9 Reasons your Cocker Spaniel Might Smell and What to do About It

June 1, 2022

All dogs smell. There is no getting away from that. There are a few breeds that are known for being particularly smelly breed.

Unfortunately, Cocker Spaniels make this list.

There are several factors which can contribute to dog odour. In this article, we will run through the top thing that can cause a dog to smell bad and what you can do about it.

A bad-smelling dog is a common complaint of dog owners to vets and groomers. The good news is that there is actually a lot you can do about it.

Keeping your dog well-groomed, their teeth brushed, and their ears cleaned can go a long way to your dog smelling less.

Keep reading on to learn all about what causes a Cocker Spaniel to smell and what you can do about it.

What Causes a Cocker Spaniel to Smell Bad?

There are many reasons you Cocker Spaniel might smell a little. Here we will explore the top 10 reasons your Cocker Spaniel is a little smelly.

Try the below areas first when trying to determine the cause. It can help a lot in terms of finding a solution.

Bad Breath

Any dog owner will tell you that bad dog breath is not a pleasant experience.

Just like people, food builds upon a dog's teeth over time and tartar accumulates which in turn leads to a strong odour.

Food can also build up inside or around your dog's mouth. If leftover time this can become encrusted and harden contributing to a bad smell.

If this happens you will want to wipe this away with a cloth and warm water to loosen. Keeping your dog's mouth free of this debris will help reduce the smell.

Some foods are more likely to contribute to smelly breath in dogs. Things like meat, bones, or really anything that can get stuck between their teeth.

On the other side food like carrots can help dislodge plaque and cucumber that contains nutrients that can actually help freshen that breath.

This one is an easy fix. Just brush your dog's teeth on a daily basis. You can make it into a fun activity to keep your Cocker engaged. Just watch they don't lick the toothpaste off the brush before you can get to work.

Ear Infections

This is one of the main reasons why Cocker Spaniel's smell. They are quite prone to getting an ear infection.

Those big ears hang low and don't offer much ventilation. This creates the ideal environment for bacteria to grow.

Swimming can also be a cause of this if water is trapped in your dog's ear.

There are two main types of ear infections Cocker Spaniel's ears can get. This includes yeast infections and bacterial infections.

You can identify a yeast infection by the incredibly sweet and musty smell it gives off. Other symptoms include swelling, redness, and sometimes a little discharge.

This one won't be regarded as an emergency but you will want to book an appointment with a vet.

Bacterial infection is next up. This one is a bit more painful for your Cocker and will require you to see your vet as soon as possible.

Symptoms can be similar with swelling and redness but can also include bleeding. Some dogs can even be a little defensive if you try to touch it.

Ear infections can be quite common with Cocker Spaniels so this is definitely something you will want to stay on top of. Not only for the smell but for their well-being too.

Ear Wax

Ear wax building up in your dogs ears can also cause a smell to develop. This won't be as strong as ear infections but will still be noticeable.

You can get cotton buds which are designed for use on dogs. To stay on top of ear wax you will need to clean your dogs ears inside and around. If you are not comfortable cleaning your dogs ears your vet or groomer might be able to help.

If the smell persists after regular cleaning you will want to talk to your vet as your dog might have an ear infection as outlined above.

Food Stuck to Ears

Just like Cockers can get food stuck to their mouths ears can also be susceptible to this too.

This shouldn't come as a surprise given how long they are. Any Cocker Spaniel owner will tell you how they always get in their food and water bowl.

The amount of food getting stuck in your Cockers ears can be worse if you feed your dog wet food or human food.

If your dogs ears begin to smell worse you should give them a quick wash with water and dog shampoo.

Buying a feeding bowl designed for Cocker Spaniels can help a lot here too. These bowls help those long ears stay outside the bowl rather than all in amongst the food.

Anal Glands

If you are finding the foul smell coming from your Cocker Spaniel is a bit fishy your dogs anal glands are the most likely culprit.

You will definitely know when your dog expresses their anal glands. The smell is very strong and you might even pick it up across a room.

This is a normal bodily function for Cocker Spaniels albeit a particularly smelly one. At times these glands can become blocked or infected which smells terrible. Of course, if you suspect this speak with your vet.

If your dog is having problems with their anal glands they might drag their bottom over the floor in an attempt to clear them.

Luckily, Cockers often empty it while doing their business. Aside from that, you can empty these glands yourself at home. It is a pretty gruesome task to undertake.

If you are unsure or not comfortable doing it you can speak with your vet and they'll be happy to help.

Skin Infections

It is also possible for your Cocker Spaniel to develop skin infections similar to what can be found in their ears. Both bacterial and yeast infections can be developed and if you suspect your dog to have one book an appointment with your vet to play it safe.

Bath time!

Dogs get into all sorts of mischief when out for walks or on adventures. All of this can get quite messy all contributing to one smelly dog.

Giving your dog a bath can make a huge difference in how your dog smells.

Be careful not to overdo it though as bathing your Cocker too much can strip the natural oils from their coat and skin. This can lead to dry and itchy skin.

Aim for every two months for a proper wash or roughly midway between full grooms.

If your Cocker Spaniel is quite messy after a trip to the park give them a quick rinse down to clean the dirt from their coat or even just their paws as those will always be messy.


Dog's fart. It can be quite nasty too if you get caught around it.

One reason that can cause flatulence in dogs is food intolerance.

There are some foods which can increase the chance of your Cocker breaking wind. Some examples include peas, beans, and milk products.

The way to cut this down is to maintain a proper diet and avoid foods which increase the odds of your Cocker being gassy.

It is also worth noting that it can be a sign of something more serious. If it does appear to be quite excessive and monitoring their diet has no impact you should book an appointment with the vet to investigate.


Firstly dogs don't sweat in the same way we do. They sweat from paw pads and their nose. This does not make your dog smell.

Dogs do however have endocrine glands under their coat. These glands don't produce sweat but produce an odour that is used to chemically communicate with other dogs.

This actually means that a smelly Cocker Spaniel will smell quite different to Labrador Retrievers or Basset Hounds.

What Can I do About a Smelly Cocker Spaniel?

Once you have identified why your Cocker Spaniel smells you are in a position to deal with it.

How you move forward will depend entirely on what is causing it. For example, you might need to have a more thorough routine for cleaning your dogs ears or teeth, or perhaps you

Keep in mind that all dogs will smell at least a little. There is no getting away from this completely.

Try to regularly wash their bedding too. Your Cocker spends a lot of time chilling in their bed making it quite smelly over time. It can be quite handy to keep a second dog bed for your Cocker Spaniel around to swap our while to wash one.


So, why do Cocker Spaniels smell? There are quite a few reasons which can affect the amount your dog can smell.

Reasons most commonly relate to the mouth, ears, skin, or bottom. The actual cause will determine what action you should take. Generally speaking there is usually a way to make your Cocker smell less.

It is worth noting that all dogs smell in some regard though.

As always if you can't identify why your Cocker Spaniel is smelling bad book an appointment with your vet. It is always best to get a professional opinion.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
Spaniel Advisor aims to be the top online resource for sharing information about all Spaniel breeds. 
Copyright 2022 - All Rights Reserved.