Why Do Dachshunds Have Bad Breath?

When you’re relaxing on the couch watching your favorite TV show, a bad odor can really dampen your mood, especially when that smell is coming from your dachshund’s mouth. They might look endearing curled up on your lap, but their stinky breath is another story!

So, why do dachshunds have bad breath? Most cases of bad breath in dachshunds are simply due to poor oral hygiene and excess tartar build-up. Other causes include dietary habits, tooth abscesses, diabetes, kidney, and liver disease.

Keep reading to learn about all the common bad breath causes, and most importantly what you can give your Doxie to minimize the odor and promote good dental hygiene.

cleaning dachshund teeth

Is Bad Breath Common For Dachshunds?

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is relatively common in dachshunds, much to the disdain of many owners.

One of the main reasons behind this is that doxies are more prone to tartar build-up and gum disease than other breeds. 

As you might already know, tartar is hardened plaque, which is normally a sticky film that coats your doxie’s teeth.

Like in humans, if plaque is not removed within 48 hours, it will turn into a hard, yellowy-brown substance known as calculus or tartar.

This can be pretty foul-smelling, especially if gingivitis or other dental problems are present.

In addition, small dogs are at a higher risk of dental issues, specifically overcrowding of the teeth and tartar build-up, due to the shapes of their heads, mouths, and noses.

Doxies and other similarly sized dogs can also retain their deciduous (baby) teeth during adulthood.

Normally, puppies will begin losing their baby teeth at 12 weeks old, and by 6 months of age, all of their permanent teeth should have erupted.

However, some dogs hold onto their baby teeth for longer, which causes them to push against the new teeth.

This can result in damage to the permanent teeth or food particles getting caught between teeth, leading to dental problems and bad breath. 

Main Causes of Bad Breath In Dachshunds

There are many factors that could be behind your doxie’s bad breath, which we’ll be addressing below.

While most cases are simply due to poor dental hygiene, It’s important to rule out potential health issues that could be the root of the problem.

If you suspect your dachshund is unwell or you’re worried in general, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your vet so they can investigate further.

Poor Oral Hygiene And Periodontal Disease

Poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease are the most common causes of bad breath in dachshunds.

As mentioned earlier, when plaque is not removed from your dog’s teeth within a couple of days, it mineralizes and forms into calculus, causing gingivitis (gum inflammation) and more plaque to accumulate.

As the plaque ages and gingivitis advances to periodontitis (tooth support loss), it leads to the development of foul-smelling bad bacteria.

If left untreated, this disease can result in cavities, tissue destruction, infection, pus formation, and even tooth loss. All of these issues can cause very stinky breath.

If your doxie isn’t a huge chewer and you don’t brush their teeth regularly, tartar build-up is likely.

That’s why it’s so important to brush your dachshund’s teeth at least three times a week and take them for regular vet checkups.

While plaque can be removed without the help of a professional, tartar cannot. 

Tooth Abscesses

As dachshunds have small mouths, overcrowded teeth are a high possibility. Dachshunds have 42 teeth, which is quite a lot to fit into such a tiny mouth!

Unfortunately, this means that doxies are prone to tooth abscesses, which are caused when food particles get stuck between teeth and form tiny scrapes on the tooth surface.

Tooth abscesses can also develop from periodontal disease, tumors, dental cavities, and trauma to the tooth, such as biting too hard on an object. 

If your doxie develops a tooth abscess, you may notice swelling on their face, usually just below the eye.

Bad breath, drooling, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes near the abscess, and pawing at the face are also common symptoms. 

Veterinary treatment is necessary for treating tooth abscesses, so make sure you book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

They will normally prescribe antibiotics, pain relief medication, and extract the affected tooth.

Unpleasant Dietary Habits

Another cause that could be contributing to your dachshund’s smelly breath is simply that they ate something unpleasant or particularly stinky, such as garbage, animal remains, feces, etc.

Most dogs are attracted to potent scents – the smellier, the better! If you notice your doxie’s breath being fouler than normal, they might have eaten something gross.

Alternatively, some chews and treats like bully sticks have a pretty strong odor, so if you’ve recently given your dachshund a snack, their bad breath could be a result of that.


A low-quality diet can cause bad breath in dachshunds, which is why it’s important to feed your pooch a well-balanced food that provides adequate protein, fiber, fat, and carbohydrate levels.

Doxies are prone to weight gain, so it’s best to select a commercial food that is relatively low in fat and carbs. 

Make sure you feed your dachshund food that is appropriate for their life stage to ensure they get the right balance of nutrients.

Alternatively, some commercial dog foods, especially those containing fish, can be quite pungent, so it might be a good idea to swap your doxie’s brand of food if you suspect it’s linked to their foul breath.


If your dachshund’s stinky breath has a fruity or sweet aroma to it, this is a tell-tale sign of diabetes. You should book an appointment with your vet immediately to get your doxie examined.

Other symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, excessive thirst, weight loss, and cloudy eyes.

Diabetes can be managed with medication, but it can cause severe complications if it is left untreated.

Kidney Disease

If you notice a faint urine odor to your dachshund’s breath, don’t assume they’ve been drinking their own pee.

This is actually a common side effect of kidney disease, which can be serious if not dealt with swiftly.

Some other symptoms of kidney disease include weight loss, pale gums, frequent urination, excessive thirst, diarrhea, vomiting, and mouth ulcers.

Liver Disease

Similar to kidney disease and diabetes, liver disease in dogs can cause bad breath, specifically a musty or sweet odor.

Early signs of liver disease include poor appetite, lethargy, drinking less, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The liver can regenerate, so as long as you catch this condition early enough, your dachshund should be able to recover.

If left to progress, however, liver disease will result in liver failure, which is much harder to treat.

Mouth Cancer

While mouth cancer is typically seen in elderly dogs, it can strike at any age.

If your dachshund has oral tumors, they will usually look like swellings or lumps inside the mouth, typically along the gums or on the roof of the mouth. 

These growths can be smooth or have a more cauliflower appearance to them, and they can either be darker than the skin around them or the same color.

Oral tumors are easily irritated and may split open and bleed, leading to infection.

Bad breath is a common symptom of mouth cancer, alongside excessive drooling, reluctance to eat, difficulty chewing, bleeding from the mouth, loose teeth, weight loss, and a visible lump or mass inside the mouth.

What Can I Give My Dachshund For Bad Breath?

If your dachshund is suffering from a bad case of stinky breath, there are a few things you can do to minimize the odor and promote good dental hygiene.

However, before you get started, it’s a good idea to get your doxie checked over by a vet so they can rule out any health issues that could be causing your dog’s bad breath.

One of the best ways to combat bad breath in dachshunds is simply regular teeth brushing. You should aim to clean your doxie’s teeth for two minutes per session.

Like in humans, daily brushing is recommended, but if you’re unable to stick to this frequency, at least two to three times a week will suffice. This will help reduce bad breath and tartar buildup. 

If your doxie has visible tartar buildup, tooth abscesses, tooth decay, or other dental problems, book an appointment with your vet for a dental cleaning procedure.

It’s also good practice to schedule regular professional dental cleanings for your doxie a couple of times a year to keep their teeth in tip-top shape.

Hard chew toys and dental sticks are beneficial for your dachshund’s teeth by assisting with the removal of plaque.

Make sure you choose appropriate toys for your doxie’s size, otherwise, they’ll have a difficult time chewing on them!

In addition, water additives can help freshen your doxie’s breath, as can supplements containing seaweed or kelp, all of which can promote good oral hygiene and prevent bad breath.

However,  before you add any supplements to your dachshund’s diet, make sure you consult your vet for advice.

Do Dachshunds Need Their Teeth Cleaned?

Dachshunds need their teeth cleaned regularly to keep them healthy and prevent issues such as calculus buildup, tooth abscesses, and periodontal disease.

While it’s important to stick to a strict oral hygiene routine for any dog, it’s especially crucial in doxies due to their risk of tartar buildup and dental problems. 

Ideally, you should be cleaning your doxie’s teeth at least two to three times a week.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste. Concentrate on your dog’s gum line, making sure to brush their teeth in a circular motion.

Alongside regular tooth brushing, aim to get your dachshund’s teeth professionally cleaned a couple of times a year. 

Is My Dachshund’s Bad Breath The Result Of A Health Problem?

If your dachshund doesn’t appear to have any issues with their teeth, then their bad breath could be due to a health issue such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and mouth cancer.

As mentioned earlier, bad breath and a visible mass of lump inside your dachshund’s mouth are common symptoms of oral cancer.

Diabetes causes symptoms like excessive thirst, frequent urination, cloudy eyes, weight loss, and a sweet or fruity scent to your dog’s breath.

Liver disease can cause a similarly sweet or musty odor to your dog’s breath, whereas kidney disease can leave your doxie’s mouth smelling of urine.

Both liver disease and kidney disease in dogs often lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and poor appetite.

However, dachshunds with kidney disease will typically drink excessively, while doxies with liver disease will drink less water than usual.

All of these health issues can be serious if they are left to progress, which is why it’s crucial that you get your dachshund checked out by a vet as soon as you notice any abnormal behavior or symptoms that don’t pass within a few days. 

Final Thoughts

A doxie with bad breath is a common complaint for many dachshund owners, and while most of the time it is due to simply poor dental hygiene, it’s important to know and identify if something else might be the cause.

If your doxie’s bad breath is accompanied by other symptoms like an upset tummy, mouth ulcers, weight loss, drooling, bleeding from the mouth, or oral lumps, don’t delay in getting them looked at by a vet.

Brushing your dachshund’s teeth regularly, annual professional dental cleanings, chew toys, and supplements can all help you keep your dachshund’s bad breath at bay.