Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Smell? (Owner Insights)

You might be on the cusp of adopting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel into your home, and a thought flits by: do these majestic dogs carry a regal scent or a foul one? Or perhaps you already share a space with one, and a strange smell is puzzling you.

Either way, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll explore the natural aroma of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and unveil ways to keep them smelling fresh.

Key Takeaways

  • A well-maintained Cavalier King Charles Spaniel typically doesn’t emit a foul smell.
  • An ear infection is the most common medical reason for bad odor in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
  • Proper hygiene and a high-quality diet are essential to preventing unwanted smells.

Do Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Smell?

Healthy Cavalier King Charles Spaniels that are properly fed and regularly brushed should not have an unpleasant odor. Their minimal secretion of coat oil, known as sebum, reduces the chances of them developing a bad smell.

Compared to hound breeds like Basset Hounds or Beagles, known for their noticeable scent, Cavalier’s silky, medium-length coat tends to have a milder smell.

However, this isn’t the whole story; all dogs, regardless of breed or sebum production, can develop unpleasant odors So, what specifically should you know about Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to ensure yours stays as fresh and charming as it looks?

Keep reading to uncover all the potential reasons your Cavalier might be smelly.

6 Reasons Why Your Cavalier Might Smell Bad

  • Ear Infections
  • Anal Glands Problems
  • Gases
  • Bad Breath
  • Eye Discharge
  • Lack of Grooming

Ear Infections

The primary medical reason for a dog’s unpleasant odor comes from yeast or bacterial infections on its skin or inside its ears. It starts with allergic reactions that make them scratch and lick, creating an environment conducive for such infections.

Having hunting dog DNA, Cavaliers’ long ears often sweep the ground. So, if you walk your dog in the rain or if it swims daily, its ears can get wet and dirty.

This may introduce fungi and bacteria that cause ear infections, and these infections, besides causing ear discharge and itchy skin, can produce a very unpleasant smell in Cavaliers. Approximately 20% of all dog breeds have some from of wear indication.

Anal Glands Problems

Anal glands, also known as anal sacs, are small glands located on either side of a dog’s rectum. Every carnivorous animal has them, but they’re most commonly associated with dogs due to the occasional problems they can cause to them.

While these glands typically empty naturally during defecation, sometimes there’s a buildup of the substance. This buildup can intensify the unpleasant smell (often compared to rotting fish), especially if you notice your dog frequently licking the area or scooting its rear end across the floor.


All mammals, including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, produce gas as a natural byproduct of ingested air. However, if your dog’s gas is consistently foul-smelling, it could be an indication of an underlying issue. 

Potential culprits might include food allergies, a diet that’s not suitable for them, or an imbalanced gut microbiome. If your pet’s smelly gas is consistent, it’s time to make an appointment with a veterinarian.

Bad Breath

Bad breath in dogs can be a result of poor hygiene or dental disease. Of course, a dog’s breath won’t smell like a human’s after brushing, but it shouldn’t be excessively stinky either.

Take kibbles, for example. Feeding your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel kibbles loaded with sugar can be like giving it candy; it encourages dental issues much in the same way a sugary treat might affect your own teeth. 

Just as you might have once discovered your child eating something they shouldn’t, your Cavalier could have come across a dead animal in the backyard, resulting in a foul smell in their mouth. Combine that with a poor diet, and you’ll have a dog with very unpleasant breath.

Eye Discharge

Eye discharge is another factor that can contribute to unpleasant odors in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Such discharges can arise from various circumstances.

Allergic reactions to environmental triggers like chemicals or pollen are common causes. Moreover, more serious conditions like eye infections, diseases, or even glaucoma might lead to increased discharge and a bad smell.

Lack of Grooming

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels’ medium-length coats can soak up rainwater and mud during their outdoor escapades, acting like a sponge that absorbs all the unpleasant odors of the outside world.

Imagine wearing the same muddy clothes for days without washing them; that’s how a Cavalier might feel if not properly cleaned and dried after a romp outside. The collected dirt, allergens, and natural skin oils can mix together like ingredients in a stinky stew, contributing to an unpleasant smell. 

Practical Solutions for Stinky Cavaliers

If you’re facing smell-related issues with your Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, here are some practical solutions to help your beloved pet stay fresh and fragrant.

Regular Grooming

Maintaining a regular grooming routine for your Cavalier is crucial to ensure that your pet remains free from unpleasant odors. Grooming isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a vital part of their overall health and hygiene.

  • Bathing 

Bathing your Cavalier about once a month can help control bad odors. Using a dog-specific shampoo will clean without stripping the coat of its natural oils.

  • Brushing

Regular brushing is another important grooming practice. Brushing not only keeps their coat looking shiny and healthy but also helps distribute natural skin oils, remove loose hair, and decrease the amount of dander, which can contribute to bad smells.

  • Ear Care

Ear cleaning with vet-approved products can help prevent a foul smell and unwanted infections. Always check for signs of infection like redness, swelling, or an unusual smell, and consult your vet if any are noticed. If you want to learn more, you may want to read how to clean a Cavalier’s ears.

  • Eye Care

To maintain your Cavalier’s eye health, clean around their eyes with a soft, damp cloth during each bath. Remove any discharge gently without touching the eyeball. A healthy eye looks clear and white. If you see swelling, redness, or if your dog frequently rubs its eyes, see a veterinarian.

  • Oral Hygiene

Dental care plays a role in managing bad breath. Clean your dog’s teeth 2 to 3 times per week with dog-specific toothpaste to help your pet maintain good oral hygiene. Here’s a dedicated article on how to clean a Cavalier’s teeth.

Diet Adjustment

Clearly, feeding a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel high-quality food without fillers or artificial preservatives is essential for both eliminating bad odor and ensuring their health. I always suggest dedicating some time to preparing homemade meals to boost your pup’s health.

Stay away from human foods like onions and garlic, which are toxic and can cause gas in dogs. Always provide fresh water for your Cavalier, as it promotes digestion and removes toxins.

Veterinary Consultations

At the end of the day, it’s always wise to consult with your vet if your Cavalier has an unusual odor. Even if you pinpoint the cause, it’s essential to seek the expertise of a veterinarian. You shouldn’t overlook your dog’s stink, as it often indicates an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

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