Home Dogs Why Does My Shih Tzu Smell? A Comprehensive Guide

Why Does My Shih Tzu Smell? A Comprehensive Guide

by Pawsome Tips
Why Does My Shih Tzu Smell

Do you often ask yourself, “Why does my Shih Tzu smell?” You’re not alone in this problem. Shih Tzus, though adorably furry and irresistibly charming, are infamous for their somewhat unexpected smell. 

The unique amalgamation of fur, playful zest, and a hint of mysterious odor can leave pet owners puzzled and at their wit’s end, searching for a formula to transform their beloved four-legged friend into the best-smelling dog in the park. 

This comprehensive guide aims to unravel the olfactory mystery surrounding your Shih Tzu, enlighten you with an understanding of the reasons behind these peculiar odors, and empower you with practical advice on maintaining superior pet hygiene. 

Grasp your leash, and let’s dive nose-first into better understanding Shih Tzu’s distinctive scent and how to tackle it. After all, the secret to ensuring a well-groomed, odor-free Shih Tzu exists, and we’re here to share the scent-free secret!

The Reasons Behind the Smell

Like any other dog, Shih Tzus has a natural doggy smell, which may indicate underlying issues when the odor becomes overpowering. The first step in managing the peculiar smell from your Shih Tzu is understanding its origin. In Shih Tzus, the primary sources of unpleasant odors are their ears, mouth, skin, and anal glands.

Each body part has a unique odor-causing issue. Ear infections are a common problem in Shih Tzus, which can lead to a foul smell. The breed’s long ears are more prone to moisture and heat buildup, creating the perfect bacterial and yeast growth environment. 

Similarly, dental diseases can cause bad breath, while skin infections and anal gland issues can lead to nasty smells.

Another essential aspect is that Shih Tzus are brachycephalic, meaning they have short noses and flat faces. This genetic trait makes them more susceptible to skin conditions, contributing to the unpleasant smell. Understanding these reasons is the first step towards combatting the smell and maintaining good hygiene in your Shih Tzu.

TerriAnneAllen / Pixabay

Comprehensive Guide to Shih Tzu Hygiene

Maintaining good hygiene is crucial for controlling the smell and ensuring a healthy and happy Shih Tzu. 

Regular Grooming

Regular grooming is fundamental, including bathing, brushing, ear cleaning, and dental hygiene. But remember, every Shih Tzu is unique so the grooming routine may vary based on the dog’s age, health, and lifestyle.


Bathing your Shih Tzu once every three to four weeks is usually sufficient. Over-bathing can strip the natural oils from their skin, leading to dryness and irritation. Use a gentle, dog-friendly shampoo and conditioner that will clean without drying out their skin. Rinse thoroughly to prevent residue buildup, which can cause itching and foul smells.

Brushing your Shih Tzu Coat

Brushing your Shih Tzu’s coat daily prevents matting and tangles. It also helps distribute natural oils, keeping the skin healthy and reducing odors. Use a high-quality dog brush suitable for long-haired breeds.

 Also, remember to clean their ears once a week using a vet-approved ear-cleaning solution.

How to Groom Your Shih Tzu

Grooming your Shih Tzu is about maintaining cleanliness and preventing health issues that can cause nasty smells. Regular grooming sessions also allow bonding with your pet and checking for any signs of health problems.

  • Start by brushing your Shih Tzu’s coat daily. This will remove loose hair and distribute the natural oils along the length of the hair, keeping it shiny and healthy.
  • Regularly trim their nails to prevent overgrowth, which can cause discomfort and lead to abnormal walking patterns.
  • Examine their ears for redness, inflammation, or bad smell, which could indicate an infection. Gently clean their ears using a cotton ball soaked in a vet-approved ear-cleaning solution.
  • Trimming your Shih Tzu’s fur is also an essential part of grooming. Keep the hair around their face, feet, and bottom short to prevent matting and trap smells.

Dietary Impact on Shih Tzu’s Smell

The saying, “You are what you eat,” holds for Shih Tzus. A balanced and nutritious diet is one of the most crucial elements in controlling your Shih Tzu’s smell. The food your Shih Tzu consumes directly impacts your health, skin condition, and coat quality.

Dogs eating low-quality commercial food often have dull coats and skin problems, which can contribute to bad smells. These foods often contain fillers and low-quality ingredients that lack essential nutrients. Instead, opt for high-quality dog food that contains real meat and a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. 

Foods rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can improve your Shih Tzu’s skin and coat health, reducing odors.

Dechra EicosaCaps Omega 3&6 Capsules

for Dogs Under 40 lbs

  • Brand: Dechra
  • Item Form: Capsule
  • Active Ingredients: Ascorbic acid,vitamin c,vitamin e,zinc
  • Item Weight: 0.15 Pounds
  • Target Species: Dog

Some Shih Tzus may have food allergies or sensitivities, which can cause skin reactions and add to the bad smell. If you suspect your Shih Tzu has a food allergy, consult your vet to identify the allergen and adjust their diet accordingly.

Health Issues Causing Bad Smell

While poor hygiene is a common cause of bad smells in Shih Tzus, specific health issues can also contribute to the problem. Dental disease, skin infections, ear infections, and anal gland issues are common health problems that can cause foul odors in Shih Tzus.

  • Dental diseases like periodontal disease and tooth decay can cause bad breath. Regular brushing and professional dental cleanings can prevent these issues. 
  • Skin infections, often caused by allergens, parasites, or hormonal imbalances, can lead to an unpleasant smell. Regular grooming and vet check-ups can help catch these problems early.
  • Ear infections are common in Shih Tzus due to their long ears, which can trap moisture and create a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. Regular ear cleaning can prevent these infections. 
  • Anal gland problems can also cause a strong, foul smell. If your Shih Tzu is scooting or licking their rear excessively, it may indicate an anal gland issue, and you should consult your vet.
sadlermark / Pixabay

Importance of Regular Vet Check-ups

Regular vet check-ups are essential in maintaining your Shih Tzu’s health and controlling bad smells. During these visits, your vet will thoroughly examine Shih Tzu’s skin, coat, ears, teeth, and anal glands. These check-ups can help catch potential health issues early before they cause severe complications and unpleasant smells.

In addition to regular check-ups, ensure your Shih Tzu is up-to-date on vaccinations and parasite prevention. Parasites, such as fleas and ticks, can cause skin infections and contribute to bad smells. Vaccinations protect your Shih Tzu from diseases affecting their overall health and hygiene.

Lastly, use these visits to discuss your concerns about your Shih Tzu’s hygiene or smell. Your vet can provide valuable advice and recommendations based on your Shih Tzu’s individual needs.

Top Products for Keeping Your Shih Tzu Fresh

Numerous products on the market are designed to help keep your Shih Tzu smelling fresh. These include dog-friendly shampoos and conditioners, ear-cleaning solutions, dental care products, grooming tools, and odor-neutralizing sprays.

When choosing a shampoo or conditioner, look for one that is gentle and designed for dogs. Avoid products with harsh chemicals, as they can dry out your Shih Tzu’s skin and cause irritation. Instead, opt for products with natural ingredients that will clean and deodorize without causing harm.

Healthy Breeds Shih Tzu Deodorizing Shampoo

  • Brand: Healthy Breeds
  • Scent: Sweet Pea and Vanilla
  • Product Benefits: Anti-Itch, Smoothing, Hypoallergenic, Natural, Moisturizing
  • Recommended Uses For Product: Itch, Sensitive Skin, Dry and Scaly Skin, Deodorizing
  • Material Type Free: Soap Free, Detergent Free

Given their susceptibility to ear infections, ear-cleaning solutions are necessary for Shih Tzus. Choose a product specifically designed for dogs and follow the instructions carefully. Dental care products, like dog-friendly toothpaste and toothbrushes, can help prevent dental diseases and combat bad breath.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Shih Tzu Hygiene

Maintaining good hygiene in your Shih Tzu involves more than just regular grooming; it’s also about avoiding common mistakes contributing to bad smells. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.


Do bathe your Shih Tzu regularly, but avoid over-bathing. Over-bathing can strip the skin of natural oils, leading to dryness and irritation. Brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth regularly to prevent dental diseases and bad breath. Feed your Shih Tzu a balanced diet supporting overall health and coat quality.


Don’t ignore the signs of health problems. If your Shih Tzu has a persistent foul smell, it could indicate a health issue that needs veterinary attention. Pay attention to your Shih Tzu’s ears. Regular ear cleaning is crucial in preventing ear infections. And finally, don’t use human products on your Shih Tzu. Human products can be too harsh for your Shih Tzu’s skin, leading to irritation and dryness.

Final Thoughts: Why Does My Shih Tzu Smell

Understanding why your Shih Tzu smells is the first step towards solving the problem. Whether it’s due to hygiene, diet, health issues, or a combination of these factors, rest assured that with proper care and attention, your Shih Tzu can be healthy and odor-free.

Regular grooming and vet check-ups, a balanced diet, and the right products can make a significant difference in controlling your Shih Tzu’s smell. Every Shih Tzu is unique, so finding a routine and products that work best for your pet is essential.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Adblock Detected

Please support us by disabling your AdBlocker extension from your browsers for our website.