How to Wash a Chihuahua

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How to Wash a Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are small, lovable bundles of energy, but even that lovable bundle will get a little smelly from time to time. Before you get started giving your chihuahua a bath, get everything set out and ready so you can minimize your dog's time in the bath, as it will likely not enjoy it. Because chihuahuas are so small, you can easily bathe them in a sink, saving your back. Between bath times, you can do some gentle spot cleaning to help keep your chihuahua fresh.

Getting Everything Ready for the Bath

Tips to Wash a Chihuahua

1. Run a brush over your chihuahua before getting it wet.

Start with the top of the dog's head and follow the grain of the hair, brushing the dog's back, abdomen, feet, and tail. If you see any mats, which can happen particularly in long-haired chihuahuas, pick them apart with a comb or mat rack. You can also use your fingers to gently pull them apart.

  • Get mats out before you bathe your dog, as the water can make it worse.

2. Get a dog shampoo for sensitive skin and a washing brush beforehand.

Pick a shampoo specifically made for dogs, as your shampoo doesn't have the right balance. If you can, choose one made for sensitive skin, as chihuahuas tend to have dry, delicate skin that doesn't do well with harsh shampoos.

  • Also, pick up a bathing brush to gently massage the shampoo into your chihuahua’s coat. Opt for the smallest one you can find, as larger ones will be difficult to use on your diminutive dog. You can just use your hand, but a brush will help you work the shampoo deeper into your dog's fur.

3. Set up a bathing area using a bathtub, sink, or plastic bin.

Put a towel in the bottom of the tub to keep your pup from slipping around, and place the shampoo, washing brush, and a small cup nearby, as well as 2 more towels for drying off in a minute.

  • If you're using a sink or bathtub, place a hair catcher in the drain to keep the dog hair from going down the drain.

Bathing Your Chihuahua

Tips to Wash a Chihuahua

1. Run lukewarm water in the bath.

Water that is too hot can scald your little friend. Aim for water that feels just warm on the inside of your wrist. That way, you know it's safe for your chihuahua. Only fill it up 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm), as you don't want it to be so your deep your chihuahua feels like it needs to swim to keep its head above water.

  • Fill the tub up before you go get your dog. That way, your chihuahua won't be scared by the rushing water and you can ensure it's the perfect temperature.

2. Put your chihuahua in the sink or bathtub.

Lift your chihuahua up and place it in the water. Lower it gently so you don't startle it. Always keep a hand on your pup while it's in the water, as you don't want it to jump out and hurt itself.

  • Speak calmly to your pup the whole time, as it will likely not enjoy being in the tub. As you wash it, make sure to praise it the whole time.

3. Wet your pup down with water.

Use the cup to pour water on your chihuahua, making sure not to pour it in your dog's eyes or ears, as that will cause it to startle and maybe even jump out of the tub. Make sure to get your pup thoroughly wet.

  • You can also use a sprayer, but with a small dog like a chihuahua, the pressure may be a little overwhelming. If you do use a sprayer, set it on the gentlest setting and don't turn the water on too strong.

4. Rub shampoo into your chihuahua’s coat from the neck down.

Get a small dollop of shampoo in your hand or in your shampooing brush. Start at the neck and go all the way around it, which will prevent fleas and other parasites from heading for your chihuahua's ears. Work your way down your dog's back and abdomen and then get the tail and legs.

  • Lather up the soap by rubbing it gently in circles as you move down your dog's body. Don't forget to massage some into your dog's feet, too.
  • Don't put soap on your dog's face.

5. Wash the soap off with clean water.

Drain the water that's in the tub if you can. Pour clean water over your dog, using your fingers to work the soap out of your dog's coat. It could take a little while, so be patient. Work from the neck down, ending with the tail and feet.

  • Rinse your dog's face with water but don't get it in its eyes and ears.

6. Put a small towel over your dog.

Drain the water, and put a small towel over your chihuahua. You can even just use a hand towel. This towel will keep it from shaking water all over you and help keep it warm while you dry it off. Use the other towel you laid out to gently dry its face off and then work on its feet. Softly rub the rest of the body with the towel you laid over your chihuahua.

  • If your chihuahua doesn't startle at the noise, you can use a hair dryer, but set it on the lowest heat setting and hold it at least 6 inches (15 cm) away from your dog.
  • Afterwards, you can let the dog shake off any extra water.
  • Keep your dog in a warm area; chihuahuas are susceptible to cold until they are completely dry.

7. Run a brush over your chihuahua once it's mostly dry.

Your chihuahua's fur could get tangled if you don't brush it again. Catch your dog and then do a quick once-over with the brush.

Cleaning between Baths

Tips to Wash a Chihuahua

1. Wait until your dog is dirty to bathe it.

Chihuahuas only need a bath about once a month, and if you bathe it too often, you'll cause dry, irritated skin. If you keep your dog mostly indoors, you may even get away with waiting a bit longer.

2. Brush your chihuahua once a day to keep its coat looking good.

Brushing once a day helps prevent tangles, and it removes loose hair and dry skin cells. It's particularly important to do so with long-haired chihuahuas, as their coats tangle more easily.

  • Brushing your chihuahua often will ensure it has a shiny, bright coat.

3. Rub your chihuahua down with a damp paper towel or soft washcloth.

Wet the towel with lukewarm water and then wring out the extra water. Begin with your dog's head between its ears and rub it over the neck, back, and abdomen, following the grain of the fur. Rub its feet clean and then give its rear a quick clean, too.

  • Be gentle, as chihuahuas have sensitive skin.

4. Clean your chihuahua's ears with cotton balls and a cleaning solution.

With your chihuahua on a table, tuck your chihuahua under one arm to keep it in place and have your hands free. Squirt a little ear cleaning solution on the inner flap of your dog's ear and then a little down the ear canal. Put the ear down and rub on the outside of the ear to massage the cleaner in. Lift the ear back up and use a cotton ball to remove any gunk from your chihuahua's ears.

  • Your chihuahua will likely shake a lot of the cleaning solution out, and that's okay.
  • You can find a cleaning solution at your vet's office or a pet store. Ask your vet how often you should clean your chihuahua's ears.


  • Read the back of the dog's shampoo bottle to see how much shampoo you'll need to use. Chihuahuas are small, so you'll only need a small amount.


  • Do not get soap or water in the eyes, nose, ears, or mouth.
  • Do not bathe your chihuahua too often, or it will dry out its skin.