Nobody wants a stinky pet running amok in the house. Besides being unpleasant, it can cause issues for you if it’s a big dog like a German Shepherd who can’t help but accidentally touch things as he walks on by — or worse, if you haven’t taught your dog to not jump on you and your furniture.
The following article is meant to help you figure out why your German Shepherd smells, as well as answer the following question:
Do German Shepherds smell?
Truth be told, any dog, to include German Shepherds, can smell. However, the German Shepherd is not known to be an excessively smelly breed of dog, and if he comes to you one day and is stinky, you may need to figure out why this is because it is usually caused by external factors or medical reasons.
Why might your GSD suddenly smell bad?
There are any number of reasons why your German Shepherd dog may come inside one day smelling like very different than he used to, and to make matters even more interesting, there are also different levels of smelliness that we also have to explore.
For example, a wet dog will usually smell worse than a dry dog. And a dog that just rolled around in a pile of unidentified turds in the back yard will smell worse yet.
The most important thing to keep in mind through all of this is that German Shepherds generally don’t smell bad unless there is something else going on, which we’ll get to in a bit.
I used the word “generally” above because there are some instances, like as your dog gets older, certain parts of his body (like his breath) may begin to smell foul.
We’ll get to bad breath and its causes in a moment, but first, let’s discuss what it might mean if your doggo is suddenly getting stinky from his body.
Rolling around –
If your German Shepherd is anything like my 10 year old GSD, who loves to find an interesting smell on the ground and splash it on like fancy perfume, chances are good she’ll find a nice steaming pile of unidentified animal turds to douse herself with.
This is a colossal pain in the butt because, a lot of the time, we don’t see it coming. She’ll be running around the yard, sniffing at perceivably every blade of grass in the yard, until she finds something she really likes and drops on it like a sack of hairy potatoes.
And of course, the only way to get the smell out is to bathe her which is another chore I don’t ever need added to my ever growing list of things to do.
Fix – The fix to this is usually the above-mentioned bath, but the key here is to figure out that it happened before you let her inside and she rubs herself on your beige colored couch with her nasty pooped-up self. And of course, knowing her signals so you can see when she’s about to drop on a hot deuce to stop her before it actually happens also helps.
We currently have two German Shepherd Dogs living in our house. One of them digs, the other doesn’t.
The one that digs sometimes has the smell of dirt (like an earthy smell) on her. This isn’t the biggest deal, but we are in the process of trying to stop her from digging because she’s still a pup and in the very teachable phase of life.
While not the biggest deal, usually, some dirt is stinker than others, especially if it’s recently decomposed organic material.
We’ll be putting an article together on this at some point in the future.
Fix – The fix is to either give a bath or brush the dirt out of her. The smell isn’t usually bad, unless there is a lot of organics in the hole she’s digging. Also, preventing the digging is beneficial to both your sanity.
Your dog is wet –
If your dog is wet, even if he just had a bath, chances are excellent that he’s going to have an odor to him until he dries off. This is just how it is. Wet dogs smell.
Fix – Dry your dog.
Skunk spray –
I’m going to knock on wood here as I sit here and type this, but none of our German Shepherds have ever been sprayed by a skunk. However, growing up we had a Rottweiler who was sprayed and it was nasty.
It took several washes to get the smell out of him, and even then, time was the healer of all smells.
Fix – Wash your dog, maybe numerous times. And wait. Then, try to prevent him from getting sprayed again.
Food and farts –
Chances are good that your German Shepherd is a vacuum cleaner like ours are. They’re both ever present just outside the kitchen when we cook just to make sure they can gobble up any scraps the moment they see them fall.
Sometimes this can have some adverse reactions inside your German Shepherd’s stomach that can actually leak outside of his stomach in the form of a series of nasty smelling farts. On the plus side, this will quickly pass.
Fix – Try to regulate what your German Shepherd eats. I say that like it’s an easy thing to do but it isn’t.
More Serious Reasons Why Your GSD Smells:
More often than not your German Shepherd will not smell on a regular basis.
Some circumstances are if there is an outside reason like she rolled around in something outside, she got wet, or if there is something medically wrong with your dog beginning to present itself, which is what we discuss next.
For example, our 10-year old female GSD, Casey, recently ended up with a nasty hot spot on her side that we were trying to cope with (that eventually caused her to smell). We’ve dealt with this sort of thing before and tried a few different remedies on our own before we gave up and brought her to the vet at our wit’s end.
We ended up buying two different e-collars for her to use, one of them had pitiful results (this one, don’t buy it for your GSD) and was broken in under 5 minutes. And the other one just didn’t work because it wasn’t big enough for her longer than average snout.
Back to the point.
We were attempting home remedies at first, spraying Vetericyn (<-Amazon link. This stuff is great and we even use it on our horse.) on the wound to clean it, keeping her away from it the best we could, and trying different devices to prevent her from getting to it.
It was our last resort to go the vet in the middle of a pandemic. We had absolutely zero desire to get sick.
But, it got to the point where we had no choice in the matter.
And, to be honest, when she started to smell that was our first indicator that the sore on her side was not only not getting better, but that she was actually getting worse.
When she started to smell foul that was a dead giveaway that she was probably starting to get infected and we were at the veterinarian that day with an emergency visit.
We got a properly sized e-collar for her, prednisone to help with the itchiness, and an antibiotic to cure the infection.
She was beginning to have an infection brewing, and the thing that gave it away to us was her smell. Once her smell had changed we knew things were going downhill.
The reason why is because German Shepherds generally are not smelly dogs and it was a dead giveaway that she was heading downhill when she started to smell.
Therefore, if your dog is usually not stinky, but then starts to stink, there could be something medically wrong with him. While it could be on his skin, it could also be something internally, as well and you need to keep an open mind.
Just because you don’t see anything doesn’t mean there isn’t something wrong.
If your dog stinks and you can’t explain it, going to the vet is my best advice for you.
German Shepherd and Bad Breath:
A few moments ago I said that as your dog ages he may naturally get smelly in some aspects. This is true of all dog breeds to some degree. They won’t necessarily smell bad, but all dogs have an odor of their own anyway, and it may become more pronounced as they get older.
This will vary from one dog to the next, but the first thing usually to go in the stench department is a dog’s breath. Your German Shepherd has had years of eating things it shouldn’t be eating as well as probably not getting his teeth brushed all that often.
This, coupled with an aging GI tract is a recipe for bad breath.
Some doggos suffer from this more than others, however. For example, when I was a kid we had a Rottweiler named Ziggy (different from the skunked dog I mentioned above, whose name was Wilfred) who had breath so smelly you could see it.
No joke, the breath he exhaled had a green tint to it in his final years and it was wretched.
It almost smelled like something crawled in there and died.
I have thankfully not had this happen in any of my German Shepherds, but once the breath gets that bad there isn’t much you can do to fix it. Admittedly, our older girl Casey’s (10 years old) breath is starting to get rich, but it’s not so bad that we have to be in another room.
Before your German Shepherd’s breath gets to that point there are some things you can do to take the edge off, so to speak. Products like any of the dog chews are a good way to help curb the bad breath, but using them regularly, in a proactive manner, is better than trying to solve a bad breath problem after it hatches.
And of course, getting your German Shepherd used to having her teeth brushed will only help to prolong the health of your dog’s mouth and, keep you from plugging your nose whenever she’s near. We generally like anything made by Vet’s + Best, like this toothpaste/brush combo found on Amazon.
And honestly, brushing your dog’s teeth also helps you notice when things are out of whack in your dog’s mouth, to begin with.
Your German Shepherd may end up with a broken tooth that may get infected and if you’re not spending regular time in your dogs mouth you may never pick up on the fact that something is wrong.
There have also been instances of bad breath in dogs where something else happened. Maybe there was a cut that got infected, or maybe something got stuck in his mouth and has been rotting. While rare, these things happen.
Your German Shepherd has a scent:
Finally mentioned briefly above is the fact that your dog has its own scent to begin with. This may be a scent you don’t even notice, but your German Shepherd does have his own smell, just like you and I have our own smells.
I don’t know that I have a smell, but my kids wear my shirts when I’m on a business trip because they smell like me even when the shirt is clean.
I guess my point in telling you this is that while not strong, your dog will have a smell. But it’s not a bad smell and it’s not okay for you to try and get rid of it. It’s how other dogs identify him, and the reason why he has that smell is largely because of the oil your dog’s skin produces to keep his skin and fur healthy.
If you bathe your dog too often it can disrupt this healthy oil output and cause a different set of problems.
At the end of the day, the important thing to remember is that while your dog has his own scent, it’s not something that is stinky or smells bad. In fact, I don’t even notice my dog’s smell.
And if your dog one day does begin to smell foul it is something you should get to the bottom of because it could be a serious problem. Or, maybe he just rolled around in a stinky turd. Either way, you should figure out what it is so you can prevent it the next time.