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My mom has a terrier mix named Silly Boy, who I dog sit often. Silly Boy loves to give me lots of love and kisses, which I welcome. But sometimes a stink emanates from his face, making me shy away from those kisses. We lovingly call it his “stinky face.” The odor always emanates from around the eyes, to which my mom gently wipes them with a warm, damp cloth. My boyfriend has a pit bull, Thor, who never suffers from a stinky face. Don’t get me wrong, Thor can get stinky. He just doesn’t get a stench around the eyes. So this had me pondering: Why does Silly Boy have a stinky face and Thor doesn’t? What causes this malodor? And why do some dogs get it and others do not?

In this post, we will answer all these questions and examine the three main causes of a smelly face.


In most cases, it is normal for a dog to become smelly. Rolling around in dirt and other things gets a dog dirty. A bath solves a stinky dog problem. But there are areas on a dog that tend to cause a smell around the face, these include:

  • Eyes

  • Mouth 

  • Ears

1. Stinky eyes

Excessive tearing is one cause of a stinky face in a dog, gooey eye boogers, or crusty eye build-up can make matters worse. 

If left uncleaned, bacteria can accumulate in the fur by the eyes and can cause an unpleasant smell. Some dog breeds are more susceptible to teary eyes than others (see below.) 

Some tearing may be serious. But if you see eye tearing along with other symptoms, it's always safest to contact your veterinarian,

Symptoms of concern include:

  • Green or yellow discharge

  • Redness around the eyes

  • Swelling around the eye

  • Pawing at the face

It is important to observe symptoms and the color of the discharge to determine whether your pup has occasional stinky eyes or a condition that warrants a vet visit. 

To prevent stinky eyes, simply clean them up with a warm, damp cloth every day as much as needed.

2. Stinky mouth

Stinky dog breath can make you turn up your nose. Dogs get bad breath that can lead to a stinky face.

Just like humans, dogs get plaque, tartar, and build-up on their teeth that give them smelly breath. 

Brushing your dog's teeth may be a hard task to accomplish, but just like keeping claws trimmed, it is an important step to your dog's overall health. 

Regular brushing is important to prevent future dental problems and even tooth loss. Ask your vet for a toothbrush and specially formulated toothpaste to get you started.

3. Stinky ears

Ears are another source of stench in a pup. In most cases, if you notice a foul odor coming from the ears, it could be a sign of an ear infection. Floppy-eared dogs are more prone to develop ear infections.

  • Signs of a potential ear infection

  • Shaking of the head

  • Odor coming from the ear canal

  • Redness 

  • Discharge

If you suspect your pup has an ear infection, take them to the vet right away, since ear infections can be very uncomfortable and painful for your pup.

Preventative care includes cleaning the ear carefully with a cotton swab regularly. Ask your vet for a cleaning solution to help get the task done. 

As always, it is important to monitor your pup to make sure a more serious problem isn’t causing the stench. 


Some dog breeds are simply more prone to a stinky face. Short-nosed dogs, dogs with shallow eye sockets, or dogs with excessive fur around the eyes are more prone to tearing. Some examples include poodles, pugs, and Shih Tzus. Remember Silly Boy? Well, he has thick fur around his eyes, which helps explain his stinky face. 

We cannot forget another reason dogs can suffer from a stinky face: wrinkles! Dog breeds such as Bulldogs and Pugs are likely to have a stench emanate from their wrinkles. These breeds need special attention to keep wrinkles and folds clean and dry to prevent bacteria and infection.


Dogs are not immune to being stinky. Just like people, they need regular baths to prevent stinkiness. But do not forget to care for the less obvious stinky spots. Check eyes, mouth, and ears often to keep your pup clean and feeling good. And once again, if you suspect your dog might have a more serious medical condition, or if you clean your pup thoroughly and the stench prevails, take him to see a vet. 

Do you want more great content about your furry best friend? Read more from the New Life K9s blog

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