How to Bathe a Portuguese Water Dog

Bathing your dog is an essential part of pet ownership. Not only does it help keep your furry friend clean and smelling fresh, but it also has several health benefits. Regular bathing can help prevent skin infections, reduce itching and scratching, and control shedding.

Why Bathing a Portuguese Water Dog is Important

One of the main reasons to bathe your dog is to remove dirt, debris, and bacteria from their coat and skin. This is especially important if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors or has a long coat that can trap dirt and other particles. Bathing can also help remove allergens that can cause skin irritation and other health problems. Additionally, regular bathing can help prevent skin infections and hot spots, which can be painful and uncomfortable for your pet.

Another benefit of bathing your dog is that it can help control shedding. Dogs naturally shed their fur, but regular brushing and bathing can help remove loose hair and reduce the amount of hair that ends up on your furniture and clothes. Bathing can also help distribute natural oils throughout your dog’s coat, which can improve its overall health and appearance.

The Portuguese Water Dog has a thick single coat, which has 2 types: curly or wavy. They are usually bathed about once every 1-2 months, depending on how dirty they can get. A useful tip that many owners will do is to use doggy wipes or a wet washcloth to spot clean in between baths.

What You’ll Need

Before water touches your PWD, you will want to make sure to gather all of the necessary supplies. These include:

  • slip-resistant mat
  • hose nozzle attachment or cup
  • dog ear plugs or cotton balls
  • moisturizing dog shampoo
  • light dog conditioner
  • washcloth
  • ear cleaning solution
  • nail trimmers
  • absorbent towels
  • microfiber towel
  • high-velocity dryer
  • stand blow dryer
  • a treat as a reward

Preparing to Bathe

Something I personally do, and recommend, is to use a calendar to track brushing/bathing/grooming in order to maintain an accurate schedule.

In preparation to bathe, always make sure to gather all supplies prior to starting the bathing process. It is imperative you do not leave your doggo alone in the tub and go and collect things along the way. Make sure you are prepared and organized. I like to keep a list handy so I can visually mark off materials to ensure I have gathered everything.

Remember that you should always brush prior to bathing. Try and remove all mats and tangles before getting them wet. Water will cause the fur to coil and if there are tangles, they will mat even further making it almost impossible to remove.

You can use a shower, tub, or the sink to bathe. Just make sure to watch diligently at whichever washing station you decide to use. And always use a slip-resistant mat, whether it’s the shower, tub, or sink.

How to Bathe a Portuguese Water Dog

  • Use lukewarm water. When filling the tub, shower, or sink, you will want to fill to the tops of the legs and not more. Remember to fill a couple of inches prior to placing your pupper in so they’re more comfortable when getting into the washing station. You can also place a steel wool in the drain so as to help trap all the loose hair from going down the drain.
  • You can apply doggy ear plugs or cotton balls inside the ears so as to keep them dry when bathing. Wet the dogs entire coat. You can then apply the shampoo. Make sure to use a specifically formulated shampoo for dogs. For the Portuguese water dog, a moisturizing shampoo works well. Put a small amount of shampoo into your hand and then transfer from your hand onto the coat. Once the shampoo is on their coat, start working into a nice lather. Make sure to knead down to the skin and penetrate all the layers of the coat. Use your hands to gently scrub the shampoo into the coat. Start at the top and work your way down. Do not rub. You can use your fingertips in a circular motion. Shampoos usually say to leave in 5-10 minutes to effectively work.
  • Pay special attention when washing the face not to get any shampoo in the eyes, ears, or nose. You should position the sprayer close to the face so you can concentrate on specific areas and avoid direct contact with the eyes, ears, and nose. You may want to consider a tear-less shampoo for the face. And try your best not to get the inside of ears wet with water or shampoo. This can lead to ear infections.
  • Now rinse, using the same cup or hose attachment. You can bring the nozzle close to the coat in order to make sure you’re thorough and directing where the water will go accurately.  Be sure to work through the coat in order to make sure all the shampoo is out, rinsing until the water is free of shampoo. It is very important to make sure you rinse all of the shampoo out, as it can lead to irritation and itching if left on your doggie. A good tip would be to start and the head and with your way down their body. This helps to try to ensure the shampoo is moving in the direction away from the eyes, nose, and ears. You can repeat the shampooing process if your pupper is especially dirty.
  • If you would like, you can then use a conditioner. You do not have to condition, but if you decide to then use a light or diluted conditioner. This will help to hydrate but not change the texture of the coat. Leave the conditioner in the coat for at least 5 minutes prior to rinsing. Again, it is important to make sure all of the conditioner is rinsed out of the coat.
  • You may remove the cotton balls or doggie ear plugs. Now would be a nice time to go ahead and clean the ears while you’ve got your pooch in the bath. PWD’s are known to have very oily ears. Use a warm washcloth with a tiny dab of shampoo to clean the inside of the ear. It’s very important to not push the washcloth into the ear, just the outermost area. Don’t forget to rinse when finished. When cleaning ears, you can opt for a dog ear wash if you choose. And while you’re in there, you can look into removing any long hairs you see with a pair of tweezers.
  • Another tip is to go ahead and trim their nails; after they’re bathed but before you dry. When the nails are wet, they’re softer and easier to manage. So, before you dry them, go ahead and trim those toenails.
  • Now you can dry. You can start dabbing with an absorbent towel in order to try and remove as much water as possible, ringing towel out as needed in order to remove excess water as you dry. Never rub when drying, as this causes matting. Next you can wrap your doggo in a microfiber towel, continuing to dab, until their coat is damp to the touch. Make sure you’re not overly-drying as this can lead to frizz and matting.
  • You can choose to let them air dry in a warm room. But be mindful that it will take quite a long time to let this thick, curly coat dry. You can choose to use a high-velocity dryer to blow the curl out, as this type of dryer is great at blasting away the water. Then use a stand dryer to finish drying.
  • After they are dry, you can go over the entire coat with a stainless steel comb. The comb should flow freely through the coat without any snags.
  • And don’t forget to reward your doggo with treats and praise after the grooming process is complete!! They deserve it!!!

Bathing your dog is an important part of their overall health and wellbeing. By following these tips and guidelines, you can ensure that your furry friend stays clean, comfortable, and happy. Remember to always use dog-specific products and to consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns. With a little bit of effort and attention, you can make bath time a positive experience for both you and your canine companion.

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