How Often to Bathe a Poodle [Bath Guide]

If you feel like your Poodle is having a bad hair day shortly after taking them to the groomer, that’s likely spot-on. You should bathe a Poodle every three weeks to keep their coat free of debris and their skin healthy.

I’ll share tips for giving your Poodle a bath that will keep them looking groomer-fresh and feeling good year-round.

how often to bath a poodle
How often to bathe a Poodle – a bath guide

How to Bathe a Poodle

You now know that your Poodle needs a bath every few weeks. However, you can’t stick them in your bathtub with a little shampoo and call it a day. So, I’ll help you understand the best ways to bathe your Poodle to get them looking their best.

Gather Your Supplies

Bathing a Poodle requires a small up-front investment. However, once you have the supplies, you can expect them to last a long time, thus saving you money from taking your Poodle to the groomer.

Below are the supplies you’ll need to bathe your Poodle:

  • Shampoo brush
  • Sponge
  • Cotton
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Bath towels

Of course, you’ll also need a source of water. It’s up to you where you want to bathe your Poodle. 

While some people use their bathtub, many prefer bathing their Poodle in a large plastic tub with a hose outside. In that case, using a plastic child-sized swimming pool is an excellent option for the “tub.”

As for the shampoo, this is also according to your preference. If your Poodle has a white coat, you may want to purchase a purple or blue-colored shampoo. These shampoos have properties that help make a dull coat appear more brilliant.

Start By Brushing

best brush for poodle coats
A woman brushing a chocolate color Poodle

That’s right—bathing your Poodle involves prep work before you turn on the faucet. Consider purchasing a professional grooming brush that has deep penetration to get into your dog’s tightest curls.

A self-cleaning brush is also helpful—even though Poodles have hypoallergenic hair, they’ll still shed some when you brush them. Furthermore, their curls trap debris, so you can expect it to accumulate around your brush’s prongs.

When brushing your Poodle, start at the skin level and work your way out to the tips of their curly hair. You’ll likely need to use multiple strokes per section, as tangles and matted hair can take time to work through.

Speaking of tangles, don’t rush the brushing process. Not only will it be uncomfortable for your Poodle, but it’ll defeat the purpose of the following steps.

Get Your Poodle Wet

a very wet poodle in a bath
A very wet Poodle puppy during bathtime

It’s now time to apply water. With your Poodle in a safe and comfortable tub, hose them down with warm water. Because Poodles have a thick coat, you’ll need to hold the water over any given spot for at least a few seconds to ensure the water reaches their skin.

If you’re bathing your Poodle in the shower, it’s helpful to attach a shower wand so that you can better concentrate the water against your Poodle’s skin. 

I understand how tempting it can be to skip washing your Poodle’s face if you own a water-adverse dog. However, doing so is crucial because the hair around a Poodle’s face gathers a lot of debris and food particles.

Apply Shampoo

You’re going to need to use more than the dab of shampoo that you put on your human hair to shampoo your Poodle. 

If this is your first time using a new shampoo product on your dog, it’s wise to test out a small patch while using their old shampoo on the rest of their body. That way, you can test to see if they have any allergic reactions. 

Common signs of skin reactions in Poodles include:

  • Scratching
  • Licking
  • Red skin
  • Flaky skin

There’s no rhyme or reason regarding how to apply shampoo to your Poodle. So, start wherever you’d like on their body. The important part is that you end up scrubbing every inch of their fur and skin from head to tail.

If you have a nervous dog, make sure to use positive reinforcement techniques, including talking to them in a soothing voice and using treats to reward them for good behavior.

Rinse Well

groomer holding poodle ears
A groomer holding the Poodle ears.

Naturally, the next step is to rinse all that shampoo out of your Poodle’s fur. 

If you thought you had to be careful with getting water down to their skin when getting them wet, you need to be even more cautious with the rinsing process. 

Otherwise, if you leave shampoo residue on your Poodle’s fur, it could irritate their skin. As a result, you could end up watching them display skin allergy-like symptoms despite not having an issue with their shampoo.

Repeat the Process

If your eyes just grew twice as large by reading this title, I get it. But hear me out—you only need to repeat the last two steps (shampooing and rinsing). The benefit of doing so is that the first wash will remove dirt and oil, and the second wash will leave your Poodle sparkling clean.

If you’re concerned about two washes stripping too much oil from your Poodle’s skin, a study on human hair shows that under-cleaning hair can have the reverse effect, as it’s a breeding ground for harmful stimuli.

So, given that Poodles have such a dense coat of curls, it makes sense that shampooing their fur twice is beneficial for them.

Dry Your Poodle

drying poodle with towel after bath
You should dry your Poodle thoroughly with a towel after a bath. The coat will dry better with some help.

If you want to let your Poodle shake out their excess bathwater and lay in the sun to dry, you’re doing a disservice to your bathing job. Instead, use a towel to dry them well. 

Take special care to dry their face well, including their ears. Standing water in the ears is one of the leading causes of ear infections in dogs. So, grab the cotton you gathered and dry their ears.

As a bonus, you’ll be getting the gunk out of their ears as you dry them!

Condition Your Poodle’s Fur

The order that you condition your Poodle’s fur depends on the type of product you’re using. 

Some conditioners and creams require rinsing after application. In other cases, conditioners are leave-in.

In either case, conditioners will protect your Poodle’s coat from wear, keep them feeling soft, and make it easier for you to brush them in between their bathing schedule.

chocolate f1b goldendoodle
This Chocolate F1b Goldendoodle has a clear Poodle muzzle shape

When to Use a Groomer

Bathing your Poodle shouldn’t replace bringing them to the groomer. Despite your best effort, they’ll develop split-end-like breakage on the tips of their curls, and their hair will grow, making them take on a shabby look.

I recommend bringing your Poodle to the groomer every six to eight weeks. Since your groomer will also bathe your Poodle, make sure to work your at-home bathing schedule around your dog’s grooming visits.