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Do Bernese Mountain Dogs Smell? How to Keep Them Clean

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Bernese mountain dog

Most of the time, Bernese Mountain dogs are no smellier than other dog breeds. As working dogs, their thick double coat is designed to keep them warm or cool and protect their skin from dirt or debris. There are occasions when they do stink, though, and the causes can range from health issues to dirt that your dog picks up during their adventures.

Fortunately, keeping your Bernese Mountain dog smelling clean isn’t difficult, but it can take a bit of dedication. We included everything that you need to know about why this breed might start to smell and how to fix it in this guide.

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The 5 Things That Make Bernese Mountain Dogs Smell

While Bernese Mountain dogs aren’t one of the smelliest animals out there, they have been known to be stinky on occasion. Figuring out the possible cause is the best way to find a solution.

1. Anal Gland Problems

Dogs, along with many other animals, will mark their territory with strong-smelling excretions. This foul-smelling substance is contained in the anal glands, which are two, oval-shaped sacs on either side of the anus. The smelly liquid can be excreted when your dog poops or involuntarily when they get scared.

Anal gland issues can be caused when they become full, infected, or impacted. The symptoms include excessive licking at the area, constipation or straining to poop, or bloody stools, or your dog might scoot their rear across the floor.

2. Dental Issues

Not all bad smells are a result of your dog’s fur being smelly; sometimes it’s their breath that makes you wrinkle your nose. Bad breath might be caused by underlying health issues, like kidney or liver disease. However, most of the time, it can be due to a build-up of plaque on your dog’s teeth, the food they eat, or items that they pick up during their adventures.

care of a dog teeth
Image Credit: PixieMe, Shutterstock

3. Health

An underlying health condition can be a cause of your dog’s bad smell, especially if it interferes with their self-cleaning habits. They might not be as fastidious or as obvious about grooming themselves as cats, but dogs do many things to keep themselves clean.

Rolling in dirt, shaking their entire body, and licking their paws are all ways they groom themselves. If a health issue like obesity or arthritis prevents them from moving as easily, their self-cleaning habits won’t be as effective.

4. Muddy Adventure

While some bad smells can be the result of your dog’s health, odors are often caused by the mischief that your dog gets into during walks or days out at the park. If they’re the sort to jump into any body of water that they see or race around the muddy garden right after it rained, all sorts of smelly messes will cling to their fur.

Dogs are also notorious for rolling in things that we wouldn’t be caught touching with a 10-foot pole. Unfortunately, this can include all manner of dead things, and the smell will inevitably end up on your dog.

5. Skin Infections

Allergies, parasites, wounds, and hormones can all lead to skin infections and make your dog smell bad. Caused by the bacteria and fungi living on the skin and changing skin conditions or immune health, skin infections can create musty or unpleasant smells. The symptoms include dry or peeling skin, redness, itchiness, pain, and pus-filled lesions.

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The 6 Ways to Keep Your Bernese Mountain Dog Smelling Clean

Once you figure out the possible causes of your Bernese Mountain dog’s bad smell, you can take steps to prevent it. Remember that you need to first tackle the source of your dog’s bad smell for the best results.

1. Brush Their Teeth

Even if your dog’s fur smells clean, their breath might not. The best way to tend to bad breath caused by dental issues is by taking care of their teeth and gums. For the best results, you should brush your dog’s teeth twice a day, but if you don’t have time, try to brush them at least three times a week.

Only ever use toothpaste designed for dogs, as human toothpaste can contain ingredients that are toxic to pets.

2. Occasional Baths

Too many baths can cause problems like dry skin or even infections that add to the smell. Sometimes, a bath is a much needed and unavoidable solution to your dog’s stinky fur, though, whether your dog likes them or not. Only wash your dog with a shampoo designed for the species, and limit baths to once a month or less.

bernese mountain puppy
Image By: Pxfuel

3. Regular Grooming

Debris can build up in your Bernese Mountain dog’s fur, and regular grooming sessions can help tackle this issue. They won’t just remove dirt and other smelly messes that your dog picks up, though. Grooming can help reduce the amount that your Bernese Mountain dog sheds overall and prevent tangles from forming.

Slicker brushes and undercoat rakes are the best for this breed. Both brushes can reach deep into the guard layer and the underlayer of a double coat. They’ll collect fur, dirt, and other debris and remove it before tangles or nasty smells can develop.

A quick once-over every day should be enough to keep your Bernese Mountain dog in top shape. However, you can do it only two or three times a week if you’re short on time.

4. Thoroughly Dry Their Coat

Most dogs love water and Bernese Mountain dogs are no exception. At some point or another, they’re bound to jump into a not-so-clean lake and pick up all sorts of pondweed and mud. After a quick rinse to remove all the dirty water, make sure you dry their coat thoroughly. The longer their thick fur stays wet, the stronger the wet-dog smell will be and the more likely it will linger.

It’s important to dry your dog’s coat after a bath too. While you might assume that the fresh shampoo scent will protect your Bernese Mountain dog from nasty smells, you still need to make sure they’re properly dry.

Bernese Mountain Dog lying on the ground
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

5. Visit Your Veterinarian

If your Bernese Mountain dog starts to smell because of a health issue, whether it’s a skin condition or another underlying problem, you’ll need to visit your veterinarian. A proper diagnosis will help determine the reason that your dog smells, so it can be treated.

Your veterinarian will give you a treatment plan and tips for how to prevent your Bernese Mountain dog from developing the same issue in the future.

6. Wash Their Bedding

Smells don’t just linger on dogs. A bad odor can cling to everything that your dog rubs up against or lies on. This can be anything from your hands when you pet them to their favorite bedding when they sleep.

If your Bernese Mountain dog does start to smell, try washing their bedding. They might have picked up a lingering odor from their blanket.

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Under ordinary circumstances, your Bernese Mountain dog won’t smell any more than other dog breeds do. They’ll carry a natural doggy scent but are unlikely to smell unpleasant all the time. That said, the breed can be prone to developing health issues that can cause them to smell bad.

You can help prevent your dog from smelling bad by grooming them, brushing their teeth, and visiting a veterinarian regularly to prevent health issues from developing.

Featured Image Credit: david muscroft, Shutterstock

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