A stinky Yorkie sitting next to some flowers

Why Do Yorkies Stink?

Your Yorkie may stink because of unhealthy skin, poor diet, ear infections, or other issues. We break down all of the common Yorkie smells below, so keep reading to learn more.

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Why do Yorkies smell so bad? It’s a common complaint. 

The Yorkie dog breed isn’t any more predisposed to foul odor than other dogs, but there are several unrelated reasons your little friend may stink. We’ll cover the most common causes of Yorkie body odor in this guide.

In this guide:

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Reasons some Yorkies smell

  • Lack of proper grooming
  • Skin conditions due to allergic reactions
  • Yeast infections
  • Ear infections
  • Periodontal disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Digestive problems
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Anal glands need to be expressed

Why does my Yorkie’s skin and coat stink?

If your Yorkie is a little stinky and it seems to be coming from everywhere, they may have an issue with their skin or coat. This usually stems from a lack of proper grooming, although other issues, such as a poor diet, could also be a factor.

Before you investigate further, though, do a quick scan of your pup to make sure they didn’t simply roll in or eat poop, urine, or a dead animal. Dogs will be dogs, after all. If you can confirm this isn’t the issue, you may need to re-evaluate your grooming habits.

>> Read more: Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop? (And How to Stop It)

Are you grooming them properly?

Unlike most dog breeds, Yorkies don’t have a double coat of fur. Instead, they have single coat of human-like hair, which needs to be maintained much like your own hair.

Regular brushing is key to keeping your Yorkie’s hair healthy. When you brush your dog’s hair, it distributes oils form the skin down the length of the hair, keeping it healthy and shining, and keeping the skin clean. 

But more importantly, regular brushing helps prevent a Yorkie’s long, fine hair from getting tangled or matted. When matting occurs, the lack of airflow and oil distribution can lead to musty smell that will make your dog stink.

>> Read more: How to Groom a Yorkie: DIY Grooming Tips for Yorkshire Terriers

In addition to regular brushing, washing your dog’s hair is also important. Yorkies should be bathed about once every three weeks to wash away the buildup of oils, dust, and other debris. More frequent bathing is acceptable if you have a mischievous pup who likes to get into messes, but bathing too frequently could dry out the skin, leading to infections and bad odors.

What you use to bathe your dog is just as important as how often you do it. Human soaps and shampoos, as well as cheap dog shampoos, contain harsh chemicals that could irritate a dog with sensitive skin. Check out our guide to the best shampoo for Yorkies to compare some safe options. 

We especially recommend Earthbath’s Mediterranean Magic Rosemary Deodorizing Shampoo, since the natural rosemary oil can help combat strong odors.

Is their skin healthy?

If your Yorkie is giving off a general body odor, their skin could also be the culprit. As we covered above, not grooming your Yorkie properly can lead to issues with the skin—trapped oil, a lack of airflow, and general irritation. But even if you pamper your pup regularly, they can still develop skin issues.

Seasonal allergies, atopic dermatitis, ringworm, and several other issues can lead to irritated skin, dead skin cells, excessive scratching, and even hair loss

Take a close look at your dog’s skin. Do you see discoloration, dry flaky patches, or bumps? Do you smell a musty odor? If you do, our guide to Yorkie dry skin will walk you through the possible issues and veterinary-recommended solutions. 

Are they getting a healthy diet?

The final area to investigate if your Yorkie is emitting a general odor is their diet. A poor diet can affect all areas of your dog’s health, from their natural odor to their digestive system and their poop. It can also lead to serious health issues, such as pancreatitis, which can cause Yorkie diarrhea and vomiting, among other symptoms.

If you usually reach for the cheapest brand of dog food on the shelf, you may want to reconsider. 

Some dog food manufacturers cut corners by adding cheap fillers, over-processed meat meal, and artificial preservatives to stretch their products and keep them shelf-stable. It’s very common for dogs to experience digestive or allergic reactions to some of these ingredients, which result in gas or itchy skin.

If you want to do better with your dog’s nutrition, we can help. We pored over dozens of brands to find the best dog food for Yorkies. We looked for brands that only use high-quality, natural ingredients, source their food locally, and meet the AAFCO standards for nutritionally balanced dog food.

>> Read more: My Dog Has Loose Stools and Smelly Gas

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Why do my Yorkie’s eyes smell?

If your Yorkie’s eyes or face smells, it’s probably because of tear stains that have turned into a bacterial infection. Yorkies develop tear stains when excess tearing, also known as epiphora,1 rolls down the face instead of through the eyes’ tear ducts.

These stains are a minor issue of their own, but the problem grows worse when the prolonged moisture beneath the eyes turns into a yeast infection. You can tell if your Yorkie has a yeast infection on their face both by the musty odor it gives off and the color: normal tear stains are a rusty red color, but yeast infections will look dark brown.

If your dog has a yeast infection on their face, or if you just want to get ahead of the problem and address tear stains right away, check out our list of the best dog tear stain removers.

Why does my Yorkie’s breath stink?

If there’s one smell that Yorkshire Terriers are predisposed to, it’s severe bad breath. Since Yorkies are so small, they have compact jaws that don’t leave a lot of room in between their teeth. This leads to food particles getting stuck between the teeth, which causes a build-up of plaque and eventual decay.

It’s important to regularly brush your Yorkie’s teeth and have them cleaned professionally each year to prevent decay from forming. (Note, with a Preventative+ package from Lemonade Pet Insurance, you can get help paying for one dental cleaning each year). Once you notice halitosis (foul breath), the problem has already set in. In this case, begin better dental hygiene immediately, but also, consult a vet to see if you need to have rotten teeth extracted.

Digestive issues could also be to blame

Dental issues are usually the cause of stinky breath. However, if you’ve had your dog’s teeth checked out and nothing is wrong with them, your dog’s bad breath could be due to a digestive issue.

If your dog ate something they shouldn’t have, or if they’re allergic or intolerant to something you’re feeding them, they could be having a hard time digesting it. Vomiting would be an obvious sign of digestive issues and the cause of your pup’s bad breath. However, you may simply be smelling the stomach acid if they’re experiencing indigestion.

Think through whether you fed your dog any table scraps or human food they don’t normally eat (such as dairy), and monitor them to see if they experience vomiting or diarrhea. If the problem passes in a day or two, they were likely just dealing with indigestion. If the problem persists, you should take them to the vet.

>> Read more: Yorkie Foods: What Do They Eat & What to Avoid

Why do my Yorkie’s ears smell?

If your Yorkie’s ears smell, it’s a clear sign of ear infection. Yorkie ear infection can occur if you forget to clean your dog’s ears and allow too much wax to build up and trap other contaminants. But they can also occur if water gets into your pup’s ear canal.

In addition to the smell, other indications of ear infection are swelling, signs of pain if you touch the area, or a discharge of pus. Your dog may also rub their ear against the walls, floor, or furniture to try to relieve their discomfort.

If your dog has an ear infection, you’ll need to take them to the vet. They’ll prescribe some drops to mitigate the infection, and your pup should be back to normal in about a week.

Ear mites

If you notice your dog shaking or scratching their ears constantly and see little black specs on their skin, they could have ear mites. These tiny parasites feed off of your dog’s ear wax and dead skin cells, but they cause so much irritation that your dog may damage their own ears. This leads to further damage, infection, and bad smells.

As with ear infections, the best way to prevent ear mites is regularly cleaning your pup’s ears. 

Eradicating ear mites takes more time than other ear infections because you have to catch the adults before they lay a new generation of eggs. If your dog has ear mites, there are some over-the-counter prescriptions that may help, but your vet can also prescribe a stronger solution. Our guide to Yorkie ear mites covers everything you need to know on the topic.

Why does my Yorkie smell like fish?

Dog owners often complain that their little friend smells like fish, and the cause is typically an unwelcome one: their anal glands need to be expressed.

Dogs have anal sacs on their hindquarters that contain a heavily scented substance. This substance is secreted from the anal glands in tiny amounts and acts as your dog’s calling card—it tells other dogs everything they need to know about your pup, such as their diet, gender, and mating status. This is why dogs always sniff each other’s butts!

Normally, your pup’s anal glands won’t emit enough substance to smell, but they need to be expressed periodically to keep the anal sacs from becoming engorged. Your vet or your groomer will usually do this (which is why we pay them the big bucks). 

But if it’s been too long and the sacs have become engorged, they can burst and release too much of the foul-smelling substance. You don’t want to allow it to reach this point because—in addition to the fishy stench, which isn’t easy to remove—a swollen anal gland could become infected. 

A clear sign of an unaddressed anal gland is when your dog attempts to scoot around on their butt.

Why do my Yorkie’s paws smell like corn chips?

Another peculiar complaint some dog owners make is that their dog’s paws smell like corn chips.

This yeasty scent is the result of the trillions of natural bacteria that live on your dog’s skin, and it’s nothing to be alarmed about. However, if the scent has recently become overpowering, your dog may have a yeast infection on their paws.

You should regularly clean your dog’s paws to prevent this from happening and make sure they’re dried out after a romp in the rain. The easiest way to keep your pup’s paws clean is to use the same dog eye wipes you may use to keep their face clean.

Unidentifiable Yorkie smell? Talk to a vet!

As you can see, there are many reasons a Yorkie may stink, and they range from completely harmless to serious. If you’ve noticed a peculiar scent on your pup, and you don’t know what’s to blame, you should talk to a vet. You can take your pup to their usual veterinarian, or get an answer by chatting with one for free below.

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