So, I have a neighbor on my street who has a Husky/Samoyed mix (he frequently reminds me that he's a kill shelter dog but that they got him DNA tested, hoping they'd find out he was 100% Samoyed). He walks his dog 4x a day (even in rain and snow) and given that I spend alot of time gardening and on my front porch, I've become quite a big fan of Max (the dog—the owner's alright too). His dog is guessed to be 8ish years old, and has a beautiful, bright white thick coat.

I made small chit chat with his owner one day when Max ran up onto my porch to greet me (sometimes I put treats in my pocket for his visits, and Max now expects one). I commented on how white his coat was, asked about food and what kind of shampoo he uses—curious because my Mom's white Coton Du Tulear get cruddy quickly. He goes on to tell me that Max got a flea dip and was taken to a groomer to remove mats when he was first adopted, almost 4 years ago, and that he's never EVER gotten a bath since. He gets eye drops for glaucoma, and gets monthly flea and heartworm treatment, always has a leash and collar on, and being that I'm dog sitting for him in a week and asked all sorts of questions, I now know he's UTD on vaccines.

I had to clean my ears out, because I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Being that he looks great, and appears mat free, I'm curious what the health risks are (besides vanity) of NOT bathing your dog? I'm assuming Max's owner has no intention of bathing him anytime soon, being that Max seems alright and not stinky or dirty looking.

I'll also mention, the dog doesn't stink, BUT sometimes when I give him a really good, deep back scratch I end up with an oily dirt-colored residue under my finger nails (so although his coat is gorgeous, his skin must be quite dirty under all that fur), but still no stink. He's always bright eyed and bushy tailed (literally).

Note: please try to answer in a manner that doesn't bash his owners. If I told him that this (not bathing him) is bad, they'd be the kind of people that would walk home and wash him right after being informed, and would want to know how often they should wash him from then on.

  • "He walks his dog 4x a day even in rain and snow". Of course he does. I walk my Husky 4x-6x a day regardless of weather. Snow is an incredibly poor excuse to not walk your Husky. We have snow ~7 months per year in ND. Snow in itself is actually barely inconvenience for humans, but for Huskies, it's a great source of fun. Nothing like walking through fresh powder and eating and catching snowflakes in the air. We have often back-to-back blizzards for 5-7 days straight. That's often 20-30 walks (if shorter) that happen around -30F to -60 'F wind-chill. What climate do you live in exactly ?
    – 3D Coder
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 20:49
  • I wouldn't bash an owner, because I understand the breed. People often ask me, how do I keep the gorgeous coat on my Husky and they presume it's a daily chore. They are shocked to find she didn't have a bath in 4 years. Her whites are bright shiny whites. She licks herself clean meticulously, every single day. There's no smell, I actually love her scent, especially on her paws. I brush her every week, though. When she sheds, which is about 10-12 weeks per year, I brush her 10x a day. That's why there is no matting. It's not about washing the coat at all. Plus, she rolls in snow all the time.
    – 3D Coder
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 20:56
  • Funnily enough, during writing of this comment, my Husky just started washing herself. The shining sun makes her white fur ultra bright and shiny. I could never every have something like SHiTzu or poodle or few other breeds my neighbors have - all those indoor dogs are dirty and stinky. God bless Huskies and their cleanliness :)
    – 3D Coder
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 21:02

3 Answers 3


When was the last time you saw a wolf showering? :)

We've got a pure breed Siberian Husky and an Alaskan Husky for 3.5 and 2 years now. The older one was bathed twice so far (before we got him and once last year due to excessive dirt).

This does not include the dogs bathing on their own in bodies of water such as the kids pool we bought for them or our pond.

Both have zero health issues as expected. We only clean them with pure water if there's stuck mud or similar. Both have almost perfect fur - typically groomed once a week by us - and don't smell or anything.

In fact, too much bathing can be an even bigger issue, since it can and will affect the oils protecting fur and skin for example.

Edit: Just forgot to mention that this also heavily depends on the actual breed of the dog. The more "natural" (i.e. closer to original wolves) their hair is, the less likely it is to need extra attention. For example, a Poodle will have significantly more issues with dirt than a German Shepard or Siberian Husky.

And regarding the oily residue: This can be similar to human skin, i.e. old skin cells, dirt, etc. mixed with oils from the skin. It's hard to interpret from that description, but I wouldn't worry too much, especially if the dog looks and behaves healthy.

  • This is a good sign, and yes I know excessive bathing is no good AND that Max only has eyes problems (also not from lack of bathing), just wasn't sure if there were known problems associated with YEARS without a bath. Thanks! :)
    – Christy B.
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 6:22
  • 9
    @ChristyB. I have grown up with and have always had dogs and am the third generation of my family to do so. I can tell you that not a single one of those several dozen dogs was ever bathed unless something special happened that made the dog need a bath (e.g. one of ours liked to roll in the outflow of a neighboring cesspit). None of them ever developed any sort of issue for lack of bathing, nor have I ever heard of a dog doing so. I'm honestly kind of perplexed and can't understand where you got the idea that a dog could need a bath for health reasons.
    – terdon
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 13:52
  • I didn't find info on it, hadn't found evidence of it, and figured I'd ask the community. I never said I assumed it WAS unhealthy, hense my emphasizing how well Max is doing. If there's something I have no experience with, I ask :)
    – Christy B.
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 17:45
  • 7
    Note that dogs don't sweat like humans. They use panting for roughly the same purpose.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 19:45

Mario pretty much covered the answer, but just to add another voice to the mix.

We had a Saint Bernard's for 8 years before he passed away and we bathed him like maybe once a year when we changed some stuff around the garden he would go into a frenzy and mess with any pile of dirt he would find and get all muddy - that's when he washed him.

Saint Bernard's are clean dogs though by nature. If his legs/feet got muddy, he would lick them clean and his legs would be whiter than his face.

I am a bit surprised about what you said about the oily residue under the fur. My dog never had something similar but he was a short haired SB. My wife had a collie growing up and she says they didn't bathe him either unless he got really muddy.

  • Yeah, maybe the breed is a little oilier naturally?? Like labs are kinda oily? And having long fur and bathing himself, maybe it's difficult to get his tongue all the way thru the fluff? I also have long nails, so maybe THAT too would be less noticable to an average- length- nailed person?
    – Christy B.
    Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 6:51

I think it is quite recent that dogs [or cats for that matter] have been considered in "need" of any regular bath at all. Basically, since we ourselves have started to shower/bathe on everyday basis, which is some ~40-80 years [depending on which part of the world you live in and for how long indoor running water has been available in your parts].

I don't think there is any research that confirms dogs need baths generally, unless they are visibly dirty/smelly.

There are some indications that humans shouldn't shower as much as they seem to do, especially in the US.

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