So you brought home a Yorkie puppy, let it muck around, and now it needs its first bath. You probably didn’t realize until now that you don’t have a clue how to bathe the little thing!
Bathing a Yorkie puppy can be trickier than it sounds—and not just because your dog will turn into an accomplished escape artist as soon as it’s lathered up. You also need to make sure you don’t damage your Yorkie’s skin with hot water or the wrong kind of shampoo—and you need to keep their perky ears dry throughout the process.
Don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the process of bathing your Yorkie while keeping them happy and safe.
In this guide:
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How to bathe a Yorkie puppy (8 steps)
Regular bath times are an important part of managing an energetic Yorkshire Terrier. My Yorkie puppy Max doesn’t wait long after a bath to find creative (and sometimes gross) ways to get surprisingly dirty.
But bathing a Yorkie puppy isn’t quite as easy as tossing them in the tub. There are a few important things you need to be aware of when sudsing up your messy little pal.
We’ll break down the eight steps to bathing a Yorkie puppy below, but before we get started, here is everything you’ll need for bath time:
- A wide-toothed comb
- Detangling spray
- Yorkie shampoo and conditioner
- Cotton balls or a doggy shower cap
- Leave-in spray
- Optional: a small or pointed sponge
1. Brush out any tangles
Before your bathtime begins, you need to brush out any knots and tangles in your dog’s fur. This is especially important with Yorkies since their long, fine hair tangles easily. If left unaddressed, these knots will turn into matting that will be difficult and painful to remove.
A good detangling spray can help you work out these knots without breaking your Yorkie’s hair.
>> Read more: Best Brush for Yorkies (& Other Top Detangling Tools)
2. Make sure the water is juuust right
Although you might like a scalding hot shower, your Yorkie won’t. Because Yorkies are so small and prone to rapid swings in body temperature, it is important to get that bathwater temperature just right. Room temperature—between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit—is ideal for a Yorkie bath.
Humans have a body temperature of 98.6 degrees, so if the bathwater feels warm to you, it’s probably far too warm for your pup. You want to aim for water that feels neutral, if not slightly cool to the touch.
Don’t use your hand to test the water temperature. Instead, test the water on the inside of your wrist or forearm where your skin is a little more sensitive. If you think the water may be a bit too warm, err on the cautious side and cool the bath off a little before retesting.
3. Set the mood
No, not with candles—with treats!
Up to this point, your Yorkie may be blissfully unaware that bathtime is coming. Unfortunately, it’s time for that to change.
The very mention of a bath sends many dogs running for the hills, and while bathtime may not be your little friend’s favorite activity, there are some simple things you can do to reduce their anxiety.
An easy technique is to associate bathtime with something positive. Give your Yorkie a treat when they enter the area where they will be bathed, telling them in a calm, encouraging voice “Time for a bath!”
During bathtime, consider using a slow treater mat or a similar distraction to keep your pup focused on something other than the bath. This helps reinforce the positive aspects of bathtime and keeps them busy while you scrub.
Again, make sure that you use a positive tone with lots of praise throughout to keep your Yorkie calm and focused on your presence—not the scary sponge monster moving toward their face.
At the end of the bath session, give your pup another treat for a little extra positive reinforcement. This can go a long way toward making bathtime easier next time.
4. Waterproof your pup
When water gets into your Yorkie’s ears, it may create an environment where yeast and other bacteria can grow. Ear infections often follow, and that isn’t fun for anyone.
To protect your puppy’s ears during bath time, consider putting cotton balls gently into their outer ear canals (don’t jam them in!) or try a doggy shower cap to protect their ears from water.
It is also a good idea to avoid pouring large amounts of water over your dog’s head or directing a sprayer toward their face or ears; both are a surefire recipe for ear infections.
Instead, use a sponge to soak and clean the head, keeping the ears gently folded and pinned shut with your fingers as you work your way around them.
After the bath, dry around the ears thoroughly and make sure you give your puppy space to do a post-bath shake off, as this helps eject any excess water that may have dripped into the ears.
5. Lather with (the right!) shampoo and conditioner
Now it’s time to get sudsy. With a good quality shampoo in hand, thoroughly wet your Yorkie’s hair. Next, apply the shampoo and work up a thick lather.
Starting at the scruff of the neck, work the lather down your dog’s back, legs and chest, paying special attention to the places where mess tends to accumulate, like the sanitary areas (the bits and bum) as well as the belly.
Gently lift each leg and work a bit of the lather into the top and bottom of each paw. Lots of irritants, such as pollen, tend to collect here and can cause irritation or infection.
Next, using your sponge and a small amount of lather, wash the top of the dog’s head, working your way down the cheeks and muzzle. Gently and carefully work a little lather into the areas close to the eyes to remove any tear stains left by your Yorkie’s eye discharge. Just be careful not to let any of the shampoo get into their eyes, or they may never let you bathe them again.
>> Note: Stubborn tear stains not coming out in the bath? Check out our guide to the best dog eye wipes.
The importance of high-quality shampoo
One of the easiest wins when it comes to bathing a Yorkie puppy is using a high-quality shampoo. You will find this not only gets your pup cleaner but will also be far gentler on Yorkie skin, reduce dryness and irritation, and will leave the coat softer and healthier looking.
Never use human shampoo (not even baby shampoo) or other household soaps to clean your Yorkie. Your dog’s skin maintains a delicate pH balance, and these products can seriously disrupt that balance and expose your pup to many other irritating chemicals.
Instead, look for an organic, chemical-free brand made specifically for dogs. Our guide to the best shampoo for Yorkies is a great place to start your search. In it, we carefully analyze the ingredients in multiple dog shampoo brands to come up with a list of the safest, most nourishing options
Now it’s time to rinse your doggo!
Wet the sponge and squeeze out half the water before carefully rinsing the head and face. Again, make sure you keep the ears pinned shut or protected from excess water. And do your best to keep shampoo out of your puppy’s eyes.
If some suds should get in your dog’s eyes and they’re expressing irritation, flush the eyes as best you can with fresh, lukewarm water.
Using a handheld nozzle or soaked sponge, work your way down the body from the scruff once more, thoroughly rinsing the rest of the soap from your Yorkie’s hair.
If you want to apply a Yorkie conditioner, repeat steps five and six with the new product, consulting the instructions on the bottle to determine how much product you should rinse out the second time around.
7. Dry your Yorkie as quickly as possible
It’s time to get warm and cozy. Yorkies chill very easily, so wrap your puppy up in a towel ASAP, gently massaging the excess water out of their coat. Once you’ve dried your pup to the point of not dripping anymore, let them run around the bathroom for some famous post-bath Yorkie zoomies.
Now is a great time to pull out the hairdryer, if you choose to use one. But be careful to keep the heat setting on low (or cool, if it’s an option) and keep the dryer at least two full feet away from your pup to avoid drying out your Yorkies skin.
I like to keep a hand on my Yorkie while ruffling the coat. This helps dry the hair and also enables me to judge if things are getting too warm.
The noise of the hairdryer will take some getting used to, and your puppy will likely be nervous around it at first. Introduce it slowly over several baths and always reward them with treats and praise during each session.
8. Apply leave-in spray and brush out any remaining tangles
Once your Yorkie’s coat is nearly dry but still slightly damp, it’s time for some leave-in conditioner. Avoiding the eyes and face, spritz your Yorkie evenly and massage the spray into the coat. Using a wide-toothed comb, gently brush out any tangles.
Leave-in spray doesn’t just protect your Yorkie’s coat; it helps develop a beautiful shine while moisturizing the skin underneath, too. It will also help prevent new tangles from forming as your puppy’s coat dries.
If you are using a natural, oil-based leave-in conditioner, keep your pup confined to an area away from furniture and other fabrics that could be stained before the conditioner dries.
How often should I bathe my Yorkie?
You should bathe your Yorkie once every two to four weeks. If your puppy is particularly adventurous or has a longer Yorkie haircut, you may find additional baths are necessary. But try to avoid bathing more frequently than once every one to two weeks, and use a good leave-in conditioner to keep your dog’s skin and coat moisturized between baths.
Overbathing is a common cause of Yorkie skin conditions, and too many baths will quickly dry out your dog’s skin. When bathed too little, however, a Yorkie’s skin coat will become matted, gather lots of dirt, and start to stink.
Now you know all the steps necessary to give your messy little pup a bath. Let us know what your favorite bathtime techniques are in the comments, or share a picture of your Yorkie enjoying some much-needed spa time.
>> Keep reading: How to Groom a Yorkie: DIY Grooming Tips for Yorkshire Terriers