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Why Does My Vizsla Smell Like Fish: Causes & Solutions

If you’ve noticed a new fishy smell coming from your Vizsla, I’m sure you are desperate to resolve it as soon as possible. This article will explain the likely causes and what you can do right away.


The Main Cause of Fish Smell In Vizslas

Impacted anal glands are the main cause of a strong fishy smell in Vizslas. Aside from this, things like poor dental hygiene, food intolerances, allergies, consuming low-quality kibble as well as skin and coat issues like yeast infections are all further causes of unwanted foul odor.

In most cases, it will be your Vizsla’s anal glands producing the unwanted fishy odor.

Anal glands are small sacs located just inside your Vizsla’s anus. They are responsible for secreting a strong-smelling substance for the purpose of marking their scent.

Whenever your Vizsla poops, the secretion gets passed on to it, leaving a strong marker for other dogs to smell.

And believe it or not, a lot of important biological information can be picked up from the smell of one’s secretion. This is why scent-marking is a fundamental behavior among all canines.

So why are you smelling the secretion?

When all is working as should, the anal glands function without you smelling them. And each time your V defecates, the sacs will be expressed entirely and cleanly.

However, for a number of reasons, including having soft stools, the anal sacs might not be able to express themselves properly.

If this happens, then leftover substance might sit within the sac, dry, become hard, and impact the anal gland. Not only is this very painful for your Vizsla, but it’s also when you will start smelling the fishy substance.

What can you do?

The best thing to do is to contact your veterinarian for them to check the anal glands and assess whether they are impacted, inflamed, or have any other issues.

The veterinarian will usually perform a manual expression to remove the excess dried fluid. You can learn to do this yourself and even groomers offer this as a service too.

In my opinion, visiting veterinarians is the best option here. Sometimes the fluid might have dried so much that it’s causing pain and your veterinarian will need to use a special softening solution and saline rinse to help the entire process.

How do anal glands get impacted in the first place?

The most common reason is due to having overly soft stools or prolonged diarrhea. If your Vizsla’s poop is not solid enough, then there will be a lack of pressure on the sacs to express themselves properly.

Soft stools can indicate a food intolerance, allergies, or the ingestion of something foul or toxic, and is a whole different issue you’ll need to investigate.

In more unfortunate situations your Vizsla’s anal sacs might just have a slight abnormality about them, which results in frequent blockages.

After having spoken to many Vizsla owners, most of them report having issues with anal sacs a fair few times over the years.

Does Your Vizsla Have Fishy Breath?

The next most common source of that pungent fish smell, will be from your Vizsla’s mouth.

I’m sure most dog owners from time to time have caught a whiff of their dog’s breath and desperately gasped for fresh air in the opposite direction.

Typical causes of your Vizsla’s stinky breath:

Anal glands. Yep, still the glands! Impacted anal glands result in a lot of licking around their backside. And if this happens, some of the foul-smelling fluid from their anal sacs will transfer to their mouth. Gross, but true.

Plaque build-up. A dog’s mouth is full to the brim with bacteria, and many owners aren’t brushing their dog’s teeth as much as they should. Plaque and tartar build-up can end up smelling extremely bad. Your vizsla should ideally have his teeth brushed 3-4 times per week (with dog toothpaste only).

Diet issues. Your Vizsla could be intolerant to some of the ingredients he’s consuming, either in his kibble or outside of it. Additionally, it could be caused by consuming table scraps, low-quality kibble, or from eating something rotten or foul.

Omega 3’s. It could be that your Vizsla is consuming additional omega 3 supplements, which typically come in the form of fish oil. Sometimes, these oils can cause dogs to burp a little more than often, and usually, those burps will not smell like roses.

It could be one, or a combination of the above causes that’s resulting in your Vizsla’s fishy breath.

It’s important to remember that your V will never have a beautiful smelling breath, and that’s normal. But at the same time, it shouldn’t be completely rancid either. You will instinctively know if there is a problem just by how bad it actually smells.

When trying to work out what’s behind the bad breath, consider the above causes, especially his dental hygiene and his diet as these are the most common causes of stinky breath.

Grab yourself a dog toothbrushing kit from Amazon (comes with everything you need), and start brushing his teeth 3-4 times per week. You could also include a daily dental chew stick for further cleaning and maintenance.

Additionally, think about his diet, the quality of his kibble, whether or not he has allergies or consumes table scraps. If you have your suspicions that something isn’t quite right with what he’s eating on a daily basis, aim to make some changes.

Grain-free diets are known to digest easier and cause less stress on the digestive system, and a known result of this is less gas (burps and farts), and therefore a less smelly dog.

Trending article: Why is my Vizsla eating grass and should I stop it?

Check Your Vizslas Paws and Coat

The paws are the first point of contact to the ground and you’d be surprised just how many nasty substances your Vizsla could step in on a single walk.

Not only this, but the paws are also home to one of the main sweat glands in your Vizsla’s body. Sweating is a notorious catalyst for bacteria build-up, and eventually infections (if the bacteria gets out of control).

Although this won’t necessarily produce a fishy smell, the smell will still be extremely foul and you’ll certainly notice it.

It’s worth checking your Vizsla’s paws to ensure there’s no visible bacteria growth, irritation, or foul smell. It’s normal for the paws to have a slight corny smell, but it shouldn’t be something repulsive.

If you think something is wrong with your Vizsla’s paws, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. In the meantime, keep them as clean as possible with frequent washing.

Finally, it could be your Vizsla’s coat or skin.

This can be particularly true in the warmer months if you take your vizsla swimming regularly. Constantly being in and out of the water could result in bacteria growth, infections, and a smelly coat.

And while it’s important to bathe your Vizsla, it’s just as important not to over-bathe your Vizsla. If you shampoo him too much, you’ll run the risk of stripping his natural oils and drying out the skin and coat, resulting in an overproduction of oils to compensate. This leads to a bad smell and even skin infections.

If this is the case, you’ll not only see his coat to be dull, but it will have an oily grubby texture to it, and not to mention the smell!

When To Visit Your Veterinarian About The Smell

Like I always say, there is no wrong moment to visit your veterinarian.

If there is something concerning the health or safety of your Vizsla then a trip to the vets is completely fine, no matter how small or insignificant the problem might first appear to be.

In my opinion, If your Vizsla is smelling of fish then a trip to the vets is the best option.

Upon inspection, it may prove to be something innocent, or it could turn out that it’s something that needs proper veterinarian attention. And you’ll only know if you go.

As this article highlights there are quite a few possibilities for the fishy smell, and so it would be of help to have your veterinarian thoroughly check your Vizsla and perform a basic health assessment.

Thank you for reading!


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.