My Boston Terrier Smells Bad. Causes and Remedies

Owning a Boston Terrier is a joyful experience. And yet, you may find that your Boston smells bad. There is a difference between a dirty, smelly dog and a more pungent smell that does not subside after a bath. Here is what we’ve learned.

Boston Terriers are not normally a smelly dog breed. Keeping your Boston clean with regular bathing and ear cleaning should take care of most smells. The most common causes of bad smells are dirt and sweat, ear infections, leaky anal glands, skin infections, and foot infections. Continuing or more intense smells may indicate a physical issue that needs more attention.

What causes a Boston Terrier to smell bad?

1. Dirt, sweat, and grime

Happy Bostons get dirty. Whether it is normal grime and grit from being outdoors or getting sweaty from playing with their favorite outdoor toy, Bostons get dirty. 

Be sure that you give your Boston a good bath at least once per month or as often as weekly. 

When bathing your Boston, use a gentle, foaming shampoo, and be sure to rinse thoroughly. Leaving soap on the skin may lead to irritation which can cause additional issues.

2. Ears

Bostons are notorious for ear infections. The most common infection smells almost sweet when you place your nose next to your dog’s ears. Our Boston Bridgette gets these with regularity despite ear cleaning. 

Our veterinarian recommended and we have had excellent success using Zymox Ear Enzymatic Solution which also has hydrocortisone to help reduce itching. It lasts a long time given you only use a few drops at a time and costs a lot less than a bunch of vet visits.

A bad but sweet smell may be an ear infection
Photo Credit: Photo by form PxHere

3. Leaky Anal Glands

Dogs, including Boston Terriers, have anal glands. These glands are located on both sides of the anus at about the 4′ o’clock and 8 o’clock positions.

When a dog’s glands become full, they may be seen excessively licking their anus and dragging it on the floor.

Your vet or groomer can empty (express) the glands. However, many Boston owners learn how to do this themselves. 

Trust us when we say that this can be an awful smell from a Boston terrier. Not only can it make your dog stink, but because the glands can secrete their pungent contents when your dog lays down, the soft surface around them can need a good wash.

Some owners swear by the use of natural gland helping remedies like PetAlive AnalGlandz. This is a topical natural remedy. You add 0.05 mL to ¼ cup of warm water and then apply it as a warm compress over the anal gland area. 

4. Dermatitis

Another cause of bad dog smells that can affect Boston Terriers is dermatitis. 

Sometimes in the folds of the skin, dogs can get a type of dermatitis that produces a weird smell. 

Applying a miconazole cream can help get rid of a yeast type of dermatitis. For a broader treatment, use a miconazole shampoo like VetWell Microseb Medicated Shampoo or the spray version.

If you find that your Boston is prone to this type of infection, you might try Benzoyl Peroxide wipes for cleaning the skin-folds to help keep bacteria in the area reduced.

5. Foot Infection

Boston Terriers can occasionally get a yeast type infection on their paws. 

We’ve heard Boston owners describe the smell sometimes like Doritos or Fritos?!?! Hmmm… 

Keep your pup’s paws clean and dry to help prevent this type of infection. 

Again, you could try a miconazole cream for a couple of days and see if there is an improvement. 


While Boston Terriers are not normally smelly or smell bad, there are more than five reasons why they might on occasion. The most common causes of bad smells are dirt and sweat, ear infections, leaky anal glands, skin infections, and foot infections. It always recommended to check with a vet any time you have a concern, but in time you may feel comfortable treating the most common causes.

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