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How to Dry a Dog the Right Way

Audrey has owned and trained Malamutes from puppyhood into adulthood for over 15 years. She has also rescued many other dog breeds.

Start with a wet dog.

Start with a wet dog.

Drying a Dog

While this might seem a simple enough task or a no-brainer, in some conditions or for some dog breeds, drying a dog the right way is really important.

Most dogs who go for a dip in the river, ocean, or even a wading pool (like the picture of this author's Malamute above) will be allowed to mostly air dry—after maybe a rub down with a fluffy towel or two.

Be Careful With Arctic Breeds

However, all breeds aren't created equal. For instance, it might surprise many to know that arctic breeds (like the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky) should not be left wet for long periods of time because they can develop mold in their coats.

This occurs because they are a double-coated breed and dependent upon what stage their coat is in, a damp coat can lead to the build-up of mold which hypothetically could lead to bacterial infections of the skin.

While this is not extremely common, most double-coated breeds should be dried as much as possible after getting totally saturated.

What ways are there to dry a dog and which ones work the best?

The first thing to do is let the dog shake as much water off as possible!

The first thing to do is let the dog shake as much water off as possible!

Let Nature Take Its Course

In any situation where you want to dry your dog, letting his or her natural instincts take over is the first step in getting rid of lots of water.

Let your dog shake, rattle, and roll so to speak and behind the protection of a very large towel, no matter where you're drying the dog—let 'em rip!

Another great way is to have a dog in a closed environment with extra towels or even blankets on the floor. Their natural instinct will be to drop down and roll around, rubbing into the blankets and towels—eliminating even more water from their fur.

Put Your Dog on a Leash After Fun in the Water

It's always a good idea to have the dog on a leash after bathing or dipping in the water as being wet seems to energize most dogs. Anyone who washes a dog themselves knows the drill after a bath when the dog is partially dry and starts running in circles through the house, rubbing themselves like crazy on anything that's handy.

It's refreshing yes, but it's also a dog activity that is infused with happiness after all is said and done. A happy dog can be a crazy dog so make sure the dog is in a secure environment when he or she starts doing "wet laps."

Drying off with towels can get lots of water off.

Drying off with towels can get lots of water off.

Towel Drying Your Dog

Drying your dog with towels is usually the first line of treatment after he or she has been allowed to shake off most of the moisture.

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Use large, fluffy, thick towels for large dogs and smaller, fluffy, absorbent towels for small dogs.

Depending on the breed, you may or may not get loads of hair that come off as you rub the dog but with some dogs, such as Labradors, you may also get off some of the oil that is a natural part of their coat. Take heed accordingly and use towels that you aren't going to worry about using later for humans.

Dry the head first and work your way steadily towards the tail. If your towel or towels become saturated, it won't do you much good to keep drying so an ample supply is recommended.

With our Malamute, we generally go through at least three if not four large beach towels due to the nature of their double coat and the amount of water that can get trapped in their wet fur.

Most dogs aren't fond of friction (rubbing against the fur in the opposite direction). This can also lead to over-stimulating the dog and "hyper" behavior so beware.

Be sure and dry all legs, the tail, and their underside. While they do not "seem" wet in these spots, they also trap lots of moisture especially when sopping wet from a dip in the lake or the ocean.

Note About Dogs Swimming in Lakes, Streams, and Oceans

Rinsing the dog is usually recommended, especially when letting your dog go into lakes or streams, but even the ocean.

Different bacterias can live in lakes and streams and can get into the dog's coat where he or she may lick themselves and induce illnesses such as GI upsets or even bacterial infections.

While saltwater is seemingly harmless, it can cause skin irritation in some dogs so rinsing is usually recommended after a dip in the saltwater.

If in doubt, ask your breeder, groomer, or vet. In some regions, vaccinations are recommended for dogs that swim in lakes, ponds, and streams.

Tie-offs work well in keeping the dog in one spot for drying.

Tie-offs work well in keeping the dog in one spot for drying.

At the Groomer's

Notice the tie-out in the photo above that is available to groomers and at some do-it-yourself dog washes.

These work effectively to keep the dog in the huge metal tub and prevent escape so that you get a thorough bath done and then subsequently, a thorough drying done.

This method is a definite time saver as all told, it took roughly 30 minutes to bathe, condition, dry and blow-dry the dog—with the added benefit of standing and not having to hold the dog in the tub or bend over or kneel down to get the job done.

There was everything available from skin-sensitive shampoo, conditioner, nozzle sprayer set to just the right temp and pressure, and a blow dryer, along with ample towels and use of a chamois.

A chamois works really well to get remaining water off the dog.

A chamois works really well to get remaining water off the dog.

Drying Your Dog After Grooming

Gabby the Malamute is shown above at the U-Wash just after bathing. Notice how dry her fur looks. That is after at least three or four towels and the chamois.

Chamois readily absorbs the leftover water that didn't come off with the larger fluffier towels and is a little easier to handle when drying the head, ears, extremities, and tail.

Blow drying is the quickest way to dry a dog.

Blow drying is the quickest way to dry a dog.

Blow Drying Your Dog

Some dogs are better than others when it comes to using blow dryers. There are of course professional models that work great but even human blow dryers work to dry your dog.

A word of caution here: Go slowly and try your dog out on it a little at a time and reward, reward, reward. Some dogs are inherently afraid of the noise and never get used to it. However, this author finds that treats speak louder than words always!


  • Keep the temperature at a low setting—too hot is bad for your dog's coat and skin.
  • Work from butt to head (though some folks work head to butt).
  • Do not blow the dryer directly on the eyes, face, or ears.
  • Gently fluff the hair with your hands, a towel or chamois, or a comb or brush while blowing to separate hair and dry the fur quicker.
  • Don't forget to dry the fur on the tail and legs—it may seem dry but it generally is very saturated.
  • Use a comb or brush when almost done to pull off any loose hair.

For more natural drying, after drying the dog with towels, especially on warm to hot days, put the dog in a crate and set up fans at several spots around the crate. Turn them on a medium to low speed and allow the fans to dry the dog thoroughly.

You can also take Fido on a car ride in his or her crate with the windows down and get a nice "natural" drying job for those times when you've taken him or her swimming or for a romp on the beach.

But remember, with any drying method for your dog, just like humans, too much drying is not a good thing. It can cause burns to the skin or irritation which can lead to itching and infections.

Dogs generally do best when bathed earlier in the day rather than at night because it allows their fur to dry completely but if the dog is almost completely dry, he or she should dry the rest of the way adequately, especially if kept inside.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 17, 2014:

yougottheguy - gosh - I would think washing once a week would be very detrimental to your dog's fur. I would ask a reputable vet - ours are only bathed 2 times per YEAR. We let them get wet of course but no bathing except those 1 or 2 times.

Thanks, Ruby Rose~

Maree Michael Martin from Northwest Washington on an Island on March 16, 2014:

Congrats on HOTD. Even our short haired dog enjoys a good towel drying and some brushing to get the excess hairs off. Great suggestions.

Bala from India on June 17, 2013:

Hey Audrey!

I've got a Pomeranian-Alsatian cross breed. Name's Gypsy. She's been shedding a lot. Not too much to be worried about, but I am afraid it might get worse and I cant imagine her with a lot less hair. She not quite fond of water, in fact she hates it. I bathe once in a week. I am not sure if infrequent bathing is the cause for this. And am not using any cosmetic or anything, just in case if you wonder. So, what do you think I should do?

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 15, 2013:

Good deal, Thief~ Wishing you a good one though I've found they're all pretty much good's the owners that get wonky sometimes~

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on June 15, 2013:

akirchner, it's a perfect title. I just never thought there would be any more considerations to dry a dog than a towel and open space. I will keep this in mind whenever I have a dog again.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 14, 2013:

Thanks Thief for your congrats and insight - I actually did not pick the title--it was one of the Exclusive titles and I thought hmm...and there you have it~!

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on June 14, 2013:

Interesting hub. When I read the title I asked myself "What's wrong with the old towel rub-down and letting him/her run around to dry?", but this was very informative. Oh, and congrats on HOTD!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 14, 2013:

Thanks Sally's Trove for stopping by - and for confirming I know something~ I really do try and think about what I write to give folks the best answers - and that's reassuring to know it helps others. I know from personal experience but it always helps to confirm with others' opinions. Have a great weekend!

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on June 14, 2013:

My daughter and I found this Hub the other day, just before she was about to bathe her Chow/Shepherd/Shar

Pei mix for the first time this spring.

He got washed in cold water on this hot day, and he loved it because he loves water, and then he got dried with a mess of towels.

It knocked him out. He then volunteered to further dry himself in front of a floor fan and slept until he was dry. Except for the underneath...a little coaxing with some biscuits to turn his belly to the fan, and he was golden.

My daughter and I had a great conversation about what's in your Hub. She's a total dog person (which I am not) and she says your advice is spot-on. No bacteria on him.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 13, 2013:

Peg and LCD - thanks so much for the kind comments~ That would be our youngest mal Gabby (she is featured further down at the groomer's). She loves water!

Jenn & OMG - thanks for stopping by - and great trick on the self shake~ The CC BY means it is creative commons licensed by me - the photographer (for the pictures of my Gabby).

Phyllis - amazing how an old dog can be invigorated with something as simple as a bath~ I know of what you speak though as we also have a 14-year-old mal. She goes crazy after bathing - thanks for stopping by~

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on June 12, 2013:

That lead picture is the cutest ever. It had me smiling all day and it was great to see it posted as Hub of The Day. Congratulations on a well deserved award for this entertaining and informative hub. I loved your explanations of their behavior after a bath. My dogs have always acted crazy after they get clean. It must feel really invigorating to them. The key part that you've shared is to maintain control of them afterward or they go right for the biggest mudhole to roll in to celebrate being clean.

L C David from Florida on June 12, 2013:

I just love that beautiful dog in the opening picture! Congrats on HOTD!

Jenn-Anne on June 12, 2013:

Congrats on HOTD - enjoyable and useful hub! My shepherd-terrier mix just LOVES the water (but hates baths - go figure) so we always keep a stack of dog towels on hand. Never tried using a drier but might have to give it a go - especially in winter when it is cold and I want him dried as quickly as possible after his bath. Voted up!

OMGirdle from United States on June 12, 2013:

And CONGRATS on your hub!

OMGirdle from United States on June 12, 2013:

I never knew dogs fur could generate mold. I've never had a long hair dog because I just don't want to do the extra work. I've taught my dog the meaning of "Shake." So after bathing all I have to say is "Shake" and she will shake as many times as I need her. She knows she can't move away from the bathing area until she does it. Your article was very informative and I love the photos. What does CC BY mean? I noticed it under your photos. I assume these are photos you have taken personally.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on June 12, 2013:

Audrey, this is a very helpful hub. I would never have thought that drying a dog could be used as a topic for an article -- yet, now I see just how important it is to make sure the dog is thoroughly dry. I gave my little Pom his first bath (well first for me to bath him, I just recently adopted him) and he loved it. He is a very affectionate little guy, so loved the extra attention he got. After the bath, I wrapped him in a large fluffy towel, sat down on the sofa with him, where I had extra towels, and he cuddled into the towels and rolled around as I dried him gently. After the towels were saturated, he jumped down and shook vigorously. Even more water came out when he shook, so, I got yet another dry towel and massaged him with it as I brushed him. He was so perky and happy the rest of the day. Since he is 12 years old and has trouble with his joints and ligaments, I was very surprised to see him run around so much and jump on and off the bed and sofa.

Thank you for writing this hub.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 12, 2013:

I bet you can, Mary - they are my kids now~ Mals are really special or at least in my heart. Like so many other breeds, they can be highly misunderstood and raised improperly. We take great pride with ours although I do tend to exploit their photogenic nature~ Thanks for coming back!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 12, 2013:

I came back to see your beautiful dogs. Now I recognize your name attributed to the photos. Hey, I'm a proud Mama to my dog, too. I could share many photos of her.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 12, 2013:

Thanks for stopping by, Gail - and hugs in return~~~

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on June 12, 2013:

Hi Audrey,

Congrats on earning HOTD for this fact filled hub that includes lots of practical pointers and great photos.

Voted up across the board except for funny.

Hub Hugs,


Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 12, 2013:

Thanks so much, Rose - one of my favorite subjects~

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on June 12, 2013:

What an informative article! Thank you so much for sharing and congratulations on HOTD. (Voted Up) -Rose

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 12, 2013:

Melfina - gosh - that doesn't sound like a malamute? Stubborn? OMG - they are too much aren't they? We have one that loves the water and can't get enough of it and then one who's either or - and Griffin my big guy who hates the water...he only goes in swimming up to his ankles and howls the entire time. Too hilarious on the 8 towels--I hear your pain~

Starbright - that sounds like a couple of my dogs over the years - in and out all the time because they never were bothered by it. Our youngest mal is like that as well - we no sooner get her dried off in summer and she pretends she has to go out to potty - then jumps in her wading pool and comes back sopping wet....thanks for stopping in y'all~

Nora B from NC, USA on June 12, 2013:

Great Hub! I am definitely going to try some of these tips. My Malamute pretty much hates baths and he hates being wet, so we work very hard to get him as dry as possible. We even have to encourage him to shake; he just sits there dripping, sulky, and miserable after a bath! We try to only bathe him on the sunniest of days so he can sit outside in the sun while we dry him off with (8!) towels.

Lucy Jones from Scandinavia on June 12, 2013:

Our dog swims in the lake every day. When he comes out of the water he shakes the front end, then the back end. Then after running around like a mad dog at break neck speed, he finds a nice patch of grass to roll himself several times, making monster like noises at the same time. In spite of his long hair, he's dry in no time. After getting dry - he plops right back into the lake again for another leisurely swim. Thanks for sharing this interesting hub. Voted up.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 12, 2013:

Hi Mary - Thanks for stopping in - and if you look around, you'll find plenty of pics of all 3 of our mals~ I think I'm worse than a grandma showing pictures of them~

Natasha - I think it'd be rare for them to get mold as most often when they seem to be soaked, they're often in the house or it's summertime and really warm - but we try and keep our longhair especially as dry as possible...he is hysterical around the vacuum or any blow drying type of equipment - but he eventually sighs and gives up - he knows who's boss~ Thanks for stopping in!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 12, 2013:

Congrats on a well deserved HOTD. My Miniature Schnauzer hates to get a bath, but when I have to bathe her, I towel dry her and let her roll around on a towel in the garage. When she is almost dry, that's when we go for a walk in the sunshine. She has beautiful soft fluffy hair.

Sorry you didn't include more photos of your dogs: I'd love to see them.

Voted UP and shared.

Natasha from Hawaii on June 12, 2013:

The video dog looks exactly like my boy! Except he would be freaking out. I didn't realize huskies and malamutes can get moldy, but it makes sense. They are so hard to get dry! I am lucky that both my dogs (an Alaskan husky and a busy/Germany Shepherd mix) love towel time. It would be awesome if they were blow drier trained, though!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 12, 2013:

Thanks HM - I find the do it yourself wash to be a very viable alternative...saves my back and my entire downstairs as mine are way too big to handle~~ Thanks for stopping by!

HMcEvoy from St. Louis, Missouri on June 12, 2013:

This article is very informative. I hate giving my dog a bath, but I REFUSE to pay to have someone else do it! Thanks for the information!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 12, 2013:

Stephanie--I won't even go in to the story on how I washed my cat~ Yikes--I think I prefer washing my big guys but thanks so much for the congrats and stopping by~!

MPG - my Griffin is the biggest baby ever - with the blow dryer especially. They put ear plugs in and the only saving grace is that he is tied off so he cannot escape. With his undercoat and longhair state, he just has to be dried - I've never known a dog who could be groomed that long! They are funny though (most of them) about the blow drying although my other 2 really could care less~

Mel - I had a part whippet and I know what you mean - he was shivering in 5 seconds whereas my labs were content as ever to be wet all the time! I love the terry robes....gosh....there's a creative idea to make them myself although my mals probably do not need them~~ Thanks all for stopping in and the congrats!

Stephanie Bradberry from New Jersey on June 12, 2013:

Very nice layout here. But I have to admit I was just enjoying looking at the great pictures of dogs, even though I am more of a cat person.

Congratulations on your Hub of the Day!

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on June 12, 2013:

Hi Audrey, congrats on your hub of the day, well done. Thanks for the tips but I'm afraid Sassie has never gotten used to the hair dryer, even if I take her to the groomer (who she knows well by the way). I love her dearly though even when she splashes me whilst I try and bath her. Still, your tips will help lots of other dog owners. Voted up and useful.

Mel Jay from Australia on June 12, 2013:

Great hub - I have short-haired dogs (whippets) who do not require too much drying but being so thin they get really cold really easily. So they also have bathrobes made of terry toweling - that way I can be sure they don't get too cold. The robes also soak up excess moisture. They don't mind being rubbed with a towel after their wash but it never seems to get them dry enough. I wish they were not so afraid of the hair-dryer. The bath robes are great after a day at the beach too - and easy to wash but sadly quite expensive.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 26, 2013:

Hi Alexadry--I really don't know any products that help with water in the ears...except not getting water in their ears--which is hard to do if they go under water at all...except I do know at the groomer's, they use wads of cotton to protect their ears, then remove it. I'm not sure if that is recommended though for outdoor activities. I had a very long-eared lab who got water in her ears and always got infections--so it is really important to try and keep it out of their ears. Sorry--not much help huh?

Adrienne Farricelli on May 26, 2013:

Great hub. Do you have any advice on a good product that works as a drying agent so to prevent ear infections after the ears get wet? With summer in full swing, I am planning to offer water games at my boarding/ training center and am getting mixed reviews on products so am a bit confused on which work best.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 25, 2013:

Hey BJ - my next dog must be a mini mini Griffin is so terrified of blow dryers that it's ridiculous - not that it would blow HIM anywhere~ Thanks for stopping by~

drbj and sherry from south Florida on May 25, 2013:

My lil poodle pup, Audrey, was so smart, I would just hand her a towel and she would dry herself off. Could not use the blow dryer though - it was so strong it would have blown her across the room.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 15, 2013:

Thanks, Tebo--I never thought much about the bathing in lakes and the sea either but then when our vet suggested we get SHOTS for our dogs if they swam I went what? I know they overdo it on the shots a lot and wouldn't probably ever get them unless someone could prove to me it was worth it where I live OR if I took them all the time but it definitely made me think--get out the hose and rinse them off super good if they go swimming. Especially one of my mals--he is allergic to just about everything so figure it can't hurt~

tebo from New Zealand on May 14, 2013:

It certainly can be a mission to dry your dog. As I am trying to get the towel over my dogs head he is trying to grab it in his mouth and have a tug of war. All good fun though! I must check out our local dog wash station - it looks really good. Had not thought much about rinsing dogs off after swimming in rivers and the sea, but it does make sense. Our skin and hair feels awful after the seawater so I guess they might feel a bit icky too. Nice hub.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 12, 2013:

Thanks, Thelma--yes--they do appear a little "wild" to say the least and if you have big ones like I do....oh my~! Luckily malamutes are only supposed to be bathed twice per year--but even if they get wet--as today in the wading pool--they get a little crazy~ I enjoy seeing them romp though as long as no one gets hurt...including the humans!

Thelma Alberts from Germany on May 12, 2013:

The first time I saw my hubby bathe our dog Angus, I thought he was getting crazy when he was running around the house and shaking. I never had a dog before and I was scared. Now I know and I even bathe himself and blow dried him. Thanks for sharing this hub. Voted up, informative and useful;-)

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