Why My Saint Bernard Smells So Bad, What to Do?

Saint Bernard dogs are on the list of 10 stinkiest dog breeds.

Saint Bernard has a thick, double coat which can be very smelly if not washed and brushed regularly. This breed is known for a lot of drooling so another source of bad smell in Saint Bernards is slobber that stays in the dog’s face and neck area. The build-up of plaque and tartar on Saints’ teeth along with a great amount of drool they can produce will all contribute to the terrible odor that spreads around your dog. Ear infections in Saint Bernards also produce a horrible smell. Not to forget impacted anal sacs and poor diet which can lead to excessive gas that smells awful.

The Most Common Reasons For Bad Smell In Saint Bernard Dogs?

Lack of Coat Care

Lack of proper grooming of the Saint Bernards’ coat can lead to a really bad smell.

Saints have a very dense, thick, waterproof, double coat that requires regular grooming ( brushing/combing on weekly basis – about 3 times a week, bathing every 1-6 weeks ). If not kept as it should, the coat becomes very dirty, smelly, and tangled.

If your Saint gets wet it’s super important to dry him thoroughly to avoid a bad smell.

Bear in mind that some Saints have long hair ( either they are long-haired or short-haired )which means that their coats become especially dirty and smelly at certain places like rare legs and belly ( due to urine ) or butt area ( due to poop). Make sure you clean these areas and keep them dry on daily basis.

Skin Infections

If you don’t groom your big buddy properly, skin infections can develop easily and make the whole situation even more stinky.

Lack of grooming is not the only cause of skin infections in Saint Bernards. Food and seasonal allergies can make a big mess by causing inflammation of the skin. This triggers the glands from the skin to secrete more oils and results in a bad, musty smell.

Ear Infections

Ear infections are a common source of foul odor in dogs. Saint Bernards are no exception. Moreover, Saints are prone to ear infections due to large and hanging ear flaps. And not just that. Since your Saint Bernard’s ear lie flat against his head, any moisture caught inside will stay there as it cannot evaporate quickly. The natural earwax and that moisture will produce a really bad smell. That’s why you should always dry thoroughly your dog’s ears after swimming or bathing.

Usually, dogs’ ears are perfectly capable to fight against all kinds of bacteria and yeast that are attacking them.

But if the immune system is compromised due to allergies, some other disease, or even a hormonal imbalance, an ear infection is likely to develop.

If you notice any redness or discharge from the ears, consult the vet immediately. Ear cleaning should be a regular part of grooming, you can also use some safe ear cleanser (an antibacterial, non-irritant formula that dissolves the wax and removes debris) but if you do clean your dog’s ears regularly even the baby wipes can help.

Dental Problems

Teeth that have plaque and tartar build-ups smell really gross. That’s why you need to take good care of your dog’s oral health.

The most important thing you can do to prevent dental diseases, tooth decay, and tartar build-ups is to brush your Saint’s teeth regularly.

Ideally would be every day but we all know how hard that can be, three times a week will do great work.

Never use human toothpaste for brushing your Saint Bernard’s teeth but paste specially formulated for dogs.

For maximum results, your vet will suggest yearly professional dental cleaning for your pet.

Since Saint Bernards’ are likely to have problems with their teeth ( note that if your dog’s mouth suddenly smells like garbage, maybe it’s not about poor oral hygiene but oral cancer), it’s a good idea to put some extra effort into order to keep your dog’s teeth and gums in tip-top shape. Not only you will avoid bad smells but also you will keep your Saint healthy. I am sure you knew that poor dental hygiene leads to different dental problems but also tooth loss which may further lead to kidney, liver, joints, and heart problems. The bottom line is your Saint’s life span may be cut short for 1-3 years!

Apart from regular brushing, dental chews will also do an amazing job. They are almost equally effective as toothbrushes.

Drooling problems

Saint Bernards are well known for drooling. They are capable to produce a vast amount of drool, that tends to stick to their coat. When it dries out, becomes hard and has an awful smell.

Saint Bernards usually drool the most when they are eating or drinking water when it’s hot or they are excited.

A drool bib could help and protect your Saint’s coat on the chest and legs from getting messy and smelly.

If your dog is drooling excessively it’s important to keep his chin dry otherwise bacteria/yeast will grow.

Wipe your dog’s face regularly with dry towels ( as soon as you notice slobber strings ) but also clean up the mess on the floor, windows, furniture, walls, and ceilings as the hardened drool on your floor or wall may also produce a foul odor.

For cleaning, you can use a mix of vinegar and water or only water with a magic eraser

Impacted Anal Sacs

Like any other dog breed, Saint Bernards also have two anal glands located on both sides of their rectum. These glands produce a special secretion that is used for marking ( that’s why dogs when they are meeting smell each other butts)

Sometimes these glands leak and the secretion can get to your dog’s fur or your furniture. In that case, you will feel the awful smell.

If your Saint is dragging his butt across the floor, that might mean that his anal sacs are impacted, he cannot express them. IN this case, you need to seek for vet’s help unless you know ( and want ) how to express them.

Being in Heat

Saint Bernards in heat may also spread some nasty smell around. That smell comes from a vaginal discharge. It serves to attract males from the vicinity, to inform them that there is some female in heat and that they are welcome to come.

Since the heat period lasts for approximately 3 weeks, the smell is the strongest in the second week, when the female is most fertile, and receptive to males.

Wiping her intimate parts on daily basis can reduce the odor which will also help you to keep males far from your girl.

If you would like to know more about Saint Bernards in heat, do read our articles ”What to Do With My St Bernard in Heat” and ”St Bernard Dog Heat Cycle”

Different Diseases

If your Saint Bernard is affected by urinary tract disease, his urine might have a rotten fish smell.

In case of diabetes, your dog will have ”sweet/sugary” breath.

Saints with kidney failure often have an odor of urine on their breath.


There is a number of reasons why your Saint Bernard can have a foul odor. In order to prevent it or even to fix it on time, never ever overlook those signs.

Make sure you groom your dog on regular basis, paying special attention to ears and ear infection symptoms.

Feed your dog with good quality food, and keep his teeth and gums clean and healthy.

Never let your pet stay wet after bathing or swimming and if he drools a lot get him a bib or at least wipe his chin very often to avoid any bacterial or yeast growth.

In case you cannot find the cause of your furry pal’s bad smell go to the vet’s. Sometimes diseases like cancer or hypothyroidism may be the reason for a bad odor.

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