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Cocker Spaniel Bathing & Washing Guide: 7 Amazing Tips

Keeping your cocker spaniel smelling fresh is something all owners want. Unfortunately, bathing tips and advice varies depending on who you ask, so we contacted our resident veterinarian to get the very best answers.

This article answers all questions about cocker spaniel bathing so you can keep your furry friend healthy and clean.

Cocker spaniels should be bathed once every 4-6 weeks with a natural ingredient dog shampoo. This is perfect to keep them clean and smelling good without removing essential oils found in their coat.

cocker spaniel bathing

How Often Should Cocker Spaniels Be Bathed?

The best frequency to bathe your cocker is once every 4-6 weeks.

  • This is the right balance to keep them smelling good, without running the risk of removing their natural oils.

Unfortunately, depending on who you ask or where you search, you’ll find many different answers.

Some say once a week, others say once every three months! No wonder it’s confusing.

P.S. If you don’t want to bathe your cocker spaniel as often as 4-6 weeks, it’s fine to bathe every 6-8 weeks. Bathing less is always safer than bathing more.

Why Cocker Shouldn’t Be Bathed Too Much

The reason we bathe our cockers is to keep them healthy, clean, and smelling good.

Ironically, if we bathe them too much, quite the opposite happens.

  • Bathing cocker spaniels too much will result in them losing their natural skin and coat oils. At first this causes dry itchy skin, shortly followed by an overload of oil produced (in response to having no oils).

Overbathing causes the following:

  • Dry skin and coat (at first)
  • Excessive scratching
  • Excessive oil production
  • Dull, greasy, smelly coat
  • Skin infections and scratching wounds (potentially)

Needless to say, overbathing can cause a myriad of problems. Sometimes even going as far as skin infections and multiple vet visits.

We all have good intentions when bathing, but we must remember that too many showers is a big no-no.

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Best Shampoo For Cocker Spaniels

The kind of shampoo owners use is just as important as getting the bathing frequency right.

The best shampoo for cocker spaniels is a mild natural ingredient dog shampoo. These shampoos are best as they clean gently without removing skin and coat oils.

➡️ Our favorite natural ingredient dog shampoo for years has always been: ⭐ 4Legger Natural Ingredient Organic Aloe Vera & Coconut

The wrong shampoo will strip your spaniel’s natural oils, even if you bathe less!

Avoid the following:

  • Regular pet shampoo (explained below)
  • Human shampoo (too acidic)
  • Dawn washing liquid (yep, some actually do this!)

Regular pet shampoo:

Despite this being the obvious first choice, most pet/dog shampoos (unless natural) are full of harsh chemicals, parabens, alcohols, and detergents, all for the purpose of cleaning. Of course, they do an excellent job of cleaning, but at the same time these powerful ingredients strip the precious natural oils we need to preserve.

Human shampoo:

Shampoo made for us is too acidic for dogs. We have different PH levels to our skin, so we can tolerate a higher acidicity than our dogs. Human shampoo will likely damage the acid mantle of a dog’s skin, so it must be avoided.

Dawn washing liquid:

Surprisingly enough, washing liquid (specifically dawn) has been mentioned in multiple dog forums as a “good shampoo”. This is not true. Washing liquid is far too harsh and is essentially a degreaser, meaning those important oils will be stripped away with just one wash. Avoid at all costs.

Can you use baby shampoo on cocker spaniels?

Yes, we can. The only other safe alternative to a natural ingredient dog shampoo is baby shampoo. Still, this should only be a temporary option. Baby shampoo is mild and generally doesn’t contain harsh ingredients.

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Bathing Cocker Spaniel Puppies:

Cocker spaniel puppies shouldn’t get wet at all until at least TWO weeks AFTER their final vaccination has been given.

Puppies have weaker immune systems and are vulnerable to getting wet and cold.

  • While your cocker spaniel is under 1 year of age, it’s best to stick to a bathing frequency of once every 4 months to be on the safe side.

Again, their first bath should not be before two weeks after their final vaccination shot.

Once your cocker is an adult (over 1 year), you can bathe them at the regular 4-6 week frequency.

4 Ways to Keep a Cocker Spaniel Clean Without Bathing

Bathing with shampoo isn’t the only way to keep your cocker spaniel clean! Let’s run through four great ways your spaniel can stay cleaner for longer, without bathing.

Real bathing still remains essential, but these tips are still definitely worth implementing.

1. Keep their bed clean

Washing their bed or wherever they sleep will make a huge difference in how quickly your cocker spaniel starts to smell.

Their bed is one of the first places to get a bit stinky, so if you regularly wash this (once a week), your spaniel will remain odor free for considerably longer.

2. Keep on top of daily brushing

Daily brushing will constantly comb out dirt, debry, and muck that gets caught in the coat. Regular brushing will also distribute the coats natural oils which happen to do a great job of keeping them clean and odor-free.

On top of this, you’ll also benefit from reduced shedding! What’s not to love about daily brushing? 5-10 minutes with a pin & bristle brush is all it takes.

3. Dog grooming wipes

Dog grooming wipes (or even baby wipes) are an excellent way to give your spaniel a quick wipe-down. Wiping down the coat with a few baby wipes is essentially a mini bath.

This will remove surface dirt that may be building up and keep your cocker spaniel clean for a long time. Of course, this doesn’t replace a real bath, but it will prolong the time they can go in between each one.

4. Try a fish oil supplement

Omega 3’s prove to be crucial in maintaining a healthy coat and skin. While some dog foods contain it, many of them do not. So it’s worth looking into.

A daily fish oil supplement will likely improve your spaniel’s skin and coat over the long term, making it stronger, healthier, and in a better condition all-round.

7 Great Bathing Tips For Cocker Spaniels

To make the most of each bath, check out the following tips. Implementing these will definitely help keep your cocker spaniel cleaner and healthier for longer.

1. Lukewarm water only

Never use cold or hot water. Cold water may shock your spaniel and make the whole ordeal unlpeaseant. This could lead to difficult bathing in the future!

Hot showers will dry out their skin and make their coat brittle. Not only this but it could cause your spaniel to become too cold once the bathing is finished.

Stick to lukewarm/room temperature water only!

2. Offer plenty of treats

Having a cocker spaniel that remains calm and stationary while bathing will allow you to do a much better job of washing them.

One way to do this is to offer a generous amount of healthy treats while you get to work. This will build positive associations with bath times and keep your spaniel happy.

3. Brush before and after

To make the most of the shampoo you’re using, it’s crucial to brush your spaniel directly before bathing. There’s no use wasting shampoo of dead hair stuck in their coat.

Again, once your spaniel is dry, it’s a good idea to brush them after. Brush-bathe-brush is the perfect combination for a clean and tidy spaniel.

4. Cotton balls in ears

Getting water in your cocker spaniel’s ears is a one-way ticket to ear infection city! So avoiding it is crucial.

Owners should be careful around the ears anyway, but putting a large cotton ball in each ear will definitely help prevent accidents from happening.

Just make sure they are large enough so you can remove them easily. Of course, never push them far into the ear.

5. Always create a thick lather

To really clean your spaniel, it’s crucial to create a thick lather and reach all the way down to their skin. It’s so common to witness owners rushing the shampooing just to finish the whole activity.

Take the time to really work up a lather and even let it sit there for 5 minutes or so. Anything short of this, isn’t actually cleaning your spaniel all that much!

6. Rinse, rinse, rinse again

Rinsing the shampoo out of the coat is obvious, yet many owners fail to do it sufficiently. It’s best rinse your spaniel three times completely just to be sure.

Leaving just a small amount of suds in the coat can cause huge skin issues and excessive scratching. Rinsing is simple, but often an overlooked aspect of bathing.

7. Dry properly

Towel drying and using a hairdryer (on low setting) is advised to sufficiently dry your cocker spaniel before letting them roam around again.

Unless its a very hot summers day, owners must always dry completely before letting them go again. A wet cocker spaniel is vulnerable to getting cold, especially if you live in a region that isn’t very warm.


Cocker spaniels are best bathed once every four to six weeks. Puppies should be bathed less frequently before the age of one.

Natural ingredient dog shampoos (aside from baby shampoo) is the only recommended shampoo to use with cocker spaniels.

Always avoid overbathing to preserve the natural oils found in the coat and on the skin. These oils are essential in keeping spaniels clean, healthy, and odor free.



Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.