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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

Some dogs smell more than others, like the typical dog smell. What can be the reasons for your pet’s increased smell and what can you do if your dog stinks? And is it stronger with long-haired dogs or when they get wet? Does every dog smell or only some breeds? Does the dog’s own smell depend on its sex? Can the smell be prevented?

How does dog smell develop?

Most dogs have a typical inherent odour, which is absolutely normal and, above all, usually loved by their owners. The main reason for this is the sebaceous glands in the skin, which produce an oily fluid to protect the skin and keep the coat smooth. This glandular fluid contains various scent molecules that make up this typical smell.

In addition to the normal scent particles, the coat also contains dead skin flakes, loose hair, dirt particles, bacteria, etc. This potpourri can cause your beloved dog to start smelling unpleasant. 

Sweaty feet also have an odour all of their own. Some say they smell like popcorn, others compare it to cheese. This is because dogs have sweat glands on their paws. When the sweat is decomposed by microorganisms and fatty acid molecules are formed, this results in the typical dog paw smell. 

A rather unpleasant smell for us is produced in the anal glands. This secretion is emitted when the dog defecates and is, so to speak, the calling card. Because your pet is recognised by other dogs on the basis of this scent. 

Why do dogs start to “stink”?

When a dog’s coat gets wet, it smells stronger and, for some, more unpleasant. This is because when the coat comes into contact with water, certain metabolic products produced by microorganisms are released. Especially the sebum, which is produced to protect against moisture and bacteria, makes your dog stink. Humid air also absorbs more odour molecules, which is why we perceive odours more strongly. 

Even if your faithful darling should roll around in carrion or the like, which is quite normal for our four-legged friends, he will probably not smell of roses. This is also the case if he should eat something that is rather unappetising for our human palate.

Food leftovers stuck in the teeth can also start to smell over time. For this reason, great importance should be attached to oral hygiene.

Likewise, older dogs can smell more strongly because their metabolism no longer works as quickly. The liver and kidneys are often less able to filter pollutants in old age, so more “waste” is excreted through the skin. However, older dogs generally have more risk factors (bad teeth, etc.) for developing bad body odours.

Digestive problems and flatulence can also cause unpleasant odours. If your pet often has flatulence, diarrhoea or similar, you should have this medically clarified. 

If your pet sometimes smells more or less strongly, this is absolutely normal and harmless. However, if your pet smells unpleasantly for a longer period of time, it is important to find out the cause, as in this case illnesses and the like cannot be ruled out. 

What medical causes can be behind the stench of dogs?  

A persistent bad body odour in dogs can not only be a sign of poor hygiene and grooming, but also health problems can unfortunately not be ruled out. 

  • Various skin diseases 
  • Allergies 
  • Parasite infestation
  • Inflammations, injuries
  • Urinary and faecal incontinence
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Dental problems, diseases of the oral cavity
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Ear diseases
  • Kidney diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Hormones
  • Sweat glands on the paws
  • Anal gland problems
  • Poor coat health, matted coat 
  • Poor quality food
  • and much more.

The reasons for an unpleasant smell are as varied as the different dog breeds themselves. If you cannot find a reason that can be removed by simple cleaning measures, a visit to a veterinary clinic is definitely advisable. 

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Does the smell of dogs depend on the breed?

Yes, there are dogs that smell more than others. As a rule, long-haired breeds and breeds with more undercoat smell more intensely than breeds with a short coat and little undercoat. 

Some dog breeds with more pronounced skin folds, such as the Shar-Pei, are more prone to skin fold inflammation. Unfortunately, this is also the case with breeds whose noses are too short. Breeds such as Pugs, Pekingese and Bulldogs are also more likely to have skin problems that can lead to odour-intensive inflammation. 

Are there any odour differences between the sexes?

Generally speaking, there is not much difference between males and females. However, some pet owners state that their unneutered male dog smells somewhat stronger. However, there is no scientific evidence that males tend to smell stronger than females. 

Female dogs can smell differently during heat, especially if they do not groom themselves. Similarly, the smell changes after neutering because the hormone balance changes. Hormones do have an influence on the dog’s own smell, but this does not necessarily make the dog smell more, it simply makes it smell different. 

What can I do to make my dog stop smelling?

Regular grooming and hygiene measures for dogs are a must. Practice various grooming measures from the beginning so that your pet will gladly tolerate them and not be afraid or resist. The natural dog smell is retained, because the dog’s own smell cannot simply be washed off. Just as people have an individual smell, a dog does not smell completely neutral. But to make sure your dog doesn’t stink, here’s what you can do: 

Coat: Especially long-haired dogs and breeds with a lot of undercoat need regular combing, brushing and trimming. Make sure that the coat does not become matted and that no coarse dirt gets stuck in it.

Skin: Check your dog’s skin, especially between the skin folds. Dirt can easily be removed with a damp cloth. If there are changes in the skin, have them medically clarified. 

Ears: Ear wax is natural, but excessive ear secretions should be removed. Regular cleaning of the ears is part of the care routine. Cotton wool with lukewarm water or special ear care product is sufficient to wipe out the auricle. You don’t need to go into the ear canal or use cotton buds unless otherwise prescribed by your vet. Dark earwax in particular can indicate a mite infestation and start to smell unpleasantly. Likewise an infestation with yeast fungi. 

Teeth: Your dog’s teeth and mouth should also be checked regularly and any food residue removed. Various chewing methods free the teeth and protect them from tartar. There are also special toothbrushes for dogs. Dental hygiene should definitely be part of the routine. 

Bathing: A bath can also help if the dog is very dirty. Of course, only use special dog shampoos and only if your pet “stinks” more than normal. Too frequent bathing upsets the skin’s pH value and the skin’s natural greasy film loses its protective properties. 

Sleeping place and co: Even your dog’s things are not exempt from bad smells. You can clean dog blankets and the like with a natural detergent. The dog’s bowl should also be cleaned regularly, preferably daily. You should also wash your dog’s toys from time to time. 

House cleaning: Dog hair, paw prints and other dirt are normal in a dog household. Here are some tips on household hygiene

Duft Blume


One thing is for sure: If your pet rolls around in carrion or the like, he will certainly smell terribly and will certainly not be able to avoid the bathtub. However, the typical dog smell is normal and, above all, healthy. However, once the dog starts to “stink” more than usual, health problems can no longer be ruled out. Regular grooming is essential, and not just when your dog stinks.