Irish setters should be bathed only once every 6-8 weeks. This is enough to keep them clean and healthy, without drying out their skin and coat from too much shampoo. If your setter gets particularly dirty on walks, you may increase the frequency a little.
This article covers everything you need to know about bathing Irish Setters
The Ideal Frequency To Bathe Your Irish Setter
Some owners prefer to bathe their Irish setter every 3-4 weeks, and others only when absolutely necessary. I’m not here to say that any particular method is wrong. But what I will say, is that it’s crucial to avoid overbathing.
I’ve had no negative effects from bathing double-coated breeds only once every 3-4 months. And for Irish setters, 6-8 weeks seems to be the sweet spot between avoiding smell and keeping them clean and fresh.
Many owners pointed out that bathing their Irish setter every 2-4 weeks was in their words “overkill” and just not necessary. And others went on to point out the negatives which I’m about to cover below.
Why Irish Setters Shouldn’t Be Bathed Too Often
So what’s the big fuss? why is it better to wait an extra few weeks before bathing your Irish setter?
The issue with overbathing mainly comes from the use of too much shampoo. And I will cover which shampoos later on. But regardless of what shampoo you use, it will always strip away a certain amount of natural oils found in the coat and skin. And this is a bad thing.
It’s these very oils that keep the skin and coat moisturized, healthy, and strong. It all starts going wrong when they get removed in excess by the shampoo, which is essentially a degreaser.
A lack of oils causes the skin and coat to become dry, flaky, and this leads to irritation, which then may induce scratching, inflammation, and even infections (way down the line). Plus, the body’s emergency response to having no oil, is to suddenly produce a tonne of it! And it’s nearly always too much, so you go from dry skin and coat, to suddenly an over oily coat, which becomes greasy, smelly, and even sticky. Which then causes you to think he needs another bath… and the cycle repeats.
Fun fact: Issues related to dry skin remain to be one of the top reasons why dogs visit the vets. And one of the number one causes of dry skin is overbathing.
Which Shampoo Is Best For An Irish Setter?
If shampoo is the culprit, which one should you use? It’s a great question, let’s get into it.
The best shampoo to use with your Irish setter is a natural ingredient shampoo, preferably containing colloidal oatmeal. Natural ingredient shampoos avoid the use of harsh chemicals that regular dog shampoos often contain. It’s these harsh chemicals that are responsible for removing the healthy oils.
Oatmeal is one of those miracle ingredients that just helps with pretty much everything. Oatmeal has been used for centuries for it’s healing properties and works as a natural anti-inflammatory. It’s often used to fix many skin issues like eczema and can significantly help your setter’s coat and skin remain hydrated and strong.
What shampoos should you avoid?
● Regular pet shampoo
● Human shampoo
● Flea shampoo
I know, it sounds silly saying to avoid using regular pet shampoo. But it’s true. Just take a look at the ingredients list and you’ll see harsh chemicals like detergents, soaps, alcohol, parabens, and things you’ve never heard of. Sure, the shampoo may smell heavenly, but they aren’t healthy for the skin or coat.
Human shampoo is too acidic for dogs and will likely ruin the acid-mantle of your dog’s skin. This can cause many issues and will usually require veterinary help in severe cases.
Always stick to a natural ingredient dog shampoo, preferably with oatmeal (for added benefits). If you don’t have access to one of these shampoos, baby shampoo is the next best thing.
Here’s one of our favorites: 4Legger Certified Organic With Oatmeal & Lavender
How Often Should You Brush Your Irish Setter?
Usually, when you think of brushing, you automatically think of hair removal, but that’s not the only benefit. Regular brushing also does an excellent job of keeping their skin and coat clean and healthy.
Setters need regularly brushing anyway, so you may already have a routine, which is excellent. But if not, start brushing him 3-5 times per week, for 20 minutes each session. Little and often is the key to a successful brushing routine.
This will keep on top of loose hair and will continuously be brushing out any dirt and debris stuck in their coat.
Which brushes should you use?
Our favorite brushing method involves using an undercoat rake for the first 10 minutes, followed by a slicker brush for the last 10 minutes. These two brushes together do an excellent overall job. The undercoat rake is great at removing the dead hair while the slicker brush focuses on the topcoat.
Helpful Bathing FAQ’s
Let’s run through some of the top tips and FAQs that I receive on this topic, not just from setter owners, but from all double-coated breeds. Many tips are helpful regardless of which breed you have. 🙂
Can I Bathe My Setter In Winter?
If your Irish setter is due to have a bath but it’s winter, as long as the temperature inside your home is around 18C (65F) there shouldn’t be any issues. Just keep him from going outside, and dry him as much as you possibly can after the bath. You can even use a hairdryer (just ensure it isn’t hot).
What Temperature Should The Water Be?
Lukewarm water only. It’s tempting to use warm or even slightly hot water when bathing our dogs. We assume that because we like it, our dogs will also like it. The problem is that they are much more sensitive to temperature than we are. Keep the water neither hot nor cold and you won’t run the risk of shocking your setter, or drying out his skin and coat afterward.
How To Keep My Setter Still While Bathing?
A great trick I learned from another owner was to use peanut butter throughout bath times. If your bathroom has washable tile walls, you can smear the peanut butter right onto the wall! This will give you an easy 10 minutes as he literally won’t care about anything else in the world. Peanut butter has been considered safe for dogs, so long as it doesn’t contain Xylitol or high salt. (but I recommend doing your own research first)
Do I Need To Use a Conditioner?
Ideally, yes. Alongside a natural ingredient dog shampoo, it does help to use a natural ingredient conditioner too. Conditioners help lock in extra moisture and further reduce the chances of his skin and coat drying out after the bathing stops. Depending on the shampoo you pick, the conditioner may already be contained.
Should I Use a Bath Brush?
Bath brushes are excellent and if you want to make your grooming routine even better, I recommend to start using one. Bath brushes are soft rubber comb style brushes that are made for use when wet. I recommend shampooing first, then begin work with the bath brush after. This way, the shampoo can sit in the coat for longer and the brush will effectively massage the shampoo into his skin and coat. This is a highly reviewed bath brush on Amazon.
What’s The Best Way To Dry Him Afterwards?
The best way to dry your setter after the bath is with a clean dry towel. Towel drying is less harsh than a hairdryer, and the warmth from hairdryers can dry out the skin and coat if you aren’t super careful. And letting him dry naturally on his own isn’t a good idea, even in summer. So stick to towel drying for now, and don’t let him zoom around before you’re finished!
Thank you for reading! I hope this article has helped you decide how frequently you should bathe your Irish setter. If you have further questions or want to leave me feedback, please contact me here. I appreciate all of your responses. Have a great day!