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Old English Bulldogs: Need a cure for a stinky bulldog?

By Gary Bogue
Friday, November 20th, 2009 at 7:50 am in Bulldog.

Old English Bulldog. Photo by Flickr user Cindy Funk used under a Creative Commons License.
cindy funk 3

In my Nov. 10 daily newspaper column (, Aldo in San Mateo, CA, wrote asking, “How do you clean a stinky English bulldog?” Aldo has a 21-month-old bulldog that smells and he has tried everything he can think of to resolve this problem. Bulldogs are naturally smelly animals.

Here are some of my reader responses to Aldo’s smelly problem:

Old English Bulldog. Photo by Flickr user Cindy Funk used under a Creative Commons License.
Cindy Funk

**** Hi Gary: Just thought I’d offer up some suggestions to Aldo’s re his “stinky Old English Bulldog (bullie)” challenge.

So Aldo is finding out that the the Old English Bulldogs are a ‘fragrant’ bunch?  Having had several bullies over the years, one thing is always consistent — the stink factor. In my experience, the facial folds/ears are the biggest culprits to the smell factor. Often what occurs is moisture resides in the folds, yeast builds up and wala — a stinky bullie! Best defense is an offense. Keep the facial folds/ears clean and dry. This will require due diligence and patience on the part the owner. Don’t be shocked if your bullie doesn’t exactly ‘enjoy the experience’ of having his face/ears cleaned. Offering a treat after cleaning time will gain greater cooperation on the part of your bullie. I’ve found using an antiseptic solution daily (available thru your vet) may help minimizing the yeast production. When yeast has gained the upper hand, consult with your Vet to obtain an antifungal cream or antibiotics to gain control of the problem.  Prevention is how you win with these dogs!

Something else to consider — your bullies’ diet. Second to facial/ear folds, diet is the #2 reason of why bullies may stink. In my case, our bullie had an allergy and wasn’t tolerating her beef-based dog food. Come to find out, most of the dog foods on the market have a beef base of some kind. Switching our bullie to a ‘fish & potato’ based diet recommended by our breeder ( produced immediate and dramatic improvements in our bullies general odor as well as eliminated the flatulence problem that would clear the room during movie night!  Be cautious ANY time you are making changes to your bullies’ diet. A ‘cross-tapering method’ is an ideal way to introduce new dog food. Essentially, you add small amounts of new dog food in with the old dog food until your have completely transitioned to the new dog food over a week or so. This will minimize the potential stomach upset and ensure a greater toleration and acceptance by your bullie. Don’t introduce ANY new foods (no table scraps) when making the transition. This will ensure you don’t confuse what is and is not being tolerated.

I know its ‘counter intuitive’ but try and resist the impulse to bath your bullie more than 1 time per month unless instructed by your Vet. All too often the over bathing of your bullie can actually contribute to and facilitate the stink factor by stripping too many oils from the hair and skin. Bullies in general have very sensitive skin. Washing your bullie too often can cause the skin to become dry and irritated then in turn causes the body to produce too much of the body’s natural oils thus leading to an even more sticky bullie situation. Please exercise caution with use of ‘deodorizing shampoos’. The chemicals used in the shampoos to make them smell nice can cause skin irritation. My Vet recommended we use baby shampoo when we bath our bullie. Occasionally, we add 1 tsp of Dawn liquid dish washing detergent to 5–7oz. of baby shampoo to really clean the hair follicles. This combo shampoo treatment should only be done a couple times a year or otherwise noted by your Vet.

All the best to you and your bullie Aldo! (Heidi, San Ramon, CA)

Old English Bulldog. Photo by Flickr user Cindy Funk used under a Creative Commons License.
cidy funk 2

**** Gary: I’ve heard that simple talcum powder works well for all those folds. Shampooing that often is really bad for his dogs skin and unnecessary. I would suggest having the dog professionally groomed three times a year, at which time they will express the anal gland. (Something you should NOT try at home!) This should take care of the smell problem. rush his teeth regularly too. (Rhonna M., Fremont, CA)

**** Dear Gary: I read your article in the CC Times today regarding the stinky bulldog. I have an English Bulldog that will be 3 in January. Yes, the breed is stinky but there are some things you can do to improve the problem. Their folds around the face need to be cleaned every 3-4 days. I use sensitive skin diaper wipes for this chore. The crud that collects in those areas, especially the area surrounding their nose, will gag you if not kept clean. Since they are prone to skin problems, it is very important to keep that area clean to avoid infection. I also sprinkle baby powder on his underside. I found some great cologne drops for pets by Lambert Kay, which I buy at Pet Food Express. It is their fresh clean scent. It smells just like baby powder. You put a few drops at the neck and the rear and voila’ … he smells like a baby — temporarily anyway! Wash the dog’s bedding frequently. Stock up on Febreze pet odor eliminator and use generously. Hope this helps! (Linda, Pleasant Hill, CA)

**** Gary: Tell the owner to use Malaseb shampoo and Malaseb Pledgets to wipe in between the wrinkles. It has been the only thing that works for or bully! (Sharon, cyberspace)

**** Gary: We had this problem with a smelly Dachshund many years ago. An astute Vet diagnosed hypothyroidism and put her on a daily dose of thyroid medication. After some trial and error the problem was resolved. Hope this helps. (Meg, Castro Valley, CA)

**** Dear Gary: I have the exact same problem as Aldo, except in my case, she’s a cocker spaniel. After trying sprays and wipes, I too was bathing once a week. Then I tried a wipe “Between Baths” by Petastic Naturals which comes with a money back guarantee. And it really works! I rubbed three or four wipes on her over a week ago, and so far, no doggy smell. I also believe she’s less itchy, because we were probably over drying out her skin. (Marcy, Redwood City, CA)

**** Dear Gary:
I haven’t had any experience with bulldogs (not a favorite breed with me), however, I have had intimate contact with two very smelly goldens. I dog-sat my grand-daughter’s golden retriever last year. It was a gross experience. I tried the shampoo, etc. but nothing worked. When she came home, I suggested that perhaps she might try feeding her a different brand of dog food. This did work!! Apparently she had recently changed brands which is when the odor started. Worth a try!! (Dorothy, Walnut Creek, CA)

Anyone who wants to add to this collection of potential solutions to smelly bulldogs can do so below. Thanks! Hope this info helps someone. /Gary

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5 Responses to “Old English Bulldogs: Need a cure for a stinky bulldog?”

  1. Aldo Says:

    Hi All:
    Thanks for the terrific responses/suggestions. I do appreciate them and hopefully a combination of all the recommended suggestions will help. Needless to say, my dog (Siopao) is so adorable that any stinkiness on his part is forgivable.

    My dog also “suddenly” developed an allergy to his dog food after more than a year on the same brand. I tried all other brands including the all natural and the hypo-allergenic ones (vet recommended) but nothing really worked. I ended up cooking his food for him. Cooked rice with chicken works fine (of course he dribbles rice kernels all over the floor!). Sometimes it’s beef which I boil and after it becomes tender I add rice. It’s the cheaper alternative to vet visits and the expensive hypo-allergenic ones.

    Again, thanks Gary and to everyone else. I hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving celebration.

  2. Bonnie Cediel Says:

    When I find myself waking up with small, mysterious bug bites, I also usually have seen little black spiders hanging out on the ceiling of my bedroom. California jumping spiders are black with red spots and have nasty looking pincers on their forelegs. They are very fast and will hide if they see you. I have a long, narrow, transparent plastic box, from a window shade, and I use it to reach up to the ceiling and trap them. I then send them straight down the toilet. Now I am wondering if they can survive flushing….

  3. Jan Gessler Says:

    Thanks for all the great ways to keep raccoons from the yard. We have been using the radio and a light which seem to work. We needed to be out of town and I mixed up a bunch of old spices, herbs and a bunch of chili powder and red pepper. We sprinkled it in the yard as we could not have the window open for the radio. I think it messed with their sense of smell as our yard was okay after a week of no radio. Thought I would pass this along. J

  4. Wayne C Says:

    My Boston had a nasty smell problem, with inflamed crusts in the folds under his eyes. He also had frequent bouts of pimple-like outbreaks under his chin. I tried using an antibiotic cream as suggested by my vet, with little in the way of success. I switched him from Purina One lamb and rice formula to Purina One sensitive skin and stomach formula (salmon, rice and oats) and within one week the eye problem was totally gone and the outbreaks on his chin have never returned.

  5. Bridgette Says:

    Hi Everyone,
    I am getting some great ideas and answers to my latest Bulldogge’s issues. Age 5 starting to smell and getting hives, we never ha this problem before. I think I might change his food first and use the talcum powder. I will try and wash him less, it will be hard since he sleeps right next to me. I only used Johnson’s oatmeal baby wash, simply because I thought it would make his fur soft. Now I do take him to the groomer to keep his hair skinned which he so loves. Is this bad to keep his hair skinned? Anymore suggestions please feel free to let me know.

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