What Makes a Yorkie Stink and How to Tackle It?


Sharing your home with a stinky dog really isn’t much fun, and believe me, this is a subject close to my heart. Yorkies don’t have a reputation for being smelly dogs but if yours has begun to emit a pungent stench, it could be down to a number of reasons besides them having just rolled in something “delightful”.

Reasons your Yorkie may smell bad:

  • Coat and Skin problems
  • Ear infections or mites
  • Dental/Oral issues
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Digestive issues
  • Seasonal/Food Allergies
  • Gas/Flatulence
  • Damaged anal glands

As you can see, aside from the typical easy to solve odors that your dog may pick up more routinely, there are many causes for a Yorkie to stink. The key is to identify the correct cause so that the best solution can be implemented. I hope that with the information in this article you’ll manage to turn your stinky Yorkie back into a fresh-smelling pup once again.

Odors From A Yorkies Coat and Skin

Yorkies are among a few dog breeds that have hair instead of fur. One of the bonuses to this is that they don’t really shed as some other dogs do.

On the downside, when Yorkies’ hair gets particularly long it can be more prone to picking up dirt and bad aromas.

This is also in part due to small quantities of perspiration being emitted through hair follicles in the skin. Bad smells can also be caused by excessive oil buildup in a Yorkys’ hair.

Eventually, these factors can lead to a rank odor if your dog is not bathed regularly. A build-up of oil and perspiration can be prevented through routine bathing every 3 to 4 weeks.

A word of caution though, using the wrong shampoos and conditioners may exacerbate issues. It is also important to know that washing too often may also have an adverse effect, causing your Yorkie to get dry and irritated skin.

More on correct bathing practices later…

Health Conditions Leading to Smelly Skin in Yorkies

Yorkies are also susceptible to several different skin conditions that may cause their skin to smell bad. These include:

  • Seasonal/Food Allergies – can cause inflammation of the skin, leading to increased oil production resulting in a musty smell.
  • Yeast/bacterial infections – symptoms can include: redness of the skin, itching, sores, flaky skin, hair loss, greasy coat
  • Hormonal diseases – Such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. The symptoms for both of these conditions are fairly similar but Cushing’s disease usually affects middle-aged or older dogs. Symptoms for these hormonal diseases can include but are not limited to:
    • muscle weakness
    • obesity
    • an enlarged stomach/potbelly
    • hair loss
    • darkening of the skin
    • scaly areas on the skin
    • increased hunger, thirst, and urination
    • panting more often

If you suspect one of these conditions you should make an appointment at the vet for guidance and treatment.

Correct Bathing Practices

Yorkshire Terriers need to be bathed carefully with the right shampoo/conditioner and using the right technique.

Yorkie bathing products should have:

  • the correct pH balance – to help prevent skin rashes they need to be between 6.5 and 7.5 on the pH scale
  • the ability to reduce oil build up – to reduce the smell of old oil in the coat
  • moisturizing qualities – to prevent dry skin and prevent environmental infection
  • a neutral or natural scent – strong or chemical scents can aggravate skin problems (and offend a Yorkys’ sensitive sense of smell)

When bathing, you should try to use a canine shampoo as opposed to a human product. This one on Amazon is my top choice for Yorkies.

Please also consider reading my article “Can You Use Human Conditioner on Yorkies?” which covers some of the reasons why using a specially formulated conditioner for Yorkies is a must. There are also some recommendations for good Yorkie conditioners there too.

It is important to avoid products that contain petroleum, parabens, or sodium lauryl sulfate.

When your dog has been washed, it’s important to ensure that they are completely rinsed. Any remaining soap residue can lead to skin problems. Using a spray nozzle/shower works best to rinse your Yorkie’s hair thoroughly.

Care also needs to be taken in using the correct water temperature. Dry, irritated skin does better with cooler water. Hot water leads to increased dryness and itchy skin.

Brushing for a Fresher Smelling Yorkie

Due to the length of their hair, Yorkie’s sometimes can get dead loose strands. These dead hairs can become trapped at the base of the coat, near the skin and can contribute towards hair becoming matted.

Matting, in turn, results in trapped perspiration, oils, and bad smells. Removing these dead hairs and prevention of matting can be accomplished through proper grooming.

A soft, slicker brush works better so that you can make a full motion of down, through, and out in one sweep while brushing. Check the brush to make sure you are collecting dead hair. You want to reach the skin without causing discomfort.

I personally neglect to brush my Yorkie as frequently as I should but did you know that Yorkies should actually be groomed once every three days! If too much time passes, it decreases airflow to the skin resulting in a higher likelihood of matting, tangles, and skin problems.

Bad Odors From A Yorkies Ears

Ear odor can be the symptom of a few different issues such as excessive ear wax, infections, or ear mites.

Ear wax usually protects dogs’ ears, much the same as in peoples’ ears, collecting dust, dirt, and debris. Many Yorkies naturally have clean and healthy ears that very rarely need to be cleaned, if at all.

Unfortunately, for some Yorkies, this is not the case and excessive ear wax build-up can be an issue. Such dogs may need to have their ears cleaned out regularly to prevent unpleasant odor and/or infections. In these cases, prevention is much easier than treatment.

Some level of wax in Yorkies’ ears is normal but, if the ear looks swollen, red, or smells bad, you may need to see about getting treatment from your vet.

Cleaning Yorkie Ears

The same as your own ears, it’s important to clean the ear without going deep into the ear canal itself. Cleaning too deeply can also put the dog at risk of ear infection.

The clip below covers some good tips for cleaning dogs ears.

Various ear care products are available on the market. If you are unsure how to safely clean your Yorkies ears, you must ask a professional, such as a vet for assistance before even attempting it yourself.

Infected Ears

Even when you are cleaning your dog’s ears correctly, they can still become infected sometimes.

Infections are often caused when ears remain wet after bathing or swimming. Other than wax build-up or cleaning too deeply, infections can also be caused by ear mites.

An infected ear will usually have a bad odor, be painful to touch, and can often have discharge. The Yorkie will often scratch or rub their ears against various objects. If left untreated for too long, your dog may become dizzy or unbalanced which can even lead to vomiting.

Any infection needs to be treated immediately by a veterinarian. A veterinarian will flush and clean any debris out of the ear and provide a complete examination.

Typically, the Yorkie will need to have medications given at home. The infection will usually clear up in about one week as long as the ears are kept clean and dry.

Ear mites

Ear mites are nasty little creatures that can live inside your Yorkies ears or other areas of the body. They are extremely contagious and are very tiny making them almost impossible to see.

The main way to identify ear mites is through your dog’s symptoms:

  • Swelling in the ears
  • Irritation and scratching (may be mistaken for allergies)
  • Increased levels of earwax
  • Thick, possibly black ear discharge
  • Bad smell
  • Increased head shaking
  • Open or crusted sore at the base of the ear

If you suspect your Yorkie has ear mites, they will need their ears cleaned by a veterinarian and followed up with medical treatments.

Avoid do-it-yourself remedies as they often only kill the adults.

Making sure your Yorkie’s ears are completely dry after a bath and routinely cleaning can also help to prevent mites.

Bad Breath in Yorkies

Bad breath is a common issue among dogs. It’s often down to poor oral hygiene, although there are other factors that can also potentially cause a bad odor from the mouth.

Dental care must be completed as part of a regular grooming routine for all dog breeds. This is particularly important for Yorkies though as they are quite prone to dental issues due to their small jaw size.

Using dry food as opposed to wet foods can help with your dogs’ oral hygiene. however, regular brushing is still required in order to prevent the build-up of tartar, plaque, and food particles that can lead to pungent breath.

Dental Care

You should clean your dogs’ teeth at least 2 to 3 times per week. If you start this routine with a young puppy it’s easier than training an adult. They will still squirm, to begin with, but over time, they will become accustomed to having their teeth brushed.

Proper cleaning takes 2 to 3 minutes and can prevent tooth decay and tooth loss. Never use human toothpaste as it can be toxic to dogs. Look for a specially formulated dog toothpaste instead. A yearly scraping at the vets is also advised.

Chew toys can also help increase saliva production which can help reduce breath odor.

For Yorkie’s with severe bad breath, canine mouth wash water additives are a possible solution. This is a liquid that can be added to the dog’s water bowl.

The additives work in a variety of ways, such as destroying bacteria, decreasing plaque, and can help halt periodontal problems. Choosing the right additive for your Yorkie may require expert advice so you should really consult your vet prior to use.

Causes of Bad Breath in Yorkies

If your Yorkie develops bad breath even with good oral hygiene, it is essential to get a correct diagnosis so that the underlying condition can be treated. Many times the odor is caused by a disease.

  • Tooth Decay: Even if your Yorkie’s teeth are regularly cleaned, it’s important not to rule out tooth decay/gum disease as the cause of bad breath. It is still a possibility and one that can even lead to life-threatening complications if not treated.
  • Respiratory Disease: Colds, asthma, and other lung problems can cause bad breath. Any issue that causes coughing, sneezing, or wheezing can also lead to bad breath.
  • Digestive Issues: When stomach acid is regurgitated, it can cause sour, acidic breath. Vomiting, diarrhea, and a bacterial or worm infection in the stomach may also lead to foul breath.
  • Kidney Issues: When the kidneys are not functioning properly, a dog’s breath may smell like urine or ammonia.
  • Diabetes: High ketones can cause the breath to smell odd and fruity. It can also lead to gum disease, which can lead to other forms of bad breath.
  • Teething: Puppy’s milk teeth can actually partially decay as part of shedding. Food can also become trapped underneath. This may result in bad breath until the deciduous teeth are completely shed.
  • Foreign Object: Many dogs have a habit of mouthing objects they find. Sometimes a piece can get stuck between their teeth or in soft tissue in their mouth or throat. This can result in an infection that causes bad breath.

Anal Gland Odor

All dogs have anal glands otherwise known as anal sacs, one on each side of the anus. They release a scent that communicates information to other dogs such as gender, health status, and even temperament.

In healthy animals, they do not release enough liquid to create a noticeable smell. However, if they become engorged, they can rupture and release an intense smell. To prevent this, the glands often need to be expressed on a regular basis.

When a dog scoots on their bottom, this can often be a sign that they are attempting to relieve the itch and discomfort of the glands becoming too full.

Even if you do not see these signs, it’s good to have your dog checked every 4-6 months because if the glands do break, it can open the door to infection in addition to the horrible smell.

Other Possible Causes for a Pongy Pooch

If you have inspected your dog and do not think any of the above is causing the smell, you do have some other potential causes to check.

  • Make sure your shampoo itself is not causing the odor. This can be true of medicated shampoos, especially those with antibiotics in them.
  • Feces sometimes become stuck to the dog’s bottom resulted in a horrendous smell. When stuck to the hair, the smell can begin to permeate over the entire dog. Keep the hair around the anus trimmed to prevent this.
  • A wet dog is a smelly dog, even when kept clean. The rain, another water source, will activate the odor of any buildup in the coat since the last bath.
    • If you really do not want to give another bath, towel the coat dry to reduce odors. Use a patting motion, not rubbing to help keep the coat in good condition. You could also blow dry on the cool setting.
  • Mud from rain or ice melt in the winter can build-up fast in a Yorkie’s coat. It is suggested to give a bath if your Yorkie gets muddy or in ice melt.
    • Ice melt is very toxic to dogs. If you do not want to give them a full bath for fears of drying out the skin, make sure to spot clean the paws and coats with wipes to remove the ice melt.
  • Nutritional problems. Yorkies need quality dog food. They will often have gas, or another stomach upset if fed lower quality food. Really strong gas that leaves a lingering smell can be a sign that your Yorkie needs a diet change. If that does not work, consider a veterinarian appointment.

Mark Ingram

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. I hope that it was informative and useful in some way. I love all of my pets and their care is paramount to me. I hope that my writing will help others in caring for their pets also.

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