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How Often Should You Bathe a Bernese Mountain Dog?

Bernese Mountain Dogs and their thick double coats require a lot of attention, and one of the most common questions I receive from BMD owners is about bathing frequency.

I’ll explain everything owners need to know in order to bathe their Berner at the correct frequency, and keep their skin and coat in top conditions throughout the entire year. Let’s get into it.


How Often Should You Bathe a Bernese Mountain Dog?

Once every 2-4 months is how often Bernese Mountain Dogs need bathing. This is enough to keep them clean without removing too many of their coat’s natural oils.

In many cases, the fewer baths the better.

What about the smell? Well, BMDs are actually a fairly hygeinic breed that don’t smell bad when regular brushing and other tips are implemented.

Despite having thick double coats, bathing isn’t something that needs to happen regularly (and shouldn’t) assuming you keep on top of a good brushing routine.

Berners have long outer guard hairs that do tend to pick up extra dirt along the way, but most of this will fall out or brush out with ease.

By only giving your Berner dedicated bath times once every two to four months, you ensure that his natural oils remain on his skin and throughout his coat.

These natural oils do a fantastic job of keeping his skin and coat clean, healthy, and odor-free.

Why We Shouldn’t Bathe Berners Too Often

To understand why infrequent bathing is recommended, we need to look at what happens when you give baths too frequently. Let’s take a look:

Issues that arise when you bathe your Bernese Mountain Dog too frequently:

Too many natural oils are stripped from the skin and coat
Creates dry skin which can cause irritation, itchiness, and may even scab
An excess of natural oil will be produced by his body to compensate for losing it through bathing
Excess oil leads to a smelly and dirty coat quickly

Sometimes, NOT bathing your Bernese mountain dog will actually keep them cleaner!

When too much oil is removed from over-bathing (this happens because shampoos are all degreasers) it will cause his body to overproduce oil in an emergency response.

Unfortunately, too much natural oil, just makes him dirty again and smellier than before! So as you can see, too many baths will actually keep him from being clean.

Interesting Fact: Dry skin is the No.1 health issue that veterinarians have to deal with. Cases are caused by allergies, followed shortly by overbathing.

This is original content produced and published by The Puppy Mag.

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When Giving More Baths Is Appropriate…

If you live in a rural area and have access to rivers, hikes, farms, and muddy trails, it means your Bernese Mountain Dog will be coming home dirty A LOT. So what do you do then?

No problem! it’s completely fine to rinse off your Berner with water as regularly as you need.

After rinsing him with water, ensure he is thoroughly dry then give him a very good brushing, using an undercoat rake followed by a good slicker brush. By then, most of the excess dirt and mud from your walk should have gone.

The problem isn’t water, it’s using shampoo every time. It’s the shampoo that removes too many of his healthy natural oils, even if it’s a “mild” shampoo.

Regular Brushing Will Keep Him Cleaner For Longer

Although baths are best kept infrequent, brushing is something that has to happen regularly, primarily to keep on top of shedding.

Brushing is done to remove the dead undercoat fur, but will indirectly do a great job at removing any dirt and debris from the coat.

If you spend extra time with a slicker brush (the topcoat brush) you’ll be able to keep his coat free from most dirt, without needing to bathe him. Keeping those precious natural oils intact.

Recommended Reading: How to Keep Bernese Mountain Dog Cool in Hot Weather

Which Shampoo Is Best For a Bernese Mountain Dog?

When you do eventually give your Berner a well-deserved bath, it’s crucial to use only a natural-ingredient dog shampoo.

A natural ingredient dog shampoo is by far the best kind of shampoo for your Bernese Mountain Dog.

There are tonnes of options out there, but unfortunately, the majority of them are made with harsh ingredients and chemicals that shouldn’t be going anywhere near your dog’s skin or coat.

Regular dog shampoos often contain chemicals and strong detergents to “clean” your dog, but in actual fact, all they do is strip the natural oils from the coat. It’s the same for human shampoo too! But that’s a different topic, for a different website…

Always opt for a dog shampoo that’s made from natural ingredients. Avoid shampoos that contain chemicals, detergents (soap), parabens, alcohol, and unnatural preservatives.

Here are some of my recommended natural ingredient dog shampoos on Amazon. These are all trusted and have excellent reviews.
4Legger and Buddy’s Best

Bathing Tips For Bernese Mountain Dogs

Let’s run through some extra bathing tips that will help you have a more productive and stress-free bath time with your Berner.

After all, when bathing happens so infrequently, it’s important to make the most of it.

1. Brush before starting

Before you bathe your Berner, give him a 10-20 minute brushing. Start with an undercoat rake to remove as much dead undercoat fur as possible, before finishing off with a slicker brush that will focus on the topcoat.

Doing this will free up space and avoid large clumps of dead fur getting wet and matting. It will also make your shampoo last longer and will be easier to penetrate the thick fur to reach the skin.

2. Room temperature water

It’s very tempting to use warm or even hot water. But room-temperature water is always the best. This avoids drying out his skin after the bathing stops.

Using water too warm could also cause your Berner to become too cold once the bathing stops, especially if there is a breeze or the temperature outside is cooler.

3. Talk to him during bath time

When your dog isn’t fond of being bathed, it makes your job harder, so it’s in your best interest to make it as stress-free as possible for your Berner.

Talking in a reassuring voice will help keep your Berner calm while you get the important work done.

4. Use peanut butter to keep him still

If you have tiles in your bathroom with a shiny surface, take a spoon full of peanut butter and smear it right on the wall at your Berners’ head height.

Your Berner will instantly forget that he’s being bathed and will stay still as he licks the wall in front of him.

This will allow you to really work up a thick lather and ensure you reach all areas, without him moving around.

*Peanut butter is considered safe for dogs to consume, providing it doesn’t contain Xylitol or high salt content. However, this doesn’t stop some dogs from having their own intolerance so a test amount should always be given first.PetMd Peanut butter

5. Use a bath brush

If your Berner enjoys bath times, then you have the luxury of being able to use a bath brush. For dogs that don’t like bathing, this may prove to be “too much” for them, so I only recommend it for dogs that voluntarily stay still.

Bathing brushes like these ones work when your dog has wet fur. All it does is create an all-around grooming experience incorporating brushing and bathing in one.

6. Rinse him thoroughly

It sounds obvious, and it is obvious, but you would be surprised just how difficult it can be to fully remove the suds.

Removing the shampoo completely is important to avoid irritation and itchiness. Even if you use a natural-ingredient shampoo, leaving some in after you’ve finished will eventually lead to scratching and discomfort.

“Once you can’t see any suds, rinse him once again” Is typical veterinarian advice.

7. Keep him inside after bathing

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for tolerating cold weather, but no dog can tolerate cold weather when they’re wet or just after being bathed.

It’s crucial to dry him thoroughly and keep him inside until dry to touch. This will avoid him getting too cold which can easily happen with just a small breeze.

Recommended Read: Bernese Mountain Dog Underweight? Overweight? Growth Info

Last Thoughts

Your Bernese Mountain Dog only needs to be bathed once every two to four months.

This is frequently enough to keep him clean, and infrequently enough to ensure you don’t strip his coat from essential natural oils.

With bathing, the fewer, the better. And remember to always use a reputable shampoo that’s made from only natural ingredients.

Back to more Bernese Mountain Dog articles >>


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.