Why does my German Shepherd smell bad? - GSD Colony

Your German Shepherd Stink? Here Is Why!

Did you notice that your German Shepherd has started to smell really bad, and now you may wonder “What should I do? Is this normal?”. German Shepherds can suddenly start smelling really bad, and usually, it’s because of some health issues, poor diet, grooming, and bad hygiene.

You have probably heard this before “smell like a dog”, and the sad truth is that German Shepherds can sometimes smell really bad, but should they?

Absolutely not. German Shepherds shouldn’t smell bad, and if they smell bad, you need to solve that problem as soon as possible! There are multiple reasons why sometimes German Shepherds can smell bad, and we will try to cover all of them in this article.

Okay, let’s see exactly why your German Shepherd can smell bad:

  • Ear infection
  • Skin issues
  • Bad breath
  • Anal glands
  • Gas attacks
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Lack of grooming
  • Wet dog
  • Dirty environment
  • Diabetes

Sometimes it’s our fault why our German Shepherds smell bad and sometimes isn’t. Let’s now dive right into details, and talk about each reason specific.

Gas attacks.

What are gas attacks (Flatulence)?

Gas attacks, also known as Flatulence, occur when gas builds up in your German Shepherd’s intestinal tract and colon. Your German Shepherd can suffer from Flatulence if you have been changed his food not that long ago, or his food wasn’t been good for eating.

Gas attacks usually are not painful, but they can be if the gas is trapped or not moving well through his digestive system.

What causes gas attacks (Flatulence) in German Shepherd?

This is a difficult question because there are so many reasons why your German Shepherd may have gas attacks, but the most common ones are:

  • Eating too soon after vigorous exercise
  • Eating too quickly such that air is ingested
  • Spicy food
  • Eating milk products
  • Diets with excessive fiber
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Indigestion
  • Parasitic infection

After research, the scientists have concluded that Flatulence in German Shepherd is most often occurs due to changing the diet and fast eating.

Hot to treat gas attacks (Flatulence) in German Shepherd?

There are different methods that can help your German Shepherd to get rid of gas attacks. In some cases, you can help him, but you should first visit your vet and talk with him about this problem.

Here are some quick tips on how to treat gas attacks in your GSD:

  • Force your GSD to slow down while he is eating
  • Avoid giving your German Shepherd table scraps
  • Feed your GSD probiotics, yogurt, and digestive supplements
  • Always change the diet of your German Shepherd slowly
  • Try a food elimination plan to rule out allergies

Before you start any treatment, consult your veterinarian. One of the most popular medications for this dog disease is Gas-X. This medication can help your German Shepherd to get rid of gas from his stomach, and here is a recommended amount for this medication:

  • Small dogs require about 20 milligrams
  • Medium-sized dogs require about 40 milligrams
  • Large dogs require about 80 milligrams

Wet dog.

Why do wet German Shepherds smell so bad?

This is a good question, and not German Shepherd, almost all dogs smell very bad after they have become wet. But what is the reason for that? For this “wonderful smell” are deserving the microorganisms that are found on your German Shepherd’s body.

“The smell on the skin of dogs is a result of normal microorganisms that live on the healthy skin and hair of dogs” - Jennifer Schissler, Colorado State University

Should you be worried about this? No, not at all. All healthy dogs have microorganisms on their skin, but you can’t smell them when they are dry.

German Shepherd microorganisms under the wet fur - GSD Colony fact

These microorganisms live under the fur of your German Shepherd because they can only survive in dark, moist, and warm conditions.

Why do they have these microorganisms on their skin?

Don’t worry, this is normal, they are born like that. There is nothing that we can do about that, and if we try to kill these microorganisms (yeast and bacteria) which live under their fur, we can damage their skin really badly.

How to reduce the bad smell of wet German Shepherd?

You can feel that smell only when they are wet, so the only way to keep this bad smell under control is to dry your German Shepherd as soon as possible. The best way to dry your dog is natural, on the sun, but if you are prevented from doing so, wipe it with a towel and blow-dry.

But the real problem is when you have a wet German Shepherd inside your house. He can leave this smell on your carpet, furniture, on his own gear. In this situation, there are some natural products that can help you in cleanings, like baking soda and vinegar.

Bad breath.

What is bad breath in a German Shepherd dog?

Did you notice that your German Shepherd has bad breath? Bad breath can be also a sign of some other health issues, and before your start treating your GSD from the bad breath, do a little research and make sure that your dog doesn’t have any other symptoms or health problems.

The bad breath of your German Shepherd dog is something you should not ignore, but there is also no need for overreaction. The breath from the dog’s mouth can’t smell like ours after brushing out teeth, and this is normal.

What causes bad breath in a German Shepherd dog?

If you have been noticed that your German Shepherd has a really bad smell, this is just a sign that your dog has some health issues, and most commonly, the dogs with bad breath have one of these diseases:

  • Unpleasant dietary habits
  • Oral hygiene and periodontal disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease

If you notice that your German Shepherd has a bad breath, you should start with the treatment immediately, and the first step that you should take is to contact your vet.

How to treat bad breath in a German Shepherd dog?

There are different types of treatment for bad breath, and this depends on why your dog has bad breath at all.

Usually, large dog breeds (like a German Shepherd) require less dental care than small dog breeds because of better space organization between teeth.

There are tons of dental care products, such as toys, sticks, toothpaste, and more. But which products are actually the best for dental care?

Sings of dental problems in German Shepherd dogs - GSD Colony

There is no one universal answer, and you should test all dental care products. By providing your German Shepherd with a lot of chewing toys and dental care treats, they will basically do the job alone, without your help! 

One of the simplest wat to prevent bad breath from your German Shepherd dog is brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis. When we say on a regular basis, we mean at least 1-2 times per week.

Ear infection.

What is an ear infection?

This is one of the most common infections in German Shepherds. Many dog owners and vets believe that they are prone to that infection because of the shape and size of their ears.

There are three different types of ear infections:

  • Otitis Externa (affect the outside of the ear)
  • Otitis Media (infection in the dog’s middle ear)
  • Otitis Interna (infections of your dog’s inner ear)

The most common type of ear infection in German Shepherd is Otitis Externa, and this is the weakest type of ear infection. Otitis media and interna can be very serious and dangerous for your German Shepherd, and in some cases, these ear infections may cause deafness.

That is why is important to visit your vet as soon as possible and start with the right treatment.

Here are some symptoms that your German Shepherd suffers from the ear infection:

  • Pain
  • Itchiness
  • Head shaking
  • Odor in the ear
  • Dark discharge
  • Walking in circles
  • Sings of hearing loss
  • Crusting or scabs in the ears
  • Scratching at the affected ear
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Redness and swelling of the ear canal

What causes ear infections in German Shepherd dogs?

The primary reason why your German Shepherd may suffer from an ear infection is from the bacteria in the ear. Your GSD can also get an ear infection from the yeast, fungs, and ear mites. 

There are different reasons that caused an ear infection, and some of them are:

  • Ear mites
  • Food allergies
  • Trauma to the ear
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Endocrine issues such as hypothyroidism
  • Polyps (fleshy growths inside the ear canal)
  • Excessive moisture from bathing or swimming
  • Foreign bodies (grass awn, foxtails) that get into the ear
  • Autoimmune diseases such as pemphigus, lupus, or vasculitis

How to treat an ear infection in a German Shepherd dog?

An ear infection can be treated in different ways, such as:

  • Ear cleaning
  • Medications
  • Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA)

The treatment which your German Shepherd gets depends also on the type of ear infection. We can’t say which treatment is the best for your dog because this really depends on the type of infection.

But we can tell you surely that this treatment you can’t do it by yourself. This is a job for your veterinarian, not for you. So if you’re noticed that your German Shepherd has any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Skin issues.

What are the issues with skin in German Shepherds?

If your German Shepherd doesn’t smell very well and you have been noticed redness on his skin, then he probably has some skin issues, and in most cases, it is a skin infection.

All these symptoms are symptoms that your German Shepherd has a skin allergic reaction:

  • Skin sores
  • Skin sores or skin lesions
  • Dry skin / flaky skin / scaly skin
  • Rashes
  • Lumps
  • Redness
  • Dandruff
  • Bumps
  • Intense itching
  • Excessive licking
  • Hair loss / bald patches
  • Hop spots of inflamed skin (also known as acute moist dermatitis)

There are different conditions of your German Shepherd dog, and these 10 are the most common ones:

  • Environmental allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Folliculitis
  • Impetigo
  • Ringworm
  • Yeast infections
  • Ticks and fleas
  • Mange
  • Dandruff
  • Lupus

What causes skin issues in German Shepherd dogs?

There are a thousand different ways how your German Shepherd can get a skin infection. Usually for these conditions are deserving parasites, allergic reactions, and bacteria. 

Every dog on this planet, even us, has different types of bacteria on our skin, but a problem can arise when bacteria start to multiply. Not all bacterias are bad, some of them protect us and make our immune system stronger. 

That’s why is important to visit your veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms of some skin issue so that your vet can start on the time with different tests. After these tests, he will know what’s cause this skin issue.

How to treat skin issues in German Shepherd dogs?

This is something that you can treat at home alone, but we don’t recommend you to do this without consultation with your vet. 

Thanks to the new technology, medications has become effective more than ever. Here are some methods which you can use to treat skin issues in your German Shepherd:

  • Oatmeal baths
  • Steroids
  • Exercise and play
  • Medicated shampoos
  • Fat-free yogurt
  • Diet alterations
  • Vitamin E oil
  • Flea and tick treatments
  • Benadryl
  • Antibiotics
  • Compounded medications

Before your start with any treatment, you need to know that you treat. Visit your vet, and once you know which skin issue your German Shepherd has, you can then start with the treatment.

Urinary tract infection.

What is a urinary tract infection?

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection when bacteria, in most cases from the skin or rectum, enter the urethra and infect the urinary tract. This infection can be very dangerous and it’s extremely painful for your German Shepherd dog, and you shouldn’t ignore any symptoms of this infection.

What cause urinary infection (UTI) in German Shepherd dogs?

There is a bigger chance that female German Shepherd suffers from urinary tract infections than males. The main reason why German Shepherds get UTIs is because of E. coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria.

The common symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI) in German Shepherd dogs are:

  • Bloody and/or cloudy urine
  • Straining or whimpering during urination
  • Accidents in the house
  • Needing to be let outside more frequently
  • Licking around the urinary opening
  • Fever
German Shepherd Urinary Tract Infection preventions tips - GSD Colony

And sometimes, unfortunately, there are no symptoms at all. We say that because, sometimes your German Shepherd may have UTI, and you will find out maybe a week later. During this time, he may be in extreme pain, and if you notice that your GSD is not very well, please contact your vet.

How to treat urinary tract infection (UTI) in German Shepherd dogs?

Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and pain killers are the most common treatments for urinary tract infections in German Shepherd dogs. But this is something that you can’t treat alone.

Before you start giving medications to your GSD, you need to visit your vet. After a detailed examination, your veterinarian will determine which medications are necessary to use in order to health your dog.

But you can do even more to make things better and easier for your dog. You can change the diet of your German Shepherd, and with the right food, your dog can recover quickly. One of the best dog foods out there for dogs with urinary tract infections (UTI) is Royal Canin’s Urinary, Blue Buffalo’s Veterinary Diet WU, NaturVet – Cranberry Relief Plus Echinacea Soft Chew.


What is diabetes in German Shepherd dogs?

If your GSD has diabetes, then this is maybe the reason why he smells so bad. Diabetes can affect not only humans but also German Shepherds (dogs) and other animals. Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, is a chronic disease and condition that occurs when the body can not use glucose (a type of sugar) normally.

There are different symptoms of diabetes, and the most common ones are:

  • Excessive water drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Chronic or recurring infections
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss, even though there may be increased appetite

What causes diabetes in German Shepherd dogs?

No one can tell you why German Shepherds can develop diabetes. Scientists are not 100% sure why we can develop diabetes (all living beings), but there is a factor that may affect the development of diabetes.

  • It’s genetic (family history)
  • Overweight
  • Trauma
  • Poor diet
  • Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Lack of exercise

This is something that we can't control, but we can reduce the chances and help our German Shepherd avoid getting this disease.

How to treat diabetes in German Shepherd dogs?

Have in mind that this is a really dangerous disease, and if you notice any symptoms, please visit your local vet as soon as possible.

German Shepherd dog diabetes developing - GSD Colony

Diabetes unfortunately can reduce the life of our German Shepherds, and the median survival for dogs with diabetes is two years but in some cases with the help of regular vet checks, they can live longer.

The treatment for diabetes is a special diet, daily excessive and insulin injections. This is something that you can’t do at the first time alone, and you need the help of your veterinarian.

Anal glands.

What are anal glands in German Shepherd dogs?

Your German Shepherd can also smell really bad because of anal glands. According to the answer from the AKC, anal glands are:

“Dogs have two small oval-shaped sacs on either side of the anus. The purpose of the glands is to produce a fluid with a strong odor (very pungent and fishy smell) unique to each dog. It’s believed that the expression of a small amount of this fluid marks territory. Most dogs can also involuntarily express their anal sacks when they are fearful or become stressed.”

What causes anal glands in German Shepherd dogs?

There is a ton of different reasons why your German Shepherd may suffer from anal glands, but one of the most common reason is poor gastrointestinal health.

Here are some other causes of anal glands:

  • Small, soft, or loose stool
  • Allergies (including Atopy)
  • Pet’s anatomy (abnormal positioning)
  • Other - Including infections, cancer, or frequent expressing (iatrogenic)

How to treat anal glands in German Shepherd dogs?

You also want to ask for help from your veterinarian, because he may manually express the sacs, and if you think about medications, antibiotics are usually a standard for this disease. 

You may also want to change the diet of your GSD, and you need to talk about this with your veterinarian. The most frequent recommendations from veterinarians are fish oil, increasing dietary fiber in your dog’s diet, canned pure pumpkin, cooked fresh pumpkin, and unsalted pumpkin seeds.

Lack of grooming.

How do you mean lack of grooming?

Some dog owners forget how often they should bathe their dogs, brush them, clean their nails, ears, and so on… We understand how hard all of that it is when you have a German Shepherd, but you can’t skip these steps, because they are critical for their personal hygiene.

What are the consequences of lack of grooming your German Shepherd?

Before we start talking about other consequences, the first one is the bad smell. With the regular grooming of your German Shepherd dog, you will help him to:

  • To prevent fleas and ticks
  • Remove dirt and dead skin
  • To protect feet and help avoid nail complications
  • Avoid ear infections
  • Keep his teeth health
  • You can find easier some health problems in your dog

This is something that you need to learn to do by yourself. Of course, sometimes we just don’t have enough time, and in that case, we highly recommend you to leave your dog at some pet salon. 

How to groom your German Shepherd properly?

If you want to have a healthy and good looking German Shepherd, you need to brush him around 3-4 times per week

When it comes time for bathing, we do not recommend bathing your dog more than once in 4 weeks. Bathing your German Shepherd too often can remove his natural oils from the skin and later causes some skin issues.

When it comes time for teeth brushing, there is not one ultimate rule, but we find out that 3-6 times per week works best for us. Some dog owners brush the teeth of their dogs twice a day.

And maybe one of the hardest parts of grooming your German Shepherd can be a cutting nail. Some nails grow faster than others, and also for this, there is no ultimate rule on how often should you cut the nails of your German Shepherd. When you notice that he have big nails, then you need to cut them or trim them.

Dirty environment.

What is considered a dirty environment?

The pillow, dog cage, and all places and gear of your German Shepherd need to be always clean, not perfectly clean because that’s almost impossible when you have a dog.

Please don’t be a lazy dog owner who doesn’t care about hygiene, because if you don’t take care of the environment, your German Shepherd will be smell bad, and whole your environment.

The longer you wait, the worse it will be.

If you notice that you have dog poop in your yard and that you need to clean his cage, do it as soon as possible. Dog pee and poop can smell really bad, especially during the hot summer days.

Your dog will start to smell really, really bad if he lives in a dirty environment, and if you have neighbors, it would not be fair to let them smell the horror.

How often should I need to clean?

The short answer is every day. You need to every day put your German Shepherd dog in a clean cage, to use only clean gear, toys, food and water bowls. 

Living in a dirty environment can be bad not only for his health but for everyone's health. Find a time to keep the environment clean, and you will have a healthy, nice-smelling German Shepherd.

How to improve the smell of my German Shepherd dog?

If you want to significantly improve the smell of the German Shepherd you need to make sure that he lives in a clean environment, has a regular grooming routine, has a proper diet, you don’t skip vet checks, and his fur is always clean and dry.

Of course, there are other ways to improve the smell of your German Shepherd, and you can do that by:

  • Minimize grains and fillers in your GSD’s diet
  • Try homemade diet
  • Try feeding raw food
  • Coconut oil for improved digestion and coat health
  • Green herb prevent odor in dogs
  • Proper dental care
  • Holistic essential oils can work
  • Coat and fur care and deodorizing
  • Well-timed bathing and shampooing

The best shampoos to prevent the stench of your German Shepherd.

After talking with a couple of German Shepherd owners, and after using some of these shampoos for our German Shepherds, we believe that these shampoos are one of the best shampoos currently on the planet!

Best shampoos for German Shepherd dogs:

  • Pride+groom - THE SHEDDER
  • Pride+groom - THE NON SHEDDER
  • Earthbath Oatmeal & Aloe Pet Shampoo
  • Burt’s Bees for Dogs Natural Oatmeal Shampoo
  • Aesop Animal Shampoo
  • Ouai Fur Bébé Pet Shampoo
  • TropiClean Spa Comfort Shampoo for Dogs & Cats
  • Douxo S3 CALM Soothing Itchy, Hydrated Skin Dog & Cat Shampoo
  • Virbac Epi-Soothe Shampoo
  • Malaseb Shampoo

Is the German Shepherd the smelliest dog breed?

Believe it or not, the German Shepherd isn’t the smelliest dog breed on the planet. Because of their natural long coat, they can smell bad, but only if they don’t have proper grooming care.

The list of the top 10 smelliest dog breeds on the planet:

  • English Bulldog
  • Beagles
  • Pugs
  • Bloodhound
  • Yorkie
  • Cockers Spaniel
  • Shar Pei’s
  • Boxers
  • Basset Hounds
  • Saint Bernards

How often should be German Shepherd bathed?

You should not bathe your German Shepherd more than once in 4 weeks. Of course, you can do this, but only if he is extremely dirty. Bathing your German Shepherd too much can cause some serious skin issues, which can be really painful for your dog. Average German Shepherd owner baths his dog once in 4-6 weeks.

Why my German Shepherd smell like yeast?

If your German Shepherd smells of yeast, this is a symptom that you shouldn’t ignore. Most German Shepherds start to smell like that when they have a yeast infectionIf you notice that your German Shepherd smells of yeast, you need to take him to your vet. Your veterinarian can easily conclude if your dog has a yeast infection or not after observing the ‘bacterium’ under a microscope.

Final words.

Keeping always your German Shepherd nice smelling is challenging, and we know how difficult it is. After all, they are dogs, and they can’t be clean as we are. Please don’t bathe your German Shepherd too much often.

If your German Shepherd smells really bad, start searching for the reason. Bathing isn’t always a solution. Make sure first that your German Shepherd doesn’t have any symptoms of previous mentions diseases.

If everything is fine with your German Shepherd, and he doesn't have any symptoms, then it's time to say goodbye to the stink and time for a good bath!

Back to blog