Do Golden Retrievers smell

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As a prospective Golden parent, you may be wondering if Golden Retrievers smell.

Well-groomed Golden Retrievers do not typically have a bad smell, but they are prone to develop a strong ‘doggy odor’ if they go without a bath for an extended period.

Keep reading this post to discover the common causes of bad smells in some Golden Retrievers and find out what you can do to solve this odor problem.

Reasons for the Smell

The bodily oils, sweat, and dirt on Golden Retrievers can form a naturally strong odor, which is distinctive in all dog breeds. The following are some of the other common causes of bad smell in Golden Retrievers:

1. Ear infections

Golden Retrievers have floppy and hairy ears which predisposes them to ear infections. Healthy Golden Retriever ears are generally pinkish, clean, smooth, and odorless.

Ear infections in dogs can be caused by ear mites, bacteria, yeast, or allergies, resulting in a foul smell in the ear canal.

Other common signs of an ear infection in Golden Retrievers include redness, yellow discharge from the canals, or swelling.

Golden Retrievers have considerable hair in the ear canal, which can trap moisture and promote the growth of bacteria and yeast.

The affected dog may shake their head or scratch the ear in an attempt to alleviate the burning sensation.

2. Dental issues

Poor oral hygiene and periodontal diseases can cause halitosis (bad breath) in dogs.

The buildup of plaque (biofilm) and rough tartar will attract destructive bacteria, leading to gingivitis and other oral diseases.

The major cause of bad breath in Golden Retrievers is bad bacteria that cause continuous decay, resulting in smelly sulfur compounds.

If your Golden Retriever is having issues with mouth odor, you should provide regular dental hygiene including mouth washing and teeth brushing.

If the dog is suffering from periodontal disease, make sure to take them to the vet for dental cleaning and treatment.

Bad breath in dogs may also be a sign of kidney disease or diabetes. The foul mouth odor of a dog with kidney disease resembles that of urine with a metallic accent.

3. Skin conditions & allergies

One of the most notable features of Golden Retrievers is their distinctive lustrous coats which can be curly or fluffy.

These double-coated canines have a thick undercoat that can trap moisture and body heat. This creates a favorable humid environment that can host bacteria and yeast, leading to skin infections and bad smells.

Do Golden Retrievers smell
Image Credit: Greyerbaby from Pixabay

Golden Retrievers are also prone to skin allergies which can cause the formation of hot spots on various patches of the skin.

This condition causes discomfort, and the dog may often lick the area to soothe it, leading to secondary infections.

4. Anal gland problems

Dogs have two anal glands located on either side of the anus. The walls of the anal sacs are lined with glands, and the sacs fill up with an oily substance with a distinctive smell.

Dogs use the odor from anal glands as a scent marker. They also emit an oily substance when defecating. Golden Retrievers with an infected anal sac may lick the area to relieve pain or drag their backside on the ground. Chronic anal gland diseases may be related to allergies.

The affected dog may express a brown oil with a foul fishy smell, worse than that of dog poop! Your veterinarian can manually express the impacted anal sacs before it gets worse.

5. Poor diet

Low-quality dog food may affect the intestinal flora in dogs. This may cause bloating and flatulence due to the imbalanced bacteria and poor digestion.

An improper diet can also promote the growth of bad bacteria in the digestive tract, causing digestive disorders and gassiness.

Dogs with allergies to certain foods may develop inflamed skin due to excessive oil secretions from the sebaceous glands. These excess secretions can cause unpleasant odors and potential skin conditions in severe cases.

A poor diet can also contribute to allergies and yeast infections, both of which can cause unpleasant odors. Dog food that is high in carbohydrates or highly processed kibble can be the underlying cause of your Golden Retriever’s allergies.

6. Poor hygiene

Golden Retrievers are active dogs that spend many hours engaging in exhaustive outdoor activities and having fun. As a result, they sweat and can accumulate a lot of dirt during play.

Failing to groom your Golden Retriever regularly can lead to unpleasant smells. Other signs of an ungroomed Goldie are matted fur, very dry or oily skin, itchy skin, or a dull coat.

A comprehensive grooming routine for Golden Retrievers should include frequent brushing, bathing, oral cleaning, nail trimming, and ear cleaning.

How to Reduce Odor in Golden Retrievers

The following are some of the effective strategies you can use to combat the unpleasant odor in your beloved Golden Retriever.

1. Grooming regularly

Regularly grooming your lovely Golden pal is an effective way to keep them clean and prevent the build-up of odor.

Invest in a brush and gently glide through their beautiful coat at least once a day to remove dead hair and debris from the undercoat.

Brushing your Golden will also help to untangle mats and keep the coat smooth.

Additionally, it promotes the even distribution of natural oils, which helps to eliminate moisture and maintain a glossy look.

2. Bathing with the right shampoo

When bathing your Golden Retriever, use a dog-specific shampoo to guarantee an effective cleaning.

Bathing helps remove dirt and debris from the dog’s coat. It also removes bacteria, yeast, and fleas, from the dog’s skin hence relieving them from malodor and skin infections.

Golden Retriever having a bathe
Image Credit: Can from Freepik

Dog shampoo is gentle on the dog’s skin, and tough on the pathogens. It helps to clean the fluffy canine while leaving them with a fresh scent.

3. Cleaning ears

Squeeze a few drops of a vet-approved ear-cleaning solution on soft cotton balls, and gently wipe the ear canals.

This will remove the dirt and kill bacteria that would have otherwise caused serious infections and bad odor.

You should always be cautious not to wipe too deep when cleaning your Golden ears. Take your time and do the cleaning in a well-lit environment, while working on one ear at a time.

4. Brushing teeth

Golden Retrievers have soft mouths with big canines that require proper dental care. Brushing your dog’s teeth will get rid of the food residue; which attracts bacteria hence causing dental diseases and bad odor.

You can use a human toothbrush for brushing your Goldie’s teeth, but you should never use human toothpaste.

Human toothpaste is made with ingredients that should never be swallowed by dogs. Most of them contain fluoride, which is toxic to dogs.

Some human toothpaste is laced with sodium, which makes your dog sick if ingested. Others are sweetened with xylitol, which is toxic to dogs even in small amounts.

To safely clean your dog’s teeth, you should go for good-quality dog toothpaste. They are available in lots of safe formulations and some of them are infused with flavor that appeals to your Goldens tongue.

5. Using deodorizers

The dense coat in Golden Retrievers can lock in moisture and dirt, leading to foul odors even between baths. In this case, you can use a natural deodorizer to deal with the tough odor molecules.

Rub a few tablespoons of baking soda onto your dog’s coat to absorb odor from beneath the undercoat.

After rubbing for about five minutes, you can use a soft slicker brush to remove the excess baking soda powder from the coat.

You can also complement the neutralization process by spraying a dog-safe deodorizing spray on your Goldie’s coat.

Make sure to choose sprays that have a mild scent. Using a strong scent on your dog’s coat might be tough on their noses.

6. Monitoring your dog’s diet

Be consistent in providing high-quality dog food to your lovely Golden pal. The serving should be appropriate for their age, weight, and necessary dietary needs.

Avoid feeding your dog with foods that can be difficult on their digestive system. Foods such as peas, beans (legumes), dairy products, high-fat diets, and spicy foods can be hard to digest causing excessive gas.

Be aware of any food allergies your dog may have, as feeding them intolerant foods can lead to stomach upset and infections.

7. Washing your dog’s bedding

Some pet parents are guilty of not cleaning their dog’s bedding and other accessories including plush toys.

Golden Retrievers are high-energy dogs, and after a long day of having fun, they love to retreat to their beds.

They can easily transfer lots of debris and dust to the bed and this could accumulate to form an odorous layer of dirt and bacteria.

As a responsible owner, you should regularly clean your dog’s bed and blanket using gentle detergents and cold water.

To be on the safe side, we recommend investing in machine-washable bedding, since they are easier to clean and maintain.

Importance Of Proper Grooming for Golden Retrievers

Grooming your Golden Retriever is not only important for keeping away unpleasant odors, but also offers several other benefits:

1. Forms a glossy coat and promotes healthier skin

Brushing your fluffy Golden pal regularly and bathing them once in a while is a good way of improving their overall appearance.

Gliding through the dog’s coat with a good slicker brush helps in raking the hair and untangling the tough mats. This forms a lustrous coat that keeps the dog looking good.

Show Bred Golden Retriever
Image Credit: Jeyakumaran from Unsplash

Proper grooming also helps in removing fleas, ticks, and other external parasites on the skin which prevents skin infections and rashes.

2. Increases bonding

Grooming allows you to socialize with your furry friend and develop stronger bonds and friendships.

Golden Retrievers love to be groomed. It gives them a petting sensation and relieves their long-furred coats of dirt and dead hair.

3. Facilitates early detection of skin issues

When grooming your dog, you have a golden chance to inspect their skin for any hot spots, redness, or infection.

Early detection of potential health problems is crucial in helping the dog to recover in time and helps prevent the development of serious skin conditions.

4. Boosts the dog’s happiness

Similar to how humans feel refreshed and renewed after a shower, your Golden Retriever will experience a sense of happiness and well-being after a grooming session. A clean dog is a happy dog!

Once the matted fur is loosened, the itchy skin is embalmed, and the nails trimmed, your Goldie will feel refreshed and happier.

This will help them foster more positive interactions without feeling cramped.

5 Tips for Grooming Golden Retrievers

While our comprehensive guide to Golden Retriever grooming covers everything you need to know about cleaning your beloved Goldie from head to toe, here are a few key tips to highlight:

1. Use the proper grooming tools:

Using low-quality grooming tools might damage your dog’s glowing coat and predispose them to additional skin issues. Investing in the right brushes, combs, and clippers will make the grooming process easier and more effective.

2. Use dog-specific shampoo and lukewarm water: 

Washing your dog with human shampoo will strip off their natural oils and irritate the skin. Cold water is uncomfortable for the dog and they may resist participating in the grooming exercise.

3. Be cautious when trimming nails:

When trimming your Golden Retriever nails, you need to be careful not to cut into the quick (the dark part containing nerves and blood vessels). Injuring the quick is painful for the dog and it causes discomfort.

4. Avoid excessive bathing:

You should not bathe your Golden Retriever every day! We recommend that you stick to once every four or six weeks. Too much bathing will strip the natural oils from the dog’s skin hence causing more harm than good.

5. Thoroughly rinse your Golden Retriever:

Finally, make sure to properly rinse your Golden with lots of warm water. Be careful not to leave any residual shampoo since it may dry on the skin and cause irritation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. My Golden Retriever smells like fish, what should I do?

In most cases, the fishy smell in Golden Retrievers is a result of anal sac problems. You need to call your vet immediately to have your dog examined, and to manually express the anal glands.

2. Do Golden Retrievers smell worse than other dogs?

Every dog breed has a distinctive natural smell. Some dogs, like Basset Hounds, are known for their strong odors, while others like Poodles, are typically less smelly.

Golden Retrievers fall somewhere in the middle. They don’t have the strongest doggy smell but they are definitely not odor-free.

It’s important to note that the overall smell of a dog is not determined by its breed. A neglected dog of any breed will have a foul smell compared to well-groomed dogs.

3. Why does my Golden Retriever smell so bad even after a bath?

They could be having periodontal diseases or bacterial infections which continue to decay and release malodorous compounds.

You should speak to your vet as soon as possible to determine the exact cause of the persistent foul odor, even after grooming.

4. How often should I bathe my Golden Retriever?

For most Goldens, bathing once every four or six weeks is enough to keep them clean, unless otherwise advised by your vet.

If you have a very active Goldie who loves to roll in the dirt, you can use alcohol-free pet wipes to remove the murky dirt instead of giving them a full bath.

5. Can I use human shampoo on my Golden Retriever?

No! Human shampoo is made with a higher pH, suitable for human skin, but dangerous on dogs’ skin.

Using human-grade shampoo to bathe dogs will disrupt the delicate pH balance on the dog’s skin causing irritation and potential skin problems.


Golden Retrievers are certainly not odor-free. They are prone to develop a strong natural odor, especially when they are not properly groomed.

The natural doggy smell is Golden Retrievers comes from the oil secretion on the skin and the distinctive odor from the anal glands.

But other factors may contribute to bad smells, including dental issues, skin infections, and poor diet.

Grooming your dog properly and on schedule is a good way to deal with bad odor and care for their overall hygiene.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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