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Do Golden Retrievers Smell? Posible Causes & Recommendations

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

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Most animals have some sort of unique odor, dogs included. While the Golden Retriever isn’t one of the smelliest dog breeds around, they can be prone to developing an unpleasant odor. If they haven’t been bathed or groomed recently, your Golden Retriever’s thick coat can hold all sorts of dirt and bodily oils that make them smell bad.

Knowing what makes Golden Retrievers smell can help you keep your dog from smelling unpleasant. This guide includes the reasons that your dog smells and a few tips to keep them smelling fresh.

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What Are Golden Retrievers?

Beloved for their sleek coat, friendliness, and intelligence, the Golden Retriever is one of the most well-known dogs in the world. Originally bred in Scotland as gundogs, their work ethic and friendliness make them excel at a variety of jobs. These days, they’re used for hunting, fieldwork, guide dogs, search and rescue and as family pets.

golden retriever dog relax on the hay bale
Image Credit: SasaStock, Shutterstock

Do All Golden Retrievers Smell?

Although Golden Retrievers aren’t always the cleanest smelling dogs around, they’re also not the stinkiest. Since their smell is usually a result of bad hygiene or the wrong diet, the odor that they can develop is relatively easy to manage.

If you dedicate time to a regular grooming routine and occasional baths, there’s no reason that your Golden won’t smell delightfully clean most of the time.

What Causes Golden Retrievers to Smell Bad?

There are several reasons that Golden Retrievers might start to stink. Here are a few common causes of unpleasant smells.

1. Diet

We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat” and this can be applied to dogs too. The lower quality your Golden Retriever’s diet is, the more likely they are to suffer from bad skin and coat health. A lack of proper nutrition in their dog food, food allergies, or simply not enough healthy ingredients in the formula can be causes of ill health in dogs.

2. Health Issue

An infection can be a reason that your Golden Retriever smells. Certain types of allergies or even a build-up of moisture can create the perfect spot for yeast infections to form. Certain yeast infections, particularly ear infections, can give off an unpleasant smell.

Internal health issues can be the cause too, so you should pay attention to any other symptoms that your dog might show.

sick golden retriever
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

3. Improper Grooming

When it comes to grooming, Golden Retrievers are among the higher-maintenance breeds, especially if they spend time retrieving ducks from ponds. They have thick, double coats that are designed to keep them warm but can also cling to dirt and body oils that can quickly make them smell. If you don’t groom your dog often enough, all this grime builds up in their coat.

4. Mud Bath or Swimming

Golden Retrievers were first bred as gun dogs, and they’re still used for retrieval during hunts today. If your dog spends a great deal of time out in wet, marshy areas hunting ducks with you, their fur can get clogged with all sorts of dirty water, leaf matter, and mud. They might have even found a pungent-smelling substance to roll in just for fun!

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How to Stop Your Golden Retriever From Smelling Bad

Keeping your Golden Retriever smelling nice takes a bit of dedication but is worth the effort. Here are a few tips to help you reduce your dog’s odor.

1. Healthy Diet

The higher quality your chosen dog food brand is, the more likely it is to be healthier for your dog. It’ll be more expensive, but when it comes to the health of your Golden Retriever, the price is worth it.

You can also try formulas that focus on natural ingredients or subscription services that use fresh meals rather than kibble and canned food.

Golden Retriever eating
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

2. Practice Good Hygiene

A good brush isn’t the only tool that should be in your grooming kit; you should also make sure you have a good canine toothbrush and toothpaste. Regularly brushing your Golden Retriever’s teeth can help reduce plaque buildup, keep their teeth healthy, and stop their breath from smelling.

Checking their ears and paws for debris is also part of your responsibility as a dog owner and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Consider bathing your Golden Retriever too. They can have sensitive skin, so make sure to use gentle, fragrance-free dog shampoo, and don’t over-bathe them. A bath once a month or less should be more than ample, but keep an eye out for any signs of sensitive skin.

3. Regular Grooming

Brushing your Golden Retriever once or twice a week with a good slicker brush or dematter will help remove trapped dirt and dead hair. By removing this unwanted debris from their coat, you’ll keep it free from all the bacteria that can make their skin itch and smell.

Regular grooming sessions are also ideal for reducing shedding and keeping your dog smelling nicer between baths. You can even spoil your favorite pooch with a trip to a professional groomer for a spa session.

4. Visit Your Veterinarian

While many of the causes of your Golden Retrievers’ odor can be easily fixed by adjusting their grooming routine, underlying health issues can be more difficult to treat. If your dog still smells after you’ve tried the tips here, ask your veterinarian for advice. Properly diagnosing health conditions is the first step to fixing your dog’s odor.

Veterinary by listening to a Golden Retriever dog in his clinic
Image By: 135pixels, Shutterstock

5. Wash Bedding

Unpleasant smells can linger and spread to your dog’s favorite napping spot or bedding. Washing your dog is only one step in ensuring that they smell clean; you need to wash their bedding too. Not only does this remove any lingering odors, but it also gets rid of the dirt and bacteria that your dog leaves behind when they use their bed.

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Golden Retrievers aren’t usually smelly dogs, but they can develop an unpleasant odor if you don’t keep up with a regular grooming routine. Baths at least once a month or every six weeks are recommended to keep their coat clean of dirt and bacteria that can cause unpleasant smells.

Between baths, maintain a regular grooming routine, and wash your dog’s bedding at least once every 2 weeks. This will remove dead hair and skin cells in general and dirt from their skin, coat, and favorite blankets.


Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

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