Home GSD FAQ Why Does My German Shepherd Smell Bad?

Why Does My German Shepherd Smell Bad?

by David W.
German Shepherd Smells Bad

Ideally, a healthy dog should not smell bad. Of course, unpleasant odors can occasionally appear but they are not an indivisible characteristic of your German Shepherd dog. Some causes of foul odors can be cured immediately, while others may need your thorough attention and veterinary care.

So, why do German Shepherds smell? If you are in the room with your pup and feel the inconvenience caused by its constantly unpleasant stench, think carefully about the causes. Using sprays to mask the smell is not helpful. Getting your dog bathed every other day is not good, either. The dog’s skin is not designed for daily baths. It has natural oils to protect against external influences. Moreover, dogs do not have sweat glands, so they need their skin for effective metabolism. That is why frequent bathing can do more harm than good. Nevertheless, you may ask what to do about your German Shepherd smell. This article explains the causes of bad smells in dogs related either to their environment or medical problems. You will also learn what you can do to diminish this unpleasant factor.

Ear Issues

Your German Shepherd smells bad if it has an ear infection. It starts shaking its head or pawing at its ears. Yeast and bacteria can collect in the ears causing this smell because they feel very well in the damp and dark environment.

The problem is not common in healthy dogs whose organism is balanced enough to fight the infection. However, if there are certain circumstances when the balance is broken, bacteria begin to brew and thrive. This favorable environment can be enhanced by frequent swimming and bathing, excessive ear cleaning, or a weakened immune system. The dog may also experience this inconvenience due to the shape of its ears (rather floppy or long), excess hair in them, or different types of allergies, including contact, environment, or food reactions. The long-term use of antibiotics can also lead to the problem.

If you do not care about this problem, your dog may experience bad pain and ear hematomas from constant shaking and pawing. That is why the best way to deal with the problem is to see a veterinarian. Ear testing should become regular to check the GS’s ears for bacteria and yeast to avoid complications.

Taking Care of the Dog’s Skin

Wet GSD Smell Bad

To know how to get rid of German Shepherd smell, you need to find out the exact cause of it. Very often, the dog’s skin condition can become the worst problem. Like in humans, skin conditions in dogs may vary. If the state of the skin is poor, your dog may experience overall health problems.

If the puppy experiences discomfort or itching, it starts scratching. This can cause self-mutilation that makes things even worse. Sores and hot-spots appear on the skin, becoming the source of pungent odors caused by infections and inflammations.

Among the skin conditions in Shepherd dogs that may lead to the foul stench, let’s mention dandruff, flea dermatitis, skin yeast, allergies, and skin mites. The dog may also suffer from a chronic skin condition that is quite curable with the proper care and constant attention.

If you have noticed that your pet has patches of hair loss, bad sores, or other unpleasant symptoms, go to see your veterinarian at once.

Teeth and Gum Problems

Humans can have bad breath if tartar and plaque build-up on their teeth and gums. A German Shepherd smells when it faces the same condition. The excess material collects on its teeth because of genetics, diets, lack of dental care, and age. Poor teeth condition causes discomfort and bad smell in a dog.

You can assume that your German Shepherd has dental issues if you notice:

  • red or bleeding gums;
  • blood on toys or in the water it drinks;
  • problems with eating;
  • avoiding touches on its head;
  • teeth discoloration;
  • swelling in the face;
  • loose teeth.

Bad smells can accompany many of these conditions. Apart from that, your Shepherd dog may experience severe complications, bad pain, infections, and gum inflammations. These conditions can affect the entire body’s health and mood. Speak to your veterinarian about the daily routines related to teeth cleaning, chew treats, special dog toothpaste, and hard kibble in the diet.

Anal Glands Condition

If your German Shepherd smells like fish, it may have problems with its anal glands. You cannot miss this stench and may want to do something about it if it becomes too strong and pungent.

The anal glands are located under the dog’s tail. When they work properly, they excrete in small amounts while the dog defecates. These glands also serve as a distinct characteristic feature by which canines meet and distinguish each other.

However, anal glands can get ‘clogged’ occasionally, and it results in an unpleasant fish-like smell that you can feel around the house. If the obstruction is rather severe, your dog may experience acute pain, abscesses, and overall health problems and complications.

You can notice that your dog has anal glands issues if it scoots behind, licks behind, has blood in its stool, or leaves spots around the house where it sits. It may also have problems with its stool. To deal with all these things, you need to see a veterinarian and get your dog examined. Special treatment and procedures to help the dog empty the anal glands are usually prescribed.

Gastrointestinal Problems and Flatulence

You can usually experience inconveniences from your German Shepherd’s odor if it has gastrointestinal upset. Even the healthiest pups can occasionally face such issues. They may result in excess gas and, accordingly, a bad smell. Minor flatulence is a norm in canines, but if your GS is extremely gassy, you may suspect a bigger issue. There are specific reasons for gastrointestinal issues, including:

  • abrupt changes in a diet;
  • intestinal parasites;
  • improper nutrition;
  • eating trash or other kinds of bad food;
  • bacterial imbalance;
  • overall health conditions.

If you observe an extreme amount of gas in your dog, or other gastrointestinal issues, see your veterinarian. You should discuss the diet that will be the most appropriate for your GS.

Serious Medical Problems

Your German Shepherd smells bad if it deals with more serious medical conditions. You need to be aware of them if you want to react timely and prevent severe complications. Therefore, such issues may include:

  1. Diabetes. The dog with such a condition can produce a strong fruity, sweet, or ammonia smell.
  2. Kidney disease. This condition at its later stages can lead to unpleasant breaths of your dog, resulting from bad ulcers in its mouth. These ulcers are a result of the toxins that are collected in the body because of this disease.
  3. Eye conditions. These can produce bad odors if left uncared. They can also result in eye pain, swelling, discharge, and blindness.
  4. Autoimmune problems. These are seen on the skin as bad sores and can result in unpleasant odors. You need to be very careful and talk to your veterinarian about the continuous treatment of such states.

As your dog ages, you should get it examined more often. Bad German Shepherd odor can develop over time. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if the smell appears all of a sudden. That may signal the rapid development of severe complications.

Non-Medical Causes of German Shepherd Smell

German Shepherd smells bad after swimming

You may ask, ‘Do German Shepherds smell when they are completely healthy?’ Yes, they do sometimes. Some dogs prefer to spend their time running around in the mud and soaking in all possible outdoor smells. Then, they bring them inside, and your first urge is to give your dog a good bath.

Certain outdoor activities can cause smells. They are:

  • swimming, especially if the water is dirty;
  • rolling  in the dirt or wet grass;
  • playing with other dogs;
  • working and running outside;
  • participating in outdoor adventures, such as hiking or riding a bike together with you;
  • doing all kinds of water sports.

Rolling in extremely smelly things is one of the most hardwired instincts that have been passed to your Shepherd from its ancestors. Your pup may prefer to jump in other dogs’ stool, trash, or dead wildlife. This instinct is explained by the natural need of dogs to mask their own smell for hunting prey.

The dog’s smell can also become more pungent when it gets wet. It is normal because its skin has useful yeast and bacteria on it to get protected against harmful invaders. These bacteria can produce that specific smell when the Shepherd gets wet.

All these cases are quite common, and you do not have anything to worry about. Just teach your dog to avoid mess and dirt when outside, follow and obey your commands, give it a lot of exercises, and offer things to be constantly occupied.

Final Thoughts

If your German Shepherd smells bad, you do not have to panic. This condition can be caused by some serious and not-so-serious factors. Consider all of them to be sure that everything is OK with your pet, or go and see the veterinarian for your peace of mind. The earlier an unfavorable health condition is detected, the more efficient its treatment will be and the better your dog will feel soon.

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