Why Does My American Bulldog Smell So Bad? 9 Stinky Tips

american Bulldog resting in chair

American Bulldogs are one of my favorite breeds. I have worked with American Bulldogs from the very start of my dog walking career and they were amazing clients. They are a big loveable dog that can also produce a big not so loveable smell sometimes. 

Why does my American Bulldog smell so bad? There are several reasons why an American Bulldog stinks. Infections, dental problems, improper diet, impact anal glands, and infrequent grooming are just a few causes of an American Bulldog’s bad smell.

Working with many bully breeds over the course of almost 14 years I have learned a lot about smelly dogs. In this post I will go over the various different reasons your American Bulldog smells so bad, and what you can do to identify the problem, and fix it. Let’s dig in.

Why My American Bulldog Smells So Bad

Trying to figure out why your American Bulldog smells so bad starts with first finding the problem area. Many different problems have very distinct smells. Other physical symptoms such as scratching, scooting, and head shaking, can also be a clear indicator of where the stink is coming from. Once you know the problem, you can work to resolve the smell.

Ear Infections

One of the more common reasons an American Bulldog smells is ear infections. These types of infections will give off a sweet smell or even a musty odor as a result of a yeast infection in your Bulldog’s ear. Typically there will also be a dark, brownish discharge and some redness around your American Bulldog’s ear.

Yeast infections are bad but bacterial infections are much more potent and painful. The smell will be very strong and your American Bulldog’s ear will appear red and swollen. These infections are far more painful as well and can have pus and blood tinged discharge. 

Avoid cleaning out your Bulldog’s ears before consulting with your vet first. These infections can be very painful and further damage can be done.

Preventing ear infections from occurring can be as simple as routine cleaning and inspections. Weekly checks to look for wax build up, debris, dirt, or any smells or discharge will help prevent many infections, or at least catch infections before they worsen.

Clean your American Bulldog’s ears only when they appear dirty. Cleaning too frequently can cause irritation and further problems. I highly recommend Virbac Epi-Otic to remove small amounts of wax build up. This is my go-to ear cleaning solution for my dogs. Virbac Epi-Otic is a terrific and affordable product to use.



Dog Dental Issues

Dog breath is a thing, but serious bad breath can be a sign of dental issues. Bad breath from your American Bulldog can be much more potent and smelly than normal. Things like periodontal disease, infections, and heavy tartar build up can be the cause and need to be addressed.

Horribly bad breath can also be a sign of larger problems stemming from underlying health conditions. Your American Bulldog’s respiratory system or gastrointestinal tract can also be a source that causes bad breath. Problems such as liver disease, diabetes, and kidney disease can also lead to very bad breath in your American Bulldog.

Oral hygiene should be a regular part of your daily or at least weekly routine. Brushing your American Bulldog’s teeth to remove plaque and tartar build up will prevent bad breath from occurring to an unhealthy level. These routine brushings will also allow you to inspect your American Bulldog’s teeth and gums to check for any potential problems.

When your American Bulldog’s breath is a persistent problem, even with regular brushings, always consult with your veterinarian. Have a professional rule out any potential underlying health problems and work towards possible treatments.

Resources & ReviewsThe Best Dog Dental Care Products 

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Impact Anal Glands

The strong smell of fish coming from your American Bulldog? Then most likely they have a an anal gland issue. Impact anal glands, or an underlying infection in your American Bulldog’s anal gland produces a very strong and distinct, fishy smell. Problems with anal glands can be very uncomfortable and should be treated immediately.

One sign that your American Bulldog has a problem with their anal glands is scooting. The irritation and uncomfortable feeling produced by impact or infected anal glands will cause your American Bulldog to drap their butt on the ground frequently.

Bad Gas

The American Bulldog can be known to have some bad gas. The short muzzles on some American Bulldogs will cause them to swallow air when eating, drinking or exercising. As a result, farts can become a frequent occurrence. Slowing down your dog’s eating can help resolve this issue.

Slow feeders, snuffle mats and food puzzles are excellent ways to slow down a fast eater. There are some great products such as the Outward Hound Slow Feeders, and the Awoof Snuffle Mats that will slow your American Bulldog’s eating.

Frequent and pungent gas can also be a result of dietary issues. Foods like diary, corn, legumes, soy, and high fat meats can lead to increased gas for sensitive stomachs. Feed your American Bulldog a premium quality dog food, avoid table scraps, and work with your veterinarian to rule out food sensitivities and possible allergies.

Skin Infection Issues

Like many of the other Bully breeds, American Bulldogs are prone to having skin issues. Dry flaky skin can quickly become irritated and cause scratching. This can lead to open sores and wounds which can get infected. This is especially a common occurrence with dogs with food sensitivities or allergies.

Dogs will sweat out of their feet, and bacteria and fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. A little “dog smell” is perfectly normal, but when it becomes very strong or even pungent there may be cause for concern. Strong odors can be a sign of bacteria or yeast infections and need to be treated.

Signs that an underlying issue or infection is happening include:

  • Excessive feet licking or gnawing
  • Bald spots and fur loss on the tops of feet or pads
  • Crusty or flaky skin on their foot pads, armpits, belly, or ears
  • Hives, bumps, redness, and swelling around the feet and toes
  • Limping or favoring an infected foot
  • Pus or drainage from wounds

Skin issues such as Atopy or allergic reactions to certain environmental allergens, foods or parasites can cause an American Bulldog to smell a lot. Irritated and itchy skin which your dog will scratch causes skin traumas that can get infected easily and create a big stink. Consult with your vet when you notice any skins of potential allergies.

Skin Fold Pyoderma

American Bulldogs have a variety of looks, some have a more wrinkled face than others. Dogs with more skin folds are prone to skin fold pyoderma. The skin folds on your American Bulldog are an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply and cause infections. Skin folds need to be regularly cleaned to avoid infections from forming.

A gentle hypoallergenic dog wipe such as the Earth Rated Dog Wipes is an effective way to keep your American Bulldog’s skin clean and infection free. The regular routine of wiping out skin folds will ensure skin issues related to skin fold pyoderma are far less likely.


Urinary Tract Infections – UTIs

Urinary tract infections are fairly common in dogs. A strong smell of urine on your American Bulldog is most likely a UTI. Troubles and discomfort urinating, unusually frequent trips outside, uncommon accidents in the home, as well as excessive thirst can all be signs of a UTI.

Always consult with your vet if you suspect your American Bulldog may have a UTI. When you notice them in discomfort or blood in their urine, check with your vet immediately. UTIs are often easy to treat with antibiotics from your doctor.

Recent studies have shown cranberry supplementation can be effective in prevention of UTIs. Supplements and chews such as the Zesty Paws Cranberry Soft Chews Urinary Supplement can help prevent your American Bulldog from suffering UTI in the future.

Lack Of Grooming Routine

Underlying health issues are not always the reason why your American Bulldog smells so bad. Sometimes your dog is just plain dirty. Without a proper grooming routine your American Bulldog can leave your home smelling like a stinky dog.

Regular weekly brushings of your American Bulldog’s coat helps remove any dirt, allergens, or smelly debris that can build up and stink. A regular brushing is not just good for removing dirt, but it’s also good for keeping your dog’s skin healthy. By distributing the natural oils in your American Bulldog’s skin and coat you can help keep their skin moisturized and healthy.

Bathing an American Bulldog should occur every 6-8 weeks. Situations where they get themselves really dirty would be the exception. Too frequently bathing your American Bulldog can cause dryness, irritated, and itchy skin, which can lead to other skin issues. 

I always use a gentle, oatmeal based shampoo when bathing my Bully breed dogs. This ensures you keep their skin and coat moisturized and healthy. Generally cleaning between baths I recommend a good dog wipe such as the Earth Rated Dog Wipes. I use these on my dogs between baths and they are an excellent and fast way to keep your American Bulldog clean.

Resources & ReviewsThe 15 Best Dog Grooming & Bathing Products

The Wet Dog Smell

We have all heard the phrase “smells like a wet dog”. Though cliche this could be exactly why your American Bulldog smells. The wet dog smell is caused by natural yeast and bacteria that live on your American Bulldog. Those smelly little molecules on your dog’s skin and coat go unnoticed until activated by water, producing the wet dog smell.

That’s why your American Bulldog kinda smells after their bath. The yeast and bacteria living in your dog’s coat release smelly compounds when they come into contact with water. Drying your dog after their bath thoroughly will combat this smell by removing the moisture from their hair.

Final Thoughts

Every dog will have a bit of a smell, just like us humans. When the smell becomes too strong, or out of the ordinary, it’s time to find out why your American Bulldog smells so bad.

By knowing the various causes you can both prevent as well as quickly treat most bad smells.

Whether an underlying infection, poor grooming routine, impact anal gland, or just a wet dog, understanding what to look for is crucial. In this post I have outlined the most common reasons why your American Bulldog smells so bad.

Whenever you are unsure of what is causing the stink, always consult your vet first. After years of being around my Bully breed dogs I have become a blood hound when it comes to different smells. 

With a proper routine, some tools, and regular checks, I am able to stop the stink in its tracks before it becomes a major issue. I hope you are now equipped to do the same.


King Komb DeShedding Tool – One of the best dog brushes on the market. I use the King Komb each and every week with my Pibbles. Easy to use and even easier to clean.

Wahl Dry Skin Oatmeal Shampoo – Smells great, cleans great, and best of all keeps my dog’s skin and coat looking and feeling amazing. Wahl Dry Skin Oatmeal Shampoo keeps my Pibbles skin moisturized like no other.

Earth Rated Dog Wipes – Dog wipes are an essential to keep on hand, and nothing beats Earth Rated. Hypoallergenic, biodegradable, and durable. I keep these dog wipes in the house and the car for everyday use.

Kong Extreme – Kongs are one of my most used tools to give my dogs some mental stimulation and something tough to chew. Kong Extremes are as tough as they come and will give your Pibble the entertainment they crave.

Outward Hound Food Puzzle – Outward Hound food puzzles are the best in the industry. Available from beginner to advanced. These are an excellent way to challenge and mentally stimulate your dog.

BeneBone Dog Chew – The toughest dog chew around. My dogs absolutely love the bacon flavor and peanut butter flavor BeneBone. These will keep your toughest chewers busy for weeks, if not months and years.

BarkBox Super Chewer – Variety is the spice of life, and BarkBox Super Chewer is the perfect way to keep your dog engaged. New treats, toys, and chews each and every month that your super chewer will love.

iCrate Dog Crate – The iCrate is my absolute top recommendation for dog crates. I use this for both my dogs and love the sturdy, easy to store, and versatile adjustable panel. You need the iCrate in your life.

HiKiss Long Training Lead – Recall training and puppy training outdoors requires a long training lead. My favorite to use is the HiKiss long training lead. Available in a range of lengths to suit your long lead training needs.

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