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Why do some dogs smell worse than others?

Posted in Odor/Smell on Oct 08, 2009

Photo by Tiffany Hayden

There’s no doubt about it, some breeds of dogs just plain smell bad. When you start to look at why, you’ll find that in most cases these dogs fall into three categories.

  • hereditary skin disease
  • poor conformation
  • activities the dog enjoys

Size, Shape and Conformation

Some breeds of dogs are unfortunate enough to have the type of conformation that leads to skin infections. Consider, for example, the British Bulldog. These handsome dogs have many skin folds on their face and around their corkscrew tail, which can trap moisture and become infected with bacteria. This doesn’t smell good at all. Sharpei dogs are similarly affected. If you own a breed of dog with multiple skin folds, it’s important that you wash them regularly and thoroughly in these folds, to reduce bacterial growth. You can try pre-moistened towelettes specially designed for a dog’s delicate skin to get in between the folds to remove the odor-causing bacteria. The best shampoo for really smelly and dirty dogs is Bubbles ‘n Beads , a combined shampoo and conditioner. This shampoo really cleans and leaves your dog smelling just like fresh laundry. To read more about caring for wrinkly dogs, click here .

Another source of dreadful doggy odor is the ears. Dogs with floppy ears, such as Spaniels, tend to have less air circulation in the ear canal, which prevents the canals from drying out. You can help keep your dog’s ears clean, healthy and smelling better by regularly using Ear Wipes to dry them out and remove debris. If your dog develops itchy ears, you may find that Ear Clear is a great help in reducing any swelling and discomfort in his ear.

Dental disease is known to be more of a problem in toy breeds of dogs, or those breeds with flattened noses. Vets believe that having the same number of teeth in a smaller space leads to overcrowding, and the accumulation of food scraps between the teeth. This certainly doesn’t smell good, especially when your dog wants to kiss you. You may need to visit your veterinarian to have your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned, before you get up close and personal again. When this is done, make sure you clean his teeth regularly to keep his breath fresh.

Hereditary Skin Conditions

Skin allergies such as atopy are considered to be hereditary in nature. This means they’re more likely to occur in some breeds than in others. Breeds that are commonly affected by atopic dermatitis include German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Schnauzers and many terrier breeds.

The inflammation associated with skin allergies can change the surface of a dog’s skin, such that the normal bacteria and fungi that live there multiply and cause infection. This infection smells foul and can itch dreadfully. When a dog scratches the itch, he traumatizes his skin, which predisposes to further infection, and a vicious cycle ensues. You may well be familiar with the rancid smell of a dog with a skin infection.

Managing these allergies involves reducing your dog’s reaction to the allergen with antihistamines or corticosteroids, and treating him to control the secondary infection. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics or anti fungal medication to do this, but you can play an active role by choosing an appropriate shampoo.

Comfy Dog Shampoo followed by Fur Butter both contain colloidal oatmeal, which will ease your dog’s itch and stop him scratching. This will allow the infection to heal. You can use this shampoo as often as every day, and it will gently cleanse your dog’s coat and leave it smelling fresh.

Activities

Some dog breeds may be more adventurous than others and this curiosity will often lead them to things that may cause odor such as rolling in road kill, swimming in the lake or pool, rolling in the mud and killing various vermin and critters. You have probably noticed that bigger dogs are typically more smelly than say, a 5 pound Maltese. Probably the smaller dog is indoors, bathed frequently and pampered while the larger dog may be outdoors playing and not bathed very often. Also, there is just more of a larger dog to get smelly!

If you happen to own a breed that is predisposed to smelling bad, you may be in for a bit of hard work. It’s worth it. Tackling the cause of your breed’s odor head on will mean that you can have a close relationship with your dog, without the smell.

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