Yes, as hunting hounds, beagles do smell – and for a good reason. But, if that beagle smell is getting to be a little too much, there are some things that you can do to help to mitigate it.
Beagle owners will affectionately tell you that their dog smells – not the Frito feet smell that all dogs have, but a cheesy chip smell that can sometimes be a little overwhelming. But why do beagles smell? And what can you do about it?
Beagles Are Pack Hunters
Beagles are hound dogs bred to flush game from the bushes and hunt rabbits. These pack hunters rely on an incredible sense of smell powered by 215,000 more sense receptors than humans have, located at the back of the nose.
When beagles hunt, they work in packs to follow the scent of prey. When one hound picks up the prey’s scent, they sing to let the other dogs know where their target is. The dogs then work together to flush the target from its hiding place out into the open. Once the prey is in the open, hunters will take aim and shoot.
But what does their sense of smell have to do with how they smell?
When beagles pack hunt, they coordinate their efforts. Part of this coordination happens through the commands of the hunters, but most of it is between the dogs themselves. Beagles use their vocal cries to communicate information, but they use their individual scent as a marker to locate each other during the hunt.
Each dog in the pack has a unique scent that allows the other dogs to pinpoint their position during the hunt.
What is Beagle Smell?
Beagle smell is often referred to as “hound smell” because most hound breeds have a similar type of odor. Hound smell is a musky scent that is noticeable but not overpowering. If your beagle’s scent does become overpowering, there are a few possible causes that you should consider – we will look at those shortly.
First, let us look at what causes the musky hound smell.
The hound scent results from an oil secreted from hair follicles to naturally protect the fur while a dog is working in the field. These oils make the dog’s coat waterproof, but they are smelly, and that smell only worsens when the dog gets wet.
Causes For Overpowering Odor in Beagles
Wet Dog Smell
One reason that your beagle may smell extra potent is if they are wet. All dogs have yeast and bacteria that live in their fur. These bacteria and yeast produce odorous compounds, and when the fur gets wet, those compounds are dispersed into the air, making them more detectable.
The best thing you can do to overcome this odor is to dry your dog off!
Yeast and Bacteria
Another common occurrence for some hounds is an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria on the skin – which happens most often with hounds that have skin folds and wrinkles – for example, the bloodhound.
Regularly clean and dry your dog’s skin folds and keeps your dog at a healthy weight to prevent yeast and bacteria from overgrowing in skin folds!
Of course, your beagle may start to get stinky if you do not ever bathe them, but did you know that it is possible to bathe them too much? When you over-bathe your dog, their skin dries out, and the body produces more oil to assist with skin repair. These increased oil secretions cause more odor.
To avoid bath time stink, bathe your dog once every two months using a dog-friendly shampoo formula (this helps to keep the skin pH balanced and avoids overproduction of oils.) If you need to bathe your dog between baths, use water to wash away debris, but refrain from using any shampoo products!
Hound smell can also become worse due to medical problems including
- Skin infection
- Dental disease
- Ear infections
- Poor diet
If you suspect that your beagle has a medical concern that is making its natural odor unbearable, consult your vet!
Dogs have two pea-sized glands on either side of the anus. These glands (sometimes called anal sacs) produce a very strong-smelling liquid at the end of your dog’s bowel movements. This liquid is a “calling card” (its scent is unique to your dog) and provides information about your dog to dogs that pass by.
Anal gland secretions are also the reason why dogs greet each other with a sniff of the bottom! These secreted oils can provide a wealth of information, including your dog’s sex, health, breeding status, whether a dog is a familiar friend, etc.
When your dog has a bowel movement, the anal glands express themselves – but sometimes, this is not the case. Natural anal gland expression can be influenced by:
- Food sensitivities
- Obstruction of the anal gland
- Anatomical abnormalities
When the anal glands cannot release the fluid they produce, it can build up and cause infection and inflammation. This problem can become so bad that the gland eventually abscesses and ruptures.
Before rupture, though, you can often tell that your dog is having difficulty with their anal glands from their symptoms which include:
- Scooting their bottom on the floor
- Biting at their hind end
- A strong fishy odor
- Visible swelling
If you notice any signs of problems with your dog’s anal glands, head to your veterinarian as soon as possible for manual expression of the gland fluid. Failure to get the glands manually expressed can cause rupture and require surgical drainage.
Conclusion / Summary
Beagles are hounds, and hounds smell. Although the hound smell is one that most hound-lovers regularly deal with, there are some situations where medical intervention is necessary. Keep an eye on your dog’s signature scent and if you notice any significant changes, check in with your veterinarian!