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It can be a very frustrating thing if your German Shepherd smells. This post will give you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might smell and what you can do about it.

So, why does your German Shepherd smell? There are a number of possible reasons why your German Shepherd could smell. It could be that it has health problems such as bad breath, diseased teeth or gums, ear infections or excessive flatulence or problems with the anal sacs. It could also be due to rolling in smelly things, a bad diet or having been in water. 

And, what can you do to stop it? The most effective way to get rid of your German Shepherd’s smell will depend largely on the cause of the bad smell. Some general things that you can do are to take it to the vet, improve its teeth with dental cleanings, bathe it, check its ears regularly and to prevent them from getting wet as well as its fur and skin and to train it not to roll in smelly things.

It can actually be quite difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why your German Shepherd is smelly. In the next section, I will show you some of the specifics of what might be causing the smell.

Why Your German Shepherd Might Be Smelly

There are a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be smelly that I will mention below. Before you try to reduce the smell it’s important to figure out why your German Shepherd smells so that you can correct it more easily.

Health problems

There are a number of health problems that can be associated with bad smells.

If your German Shepherd has bad breath then it could be due to kidney failure or diabetes. It’s normal for a dogs breath to be slightly smelly but if it’s very bad then it could be due to health reasons.

Bad breath can also be caused by diseased teeth and gums. Diseased teeth and gums can also cause increased drooling which might get caught in its fur which can cause it to become even more smelly.

Bacterial infections in the ears can make them smell bad as well. It will often be accompanied by lots of head shaking, flatulence some is normal but lots may be due to intestine problems

There might also be problems with the anal sacs. They are two small scent sacs located in the area of the anus and are types of marking glands. When a dog poos the sacs will normally get squeezed and release a smelly oily secretion. If a dog is scared or excited the glands can secrete the oily substance onto its fur. Your vet can show you how to check the anal sacs yourself and even how to empty them.

If you think that there might be health problems that are causing the bad smell then you should take your German Shepherd to the vet and get it checked out.

It’s been rolling around in smelly things

It’s common for German Shepherds to roll around in the grass but when it does it regularly it can cause it to stay smelly for most of the time. If your German Shepherd has a habit of rolling around in the grass and it smells then you might want to take measures to reduce that kind of behavior.

German Shepherds are also known to roll in other things such as mud or dirt. To prevent this you can try to limit how much it can access these sorts of things, you can make sure that there are not dirty things such as poop in your backyard and you can try training your German Shepherd to come to you on command.

It’s been in water

Another cause of why your German Shepherd has suddenly become smelly is that it might have recently been in water. If it’s been raining or if your German Shepherd has been swimming in a lake or pool then it can cause your German Shepherd’s fur to become smelly especially if the water was dirty. To get rid of the smell here you can clean it so that the dirty water doesn’t get a chance to dry on your German Shepherd’s coat and you can avoid letting it inside until you have dried it off.

Yeast infections

Yeast is a common issue for German Shepherds and other dogs and it will often come with a bad smell. Smelly paws or ears are usually a sign of yeast infections. If your German Shepherd is scratching its paws or ears on a regular basis then this could be the cause and you should take it to the vet.

Skin infections

Another cause of a bad odor could be due to skin infections. If your German Shepherd is regularly itching itself it has thinning hair or it has red and flaking skin then this could be the cause.

Bad diet

Another cause of German Shepherds smelling could be due to a bad diet. A bad diet can cause it to have bad breath and to have increased flatulence. If you think that diet might be to blame then you should consult with a vet and ask them to help you to improve your German Shepherd’s diet.

If you are unsure of what food to get for your German Shepherd, consider getting dog food designed specifically for German Shepherds. You can get a GSD specific dog food on Amazon here and one for GSD puppies on Chewy here.

Ways to improve your German Shepherd’s smell

There are a number of things that you can do to improve your German Shepherd’s smell. The most effective method will depend on the cause of your German Shepherd’s smell.

Improve its dental health

Since bad breath is a common cause of bad odors in dogs one of the things that you can do is to improve your German Shepherd’s dental health. You can do this by giving it bones and chews to chew on that help to reduce plaque, you can make sure to give it annual health cleanings and you can even brush its teeth yourself. You should also take steps to make sure that there are no problems with its teeth or gums by taking it to the vets.

Keep it dry

When your German Shepherd gets wet it can cause it to become smelly and it can lead to infections. This is why you should make sure to clean its skin and ears after it gets wet. You should also check its ears periodically to check for infections.

Change its diet

Since a bad diet can cause German Shepherds to smell you should take measures to ensure that your German Shepherd’s diet is how it should be. The best way to do this would be to ask your vet when you see them next.

Clean it

One way to keep your German Shepherd smelling nice is to bathe and groom it regularly. By doing this you will be able to keep its fur smelling fresh and free of odor. By grooming it you’ll also be able to remove loose fur which could be increasing its smell.

Bear in mind that German Shepherds and other types of dogs will still be a bit smelly after bathing them but this is due to its coat being wet and should go away after you dry it.

Get it to stop rolling in smelly things

Since one cause of your German Shepherd’s smell is likely to be due to rolling around once measure you can take is to get it to stop doing so.

You can do this by training it to come to you on command, giving it exercise, keeping it cool and giving it things to keep it occupied.

Ask your vet

If you’re still unsure of what is causing your German Shepherd’s smell then your best option would be to take it to a vet where they will be able to examine it and to tell you what they think is causing the smell.

One thing to consider is that you can try masking the smell but it’s better to get to the root cause. By masking the smell you’ll be able to make your house smell nice temporarily but the cause of your German Shepherd’s smell will not have been dealt with and it’s important that you get to the bottom of what might be causing it.

If you would like some more tips on how to train your German Shepherd take a look at the German Shepherd training book on Amazon.

Related questions

Why does my German Shepherd smell bad all of a sudden? If your German Shepherd’s bad smell has come on suddenly then it is likely to be because it has been rolling around in something smelly. Other possible causes could be infections or having been wet. You could try bathing it and if the smell comes back then you should take it to the vet.

Why does my German Shepherd roll in smelly things? There are a number of reasons why this could be the case including boredom, trying to mask its scent or trying to get its natural smell back. If it’s regularly rolling in smelly things then you should consider getting help from a dog behaviorist or a vet.

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Our favorite: The Dunbar Academy Training Program. If you want a happy and obedient German Shepherd, this is one of the best online dog training programs available right now. You can get the first month free using This link


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