Do You Bathe a Dog Before or After Grooming? [What to Consider]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Do you bathe a dog before or after grooming? It’s a question that every dog owner might have asked themselves at some point. I know I used to.

In short, it depends on your dog’s coat and individual needs. If your dog has a lot of dirt and debris in their fur, it’s better to give them a bath before the grooming session to make the grooming process easier and more effective. On the other hand, if your dog has a short coat or just needs a trim, then you can skip the bath and go straight to grooming.

But these are just general guidelines, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to dog grooming.

In this article, I will delve deeper into the pros and cons of doing so and offer you some additional tips to make grooming a great experience for your dog.

Quick note: You might wanna read about common injuries caused by grooming too.

Medical Questions? Talk to a Veterinarian 24/7.
Connect one-on-one with a licensed vet who will answer your questions in minutes.

Ask a Vet Now or Schedule a home visit

*Article may contain affiliate links to retailers like Amazon and Chewy. Learn more on our disclosure page.

Should You Shower Your Dog Before Grooming or After?

Should You Bathe Your Dog Before Grooming or After?

Bathing your dog before or after grooming isn’t really necessary, but it’s ideal.

You should bathe your dog before grooming if it’s very dirty, especially if there is mud or extra dirt on its coat.

Bathing your dog before grooming also helps the groomer work on your dog’s fur easily since there wouldn’t be much debris anymore, reducing the discomfort your dog might have.

If your furbaby’s breed is that of long hair like Bearded Collie or Havanese, bathing him before grooming also removes excess hair to make trimming easier.

Just a reminder!

If you decide to bathe your doggy before grooming, make sure he’s completely dry when grooming starts.

Your dog won’t have to bathe after grooming if he’d been fully brushed, bathed, and trimmed.

But if you can still see excess hair from the trimming, you may want to bathe him to avoid itching and irritation.

Doggy says, you might like this too: Can I use human perfume on my dog?

Bathing a Dog Before or After Grooming: What’s the Difference?

Bathing a dog before grooming removes dirt and debris, both of which make trimming hair more difficult.

When your dog has cleaner fur before grooming, the groomer can easily check his whole body for grooming.

Bathing a dog after grooming is more like a relaxing bath.

Grooming can be stressful for your dog so bathing him after can ease his nerves.

Shampoo or soap that wasn’t rinsed properly from your dog during grooming can also be washed away when you bathe him after to avoid irritation. 

Hey there, sorry to interrupt but I wanted to tell you about an online vet service I’ve been using for years.

An in-person visit with one is great, but it’s not always an option.

Now, thanks to technology, you can speak to one without leaving your home.

Remote access
Avoidance of travel
Reduced stress for pets
Immediate access to experts
Quick response time
Schedule appointments easily

Got something to ask a vet?
Talk to one anytime, 24/7.


* Don’t use this service for emergencies.

Alternatively, a vet can come out to you instead (exclusive to our readers: use THEVETS15 for 15% off).


Thank you. The rest of the article continues below.

Pros and Cons of Bathing a Dog Before Grooming


Advantages of bathing a dog before grooming

Easier to see and remove mats and tangles

When you wash your dog before grooming, you’ll be able to remove the dirt that’s covering his fur.

Remember that dirt and debris can tangle up your dog’s hair during the grooming process and it’ll make trimming harder.

If your dog’s fur has been cleared of dirt, his groomer will be able to see his fur clearly when trimming and checking for potential parasites.

Less dirt and debris to clean up during grooming

You’ll already be removing the loose dirt and debris from your dog’s fur when you bathe him before grooming.

Hence, the dirt and debris needed to be cleaned up during grooming will be lesser.

Excess hair that may clog the drain where your dog is being groomed can be avoided by bathing him beforehand.

More hygienic for the groomer

It’s a groomer’s duty to clean your doggy. But it won’t hurt to make the grooming process more hygienic for the groomer, will it?

Dogs can be foul-smelling, that’s the truth I can’t sugarcoat.

Bathing your doggy before sending him to the groomer will save the groomer from a dirty and smelly grooming scenario.

Fun fact: I actually wash up before getting a haircut!

Disadvantages of bathing a dog before grooming

Can make it harder to cut hair evenly

Wet fur is thicker in texture, which makes it hard for the scissors to cut evenly.

There’s a tendency for the scissors to snag on the dog’s fur, causing an uneven trim.

If you don’t dry your dog when you bathe him before grooming, tangles can form too which leads the groomer to trim the fur unevenly.

Can lead to skin irritation if done too frequently

Frequent bathing can make your dog lose his natural oil, which can lead to dry skin.

When your dog has dry skin, itchiness that may lead to irritation can occur since the oil that’s keeping his skin moist is gone.

May not be necessary if the dog is already clean

If your dog doesn’t have any dirt that would be hard to remove at the groomer’s, then you don’t have to do it beforehand.

And if you can see that all he needs is simple grooming of hair and trimming the nails, bathing is unnecessary.

Pros and Cons of Bathing a Dog After Grooming


Advantages of bathing a dog after grooming

Can help remove any loose hair or debris

Bathing your dog after grooming helps remove any loose hair or debris that the groomer had missed.

The loose hair, remaining trimmed nails, and other debris that may have gotten stuck in his fur can easily be removed by running water during a bath.

Can help soothe the dog’s skin after grooming

The groomer might use a grooming product that irritates your dog’s skin, or perhaps your dog’s suffering from razor burns from being trimmed too close to his skin.

You can soothe all these uncomfortable feelings in your dog’s skin by giving him a nice cool bath after grooming.

Ensures the dog is clean and fresh-smelling for the owner

The groomer might be using grooming products that you, as the dog’s owner, don’t find good-smelling.

Bathing your dog with his original shampoo or soap at home after grooming ensures that he smells fresh and familiar. 

Giving it a good rub down after grooming also makes sure that no soap or debris remains.

Disadvantages of bathing a dog after grooming

May not be necessary if the dog is already clean

The grooming process ensures that your furry baby is clean down from his toes to the tips of his ears.

If you can already see that he’s shiny, fresh, and clean; bathing is no longer necessary after grooming.

Can undo some of the grooming work (e.g. if the dog’s hair gets wet and mats form)

Imagine this, the groomer has spent too much time combing and brushing your dog’s hair just for it to be shiny and smooth.

Then you took your doggy home and bathed him after grooming so now you’ve got a disheveled wet furbaby because you weren’t able to dry him well.

Wetting your dog’s fur after grooming can bring back tangles and matted hair, so if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to maintain his fur, just don’t bathe him.

May not be practical if the dog is already tired or stressed from the grooming process

Grooming is exhausting and stressful for your dog, and exposing him to another round of bathing after will just send him over the edge.

dog essentials banner in content

What Should You Expect During a Grooming Session?

You should expect that the grooming session will already cover bathing, brushing, trimming, and cutting the nails of your doggy.

Drying your dog is also included in the session.

Your doggy might get scared or stressed from the session, but he’ll get back to normal after a few hours of showering him with treats and affection.

How Do I Prepare My Dog for Grooming?

Brush your dog’s fur gently, while touching his face, ears, and other sensitive parts of his body so he won’t react adversely to the groomer.

You can also get him to become familiar with the sound of vibration too by placing an electric toothbrush near him. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do dog groomers wash or cut first?

It depends on the dog groomer if he washes or cuts first. Some groomers cut first before washing to completely rinse the trimmed hair from the dog’s body. 

Do all dog groomers use the same methods?

Dog groomers don’t use the same methods. They all brush, cut, wash, and dry dogs. But their techniques and methods vary depending on their expertise and the breed and temperament of the dog they’re handling.

Should you bathe a matted dog before grooming?

You should not bathe a matted dog before grooming because the fur will just mat tighter once wet. Let the groomer find the solution for it to avoid causing the dog pain.

In Conclusion: Do You Bathe a Dog Before or After Grooming?

While there isn’t a clear-cut answer, it’s important to take your dog’s coat type and specific needs into account while making this choice.

Knowing when to bathe your dog can make the process simpler and more efficient, just as regular grooming is necessary to keep your dog healthy and content.

Like this article? Check out these other ones too:

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

Share this post!
Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

no more bad dog breaths banner