How To Wash a Golden Retriever (Detailed Guide)

Updated November 21, 2022
How To Wash a Golden Retriever (Detailed Guide)

How to wash a golden retriever is essential knowledge for any owner because these dogs’ gorgeous coat needs a lot of upkeep.

Regular bathing is necessary to keep your dog’s fur clean, healthy, and free of mats and parasites.

Washing a dog may seem foolproof, but it isn’t as easy as washing your hair. There are numerous golden retriever grooming nuances to keep in mind.

Many people approaching their dog’s bath time the wrong way end up with matted fur or anxious dog, so you should know the mistakes in washing a golden retriever.

Most goldens like water, but not every dog likes to be bathed, so you should also learn how to make the process more pleasant for your pet.

Choosing the Supplies

Start by gathering your supplies. Your essentials are towels, dog shampoo, and a brush. Additionally, you might need a conditioner, blow dryer, and treats if your dog doesn’t feel comfortable bathing or is impatient.

Never use human shampoo on your dog because some ingredients may harm canine health. As a rule of thumb, the fewer ingredients, the safer the shampoo for your dog.

The best shampoo for golden retrievers is one that meets your dog’s needs. Conditioner is unnecessary for most dogs but will benefit goldens preparing for a dog show or those with extremely dry fur.

The best brush for golden retrievers is a slicker brush because it combs the undercoat and the overcoat. A regular comb won’t work because golden retriever fur is too dense.

During seasonal shedding phases, you might need a de-shedding tool, but don’t use it on wet fur. Only use a de-shedding tool before bathing your dog.

If you plan on using a blow dryer for your dog, pick a silent one. There are even blow dryers designed specifically for dogs.


The first step in bathing a dog is brushing its coat to get rid of tangles, ensuring the fur is extra smooth and soft. If your dog is shedding heavily, use a de-shedding tool to remove dead hair stuck in the undercoat.

Wet dead hair will mat easily, so don’t skip this step. Outside of seasonal shedding periods, use a regular slicker brush you use for daily grooming.

If you see any mats, cut them off using blunt-end scissors because sharp scissors can cut your dog’s skin. Don’t attempt to untangle a mat because it may be painful for your dog.

If the mat lies too close to the skin, opting for a professional groomer’s help is the best option.

Make a Bath

Now, make your dog a bath. You can make a bath before you brush your dog, but the water might get cold by the time your dog is ready because brushing a golden retriever is time-consuming, especially if the fur is matted or tangled.

The water should be lukewarm, so check the temperature like you would check it when you make a bath for yourself. If you don’t have a bathtub, you can wash your dog under a shower, but the water should be lukewarm regardless.

Gather your supplies near the bathtub because you don’t want your dog to jump out and run away as you get the towels. Once everything is ready, go get your dog and get it soaked down to the skin.

Placing a rubber mat in the bathtub to prevent your dog’s paws from slipping is a good idea. A mat will reduce the risk of injury and make the bathtub more comfortable for your pet.


Don’t apply shampoo as soon as your dog gets into the bathtub. Allow your golden retriever’s coat to soak for some minutes – this way, debris will become less persistent, and shampoo will foam better.

Then, pour some shampoo into the palm of your hand and rub your hands against each other. Start applying the shampoo on your dog from the neck, moving onto the back, sides, and legs. Don’t forget about the tummy and tail.

When washing your golden retriever’s neck and face, hold its ears closed and put your hand over its nose to prevent water from getting inside. Moisture trapped in the ears is a recipe for an ear infection.

Don’t apply shampoo onto your dog’s face unless necessary to prevent it from irritating the eyes.

Massage the shampoo into your dog’s fur for a while, then let it soak in for some minutes. Distract your dog while you’re waiting by talking to it or rewarding it for patience with treats.

Brush Again

While shampoo is doing its magic, brush your dog’s fur with a slicker brush. Alternatively, you can use a human detangling brush because it’s perfect for wet hair. Detangling brushes don’t pull on the hair and don’t damage it.

By brushing your dog’s fur when wet, you evenly distribute the shampoo, ensuring you didn’t miss even a tiny piece of coat, and brush out dead hair. Furthermore, many dogs find brushing relaxing.


Once you’re done with brushing, rinse the shampoo off your dog’s coat. Rinse until the water coming off your dog is clear with no soap residue because shampoo film on the coat may make it appear dull and cause skin problems.

Even when you think that no shampoo is left in your dog’s fur, rinse it more. Protect your golden retriever’s nose and ears the same way you did when applying the shampoo.

Be careful when rinsing shampoo from your dog’s head because water may drip into its eyes. Ideally, have your dog keep its nose up so that the water would drip down the back.

If your dog’s fur doesn’t appear clean enough, repeat all the steps. However, double washing is unnecessary in most cases.

Finishing Touches

If you want to, you can finish your dog’s bathing routine by applying a conditioner and rinsing it. Either way, finish the bath time by brushing your dog once again to get the remaining dead fur out and eliminate tangles.

Brushed fur is easier to dry, and it will look neater. You can use a comb, slicker, or detangling brush for the last brushing. Next, blot your dog with a large towel to prevent it from making a mess in the house.

Furthermore, moisture trapped in the undercoat can lead to skin problems, so don’t neglect this step. Pay extra attention to armpits, ears, paw pads, and other hard-to-reach places.

Optionally, you can use a blow dryer if your dog isn’t afraid of the noise. Use the blow dryer on the lowest heat setting to avoid drying and irritating your dog’s skin.

Brush your dog one last time when its fur is completely dry. The last brushing is necessary to make the coat lay straight down because a blow dryer may mess everything up.

Cleaning your dog’s ears after the bathing session is a good idea because some moisture might get trapped inside the ear canal even if you take precautions. Water trapped in the ears can cause an infection.

Use only veterinarian-approved quick-drying ear cleaner rather than water or DIY dog ear cleaning solution. You can also trim your dog’s nails because they are less brittle when wet.

Know the Don’ts

Be aware of the most common mistakes in bathing a dog to make your golden retriever’s grooming routine trouble-free. Don’t bathe your dog when it’s full of energy because that’s a recipe for disaster.

Exercise your dog before the bathing session to drain its energy and make it more obedient. Don’t bathe your dog when it feels unwell because this way, you’ll create negative associations with the process.

Don’t scold your dog if it doesn’t behave well because your dog will remember that a bath equals a bad time. Instead, use positive reinforcement for patience.

Don’t use a de-shedding tool on wet fur because you may remove too much hair. Don’t skip brushing because untangling a wet coat is challenging.

How Often to Wash a Golden Retriever

How often to wash a golden retriever depends on your dog’s lifestyle, shedding season, and coat length. On average, golden retrievers need a bath every four to six weeks.

But dogs that spend most of their time in a clean backyard might not need frequent baths, especially out of shedding season. In contrast, dogs that swim in stagnant water and roll in the mud might need a bath every two weeks or so.

Baths can be more frequent during seasonal shedding periods in spring and fall because they help remove dead hair stuck in the undercoat and prevent matting.

Many owners wishing to keep their house as clean as possible wonder – “Can I bathe my golden retriever once a week?”.

Too frequent baths can dry out a dog’s fur and only worsen matting. The coat may appear dull and unhealthy. Professional groomers don’t recommend washing a golden retriever more frequently than once a week or two.

Some golden retrievers have a longer coat than others, which collects more dirt and needs more frequent washing. Shaving is not recommended for goldens because it can permanently damage their undercoat.

Of course, sometimes, you might have to emergency-wash your dog out of schedule – for example, when it jumped in a bucket of paint.

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