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Do German Shepherds Smell? [Why & How To Make Them Smell Better]

One of the major considerations when looking at new dog breeds is how much each breed smells. What about German shepherds? Are they generally smelly dogs? Perhaps you’ve even recently got a German shepherd puppy and want to know what you can expect. Either way this article today will help to equip you with some information and practical takeaways to keep odor in this breed under control.

So, do German shepherds smell? German shepherds are not overtly smelly; no more than any other dog breed. That being said, every breed of dog does have its own natural aroma which you should still expect with this breed. Equally, due to their fur type and longer coat, German shepherds do have a higher potential for odor if not well-groomed and maintained.

Unfortunately, just like any breed of dog, German shepherds will smell somewhat.

This is the minor downside to owning a dog.

Aside from the mess, which is even more problematic when they are young pups, all dogs do have a particular smell.

If you own a dog, your home will likely have that distinctive dog smell. Most people don’t mind it, get used to it and some even find it a comforting scent.

Some dogs are smellier than others, not that we love them any less, but that’s just the way it is. German shepherds generally do not fall into this category.

However, they can smell worse than other dogs periodically and at times.

Let’s discuss this in more detail in the following sections of why this is including how to avoid, prevent and reduce those nasty foul odors!

Why Does My German Shepherd Smell Bad?

German Shepherds typically smell bad as a result of poor quality diet, inadequate grooming, or from dirty bedding.

German shepherds are playful, active, and hardworking – they are always on the go. They love running, getting in the water, and rolling on the ground.

There have been plenty of times that our Jasper has been called from a muddy stream and/or puddle. The result is a very wet and dirty dog!

If your German shepherd has been out for a long walk on a hot day in the rain, they are likely to have wet fur. If this dries, it is going to smell.

While this can easily be rectified with a bath (just make sure you are using a safe pet shampoo, (like this brilliant brand we get from Amazon), there are other reasons why your dog might smell.

Let’s discuss what the main other reasons are:

Poor Quality Diet

Food is a crucial part of a dog’s life; just like it is us humans. We all know what can happen if we eat the wrong things.

Gas and wind are never pleasant to smell.

If your German shepherd eats a sub-standard diet, they can suffer from terrible digestive issues too.

While this is not much of a surprise, it is an important consideration and one that often gets overlooked.

Bad quality food that has little to no nutrition will inevitably put your dog in digestive discomfort and sometimes pain.

Issues like: flatulence, diarrhea, bad breath, will all make your dog smell badly. Have you ever eaten garlic or onions only to find hours later your sweat or breath smells? The same principle applies to your pooch too!

It is worth noting that many dogs are lactose intolerant, so it is always best to completely exclude this from your dog’s diet.

Too Much Diet Variety

You may be surprised to learn that too much variety does not typically farewell for your German shepherd.

Many German shepherds have a sensitive stomach, and it can be a struggle to digest more than two types of food at one meal.

For this reason, it is best to limit variety, and only expand their diet once they are settled and on a regular feeding schedule with ‘safe’ foods. Then, once you introduce new foods you can soon spot an offender.

It’s also important that you limit or be careful with any scraps that you may give.

Dogs, including German shepherds, should not be consuming too many herbs, spices, and condiments like salt.

For herbs and spices, which can be found in a lot of processed foods consumed by humans, will also make their way out of your dog’s pores!

Inadequate Grooming Of Your German Shepherd

German shepherds need grooming. An occasional bath is recommended but is more important if they get dirty or muddy on a walk.

Either way, they do require regular brushing as their coat can become very messy and they are a breed that is known to shed a lot.

Beyond this, if you let their coat get too long (particularly in warmer months) they can easily overheat. One clear sign of this is regular panting.

You must have your teeth brushed at least once a day, as bacteria inside the mouth can cause tooth decay, which can lead to other health issues. It is also a common cause of bad breath

Dogs also need their ears to clean as bacteria inside the ears can cause ear infections; you will notice that the wax inside your dog’s ear can begin to smell if it builds up and is not regularly.

While you can often clean your dog’s ears yourself, if you have any concerns about their ears or do not feel comfortable doing this, a dog groomer/vet can do this for you on your behalf.

Dirty Dog Bedding

You must clean and wash your German shepherd’s bed frequently, as the bacteria and other residues can remain inside the mattress and cause bad odors.

The foul smells from the bed will transfer to and from your dog which will cause them to continue to smell bad – even if you washed them.

Never put back a wet or damp blanket or bedding; ensure it is completely dry before you place it back in your dog’s bed.

How Can I Make My German Shepherd Smell Better?

For the most part, a little smell here should also be somewhat expected. However, you’ll be pleased to learn that it can be managed, prevented, and reduced.

Here is an important caveat: if any smell is particularly pungent, long-lasting or fails to go away, this could be a sign of an underlying medical issue.

In this case, taking them to the vet would be your best course of action.

Nonetheless, if you want a pleasant and hygienic environment, lousy smells have to go.

If your German shepherd has only recently begun to smell foul, try to take stock of what changes have occurred in their diet or environment.

A poor diet or too much variety can make him unwell, but stress can also affect your doggie’s physical well-being as well as mental health and, this could cause him to smell bad.

Let’s look at how to rectify these issues and make your German shepherd smell better:

Feed your German Shepherd High Quality Food

We have discussed how poor-quality food can make your German shepherd unwell and cause them to smell.

To counteract this stop feeding your dog poor quality food and provide them a balanced and nutritious diet.

Do not feed starches and grains to your dog as they have next to no nutritional value and are not beneficial to their health and well-being. They can also cause flatulence.

It’s a good idea to add some raw food into your dog’s daily diet, like fresh fruit and vegetables.

Just be careful with any vegetables high in sulfur – like broccoli or this can lead to some seriously foul smells!

Here is an example of excellent, grain-free dog food available on Amazon.

Groom Your German Shepherd Regularly

German shepherds need a bath on occasion. As stated previously, you should use a dog-friendly product in order to do so.

Dogs have a different skin PH to humans, so using a regular shampoo designed for humans can lead to itching, eczema, and other skin-related issues.

A dog shampoo that will be gentle on your dog’s skin and overcome such issues.

Be sure to pay special attention to the ears of your German shepherd. These are prone to ear infections. Clean your dog’s ears every day using cotton wool and a special dog-friendly ear cleaner liquid (like this).

If you notice any signs of an ear infection, take your German shepherd to the vet immediately.

Beyond this, you must brush your dog’s fur regularly.

However, it should be done carefully.

You must brush with the growth of the fur. If the hairs on your dog’s face are long, use a damp cloth rather than a brush to tidy their hair around their face.

Thankfully, there are many excellent brushes that make the whole process easier, safe and more effective.

Keep Their Mouths Clean

Another important thing you should do is ensure that your dog’s teeth are being cleaned at least once a day.

Some owners manually brush their dog’s teeth and while this is all good and well; it is difficult and time-consuming.

This generally leads to teeth being brushed just once a week, but a week is too long a time and will lead to bacteria growing inside your dog’s mouth.

There is no denying that cleaning your dog’s teeth/mouth will keep them in optimum health for years to come, but it also prevents bad odors and keeps them at bay.

While this process can be a challenge, thankfully there are products like dental sticks and chew toys that act to clean their teeth and freshen your dog’s breath simultaneously.

Providing them is often a more effective way to go.

Use A Scent

If your German shepherd’s coat is still a little smelly, or you want to freshen them up on the go, you can use a good quality pet scent spray for an instant result.

You can buy them on Amazon, and they are perfectly safe to use and won’t harm your dog’s skin.


If you proactively take care of your German shepherd and follow the recommendations above, you should not experience any overtly bad smelling odors from them.

While their natural scent will always be there and be difficult to mask, you should find that this is not unpleasant like the ‘wet dog’ smell we are all keen to avoid.

Yet, if your dog continues to smell bad even with proactive measures – do not ignore it!

In this scenario, it is advised to get your German shepherd to a vet who can inspect your dog to see if there are any serious or underlying medical conditions.

While the visit will cost you, consider the fact that your dog may be in a lot of pain.

Vets will be able to effectively determine if anything is wrong and decide on the best treatment they need.

It is always better to know sooner rather than later, and this will also give them the best chance to recover and get any issues resolved quickly.

The longer you leave it the worse it can get.

You should find that with appropriate treatment, they smell better, and will ultimately live a longer and healthier life. Oh, and it makes cuddling more enjoyable too!

German Shepherds are a fantastic breed of dog; they are loyal, playful, intelligent, and hardworking.

They are a great addition to any family with young children as they are protective yet, gentle with little ones.

Just because they can smell doesn’t mean they should nor have to.

The fear of them smelling should not be a reason that prevents you from getting this wonderful breed for you and your family.

But do be mindful of their upfront cost – be sure you can afford them. Not just buying a puppy but for the full duration of their lives!

Wondering what other breeds may smell? My other guides may be of help: