Welcome! In this guide, we’re going to talk about the basics of selecting a bathtub for your dog. If you’ve found this site, there’s a good chance you’ve already made up your mind that you’re going to buy a dog grooming bathtub. If that’s the case, glad to have you!
But maybe you just stumbled across this site, or maybe you’re not quite convinced yet that you need a dog grooming bathtub. If you’re in the latter camp, you probably have a lot of questions, read on to find out answers to all your questions . . .
Best dog grooming tubs reviewed
Why do I need a dog grooming bathtub? Why can’t I use my own bathtub, sink, shower or hose?
You can! And a lot of people do. Using what you already have is, obviously, the cheapest option for bathing your dog.
But there are a lot of reasons that’s not always the best solution. One of the biggest concerns is size: the size of the dog and the size of what you want to wash them in. You can probably wash your dachshund in the laundry sink pretty easily, but the bigger the dog, the harder it’s going to be to find a place he fits into! Remember that you’re going to want to have a fair bit of room all around the dog when you wash him; you won’t be able to get at his legs if he fills the whole container.
Another reason a lot of people choose a dog grooming tub is that it’s easier on the back. For most bathtubs and showers, washing a dog is going to involve you stooped over or kneeling awkwardly; they’re just too low to the ground, and they’ll require you to drop to the dog’s level, one way or another.
And lastly, using a hose in your yard solves some of the size and cleanliness concerns, but comes with its own set of problems: you can’t do it when it’s too cold outside or you’ll run the risk of dropping the dog’s core temperature too much, and you have to be careful where you wash the dog and where the dog goes afterward, because it’s not going to do you much good to have your wet dog end up muddier than it started.
So, have we talked you into considering a dedicated dog grooming tub? Let’s talk a little more about these useful products.
What is a dog grooming tub?
Wait, are these only meant for professional groomers, then?
No, not at all! These are certainly a style that professional groomers might lean toward, but regular dog owners purchase them too. They especially might be a good fit for you if you have a lot of dogs, or the dogs you do bathe are large, or you’re bathing these dogs very often. But really, anyone who needs to bathe dogs, who wants an easier, more convenient experience, could benefit from any of these tubs.
All right, you’ve convinced me. Which sort of tub should I get?
That’s going to depend on a lot of things: your budget, your dogs, your house. The more affordable tubs have a few good things going for them: price, for one, but also size; if you live in a small space, you might not have room for one of the big metal tubs, which can be as large as four feet wide and five feet tall. And if you have a small dog, you might not need a tub that big anyway! The portability and small footprint of these smaller tubs is definitely a plus.
But if you’ve got the room to store one, the bigger tubs come with a lot of great advantages: the convenience, for one thing, of putting the tub in one place and not having to move it; the size, making them suitable for all but the largest dogs; the height of the bath floor, which means that you don’t have to hunch over and hurt your back while you bathe your dog.
Sounds good. Where would I put my tub, in that case?
If you plan on hooking your professional-quality tub up to the plumbing, obviously you’ll need to choose somewhere with the right plumbing connections; if there’s a drain in the floor, that could make your setup even easier, because you’ll simply need to the run the hose from the drain in the tub to the drain in the floor. And obviously somewhere without carpet will be preferable, for those inevitable splashes and spills.
A lot of people choose to put tubs like this in their laundry rooms, which will often have a tile or concrete floor with a drain in it, and which usually have the necessary plumbing hookups for the tub. And if you choose to towel-dry the dog, it’s pretty handy to be able to toss those towels right in the washing machine.
Other rooms with similar characteristics will work too; unfinished basements, or basements where there is a concrete floor, are popular. Other people have put tubs in particularly large bathrooms.
So what should I look for, when I’m looking at dog grooming tubs?
There are a lot of parameters to keep in mind when looking at tubs; which you give the most weight to will depend on your situation, your budget, and your dog. Not every parameter will apply to every tub; the more affordable options will not have all the bells and whistles that some of the more expensive tubs do.
We’re talking here about the size of your dog, the size of the tub, and the size of your house. Obviously, the larger your dog, the larger the tub you’re going to need. Keep in mind that you don’t want a tub that only just fits your dog, or you may have a hard time washing his sides, legs, feet, and so on. Make sure that there’s enough room around the dog to be able to get the sprayer and your hands down there.
The trouble is, of course, that the larger the tub, the more the space you’re going to need to store it in. The nicest tubs we’re going to be looking at here can take up quite a bit of space; can you afford to commit that space to the tub full-time? Keep that in mind as you shop. If you have a small space, you may like one of the smaller plastic tubs that can be put away when you’re not using it. If you have a tiny space, consider a collapsible tub that can fold away very small when it’s not needed. But if you have a large dog (or you don’t like the idea of having to bring the tub in and out of storage all the time), you may need to bite the bullet and find a spot to fit a large tub.
This is related to the above: you need to think about how much your dog weighs, and whether the tub can support it without bowing, bending or cracking. The nicest tubs can support dogs that weigh in excess of 250 pounds; the less expensive tubs may struggle with that much weight. Make sure you’ve matched the dog to the tub!
Here we’re talking about the height of the dog and the height of the person doing the washing. One of the big selling points of a dedicated dog grooming tub is that you don’t have to bend over a human tub, or over your dog standing on the ground, and give yourself back pains. So you need to look at the height of the tub: how high will the dog be when he’s standing in the tub? High enough that you don’t have to bend over to wash him? And can that height be adjusted? Some tubs offer that feature. If the tub is not on legs, then unless you can set the tub somewhere high, you’re going to be sacrificing this great back-saving advantage.
If you’re going to trust your precious dog to this tub, you want to make sure it’s sturdily constructed; cheap construction could lead to sharp exposed edges that you don’t want anywhere near your dog.
And poor construction could lead to a leaky tub, which is also not something you want. Look at the way the tub basin is put together; is it multiple pieces held together by rivets? Is it welded into one solid piece? Or was it cast as a single piece? You’re going to pay more money for better construction, but to keep your dog safe and your floors dry, it might be worth it.
If your tub is up on legs, how sturdy are those legs? How strong? How well balanced is the tub? The last thing you want is for the tub to start getting top-heavy—being filled with water and a dog and all—and topple over. Where is the center of balance? Have the designers thought this through?
Some tubs with legs will have levelers on the feet, which you can adjust up and down—often through screwing and unscrewing—to keep the tub level on an uneven surface. You might especially find this useful if you’re using the tub in a laundry room or somewhere similar, where the floor slopes down to an in-floor drain.
How easy is the tub to move? This will matter more with some tubs than others. If you’ve chosen a smaller tub because you plan to put it away when you’re not using it, you’ll want to make sure it won’t be too difficult a task every time, or else you might just give up on bathing your dog altogether! The weight of the tub will come into play here, as will the presence of anything designed to increase portability, like wheels.
On the other hand, if you’ve got a large metal tub and have hooked it up to the plumbing, you probably won’t want to move it very often, because you’d have to undo all the plumbing hookups. In this case, portability probably doesn’t matter much. It all depends on the tub you get and how you’re going to store it.
Ramps and doors
This is a huge one! One of the big advantages of buying one of the higher-end metal tubs is that most of them come with a door in the side and a ramp leading up to it. This way, the dog can just walk right on up and into the tub. This is a massive perk, especially if your dog is massive! This way, you don’t have to pick up your dog and lift it over the lip of the tub (which is usually about three feet off the floor), which is doable with a chihuahua and a lot harder with a retriever. This can be especially irritating if the dog is wet (because you just finished washing him) or muddy (which is why you’re about to wash him).
Not all ramps and doors are made the same, so here are some things you need to consider if you’re looking at a tub that has them.
First, what side are the ramp and door on? Is there another option? With many of these tubs, the ramp and door are on the left side, and the drain and faucet are on the right. This setup feels comfortable and natural to a lot of right-handed people, because they can stand at the right side of the tub, out of the way of the ramp, and use their right hand to work the faucet and the sprayer. But you may prefer, for a variety of reasons, a tub where the door and ramp are to the right and the drain and faucet are to the left. If you do, make sure the model you decide on offers that configuration! Not all of them do. (Note that on some tubs, the faucet can be installed on either side of the tub.)
Second, how does the door open? These doors usually either swing open or slide to the side. The advantage of the sort that swing open is that often they have good latches on them, if you’re worried about an energetic or skittish dog making a run for it. The advantage of a sliding door is that it can save a bit of space; you don’t need to make sure you have enough room for the door to swing wide.
Make sure the model you choose has water-tight seals around the door, or you might find yourself with a lot of water on the floor when you’re done with your dog’s bath!
Now, onto the ramp. You’ll see two basics types of ramps out there: a sloped walkway and steps. Which one is best for you will depend on your preferences and your dog’s preferences. Does he do well with steps? Would he find walking up a sloped ramp easier?
You’ll also want to pay attention to the material the ramp is made of. A lot are steel with a raised pattern to give your dog traction; this may be enough to keep your dog from sliding as he goes up and down the ramp, but it might not be. You may prefer to keep an eye out for a ramp that is covered in a non-slip material; your dog might prefer it too, as it can make getting in and out of the tub easier and a little less scary for him.
The last question to ask about a ramp is whether it is movable. Some tubs feature a ramp that can be pushed under the tub when not in use; this gets it out of your way and gives you more range of movement as you move around the tub, trying to wash your dog. It can definitely be worth it to buy such a tub, especially if space is a concern.
A lot of the larger, nicer metal tubs will have splash guards around the back and sides; these are designed to keep the rest of the room dry should you have a mishap with the sprayer—or should your dog decide to shake himself off. Often this is where the faucet, sprayer, and other accessories will attach.
Some tubs will have the added perk of having the splash guards be removable. This is nice if you need more freedom of movement around the tub, or if you like to have multiple people working on the dog at once; you can just move them out of the way, and put them back on when you want them again.
Make sure that where the splash guard meets the edge of the tub has a water-tight seal, or you might find yourself with a wet mess on the floor once you’re done with the bath.
If you’ve ever tried to bathe a dog before, you know that they don’t always want to sit still, either because they don’t like the bath, or because they like it too much! For this reason, some of the nicer baths come with grooming restraints. These are usually loops that hang down from an overhead arm and fasten around the dog, gently but firmly keeping him in place while you wash.
Some tubs will step up their game on this offering by making the restraints movable—that is, you can slide them along the overhead arm. This is great for different-sized dogs; you’ll be able to move the grooming restraints to the spots where they’ll make the dog the most comfortable.
Pipes and faucets
When you’re looking at a tub, take a good look at those accessories and see if they are what you will need. How high-quality are they? Do they include everything you’ll need? Is the sprayer easy to use? Are there separate hot and cold hoses for the water? Are the hoses long enough?
If you’ve chosen a cheaper tub that comes with cheaper accessories, take a long hard look at what you might be giving up. Are you settling for lower-quality accessories in order to save money? How much extra money will you have to spend buying new accessories to replace broken or ill-functioning ones?
Mats and grates
Another accessory that a lot of tubs include is something to go on the bottom of the tub: something non-slip, to keep your pooch safe, and often to keep the dog up off the floor of the tub so he won’t be standing in water or scratching up the bottom of the tub with his claws.
These accessories tend to fall into two types:
The cheaper tubs will more likely include non-slip mats. These sit right on the tub floor and keep your dog from sliding around. Some will also have a texture designed to catch dog hair on its way to the drain.
Some of the nicer tubs have floor grates; these are also non-slip and can catch dog hair. What makes these especially nice is that they are often adjustable; you can move them higher or lower in the tub depending on the size of your dog. Bathing a pug? Raise the floor grate to a higher level so you don’t have to bend down so much to wash him; your back will thank you. Bathing a German shepherd right after? Lower the floor grate so he fits in the tub better. As you can see, this is an especially helpful feature to have if you bathe a variety of dogs in your tub.
Other accessories that might be included with your purchase include play balls, shampoo racks, and hair traps for the drain. Keep an eye out for the last one, especially if you have a dog that sheds a lot. A high-quality hair trap can help you keep more of that hair out of the drain, which should in turn keep the drain from clogging up as much.
All right, I picked a tub. Now how do I bathe my dog?
How often and how to wash your dog is going to vary a lot, based on a number of different factors: breed, coat, health, environment, how the dog spends his time, and more.
Another thing you’ll want to take into consideration is health, both the dog’s health and yours. Some dogs are prone to skin infections or other conditions that may need to be treated by medicinal shampoos that have to be used on a regular schedule. Also bear in mind that your dog’s dander can be managed, to some extent, through bathing, so if you or someone in your household has allergies, you might want to bathe your dog a little more frequently.
The last major factor is how dirty the dog is getting. If you have a dog that runs and swims and digs holes and plays in the mud, you may need to wash the dog as often as every week or every other week. If you have a quiet inside dog that rarely gets sweaty or dirty, you might be able to go many weeks before the dog needs a bath. An often-quoted rule of thumb states that the dog needs a bath when the dog smells like it needs a bath.
So consider your dog’s needs. And be careful about deciding to err on the side of caution and just bathe your dog daily. Too much washing can be a problem! It can dry out your dog’s skin and strip essential oils from his coat. Do some observing, do some research, and consider asking a groomer or vet who knows specifics about your dog.
But every dog is different, and even specially formulated products made just for dogs can irritate your dog’s skin. So keep an eye on your dog, especially when you’ve just started using a new product; if you notice any such irritation, stop using that product, and consider consulting a vet who may have recommendations based on your pet’s specific needs.
Sounds like everything I need to know!
I hope this guide has answered your questions! Bathing your dog at home can be a great way to save money, and buying a dog grooming tub can be a great way to make sure that experience is comfortable and convenient. I hope this guide helps you pick the tub that’s just right for you and your dog.