Why Does My Alaskan Malamute Smell Bad? 6 Causes & Fixes

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Alaskan Malamutes are not a breed that is known to smell bad, making them a good breed for owners with sensitive noses. This means that if your Malamute does suddenly start to smell, there’s likely to be an underlying reason for it.

Malamutes usually start to smell after being in the water, or if they have a yeast infection. There are several other reasons as well, which we will cover in this article.

Let’s get straight into the list.

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6 Reasons Why Your Alaskan Malamute Smells Bad

Here are the 6 most common reasons for your Alaskan Malamute smelling bad and what you can do about each one.

1. Your Alaskan Malamute Has Been In Water

One of the most common reasons that an Alaskan Malamute smells bad is that they’ve recently been in water. This could be from a recent hosing down after a particularly muddy walk, from taking a swim in a pond or even from being out in the rain.

The reason for this unpleasant ‘wet-dog’ smell is that just like all animals, Alaskan Malamutes have small microbes living on the surface of their skin.

These microbes produce waste which normally can’t be smelt while your Malamute is dry. Unfortunately, adding water to them frees the waste compounds from their skin through evaporation, allowing the smelly odor to be released.

Luckily, this problem can normally be fixed with an odor-neutralising dog shampoo and a good grooming routine.

We recommend that Alaskan Malamutes are bathed roughly once every 8 weeks to keep their coats looking and smelling fresh. This will remove the build-up of microbes and their waste from your Malamute’s skin.

A wet Alaskan Malamute standing in water
A wet Malamute is guaranteed to smell!

In between washes, focus on trying to get your Alaskan Malamute dry as soon as possible. A Malamute’s thick double coat can make it harder to get dry if they’ve been particularly drenched.

Absorbent dog towels such as the Dog Drying Coat by Periflowin will help draw moisture away from your Malamute’s skin quickly, preventing them from becoming smelly again.

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Those of you looking for a faster solution to drying your Alaskan Malamute should consider purchasing a dog blow dryer.

We’ve had great experiences using the Dopict Professional Dog Blow Dryer which comes with 3 different nozzle attachments and can get a Malamute completely dry in around 40 minutes.

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2. Your Alaskan Malamute Has A Yeast Infection

Yeast infections are quite common in Alaskan Malamutes and they may be the reason that they smell bad.

Yeast is a fungus that produces spores and is always present on your Malamute’s skin, usually in low and harmless numbers. A yeast infection occurs when an area of your Malamute’s skin has an excessive amount of yeast present.

This excessive amount of yeast occurs due to moisture and wet conditions that provide a suitable environment for yeast to grow, leading to infection.

These infections can appear anywhere on the skin but in our experience, they tend to be particularly prevalent on the paws, in the ears and around joints where the skin folds.

The affected skin will typically appear irritated and red and will be very itchy for your Malamute, leading to them excessively scratching or licking the area.

As well as this, you may smell a sweet or musty odor coming from the affected area.

Yeast infections are normally ‘secondary problems’ meaning they arise as the result of another issue that’s causing your Malamute’s skin defence to be weaker.

The most common reason is allergies but sometimes there can be another underlying health issue which needs treating.

If you suspect your Alaskan Malamute has a yeast infection, please consult your local vet to find the appropriate course of action.

They will help you to find the cause of the infection and recommend a treatment based on the location and severity of the infection.

3. Your Alaskan Malamute Has A Skin Infection

Besides yeast infections, there are several other skin infections that are common for Alaskan Malamutes to suffer from which could be causing their bad smell.

There are many reasons that your Alaskan Malamute may develop a skin infection, ranging from environmental or food allergies to worms and poor hygiene amongst many other things.

The best way to try and prevent skin infections is to maintain a regular grooming routine with your Malamute.

Not only will this keep their coat in good condition and remove any debris that could cause irritation, but it will also give you a chance to regularly look over their skin for any abnormalities.

If you think the reason that your Alaskan Malamute smells bad is a skin infection, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible to seek the appropriate treatment.

4. Your Alaskan Malamute Has Impacted Perianal Glands

Does your Alaskan Malamute seem to have a permanent fishy smell coming from their rear end? It may be time to check on their perianal glands.

Alaskan Malamutes, as with all dogs, have two, small perianal glands that produce odor and mark your Malamute’s stools. When this happens, the glands are said to have been ‘expressed’ which essentially means that they’ve been used properly.

Sometimes the perianal glands are not expressed, often the result of having loose stools, which can cause a build-up of chemicals within them and eventually an infection.

When this happens, you may notice your Malamute ‘scooting’ across the carpet to try and relieve them (unfortunately leaving a smelly trail behind them!). You may also notice that they have pain while pooping, or suddenly sit down in discomfort.

If the glands remain unexpressed, they will eventually burst open and release smelly, infected chemicals onto their rear end. Trust us when we say you do not want to know how bad that smells!

If you think your Alaskan Malamute’s perianal glands are impacted, it’s best to take them to the vet to get them properly expressed and treat any infection. In the meantime, there are a couple of things you can do to prevent it from happening in the first place.

As this is an issue that’s typically caused by poor quality stools, you want to make sure you are feeding your Alaskan Malamute a healthy and consistent, high fibre diet. This will help them to pass solid stools regularly meaning their perianal glands are expressed.

5. Your Alaskan Malamute Has Poor Dental Hygiene 

We’re all familiar with bad dog breath, but if your Alaskan Malamute’s mouth is more stinky than usual then it’s time to take action.

Smelly breath comes from a build-up of bacteria, caused by your Malamute’s teeth remaining dirty long after they’ve eaten. If the bacteria is not regularly removed, it can lead to an infection in your Malamute’s gums and may eventually lead to them losing their teeth.

Luckily, dental issues are easily preventable and there are many products available that can get your Malamute’s breath smelling fresh in no time.

The most popular of which are daily dental treats. These are large dog treats that help to remove bacteria by forcing your Malamute to chew on them. Many of them also contain antibacterial ingredients.

If you’re brave enough, you can also purchase dog toothpaste and a dog toothbrush to give their teeth and gums a good clean. We recommend the Arm & Hammer Dog Dental Care Kit which comes with beef-flavoured toothpaste to make the brushing experience more enjoyable for your Malamute.

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Please consult your vet if you are having problems cleaning your Malamute’s teeth or if you believe they may have an infection.

6. Your Alaskan Malamute Has A Different Health Issue

If you still aren’t sure why your Alaskan Malamute smells bad after you’ve looked over them and given them a good wash, then it’s worth taking them to the vet to check for any underlying health problems.

Although rare, other issues such as skin cancers, GI and systemic infections or diabetes could be causing your Malamute to stink.

These issues may be harder to identify by eye so it’s best to take them to the vets for a full health check to ensure no serious problems are going untreated.

In Summary

All Alaskan Malamute goes through a period of smelling bad in their lives, even if it’s from something as simple as having smelly breath or from not being dried properly.

Most of the time it’s nothing to worry about, but if you ever become concerned about a persistent smell then get in touch with your veterinarian.

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About The Author

Caitlin is the owner and lead writer for The Malamute Mom. She has over 10 years of experience with Alaskan Malamutes and Huskies. She is currently working on getting her PhD in materials science but continues to write for The Malamute Mom in her spare time.

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