How to Give Your Poodle a Bath: A Step by Step Guide


If you’re a proud poodle owner, you’ve probably noticed how easily a poodle’s skin can dry out after too many baths, too close together. Of course, this may lead you to wonder, what exactly is the right way to give a poodle a bath?  

Follow these nine steps to properly give your poodle a bath:

  1. Gather Needed Bathing Supplies
  2. Prepare Your Poodle’s Coat and the Bathing Area
  3. Ready the Bath for Your Poodle
  4. Place Your Poodle in the Bath
  5. Properly Shampoo Your Poodle
  6. Properly Rinse Your Poodle
  7. Apply Conditioner to Your Poodle
  8. Dry Your Poodle Thoroughly
  9. Brush Out Your Poodles Coat When Dry

If you’d like to learn how to properly bathe your poodle, you’ve come to the right place. Along with our step by step guide, you’ll find answers to other related questions, like how often should you bathe your poodle, or do poodles actually like baths? If you think it’s time your poodle had a consistent bathing schedule, then come along and I’ll fill you in on everything you need to know. 

Bathing Your Poodle Step-by-Step

So on to the main event; how to bathe your poodle. In this step-by-step guide, let’s break down the process into simple steps that anyone can follow:

1. Gather Needed Bathing Supplies

Bathing your poodle can be quick and easy if you know what you’re doing and have the right supplies. So, before we break down the process, let’s make sure that you have everything you’re going to need.

Before bathing your poodle, you should gather the following supplies: 

  1. Dog brush: You’re going to want to brush your dog before he gets in the bath and possibly after they’ve dried off as well.

I brush my dog with the Poofle Pet Double-Sided Pet Brush. It’s very inexpensive and is perfect for getting tangles out of his coat before each bath. Check out the current price on Amazon here.

2. Plastic container: Rinsing is much easier when you have a container to scoop up a little bit of water at a time. It’s best if the container has some kind of spout or narrow lip so that you can be precise in where you pour the water. 

3. Dog Shampoo: Poodles can’t handle shampoo with a Ph level between 0 and 7 as it is considered acidic and can dry out their skin. Instead, you want to use a shampoo with a Ph level of 7 to 14. These shampoos are referred to as “alkaline.” You can’t find them at most pet stores and even at most department stores.

I recently wrote this article on the best shampoos for poodles. In it, you’ll find exactly what shampoos are best for your poodle.

4. Dog Conditioner: You need a conditioner to make sure that your poodle’s coat stays moisturized. You should be able to find the conditioner near the shampoo at any pet store.

5. Sponge/washcloth: You’ll want a sponge or a washcloth to make sure that you wet your poodle’s entire coat. A sponge is more effective; however, if you don’t have one on hand the washcloth will still do the job.

6. Towel: It’s a good idea to have two towels so that you can set your puppy down one when you’ve rinsed them.

7. Rubber mat (optional): If you want to make your cleanup extra easy, you can use a rubber mat to set your poodle down when they get out of the bath instead of another towel. 

8. Basin or a Bathtub: If your poodle is small, you don’t have to wash him in the bathtub. A basin of water will do just fine and may make it easier to keep your poodle calm. Of course, you can still always use the tub if you’re more comfortable with that. 

2. Prepare Your Poodle’s Coat and the Bathing Area

Before you put your poodle in the bath, you’ll need to prepare both their coat and the place you plan on bathing him.

First, you’ll want to set up a mat or a towel that you can have your poodle sit on while you brush them out. Brushing him over something will help speed up the cleanup process later.

You want to do your best to brush out any snags or tangles in his hair so that his coat maintains positive hygiene and so that you can get a more thorough clean. 

3. Ready the Bath for Your Poodle

Begin filling your basin with warm water (lukewarm is recommended) because poodles can get cold pretty quickly. You want to fill the basin enough so that your poodle can get wet without having it so high that they can’t stand up in it. 

4. Get Your Poodle in the Bath

Gently place your poodle into the water and use a sponge to spread water all over its coat while avoiding places around its eyes, ears, and mouth. By getting it wet with the sponge, you can ease it into the water. 

5. Properly Shampoo Your Poodle

Stand your poodle up in the basin and rub your alkaline dog shampoo over their coat. Make sure that you get the entire body. You really need to make sure that you get all of the shampoo off of them, or you could end up drying out their coat and their skin.

It’s a good idea to praise him as he stands still and lets you shampoo him so he associates baths with positive feelings. You can even keep some treats on hand to give him after you’re finished. 

6. Properly Rinse Your Poodle

Use your container to scoop up warm water from the bath, then gently spill it over your poodle’s coat and massage out the shampoo until it’s all gone.

It’s important to note that, under normal circumstances, you only need to shampoo and rinse your dog once to keep him healthy. However, if you’re showing him in a dog show, you may want to shampoo and wash your poodle twice before you take him out. 

7. Apply Conditioner to Your Poodle

In order to avoid your poodle’s skin drying out or his coat developing tangles and snags, you should apply some conditioner.

Make sure that your poodle’s coat is no longer soaked but instead just damp. If his hair is still excessively wet, you should dry your poodle some more and then carefully apply the conditioner all over his body. 

8. Dry Your Poodle Thoroughly

Remember that even if your poodle is an adult, he can get cold easily. Make sure the room you’re in isn’t drafty or cold so that you don’t have a shivering puppy.

If the room’s temperature is right, take him out of the bath and set him on a towel or a rubber drying mat. Then gently dry him off with another towel until his coat is only slightly damp. When that’s done your dog should be ready to go! 

9. Brush Out Your Poodles Coat When Dry

As they dry, it’s not a bad idea to get the brush back out and just make sure that no tangles or snags popup while they air dried.

How Often Do You Bathe a Poodle? 

If you bathe a poodle too often, he can develop problems with dry skin. At the same time, if you don’t bathe your poodle enough, his coat will grow slick with excess oil and tangle out of control. So how often exactly should you be bathing your poodle?

Generally, poodles should be bathed once every three weeks. This gives enough time for a poodle to secrete the correct amount of oils to keep the skin moisturized, Occasionally, skin conditions can develop that require lotions or salves to dry the skin. 

It’s important to note that if your poodle has a skin condition or some other medical issue that affects their glands, you should talk to your veterinarian about creating a custom bathing plan.

Depending on the problem, you may need to do anything from increasing the frequency of baths to cutting back on how many baths your poodle will get If your poodle’s skin condition is serious, you should consult your dog’s vet for treatment.

At What Age Can You Bathe a Poodle Puppy?

A poodle puppy should be bathed after 3 months of age or when all vaccines have been administered. Bathing your puppy during the weaning process is unnecessary as poodle mothers clean their puppies up until they are fully weaned.

Bathing your poodle puppy before three months of age is not advised because:

1. Mother will clean them: Bathing your poodle puppy before three months of age can be a bad idea because the mother will clean them if your puppy is still being weaned. Giving your dog an extra bath will likely dry out the skin and cause problems later.

2. Bathing can Interfere with vaccinations: Bathing your poodle can affect the way they interact with vaccinations. One of the biggest reasons you shouldn’t bathe a poodle puppy under three months is they should still be receiving vaccinations. 

3. It is Easier to dry out their skin: Poodle puppies can be fragile little things. When they are younger it’s easier to accidentally go overboard and clean them to the point where their skin dries out.

4. Puppies can get too cold: Poodles, in general, get cold relatively easily. When they are really small, they are more vulnerable. If the water you use is too cold, or there’s too much of a draft in the room, poodle puppies can easily end up in a state of discomfort.  

5. A poodle’s coat is different when young Poodle hair changes from their puppy stage into adulthood at around 9 to 18 months of age. When poodles are young, their hair is short and wavy, making them less prone to mats and tangles. However, as they age, the hair becomes longer and curly, meaning that your dog’s hair will need more external maintenance. 

Cleaning a Poodle Puppy When Too Young to Bathe

As dog owners, we’ve all probably seen a puppy get themselves into a precariously messy situation, that won’t just go away on its own. Whether it’s stepping in wet paint, running through the mud when they go outside or any number of other possibilities, puppies sometimes just have to be cleaned.

So if you’re not supposed to bathe a poodle that’s under three months old, what can you do when your puppy really makes a mess and finds itself in this situation?  While you’re not supposed to bathe them in the traditional sense, there are a few ways you can help keep your poodle clean when under three months of age. 

Ways to clean a poodle puppy when under three months of age include:

1.A wet washcloth: If your puppy wanders into someplace they’re not supposed to be and gets his paws all dirty, you can use a damp washcloth (a sponge works as well) with lukewarm water to get them clean. Just gently wipe away the grime in the specific areas that have built up. In doing this, you can target the spots that are really dirty without drying out the skin on the rest of your puppy’s body. 

2. A damp towel: If you need to clean a large part of your poodle’s body, you can wipe him down with a damp towel. Just make sure it’s not actually sopping wet and that the water you use is lukewarm to warm. 

3. Dry bathing products: Most pet stores carry dry bathing products for puppies and dogs that are averse to water. You can use dry foam to clean your puppy if he gets really messy. 

4. Baby Wipes: If your dog just has a little mud on the paws from going out, you can use baby wipes to clean them. Just pick up their paws one at a time and wipe them down. 

5. Let their mother do it: If you have both the mother and the puppy, then it’s best to just let the mother do her job. She’ll make sure your dog stays as clean as they need to, to remain healthy. 

Do Poodles Like Baths? 

Most poodles love to take baths. Poodles were originally bred to be water retrievers and typically enjoy being in the water. Poodles secrete natural oils that make their coats moisture-resistant and prevents the skin from drying out.  

Poodles are actually known for being really strong swimmers. Before they became the fashion stars we know and love today, poodles were originally bred to be water retrievers. Meaning people would get them specifically for their skills in the water. 

While the vast majority of poodles enjoy being in the water, there are always outliers who, for whatever reason, do not. If this sounds like your poodle, just remember to remain consistent and try to give him a bath on the same day, at the same time, every three weeks. Your dog should fall into a rhythm and at least learn to tolerate baths even if they still don’t really like them. 

Hygiene Tips for Poodles After Bathing

While bathing is central to maintaining your poodle’s hygiene, it isn’t the only thing you can be doing. I suggest using your poodle’s bathing time to address other important hygiene issues that you may be neglecting to complete regularly.

Some after bathing hygiene tips for your poodle include:

1. Brushing Your Poodle’s Coat 

Ideally, you should brush your poodle’s coat just about every day; however, every other day or every couple of days will work as well. If your dog currently has a lot of tangles and snags in its coat, you should use a bristle brush to comb them out. Alternatively, you can also use a slicker brush to remove really tough mats that don’t seem to be coming out with your bristle brush.

2. Using Steel Scissors for Mats 

If your poodle has particularly bad mats or tangles you can use steel scissors to carefully cut them out. Just remember this is a last resort. You really want to keep their coat as intact as possible. This is why regular bathing, brushing, and grooming is so important.  

3. Maintaining Proper Poodle Nail Care

It’s best to clip their nails once every 3 to 6 weeks so that they don’t get too sharp. You have to be very careful not to clip them too far, so it’s best to use clippers specifically for small dogs. 

I wrote this article on how to clip a poodle’s nails. In it, you’ll learn exactly how to clip your poodle’s nails like a pro in 8 easy steps.

4. Proper Dental Care

 Poodles—particularly smaller breeds—are known to develop dental problems if you don’t take the right precautions while you sleep. Fortunately, you have a few options depending on what your dog takes to. First, you can try brushing their teeth once a day.

Make sure you never use human toothpaste but instead use dog toothpaste from your local pet store. Some dogs hate having their teeth brushed. If this is your dog, you can try using a dental spray or dental treats. While neither of these options is quite as effective as brushing, they’ll still kill bacteria and keep your dog’s dental hygiene high. 

Read this article I wrote on 5 simp[e ways to clean a poodle’s teeth to get more detailed information on alternate teeth brushing techniques for your poodle.

5. Use Professional Grooming 

If you can, it’s a good idea to have your poodle receive professional grooming every 3 to 6 weeks. This will keep their coat looking sharp, and it’ll help you to catch any skin or coat problems early if they arise.  

So, How Exactly Do You Bathe a Poodle?

Balancing your Poodles hygiene is really important because it can help them avoid issues like tangles and snags in their coats and prevent them from developing dry skin. Too much bathing, and they get dry skin. Too little, and their coat gets tangled. Therefore, when you bathe your poodle is just as important as how.

Starting when they’re three months old, you should begin to give them a bath every three weeks. When you actually do give them the bath, make sure you use warm water and rinse all the shampoo out so that there is none leftover to dry out their skin. Then apply some conditioner, and you should be all set! If you keep up a consistent bathing schedule, your poodle should remain happy and healthy!

Brent Hartman

I'm Brent Hartman. I've been a dog lover my entire life and have owned many animals over the years. When my black lab Angus passed away, I was looking for another friend to share my life with. As a result of my research, I've come to love poodles and wanted to share some of what I've learned with you. Whether you're looking to adopt a poodle, or already own one, I created Poodle report to be the ultimate guide to help you find the answers you need.

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