Why Does My Puppy’s Breath Smell So Good?

Puppy breath lovers, this is for you.

puppy with air coming out of mouth

If you smell a hint of something sweet every time you pick up your new puppy, you’re probably smelling puppy breath.

Lots of people love the smell of puppy breath, but why?

The Dodo spoke to Dr. Katie Pagan, a partner veterinarian of Heart + Paw Fells Point in Baltimore, Maryland, to find out where the sweet scent of puppy breath comes from and how to prevent your puppy’s breath from getting stinky.

What is puppy breath?

Unlike dog breath, puppy breath usually smells really good — but it also can depend on who you ask.

“Many people describe puppy breath as sweet smelling, but it is very much a matter of personal opinion,” Dr. Pagan told The Dodo. “Some people do not enjoy the smell!”

Sweet-smelling (at least not bad-smelling) puppy breath means that your puppy’s healthy, so it’s a good thing. If you notice your puppy’s breath smells bad or strange, that could mean that something’s wrong.

“Normal puppy breath is a good indicator of overall health,” Dr. Pagan said. “If you are finding your puppy's breath does not smell quite right, please consult with your veterinarian.”

Why does puppy breath smell good?

So what even causes your puppy’s breath to smell good? There’s no definitive answer, but there are a few theories for what causes that sweet puppy-breath smell.

Their mothers’ milk

Very young puppies have been drinking their mothers’ milk and have only recently started to eat real puppy food, which can have a not-so-pleasant smell to humans. Their moms’ milk has a sweet smell that makes their breath smell sweet, too.

Better oral health than adult dogs

Dogs’ bad breath is often caused by dental issues from poor dental hygiene, like periodontal disease. Puppies, on the other hand, have cleaner and healthier mouths and teeth than adult dogs, making their breath smell fresher.

Gas from their stomach

Digestive enzymes in your puppy’s stomach break down food and create gas, which leaks into his esophagus because puppies’ esophaguses are still developing. Some vets think these digestive enzymes and/or the gas contribute to the smell of puppy breath.

How long does puppy breath last?

If you love the smell of puppy breath, you better sniff it while you can because it won’t last forever.

“Puppy breath usually fades by the age of 6 months, once all of their adult teeth are in,” Dr. Pagan said.

The main reason for this is that puppies start teething at around 4 months of age, and their adult teeth are fully formed at around 6–8 months old. Puppies’ breath may start to smell worse when they’re teething because adult teeth are starting to break through the gums and develop bacteria.

“We can sometimes notice that their breath appears stronger or smellier when they are losing their baby teeth,” Dr. Pagan said. “This can be very normal, but have your vet take a look [if you’re worried].”

Why does my puppy have bad breath?

The most common cause of bad breath in puppies is teething. So if your puppy’s breath smells, he’s probably starting to get his adult teeth. (If your pup’s older than 6 months and his breath stinks, his adult teeth are probably already in, and bacteria may be starting to build up.)

If your puppy’s breath seems to smell really strong while he’s teething, however, he could have a problem with his teeth coming in, like a fractured tooth.

Another possible cause of bad breath in puppies is a mouth injury or something being stuck in his teeth. This can happen from your puppy chewing on things, since puppies tend to chew on anything they can get their mouths on.

Some puppies can have digestive problems that can cause bad breath, which can be solved by talking to your vet about the proper food to feed your puppy. Your dog also might just be eating poop, so be sure to watch him when you take him outside so he can’t eat anything he’s not supposed to.

How to prevent bad dog breath

Since bad dog breath is usually caused by poor dental hygiene, the best way to prevent it is by keeping your pup’s teeth healthy.

Lots of dogs don’t enjoy having their teeth brushed, but if you start when your puppy’s young, you can teach him to like it (or at least tolerate it), which will make it much easier for you.

“Brushing is a good habit to get into when puppies are young,” Dr. Pagan said.

Most veterinarians recommend brushing your dog’s teeth every day, but that can be difficult, especially if your pup isn’t a fan of it. So if you’re not able to, you should aim for a few times per week.

“I recommend brushing their teeth one to two times a week,” Dr. Pagan said. “There are also other oral health products, i.e., dental chews/treats and water additives, that can help with bad breath.”

Try this Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste from Amazon for $7.49

Try these Greenies dental treats from Amazon for $19.98

It’s also important to get your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned by your vet about every one to two years. How often he’ll need them cleaned will depend on his overall dental health and his size. Smaller dogs may need their teeth cleaned more often because they’re more prone to teeth issues since their small mouths allow plaque and tartar to build up in between teeth.

“Once dogs are around 1 year of age, we can start talking about routine yearly dental cleanings, which are very important for the overall health of your pet,” Dr. Pagan said.

If you love the smell of your puppy’s breath, you’re not alone. A lot of people love it (and some don’t). And if you’re really obsessed with the smell of puppy breath, you can actually buy it as a fragrance.

We independently pick all the products we recommend because we love them and think you will too. If you buy a product from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.