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How to Get Rid of an English Bulldog’s Bad Smell

How to Get Rid of an English Bulldog’s Bad Smell

The saying “Dogs are a man’s best friend,” is all well and good until your pup stinks to high heaven. They’re still your BFF, but they will need some TLC if you want to let them close! English Bulldogs are notorious for being smelly, and if you have one, you may be wondering how to get rid of an English Bulldog’s bad smell.

How to get rid of an English Bulldog’s bad smell: The first step to getting rid of an English Bulldog’s bad smell is to identify where it’s coming from. Then you can treat the culprit and curb the smell. Here is a list of things to check when tracking down the source of the smell:

  • Facial folds
  • Oral issues
  • Tail pocket
  • Ear infections
  • Bad bathing and grooming
  • Bad diet

If you want your English Bulldog smelling fresh as lilies, let’s take a more in-depth look at these possible issues and how to get rid of an English Bulldog’s bad smell.

Why English Bulldogs Have a Bad Smell

Some of the most telling traits of an English Bulldog are the loose skin around their head, their wrinkly brow, smooshed nose, and hanging jowls. While all these features are adorable to just about every bulldog owner, they are also generally the cause of that famous bulldog smell.

From their facial folds to their tail pocket, English bulldogs have certain bodily areas from which some stinky problems can arise. Now, let’s go back to our list and talk about why each of these can sometimes cause your English Bulldog to smell.

Facial Folds

Although a bulldog’s wrinkles are one of its most famous features, they’re probably also the number one cause of the bulldog stink.

If you don’t keep up with keeping those folds clean, they can quickly start smelling. This problem may be even more noticeable in the summer when your bulldog begins to sweat just like you do. That sweat gets into the wrinkles and combines with the dirt and before you know it, your bulldog has developed a yeast infection – and that is what stinks.

The stinky problem isn’t the only issue. If you don’t take care of the issue, the folds can swell, and dermatitis can develop, which causes a lot of pain and discomfort for your English Bulldog.

Oral Issues

Along with those hanging jowls come frequently misaligned teeth. This can cause a host of oral issues, which can lead to some pretty stinky breath and infections.

The stinky breath usually stems from one of two issues:

  • Plaque near the gum line and on the teeth
  • Tooth cavities

Both of these issues are due to too much bacteria in the bulldog’s mouth, and it produces a foul odor.

What starts as a simple bacteria problem can evolve into serious mouth disease if you don’t take care of the bacteria. Some signs of mouth disease are:

  • Loose teeth
  • Red, inflamed, or bloody gums
  • Gums pulling back from the teeth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dogs rubbing or pawing their face

If you’d like to read more about oral care for bulldogs, check out this article.

Tail Pocket

Did you even know your bulldog has a tail pocket? The pocket is not actually visible, but it’s an area between the tail and the skin. If the tail grows too close to the skin in the pocket, you can start to have smelly problems.

All bulldogs are different. Some will only need their tail pocket cleaned occasionally; others will need it frequently. The best way to figure this out is to rub a wipe into the tail pocket. If it just has a bit of dirt and hair, the tail pocket is relatively clean. If it comes out with yellow or even pink, you probably need to clean it more often.

Ear Infections

Ear infections are a frequent problem for English Bulldogs. If you smell a stench coming from your bulldog’s ear, it’s probably an infection, or at least will be soon. Ear infections are usually caused by one of the following:

  • Wax build-up
  • Moisture
  • Foreign objects
  • Allergies

In addition to the smell coming from your bulldog’s ear, you might also catch him rubbing his ears on things around the house and shaking or tilting his head.

Bad Bathing Habits

Bad bathing and grooming can also lead to a stinky bulldog. Of course, this isn’t your dog’s fault, but it’s not necessarily your fault either. If you haven’t given your bulldog a bath in ages, that could be a problem.

If you bathe your bulldog regularly and he still stinks, his baths might actually be contributing to the stench.

Too many baths lead to a smelly bulldog because it messes up the pH balance of your bulldog’s skin. When the pH balance is messed up, it reduces the protective oils that are naturally present. Once those are reduced, your bulldog’s skin becomes dry and itchy.

What do bulldogs do when they have dry, itchy skin? The same thing we do, they try to alleviate their itch. They do this by scratching and licking their skin.

All the scratching can create abrasions, and all the licking can create hot spots. These problems are a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria to develop and anytime you have viruses and bacteria on the skin, you also have a smelly dog.

Bad Diet

A poor diet can contribute to your stinking English bulldog in a couple of different ways. We discussed oral issues above, but bad breath can come from an inadequate diet, too. Low-quality foods with ingredients that are hard to digest are the main culprit in this case.

Other ingredients that can lead to higher natural yeast levels on the skin and contribute to a stinky dog include the following:

  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Grains
  • Soy
  • Sugar

You’re probably not directly feeding your English Bulldog these ingredients, but they are frequently found in some foods and especially in treats.

In addition to higher levels of yeast, these ingredients can also cause itchy skin and itchy skin leads to scratching, which leads to possible skin infections and a smelly dog.

Getting Rid of an English Bulldog’s Bad Smell

Once you’ve identified the culprit of the bad smell, you can start tackling the issue. The best way to get rid of an English Bulldog’s bad smell depends on where the problem stems from. Let’s look at each of the areas above and how to solve each one.

Facial folds

As we mentioned above, those adorable facial folds are a hotbed for yeast infections. A good sign your bulldog has an infection in its facial folds is if he constantly rubs his face on everything. If the infection gets bad enough, the folds can even become swollen, red, and bloody.

The facial folds normally become infected one of two ways:

  1. Lack of cleaning
  2. Excessive tearing

Let’s take a quick look at how to address each of these issues.

Lack of Cleaning

Cleaning your English bulldog’s wrinkles is the best way to keep them infection-free and free from a bad smell.

  • Use a warm washcloth without any soap or shampoo to wipe out the wrinkles. A baby wipe will also work.
  • Wipe in and around all the wrinkles, especially around the nose but avoid your bulldog’s eye area.
  • Once you’re done wiping out the wrinkles, it’s important to use a dry cloth to dry any extra moisture.
  • A little cornstarch or baby powder in the wrinkles also helps prevent excess moisture.

You need to clean your bulldog’s wrinkles at least once a day but maybe more depending on its eating and drooling habits.

If your dog does develop a yeast infection in its folds, you can usually treat it with a medicated, anti-fungal wipe. These are easy to find on Amazon with plenty of options. Here’s a tub of 50 anti-fungal wipes for less than $15.

Excessive Tearing

Bulldogs are prone to excessive tearing, which means their eyes produce more than a normal amount of tears. This is mainly because their short noses and face structure mean they have narrower and sometimes crooked tear ducts.

Here’s a look at some other possible reasons for excessive tearing:

  • Ingrown eyelashes
  • Abnormally large tear-producing glands
  • Abnormally small tear duct openings
  • Stress
  • Meds
  • Poor diet
  • Ear infection

Regardless of the cause of the excessive tearing, the extra moisture provides the perfect environment for a yeast infection in your bulldog’s folds. Because there are so many possible reasons for excessive tearing, it’s a good idea to have your vet check your dog’s condition.

Oral issues

Another problem with the cute face, as we mentioned, are oral issues from misaligned teeth.

First of all, if your English Bulldog has reached what appears to be gum disease, this may no longer be treatable at home. It’s important to talk to your vet to see which treatment may be best at this point. They may recommend a teeth cleaning, extraction, or prescribed medication.

So, let’s talk prevention so you don’t get to the point of gum disease. You’ll want to brush your bulldog’s teeth at least three times a week but once a day is even better. Brushing your bulldog’s teeth serves the same purpose as brushing your own teeth. It removes plaque and any leftover food residue.

You can find plenty of toothbrushes and types of toothpaste for dogs on Amazon. Take a look at a few I found:



Regardless of which toothpaste and toothbrush you buy, it’s best to start brushing as early as possible, so your pup is comfortable with the routine. Even if you brush your bulldog’s teeth, you should probably have the vet clean them professionally once a year.

Tail Pocket

In most cases, your English Bulldog will only need its tail pocket cleaned out once a month or so. Whether you need to do it once a month or once a day, though, it’s important to do it right.

When you clean the tail pocket, it’s important to keep four key things in mind:

  1. Clean
  2. Disinfect
  3. Dry
  4. Protect

Keeping those four priorities in mind, let’s talk about the best way to clean your English Bulldog’s tail pocket.

  1. Gently wash the area with warm water and apply a medicated dog shampoo. Work it into the skin for a couple of minutes and then rinse the area until it’s visibly clean. Take a look at some of these options from Amazon for a medicated shampoo:
  2. Micoseb Medicated Shampoo for Dogs & Cats
  3. Curaseb Antifungal & Antibacterial Chlorhexidine Shampoo for Dogs & Cats
  4. Pet MD Antiseptic and Antifungal Medicated Shampoo for Dogs
  5. Dab the tail pocket with a paper towel to dry the area. You can use a hairdryer on low and cool air to speed up the drying if you want.
  6. Apply a disinfectant ointment like Neosporin to prevent bacteria from entering the tail pocket.

If the tail pocket infection on your bulldog seems to be more than just a dirty tail pocket, it may be an ingrown tail. If this is the case, you’ll need to talk to your vet. He may want to amputate the tail to prevent continued pain and discomfort.

Ear Infections

Ear infections in English Bulldogs are a serious, smelly problem. The good news is, although they are fairly common, you can generally treat them at home. Once you see the signs of an infection, it’s important to clean out the ear as soon as possible.

You’ll start by cleaning your bulldog’s inner ear with a medicated wipe. This is the part of the ear you can see. Use the wipe to gently wipe from the inside of the ear outward. Don’t wipe from the outside in because you could push debris into the ear.

Just like with most other grooming products, you can find medicated wipes on Amazon. Here are a few options:

Once you’ve cleaned the inner ear, you’ll need to use a liquid ear cleaning agent to clear the rest of the ear where you can’t reach. Follow these directions to use the liquid cleaner:

  1. Lift the ear so you can see inside and squirt 6-8 drops in.
  2. Plug each ear with a cotton ball if you can and gently massage the base of the ear for a minute.
  3. Let go of the ear and let your bulldog shake its head around.
  4. Remove the cotton ball. Hopefully, you’ll see some of the gunk you were trying to get out on the cotton ball.
  5. Use a bulb syringe or a makeup remover pad to remove the rest of the junk.

Here are a few liquid ear cleaners I found on Amazon:

Once again, prevention is key to preventing those stinky ear infections. You can use a round make-up remover pad to gently clean out your bulldog’s ear on a regular basis, maybe a couple of times a week.

If after treatment, your bulldog still has what appears to be an ear infection, you’ll need to talk to your vet. Your pup may have a more serious infection that requires oral antibiotics. The following are also signs you may need to see your vet for a more serious ear infection:

  • Walking in circles
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Extremely unbalanced
  • Displays hearing loss

Bad Bathing Habits

It seems counterintuitive that more baths would equal a bad smell, but if you’re bathing your bulldog too much, that can be the case. As we discussed above, too much bathing affects the pH balance of your pup’s skin. You should not bathe your English bulldog more than once a month.

It’s also important to only use shampoos designed for dogs, not humans. The pH levels between our furry friends and us are very different so shampoos are created with that in mind.

Here are some shampoos on Amazon specially designed for dogs:

You may notice all of these examples have oatmeal in them. This isn’t a requirement, but natural ingredients are definitely something you want to look for in a dog shampoo.

If you’re worried your bulldog is stinky from too many baths, do your best to ease off the frequency. If the stench is too much to bear, use a wipe with all-natural ingredients to try to take the edge off.

Bad Diet

Finally, a bad diet can definitely contribute to your English Bulldog’s bad smell. Fortunately, fixing this is as easy as changing your pup’s diet. Next time you’re buying a bag of dog food or a box of treats, take a good look at the ingredients.

Try to avoid the ingredients we discussed above that can affect the smell coming from your bulldog:

  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Grain
  • Soy
  • Sugar

You may not be able to avoid these altogether, but they definitely shouldn’t be listed in the first few ingredients.

You can also add yogurt or kefir milk to your dog’s food to provide a good dose of probiotics to combat smelly yeast infections.

Obviously, much of the English Bulldog’s smelly problems come with the design of their body. Let’s take a look at the history of the bulldog and see how they came to be and learn some other characteristics of the breed.

More Bulldog Basics

The English Bulldog dates as far back as the 5th century. As you can see from its name, the English Bulldog originated in England. Its origins are tied to a breed of dog called the Alaunt, which became extinct in the 17th century.

The English Bulldog’s first use was to help butchers control livestock such as horses, cattle, and boars. Unfortunately, people also began to breed the dog for a blood sport called bull-baiting. In bull-baiting, dogs were trained to latch onto a tied-up bull’s nose and not let go until the dog had pulled the bull to the ground or the bull killed the dog.

Aggression and Near Extinction of the Bulldog

Due to this sport, bulldogs were bred to be aggressive for 350 years until bull-baiting was banned in 1835. The breed probably would have become extinct at this point if they were not exported to the United States and Germany.

The English Bulldog continued to be used to herd hogs and cattle in the United States and was eventually crossbred to create the Boxer in Germany. After almost becoming extinct in the 1800s, the English Bulldog is now one of the most popular dog breeds in America, ranked 5th out of the 195 dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Personality as Solid as its Build

The personality characteristics of the bulldog are as solid as its stocky build. The American Kennel Club lists “friendly, courageous, and calm” as the bulldog’s three most notable personality characteristics.

Other words to describe the breed include sweet, predictable, and dependable. English Bulldogs are calm and loyal companions that adapt well to any living conditions. Despite their easygoing demeanor, bulldogs are not lazy. Although they may look tough, they’re known for being excellent with children.

It may be because of their loyal and protective personality that so many organizations have adopted the bulldog as their mascot. Take a look at some of those organizations:

  • Mack Trucks
  • Four dozen universities
  • 250 secondary schools
  • Unofficial mascot for U.S. Marines

Physical Characteristics Beyond Their Smell

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about their smell, but what everyone recognizes an English Bulldog for are its adorable stocky physique and characteristic saggy face. They have a low, muscular body and loose skin around a massive head, with a pushed-in nose, and projecting lower jaw.

Here are a few other physical characteristics of the bulldog:

  • 14-15 inches tall
  • Males weigh up to 50 pounds, females up to 40 pounds
  • Live for 8-10 years

English bulldogs come in a number of different colors. They may find one of the following solid colors or any combination of the following:

  • Red
  • White
  • Fawn
  • Fallow

Bulldogs also may have the following markings:

  • Brindle
  • Piebald
  • Ticking
  • Black masks
  • Black tipping
  • Solid black in piebald

English Bulldogs today look very different from the original dogs due to selective breeding to change the appearance of the breed. The English Bulldogs used in bull-baiting in the 1800s didn’t have the same smashed faces, oversized heads, and compact bodies we see today.

Taking Care of an English Bulldog

We’ve already talked about some of the required care of your English Bulldog: regular but not too often baths, cleaning its ears, and cleaning its wrinkles. In addition to those grooming details, you’ll need to keep a couple of other things in mind when it comes to care.


Although bulldogs don’t have long hair, you’ll still need to brush your pup for about 10 minutes, two to three times a week. This will keep its coat looking as shiny and smooth as possible.

Even with the shorter hair, bulldogs are considered fairly regular shedders with heavier periods of shedding.


Although they appear relatively lazy as we mentioned earlier, bulldogs still like a bit of exercise and can become overweight if you don’t get them out and moving on a regular basis.

Because of their short muzzles, English Bulldogs don’t need any kind of strenuous exercise, but a few good walks will help keep your bulldog happy. It’s best to avoid pools and stairs because of a bulldog’s short stature.

Socialization and Training

Everyone knows socializing your dog as early as possible is very important. Bulldog owners are in luck because English bulldogs are notoriously friendly. They’re very agreeable and truly want to please their owner and anyone else they meet, so as long you make sure they’re socialized, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Because they generally want to please, bulldogs are also usually fairly easy to train. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to training, though.

Bulldogs are chewers so no matter their age, they’ll probably enjoy chew toys. They also love tug-of-war but it’s important to teach them to release the toy when you tell them.

English Bulldog Health

Unfortunately, the English Bulldog’s build lends itself to quite a few health problems. Take a look at some of the most common health problems:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Overheating
  • Skin allergies
  • Eczema, dry skin, and acne
  • Arthritis
  • Degenerative spine disease
  • Cherry eye
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Joint and ligament injuries
  • Heart disease
  • Higher cancer rate than any other breed

Don’t let this long list of health issues turn you off to owning an English Bulldog – they’re wonderful pets, bad smell and all. Regular vet checks can address many of these problems. Breeders can also do genetic testing to try to avoid breeding dogs that are prone to some of the hereditary issues.

An English Bulldog’s sweet, loyal personality is worth having around. Hopefully, with the solutions outlined in this article, you can get back to enjoying your English Bulldog’s sweet personality without a side of bad smell.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about English Bulldogs or other types of Bulldogs, then consider checking out this Bulldog Handbook on Amazon.