ones, can get by with scrub downs as infrequently as every 8 weeks, or possibly longer. By

Depending on circumstances (like those listed above) you may need to hit the suds once each month. However, some dogs, especially older, less active ones, can get by with scrub downs as infrequently as every 8 weeks, or possibly longer. By

By maintaining good grooming, especially brushing, between baths, you’ll become familiar with your dog’s hair and skin condition and be able to tell if your schedule needs to be adjusted.

Unscheduled Baths

No matter your schedule, you should bathe as soon as possible in the event of an unexpected occurrence. For example, if your Golden takes a shine to a mud puddle, you’ll want to address matters before the mud has a chance to get caked on. Serious mud can sometimes require a haircut; much better to take a free bath than to pay a groomer.

Rolling around on a dead animal is one of a dog owner’s least favorite behaviors to witness, especially for the squeamish. A bath may be in order after this activity to ensure your dog hasn’t picked up any parasites.

And speaking of parasites, if your dog has been in contact with another dog that is found to have an infestation, even a mild one, a good, thorough bath is highly recommended. Better to rinse any eggs, larvae or parasites down the drain than to let them establish a home on your Golden.

Final Thoughts

There are two schools of thought on bathing a Golden Retriever: it’s either a hilarious event that’s lots of good, clean fun; or it’s a nightmare chore to be done as infrequently as possible.

Whatever side you land on, it is important to neither overdo it, nor neglect it unduly. A clean Retriever is a happy Retriever, and a happy Retriever makes a happy owner.

Written By

Wendy is a self-employed beauty therapist, mother of two, life-long pet parent and lover of dogs who somehow manages to squeeze in the time to satisfy another of her loves - writing. Wendy is the founder, main contributor to and editor of TotallyGoldens.

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  • Theresa
    Posted March 26, 2017 at 8:18 pm 0Likes

    No matter what kind of shampoo my groomer uses and we’ve tried them all on my golden he will inch for weeks constantly after being bathed. He is an indoor dog does not swim or play in water but we try to bathe every 6 to 8 weeks because we have allergies and it helps keep the allergens down in the house. I feel bad for him. Are we bathing too often since he is primarily an indoor dog. By the way we have gone 4 to 5 months without bathing and he still itches when we do, maybe itching is just common.

  • Jen
    Posted April 6, 2017 at 3:07 am 0Likes

    I rarely bathe my Golden and he is a beautiful happy boy. Rarely, as in maybe once a year, if needed. Yes, you are bathing your dog too often. He may not need bathing at all, if he is an indoor dog and eats nutritious food. Stop bathing your dog — if you are allergic and can’t take medication or get shots, maybe you need to rehome your dog. Our culture is obsessed with cleanliness — it’s not healthy. Sounds like your pet is suffering for no good reason.

  • Kaitlyn Read
    Posted May 15, 2017 at 5:27 pm 0Likes

    Once a year?? WOW Jen. That’s the one that sounds unhealthy to me. You can do plenty of research and 6 to 8 weeks is fine. After all- they are WATER dogs. I think Theresa was looking for helpful advice…not your rude option if whether she should rehome her dog. Theresa I would consult with your vet on this- it could be a bunch of different factors that you could alter and see if there are any results. Goldens are prone to allergies with other things. It might not have anything to do with bathing- could be the food your feeding him or something else in the environment. Better to consult with a professional vet who knows your dog 🙂

  • Vickie
    Posted July 8, 2017 at 6:14 am 0Likes

    my white golden has an order about him sort of a musky wet dog smell. He has this a day after I bath him he is 8 weeks old am I doing something to cause this oder. We have only had him one week.

    • Wendy
      Posted July 9, 2017 at 2:30 am 0Likes

      Hello Vickie
      The body odor could be coming from within. You may have to treat your dog internally by switching to a natural pet food or doing an internal cleanse.
      Your dog’s skin reflects the health of the internal organs.
      To Your Pup’s Good Health

  • Terry J Hmoud
    Posted June 1, 2018 at 2:49 pm 0Likes

    We wash more in the summer than winter in Michigan,allergies are worse in summer,up to every couple weeks,he doesn’t mind,just rolls in the grass after.

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