How to Give a Long-Haired Dog a Perfect Bath

Brush your long-haired pooch before bathing to remove mats and tangles.

Brush your long-haired pooch before bathing to remove mats and tangles.

While your long-haired dog may not need frequent bathing—four times a year is recommended by the APSCA—it can be a chore to groom that beautiful coat. If you've kept up with daily brushings, being prepared and keeping the experience positive should be your hardest tasks.

Remove any tangles or mats in your dog's long fur with a slicker brush before bathing. Scrubbing your pet's body with soapy water can make tangles worse, so removing these prior to shampooing will save everyone some grief.

Give your dog's coat an allover brushing with a bristle brush, which removes dead hair. It should also minimize shedding in the tub, on towels and on the floor.

Fill the tub with lukewarm water to the level of your dog's knees. Gently lead him into the tub and begin to wet his fur by pouring cups of warm water over him or using a sprayer hose. Begin at the back of his head and move down the body to thoroughly saturate his long fur.

Praise your dog for his calm behavior during the bath; ignore any bad behavior to avoid reinforcing it. If necessary, keep a nylon collar and leash on your dog during the bath to control him.

Lather your pooch with a dog shampoo formulated for his skin type—for example, if he has dry skin, use a moisturizing shampoo with oatmeal. Begin at his head and lather up his fur, moving down his back and sides to his stomach and legs. Shampoo his tail and back end last.

Rinse the shampoo out thoroughly with warm water, again starting with the head and retracing your steps down his body. Use your hand to push the soap out of the fur as you rinse. Continue rinsing until the water is running clear; shampoo left on the fur can cause dry skin and itching.

Apply a conditioner to the dog's fur. This helps dogs avoid dry skin and dandruff, and also helps minimize tangles and discomfort in grooming.

Dry your dog's hair with either a dog dryer or a human hair dryer set on cool; a heat setting is not recommended. You can also take your dog for a long walk outside, or place a box fan set on low near his crate to let him dry while he rests.

Items you will need

  • Slicker brush
  • Bristle brush
  • Dog shampoo
  • Dog conditioner
  • Hair dryer


  • Have all your bathing supplies ready prior to brushing your dog, including a few treats for good behavior.
  • If your dog typically fights bath time, exercise him with a long walk or some vigorous play first to expend some of his energy.


  • Make sure the tub has a non-skid surface. If it doesn't, add a non-skid bath mat to protect your dog from slipping and falling during his bath.

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About the Author

Lori Lapierre holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in public relations/communications. For 17 years, she worked for a Fortune 500 company before purchasing a business and starting a family. She is a regular freelancer for "Living Light News," an award-winning national publication. Her past writing experience includes school news reporting, church drama, in-house business articles and a self-published mystery, "Duty Free Murder."

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