Why Do Puppies Smell Bad? Explained!

Written by: Milica Brzakovic
Dogs don't smell like roses all the time, but should they smell so bad all the time? Let's discover what could be behind the bad odor and how you can put an end to the smell!

Sometimes puppies just smell bad. You may adore your puppy, but do you love that puppy smell as well?

Puppies are super cute, charming, and playful, but some of them just have that bad smell that can make your eyes burn. If so, know that you are not the only one.

Recently Ann asked our editor: “Why does my puppy smell?” and gave us an idea to write about the reasons why a new puppy smells bad sometimes.

A bad odor in dogs isn’t uncommon, on the contrary!

Dogs that don’t smell are always popular in city households, but even they may have a strong odor that not everyone finds nice.

Why do puppies smell bad? In most cases, the reasons for this are easy to fix, while some may be more challenging.

In this article, we’ve gone through the eight most common reasons why puppies smell bad, and four ways to get rid of bad odor.

Why Does My Dog Smell Bad?

Dogs can stink for numerous reasons.

If your dog smells bad try to establish why. That way you will be able to deal with the situation and find the proper solution.

These are the most common reasons why your puppy might smell bad. Check them below.

1. Bad Breath

Why does my puppy smell? You might be surprised, but in most cases, bad breath has something to do with it.

Bad breath in dogs is very common, especially among puppies.

The source of this problem is usually in the things your dog is putting in his mouth. It’s a fact that dogs don’t pay that much attention to what they’re chewing on.

The choices are endless – grass, dirt, poop – you name it.

This is particularly true when it comes to puppies.

Puppies are much more curious than adult dogs so, naturally, they explore their surrounding a lot more. This results in various eatable and non-eatable things in their mouth.

Unfortunately, bad breath could indicate some serious problems as well.

Namely, bad breath can be a manifest of problems in a dog’s gastrointestinal tract, since the mouth is where the whole digestion process begins.

How To Treat Bad Breath In Dogs?

If it’s not gastrointestinal problems you’re dealing with, cleaning your dog’s teeth is the solution.

Having said that, it’s not always as easy as you think as your dog might protest.

This is why you can come up with alternative ways of cleaning your dog’s teeth, like giving him or her a dental chew or celery to chew on. Celery is believed to help with bad breath enormously in dogs.

If cleaning the teeth doesn’t help and the bad breath doesn’t go away, taking your dog to the vet would be a good idea to see if there’s any problem in the gastrointestinal tract or if there’s an active dental infection.

Dental infection or gum disease odor doesn’t usually wax and wane and could be a life-threatening condition, so be sure to visit a vet.

SUMMARY: A most common cause of a smelly puppy is bad breath. You can easily prevent bad breath by brushing your dog’s teeth.

2. Anal Glands Issues

Impacted or infected anal glands could be behind the unpleasant smell that won’t go away.

These marking glands play an important role as they’re releasing an oily and stinky secretion every time a dog has a bowel movement.

If the glands don’t work as they should or if they are infected, they could release the secretion whenever the dog is excited or scared – in other words, due to strong emotions.

This is pretty easy to discover if you notice that it’s happening regularly.

If this is the case, you can take your dog to the groomer or vet and ask them to empty the booty bag. However, this is not allowed in all states so be sure to check that beforehand.

This issue can be associated with the previously mentioned reason – bad breath. This is because dogs try to clean their anal sac “the natural way”.

While this may seem terrible to you, this is just the natural grooming instinct dogs tend to have. It’s simply reacting intuitively.

SUMMARY: Some dogs can produce more secretion from their anal glands than normal when they get too excited. This inevitably leads to a stinky situation.

3. Teeth Problems

Another problem linked with bad breath is dental disease or infected gums.

If this is the case, dogs tend to drool a lot more, most likely because the mouth is so sore.

As a consequence, your dog’s coat starts to smell from the smelly saliva that stays in the coat.

If you’re not sure and you want to establish if your dog is dealing with teeth problems, this video could help.

SUMMARY:Teeth can cause a smelly puppy in another way too. When a pup has dental disease or gums inflammation, often bad breath occurs.

4. Teething

This is a normal process every puppy goes through. However, teething comes hand in hand with bad breath.

The reason behind this is the bacteria collecting along the gum line, resulting in “fishy” breath.

Because this is a natural process, all you can do is wait for the smell to pass.

This will happen after approximately four weeks when the teething process is finished.

However, if you want to brush your dog’s teeth during this time – be careful – the teeth are very sharp at this stage.

SUMMARY: Due to an excessive amount of bacteria collecting along the gum line, the teething process can also often bring bad breath in a puppy.

5. Ear Infection

Ear infections are quite common, especially in dogs who like to swim.

Apart from being painful for dogs, the bad smell is another reason to treat ear infections.

If your dog is itching and scratching or shaking its head – on top of the smell – it’s probable that your dog has gotten an infection.

In this case, bathing your dog won’t reduce the smell and will only make the infection worse. Therefore, consult your vet and establish a proper treatment plan.

Your new puppy smells bad after you have cleaned his ears? If that is the case, or you notice a strange discharge from the dog’s ears make sure that you contact your veterinarian.

When it comes to getting a dog you should always focus on getting a puppy from a responsible dog breeder.

This is the only way to know for sure that you are getting a healthy puppy. Thus, your puppy shouldn’t have any sort of ear infections, or any health-related issues.

Still, even when dealing with the most reputable and responsible dog breeder you should take your puppy to your veterinarian for a full check-up.

SUMMARY: If the bad smell is accompanied by frequent scratching on a dog’s head, chances are that your dog has an ear infection. In this case, consulting a vet is necessary.

6. Flatulence

Gas, or farts, are not unusual if you own a dog. This unpleasant smell usually comes as a surprise, as we don’t hear them.

It is explained by the physiology of dogs.

Namely, the horizontal positioning in the rectum makes the dog’s sphincter looser than that’s the case with people. This is why gas passes easier and usually soundlessly in dogs.

Flatulence, even if it’s not fun, shouldn’t be something to worry about.

Some dogs are simply gassy.

Know that if the smell is really bad and you think that it’s happening too often, visit the vet and see if intestinal or dietary problems are behind it.

SUMMARY: Flatulence is a normal thing in dogs. However, if the smell of the gas worsens or occurs too often, a visit to the vet might be needed.

7. Skin Disease

If it’s your dog’s skin that smells, some skin condition might be behind it. For instance, the dog may be dealing with allergic skin disease or parasite infestations.

As a secondary reaction, bacterial and yeast infections can accompany them and result in a really bad smell, reminding them of rotten fruit.

Some wrinkly breeds with overlapping skin folds, like bulldogs, are prone to fungus infection.

Of course, not all skin that smells bad is a result of a health problem. Your dog may just be into wildlife – rolling, smelling, and tasting everything it can come across outside.

Naturally, this leaves a smell and isn’t anything a good bath can’t solve.

SUMMARY: Parasite infestation and allergic skin reactions can lead to bacterial or yeast infections that can result in a really bad smell.

8. Wet-Dog Smell

If your dog loves to swim and play in the water, hours can be spent in the pool or someplace else.

While this is a great activity it can have two consequences leading to bad smells – ear infections and wet-dog smell.

The wet-dog smell is caused by bacteria feeding on the dog’s natural skin oil.

They thrive in a warm and moist environment, like many other types of bacteria.

This smell tends to linger even when your dog is dry and gets into your dog’s skin after some time.

SUMMARY: When a dog is swimming too often or spending too much time in the water, the wet-dog smell might occur.

How Do I Get Rid Of The Smell?

my puppy stinks

First of all, you have to locate the smell. When you’ve established where the problem is you can go on to the next step – finding a proper solution.

Here are five of the most common ways that will make your dog smell better:

1. Bath Your Dog

Has your dog rolled in something smelly outside? Or has it just been too long since the last time you bathed him?

A nice and thorough bath will probably solve this problem quickly.

Choosing the right shampoo is very important.

You want to pick one especially for getting rid of odors, not one that will only cover up the smell using artificial ingredients.

Wet your dog completely with warm water, apply the shampoo and rinse carefully.

If you want you can apply conditioner and repeat the process.

If not, let your dog shake off as much water as possible and then dry with a towel as much as you can. You can also use a hair drier if your dog lets you!

Bathing your dog regularly will also help with the wet-dog smell.

Try to keep the baths regular and dry your dog as much as you can between these periods.

However, don’t overdo it as too frequent baths can remove too much skin oil.

Consult your vet who will know approximately how much is appropriate for your dog breed.

Do puppies smell worse than dogs? When compared to adult dogs, puppies do have a different smell.

In other words, they smell different, because their surroundings are different.

Puppies are young, and usually not allowed to explore the world immediately – simply said, they are not allowed to roll into whatever.

Do boy dogs smell worse than girl dogs? In general, there should not be any difference in smell between males and females.

Some dog owners may claim that males have a stronger odor, but so far there is no scientific evidence supporting this claim.

SUMMARY: Bathing your dog regularly will help with the numerous problems cited above. Make sure not to bathe your dog too frequently and to choose the right shampoos.

2. Groom Your Dog

There are some things you can do to reduce and prevent the smell when it comes to grooming and teeth hygiene.

As you can see, dirty ears and bad breath are very common among dogs and lead to an unpleasant smell.

You should clean your dog’s ears regularly, but not too often as it can irritate them. Learn how to clean your dog’s ears safely – this simple skill should help you keep your dog’s ears infection-free.

It’s also important to brush or comb your dog daily.

This way you can remove the dirt that gets stuck in the coat before it leaves a smell.

Keeping the hair inside the ears trimmed is also something to think about if your dog has longer hair around the ears.

When it comes to bad breath, cleaning your dog’s teeth is crucial.

Find a toothbrush that suits your dog’s size and toothpaste for dogs.

If your dog doesn’t want to cooperate, start with toothpaste on the finger and later a gauze pad. When that becomes comfortable start introducing the toothbrush.

If you have done everything to keep your pup clean, but you still can feel that strong odor and you want why does my puppy smell, you might want to check his coat.

This is especially important if your dog is a long-haired breed.

If you miss to properly brush your dog and brush him frequently, debris and anything mess that your puppy might roll in will be there.

Last but not least, don’t scent your dog! Even if it can reduce the smell temporarily, perfume or deodorants can only make the problem worse and even injure your dog.

SUMMARY: Brushing and combing your dog regularly will remove the dirt that can potentially create a bad smell. Trimming the hair in your dog’s ears will also decrease the risk of ear infections.

3. Reduce Flatulence

Even if this isn’t something dangerous in most cases, we understand that you would like to reduce the flatulence.

Unhealthy food or food that isn’t good for your dog could be behind this so reconsidering your dog’s diet could be a good idea.

Check for unhealthy additives in your dog’s food.

Food allergies could also be behind digestive problems so that’s also something you should look into.

When you’re changing the food, do it slowly, don’t change everything overnight.

Eating from the trash could also cause a bad smell, so try to prevent your dog from going through the trash can.

Last but not least, exercise your dog regularly as activity is encouraging gut movement and, as a result, reduces flatulence.

SUMMARY: Unhealthy additives might be causing your dog’s excessive flatulence. Consider changing your dog’s food.

4. Deal With Anal Glands

If the reason behind the bad smell is in the anal glands there are some things you could do to solve the problem.

First of all, take your dog to the vet who will be able to determine if the problem is in fact in the anal glands and if they’re full or infected.

If that’s the case, your veterinarian or a groomer will show you how to empty the anal glands.

Also, have in mind that this problem could be on a psychological basis, so making your dog feel calmer in its everyday life could reduce the problem. Talk to a specialist who will help you with this.

SUMMARY: If the anal glands are infected or full, your vet will show you how to empty them to reduce the problem.

5. Clean Bedding

Keeping your dog’s bedding clean will help with the overall fresh smell.

Wash in the washing machine at the hottest temperature possible, to kill bacteria.

Using no detergent or a non-scented one would be the best way to go, as dogs don’t appreciate perfumed odors as we do, and using detergent could also cause skin infections and skin irritations.

When it comes to items you can’t wash, like your dog’s crate, you should still clean and rinse them.

All of this will help in keeping the unpleasant smell away.

SUMMARY: Keep your dog’s bedding and crate clean to maintain an overall good smell.


Dogs can smell bad due to numerous reasons, but the good news is that it’s often easy to deal with.

If your dog has been stinking for a while the first thing you need to do is to establish why so you can deal with it accordingly.

Giving your dog regular baths, and keeping its coat groomed and teeth cleaned usually go a long way and help in reducing the smell. However, other measures are needed sometimes and we hope that you found appropriate ones in this article!

The bottom line is – this is not uncommon and happens to almost every dog at some point.

After you’ve taken certain measures your dog will be back to its normal smell and you can enjoy cuddling again!

Frequently Asked Questions On Why Puppies Smell

1. Is It Normal For Puppies To Smell Bad?

In a way, yes. Dogs have a different smell than humans, and their odor may seem too strong to humans.

You may groom and brush your puppy regularly and he will still have that strong doggy odor.

Microorganisms are located on a dog’s fur, which is why regular brushing is so important.

As a general rule, as long as dogs remain dry, their smell should not be too much of a problem.

2. My Puppy Smells – What To Do?

Your puppy is the cleanest puppy on the block, but there is still some strong smell?

If so, you might want to check your dog’s skin and fur – search for any change on the skin, any sign of skin infection, maybe even hidden wounds, and anything unusual that might lead to a strong smell.

When your veterinarian confirms that everything is OK, but you still want to know how to get your puppy to stop stinking know that everything starts and ends with a proper grooming routine.

Know that for a quick dry bath you can pat your dog’s fur with baking soda.

3. What Do You Do If Your House Smells Like Dog?

This is something that dog owners are more than well aware of.

Having a dog around 24/7 inside will eventually lead to areas where a dog odor may be strong or less strong.

Luckily, with the right house cleaning management, you can keep your house odor-free or less smell like a dog.

Keep the surfaces clean, provide regular grooming, and if possible invest in a heavy-duty pet odor eliminator and an air purifier.