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How to Bathe a Dog - A Really Large Dog

Updated on August 31, 2013

Avoid the perils of dog bathing!

Today I’m going to teach you how to bathe a dog. More specifically, I’m going to discuss giving a dog bath to a really BIG dog. As many of you know, I have two Great Danes, and they hate getting dog baths! All we have to do is say the word “bath,” and these two giants run for cover. The mere mention of the b-word, and they’re trying to squeeze their tremendous proportions under my bed. Unfortunately, dog bathing is an important part of dog grooming, so it must be done occasionally.

If you have a petite pooch, you probably already know how to bathe a dog, right? Believe me – when you have to bathe a dog the size of a pony, it’s a whole different strategy! This is especially true when the dog in question is uncooperative. By following my dog bathing advice, you’ll hopefully save yourself a lot of headaches.

"Rut-roh! Did someone say the b-word??"
"Rut-roh! Did someone say the b-word??" | Source

Supplies needed for dog bathing


Before the dreaded dog bath begins, you’ll need to have all the proper supplies. This will make your job a bit easier. The following table will tell you exactly what you need, and the purpose for each item:

Needed items

1 hot summer day 
to prevent discomfort for dog and humans 
3 big, strong adults 
for handling big, strong dog 
2 dog leashes 
for controlling big, strong,uncooperative dog 
2 dog collars
for attaching the leashes
large supply of dog treats
to divert big, strong dog's attention
1 water hose
good quality dog shampoo
for cleansing fur and skin
1 medium-stiff bristle brush
for gentle scrubbing
1 small bucket
for diluting dog shampoo and for rinsing
1 washcloth
for washing face and ears
5 large beach towels
for drying dog and humans
"Umm, I'd love to take a bath, Mom, but I can't get up! Err...Tristan is holding me down. Yeah, that's it!"
"Umm, I'd love to take a bath, Mom, but I can't get up! Err...Tristan is holding me down. Yeah, that's it!"

Steps for the dog bath

1. Choose the right time for the dog bath. Many large dog breeds are subject to a serious condition called “dog bloat.” This usually occurs when a dog is too active shortly after eating. Of all dog breeds, Great Danes are the most susceptible to bloat, so we always schedule the dog bath when the boys’ tummies are empty. Besides bloating, vomiting can occur when the dog gets nervous or agitated soon after a meal. Great Dane vomit is voluminous, and it’s not fun to clean up.

Also important in timing the dog bath is the weather. Obviously, you’ll want to wait for a hot day to bathe a dog. This is not only for the sake of the dog, but for you, as well. You’ll wind up getting wetter than the canine.

2. Coax the dog to an outside area that’s near a water hose. If the said dog has heard the b-word, you’ll likely need lots of doggie treats to accomplish this.

3. The dog needs to be wearing two collars so that two leashes can be attached.

4. Once the dog is in position, your two human helpers come into play. Each should have a leash firmly in hand – one on the left of the dog’s head, and the other on the right.

5. The third person – that’s you – should wet the dog all over, using the hose. This is generally the most crucial moment of the entire dog bath experience. It’s when the pooch comes to the full realization: “Oh, crap! I’m about to get a BATH!”

Should the dog become agitated, nervous, or otherwise intractable, one of the helper-handlers should quickly offer the dog a treat…or ten. This is no time to worry about proper dog nutrition. Give it what it wants! Our Great Danes prefer peanut butter sandwich cookies. Whatever snack your large breed dog enjoys the most, be sure to have a good supply on hand.

6. Once the dog is thoroughly wet, apply shampoo to a small section of fur. With large breed dogs, it’s best to work in one section at a time. I usually start with the tail and work my way up, one side at a time. Use the brush to gently scrub each area. When an area has been scrubbed, rinse it thoroughly before moving on to the next.

7. When the entire dog body has been scrubbed and rinsed, it’s time to do the head. DO NOT USE THE HOSE FOR THIS! Instead, dilute some of the dog shampoo in a small bucket of water, and use a washcloth to clean the ears, around the eyes, and the muzzle. Rinse the washcloth out well, and dip it in clear water to rinse away the dog shampoo from the facial areas and the ears.

8. When the dog has been completely bathed, give it a final overall rinse. It’s important to remove all the dog shampoo residue.

9. Using two large towels, dry the dog thoroughly.

10. Use the other three towels for you and your two helpers.

"Save me, girls! Don't let them take me alive!"
"Save me, girls! Don't let them take me alive!"

The dog bath aftermath

After the tortuous dog bathing is over, your furkid will be so relieved that it will erupt in joy. This is often in the form of the "zoomies." The dog runs through the house, often in circles, with wild enthusiasm. In the case of a Chihuahua or a Yorkshire terrier, the zoomies are cute. With a Great Dane or other giant dog breed, however, the zoomies can be dangerous. Home décor can get shattered, furniture can get broken, and people can get hurt. Stay out of the way!

If you and/or your assistants are psychologically shaken by the experience of the dog bath or the zoomies, lie down for thirty minutes, with your feet elevated. If you and/or your assistants were physically injured in the dog-bathing process or the zoomie session, assess the injuries as best you can. In the case of a protruding bone or profuse bleeding, call 911 immediately. Minor injuries can usually be treated at home with a fist aid kit.

If no physical or emotional harm was incurred by any human during the dog bath or zoomies, praise the dog lavishly for being such a good boy (or girl). Give the dog an extra treat or two while uttering the word, “bath.” This will positively reinforce the experience, and the canine will learn to associate “bath” with getting treats. Such positve reinforcement is important in dog training. Perhaps next time you’ll need only one assistant.


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    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Tony, some of this was tongue-in-cheek, but there's a lot of truth here, too, about bathing a large dog. I've had 17 Great Danes over the years, including litters of pups. Only one even remotely liked water. The ones we have now won't even step on the grass until the dew has dried.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Bayou, glad you got a laugh. Great to see you again!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Jessica, your little pooch might be hard to bathe, but what if it weighed 170 pounds or so?? LOL

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Naomi, thanks for the kind words!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Many thanks, Ethel!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      jorja, I see we're practically neighbors. Cool!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      bbq, bath zoomies are fun to watch, but with big dogs, it's best to watch from a distance!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Teylina, in the cooler months, we have to send the big boys to the dog groomer. Thanks for reading!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Doc, you really need a Great Dane...or two!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      viver, glad you enjoyed the hub!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks a bunch, Simone!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Rob, glad you found a diferent line of work. Dog bathing can't be a fun thing to do full time.

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Mel, I have no idea why Great Danes hate water. I got Hamlet in the pool once, and I thought he was going to drown me trying to get out. lol

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I have had 4 Great Danes over a 30 year period. I don't know why YOU have such a problem. It must be YOU not the dog. All of mine couldn't wait to get outside to get a bath. As soon as they see me with the shampoo bottle and towels they would all go to the door to go outside. I'd let them go out first and they would go wait by the garden hose.

    • bayoulady profile image


      9 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      Oh,thanks habee. I needed a deep belly laugh tonight, my first time back on hubpages in a WHILE. Loved your chart! Superb!

    • jessicab profile image


      9 years ago from Alabama

      Our Dacshund is very hard to bathe. She knows when it's bath time, because she will run and hide under the bed somewhere. Very interesting hub.

    • Naomi's Banner profile image

      Naomi's Banner 

      9 years ago from United States

      OMG what a funny Hub. I love dogs and my friend owns a couple of great danes who litterly look me in the eye and wash my face with one swoop of the tongue. Loved the videos. I have chihuahua's so this would be quite a shock to them if they met your dogs. Truly enjoy your writing. I am just beginning to do this so I want to learn.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Beautiful images. My diog is half that nice but hates being bathed

    • jorja kick profile image

      jorja kick 

      9 years ago from southeast georgia

      I dearly loved this hub!!!



    • bbqsmokersite profile image


      9 years ago from Winter Haven, Florida

      Post Bath Zoomies! I love it! Both of our dogs / lab mixes - get them! They're the best! We have tile floors and put towels down. The dogs use the towels as facial surfboards!

    • Teylina profile image


      9 years ago

      Love this! Like your list--and the purposes! I have been down that route--not sure even a hot summer day helped! Mine had fur, so broke down and paid somebody else to do it when I couldn't get enough help. Good hub. Bookmarking.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      9 years ago from south Florida

      Great info, Holle. I will bookmark and keep it even though the largest dog I ever owned was a toy poodle. But who knows? Someday I may become a large dog owner, that's a large dog, not owner, and I'll need this info. akirchner probably has some tips for washing large dogs with lots of fur like Malemutes.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      9 years ago from San Francisco

      This is a top drawer Hub, habee! These are some great tips, and the videos are so cute! I could never imagine bathing a large dog... but you make it seem at least feasible, hahaa! Voted up, useful, funny, and awesome!

    • Robwrite profile image


      9 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      I used to work in a grooming shop and I've groomed a lot of dogs. They don't usually like it. They hated the blow dryer, too.

    • mocrow profile image


      9 years ago from Georgia

      Funny, but VERY true and useful! I have a Great Dane, too, and she's a real handful when it comes to dog baths. Wonder why they hate water so much?

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for reading, HP!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Asia, the dog baths aren't fun, but it's worth it to have one of these wonderful dogs!

    • habee profile imageAUTHOR

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Sherri!

    • viveresperando profile image


      9 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

      loved this and the videos! zoom,zoom, zoom .

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      9 years ago from Guwahati, India

      A good learning lession is here. Thanks.

    • TravelinAsia profile image


      9 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

      My uncle used to have a Great Dane. I have fond memories of my childhood, when I used to ride that dog like a horse. I am sure glad I didn't have to give him a bath.

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      9 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Another stellar Hub! You gave very good reasons for why I don't want another big dog, so when my family and friends pester me about getting another pet, I'm just going to refer them to your Hub and tell them they get to be the assistants. That should do it. :) Love the photos and zoomie videos.


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