do german shepherds smell

Do German Shepherds Smell?

Do German Shepherds smell?

German Shepherds aren’t inherently smelly and their natural scent is by no means foul. However, they do have a high chance of developing bad odor because of their long coats. Especially if you pair that with poor grooming or certain medical conditions.

In this article we look into why German Shepherds smell and how you can prevent your German Shepherd from smelling bad.

Why Do German Shepherds Smell?

There are a variety of factors that may cause a German Shepherd to have a bad odor, and these factors may range from simple grooming issues to health problems. 

Natural Scent

German Shepherds have a natural scent. And again, it is by no means foul. But since people perceive scents differently, some may consider it to be bad. Especially if they’re not used to it.

The German Shepherd Could Be Dirty

German Shepherds are active dogs that like to run and play around without necessarily caring for whatever dirt they get on their bodies.

For instance, a German Shepherd may roll around in grass or dirt that contains smelly substances such as dog poop or garbage. Or they may also run in the rain, and play in puddles which could lead to the wet dog smell.

Lack Of Grooming

Lack of grooming will lead to a dirty and smelly German Shepherd. Without regular brushing, bacteria will get trapped in your dog’s dead hair or skin and cause bad odor.

Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition leads to a number of conditions that lead to a foul-smelling dog.

For instance, a sub-standard diet may lead to digestive issues such as flatulence, bad breath, and diarrhea. It may also lead to skin conditions that cause bacterial build-up.

Mouth Odors

Your dog’s mouth may also become a source of bad odor. Without proper dental care, dental issues such as tooth decay lead to plaque and bacterial buildup that causes bad breath. 

That said, dental problems aren’t necessarily the only cause for mouth odors, as health issues such as diabetes and kidney failure may also lead to the same smell.

Skin Issues

Skin issues, be it irritation from allergies, parasites, or actual conditions like canine seborrhea, may all lead to the development of bad odor as they lead to either yeast or bacterial buildup and infection.

Ear Issues

Odor may also come out from your German Shepherd’s ears. For instance, dirty ears brought about by lack of grooming may lead to a slightly yeasty smell. Whereas, ear infections may produce a stronger and bad fruity odor.

Problems With The Anal Glands

Finally, your German Shepherd may smell due to problems with its anal glands which it uses as an identity marker or to mark its territory. These glands may sometimes get infected and end up abscessed when not treated. The bacterial buildup due to the infection will then cause bad odor.

How Can You Stop Your German Shepherd From Smelling

Now that you can identify the cause of your German Shepherd’s bad odor, let’s get into how you can prevent it.


First things first, make sure you keep your German Shepherd clean by following a grooming routine. 

So let’s go over some brushing, bathing, and other general grooming guidelines so you can get started.


The lack of brushing may cause dead hair, skin, dirt, and odor to get trapped in your German Shepherd’s coat. And given how thick their coats are and how much they shed, that’s going to mean a lot of trapped odor.

So, take the time to brush your German Shepherd at least three times a week.

Doing so will help keep your German Shepherd’s fur free of mats, dead hair, and dirt. It will also help stimulate your dog’s skin, remove itchy dry skin, and promote healthier skin overall.


Bathing is an effective way of addressing the smell caused by your dog rolling in soiled terrain or getting wet with dirty water. However, do note that excessive bathing can also be detrimental, as it will strip your dog’s coat of its natural oils. Bathing too frequently may eventually cause skin irritation, hair damage, and increased risk of infections.

The key to bathing is to keep to a minimum. In fact, it’s highly recommended that you only bathe your German Shepherd once a month or on an as-needed basis. And when you do, bathe them using a high-quality dog shampoo to promote better overall hair and skin health.

Also, don’t neglect the drying process. After bathing, be sure to dry your German Shepherd by towel or dryer, to prevent it from having the wet dog smell.

Brush Your German Shepherd’s Teeth

To prevent bad breath caused by dental issues, be sure to keep your German Shepherd’s mouth clean by brushing its teeth every day or at least three times a week.

Here’s a quick video that will show you how to do so:

Now, if your dog hates toothbrushing, you might want to consider an alternative method, such as giving your German Shepherd dental treats instead. 

Finally, it’s highly recommended that you take your dog to the veterinarian at least once a year to get its teeth and gums checked.

Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean

As previously mentioned, your German Shepherd may also smell due to ear issues. And for that, the simple solution would be to check and clean your dog’s ears at least once a month.

Here’s a video so you can follow along:

That said, if you’re unsure of what you’re doing or if you’re in any way hesitant, don’t hesitate to go to the groomers or to your vet.

Feed Your German Shepherd With A Proper Diet

Aside from grooming, the next best way to prevent your German Shepherd from smelling bad is to feed it with a proper and healthy diet. Again, feeding your dog with low-quality or improper food may lead to odor causing digestive issues such as malnutrition, or allergies.

The basic solution here is to feed your German Shepherd with high-quality dog food.

This is yet again something your vet can help with. A veterinarian will be able to help you choose the most suitable food options for your German Shepherd while taking into consideration your dog’s allergies or other diet restrictions.

Consult With A Veterinarian

If you notice your German Shepherd smelling bad even after following a regular grooming routine and providing a proper diet, then it might be time to visit a veterinarian. Doing so will allow your vet to properly diagnose any infections or underlying medical issues.

From that, the vet should be able to provide you with the necessary steps to address both your dog’s condition and odor.

Do German Shepherds Smell?

While they don’t naturally smell bad, German Shepherds have a tendency to smell due to their long coats and active nature. But it can also be caused by improper diet, lack of grooming, or certain health conditions.

So part of it depends on how you raise and treat your German Shepherd. If you feed it with high-quality food, address its grooming needs, and effectively maintain its health, then you’ll have a higher chance of keeping your German Shepherd smelling good.

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