I’ve been grooming professionally for nearly 10 years. As you can imagine, I’ve witnessed my fair share of stinky dogs.
(I should also note I also have my DAATA Certification of Dermatological Grooming which deals with canine skin and hair anatomy).
And yes, I can absolutely confirm – some dog breeds just naturally smell better than others.
Before we get into specific breeds, let’s just quickly go over some reasons why some dogs smell and others don’t.
Why do some dogs smell more than others?
The primary reasons a dog might smell a little off:
- Build up of dead skin cells within the coat
- Excessive oils
- Dried dirt, feces, or urine, stuck on the coat (which encourage bacteria or fungus growth)
- Skin conditions
- Thick coats or folds that trap all of the above
1. Pet Dander
All dogs will naturally cycle through skin particles that eventually die and shed.
These dead particles are what make up pet dander. If your dog hasn’t received a bath in some time those dead cells will buildup on the surface of the skin and release a distinct smell.
However, some breeds produce far less dander than others. We call these non shedding dogs and they’re ideal for allergy sufferers or those sensitive to bad odor.
2. Excessive Oils
Just like our own hair – dogs produce natural oils that keep hairs hydrated and to help repel water. And just like human hair, an excessive build up of oils can have quite a stinky result.
Some working dog breeds produce far more coat oil as a means to further repel water. These breeds will have that distinct “wet dog smell” when diving into a body of water.
Examples of water dog breeds:
- Labrador Retriever
- Flat-Coated Retriever
- Irish Water Spaniel
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Lagotto Romangnolo
- Duck Tolling Retriever
- English Setter
- Standard Poodles
- Labradoodles* (We’ll talk more about this breed below)
3. Thick Coats / Skin
Thicker coated breeds present a different challenge in that it’s more difficult to manage.
They tend to trap more dead skin particles and oils as mentioned above. They may also trap dirt, dust, urine, feces, and other gross things while rolling around.
Some breeds have excessive skin that will fold over and create pockets in which particles, oil, and bacteria may grow.
Consistent brushing, bathing, and grooming is the only solution. If you’re looking for a breed that’s easy to maintain – go for a shorter coat.
All Dog’s Will Eventually Smell
Just like humans, we all begin to smell without a bath from time to time.
As a general rule of thumb you should bathe your dog once every 4 to 8 weeks, or when they bring home an unwelcoming scent.
You don’t want to bathe them too often as it will strip their coat/skin of natural oils and leave them with dry, irritated skin.
18 Dog Breeds That Don’t Smell (As Much)
Based on the information above we can safely assume dog’s with short to medium coat length, and that naturally produce less dander, will indeed have less odor.
In that case; non shedding breeds, short coated breeds, and hunting dogs (but not water retrieval) are a good match. You’ll notice Terrier breeds all fall into this category.
The Basenji is a sharp and active working dog with a high amount of energy. Which means they’ll need a very high amount of running and stimulation every day. They certainly function best when given a “job”.
While still kind and caring, these breeds can be a handful for those who can’t handle their independent nature.
2. Bichon Frise
The Bichon is a silly, affectionate, and gentle companion. They can be also be quite clever and go looking for trouble – but it’s all in good fun.
They share a lot of characteristics of a toy poodle, with their soft frizzy coat and toy face. Their curly hair can hold onto some bad smells, especially if they’re overdue for a bath.
Underneath their ears and around their bum can get especially dirty. Groomers will trim those extra short to keep them free of debris.
I recommend a thorough bath or full groom every 6 to 8 weeks to keep them feeling fresh and clean.
Chihuahuas sometimes (and unfairly) receive a bad reputation. While they can certainly be noisy, they’re actually wonderful companions.
Chihuahuas all have one thing in common – they’ll choose who their owner is and stick to them for life. They can often be described as “Velcro” dogs, as they’ll be stuck to your side wherever go. Thankfully their small size makes them easily portable.
Dachshunds (or “Doxies”) are wonderful little companions that spend their days playing and napping. They adapt well to just about any family routine, as long as it’s with the ones they love.
These little dogs are incredibly bright, which makes teaching new tricks and routines an absolute joy. However, they are known to be stubborn in some aspects, especially when it comes to potty training.
While they typically don’t smell bed, they may find something interesting to roll in that could carry a foul scent.
5. Doberman Pinscher
The Doberman has gained a reputation for being a fierce attack dog. But on the inside they’re very gentle, under the right care. Humans have been trained to see this dog as threatening due to their use as guard dogs.
That’s not entirely surprising as Dobermans were originally bred for guarding, military, and police work. Peer through the tough-guy exterior and you’ll find a kind and affectionate companion.
The Dobermans short coat is easier to maintain and keep clean. But they’ll still need a bath every few months as oils and dirt build up.
You would think that owning the fastest dog in the world would be pretty hectic. And while Greyhounds have a lot of exercise needs, they’re actually quite calm and lovable.
They would rather nap in the sun than expend too much energy. Unless they see a rabbit or squirrel that is.
Greyhounds can be a very timid breed, and may show signs of nervousness around strangers and new dogs. That’s why it’s recommended you socialize them at an early age to develop some confidence.
Havanese have the biggest heart of all, and they’re absolutely in love with you. This is the epitome of a lapdog as they’re glued to your side and looking for a warm spot to nap at all times.
They’re quite adaptable to your lifestyle, but Havanese do not like being left alone and may bark and howl while you’re gone, which may make them difficult apartment dogs. They can be overly timid, but some early training and socialization can help curb their anxiety.
8. Jack Russel Terrier
The Jack Russel terrier is a fiercely independent and energetic breed. Originally bred to hunt foxes, they had to rely on their wits and speed to outrun the clever fox. As you might imagine, they can be a handful for the average owner.
While incredibly affectionate and kind, they require a high level of mental stimulation and intense exercise. Because there’s nothing more destructive than a bored Jack Russel.
9. Lakeland Terrier
Originally bred to hunt foxes and protect livestock, the Lakeland Terrier is there to watch and defend what’s most important.
As a hunting dog, they’re quick and agile, and have intense bursts of energy to help them give chase.
Lakelands make great companions; they love to show off their energetic side to their families, and do whatever is necessary to make you smile. They are incredibly intelligent but can be stubborn with training, which may test your patience. With their speed and intelligence, they thrive as hunting or agility dogs.
The Maltese are energetic, playful and sweet with a very gentle nature. But it’s important to socialize them to kids while they’re still pups, as an older dog may feel the need to “protect” their owner.
At home they may be a perfect “princess”, yet won’t hesitate to take on the “brave hero” roll when they feel it’s necessary.
Maltese are incredibly intelligent and eager to please, which makes training a lot of fun.
Their coat does require a certain amount of upkeep, especially if you want to curb bad odor. Daily brushing and regular grooming are a must.
A sometimes overly confident trouble-maker (but it’s all in good fun) the Pomeranian is the star of their own show. They can be described as confident, curious, and enjoy being treated like a prince (or princess).
Poms are a perfect accomplice to go on adventures with, as they enjoy spending their days following you around and genuinely enjoy new experiences. Just keep in mind they’re sensitive to heat and need to cool off every so often.
Fluffy dogs like Poms have a coat that requires daily maintenance and brushing.
The Shnauzer come in three very different sizes – Miniature, Standard, and Giant. What they all share in common is having the world’s biggest heart.
Typically the miniature and standards are known to be absolutely ecstatic with energy, while the larger ones are a little more relaxed.
Schnauzers benefit from a wiry coat texture that allows dirt and oil to fall off of it. Your schnauzer groom style can be a big determining factor in how often you will have to groom or bathe.
13. Scottish Terrier
Scottish Terriers can be describe in one sentence: too smart for their own good.
That’s because the Scottish Terrier lives by their own set of the rules. They can be strong headed and independent, which makes training somewhat difficult. That isn’t to say they’re not affectionate – they absolutely love their family and show deep affection.
As you may have noticed from the picture above, their long coats and beards can get quite dirty – which leads to some bad smells. However, they benefit from wiry coat texture which helps dirt and oil fall away.
If you choose to leave a longer coat and beard than expect to do some maintenance and visit a groomer once every 8 to 12 weeks.
14. West Highland White Terrier
The West Highland Terrier (or “Westie” for short) is a lovable handful but perfect for the right owners. They’re excitable, clever, and often mischievous (but it’s all in good fun).
Westie’s have a high amount of energy to burn off, which can be addressed with daily playtime, walks, and fun training. These are highly social dogs, and absolutely thrive with a full-time playful companion.
Whippets are truly the least smelly of dogs, so much so that they are practically odourless. Their short coat also means minimal shedding and grooming.
Similar to Greyhounds, Whippets are a popular racing and hunting breed. Despite their athleticism, they are surprisingly relaxed. While they still enjoy a good run, they will spend the majority of their day relaxing or laying in the sun.
Whippets are also a quiet breed, and only resort to barking when very excited or very lonely.
16. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies are energetic little fire-crackers that love to show off. They can be feisty, and sometimes even
Your specific Yorkie coat type and hair style will determine just how smelly they get. Short, wiry coats will hold onto less grease and dirt. While a long and silky coat will require more maintenance.
If your Yorkie loves to dig and explore – then a short groom may be best to keep them smelling clean.
Let’s Talk About Doodles and Poodles
You may have seen in other articles that Poodles and Labradoodles are considered a non-smelly breed.
This is untrue… sort of.
Poodles are water retrieving dogs. As such, they naturally produce more coat oils and therefore have more smell.
In my experience (and that of my peers) we found that Standard Poodles typically do have a prominent odor.
However, Miniature Poodles rarely have any kind of naturally occurring odor.
Labradoodles are a Labrador Retriever / Poodle mix. As you might expect, that leads to mixed results. Again, in my experience, some Labradoodles absolutely smell, while others seem to be odor-free!
Genetics plays a big roll in just what kind of doodle you’ll get. Simply put, if their parents produce a lot of odor the puppies will most likely do the same.
Labradoodles are intelligent, silly, and kind, but are also quite literally party animals. These dogs are always up for a good time.
The specific genetics of your particular dog will play a big roll in odor. Some Labradoodles tend to have thicker curls than others, and some produce more natural oils. A proper routine of grooming and brushing will help curb bad smells.
Don’t let their dainty appearances fool you, Poodles were actually meant to be water retrieval aids. While the miniature poodle tend to play it a little more safe (but with no less energy), the standard poodles absolutely love to run and play.
You may have heard, Poodles receive top marks in all their classes. They’re fiercely intelligent, which makes training an absolute joy.
However, with all their energy and brains they tend to get bored easily. Finding an outlet (such as agility training) is an excellent way to keep them content.