How to Bathe a Short-Haired Dog

Bathing is an essential grooming step for short-haired dogs, including Chihuahuas.

Bathing is an essential grooming step for short-haired dogs, including Chihuahuas.

Bathing is a part of grooming that few dogs enjoy. Dogs of all breeds and sizes need routine baths to stay clean, although short-haired breeds have less hair to get dirty and may require fewer trips to the tub.

Brush the dog thoroughly with a rubber curry comb. Most short-haired breeds don’t have an undercoat and the flexible teeth of the curry comb pull off dead hair without scratching the skin. Rub the brush in small circles over the coat, and clean the center of the brush when it fills with hair.

Line the bottom of your bathing surface with a nonslip bath mat. Bathe large dogs, such as Doberman pinschers and pointers in the bathtub. If you’re bathing a small breed such as a Chihuahua or Italian greyhound, bathing the dog in the sink is less frightening.

Place a cotton ball gently inside the dog’s ears. Short-haired breeds lack the natural water barrier of plush-coated dogs, and the cotton keeps water out of the ear canal. Use half a cotton ball per ear for little dogs with small ears.

Fill the tub with three inches of warm water and set the dog on the mat. Use a cup or spray attachment to soak the dog from neck to tail. Spread a small handful of shampoo along the dog’s back, scrubbing it all over his body. Massage the soap between the front legs, along the underside of the belly, and under the tail to get the dog completely clean. Don’t add more soap if you don’t see many bubbles; short-haired dogs don’t have an undercoat and may not produce much lather.

Dip a washcloth in the water and wipe the dog’s face clean. If the dog is extremely dirty or has stains around the ears or eyes, add a little soap to the rag. Rinse the rag with clean water and wipe away soap residue from the dog’s face.

Rinse the dog thoroughly with clean water. Place one hand on the dog’s neck to steady him as you rinse with your free hand. Pour clean water over the dog until no more soap residue remains on the coat.

Drizzle a small amount of coat conditioner along the dog’s spine and distribute it with your hands. Let the conditioner sit on the dog for five minutes, and rinse with more fresh water. Short-haired dogs are especially prone to dry skin, and conditioner helps restore oils to the skin to prevent itching and irritation.

Wrap the dog in a towel and lift him from the tub. Set the dog on the floor or a sturdy table, and remove the cotton balls from his ears. Dry the dog by gently rubbing him with the towel. Change to a dry towel when the first becomes saturated, and continue rubbing until no more water comes out of the dog’s coat. Short-haired dogs chill easily, so keep the dog in a warm room until he is completely dry.

Items you will need

  • Rubber curry comb
  • Nonslip bath mat
  • Cotton balls
  • Dog shampoo
  • Washcloth
  • Coat conditioner
  • Towels


  • Most dogs only need a bath every six to eight weeks. If your dog likes to get muddy or roll in smelly things, you can bathe him more frequently.


  • Don’t bathe your dog in cold water. It may be more convenient to hose him off in the front yard, but cold baths are extremely uncomfortable and will make the dog dislike baths.

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About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.

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