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One of the questions that I get asked frequently as a pug owner is – “Do pugs stink all the time?” or “Does your pug stink? I heard pugs stink.”
I’m not really sure where this idea comes from but I’ve been asked that by at least half a dozen people in the past couple of years which seems unusually high. I don’t know why that idea gets passed around but I thought I would address it, anyway.
My answer is no, my pugs don’t stink all the time. At least not any more than the next dog. All dogs have a mild smell if you really scratch around and pet them hard you’ll get a tiny scent on your fingers. But if my dog were to sit down next to you, you wouldn’t smell anything.
However, pugs do have some unique health needs that can contribute to a bad odor if they are not well taken care of. Some of them are unique to pugs while others are just for dogs in general.
Pugs usually have wrinkles in their face, due to their flat faces. This creates little crevices that can collect fur that has been shed, moisture, dust, etc. I researched pug ownership before getting my two pugs and read that cleaning the nose and face wrinkles with a wet wipe once a day did the trick. I’ve found that my dogs don’t even need it to be done daily. With a daily wipe, my one pug was losing his fur in the crevices so we only do it about twice a week and that seems like a good balance for my dogs. If you don’t keep their face wrinkles clean and dry they can get irritated or infected. When they get infected that’s usually a yeast infection which has a bad odor, and is why some pugs may have stinky faces. I’ve read that some dogs are sensitive to alcohol in most baby wipes because it is drying, so going with an alcohol-free brand might be useful. Most stores have an alcohol-free wipe option though they can be pricy. Amazon element baby wipes are alcohol-free and work out to just .02 per wipe.
Dogs can also get yeast overgrowth in their ears. A couple of times over the years my dogs have had yeast infections that start in their ears. Just like with the wrinkles, this is caused by a the crevice of the ear getting damp and not being aired out or getting dried out. For treatment my vet told us to buy Virbac PH ear wash and a prescription cream (tri-otic ointment) to use for a few days. Now as maintenance to avoid a new infection we use the PH wash in their ears after a shower and make sure to use a towel to dry deep into their ears.
Dogs can also be stinky due to anal gland issues. Dogs have glands on either side of their bottom that are supposed to express themselves when the dog has a bowl movement. If they have soft or small stools regularly, sometimes the glands don’t naturally expressed and build up or get infected. Some pug owners have to have their dogs anal glands expressed at the very regularly. We had this issue once, but we had switched to a food that was causing loose stools so we switched food and their bathroom habits improved and they haven’t had any anal gland issues since.
Dogs can pass gas. My pugs are the first dogs that I’ve had as my own as an adult. Growing up we always had at least one dog, though. Of course, my experience is very anecdotal but my pugs seem to have bad gas far less frequently than the dogs we had growing up. Once every few months they might have an off day where they have really stinky gas (usually lots of tummy grumbling and/or trying to eat grass on the same day). Outside of those “bad tummy” days they don’t usually have stinky gas. My one pug coughs daily, and she always toots (out loud) when she coughs but we don’t notice any scent from it. If your dog has really bad gas I would talk to your vet or research their diet as something may be off there.
When we had an apartment with no tub we put this bin inside of the shower to bathe the pugs because they didn’t like showers.
Outside of those three issues, dogs need to be bathed, of course. We usually bathe our dogs once a month, and we line it up with their flea treatments for convenience. My pugs stay inside most of the time so they don’t run into stinky things very often, but if they were outside getting dirty or rolling in filth outside I would probably bathe them more often. We tried a few types that smelled a bit chemically which was off-putting. I also dealt with same dandruff after using Hartz dog shampoo. For the past 2.5 years or so we’ve been using Burts Bees Oatmeal Dog Shampoo. It has a gentle scent that isn’t too overpowering but smells fresh or clean, and it doesn’t cause dandruff or dry skin in my dogs.
If your pug (or other dog) stinks regularly despite being kept clean I would recommend seeing a vet to determine the cause. Tooth decay can cause stinky breath, some skin infections can cause odor, and so on. I don’t believe that a regular odor is normal for pugs or other dogs.
Do you have a pug? Do you find them to be stinkier than other dogs? Leave a comment if you want to share your experience.