Join the Great Dane Care Newsletter!

Free access to exclusive tips, tricks, puppy info, training, and more.

7 Reasons Your Great Dane Smells Bad and How To Fix It

Is your Great Dane smelling bad? There are many reasons that your dog is smelling this way.  Some of these can be easily fixed, while others may take you a little while to figure out why your Great Dane smells so bad. 

There are many quick fixes that you can try to help your Great Dane smell much better, but sometimes this smell needs your vet to look at them. 

The 7 most common reasons that your Great Dane may smell are: 

  1. Ear Infection
  2. Dental problems
  3. Flatulence
  4. Gastrointestinal Issues
  5. Skin Infection
  6. Anal Gland Problems
  7. Dirty Coats

Even with this variety of potential reasons for a smelly Great Dane, there are a variety of solutions to fix them. The treatment for the bad smell will depend on what is causing your Great Dane to smell, so keep reading to learn more about each.

Note that in some cases, the bad smell may even be due to multiple sources and not just one thing.

Common Reasons That Your Great Dane Smells

Ear Infection

If you have ever noticed a bad smell or black discharge coming from your dog’s ear, your Great Dane most likely has an ear infection. If your Great Dane has an infection in their ear, you will need to see your vet. 

They can take a sample from their ear and see what is growing in your Great Dane’s ear. Then they can start them on medication to treat the infection.

Your Great Dane can have a smell coming from their ears even before they start to show signs of an infection. The smell is the result of excessive moisture in their ears. This excessive moisture can lead to bacterial and yeast infection, causing a horrible smell.  

Keeping your Great Dane’s ears clean can be a labor-intensive chore that you need to do to keep your Great Dane healthy. Many groomers or vet can help clean your Great Dane’s ears, or you can easily learn how to take care of their ears yourself.  

Dental problems

All dogs, even Great Danes, can have bad breath. It is very common for the bad odor that you smell coming from your Great Dane’s mouth is due to dental issues. Dental disease is often a very bad smell that you can easily pick up on when your Great Dane is giving you a smooch.

If your Great Dane suffers from gum recession or has broken a tooth, this will cause an increase of bacteria present in your Great Dane’s mouth.

The bacteria that are present in your dog’s mouth will cause their breath can be very stinky.

The two main causes of dental issues in Great Danes are:

  1. Gum Disease or Periodontal disease – This is caused when pockets form in your Great Dane’s gums, causing the gums to recede around the tooth.  These pockets will easily allow food and bacteria to be trapped near the tooth leading to gum recession.

  2. Calculus and plaque – Both of these are caused when food stays on the teeth.  This easily allows bacteria to grow. These bacteria cause a build-up dental plaque, which is soft.  This can be easily removed.  If this is not brushed off your Great Dane’s teeth, this progresses to calculus or tartar.  The tartar will require you to have your Great Dane’s teeth to be professionally cleaned by your vet. 

There are many ways that you can keep your Great Dane’s teeth clean at home. These are two main ways: 

  1. Giving your Great a dental-specific treat or chew toy.  This allows your Great Dane to clean their own teeth while chewing on a taste treat. 
  2. Use a doggie toothbrush and toothpaste.  By manually cleaning your Great Dane’s teeth weekly, you can stop the bad breath.  


Great Dane’s stomach can be sensitive to certain types of dog foods. A common cause of your Great Dane being smelly is due to them passing gas from an upset tummy.  

If this is what is causing your Great Dane to smell, then switching their food to a better diet may be the best cure for their gas

While you do not have to cook for your dog each day, there are many great options of food available for you to buy for your Great Dane to keep them from being gassy.  

There are many different diets with different sources of protein, such as fish, lamb, and rabbit. Most Great Danes who have food allergies are usually not allergic to these proteins. 

We’ve got a list of Great Dane approved dog foods here to give you some ideas of where to start.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Your Great Dane may smell due to gastroenteritis or other GI diseases. If your dog has gastroenteritis, they will usually also have diarrhea. 

This can be very smelly and can sometimes even stick to the fur around their rectum.  

If your Great Dane continues to have diarrhea or other GI signs, it would be best for your dog to see your vet. Your vet will want to run bloodwork or take x-rays to see what is wrong with your Great Dane. 

Many times, these GI issues can easily be cleared up with antibiotics, probiotics, and a bland diet. 

Skin Infection

The medical term for a skin infection in a Great Dane is Atopy.  Your Great Dane may have a skin infection due to allergies to food or something in their environment

Allergies commonly cause a secondary bacterial infection causing their skin to smell bad. 

Common signs of a skin infection include a bad smell, itchiness, skin rashes, sneezing, watery eyes, and skin inflammation.

The smell that you are smelling will come from the oils reacting to their skin.  If the infection is caused by bacteria or yeast, they will also have a very distinct smell like corn chips.  

If you think that your Great Dane has a skin infection, it would be best to take them to your vet.  Skin infections can quickly be cleared up with antibiotics from your vet. 

Many times, they may also recommend a medicated shampoo for you to bathe your Great Dane in to help with this infection. 

Anal Gland Issues

All dogs have scent glands just like a skunk. These glands will express every time that your Great Dane poops.  The scent that their anal glands release has a very strong smell that can cause your Great Dane to smell horrible

Your Great Dane can also easily get poop stuck in the fur around their rectum.  If you are smelling a bad odor on your Great Dane, it would be best to examine under their tail to make sure that they are clean. 

If the anal glands are causing your Great Dane issues, this may mean that you need to take them to the vet.  Your vet can show you how to express these glands or express them for you and make sure that they are not infected.  If your Great Dane’s anal glands stay full, they can easily get impacted and infected.  

You can add fiber to your Great Dane’s diet to help them to be able to express their anal glands much easier.  There is a product called Glandex that you can buy so that your Great Dane can express their glands easier.  

They’re Dirty!

Call me Captain Obvious, but it’s certainly a plausible source of the stink!

All Great Danes love to play in the water, dirt, and mud.  It is very common to let your Great Dane out to play, and they come back to the door covered in dirt and grass

This can cause them to smell very bad.  It is best to give your Great Dane an occasional bath so they stay clean and happy. Make sure to use a gentle dog-specific shampoo to avoid drying out their skin.

Our article on the best shampoo for Great Danes covers this topic in more detail as well.

How to keep your Great Dane smelling great!

Having reviewed the most common reasons why your Great Dane might stink, here are a few preventative steps that you can take to keep them smelling great.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at them!

  • Giving Your Great Dane a Bath: You should give your Great Dane a bath every few weeks.  If they come home covered in dirt or mud, you will need to give them a bath even sooner.  

  • Brushing Their Teeth Each Day: The best way to keep your Great Dane’s teeth clean is to brush their teeth every day.  While this may not be possible to do every day but at least a few times a week will help.

  • Applying Doggie Perfume: If your dog smells really bad, there are doggy perfumes that you can use to help cover up the smell.  Many times, this is just a mask for the smell but will help keep them smelling good when you do not have time for a full bath. 

  • Cleaning Their Ears Weekly: If your Great Dane is prone to ear infection, it would be best to clean their ears once a week.  This will help decrease the severity of any infection.  Another great time to clean your Great Dane’s ears is after they have a bath or after swimming. This will help remove any extra water from their ears.

Final Thoughts on Stinky Danes

Depending on why your Great Dane is smelling will direct you to what you need to do about the smell.

Many times, you can do weekly routine cleanings that can help your Great Dane smell very good. 

After you have figured out the cause of the smell, it will make it much easier to see what you need to do to treat or even prevent this smell. 

Related Posts

Leave a Comment