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What can be done for flat-faced dogs with a bad odor?

Hello Dr. Barchas! My teacher has two adorable Shih Tzus, a male and a female. They are bathed weekly but still smell pretty bad (especially...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Sep 29th 2006


Flat Face Problems

Hello Dr. Barchas!

My teacher has two adorable Shih Tzus, a male and a female. They are bathed weekly but still smell pretty bad (especially around the face area). I thought it had something to do with the hair in their face or maybe because the muzzle is pushed into the face more than other breeds’ muzzles are. Is there anyway to make the smell go away?

Nush
CA

Shih Tzus, Pekingese, Pugs, Persian cats, and other animals with flattened noses may suffer a number of problems related to the the conformation of their faces.

The shallow eye sockets of these breeds cause the eyes to bulge, and this interferes with the natural drainage of tears. Tear fluid may run down the face instead of draining into the nose as it does in other breeds. As well, animals with flattened noses may have trouble keeping saliva in their mouths, which can cause drooling.

Both of these issues lead to wet hair on the face, and chronically wet hair can develop a bad odor. If special attention is paid to grooming the face, the odor may be reduced. Remember that the face is very sensitive, and it is crucial not to get shampoo into the mouth, eyes, or nose.

In some animals, a bad odor emanating from the face can be a sign of a medical problem. Wet fur, in combination with the extra folds of skin that are present in these breeds, can lead to skin infections. Skin infections smell bad. As well, they are painful, and can lead to other medical problems.

I recommend that a veterinarian evaluate your teacher’s dogs to ensure that no skin infection is present. If none is, the vet should be able to recommend grooming tactics to reduce the odor coming from the dogs’ faces.