At the moment we are lucky enough to have a guide dog puppy being raised by a workmate who regularly brings the puppy to work, much to the delight of most of the place! The little guy is your classic blonde lab and it is wonderful to see him grow up before our eyes. Sometimes his mummy has to be in a meeting that isn't puppy friendly and someone else will mind him for a little while. Today a coworker brought him back from a visit to another office earlier than expected because someone complained about the smell. Not that he has a particularly strong odour, but I do notice that after I have a cuddle, my hands have that distinctive doggy whiff. When I get home I get a thorough sniffing, and clearly my boys are noting that I've been interacting with a strange animal. Fortunately, they don't seem to mind.
Any dog owner will know what I mean about the doggy smell, and have different opinions about it. Some people will bathe their dog a LOT to avoid it. Some people won't mind a bit of smell, as long as its just the doggy smell and not the yeasty smell of an ear infection or worse. Some people become so used to doggy smell that they don't notice any more.
The doggy smell comes from a range of glands that produce natural secretions that help identification and communication amongst dogs. Dogs have sweat glands (apocrine glands) associated with every hair follicle on the body. Their function is believed to be associated with pheromones, and, in areas without fur, such as the nose and paw pads, produce sweat. (Of course, most of the dog's body is covered in fur, which seems to prevent sweat forming on most of the skin, hence the need to keep dogs cool on hot days.) The moistness on the dog's nose is due to another type of sweat gland called the eccrine gland. They keep the skin slightly moist which allows it to function, similar to the skin of our lips. (Source: Wikipedia)
In the huskies, I rarely notice coat smells. The thick double coat seems to absorb a lot of the natural oils. We are on the look out (sniff out?) for the smell of ear infections, especially in my boof head boy, Czar. And occasionally we notice the nasty stink of a doggy fart, but that's petty rare, fortunately. One smell that we have never had to deal with is bad breath. Both of these last two come down to diet.
I don't know if I've mentioned it here before but we feed Eagle Pack kibble. Some people prefer to feed a Raw diet, to mimic a natural wolf diet, but, for a variety of reasons, we prefer kibble. It's convenient and easy, it's not squishy or gooey or smelly. But we also feel that poor quality kibble isn't worth the convenience.
A typical opinion article on the value of feeding a Raw diet says things like this:
Millions of dogs eat kibble. And millions of dogs—at least 85% of all dogs—suffer from periodontal disease by age 3 as a result of eating these processed foods (Penman, S. and P. Emily. 1991. Scaling, Polishing and Dental Home Care. Waltham International Focus. 1(3): 2-8. In Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones. pg 110). This translates to teeth covered with plaque and teeming with bacteria. These bacteria get into the gums and provoke the body's inflammatory response continually for the rest of the animal's life. Dogs (and cats!) are doomed to have nasty teeth and rancid breath. "It's normal," people said. "Dogs are supposed to have bad dog breath."
This may be true about many low quality brands of kibble. But we find that our dogs get compliments from vets on their teeth. We don't clean their teeth with toothbrushes or doggy toothpastes. We don't give specially designed dental chews. We provide an occasional opportunity to chew on a pressed bone, but we're not fanatical about doing it on a schedule. The only thing they get regularly is Eagle Pack kibble. Whether its the size and shape of the kibble, or something to do with its ingredients, I don't know. I just know that we rarely have any digestive issues (just the occasional farts!) and we have four dogs with the best teeth I've ever lived with.