Why Does My Shar-Pei Smell Bad? Reasons And What To Do

The adorable wrinkles of the Shar-Pei breed are among their most distinctive features, instantly recognizable and endearing to dog lovers everywhere. With their unique appearance and loyal, protective nature, these dogs are a delight to have in the family. However, Shar-Pei owners might occasionally notice an unpleasant smell coming from their pet. This issue can be puzzling and even concerning, leading to questions about its origin and how it can be resolved.

A range of factors can contribute to your Shar-Pei’s unpleasant odor, from simple dietary choices to more complex skin conditions. While it’s quite normal for dogs to have a distinct smell, a strong, persistent odor may indicate a health problem that needs to be addressed. It’s important to understand these potential causes and to recognize when veterinary intervention might be necessary.

Possible Causes Of Bad Smell In Shar-Pei Dogs

Different elements could contribute to your Shar-Pei’s odor. While some are common in all breeds, others might be more prevalent in the Shar-Pei due to their unique physical characteristics. Certain odors might simply indicate a need for a bath or a diet change, while others could be a warning sign of an underlying health issue.

In Shar-Peis, the most common factors contributing to an unpleasant smell include skin issues, seborrhea, issues with the anal glands, dental problems, dietary choices, allergies, and poor hygiene. These factors vary in terms of severity and the type of care they require, with some necessitating immediate veterinary attention.

Understanding these potential causes is the first step to effectively addressing your Shar-Pei’s odor. By gaining insight into what might be causing the issue, you can better identify solutions and take steps to prevent the smell from returning. Remember, it’s always best to consult with a vet if you’re unsure about your dog’s health.


Skin Issues

The Shar-Pei’s iconic wrinkled skin can unfortunately be a source of unpleasant smells. Their deep skin folds can trap dirt, sweat, and bacteria, leading to infections if not cleaned regularly. The warm, moist environment within the wrinkles is perfect for the growth of yeast and bacteria. Both these microorganisms can produce foul odors when they proliferate.

Signs of skin infections include redness, itchiness, and possibly an increase in your dog’s attempts to scratch or bite the affected area. Skin infections can be painful and, if left untreated, can lead to more serious complications. Therefore, it’s crucial to check your Shar-Pei’s skin folds regularly for signs of infection.

While managing your Shar-Pei’s skin can be a challenge, it’s an essential part of keeping them healthy and smell-free. Cleaning their skin folds carefully with a gentle, vet-approved cleanser can help prevent bacteria and yeast overgrowth. However, if an infection does occur, it will likely require veterinary treatment, which may involve antibiotics or antifungal medications.


Seborrhea is another common skin condition that can cause a Shar-Pei to smell bad. This condition is characterized by the excessive production of sebum, an oily substance that the skin naturally produces for protection. However, too much sebum can lead to oily skin and dandruff, and it can also produce a strong, musky odor.

If your Shar-Pei is suffering from seborrhea, you might notice greasy, scaly skin and a persistent smell, even after bathing. This condition is often associated with other underlying health issues, so a vet’s examination is advisable.

Anal Glands

All dogs have anal glands, small sacs that produce a pungent fluid. Normally, this fluid is expelled when the dog defecates, but sometimes the glands can become impacted or infected. This can cause a strong, fishy smell that can be rather unpleasant.

Symptoms of an anal gland issue include your dog scooting its rear on the floor, excessive licking of the area, or signs of discomfort when sitting. If you notice these signs, consult a vet as soon as possible. Regular professional grooming can also help maintain the health of these glands.

Dental Problems

Your Shar-Pei’s mouth might be the source of the bad smell. Dental issues like gum disease, tooth decay, and oral infections can cause significantly bad breath. Dogs don’t brush their teeth like humans, and without regular dental hygiene, they can develop dental problems that not only cause bad breath but can also lead to serious health complications.

Daily brushing of your dog’s teeth, dental treats, and regular professional dental cleanings can help combat dental issues. If your dog’s breath smells exceptionally bad, it’s a good idea to consult your vet, as it could indicate a more serious dental problem.


What your dog eats can greatly affect their smell. Some foods can cause bad breath, while others can lead to gas or changes in the skin’s natural odor. Foods high in artificial additives or fillers might not digest well, causing flatulence and an unpleasant body odor. Some dogs might also have food intolerances that can contribute to bad smells.

A balanced, high-quality diet can have a significant impact on your dog’s overall odor. Fresh, natural foods can be better than processed ones as they tend to cause less digestive upset.

Lastly, don’t forget to provide plenty of fresh water. Good hydration aids digestion and supports overall health, helping to keep bad smells at bay.

Shar-Pei puppy.


Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from allergies, which can cause skin infections and result in an unpleasant odor. Common allergens for dogs include certain foods, dust mites, pollen, and mold.

If your Shar-Pei is scratching excessively, has irritated skin, or there’s a noticeable smell even after a bath, they may be suffering from allergies. Your vet can conduct tests to identify the allergen and can suggest appropriate treatments or dietary changes.

Poor Hygiene

Sometimes the cause of the smell can be as simple as poor hygiene. If your Shar-Pei loves to roll in the mud or explore outside, they might just need a good bath. Regular grooming, including brushing and bathing, is a crucial part of any dog’s care routine.

However, it’s important to remember that Shar-Peis have unique skin that needs special care. Over-bathing can cause dryness and irritation. It’s recommended to use a gentle, hypoallergenic dog shampoo and to thoroughly dry your dog’s wrinkles to prevent moisture buildup.

Neglecting to clean your dog’s bed, toys, and other belongings can also contribute to bad odors. These items can harbor bacteria and dirt, so it’s essential to wash them regularly.

Ways To Prevent Your Shar-Pei From Smelling Bad

The health and comfort of your Shar-Pei significantly influence their smell. When it comes to managing unpleasant odors, prevention is key. Taking proactive steps in caring for your pet can help eliminate the causes of bad smells and can make a significant difference to your dog’s overall well-being.

Here are ways to prevent your Shar-Pei from smelling bad:

  • Regular Grooming: Keeping your dog clean is essential. Regular brushing helps remove dead skin and fur, which can contribute to bad smells. Additionally, bathing should be done as needed using a mild, hypoallergenic dog shampoo, paying special attention to clean the skin folds.
  • Proper Skin Care: Clean your Shar-Pei’s skin folds regularly with a gentle, vet-approved cleanser. Make sure the skin folds are dry after cleaning or bathing to prevent bacteria and yeast overgrowth.
  • Dental Hygiene: Regular teeth brushing can help prevent dental problems that cause bad breath. Additionally, professional dental cleaning should be done as recommended by your vet.
  • High-Quality Diet: Feeding your Shar-Pei a balanced, high-quality diet can significantly improve their smell. Avoid foods with artificial additives, fillers, or ingredients your dog is intolerant to.
  • Hydration: Ensure your dog always has access to fresh water. Hydration aids digestion and supports overall health.
  • Manage Allergies: If your dog has allergies, work with your vet to identify allergens and develop a treatment plan. This might include diet modifications or medication.
  • Anal Gland Care: Regular checks by a professional groomer or a vet can help ensure the health of your dog’s anal glands. A high-fiber diet can also support anal gland health.
  • Clean Bedding and Toys: Regularly wash your dog’s bed, toys, and other belongings to remove bacteria and dirt that can contribute to bad smells.

At the end of the day, ensuring that your Shar-Pei doesn’t smell bad is an ongoing task that involves regular care, attention, and a commitment to their overall well-being. Remember that sudden or persistently bad smells can be a sign of underlying health problems, so it’s always best to consult with a vet if you’re uncertain. Keeping your Shar-Pei clean and healthy will not only make them more pleasant to be around, but will also contribute to a happier, more comfortable life for them.

About The Author

Marc Magny is a seasoned dog owner and breeder, lending his expertise to captivating and informative articles. His deep understanding of dogs and their behavior, health, and breeding practices enriches his writing, offering invaluable insights to readers.

With his practical experience and passion for dogs, Marc’s articles serve as a comprehensive guide for dog lovers. His work resonates with the joy of dog ownership, positioning him as a trusted voice and resource in the pet parenting journey.