I’ve been grooming professionally for about 9 years now. 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 sometime 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.
17 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 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
Cheerful, loving, and a little trouble maker, the Bichon Frise has plenty of personality to share with everyone around her.
They share a lot of characteristics of a toy poodle, with their soft frizzy coat and toy face.
The Bichon is described as affectionate, silly, and gentle. They prefer to be your full-time companion, so they do not like being left alone for long periods of time.
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
Looks can be deceiving with the gentle hearted Doberman. Bred for the specific duty of guarding, military, and police work, we humans have also been trained to see these dogs as threatening.
If you look through that tough-guy exterior you might find a gentle and compassionate companion. The Doberman is truly a fearless family guardian, but treats loved ones with kindness and cuddles.
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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
Their fluffy coat needs daily maintenance and brushing, and they can shed an impressive amount of hair for a small critter.
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.
Their enthusiasm and affection knows no bounds, and you can expect this guy to be bouncing off the wall with them. Typically the miniature and standards are known to be absolutely ecstatic with energy.
They are at the top of their class and in a calm environment can learn very quickly. Mental stimulation is just as important at physical for the Schnauzer as they crave learning and exploring.
12. Scottish Terrier
Too smart for their own good, and they come with a little extra sass.
Scottish Terriers are independent and live by their own set of rules. They’re strong-headed, so training isn’t on their list of priorities.
But despite all that tough-guy exterior, they have a soft spot for their family on the interior. Terriers love every second spent with their family, showing their deeply affectionate side when at home.
13. 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, and are practically odorless. Their short coat means minimal shedding and grooming.
Similar to Greyhounds, Whippets are a popular racing breed, and were once used for hunting rabbits. Because of their athleticism and intelligence, they excel in agility and obedience courses.
But even with all that energy these dogs are surprisingly very relaxed and quite enjoy a good nap. They love spending time with your entire family, and can adapt to nearly any type of home. Also, they rarely bark, and the only time they tend to make noise is when they’re left alone.
15. Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkies live for companionship, and show endless love and trust for their owner. But their owner is the only love in their life, and sometimes no one else is welcome into that relationship. These dogs can have an unkind manner with strangers, dogs, and sometimes other family members.
That being said, they will follow their owner to the ends of the earth, being absolutely love-stricken to the ones of their choosing.
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.