Last Updated on November 17, 2021 by Marco C.
Labradors are a fan-favorite breed for a lot of reasons, including their gorgeous coats. So, let’s go over how to wash a lab coat – all must-know tips and tricks.
You may have heard that Labrador Retrievers shed quite a lot and that’s true. Additionally, they are a very active and outdoorsy breed which naturally means a lot of dirt and debris in their coats. So, brushing, bathing, and general grooming are needed for all labs. How should you go about doing that, however? Here’s everything you need to know.
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How To Wash A lab Coat?
Dealing with a dirty lab coat can seem very frustrating if this is your first time. Don’t worry, however, as it isn’t that big of a deal. The trick to figuring out how to wash a lab coat is to be prepared and to make it fun for the dog. Here’s what you’d need:
Get quality dog shampoo – labs don’t have that many skin allergies but you still want the best for your dog
Prepare a specific space – either a bathtub, a separate wet room (also called mudroom) for the dog, or in your yard
Clear out the space from your personal things to not get them dirty
Get a powerful showerhead/nozzle – labs’ coats are dense and waterproof, and you really want to clean them properly by getting to the skin underneath
Get some of the dirt while you’re still outdoors with a wet towel (assuming that the dog is very dirty)
Get a quiet but powerful blow drier to help dry your dog’s coat afterward
Prepare lots of towels that are dedicated to your dog
Learn more about: Do Labradors Shed A Lot and How Can You Deal With That Challenge?
How Often Should You Bathe Your Lab?
Now that we’ve got the process of washing lab coats mostly covered, let’s go over how often you should even bother. And the answer is relatively subjective. Some people wash their labs every week, others – almost never. In general, the average is about once a month. How often you’re going to want to bathe your lab really depends on a few factors:
- How dirty your lab gets when going out
- The frequency of brushing/grooming
- How strong your sense of smell is / How annoyed you get from sensing a “doggy” smell
So, if you have a calmer lab (British labs are generally calmer than American labs, for example), then such a dog would be less likely to get dirty when going out. And, if you brush your lab’s coat daily or at least a few times a week, then you will get some of the debris and dirt out that way.
Lastly, if you don’t have the strongest sense of smell or you like your canine pet’s “aroma”, then you’ll probably be happy with a less frequent bathing schedule.
However, if you want, you can certainly bathe your dog every week too. Labrador Retrievers are a “water retriever” breed so they typically don’t mind the water. Especially if you’ve got your lab used to baths from an early age, the dog will even enjoy the whole experience.
Do You Need A Professional Groomer’s Help?
You don’t need it but it’s certainly a good idea. Going to a groomer for a full treatment twice a year (especially before the two seasonal shedding blowouts) is typically quite helpful. Here’s what a good groomer can do for you and your dog:
- Full-body bath with a de-shedding shampoo, a skin-care shampoo, and a coat conditioner
- A hair trim of any length and style you want
- Brushing and de-shedding
- De-matting, if needed
- Nail clipping/filing
- Ear and eye cleaning
- Toothbrushing and overall dental and gum hygiene
And more. Hypothetically, if you brush your dog regularly and you keep it clean when going out, 2-3 visits to a groomer annually can be enough for your dog’s bathing needs. Still, most people would prefer a monthly bath anyway.
Additional Tips For How To Wash A Lab Coat
The first and most important thing to note is that you want to start early. This applies to almost every part of the dog grooming experience – bathing, brushing, dental hygiene, nail clipping, and going to a groomer. The younger your pup is when you start introducing these activities, the more easily your pet is going to get used to them.
The next very important thing to note is that you should use quality products and equipment for both bathing and grooming your dog. A common mistake a lot of people make is washing their labs with human shampoo. This is a big No-No and most professional groomers will tell you that human shampoos present some unpleasant health risks for dogs.
Do it outside if you can. If the weather is warm, you can easily use a hose with a soap nozzle and a few towels to get the whole thing done in your backyard.
But the simplest and most crucial tip is to make the whole experience fun for your dog. This will make the process much easier and more effective. What can you do to achieve this:
- Use treats at first – obviously, labs are very easily motivated by food
- Use dog toys too. Labs are playful and fun-loving so a few plastic toys in the bathtub can make all the difference
- Don’t do it alone. Not only may you need help holding the dog but a second person can be a great distraction while you do the work
- Don’t be too stressed out yourself. Dogs sense when we’re on age and use this as a signal to freak out themselves. So, be calm, happy, and enthusiastic and your dog will be so as well.
In Conclusion – Are Labrador Retrievers That Much Trickier To Bathe and Groom Than Other Dogs?
Labs are on the high end of the “effort needed” scale but they are in no way too difficult to groom. They are short-haired too, which makes the whole situation even more manageable. Golden Retrievers, for example, are a very similar breed but with a much longer coat which complicates bathing and grooming by a lot.
But, with a standard lab, as long as you brush your dog regularly and you keep it from getting too dirty when going out, all you’ll need is the occasional bath.