Skip to Content

13 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Stinks + 9 Ways To Help

13 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Stinks + 9 Ways To Help

Eew, what’s that smell? Could it be that this putrid stench is coming from my German Shepherd? Most likely!

Truth be told, GSDs are not among the best-smelling dogs in the world. They tend to become stinky quite often. But, have you ever wondered why? 

Let me tell you that the reason behind them leaving a stinky trace around the house is not only because of their thick double coat. 

In fact, the coat might as well be the very last reason why your German Shepherd stinks. 

How about we dive into some stinky GSD business?

#1 Ugh, Those Pesky Ear Infections 

german shepherd puppy looking into camera
Source: Pinterest

When GSD puppies are born, their ears are floppy and adorable, but as they grow, their ears start to stand up tall (usually around 3-4 months old). 

But in that in-between stage, those floppy ears can actually be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi!

These pesky microorganisms just can’t resist the warm, moist environment of a GSD’s floppy ears, where they can feast on dead skin, blood, and earwax. 

While these pathogens are having a party, your poor pup is experiencing the tell-tale symptoms of ear infection such as excessive itchiness, anxiety and putrid stench! 

Ear infections can be quite painful and uncomfortable for dogs, especially when they start scratching themselves vigorously.

#2 Got Carried Away With Herding

German Shepherds are the ultimate cattle dogs and they love to show off their impeccable skills. Whether you live on a ranch or happen to take your GSD hiking, the moment he sees livestock he will rush between them! 

After spending the day running around and herding other animals, your pup might work up a bit of a sweat. Not only that, but he will most likely smell like sheep! 

#3 Bad Doggie Breath

german shepherd dog with his tongue out

We’ve all experienced our German Shepherds yawning straight to our faces. But, the smell isn’t so bad in healthy GSDs. I mean, it is not pleasant, but it is not putrid either. 

The real problem is when your dog’s breath smells so bad, that you can feel it even when his mouth isn’t open. 

Dental disease is most likely to blame, especially if you own a senior GSD. Owners often don’t realize that their dog is suffering from dental problems until the stench kicks in (1). 

Whether it be inflamed gums, periodontal disease, tartar buildup, or a broken tooth, your German Shepherd’s breath can smell like fish or something rotten. 

#4 Eu De Disaster

Maybe your German Shepherd has decided to experiment with some new fragrances and has sprayed themselves with something particularly pungent! 

Or their skunk friends decided to accept them as their own!

Perhaps they tried making their own perfume, but it turned out smelling like a cross between eau de toilette and stinkfume!

#5 Skin Troubles

german shepherd with skin rush lying on the floor

German Shepherds are known for their luscious coats, but sometimes all that fur can lead to some serious skin drama. 

Some common skin issues that these dogs can acquire include: 

  • Allergies
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Parasitic infestations

When a German Shepherd has a skin problem, it can often lead to itchiness, redness, and inflammation. Because of this, the dog may scratch, lick, or bite at the affected area, which can cause the skin to become damaged and even infected. 

This damage to the skin can then lead to a strong odor, as bacteria and yeast can thrive in the warm, moist environment created by the broken skin (2).

#6 Rolling In The Deep Stench

german shepherd wearing sunglasses
Source: Pinterest

All dogs love to roll around in all kinds of things, from mud and dirt, dead animals to animal poop, and German Shepherds are no exception!

GSD are known to be a bit hyper and playful, so if your pup has been rolling around in the smelly stuff, they might pick up some odors along the way.

#7 Too Many Baths

german shepherd with funny face looking into camera
Source: Pinterest

You might think that giving your German Shepherd a bath every day is the best way to keep him smelling fresh and clean, but beware: too many baths can actually have the opposite effect! 

You see, when you wash your dog too frequently, you can strip his skin and fur of their natural oils. This can dry out their skin and leave him more prone to irritations and infections (3). 

Plus, without those natural oils, your German Shepherd might start to emit a not-so-pleasant odor that no amount of soap can fix!

#8 Poor Diet

german shepherd lying beside bowl full with dry dog food

Well, you know what they say “You are what you eat”, and the same goes for your stinky GSD!

If your German Shepherd is chowing down on a poor diet, he might not only feel yucky on the inside, but he might also start to smell funky on the outside. 

A diet that’s high in fillers, additives, and low-quality ingredients can lead to all sorts of digestive issues, which can then lead to an evil-smelling odor!

#9 Bad Grooming Habits Or Lack Thereof

three german shepherd dogs with long hair
Source: Pinterest

We all know that German Shepherds are some of the most handsome dogs out there, but even they can’t escape the consequences of bad grooming habits. 

If you’re not keeping up with your pup’s hygiene, he might start to look and smell like he just rolled in something super stinky.

If you’re not brushing the dog’s thick coat, cleaning his ears, or trimming his nails, all sorts of nasty stuff can start to accumulate. 

What nasty stuff are we talking about? Dirt, debris, poop, and even bacteria that can cause your pup to smell like a fertilizer factory on a sunny afternoon!

#10 That Time Of The Month

german shepherd dog barking in front doors
Source: Pinterest 

Ah, yes, the joys of mating season – a time when love is in the air and hormones are raging. 

But did you know that this magical time of year can also contribute to your German Shepherd’s stink factor?

You see, when dogs are in heat, they release pheromones that can attract their mates. And while this might seem like a good thing, it can also lead to some pretty funky smells. 

Male and female GSDs are different when it comes to this subject. Male dogs might start marking their territory with extra enthusiasm, while female dogs might produce a scent that’s especially appealing to other pooches.

The GSD starts to smell a bit muskier than usual during mating season and it’s all due to hormonal changes!

#11 Scaredy Fart

german shepherd sitting on the couch in the living room
Photo: Source

Have you ever heard of the term “scaredy fart”? Well, some German Shepherds are just that! Some are more timid or fearful than others. There are so many things that can startle them easily! 

When GSDs get scared, they might let out a little bit of gas, which can create a bad smell. Hey, don’t blame them, I know you’ve been there too! 

#12. Impacted Anal Glands

german shepherd sniffing himself outdoors

German Shepherd’s anal glands are a key part of their communication system, but if they become impacted, they can also be a major contributor to their stinky scent.

When these little sacs get clogged up, it can cause your GSD to feel uncomfortable and even a bit distressed. Tail chasing, restlessness, and scooting are the most common signs of this not-so-pleasant butt issue. 

These glands contain a fluid that has a pretty strong odor, and if they’re not properly expressed (either naturally, at home, or by a vet), that odor can start to leak out and make your pup smell like fish! 

#13 Stomach Problems

sick german shepherd lying in the hay

Gastrointestinal infections, like those caused by parasites, viruses, or bacteria, can cause inflammation and irritation in your dog’s gut, leading to some particularly stinky gas.

And in some cases, your pup farting too much can be a symptom of a more serious disease, such as parvovirus, inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis. 

This can lead to your GSD pup being anxious, stinky, upset, and lethargic. 

It is wise to look for other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite and to notify your vet as soon as possible.

9 Ways To Help Your Stinky German Shepherd Smell Better

owner combing the fur of a german shepherd in the yard

Stinky German Shepherd will soon become the best smelling pup in the town when you learn about these effective solutions to kick the stench to the curb! 

Make sure to take notes!

1. Healthy diet: Feeding your German Shepherd a healthy and balanced diet not only helps keep him feeling good on the inside, but it can also help with the smell on the outside! 

Choose a diet full of high-quality protein and essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Brushy brush: A good brush is essential among the items you must have if you own a German Shepherd. Not only is brushing your pup’s coat a great way to bond with them, but it can also help remove any loose fur or debris that might be causing the bad smell. 

3. Use spot-ons: Fleas and ticks can not only be annoying for your pup, but they can also make him super-itchy and cause self-harm due to excessive scratching. Destroy them with quality spot-on medication!

4. Bathe only when necessary: Save the baths for when they’re really necessary! Seriously, you can bathe your GSD every 4 to 5 months! 

5. Dental care is important: Regular toothbrushing and dental cleanings can help prevent bad breath and keep your German Shepherd’s teeth healthy and strong.

6. Wash paws regularly: Try to make this as a routine for you and your dog. Whenever you guys come back from a walk, make sure to wash those paws just like you’d wash your hands!

7. Clean ears regularly: All that is needed is a good ear cleaning session that can feel like a nice little massage for your pup – just be sure to use a gentle, dog-friendly ear cleaner!
Don’t be surprised if your pup starts to kick during his ear cleaning session!

8. Change bedding regularly: Make sure to wash the bedding frequently to help keep your German Shepherd smelling fresh and feeling cozy.

9. Take your GSD to a professional groomer: Reputable groomers will have the expertise and tools necessary to give your pup a deep clean and help identify any underlying issues that may be contributing to their smell!

Smell You Later

From poor diet to bad grooming habits, there are plenty of factors that can contribute to your German Shepherd being on the stinky side. 

With a little bit of effort and some fun approaches to grooming and diet changing, you can help keep pup smelling fresh and clean. 

So the next time you find yourself wondering, “why does my German Shepherd stink?” Just remember that there are plenty of solutions out there to help combat the bad smell! 

But in the meantime, you might want to invest in some air fresheners!

Meta: Discover the top 9 reasons why your German Shepherd stinks, and learn 9 fun and effective ways to help keep your pup fresh and clean!


1. Enlund, K. B., Brunius, C., Hanson, J., Hagman, R., Höglund, O. V., Gustås, P., & Pettersson, A. (2020, June 9). Dog owners’ perspectives on Canine Dental Health-A questionnaire study in Sweden. Frontiers in veterinary science. 

2. Paul B. Bloom, DVM, DACVD, DABVP (Canine and Feline Specialty) Allergy, Skin and Ear Clinic for Pets, Livonia, MI; (2013). The Smelly Dog. Department of Dermatology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

3. HISANAGA, Koji & IWATA, Taketoshi & IKEUCHI, Takashi & IGARASHI, Akinori & ADACHI, Kuniaki. (2004). Bathing Frequency for Indoor Domestic Dogs. Journal of the Japan Veterinary Medical Association. 57. 54-57. 10.12935/jvma1951.57.54.