Just like every human, dogs have smells unique to them. This is due to their pheromones, but some dogs have a particularly dog-like smell. You know, that fabulous eau-de-dog smell that makes your nose wrinkle. Now, it’s obviously quite normal for dogs to smell like dogs, but when the smell becomes overpowering and just doesn’t seem right, it’s something you might want to look into.

In this guide, we’re covering everything you need to know about having a relatively nice-smelling dog. We’ll help you figure out why your dog smells so much, all the daily smells of your dog that you should get acquainted with, potential medical causes for certain smells, and our tips on how to stop your dog from smelling…too badly.

But we won’t stop there. Inside the Zigzag puppy training app, we’ve got loads more to share, like all things dog husbandry, grooming and care guidance. We also have a team of professional dog trainers that – besides smelling lavishly themselves – will be delighted to answer your questions and help you find the cause of that whiffy odour you’ve been getting from your dog.

dog with tongue out
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Daily dog smells you need to know about

Dog smells are often red flags for dogs needing to be groomed and cleaned. In some dogs, certain diets can make them more smelly. In others, the oils in their skin, build-up of dirt, wax or yeast in areas can give off quite a whiff. 

Here’s where some common dog smells come from:

Ear smells

Your dog’s ears should not smell bad, but they will have a smell to them. It’s a good idea to check how your puppy’s ears smell when they’re little and healthy so that you know how they should smell normally. Don’t do this for humans though, that would be creepy. Keeping your dog’s ears clean is easy and should be part of your regular grooming routine.

Fur smells

Your dog’s fur should not have much of a smell beyond their own natural dog smell. Dogs don’t sweat the same way humans do, so it will just be their natural oils that make a smell. 

Long-haired breeds like Labradoodles, Cockapoos and Shih Tzus will need bathing regularly to remove matted and dead hair and dirt from their coat. Otherwise, they’ll start looking a little hectic.  

In contrast, short-haired dogs such as Labradors, Staffies, Beagles and French Bulldogs are slightly luckier as they don’t need to bathe so often because it strips the coat and can cause it to be brittle. On the other hand, they may need to be washed after rolling in grass or poo for the sake of your sofa and sanity.

Paw and pad smells

It’s unlikely for dogs to wear shoes unless they live in extreme weather conditions (Spring in the UK doesn’t count.). This means that your dog’s feet will pick up everything they touch; mud, dirt, germs, and a lot more unpleasant surprises when they go out for walks.

All of these things combined will make their feet have a natural slightly cheesy smell as they release scent and sweat through their paws. But it shouldn’t be a horrible smell. Think more like Emmental cheese rather than Blue cheese.

Dog breath

In the case of breath, your dog will have some smell to their breath, just as humans do. As long as you keep their teeth clean this shouldn’t be awful, but it can be diet-dependent as to what your dog’s breath smells like.

Dog smells caused by diet

Certain diets will make dogs smell more. This isn’t always in a bad way, but the diet you feed your dog will come out through their fur and scent glands. This is particularly true if you add supplements containing herbs and spices, which are healthy for your dog but can cause a bit of a pong.

dog looking at viewer
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6 Medical reasons why my dog is smelling

Your dog having a funny smell might also be due to health or medical problems. Allergies, dental disease, ear infections, anal gland problems, yeast and bacterial infections can cause dogs to smell. The smell is a sign that the body is fighting against something, which in turn releases an often odour.

1. Allergies

Food, seasonal or environmental allergies can be reasons why your dog smells. This is because when your dog has an allergic reaction, their skin secretes more oil, which can be smelly. They can also make your dog scratch, lick and bite themselves, which can also result in them smelling. 

2. Dental problems

If your dog has infected or broken teeth, gum disease or other dental problems, it will make their breath and saliva smell bad. If you like sloppy puppy kisses you want to be especially attentive to this.
Choose the right toothbrush for your dog and keep an eye on their dental health by regularly brushing their teeth. Trust us, the awkward teeth-cleaning sessions will be worth it/ Puppies will often have bad breath when teething too!

3. Ear infections

Allergies, ear mites, and infections can all cause your dog’s ears to become inflamed and smell. You’ll often see your dog itching or scratching at their ears if they’re sore or infected, so you definitely want to help them prevent this by cleaning your dog’s ears regularly.

4. Anal Gland problems

Here’s something you probably didn’t want to hear. Anal glands are responsible for your dog’s own unique smell by releasing quite a musky and strong smell of their own when healthy in order for your dog to mark their territory. However, if these become blocked or infected, that unique smell they release will take a sharp turn for the worst.  

This isn’t something that goes unnoticed by dogs, it’s actually quite painful and uncomfortable. You might see your dog might scoot their bottom on their floor to try and relieve the pain or pressure of impacted anal glands.

5. Excessive wind

Dog farts can be the worst, can’t they? But while dog farts are a common occurrence, excessive wind can indicate a medical problem. This is frequently caused by overfeeding or feeding a type of dog food that doesn’t click well with your dog.

6. Yeast infections

Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida and can give your dog a sweet, or musty smell. It’s typically seen in your dog’s ears, and folds of their skin can become a serious problem if not treated. Yeast problems are often seen in Pugs, Shar Peis and French Bulldogs, so make sure to check their skin regularly!

dog smiling
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How do I stop my dog from smelling?

To stop your dog from smelling, there are several things you can do:

Groom your dog regularly

If you have a long-haired dog, brush and bathe them regularly. If you have a short-haired dog, stick to brushing and cleaning them to keep their skin healthy and their coat free of dirt and debris.

Grooming should also include brushing their teeth, as dental problems are a big cause of smelly dogs! Oh, and don’t forget to clean their ears. If they need it, then also cut or pluck their ear hair. 

Give your dog chews

Chewing is a good secret tactic to keep smelly chances out of the picture. Chewing is important for dogs’ dental health and helps fight smelly breath by producing saliva which fights bacteria and neutralises the pH in your dog’s mouth. Make sure you give your puppy chews when they’re teething and losing teeth. For older dogs, recreational chews and chew toys like Kongs will do the trick.

Wipe your dog’s feet when they come indoors

Get your dog into the routine of having their feet cleaned and wiped when they come in from being outside. This will prevent anything disgusting they’ve walked through to stay on their paws, as well as on your beautiful home and furniture.

Wash bedding frequently

Blankets and beds are where your dog will often spend most of their day, so it’s natural for them to soak up doggy smells. Regularly wash them with a non-biological powder to keep them smelling fresh. Otherwise, they’ll literally become nasty hubs of stink.

Check your dog’s diet

If you think your dog smells due to their diet, consider switching it. Different diets will suit different dogs’ digestion systems. While some might do great on a raw diet, others might be better on a home-cooked diet, or commercial wet or dry dog food.

Book a Vet appointment

If your dog smells particularly bad and you think it might be due to something fishier, we do recommend you visit your Vet and they can take a better look.

You’ve made it to the end! We hope we’ve answered all your questions about why your dog smells and what you can do to make it better. You’re probably desperate at this point, trying anything to solve the stinky issue, poor you! Remember that while dogs have a regular doggy smell, if they smell really bad, then it’s worth checking with your vet once you’ve been through all our advice on how to make your dog smell more normal. If that makes any sense. 

Have a read of our articles on how to give a puppy bath, or how about learning how to trim your dog’s nails. Both will help with the health, hygiene and smell of your pup!

Download the Zigzag app for more tips and tricks and a full in-depth training programme for your dog. We have a team of professional dog trainers who can help you along the way too, and they’re ready to talk to you 24/7.