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 Yorkshire Terrier Smells and Odors


We've heard quite a few owners ask if it is true that the Yorkshire Terrier breed has a particular smell or odor or if it is common for this dog to be smelly. 

In general, the Yorkshire Terrier breed does not have any breed related reasons for having a bad smell. However, there are reasons why a bad odor would permeate through the coat, ears, mouth and other areas.

We are going to look at the explanations of why a smell may be coming from a Yorkie and steps that you can take to keep your puppy or dog from maintaining a fresh, clean scent.

The Coat and Skin

There are 2 elements that can build up on the coat that will combine to create a disagreeable odor:

1- It is true that dogs mainly perspire through their paws, however this does not mean that the coat stays dry. 

A small amount of perspiration is emitted through hair follicles from the coat. While this is very light, in time - without the proper grooming and baths- this will begin to smell bad.

2- Natural body oils are found on the skin and these are produced to keep both skin and coat healthy. This has a very light scent as well, but as with perspiration, it can build up to the point of having a bad odor.

Skin conditions such as dry, irritated skin (sometimes due to allergies) can trigger the body to produce more oil than normal, and therefore without a few extra baths with a quality product that is both moisturizing and protecting, an odor can begin to build up.
How to Resolve This -   
  • If your Yorkie has any sort of skin irritation (dry skin, yeast, mites), this should be treated. You may wish to read about about Yorkie skin conditions.
  • If your Yorkie does not have any sort of skin issue, the best method of controlling the buildup of oil and perspiration is to give your puppy or dog a bath every 3 to 4 weeks. It may be tempting to offer this more frequent - every 2 weeks or even once a week - however too many baths - even with the right, quality products- can dry out the skin which can then lead to other problems.
  • Speaking of the right products, do be sure to never use a human shampoo. Canine shampoos are formulated for dogs and choosing the right shampoo and conditioner is an important step of proper grooming. If your current shampoos are not working as they should, look into obtaining quality shampoos that are best for the Yorkshire Terrier breed. 


While the ears of a Yorkshire Terrier are small, it is amazing how much of a bad smell can emit from a dirty ear. Ears hold wax, which acts as a protector - the wax catches and collects a mixture of dust, dirt and debris. If the ears are not cleaned, there will be a buildup of this now-dirty wax and this can most certainly give off a very unpleasant odor.

 In addition, without regular cleanings, the ears can become infected and that infection will give off a very bad smell. Cleaning is rather easy and only takes a few minutes. You may wish to read more in: Yorkie Ears.
Yorkshire Terrier adult and puppy

The Mouth

Again, this is another small area, however issues in the mouth can cause very strong odors and make a Yorkie have smelly breath. A very important aspect of grooming is dental care. While chewing on hard treats does remove SOME plague, it is a myth that chewing can properly clean a dog's teeth. Without regular brushings, there will be a gradual buildup of tarter, plague and food particles. When combined, this can create a very bad smell that can be picked up from across the room.

Brushing your Yorkshire Terrier's teeth should be a daily ritual. Many owners find it best to do this in the morning; however do choose a time when you will not feel rushed. 

While young puppies will squirm and want to get away, starting this at a young age allows a dog to become accustomed to having his/her mouth touched and manipulated. 

In time, a dog will calm down and allow his owner to scrub away. 

Choosing a particular time of the day is often helpful since canines have such amazing internal clocks. A Yorkie is more prone to sitting and behaving if he/she learns that it is "teeth cleaning time".

In addition to daily cleanings, a yearly scraping is very important. Some owners prefer to do this at home, however unless you feel very comfortable doing so, it is recommended to allow an experienced veterinarian do this yearly cleaning that will help keep both teeth and gums healthy. It is sad to see older dogs with tooth decay and either loose teeth or missing teeth - and this can be avoided with just a few minutes of cleaning each day.

Proper cleaning will take 2 to 3 minutes. Never use human paste since it can be toxic if swallowed. Many Yorkies seem to love a paste that has a vanilla base. 

Finally, to keep bad smells away and allow your Yorkshire Terrier to have a fresh, clean breath it is recommended to offer healthy treats that promote fresh breath, clean teeth. Be sure to look for a product that has no artificial colors or flavors. 

Anal Glands

All dogs, both male and female, have anal glands. There is one on each side of the anus and are sometimes called scent glands. This is because they contain a liquid, that when released, works to allow dogs to communicate with each other. The odor lets a dog know: the gender, health status and even the temperament of another dog.

Normal, healthy anal glands will not release enough liquid for there to be an identifiable odor or smell. However, if these become engorged and suddenly break open, the smell can be quite overpowering. Many Yorkies will need to have their anal glands expressed on a regular basis and this can be done by a groomer or by a veterinarian. 
When these anal glands are becoming filled with too much liquid, a dog will often scoot across the ground and some owners mistake this for a dog trying to 'wipe his bottom' after having a bowel movement. However, the area is causing irritation and a dog will work to relieve the itching and discomfort. 

It is important to have these checked by a groomer or vet every 4 to 6 months - if they do become engorged and break open, not only will it release a horrible smell, the oil itself is very difficult to clean and the skin tears will be vulnerable to infection.


Just like humans, canine do have flatulence and if it is severe enough, the smell is not only horrible when the gas is released, it can also essentially surround a dog and cause bedding and other areas to have a bad smell. 

Having a little bit of gas is normal and no reason to be concerned. However if you find that your Yorkie has moderate to severe flatulence and it is causing lingering smells, it is recommended to bring this to the attention of the veterinarian.

There are some underlying medical issues that can cause this, however in most cases it is a matter of making changes to the diet. Some elements that can cause smelly gas symptoms are: A sudden change in diet, ingestion of too many peas (also beans - however it is not recommended to feed these to a dog), meals that are too high in fat, spices that are added to food and/or foods too high in fiber. You may wish to read more about: Feeding a Yorkshire Terrier

Other Possible Causes for Bad Odor and Smell Issues with the Yorkshire Terrier

  • There are some medications that have a side effect of producing odors. Included are some antibiotics and medicated shampoos.
  • Feces can become stuck to a dog's bottom, which of course will send out a terrible stink that causes owners to be concerned that their dog smells bad; it's an area that one does not automatically inspect but feces stuck to hairs here can cause a smell that permeates over the entire dog. One way to avoid this is to keep the hairs around the anus trimmed. Another option is to wipe the area with a baby wipe after the puppy or dog goes to the bathroom.
  • When out in the rain, if the coat becomes wet it can smell - even if it is clean. Why? Within a few days of a bath, there will still be a small buildup of dirt, tiny food particles and even a bit of feces perhaps stuck to the anus of a dog (see above) and when the coat is wet, the combination of these scents can combine to produce a bad odor.
If you have just given your Yorkie a bath recently and the coat becomes wet via another means (rain shower, etc.) it is suggested to towel dry the coat - using patting motions, not rubbing as that can cause split ends - or to spray the coat with a mist of leave in condition and then blow dry on a cool/warm (not hot) setting. 

If there is any mud from rain in the summer, ice melt chemicals from puddles in the winter or any other element that has found its way onto the coat, it is then suggested to give your Yorkie another bath even if he/she is not due for one. 

** Ice melt chemicals must should always be washed off since they can do quite a bit of damage to paws and the coat - and additionally are toxic. ** Too many baths can dry out the skin, however if you are using quality products that promote healthy skin and hair, an extra bath now and then to clean off odors will not be an issue.
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