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Do Portuguese Water Dogs Smell?

Growing up, I had the privilege of living with multiple dogs and one of my favorite pets was the family Portuguese Water Dog. Our Portuguese Water Dog was a protector of the family who brought a lot of joy and laughter to my parents, my siblings, and even my friends who got to know him. Some people have expressed reluctance to take in a Portuguese Water Dog out of fear that he or she might smell bad. This begs the question, do Portuguese Water Dog smell?

No, They Do Not

Overall, Portuguese Water Dogs do not smell bad. At least, they do not smell any worse than other dogs. Therefore, Portuguese Water Dogs are a joy to be around! If you are worried that your Portuguese Water Dog might smell, then there are a few factors to consider.

Does Your Portuguese Water Dog Have a Skin Issue?

If you are noticing that your Portuguese Water Dog has a distinct, funky smell, then there might be a problem with his or her skin. Our Portuguese Water Dog always smelled great; however, there was one time when I came home from school and noticed there was something particularly pungent.

It was almost like someone vomited in the garbage can and then intentionally moved the garbage into the sun where it could ripen.

It turns out this had nothing to do with vomit. The problem was our Portuguese Water Dog. Our poor baby had a musty, stinky odor that had caused his fur to cake! While I could not see the problem from the surface, I did notice that his hair was almost completely matted.

It turns out that our Portuguese Water Dog had developed an issue called seborrhea. This lead to the development of something that resembled cheese to build up on his skin. Our vet gave us an array of products that we could use to keep him clean.

For the next few months, we followed this religiously. We bathed him on a regular basis, make sure that he was always properly groomed, and tried to place him on an exercise routine. He wasn’t overweight but we noticed that the sebum used to build up in his skin folds. Therefore, we tried to eliminate them using cleaning and bathing.

This is how we were able to keep the odor from our Portuguese Water Dog under control. Luckily, we only went through this ordeal once.

Halitosis in the Portuguese Water Dog

While this problem is not unique to Portuguese Water Dogs, this is still an issue that could cause them to smell. Toward the end of our dog’s life, we noticed that there was something pungent coming from his mouth.

It smelled like something had died in there. Therefore, we took him to the vet to take a closer look at what was doing on.

Our vet called this condition halitosis. Basically, this is the medical name for bad breath. In people, this usually has to do with a lack of brushing and flossing; however, we knew that there was something far worse going on for our dog.

It turned out that our dog actually had an abscess that was growing on the side of his mouth. It was present on the inside of his cheek. The vet was able to press on the abscess and expressed pus. Our poor Portuguese Water Dog did not like this at all!

That vet was brave to stick his hands in there and not get his fingers bitten off!

As we left, the vet gave us some antibiotics to treat the abscess and make sure this problem was kept at bay. The vet also told us that there were a few other reasons why a Portuguese Water Dog might have bad breath. Some of the common issues include:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Other issues related to poor dental health

We were able to take care of our Portuguese Water Dog and made sure the abscess didn’t return. That was the only time our puppy dealt with such severe breath issues.

Ear Infections Are Common

One of the most common reasons why a Portuguese Water Dog might not smell very good has to do with an ear infection. While most people think about ear infections as issues that impact young children, they can impact dogs as well.

I remember there was one time when we all went swimming in the lake as young children. During the summer, this is a great way to cool off. Portuguese Water Dogs are great swimmers and our dog loved jumping off of the boat with us into the water.

A few days later, I noticed that I was struggling with ear pain. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with an ear infection. After a few days of antibiotics, I was back to normal. It turns out that I was not the only one who suffered from an ear infection in our house.

Unlike me, our Portuguese Water Dog could not tell my parents that his ears were bothering him. My parents actually realized the issue when it became obvious that there was something pungent coming from his ears.

The smell was absolutely sickening. There was pus coming from his left ear, which was almost sticking directly out from his head because it was so swollen. There was this green, yellow liquid draining from his ear and it stank like nothing else. So, off to the vet, we went!

The vet didn’t even have to look inside the ear. He swabbed the pus and sent it off for routine culture. Then, he sent us home with some antibiotics that we used to kill the ear infection. Of course, the lake was the culprit. Something in the lake had set up shop in our Portuguese Water Dog’s ear. Luckily, we were able to get this cleaned up in a flash.

What Health Problems Can a Portuguese Water Dog Develop?

Overall, Portuguese Water Dogs do not smell anymore (or less) than other dog breeds. The health problems above happened to impact our family’s Portuguese Water Dog at some point during his or her life; however, these issues are not limited to this breed.

On the other hand, there are a few other conditions that might impact Portuguese Water Dogs at a higher rate. These include:

  • Hip Dysplasia: There is a chance that Portuguese Water Dogs might develop hip dysplasia. This is an issue that impacts the alignment of the bones of the pelvis. This condition could make it hard for a dog to walk.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: As the name suggests, this is a condition that impacts the retina. The retina is the part of the eye that is responsible for absorbing light. If a Portuguese Water Dog develops this condition, then he or she might lose his or her vision.
  • Cardiomyopathy: This is a condition that impacts the health of the heart. This is a chance that Portuguese Water Dogs might develop this condition. This could progress to heart failure, which would eventually be fatal.
  • GI Conditions: Portuguese Water Dogs are at risk of developing a variety of GI conditions. For example, some Portuguese Water Dogs develop IBD, which stands for inflammatory bowel disease. This leads to blood in the stool due to inflammation that takes place in the lining of the intestines. Some Portuguese Water Dog also develop a condition called hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, which is another serious GI infection that could cause the digestive tract to bleed.

Of note, our Portuguese Water Dog did not develop any of these issues; however, it is a good idea to take all dogs to the vet for annual exams. The vet will know that a Portuguese Water Dog is at a higher risk of developing these conditions and will watch closely for any signs of their development.

Keeping Portuguese Water Dogs Happy

The reality is that the Portuguese Water Dog is a fantastic dog breed. In order to keep this breed happy, it is important to make sure that he or she exercises regularly.

While taking dogs on a walk is nice, it is better to take them to a park where they can come off of the leash and expend some energy. They love to run and swim. They can even be taught to play fetch with relative ease.

We learned that if we didn’t give our Portuguese Water Dog time to expend some energy, that he would tear through the house and break things! We learned our lesson the hard way.

At the same time, it is still important to make sure that Portuguese Water Dogs are groomed regularly as well. While Portuguese Water Dogs don’t shed as much as other dogs, there are skin issues that can sometimes hide underneath the fur.

If these problems are caught early, then they can be treated before they progress to the serious, pungent odors that were discussed above! Grooming is an important part of their care.