Generally, Labradors do not need to be bathed more than once a month.
Labradors definitely do not need to be bathed once a week!
Labradors hail from Newfoundland and were used by fishermen to jump into icy waters to retrieve fish.
This ancestry means that their coats are thick (double layer) for warmth, as well as containing oils to help repel water.
Frequent bathing can do more harm than good, as it strips their thick coat of the oils that keep it water repellent.
Too frequent bathing can also dry out their skin and cause issues such as dermatitis and eczema.
Do Labradors need baths?
Ultimately, Labradors will need to be bathed at some point. We all know how much they love to get muddy and roll in unpleasant things!
Dogs do not care if they are dirty and muddy when they are having fun.
However, they will become distressed if the mud etc dries hard on them, making them uncomfortable.
Do dogs feel better after a bath?
YES! Like us, they like to feel clean and refreshed.
However, it is not always necessary to give your Labrador a full-on bath with detergents.
If they are just muddy, they will love to go for a swim to get clean. If no lakes or rivers are to hand, they can easily be wiped down with a wet cloth and a towel.
Alternatively, they can be hosed down in the back garden with fresh water in fine weather.
Do Labradors smell?
Smell, however, is a bit different.
Like all dogs, Labradors can often smell and the degree of smell varies from dog to dog. It’s not always unpleasant. Some people like that ‘Labrador smell.’
Why do labs smell?
Essentially it is because their thick double layer coat can hold on to odours more readily than that of a dog with a single layer coat.
However, there is a big difference between that ‘Labrador smell,’ and the smell of fox poo!
Labs love to roll, often in unpleasant-smelling things, so not all odours are equal when it comes to Labs.
Any very unpleasant smelling substance will need to be washed out of their fur.
But again, often just fresh water will do the trick, rather than anything that will strip those oils away.
When can I bathe my labrador puppy?
Now let’s think about the small, cute ones!
Like all dogs, Labrador pups must not be bathed in anything other than warm water, until they are at least 3 months old.
Follow your vet’s advice on this.
Using soaps and detergents on young pups can cause allergic reactions and discomfort.
How to bathe a Labrador puppy
When bathing a Labrador pup inside, it is essential to get everything ready beforehand.
If you don’t, you will end up with a big mess on your hands!
You will need several clean and dry towels, an easily accessible bath or shower and some dog treats.
Remember to use detergents, shampoo, conditioner etc infrequently, but if you are using, have these to hand too.
You will need to use a suitable shampoo and conditioner, such as the ones here:
When you have all the things you need, the next thing is that you MUST check is the water temperature BEFORE putting your pup, or indeed dog in it.
You must ensure that it is not too hot or too cold.
Also, make sure that the water is not too deep in a bath. If it is, it will go everywhere!
Wash your pup in sections, giving lots of praise.
If using detergents, you will need to give your pup a wash down in some fresh water.
A large jug or plastic container can be useful here, again if you opt to bathe, rather than showering them down.
If using shampoos etc, a point to remember is to keep it out of the puppy’s eyes.
Again, just like us, this can sting and be unpleasant.
You do not want them to associate bath time with pain and unpleasant feelings.
When your Labrador pup is nice and clean, drain the water quickly and whisk them out.
A good tip is to drain the water before you want to take your puppy out so that you can cover them in a towel.
If you don’t they will shake everywhere and soak you and the bathroom! This can also be a slip hazard for you and the puppy.
Someone can end up getting hurt, so do take care to clear up excess water.
When you have towel dried them, make sure they are somewhere safe to shake the remaining water from their coat.
A very important part of this routine is to give your labrador puppy a dog treat straight after their bath.
It will help to reinforce positive associations with bath time.
Do Labradors need professional grooming?
The answer is not really. They do need to be groomed regularly, but you can easily do this at home.
The main thing you need is a brush. Labradors shed a lot, so it is good practice to give them a brush once a week.
This is to keep them looking and feeling clean and fresh, but also to save your home!
If you don’t keep on top of grooming, you will have a very hairy house!
Brushing is a lovely experience for a Labrador and regular brushing will also stimulate the oil production in their coat to keep them in tiptop condition. Everyone’s a winner!
How to groom a labrador
How do you groom a Labrador if you are going to do it at home?
Make sure that your Labrador pup is used to being groomed from a young age.
It will then just be standard procedure, rather than a battle. Make sure that you use firm strokes, so that your dog can enjoy a good massage.
This also helps to distribute the oils in the fur and keep your dog’s coat looking shiny and healthy.
If you want to see how it’s done, this video gives a good overview:
Do you need a Labrador grooming kit? What brush should I use on my Labrador?
There are different types of brush you may wish to use, depending on what you aim to achieve.
Some people like to use a sturdy, good quality, bristle body brush for grooming.
If you are in the habit of just a quick daily brush, then a ‘slicker’ brush like the one below is just fine and will do the job.
If you have a bit more time and are going for a full-on de-shedding session to remove lots of dead hair, then a de-shedding tool is a must, such as the Furminator below.
It is down to personal choice. For home grooming a Labrador, a lighter everyday brush and a more heavy-duty de-shedding one – to get right into the coat, are all that you need.
So, how often should Labradors be bathed?
As you can see, it shouldn’t be that often, as it can strip out the natural oils from their coat. Once a month is plenty.
If you do need to bathe them, make sure to use a proper dog shampoo (not fairy liquid) so that you protect their coat as much as possible.
That’s easier said than done if they have just rolled in something nasty and they are repeat offenders!
Alternatively, you could always let them have a swim in the local lake or river to get the worst off! Far less traumatic for all involved! See our article here for more info.