Why Does My Golden Retriever Smell?


Golden retrievers have all the attributes you can expect from a family dog. They are trainable, intelligent, and best of all, they are beautiful, specifically because of their long, dense fur. But there are instance you’ll ask, “Why does my golden retriever smell?

Your golden retriever will smell if the long flowing coat isn’t cleaned properly. Also, natural body secretions (skin oils), poor grooming, a poor diet, and a dirty or wet coat are the typical reasons your golden retriver smells. 

Also, an underlying health condition can be the reason why you’re asking, “Why does my golden retriever smell?” So, you should have a vet look at your pooch if hygiene isn’t the issue.

What Causes Golden Retrievers to Smell?

The following is a deeper look into the five reasons that can make your Golden Retriever smell:

1.       Health Problems

Bacteria and Yeast Infections

Dogs have a healthy number of bacteria and yeast all over their bodies. However, due to bad grooming habits, the number of these microbes increases.

The attribute that makes Golden Retrievers beautiful is also their biggest downfall. A Golden Retriever’s thick, long fur traps dirt easily, and if not given a regular bath, the yeast, and bacteria (microbes) increase, causing a bad smell.

When this happens, your pooch will scratch its skin to relieve the constant body itch. This leads to increased blood flow and high body heat, causing an odor.

Also, the ears, mouth, tail, armpit, groin, and any other part of the body that develops a skin fold are hotspots for bacteria and yeast. If these places are not properly cleaned, dried, and treated, then your dog will smell.

Another common reason your Goldie is smelling is a yeast infection in the ears. Infected dog ears are not only dirty, but they’re also red, itchy, and have a cheese-like smell. If your dog has smelly ears, you should take it to the vet for a hypothyroidism check.

A bad smell from the armpit and groin region is a sign of a yeast infection. The infected areas look thick, dark, and greasy.


The armpits, neck folds, lip folds, facial folds, and feet are typically warm and moist areas where pyoderma occurs because of a bacterial infection. A skin disease may be the root cause of this condition, and it may also appear on pressure-prone body parts like the elbows.  

It is a serious condition because if left untreated, your dog will have bald patches due to hair loss and scaling. This causes pus-filled swellings that emit a strong whiff.

Canine Atopic Dermatitis

This is another skin disease that can be the cause of the bad smell. Symptoms of atopic dermatitis in Golden Retrievers include:

  • Visible skin lesions
  • Dry, red, or oily skin
  • Itching
  • Hair loss around the eyes and muzzle

What causes atopic dermatitis in Golden Retrievers? Flea bites, an allergic reaction to particular foods, or contact with an infected dog are the typical causes of this condition.

2.       Dirty or Wet Coat

Your golden retriever’s fur will emit an unpleasant smell if it gets rained on, gets into a pool of water, or if you fail to dry it properly after bathing. Golden retrievers are playful dogs, and rolling in grass and dirt is part of their play routine. Your furry friend will smell if he rolls in smelly ground, grass, or water.

3.       Natural Body Secretions (Skin Oils)

Golden Retrievers have a double coat; a water-repellent outer coat and a thick undercoat. The outer coat repels water from the natural body secretions or skin oils. This skin oil can have an unpleasant odor and should be brushed off or cleaned regularly.

4.       Bad Breath

Bad breath is common in dogs, especially if your pooch has a habit of eating smelly stuff. However, bad breath can be a sign of a serious health condition like kidney failure or diabetes.

It’s common knowledge that dogs don’t have fresh breath, but even so, your Golden Retriever’s breath shouldn’t stink.

If you constantly smell bad breath coming from your dog’s mouth, then it might be a sign of tooth and gum disease.

If indeed your pooch has a tooth or gum disease, he or she will drool a lot. Your Goldie will smell even worse if the drool gets on the fur. In this instance, take your dog to the vet for a lasting solution.

5.       Poor Diet

Serving a poor diet to your golden retriever can lead to bad breath and flatulence, which will make your golden retriever smell.

A bad diet also causes food allergies in dogs, making the skin produce more oils. The skin will also flake and develop itchy lesions.

If this happens immediately after changing your dog’s diet, then you should talk to a vet to find the right food formulation for your pooch.

Which Areas Can Make Your Golden Retriever Smell?

The truth is, your golden retriever can smell bad for many different reasons. But you should check the commonly affected areas, which include the coat, armpits, ears, mouth, groin area, skin, and rear bottom area. Do this before taking a drastic step like taking your pooch to a vet.

Here is a breakdown of the commonly affected areas:

The coat of a golden retriever smells because of poor grooming. Your dog will smell bad if you don’t have a consistent grooming schedule. Also, the coat smells if it hasn’t been completely dried.

  • Armpits: a golden retriever’s armpits smell because of yeast buildup.
  • Ears: The ears can emit an odor because of an ear infection or the presence of mites.
  • The Mouth: Your goldie will have bad breath if it has an untreated mouth infection, sores, or any other gum disease.
  • Groin area: this body region is susceptible to a yeast infection that can produce bad body odor.
  • Skin: untreated scratches cause body sores that can cause your golden retriever to smell bad.
  • Rear bottom area: any unchecked infection in the anal glands can make your pooch smell. This area also reeks when the dog gets gassy because of the diet.

Can You Improve the Smell of Your Golden Retriever?

Yes, you can improve the smell of your golden retriever by keeping your dog’s coat dry, providing the right diet, and thoroughly cleaning and drying the dog. You must also clean and disinfect the golden retriever’s sleeping area, including the places it spends most of its time.  

The following is what you can do to keep your furry friend smelling fresh and clean:

Keep Your Dog’s Coat Dry

A wet golden retriever smells, and your pooch can pick up an infection if the coat stays wet for a long period of time. When drying your dog, concentrate on the ears and areas that have skin folds because they are hotspots for bacterial infections.

Feed Your Golden Retriever the Right Diet

If you detect a smell from your dog days after changing the diet, then the food might be the cause. You’ll need to find the right formulation to keep your pooch fresh.

If you have a mature and healthy Golden Retriever, you can switch to a raw diet or a homemade diet if the commercial formulations make your pooch stink. It’s a good idea to talk to a vet before making diet changes.

Keep Your Dog Clean

If you wash your golden retriever regularly and always let him dry after bathing, then you won’t have a smell problem.

When washing your dog, don’t just concentrate on the beautiful long coat; gently wash the face, the ears, and between the paws. Clean and brush your dog on a regular basis to remove loose and dead hair from the coat and minimize body odor.

How many times should you brush a Golden Retriever?

The number of times you brush your golden retriever depends on whether it’s experiencing heavy or regular shedding. A heavily shedding golden retriever should be brushed once a day to remove dead hair, whereas a regularly shedding dog can be brushed once a week.

Also, regularly brush your golden retriever before and after bathing to remove old hair. Failure to remove old hair causes tangling, which will make your golden retriever smell due to trapped dust and bacteria.

Brush Your Golden Retriever’s Teeth

If it’s bad breath that’s making your Golden Retriever smell, then you’ll need to improve its oral health. Start by checking your dog’s gums to see if they’re in good condition. Even if they are, you’ll need to brush your Golden Retriever’s teeth three times a week.

You can also buy dental toys for dogs that clean the tongue and gums to keep their breath fresh. Take your pooch to the vet if he/she has a dental or gum problem like cavities or gingivitis.

Keep Your Dog’s Area Clean

Golden retrievers are playful dogs and can come in contact with smelly objects or substances. Check your dog’s play area and get rid of any item that has a bad smell.

Clean your pooch’s bedding and toys to get rid of bacteria and parasites that may affect its skin and cause a bad smell. Cleaning the bedding also gets rid of fleas and ticks that can make your dog scratch, which affects the skin and ultimately makes your dog smell.

When cleaning your Goldie’s bedding, use hot water with baking soda or vinegar to get rid of the bad smell.

Don’t use commercial fabric softeners when cleaning the dog’s bedding because they are known to cause allergic reactions.

Keep Your House Clean

Vacuum or mop your house every day, especially if you have a carpet. A carpet in the living room, where a Golden Retriever spends the most time, can pick up a strong smell if not vacuumed for a while.

Clean the carpet every day, and don’t forget to vacuum the couch and wash the throws too.

Another great tip is to keep your house cool throughout the day. Golden retrievers are large, energetic dogs, and their body temperatures rise faster than those of other dogs. So, keep the windows or doors open when you and your furry friend are in the house to stay cool on hot sunny days.

You can also buy and install a good air conditioning system to keep the temperatures cool inside your house.

Take Your Golden Retriever to a Vet

If your dog has a bacterial or yeast infection, pyoderma, canine atopic dermatitis, or any other skin condition that produces a stench, then you should seek help from a vet. 

You should also visit a vet if you can’t find out why your Golden Retriever smells. The vet will find the root cause of the problem and provide a working solution to get rid of the bad smell.

Final Thoughts

Golden retrievers are great dogs for the entire family, but like other animals, they can have a smelly day. Luckily, you can get rid of the golden retriever smell, but you must find the cause first. This article describes what can make your golden retriever smell and how to get rid of the stench.

We also have the answer if you’re asking, “Can golden retrievers live in a tiny house?”

About Daniel Ladet

Meet Dan, an avid nature enthusiast, and animal lover who spends his free time exploring the great outdoors with his furry friends. Whether he's penning a novel or a blog post, Dan's passion for nature and pets infuses every word he writes, transporting readers to a world of wonder and adventure."

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