Why Does My Golden Retriever Smell


In comes your beautiful nicely groomed Golden Retriever, and outcomes a nasty smell. Just because your Golden is clean, it doesn’t mean they still won’t smell.  Like any other dog breed, Golden Retrievers have their own set of health and hygiene concerns that owners need to address. One such issue is the smell of their coat. Despite being a clean and groomed dog, Golden Retrievers can have a distinct odor that can be unpleasant to some owners. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Golden Retrievers may smell, and what owners can do to remedy the situation.

Skin Infections

One of the most common reasons why Golden Retrievers may have a smell is due to skin infections. These infections can be caused by a variety of factors, including bacteria, yeast, and parasites. Golden Retrievers are prone to skin allergies, which can make them more susceptible to infections. Symptoms of skin infections include itching, redness, and a foul odor. Owners should take their Golden Retriever to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. This may involve medicated shampoos, antibiotics, or antifungal medications.

Luckily my own goldens haven’t had many skin infections.  I’ve only had two in the past 8 years, but it was nasty.  A medicated shampoo, and shaving the affected area helped clear it up.

Ear Infections

Another reason why Golden Retrievers may have a smell is due to ear infections. Goldens ears which can trap moisture and debris. Ear infections can cause a foul odor, discharge, and itching. Owners should clean their Golden Retriever’s ears regularly to prevent infections. If an infection does occur, it is important to seek veterinary care to prevent further complications.

I have seen a couple ear infections the past few years.  Each time it was after our dogs were swimming in the lake.  Try and dry your dogs ears out after they go in the water.

Anal Glands

Golden Retrievers have two small sacs located on either side of their anus, known as anal glands. These glands produce a scent that is used for communication with other dogs. However, sometimes these glands can become impacted or infected, which can lead to a foul odor. Owners may notice their Golden Retriever scooting their bottom along the ground or licking excessively. This is a sign that the anal glands need to be expressed. Owners should take their Golden Retriever to the vet or groomer for this procedure, as it can be tricky to do at home.

I have had to express Glaciers glands once.  It was not the most pleasant experience, plus your dog will think you are violating them.


A Golden Retriever’s diet can also play a role in their smell. If a dog is consuming a diet high in carbohydrates or low-quality proteins, they may produce more body odor. Additionally, certain foods can cause gastrointestinal issues, which can lead to flatulence and a foul odor. Owners should feed their Golden Retriever a high-quality, balanced diet that is appropriate for their age and activity level. This may involve switching to a different brand of food or working with a veterinary nutritionist to create a custom diet plan.

I’ve seen goldens who had allergies to various types of foods.  Flatulence was a big issue.  Usually those issues went away when switching to a beef or bison diet.

Dental Problems

If your golden retriever has bad breath, it could be a sign of dental problems like gum disease or tooth decay. These issues can cause your dog’s mouth to smell bad and may also lead to other health problems if left untreated.

I’ve seen goldens who eat anything and everything and have great teeth.  Then others who eat the same and have bad teeth.  I know for a fact there is a couple of genetic lines who have issues with their teeth.  Since they do have issues, their breath also suffers from it.  Regular cleaning will then be a must.  Dental treats like Greenies sometimes helps as well.

Also I have noticed that my dogs breathe smells worse when I feed them with a Salmon diet.  Alice always has bad breath when she is on her fish food rotation.  Consider a food change if it is caused by food.

Poor Grooming Habits

Finally, poor grooming habits can contribute to a Golden Retriever’s smell. Despite being a clean breed, Golden Retrievers require regular grooming to keep their coat and skin healthy. If an owner neglects to brush or bathe their Golden Retriever regularly, it can lead to a buildup of dirt, oil, and debris. This can cause a foul odor and increase the risk of infections.

Owners should aim to brush their Golden Retriever’s coat daily (or weekly) and bathe them every 6-8 weeks. This can help to remove any buildup and keep their coat and skin healthy.  Plus brushing will help with preventing all the loose hair all over the floor.

Let’s face it, often they smell because they just need a bath.  Don’t use human shampoos.  Find something meant for dogs.  Use a shampoo something like this:

If you have a golden with a whiter coat and want to keep it whiter then use a shampoo like Chris Christensen White on White.


Golden Retrievers are a wonderful breed that can bring joy and companionship to their owners. However, like any other dog breed, they require proper care and attention to maintain their health and hygiene. If an owner notices a foul odor coming from their Golden Retriever, it is important to determine the underlying cause and take appropriate action. This may involve a trip to the vet, changes in diet or grooming habits, and regular maintenance to prevent further complications. By addressing the reasons why a Golden Retriever may smell, owners can ensure that their beloved pet is happy, healthy, and pleasant to be around.


  1. “Skin Infections in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments” by Dr. Karen Becker, DVM. Available at: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2019/03/29/dog-skin-infections.aspx
  2. “Ear Infections in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments” by Dr. Karen Becker, DVM. Available at: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2015/11/08/dog-ear-infection.aspx
  3. “Anal Gland Problems in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments” by Dr. Karen Becker, DVM. Available at: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/10/04/dog-anal-gland-problems.aspx
  4. “Diet and Nutrition Tips for Golden Retrievers” by Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM. Available at: https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_multi_golden_retriever_diet_and_nutrition
  5. “Golden Retriever Grooming: The Ultimate Guide” by The Labrador Site. Available at: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/golden-retriever-grooming/
  6. “Golden Retriever Health Problems and Life Expectancy” by The Golden Retriever Club of America. Available at: https://grca.org/about-the-breed/health-research/golden-retriever-health-problems-and-life-expectancy/
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