6 Reasons Why Your Shih Tzu Smell Even After a Bath & how to solve them.

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Having a Shih Tzu with an unpleasant odor can be a challenging experience for any pet owner, especially when the smell persists even after a bath. There are various reasons why your Shih Tzu might still emit a bad odor, ranging from health issues to grooming habits.

In this article, we will explore the top reasons behind this issue and provide effective solutions to ensure your furry friend smells fresh and clean.

Key Takeaways

  • Regular grooming and proper drying are essential to prevent bad odors in Shih Tzus.
  • Dietary factors can significantly impact your Shih Tzu’s overall smell.
  • Ear and skin infections are common causes of persistent bad odors.
  • Environmental factors like outdoor activities and household cleanliness play a role in your dog’s odor.
  • Health conditions such as dental issues, digestive problems, and hormonal imbalances can contribute to unpleasant smells.

Why Your Shih Tzu Might Smell Bad

There are quite a few possible reasons why a Shih Tzu may have an unpleasant odor. In some cases, it’s a matter of more than one thing happening at the same time. Top causes are:

1. Dental Issues

Bad breath in dogs can be a sign of dental problems like tartar buildup, gum disease, or tooth decay, contributing to an overall unpleasant odor. Just like in humans, poor oral hygiene in dogs is a major culprit for doggy breath. When food particles get lodged between teeth and aren’t brushed away, they create a breeding ground for bacteria. This bacteria produces foul-smelling sulfur compounds, causing that stinky breath.

Signs of dental problems in dogs:

  • Bad breath, of course!
  • Red, inflamed gums (gingivitis)
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to schedule a visit with your veterinarian. They can examine your dog’s mouth, diagnose any underlying issues, and recommend the best course of treatment.

Preventing dental problems:

The good news is that most dental problems in dogs are preventable with good oral hygiene practices. Here are some tips:

  • Brush your dog’s teeth daily: This may seem daunting at first, but with a little patience, most dogs can learn to tolerate (and even enjoy!) teeth brushing. There are special dog toothbrushes and toothpaste available that are safe for your canine companion.
  • Offer dental chews: Dental chews can help to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your dog’s teeth. Look for chews that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval.
  • Schedule regular dental cleanings: Even with good at-home care, your dog will still need professional dental cleanings every 1-2 years. This will help to remove any tartar buildup that you can’t reach with brushing and prevent more serious dental problems from developing.

2. Poor Grooming Habits

Lack of regular grooming can lead to a buildup of dirt, oils, and dander on a Shih Tzu’s coat, which can trap bacteria and create a noticeable smell. This isn’t just unpleasant for you, it can also irritate your Shih Tzu’s skin. Here’s why regular grooming is so important for these adorable pups:

  • Reduces matting: Shih Tzus have long, flowing hair that’s prone to matting. Mats can trap dirt, moisture, and dead skin, further contributing to odor. Regular brushing helps prevent mats from forming and keeps their coat healthy.
  • Maintains healthy skin: Brushing helps distribute natural oils throughout the coat, keeping your Shih Tzu’s skin moisturized and healthy. A neglected coat can become dry, itchy, and susceptible to infections, all of which can contribute to a doggy odor.
  • Promotes good hygiene: Regular grooming allows you to check your Shih Tzu’s ears, paws, and other areas for signs of infection or irritation. Early detection and treatment can prevent these issues from developing and causing discomfort or odor.

Here is the Right Way: How To Properly Groom Your Shih Tzu Dog.

How often should you groom your Shih Tzu?

The ideal grooming frequency for a Shih Tzu is every 4 to 6 weeks. It’s recomended you groom your shih tzu or take it to a professional groomer. Moreover, also brush them at least every other day, with a more thorough bath and brush session once a week.

3. Environmental Factors

A dog’s adventures can sometimes leave them smelling less than delightful. Here are some environmental culprits to be aware of:

  • The Great Outdoors: Rolling in mud, splashing in ponds, and encountering various wildlife can leave your dog coated in earthy scents, algae, or even animal byproducts.
  • Smokey Situations: Whether from campfires, fireplaces, or encountering smoke from traffic, dogs can easily absorb smoky odors into their fur.
  • Skunk Encounters: A close call with a skunk can leave your dog reeking for days! Their spray contains highly potent sulfur compounds that are very difficult to remove.

While these environmental encounters are often part of an enriching life for our canine companions, a good bath or thorough brushing can help neutralize unpleasant odors.

4. Dietary Factors

A well-balanced diet plays a crucial role in managing your Shih Tzu’s overall odor. The right food not only meets their nutritional needs but also affects their skin and coat health, which in turn can influence their natural scent. Here are some tips:

How to solve and provide good diets to Your shih tzu to make them smell good

  • Quality Ingredients: Food allergies and sensitivities to certain ingredients, whether it’s corn or a specific animal protein, can trigger an overreaction in your dog’s system. Switching to a high-quality diet and trying novel proteins can bring your dog some much-needed relief from itchy skin and tummy issues.
  • Observation and Adjustment: Pay close attention to how dietary changes affect your Shih Tzu. If you notice an increase in odor after introducing new foods or supplements, it may be necessary to adjust their diet again.

Remember, if your pup is a big groomer, anything that touches their tongue can be spread onto their fur as they lick, so consider their food selection if body odor pops up after a fresh bath and their next meal.

5. Ear Infections

Ear infections in Shih Tzus are a specialized form of skin disease often complicated by severe yeast or bacterial overgrowth. They nearly always smell strongly, and if you put your nose right up to the canal, there’s no mistaking the origin. Sometimes the infection is so deep that the ear canal looks normal on the outside.

How to Prevent ear infections in your shih tzu

Preventing ear infections in your Shih Tzu involves regular cleaning and maintenance. Here are some tips:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Use a vet-approved ear cleaner to gently clean your dog’s ears. Avoid using water as it can cause more problems.
  2. Keep Ears Dry: Make sure to dry your dog’s ears thoroughly after baths or swimming. Moisture can create a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast.
  3. Monitor for Allergies: Food and environmental allergies can cause chronic ear infections. Consult your vet for allergy testing and management.
  4. Routine Vet Visits: Regular check-ups can help catch ear infections early before they become severe.

6. Skin Infections

Skin infections are often smelly, with an unpleasant odor that lingers even after a bath. These infections can be either fungal or bacterial in origin. Bacterial skin infections affect the hair follicles and surrounding skin, often due to underlying causes like allergies, endocrine diseases, parasites, or immunosuppression. Bite wounds and foreign bodies such as grass seeds can also lead to foul-smelling bacterial skin infections. Breeds with excessive skin folds, like Bulldogs and Spaniels, are particularly prone to these infections due to moisture being trapped between their skin folds.

How to prevent skin infection in your shih tzu

To prevent skin infections in your Shih Tzu, it’s crucial to maintain good hygiene and regular grooming. Here are some tips:

  1. Regular Baths: Use a gentle, dog-specific shampoo to keep their skin clean.
  2. Dry Thoroughly: Make sure to dry your Shih Tzu completely after baths to prevent moisture buildup.
  3. Check for Allergies: Identify and manage any allergies that could be causing skin irritation.
  4. Regular Vet Visits: Schedule regular check-ups to catch any potential skin issues early.
  5. Healthy Diet: Ensure your Shih Tzu is on a balanced diet to support their skin health.

Tips for Bathing Your Shih Tzu to kill that Odor Perminently.

Bathing your Shih Tzu properly is essential to keep them smelling fresh. Here are some tips to help you out:

Proper Shampoo Selection

Choosing the right shampoo is crucial. Opt for a high-quality, pet-safe shampoo designed specifically for dogs. Avoid using human shampoos as they can irritate your Shih Tzu’s skin and exacerbate odors.

Thorough Drying

A ‘wet dog smell’ often puzzles pet owners, especially after their dog has had a bath or been out in the rain. This odor is due to bacteria and yeast on the skin releasing unpleasant scents upon contact with water. To tackle this, it’s vital to use an effective shampoo and ensure your Shih Tzu is thoroughly dried after getting wet, whether from a bath or rain. Here are some key tips:

  1. Use a towel to remove excess water.
  2. Follow up with a pet-safe blow dryer on a low heat setting.
  3. Make sure their fur is completely dry to prevent any lingering odors.

Regular Grooming

Regular grooming is essential to keep your Shih Tzu smelling fresh. Brush their coat daily to remove dirt, debris, and loose hair. Regular grooming sessions also help distribute natural oils, keeping their skin and coat healthy. Don’t forget to trim their nails and clean their ears as part of the grooming routine.

Common Mistakes That will make your shih tzu smell bad

Neglecting Dental Care

One of the most common mistakes is neglecting your Shih Tzu’s dental care. Bad breath in dogs can be a sign of dental problems like tartar buildup, gum disease, or tooth decay. Make sure to brush your dog’s teeth regularly and provide dental chews to keep their mouth healthy and odor-free.

Ignoring Anal Glands

Another often overlooked issue is the anal glands. If these glands are not expressed regularly, they can emit a very unpleasant odor. You can ask your vet to show you how to do this or have it done during grooming sessions.

Overlooking Paw Hygiene

Your Shih Tzu’s paws can trap dirt, debris, and even bacteria, leading to a bad smell. Regularly check and clean their paws, especially after outdoor activities. Trim the fur around their paws and keep their nails short to maintain good hygiene.

Environmental Factors Affecting Shih Tzu Odor

Outdoor Activities

Your Shih Tzu loves to play outside, but this can lead to them picking up all sorts of smells. Mud, grass, and even other animals can contribute to a lingering odor. Regularly cleaning your dog’s paws and coat after outdoor activities can help minimize this issue.

Household Cleanliness

Maintaining a clean living environment is crucial. Dogs spend a lot of time in their bedding and living spaces, which can harbor odors if not cleaned regularly. Make sure to wash their bedding and toys frequently. A clean home means a cleaner, fresher-smelling Shih Tzu.

Allergens in the Home

Just like humans, dogs can be sensitive to allergens. Dust, mold, and pollen can not only make your Shih Tzu uncomfortable but also contribute to a bad smell. Regular vacuuming and using air purifiers can help keep these allergens at bay, ensuring your dog smells as good as they feel.

Health Conditions That Adds in Causing Shih Tzu Odor

Digestive Problems Plus Easy Solution to Make Them Feel Better

Digestive issues can also contribute to a bad smell. If your Shih Tzu has a sensitive stomach or food allergies, it can lead to gas and other digestive problems that cause odor. Switching to a high-quality, easily digestible diet can help. Consult your vet for recommendations on the best food for your dog.

Hormonal Imbalance: Prevention, Solution

Hormonal imbalances, such as hypothyroidism, can affect your Shih Tzu’s skin and coat, leading to an unusual odor. Symptoms may include hair loss, weight gain, and lethargy. If you suspect a hormonal imbalance, it’s important to see your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Medication and dietary changes can often help manage these conditions effectively.

When to See a Vet for Help

Should I take my dog to the vet if I can’t kill that odor

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your Shih Tzu’s odor just won’t go away. When in doubt, call your vet. You might not need to rush them in for an emergency appointment, but giving the vet a call can give you a chance to discuss the problem and determine whether or not you need to bring them in right away.

Here are some signs that it’s time to see the vet:

  • Skin that looks irritated, inflamed, or infected.
  • An aversion to eating, swollen gums, or a personality change indicating pain.
  • New lesions or increased discomfort.

It’s also a good idea to wash your pup before their vet appointment so you can point out any specific smells you have a concern about. If the odor is awful, more awful than normal, give your vet a call and have them take a look sooner rather than later.


Dealing with a stinky Shih Tzu can be frustrating, but understanding the root causes can make all the difference. From dietary factors and ear infections to proper grooming and environmental influences, there are many reasons why your furry friend might smell bad even after a bath.

By addressing these issues head-on and following the tips provided, you can help your Shih Tzu smell fresh and clean. Remember, if the odor persists despite your best efforts, it’s always a good idea to consult your vet for further advice.

A fresh-smelling Shih Tzu is a happy Shih Tzu, and a happy Shih Tzu means a happier home!


Why does my Shih Tzu still smell bad after a bath?

There are several reasons why your Shih Tzu might still smell bad after a bath, including underlying health conditions, improper drying, or environmental factors.

How often should I bathe my Shih Tzu to prevent bad odor?

It’s generally recommended to bathe your Shih Tzu every 3 to 4 weeks. However, this can vary depending on your dog’s specific needs and lifestyle.

Can diet affect my Shih Tzu’s odor?

Yes, a poor diet can contribute to bad odor in Shih Tzus. Feeding your dog high-quality, balanced food can help reduce unpleasant smells.

What type of shampoo should I use for my Shih Tzu?

Use a high-quality dog shampoo specifically formulated for Shih Tzus or dogs with sensitive skin. Avoid using human shampoos as they can irritate your dog’s skin.

How can I prevent ear infections in my Shih Tzu?

Regularly cleaning your Shih Tzu’s ears and keeping them dry can help prevent ear infections. Consult your vet for recommended ear cleaning solutions.

What can I do about my Shih Tzu’s bad breath?

Bad breath is often a sign of dental issues. Regular brushing, dental chews, and professional cleanings can help maintain your Shih Tzu’s oral health and reduce bad breath.

How do I properly dry my Shih Tzu after a bath?

Thoroughly towel dry your Shih Tzu and use a pet-safe blow dryer on a low setting to ensure their coat is completely dry. This helps prevent the ‘wet dog smell’.

When should I take my Shih Tzu to the vet for bad odor?

If your Shih Tzu continues to smell bad despite regular grooming and proper care, it’s best to consult your vet to rule out any underlying health issues.

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