Why Do Shih Tzus Stink?

why do shih tzus stink - close up of long-haired shih tzu
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In reality, your Shih Tzu shouldn’t smell bad, so if it does it means something isn’t quite right. So, if you’re wondering why do Shih Tzus stink, it could be due to one of the following reasons.

Common Reasons Why Your Shih Tzu Smells Bad

Shih Tzus are cute and adorable little dogs which means we all like to pet and cuddle them and even sleep with them. So, if their odor is a bit off and doesn’t smell great, we tend to notice that right away. 

In general, if your Shih Tzu is healthy and clean it shouldn’t be stinky. If yours is smelly, it could be from due to one of these common reasons.

Skin Conditions

Shih Tzus often have dry skin or other skin related issues. This can include Cushing’s Disease or Seborrhea. 

I know that my Shih Tzu, Truman has yeast issues that can make him smell like cheese popcorn. (You can learn more about Truman here at Truman’s Corner.)

If your dog is licking or scratching a lot, you should have your vet check them out for skin issues.

black and white shih tzu close up of its face
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If you have had your Shih Tzu for every long, you will have noticed that their eyes tend to drain, a  lot. They can get a build-up of nastiness from their eyes and that can smell due to bacteria that thrive in a wet, warm environment.

This can be caused by seasonal allergies, allergies to their food, or other eye health issues.

Keeping this area clean will give your Shih Tzu some relief and reduce the smell. 

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What They Eat

A lot of dog foods are full of fillers, chemicals, and preservatives. These can cause issues for your Shih Tzu. 

These issues can include intestinal issues that lead to gas. Your dog’s food can also cause your Shih Tzu to exude more oil into its coat than it should. While these oils are necessary, if there is too much it can lead to bad odors.

Changing your dog’s food can help with this issue. You can read about the top 9 dog foods for Shih Tzus here.

Your dog’s food should contain both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin B is also good and will help improve your Shih Tzu’s skin. 

Tooth Decay

You should have your vet keep a close eye on your Shih Tzu’s oral health. Just like humans, if your Shih Tzu has tooth decay it can lead to bad breath.

Periodontal disease can lead to plaque buildup and even tooth loss. 

black shih tzu with purple bow
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Your dog should have regular dental check-ups just like you.

Health Issues

Your Shih Tzu might be experiencing health issues. These can include:

  • Ear infection
  • Eye infection 
  • An anal gland issues
  • Skin issues

It is always best to have your vet take a look at your Shih Tzu when you have concerns or if you think there might be underlying health issues. Keep in mind, your Shih Tzu shouldn’t smell bad, so there is something going on that needs to be looked at and taken care of.

They Need to be Groomed

It may just be time for a bath. If your Shih Tzu doesn’t have any health issues, skin issues, or eye issues, they might just need a bath.

I take Truman to the groomers about every six weeks, but you can give your Shih Tzu a bath in between grooming sessions if they need it. 

A bath every three weeks won’t hurt your Shih Tzu. Just be sure to use bathing products that are sensitive to the skin.

How Do You Keep a Shih Tzu Smelling Good?

Once you have made sure your Shih Tzu doesn’t have any underlying health issues that are causing the odor, there are things you can do to make sure your Shih Tzu is smelling good, so those cuddles can continue.

There are several things you can do.

Brush Their Teeth

This is never an easy process as some dogs just simply won’t allow it. However, if you can, you should brush your Shih Tzu’s teeth using a small toothbrush and toothpaste for dogs.

Don’t use human toothpaste as it contains fluoride which is toxic to dogs.

You can try the Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dental Kit. It will contain the right sized toothbrush as well as the correct toothpaste for your Shih Tzu.


long haired shih tzu being combed
Depositphotos ID: 41220573 Copyright: chaoss

Clean Their Face

As you well know, your cute little Shih Tzu does get a lot of gunk around their eyes. 

I know Truman has a lot of issues with this. His eyes are large even by Shih Tzu’s standards and they tear a lot. 

The best way to get rid of all of the tear stains and the discharge build up is with a face wipe. One product made for just this situation is the Arava Pet Eye Wipes. It will remove both the dirt crust and discharge.

I’ve used them for a while now and have found they work really well.

Wash Their Ears

You’d be surprised how common it is for a Shih Tzu to get an ear infection. Not to mention, dirt in your dog’s ear can lead to bad odors as well.

Every week, you should take a few minutes and clean the underside of your dog’s ear. 

You want to use a wipe that isn’t too moist as excess moisture can lead to ear infections. 

One wipe that works well is the Earthbath All Natural Hypo-Allergenic Grooming Wipes. They are good for adult dogs.

Clean Their Coat

You don’t want to give your Shih Tzu a bath too often, but you do want to comb their hair daily or at least every 2 to 3 days with a good brush such as the Chris Christensen Original Little Wonder 20mm Pin Brush.

long haired shih tzu with blue rollers in its hair
Depositphotos ID: 14555823 Copyright: chaoss

While you are combing them, you can add a leave-in spray that will keep them smelling fresh between shampoos. One option is the Buddy Splash Dog Deodorizer & Dog Conditioner.

A second option is using a grooming wipe. You will want to start at the top of the head and move downwards over your dog. Be sure to get the underside as well. 

Related Questions:

Why Does My Shih Tzu’s Face Stink?

Both the food and the water you give your Shih Tzu gets stuck in the hair on their face. Over time, it drys and begins to smell. 

Also, bacteria can grow on these food particles which also causes a nasty odor.

Why  Does My Shih Tzu’s Breath Stink?

According to the American Kennel Club, “The most common causes of bad breath in dogs are bad oral hygiene and periodontal disease…If your dog is not a chewer and you do not regularly brush his teeth or have his teeth cleaned, then the most likely cause of his bad breath is plaque build-up. Over time, poor oral hygiene can lead to periodontal disease.”

To Sum it All Up:

There are a lot of reasons why your Shih Tzu might stink. They range from underlying health issues to skin issues, and even eye issues. See your vet when in doubt, and then consider adding additional grooming products to keep your Shih Tzu smelling great all the time.


Please Note:

This article is informational only and does not substitute for veterinary advice. Always check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about your Shih Tzu’s behavior or health. This article should not be considered in any way as veterinarian advice.

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