Why Do Beagles Smell: The Definitive Guide

Do beagles have a distinct smell? Well, it’s hard to say. Different people will answer the question with different answers because everyone has their own opinion on what a beagle should smell like. Some people think that they don’t have any smell at all, others think that they have an unpleasant odor and some believe that they are one of the most aromatic breeds in existence.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why beagles smell and if they do then why do beagles smell like fish, corn chips, or anything else for that matter!

What do beagles smell like?

Like most dog breeds, beagles have their own distinct odor. Some say the beagle smell or odor reminds them of such things as corn chips, Fritos in particular!

What causes this distinct odor? Actually, the smell is likely just the oil, dirt, and debris that build up on your beagle’s coat.

While this might give your hound a doggy smell it is perfectly natural, and it’s not really that stinky!

While It’s important to keep your beagle clean don’t be tempted to bathe them too regularly.

Bathing your hound will strip its coat of the essential oils that a healthy beagle coat needs. Of course, if they rolled in something smelly then a bath may be needed to get rid of the bad smell.

I’m sure most beagle owners have similar tales of their dogs rolling on anything smelly. All of the beagles we have lived with have loved to roll in fox poop, dead anything, wet stinky mud, you name it, our dogs would find it!

It’s important to bathe them as best you can and not let the bacteria and smells build up.

To keep your dog’s coat healthy use a quality dog shampoo when bathing to ensure your dog’s coat keeps all of its natural oils.

Do beagles have bad breath?

A beagle will not inherently have bad breath, but it is possible that they may have some plaque build-up on their teeth.

If this is the case then brushing your beagle’s teeth will help to clean away any food particles or bacteria and keep them fresh and minty!

The key here again is regularity. To prevent the build-up of plaque you need to brush your hound’s teeth at least two to three times a week to stop your beagles breath from smelling like rotten food, yuk!

Not brushing your dog’s teeth can lead to more than just bad breath and lead to other health issues such as gum disease, tooth decay, and even heart problems.

Beagle ears

One of the most distinguishable features of the beagle breed is its floppy ears.

Like other hounds, beagles have smooth, silky, floppy ears that hang down around their faces.

While those floppy ears look great, they can trap dirt and debris inside the ear, building up bacteria, which could cause a distinct odor and leaving your beagle smelling bad.

It’s important to clean inside the ears of your hound, but be careful you don’t poke around too deep inside the ear, you only need to lightly clean the ear to stop bacteria from building up and becoming a bad smell.

Why do beagles smell fishy?

Have you noticed recently that your Beagle has started to smell fishy? Are they rubbing their booty across the floor? This might be a sign that your Beagle has issues with its glands, but don’t worry, this is a common thing with most dogs and can be easily treated.

Bottom glands are small glands (also known as anal sacs) found under the skin on either side of your Beagle’s anus, that secrete a dark oil-like fluid with a fishy smell, and if they excessively fill up can lead to discomfort for your Beagle.

When your Beagle poops the secretions are passed onto the feces, which leaves a chemical ‘footprint’ on your dog, which is why other dogs find dog poop so interesting.

Have you noticed that when you Beagle meets another dog, they will often smell each other’s bottoms (yuck!).

Well from your Beagles’ little bottom a scent is produced from their bottom glands. And this will identify your Beagle to the other dog. This communication shared between dogs will tell the other dog your Beagles sex, health, and approximate age.

You can’t see them as they are located under their skin, but they are two small sacs found on either side of their anus.

When your Beagle goes to poop, the bowel movements will essentially squeeze the liquid naturally from their two sacs. 

When the glands cannot secrete naturally (i.e. are impacted) during the pooping process, they can become full of liquid. This will create discomfort for your Beagle and potentially lead to an infection.

If untreated they can abscess and rupture. This happened to my Beagle Baylee this year. However, we managed to get her to the vet before her abscess ruptured.

Our two Beagles following a scent trail

There can be several reasons why they can become ‘impacted’ and cannot be expressed naturally through a bowel movement. Below are some possible reasons. 

  • Small, soft, or loose stool; this can be down to the diet you feed your Beagle. Ideally, you want a stool to be slightly firm
  • Poor gastrointestinal health
  • Allergies
  • Beagle’s anatomy

I would strongly advise you to consult your veterinarian to diagnose if your Beagle has an anal gland problem and what has caused it.

How Do I Know If My Beagle Has A Problem With Their Anal Glands?

There are some common things your Beagle might do that could indicate they have anal gland discomfort. Here are some of the things to look out for:

a) a strong fishy or metallic smell coming from their bottom

b) a brown discharge that comes out of their bottom, with a strong fishy smell

c) they drag their bottom along the floor

d) they lick their bottom excessively

e) appear to strain when having a poop

f) swelling near their bum

When Baylee had her anal gland issues last year, the first sign we spotted something was wrong was she looked uncomfortable.

She was licking her bum excessively too. She didn’t have that telltale fishy smell and wasn’t excreting any discharge.

The licking of her bum gave it away for us. I booked her in to the vet the next day, and overnight it became a lot worse for her.

You could see the gland to the left of her anus was swollen and bright pink where she had been licking it. 

If you have any concerns and are unsure if your Beagle has a problem, do consult your veterinarian for advice.

If your Beagle’s anal glands cannot be emptied naturally through bowel movement, your vet can express them with their hands. This is a relatively small procedure that is done quickly, right from the veterinarian’s table.

Some Beagle parents will attempt to do this themselves from home. It’s not a straightforward procedure.

If done incorrectly, it can cause unnecessary discomfort to your Beagle and scaring to the anal glands themselves, leading to further long-term issues.

Leaving an anal gland untreated can lead to further complications as we saw with our Beagle Baylee. If they become infected, it can lead to a gland abscess, Baylee had a large swollen red lump to the left of her anus.

Fortunately for us, the abscess hadn’t burst, which can happen if not treated.

The vet lanced the abscess which drained the nasty infected fluid from it and sent Baylee home with painkillers and antibiotics.

Recovery was slow; we cleaned her abscess with salty warm water every night before bed, to keep it clean, and she was on the medication for nearly a month.

We also ensured her dog food contained plenty of fiber to make her poops a bit softer, so she didn’t strain.

When you take your dog for routine check-ups and vaccinations, ask them to check their anal glands.

With Baylee when she had her abscess, we had been given no clues that her anal glands were not emptying on their own.

From now on, I’ll be asking my vet to do a quick check periodically.

What Preventative Measure Can I Take To Keep Them Healthy?

I would always consult your vet for advice on how you can prevent anal gland problems, but here are some things to consider:

a) Diet; adding fiber to your Beagle’s diet can help. Sources of fiber include but are not limited to canned pumpkin, high-fiber cereals such as bran flakes, high-fiber vegetables such as carrots, apples, and lettuce, and there are various supplements on the market. Be cautious when introducing additional fiber, adding too much can lead to problems for your Beagle’s tummy. Start small and see what works best for your Beagle

b) Obese or overweight; again connected to diet, check with your vet for a healthy weight for your Beagle.

c) Fish oils; also diet-related omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and can help with anal gland impaction

Relying only on the manual expression of the anal glands is not a recommended thing to do. This intervention can lead to inflammation and scarring of the anal glands, which will cause more problems with them emptying naturally.

Bonnie looking fed up after a trip to the vet


Conclusion paragraph: If you have a beagle, the best thing to do is keep them groomed and clean. Don’t bathe your beagle too often because it might strip the oils from their coat, fur, and skin which could lead to dryness or flaking.

Check for any smelly areas like under their paws or in between toes as these can trap odors that may not come out with just brushing alone.

Beagles are naturally scented so if they smell bad there’s probably an underlying issue such as dirty anal glands (which should be checked by a vet).

Try using different types of shampoos on occasion and brush more frequently during shedding season when hair will fall off quicker than usual – this way you’ll remove excess dander before it’s had a chance to accumulate.


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Simon Wilson and his two beagles

My Beagle Buddy is a dedicated resource crafted with love and expertise by Simon Wilson alongside his two cherished Beagles, Baylee and Bonnie. With over a decade of hands-on experience, Simon has delved deep into the world of Beagles, unraveling the joys, challenges, and intricacies of beagle ownership.

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