Why do some dogs retain their good smell after bathing, while others start to smell almost immediately?

Hangai Lilla

2024. May 18 - Photos: Love My Dogz

While it is common for even the most well-behaved dogs to step or lie on something nasty and become smelly, there are undeniably dogs that almost always have a mild or severe case of the odour. This is usually due to one reason.


Sorry for the harsh wording, we hope we’re not offending anyone, but if we say that your dog smells, it’s probably because the microbiome, or skin flora, is out of balance. Here’s what you can do to maintain this balance.

If the dog is in the water a lot, more attention should be paid to the care of its skin and coat /Photo: Love My Dogz

What is skin flora?

The surface of the skin of both humans and dogs is teeming with microorganisms (most of them bacteria), billions of them, the composition of which varies depending on the body part. In dogs skin microbiome also interact with the outside world, are an important factor in defence against pathogens and help the immune system to function properly.

Dogs’ skin is also covered with oils, which also act as an invisible armour. Not only do they provide shine to the coat, they also prevent dirt, allergens and bacteria from entering the skin. However, if this protection is washed away by too much swimming or shampooing, the skin dries out and pathogens can find a direct route into the deeper layers of the skin. As a result, bacteria that were previously present in healthy numbers start to multiply out of control. Especially if the weather is hot, humid or the coat gets wet. The wet dog smell then becomes a permanent smell of the dog from one moment to the next.

So be prepared, the smell is caused by the gases produced by these microorganisms as they multiply. The smellier the dog, the more micro-organisms it sheds. Even though we are supposed to be grown-up people, there is no denying that there is something hilarious about it. Seriously, though, as responsible journalists we would of course also like to give you advice on what you should and should not do to improve the situation.

After a good play session, sometimes a bath is inevitable, but it does matter how and what you do /Photo: Love My Dogz

Dos and don’ts if the dog smells

As you might have guessed, the key in this case will be to restore balance to the skin, even with an active lifestyle.

Don’t try to cover up scents with perfumes, colognes! Especially not those that are made for humans! On the one hand, it will fail, and on the other hand, it may stress the dog, which may result in it doing everything it can to mask this unfamiliar smell by burying itself in something that stinks.

Use a gentle shampoo specially formulated for dogs. Better still, buy the sensitive version. It has gentler surfactants, which are needed to dissolve dirt and oil, so it does not remove all the oil. If you want to be on the safe side, you may also want to use a conditioner after bathing, which not only softens the coat, but also conditions the skin and keeps it from drying out. If in doubt, feel free to ask your vet or groomer for an opinion.

Look out for warning signs of skin sensitivity and allergies, such as foot licking, a red, inflamed belly and irritated ears. Allergies and various inflammations and diseases often aggravate the odours that appear. If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure you take your pet to the vet!

How a beautiful Italian vizsla splashes

It’s important to note that the amount of dog smell a dog has is also influenced by the number of sebaceous glands in the skin. There are many breeds whose coats are water and weather resistant, so they produce more oil. This is perfectly normal. IBut it’s also undertsndabe if you want to minimise the smell. Click here and find a simple yet effective solution.

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