Why Your Australian Shepherd Smells Bad (3 Ways to Fix It)

why does my australian shepherd smell

Australian shepherds are known for their beautiful long coats. However, like all dogs, they can begin to smell bad for one reason or another.

Because these dogs are one of the breeds considered least likely to develop bad smells, responsible Aussie owners know that a bad smell needs to be taken care of as quickly as possible.

Why does my Australian Shepherd smell so bad?

The reasons why your Australian shepherd smells bad could be caused by anything from poor hygiene to serious health issues. Aussies have a natural smell on their fur that gets stronger during shedding season.

However, if their coat is not properly washed, dried, and brushed, the smell can grow overpowering. Making sure your dog’s coat is fully dried after each bath or swim session can help cut down on smells. If this does not make your Aussie’s bad smell go away, you may consider taking your dog to the veterinarian.

Serious health issues such as thyroid disease, cancers, or drug sensitivity also cause Australian shepherds to smell bad.

Regardless of the reasons causing the smell, keeping your Aussie from smelling bad largely comes down to hygiene and taking care of their coat. Other common culprits include bedding that needs to be replaced and a humid climate combined with poor brushing habits.

Thankfully, there are ways you can keep your Australian Shepherd’s smell under control. Whether you find that only your dog smells bad or that their smell has invaded the entire house, you can get rid of it.

Learning more about your Australian Shepherd and what type of grooming they need can mean the difference between a smelly dog and a fresh coat.

Why Your Australian Shepherd Stinks

There are two main reasons why Australian shepherds stink: because of their hygiene routine or due to health issues.

While Aussies have a natural odor, with proper care it should not become an overpowering bad smell. Most often the cause of a strong odor from your shepherd is due to their coat’s condition.

For many owners, bathing their Australian shepherd poses some challenges. Their medium frame makes it hard to bathe them in an average size bathtub. This means baths often happen outdoors or exclusively at the groomer. If your Aussie is a fan of ponds or rolling around in the yard, this can lead directly to a smelly coat.

Australian shepherds have a thick undercoat that keeps them warm and safe during cold winter months. However, this layer starts to shed during the warmer spring and summer weather.

It can also stay damp for hours after a bath. If you find that your Aussie’s undercoat is still damp after a good towel dry or a long air dry, consider using a hairdryer or a dog-specific force dryer to get the moisture out.

A damp undercoat is an extremely common cause of Australian shepherds smelling bad.

However, serious health issues have a bad-smelling coat as a symptom. This includes everything from heart issues to cancer.

A persistent bad smell that does not go away with a strict grooming schedule should be a cause for concern. Speak to your veterinarian if you can not get the smell to go away with proper hygiene. They will be able to examine your Aussie and help you determine the next steps.

3 Ways To Fix A Smelly Australian Shepherd

1. Find The Right Grooming Schedule for your Aussie

Not every Australian shepherd will need to be bathed and groomed on the same schedule. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should aim to bathe as needed and see the groomer once every 4 to 6 months. If your dog has a habit of rolling around in the dirt or swimming in lakes or ponds, they will need a bath more often than the Aussie who only frequents the local dog park.

If you find yourself asking why your Australian shepherd smells so bad after a bath, make sure you dry their coat completely. If this does not solve the problem, begin brushing through your Aussie’s coat at least once a week. This maintenance between baths and grooming helps prevent smells from building up in their coat.

How often you go to see the groomer will depend on your dog and the climate you live in. Those who have Australian shepherds in colder climates may not want to keep their dog’s coat long. If you live in a more temperate or humid climate, you may consider keeping your Aussie’s coat on the short side and brushing them out yourself more regularly.

2. Keep Their Spaces Clean

If your Australian shepherd’s bedding or kennel is dirty, it’s only natural that they would begin to smell after a while. Keep an eye on your dog’s bedding and wash it as needed.

This goes for all of their blankets, pillows, or soft toys. Dirt and other smells that build upon their belongings can rub off on your Aussie’s coat. Keeping these clean can help stop and prevent Aussie smells from taking over your house.

Another way that dog smells can get trapped in your home is around their feeding area. Regularly clean their food and water dishes. Hair and fluids can cause a mess and begin to smell over time. This is one area to check if you find your home has a bad smell from your dog that you can’t find.

3. Visit Your Veterinarian

If diligently caring for your Aussie’s coat and his bedding does not solve the smell issue, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. An overpowering smell can be a sign of health issues ranging from manageable to severe. In some cases, your dog’s diet can also be to blame.

Your veterinarian will be able to give your dog a complete check-up. If their bad smell is caused by something other than grooming habits, they will point you toward a solution.

Even if your dog merely needs to change dog foods or brush types, speaking to your veterinarian provides peace of mind. This is also a chance for your veterinarian to provide advice about vitamins or supplements that can keep your dog’s coat healthy.

How Often Should You Bathe An Australian Shepherd?

How often you bathe your Australian shepherd will directly affect how bad it smells. Contrary to common belief, bathing your dog more often does not guarantee that it will smell better.

In fact, bathing your Aussie too often can contribute to its coat smelling! A coat that is too damp will have trouble drying completely. This can lead to skin and coat problems as well as a bad smell.

How often you bathe your Australian Shepherd will be affected by these factors:

  • How often your dog swims
  • The length of your dog’s coat
  • The cleanliness of their bedding
  • How dirty they get outside
  • Your local weather and environment

Many responsible Australian shepherd owners find that bathing their dog once a month is right. However, others find that their shepherds need to be bathed less often. Regardless of how often you bathe your Aussie, make sure that you create a full routine for your baths.

This includes taking extra care to ensure your shepherd’s coat is dry!

To start, try to only bathe your Aussie as needed. Avoid scheduling baths months in advance and focus on how your dog’s coat feels and smells. Do this during regular grooming sessions where you brush out their coat. You will find over time how often your dog needs to be bathed.

Why Does My Australian Shepherd Smell After A Bath?

If your dog’s bad smell persists even after a bath and thoroughly brushing out its coat, it may be time to head to the veterinarian.

Because Aussies have a double coat, they are naturally good at keeping their coats cleaned. With human help, they generally smell like any other type of dog. If their coat still smells bad after a good grooming, this could be a sign of health problems.

Another reason why your Australian shepherd could smell bad after a bath is poor foot hygiene. Dirt and other debris can get caught underneath Aussie’s claws and between the pads of their feet. If the odor does not seem to come from the dog’s main coat yet follows them around, check their paws.

It is unlikely that a smell from outside can stick to your dog’s coat even after heavy shampooing and careful grooming.

A smell that persists could mean that your dog is sick, their diet needs to be changed, or that they suffer from genetic conditions. Their coat smelling bad is merely a symptom and it is difficult to know what health issues your dog has from smell alone.

What Health Issues Cause Australian Shepherds To Smell Bad?

The health issues that cause bad smells in Australian shepherd coats can range from mild to severe. It is nearly impossible to tell if your Aussie has health issues by smell alone.

It’s important to take your dog to the vet right away if their smell does not go away with proper grooming and bed hygiene.

Many Australian shepherds suffer from drug sensitivity due to their genetic makeup. This can cause several health issues, and a poorly-smelling coat is one symptom. If your dog takes medication for other issues and suddenly develops a strong odor, talk to your veterinarian right away and have them tested for MDR1-related drug sensitivity.

More serious diseases such as cancer can also present themselves with bad smells. Your veterinarian will be able to run tests, using the bad smell and other symptoms as their guide.

Once they have answers, you can begin the process of restoring your dog’s health and natural smell. It may take time for smells caused by serious issues to go away. In the meantime, your vet will offer solutions and ideas to help keep the smell manageable.

How Do I Keep My House From Smelling Like My Australian Shepherd?

If you find that your home smells like your Australian shepherd, whether a good or a bad smell, you will want to take steps to get rid of it.

Go beyond making sure your Aussie is well-groomed and bathed. Make sure their area of your home is well-kept as well. This includes keeping it swept or vacuumed and regularly washing their bedding.

Poorly kept bedding will lead to lingering smells that can spread throughout your house. This includes bedding that needs to be replaced.

If a blanket or your dog’s bed is soiled beyond washing, replacing it can help manage your Aussie’s smell. However, make sure your dog is clean and smell-free before giving them any new bedding to help prevent future problems!

If you find that your home still smells like your Aussie after taking care of their bedding, consider where they spend most of their time.

If your Aussie likes to lay on the couch and shed, consider getting a pet bed to keep beside the couch. This will be easier to keep clean and smell-free than your entire couch. If the smell persists by your front or back door, consider cleaning your mats frequently to rid them of dog hair.

There are many reasons that may be the cause of your Australian shepherd smelling bad. Once you pinpoint the cause, you can start to control the smells.

If your dog needs fewer or more frequent baths, you can see improvement in as little as a few weeks. If not getting enough grooming is the problem, improvements in the smell may be immediate. Medical factors will take longer to treat and the smells may linger, but getting your Aussie healthy is the payoff.

See Also


ASCA. “Diseases and Defects.” ASCA | Australian Shepherd Club of America Information, 3 Aug. 2016, www.asca.org/the-australian-shepherd/about-aussies/health-and-genetics/diseases-and-defects


Hi, I'm the owner of Juniper Pets! You can often find me playing fetch with my dogs, working out or cooking up something legendary in the kitchen. Hope you enjoy my blog!

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