10 Reasons Why A German Shepherd Might Smell Bad, Or Have A Bad Odor


Doggy smells can range from mildly noticeable but tolerable, to unpleasant, to overpowering.

If the smell fits in the latter categories, you may want to identify the reasons or causes for the smell or odor, so that you can look into solutions for minimizing it or getting rid of it.

We’ve put together this guide where we identify potential reasons for dog smells and odors.

(This guide is complimentary guide to our guide on how to keep a house clean and smelling nice when you own a German Shepherd)

Let’s take a look at the guide below!


(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)


10 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Might Smell Bad, Or Have A Bad Odor


A summary of the list below:

Firstly, identify if the smell is coming from your dog, or another source

If the smell is coming from your dog, it could be for one of the following reasons …

1. Your dog hasn’t had a bath in a while

2. Your dog has come into contact with something smelly recently

3. Your dog’s fur is wet or damp

4. Your dog has just been exercising

5. Your dog has some sort of health condition, imbalance or body related condition that leads to strong/bad smells

6. The smell could be coming from your dog’s mouth – either their breath, or something inside their mouth

7. Skin problems

8. Ear infection or smell coming from the ears

9. The smell could be coming from gas – from something the dog ate, an upset stomach, or something else

10. Ruptured anal gland


Firstly, there’s two things worth mentioning about doggy smells

1. Dogs may have a natural light ‘doggy’ smell. Consider this if you have an extra sensitive nose/sense of smell, and ask your dog’s vet if their smell is normal or there is something else going on if you’re unsure.

2. The smell may not be coming from your dog – it could be coming from another sources. So, make sure to confirm the smell is coming directly from your dog before blaming them.

Alternative sources where a smell could be coming from could be a bin (inside or outside), a carpet or floor surface, a garden or lawn, plumbing, a human, the neighbor’s yard, or somewhere else.


Once you’ve considered the two points above, you might look at the list of reasons below for doggy smell sources …


1) Not having a bath for a while

Dogs have light doggy type scents that are emitted from the fur, skin and ears and a result of light perspiration, oils and glands – which is the ‘dog’ smell that people refer to.

Doggy odors are natural and healthy when your dog hasn’t had a bath for  multiple weeks or months.

A simple bath and shampoo can fix this.

You don’t want to overdo the doggy washes too often though as you can strip the natural oils the dog has in their coat.


2) What have they touched or picked up recently?

What have they rolled in?

What have they picked up in their mouth?

What have they eaten?

If your dog is rolling in poop or picking up dead animals regularly – it makes sense they would smell bad.

The same goes for rolling in seaweed or dead/washed up sea animals down the beach.

Also, note that a dog’s coat can absorb smells and trap them under the top coat (for double coat breeds) much more effectively than what human skin does which is exposed.

This is why it’s so important to make sure the areas your dog is playing in are clean!


3) Is your dog’s fur wet or damp?

If your dog has recently gone for a swim or had a bath, 

Yeast, bacteria in your dog’s fur which doesn’t smell when your dog is dry.

In a nutshell, the water molecules react with the compounds in your dog’s fur and release the smelly/stinky wet dog smell.

Drying your dog properly when they are wet is an important step to minimising this


4) Has your dog been exercising, or running around recently?

Dogs don’t sweat in the same way that humans do.

But, we do know that dogs do perspire from their paws and secrete a very light perspiration from their hair.

If your dog’s scent is a little stronger after running around, this might be why as the smell may be slightly stronger after physical activity.


5) Your dog has some sort of health condition, imbalance or body related condition that leads to strong/bad smells

Some health conditions or imbalances in the body can lead to stronger smells, or bad smells developing.


6) Stinky breath and mouth odors

A dog, like a human, will have a natural mouth and breath scent.

However, if the smell is overpowering and it goes on for days and weeks, your dog might have either a tooth infection, or an organ or body disease.

If you think this might be the case, take your dog to the vet for a health check because teeth infections and diseases like kidney diseases or diabetes can lead to serious problems that you need a medical professional to help you with.


7) Skin problems and skin disorders

Skin problems that cause funky smells can come in a range ways.

The first is not usually a problem with German Shepherds, but more so with dogs with skin flaps or rolls.

If you don’t clean between their skin folds regularly, the dog might develop dermatitis.

Other types of skin problems may develop if the skin gets infected or broken down in some way – and this can produce a funky odor.

Look for flaky, dry or red/discolored or inflamed skin as signs of skin disorders.

See a vet if you believe your dog has a skin disorder.


8) Ear infections

Ear infections can produce yucky smells – and they are usually caused by bacterial or yeast infections in the ears.

Dogs with allergies might have a higher frequency of ear infections compared to dogs who don’t.

You’ll want to see a vet for the best way to treat ear infections.

If you notice your dog pawing at it’s ear, or you lift up the ear and see it looks red, inflamed or one inside of one ear looks different to the other, there might be an ear infection.


9) Gas

A dog with smelly farts might be caused by:

Something they ate (especially rotten food)

Digestive or organ issues

A poor diet (diets high in grain can lead to bad smelling flatulence and poor digestive health in dogs)


See a vet about gas problems if they are really bad.


10) Infected or ruptured anal sacs/glands

Dogs have anal sacs/glands either side of their anus.

When a dog poops, they will naturally secrete from these glands.

However, if these glands become enlarged, infected, ruptured or abnormal in any way, you might notice:

Your dog smells like poop all the time

Your dog secretes a horrific smelling substance that may be brown/black

Your dog incessantly licks their anus

Your dog slides its butt along the floor trying to get relief


Damaged or inflamed anal sacs should be inspected and treated by your vet.


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