It is a fact of owning a dog: you, your house and your clothes will sooner or later smell a bit ‘doggy’. That’s because, unlike us, a dog lives by scent, and scent is as intrinsic to her identity as a national flag is to ours.
The only problem is that many of the scents that a dog finds interesting are to us repulsive. We try any number of ways to rid our homes of the smell of dog but the real answer to stink-free living may lie in what sort of dog we own. In order to find a dog that doesn’t whiff we have to at least uncover the reasons for one doing so. The answer to that may be closer to home that we care to admit: if we didn’t wash for two months we could easily challenge a dog to a sourness competition. That’s because an animal’s whiff is usually stirred by the processes of its body rather than by anything external.
Normal body smell
Dogs sweat from their paws but they also exude oil from sebaceous cysts around each fur follicle, and you may have noticed that dogs are usually covered in fur. This oil is excreted to maintain the health of skin and fur and to keep the dog waterproof. Water retrievers and gun dogs have oilier skin than some other breeds and will therefore be smellier.
In addition, dogs have glands in their ears which produce a feint yeast smell and glands in their bottoms (more on this later).
The poorly dog smell
There are certain diseases and conditions that can make a dog smell bad. An overgrowth of yeast in the ear for instance will cause an unpleasant smell; yeast infections are quite common of dogs that have floppy ears such as the Basset Hound, Poodle, Beagle and Labrador. If a yeast infection becomes bacterial the dog’s odour will only worsen.
Skin irritations can also cause nasty stinks to develop, especially when an irritation becomes infected. Bulldogs are especially prone to chronic skin infections due to their folds of skin holding too much moisture. Furthermore, a skin infection tends to sky rocket the animal’s production of sebaceous oil, which will add to the sourness.
One of the most noticeable areas of a dog’s body that emits a pungent smell is her mouth. Again, this may be due to conditions associated with the gut but it may just as easily be due to rotten teeth or decaying food caught between the teeth. Regular brushing with a human toothbrush and canine toothpaste will ward off some of the worst whiffs.
Let us talk about anal sacs, because one of the most underrated problems of the dog is the blockage of the anal sacs. Many of us choose not to think about such things but for the dog a blocked anal sac is exceptionally painful and may lead to serious problems. Blocked anal sacs emit a strong musty odour and if the dog tends to these she will spread the smell across her whole body.
With those issues in mind here are five dogs that traditionally don’t smell too bad due to their physical ‘assembly’:
Short-haired dogs are less likely to smell than shaggy ones. The whippet is well-known as an odourless breed: not only is her skin less oily than most but she isn’t keen on rolling around in muck. The whippet sheds its coat throughout the year and grooming is recommended to be done every four to eight weeks.
All sizes of Schnauzer have the same coat type: double coated with the topcoat wiry and the undercoat soft. The top coat needs a great deal of attention but the dog should be groomed in addition every four to six weeks. The Schnauzer is not known for its smelliness.
3. Bichon Frise
The Bichon does not have oily skin and her skin is not prone to any overloading of sebaceous oil. Her fur does not shed but it needs the regular attention of a brush. Grooming and a bath can be every four weeks (unless she rolls in something unpleasant)
The Basenji’s fur is short, clean and dry. The breed is not known to be prone to infections of the skin or ear either by yeast or bacteria, although a careful eye should be kept on her anal glands. Grooming of a Basenji is recommended to be done every four to eight weeks.
The Maltese has a similar constitution to the Bichon and is just as averse to fooling around in fox poo. She is therefore as smell-free but will need an equally intensive session with the brush at least on a weekly basis. Dogs such as the Maltese and Bichon should ideally be brushed daily.
Although we have listed five breeds that are known for their cleanliness and lack of smell there is no guarantee that they won’t smell bad at some point in their lives. Small dogs are prone to gum disease and tooth loss, and old dogs are liable to contract illnesses of some sort that will yield nasty bodily odours.
However, for now, if you feed your dog high quality dog food, brush her teeth regularly and groom her you go a long way to avoid the nastiness of odours that are more often seen of large dogs like the Labrador.
Importantly, avoid the temptation to bath your dog whenever she encounters mess or at the first hint of smell. Over-bathing a dog leads to a reduction in the oils that her fur needs in order to stay healthy. It also causes skin irritation and dryness, both of which have the potential to lead to nastier skin infections.