Do Jack Russell’s Smell? [How to Eliminate Odor + 11 Causes] is reader-supported. If you buy a product through a link on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Before adopting a dog, you likely have a ton of questions about the specific dog breed you are considering.

It is entirely reasonable, and I was the same way before adopting my Jack Russell.

While Jack Russell’s have very playful energy to them and can bring an entire family joy for more than a decade, it is still essential to understand what you are getting yourself into before the adoption.

One of the specific questions I had before adopting my Jack Russell was concerning odor and proper bathing techniques.

Do Jack Russell’s smell?

After nearly 1 ½ years of owning my Jack Russell, here is what I can tell you on this subject.

Jack Russell’s can smell bad for a variety of reasons. Here are the 11 top reasons that a Jack Russell may smell bad or produce an odor:

  • Digging or Rolling in Dirt
  • Lack of Bathing or Bathing Too Often
  • Lack of Grooming and Brushing
  • Bad Breath
  • Ear Infections
  • Yeast Infections
  • Finding Carcasses
  • Anal Gland Issues
  • Poor and Non-Sufficient Diets
  • Gas Buildups
  • Getting Wet

That is the quick answer to the question at hand and what most Jack Russell’s owners will encounter right out of the gates.

However, it is important to understand that other situations may be the cause of your Jack Russell smelling bad, and it’s also important to understand that you have easy steps you can take to help reduce odor with a Jack Russel.

That is what the rest of this post is designed to break down for you.

I want to not only layout what causes odor with Jack Russell’s but what you as an owner or potential Jack Russell parent can do to ensure that you never deal with a stinky Jack Russell.

To streamline this information, I have created easy to navigate links directly below that will allow you to navigate to any specific section of this post that you desire to learn more about.


Here are all the topics I tend to break down for you today:

Like I mentioned a moment ago if you need to skip around in this post to specific sections, feel free to do so using the links provided directly above.

Otherwise, provide me about 2-3 minutes, and I will have you readily prepared to avoid a smelly Jack Russell and teach you how to recognize the cause of the smell with your JR like an expert.

Here are the essential details to understand.

Do Jack Russell’s Smell Recap

An important thing to understand about a Jack Russell potentially smelling bad is that they are still a dog at the end of the day.

The common reasons that cause any dog to smell will also cause a Jack Russell to smell.

However, Jack Russell’s with their unique hyper energy and investigative nature, do tend to find ways to get a bit dirtier and potentially cause them to smell as well.

That is why we are going to cover the common causes for a smelly Jack Russell that applies to just about any dog breed and cover ways a Jack Russell will get themselves into stinky situations.

Let’s with the common causes of odor and stink with Jack Russell’s in particular.

Most Common Causes for A Jack Russell Smelling or Producing Odor

This is when we will start diving into some of the reasons Jack Russell’s may smell that not all dogs encounter in the same fashion.

Jack Russell’s Are A Hunting Breed and Find Sources of Smell Quickly

This became apparent to me within the first few weeks of adopting my female Jack Russell.

Within a few weeks, she had already found a way to get under our wooden back porch.

I honestly did not even know where she was for about 15 minutes till, she came out with a small grin on her face.

I am also aware that this is a common spot in my yard for rabbits to hide and nest.

Well, she found it.

It is also mostly moist dirt and mud under the porch.

Unfortunately, animals that are the hunted in the wild tend to enjoy these dark, moist hiding spots, and a Jack Russell is an expert at finding these spots, sniffing them out and enjoying themselves when you are not watching.

Jack Russell’s simply enjoy being active, working, and doing these activities.

This is clearly going to cause your Jack Russell to produce an odor if they are rolling around in moist, damp, and muddy conditions when you are not watching.

We will discuss how to battle this more later in the post.

Jack Russell Owners Are Instructed to Avoid Bathing When Possible

Another cause for your Jack Russell smelling bad can be the direct cause of our own actions.

Jack Russell’s are known to produce more shedding and have more issues with their fur if you bathe them too often, and many Jack Russell’s are aware of this.

However, just because it is instructed not to go overboard with bathing does not mean to skip it entirely, and I believe this is a cause that can backfire on the owners of JR’s relatively quickly if they get too lazy.

While you do not want to be bathing your Jack Russell every week, it is still essential to ensure that they are bathed roughly 1x time per month and brushed out daily to avoid bacteria buildup on the skin and fur.

Those Cute Pointy Ears May Be Less Appealing Than You Believe

Have you ever smelled the inside of your Jack Russell’s ears?

At times, without care, it can be repulsive.

It is also a potential reason you are noticing your Jack Russell not smelling so good.

When you neglect to clean your Jack Russell’s ears, they can build up wax that is black in color and dead skin.

Trust me, it stinks, and anyone who has smelled this before knows precisely how smelly it can really be.


Go for High End and Nutritional Diets

Using the proper diets for your Jack Russell is essential for more reasons than reducing odor.

However, using a high end and nutritional diet can help your Jack Russell to maintain healthy coats of fur and even minimize shedding.

A vet would be much more qualified to recommend the correct blends of protein, fiber, and other nutritional needs, but overall, what your Jack Russell is eating daily can impact how good they smell.

Bad Breath

Let’s not forget about the potential stinky breath that could be making your Jack Russell not smell so good.

Most of the time, bad breath for a dog is normal and is caused by bacteria build-up.

In some situations, if you don’t notice the smell going away or begins to worsen, it may indicate something much worse, and it’s imperative at this point to contact your local vet to ensure you don’t have further health complications to worry about.

Anal Glands

Anal glands can be another reason your Jack Russell is smelling bad.

Anal glands will most commonly emit a fishy odor.

If you are noticing a smell or odor emitting from your Jack Russell’s anal glands, it is almost always recommended to see a vet ensure further issues do not need to be addressed.

Be Careful Not to Bath Your Dog to Often and Begin Avoiding Smelly Situations

One of the last things I want to ensure we cover one more time in this post is the fact that you want to avoid giving your Jack Russell too many baths.

I get it.

They find dirty areas, get themselves into sticky situations, and sometimes you do not have a choice.

However, using something such as a vinegar and water solution on a washcloth can work just as well if it is light dirt or odor you are trying to remove.

The problem you will encounter over bathing your jack Russell is dried out skin, and additional shedding takes place.

In plain English, find alternatives for cleaning your Jack Russell if possible and try to avoid smelly situations in general, so they do not need to be fixed after the fact.

Solutions for Eliminating Odor with A Jack Russell Terrier

Most of the potential solutions you can implement to keep your Jack Russell from smelling have already been discussed in this post thus far.

However, as a recap, let’s make a quick bullet list of the solutions you can use to ensure your Jack Russell is always looking great and smelling great.

Here are my top recommendations for a NON-smelly Jack Russell

  • Brush Your Jack Russell Daily
  • Avoid Over Bathing Your Jack Russell
  • Use the Correct Shampoos and Conditioners for Your Jack Russell
  • Do not Allow Your Jack Russell to Get into Dirty Situations.
  • Provide A Proper Diet for Your JR
  • Speak to A Vet If Other Issues or Odor Persist

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, Jack Russell’s make for a wonderful family pet.

However, they have several behaviors they typically display that can lead to a smelly Jack Russell.

The good news?

Plenty of solutions and preventions can be implemented to ensure you do not have to deal with a Jack Russell smelling bad in the first place.

Luna and I certainly wish you the best of luck with your Jack Russell’s and the journey ahead of you.

Share Your Thoughts

Do you have any further tips or tricks you can provide the Terrier Owner community about resolving issues with a smelly Jack Russell?

Are you aware of any other causes that can cause your JR to produce an odor?

Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.

As always, Luna and I appreciate you stopping by and reading.

Thanks again, and we will see you next time.

Josh Martin- Founder and Creator of Terrier Owner

Josh Martin is the proud owner of a female Jack Russell Terrier Named Luna. Josh founded to share the stories of owning a Terrier and to help all terrier owners with the struggles, excitement and common questions that come with being a new terrier parent.

Recent Posts