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Why Does My Poodle Smell So Bad? 6 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

portrait of a Cute brown toy poodle with his young woman_eva_blanco_shutterstock

Vet approved

Dr. Ashley Darby Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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The purpose of this article is to provide general information only, it is not designed to replace veterinary advice tailored to your pet. Dog owners should consult their veterinarian if they have health concerns about their pet.

Poodles are one of the most intelligent dog breeds on the planet which makes many people want them, but they also come with extensive grooming requirements. Poodle owners can attest to their fun and unique personalities, as well as their low-shedding coats. However, those coats don’t always smell so pleasant, even after a bath. What gives?

Poodles were bred to hunt ducks and other waterfowl, and they have a thick, curly, water-resistant coat to help protect them from harsh elements. So, why do they sometimes smell so bad? A few reasons can explain why your Poodle stinks, and in this guide, we’ll explain the seven common reasons for the unpleasant odor and what you can do to remedy the smell.


The 6 Reasons Why Your Poodle Smells Bad

1. Improper Bathing/Poor Grooming

Poodles require regular grooming to look and smell their best. The thick, curly hair of the Poodle should be clipped every 6 to 12 weeks to keep mats from forming and the coat healthy. While Poodles shed extremely minimally, dead hairs get caught in the curls, which causes matting in the first place. Regular brushing will keep mats from forming, and if you do not keep the coat short, daily brushing is recommended.

Poodles sometimes require baths every 2 to 6 weeks to look and smell their best, if they go outdoors, roll in the mud, or otherwise dirty themselves.

Poodles secrete a body oil called sebum by way of sebaceous glands that excrete through the skin. The purpose is to protect the skin and coat from dryness, dirt, and debris. For dogs that don’t get overly dirty a good brush and coat spray may be enough to keep them fresh between baths.

For dogs that do need those frequent baths, use a gentle shampoo such as oatmeal shampoo and follow up with a conditioner to get moisture back into the skin. Remember those natural oils? They can be stripped by too frequent shampooing which can lead to dry, flakey skin.

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2. Ear Infection

Poodles are prone to ear infections due to their hairy ear canals and they can also develop ear infections secondary to allergies. Good ear care includes cleaning the ears with an ear cleaning solution every 1-2 weeks. Checking your Poodles ears regularly is a must to ensure the ears are healthy. Many dogs acquire an ear infection at least once in their lives, which is treatable by your vet. Unfortunately, some ear infections are recurrent and will need regular medication or a change in diet to control. An ear infection will smell, and you may see discharge or a thick wax build-up. Typical signs of an ear infection are painful ears, scratching the ears, irritation/redness, or discharge. If you notice this, take your Poodle to the vet, as prescription medication may be needed.

Tip: When bathing your Poodle, you can stick cotton balls inside the ears to prevent water from entering, which can cause ear infections. You don’t need to insert the cotton balls far into the ear canal, just enough to prevent water from entering.

3. Dental Hygiene Issue

Dental hygiene is not something to overlook as a dog owner. Like humans, dogs need a regular dental hygiene regime to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Dental disease is painful, and if left untreated, infections can occur, resulting in a foul odor.

It’s best to start a dental hygiene routine when your Poodle is a puppy, but this is not always possible. Nonetheless, getting your Poodle comfortable with teeth brushings will help keep the teeth and gums in tip-top shape. You can also provide dental treats to help, or you can use dental wipes, even water additives, but these should not replace brushing the teeth. If you use toothpaste, ensure it is made for dogs, as human toothpaste may have toxic ingredients.

veterinarian checks the teeth of a white poodle dog
Image Credit: Master1305, Shuttterstock

4. Skin Infection

Poodles are prone to developing yeast and bacterial infections, all of which can produce a foul smell. Typically these infections are secondary to allergies or other diseases, although if the coat is in particularly bad condition skin infections can develop.

It’s imperative to look for signs of an infection other than an odor, such as discharge, itching, redness or red bumps on the skin, peeling skin, or thinning hair. If you notice any such signs, promptly take your Poodle to the vet for treatment.

5. Anal Glands

All dogs have a pair of anal glands that rest at the 4 and 8 o’clock position on their rear end. The fluid-filled sacs allow a dog to scent mark, but sometimes, these glands can get full and need emptying. Typically, some of the funky-smelling fluid is expressed during a bowel movement, but if your Poodle has runny poo or not enough fiber in the diet, the anal sacs may not be emptying as they should. They can also obstruct due to inflammation caused by allergies.

If left untreated, these enlarged sacs can become infected and sometimes rupture, which will be painful for your Poodle. Your veterinarian or groomer can express the anal sacs to release excess fluid, and if infection is present, an antibiotic may be administered.

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You are free to use this image but we do require you to link back to Hepper.com for credit

6. Vaginal Discharge (Female Poodles)

Some female Poodles may have a foul odor coming from the vagina, which may have a pungent smell. It’s easy to mistake a foul odor coming from the anus rather than the vagina, as both the vulva and anus are close in real estate; however, this odor could indicate vaginitis, urinary tract infection (UTI) or an infected uterus (pyometra) if your dog is not desexed, that will require treatment from your vet.

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How to Remedy Your Poodle’s Stink

First and foremost, ensure your Poodle doesn’t have a medical issue going on, such as some type of infection. Have your vet do an examination to ensure your Poodle is healthy, and don’t ignore the stink.

Ensure you groom your poodle and bathe as needed. Most Poodle owners prefer to keep the hair clipped short to prevent mats and other odor-causing problems at bay. If you keep your Poodle’s hair longer, you must brush the coat daily or at least every second day.

Don’t forget to check the ears regularly and clean them when needed. Establish a regular dental hygiene routine, and ensure your Poodle is eating a proper diet. If you’re unsure about what to feed your Poodle, consult your vet for advice.

veterinarian examines a poodle ear
Image Credit: ORION PRODUCTION, Shutterstock

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All dogs stink occasionally, and Poodles are no exception, whether you have a miniature, toy, or standard Poodle. The best ways to keep your Poodle from smelling bad is to groom regularly, clip the hair every 6 to 12 weeks, ensure dental health, and keep anal glands, ears, and skin free from infections.

Featured Image Credit: eva_blanco, Shutterstock

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