Why Does My Dog Smell So Bad After a Walk

smelly dog

Have you ever got back from a walk only to be met with an awful stale dog smell? Well if you’re a dog owner you have, but what are the reasons your dog smells so bad after a walk.

The reason why dogs smell after a walk is simply because they sweat. Dogs perspire mainly from their paws but also emit a scent from their hair follicles. The hair on a dog is capable of retaining that scent for some time and an accumulation of this leads to a smelly dog after a walk.

Dogs love to get a sweat on and this can lead to a smelly dog. In this post we delve into how this happens and what you can do to help reduce that stink.


Why Does Exercise Cause a Dog to Smell

Although dogs mainly sweat from their paws, a small amount of sweat is excreted from their hair follicles. The smell your dog has is individual to them and in the wild allows them to spread there own scent where they need to. Have you ever noticed that your dog rolls around when they arrive back from a walk, this is them spreading that scent around ensuring your home, which they see as theirs is well marked.

A dog’s fur is a great tool for them to spread their scent and naturally it is able to retain a scent for a long time. With this being said the combination of walking and running, along with the excretion of sweat gives them the perfect, territory marking scent. This smell shouldn’t be overpowering but unique to them, if the smell is more powerful then it may be something else.

A Dogs Fur Can Retain Scent

As previously stated a dog’s fur is a great tool for them to spread their scent. However, this means it is also good at retaining smells, not only their own but everything else too. You may not notice it on a walk especially if your dog is off the lead in the woods.

As you go about your walk they will tend to pick up different scents and as they investigate everything during their walk, their fur will retain the smells they come across. Some smells may only be subtle, but a build-up of all these smells can sometimes produce one smelly dog when you arrive home. Remember that smells you are not used to smelling can seem more overpowering than ones you are used to, so it may only smell bad to you and not others.

Why Do Dogs Smell Worse When They Are Wet

Have you ever wondered why a dog smells worse when they are wet, well if your a dog owner you probably just want to give them another bath. It no secret that many dogs love water, but the reason behind wet dog smell is much more simple than you think. Dogs naturally have bacteria and organisms like yeast living on their skin, these organisms have an extremely bad smell as many bakers know yeast can smell a bit like rotten bread.

So why do dogs smell worse when they are wet. Researchers have found that these organisms have smells that happily sit docile in your dog’s fur. However, when a dog gets wet these organisms are disturbed and broken apart, distributing them into the air and into your nose. This is why dogs smell worse when they are wet and a frustrating scenario to deal with after you have spent an hour fighting with your pooch to give him a bath.

Speaking from personal experience and from owning a water-loving golden retriever the one thing that always made him smell was after he had been swimming in the river. It was not just the fact that he was wet, it was mainly down to the wax leaking from his ears. Being a golden retriever owner we always keep on top form when it comes to ear care and regular cleaning is essential however when the water gets into his ears it leaks out along with the wax. This wax smells really bad, the best thing you can do is continue to keep on top of their ear care and ensure they don’t spend too much time in the water.

morning dog walk

Dogs Have Smelly Bottoms

As dog owners you probably don’t have to imagine how badly a dog’s bum can smell. Depending on how close you want to get to your dogs behind, smelly bottoms aren’t something that is always present. However, when you take your dog out for a walk, what is the one thing you can guarantee they will do. Yep, you guessed, go for a poop. Going to the toilet is a natural part of a dog’s digestive system and something that should be encouraged. However, in the wild it has another important benefit.

One way in which dogs communicate with each other is by urinating. According to PetMD, the same can be said for poop, dogs don’t just poop as part of there digestive system. Although this is an important part and if your dog needs the toilet they will go, but a lot of thought goes into where to poop. By pooping in a certain place your dog can tell other dogs that come past, that this is their territory. The glands that reside in your dog’s butt, excrete chemicals that ensure a super smelly poop, which will then be noticeable by other dogs. However these chemicals can still excrete slightly after they go to the toilet and so if your dog poops on a walk it’s most likely they will smell after a walk.

Something You Might Not Have Noticed

Its often whilst walk our dog, we feel the most relaxed. Especially an off-lead walk through quiet woodland or empty beaches. The reasoning behind your dog’s smelly odor could be due to your own attention span. Keeping an eye on what your dog is doing may unveil why they are smelling so badly after a walk. Dogs love to scavenge and it may well be that your dog has found something that smells so good (bad to humans) that they couldn’t resist eating it. sheep poo is a great example, I can’t explain how many times we had to stop our dogs from eating sheep poo when they were puppies. Your dog may roll in something also, dead badgers and other bad smelling odours are hard to resist from a dog’s point of view. So keep an eye on what they do and you may solve your smelly dog issues.

What Can You do to Help Prevent You Dog From Smelling After a Walk

If you really don’t want to have a smelly dog after your walk, here are some tips to help keep those smells at bay.

  • Cleaning your dog leads, harness, collar, and other items they wear during their walk can help prevent past walk smells from latching back on.
  • Letting your dog get wet is something that sometimes can’t be helped. However being more vigilant and trying to prevent them from getting wet can help keep them from getting that wet dog smell.
  • Bathing your dog is the most obvious solution. However you must be careful not to wash them too much as this can cause damage to their skin. Using a quality shampoo and a gentle touch can help reduce the negative effects of bathing your dog.
  • Regular grooming can help reduce smells and keep your dogs coat looking great. Short-haired dogs will have less of a problem with smells, as their fur does not retain them as easily.
  • Using a dog coat can help protect your dog from smells and if you wash it every time you go for a walk the good smelling coat may have some positive effects on your dog’s fur.
  • Visit dryer more deserted locations. Most of the time smells come from plants and animals that live in your walking location. By choosing somewhere a bit more empty you can prevent these smells latching onto your dog.


Having a smelly dog is something that owners will know is part of the deal. Hopefully this advice has given you some knowledge on why your dog smells after a walk and what you can do to help prevent it. If you enjoyed this article check out some of our other posts, all about dogs and the great outdoors. If you are interested in cleaning your dog after a walk check out our article on “How to Clean Your Dog After a Walk”




Dean Lissaman

As a child I grew up around dogs and have loved them ever since. I now have a beloved Golden Retriever who enjoys exploring the outside world. Being an outdoor enthusiast has inspired me to create the ultimate resource on relating both dogs and the outdoors. For more information on me check out my about page.

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