Cleanest dog breeds tend to have short single coats, low-sebum secretion, and minimal dander.
The top 10 cleanest dog breeds are the American hairless terrier, greyhound, whippet, poodle, bichon frise, Shiba Inu, Bedlington terrier, basenji, Japanese chin, and dalmatian.
Although all these dogs are "clean," they still require typical canine grooming.
You love animals, but you also want to keep your home clean and smelling refreshing. Are there perfect dog breeds that live up to your standards? A dog that sheds minimally, tracks mud and dirt into the home, and is less likely to make your home smell like a kennel? This article discusses the cleanest dog breeds for your home and tips to help your pup stay clean and happy.
Your Definition of "Dirty" and "Clean"
Are "clean" dogs cleaner than "dirty" ones? This is a classic debate. To most people, a "dirty" dog refers to a scruffy-looking dog constantly scratching themselves and getting into some mess – whether it’s mud, stagnant water puddles, wet leaves, garbage, or trash bins. People also view musty-odor dogs with foul breath and dogs that skipped bathing for several weeks as "dirty."
On the other hand, most people view a perfectly-groomed dog as a "clean" dog. Their coats are usually glossy-looking with no visible signs of dirt or mud. They also have good hygiene. Their breath smells fresh, their ears don't stink, and their eyes are not crusty. Sometimes, people associate dogs smelling perfume-y or give off a fresh laundry smell as "clean."
Dangers of Excessive Cleaning
Contrary to popular belief, having a clean dog does not necessarily mean having a dog who always looks and smells freshly groomed. Frequent grooming actually does more harm than good for a dog's coat. Too much bathing strips away the natural oils necessary for keeping their fur healthy and shiny. As a result, their skin becomes overly dry and flakey. When your pup constantly scratches themself, the irritation to the skin causes sebum over-secretion and increases the risk of bacterial infections. The two combined problems create the foul odor people associate with "dirty."
Dangers of Fragrance in Shampoo and Waterless Shampoo
Fragrance is one of the most common ingredients in pet grooming products. It makes sense. Who doesn't want their pup smelling nice? However, many fragrances contain phthalates: chemicals that induce tumor growth and cancer in humans and animals. These chemicals also cause sensitivities and allergic reactions in pets.
Many cheap shampoo brands also include artificial fragrances that can be toxic to dogs. Over time, you see your dog constantly sneezing, increasing nasal and eye discharge, and constantly itching. You may see signs of digestion problems and liver damage in serious cases.
When you choose a shampoo brand, always opt for unscented or naturally scented products. After all, only humans value the importance of artificial fragrance. Instead of trying to mask your dog’s natural smell with fake fragrance, pick organic natural ingredients that clean their coat without stripping their body oil.
Definition of "Clean" According to Veterinarians
What is a "clean" dog? Generally speaking, a clean dog is one with a healthy-looking coat without any bald spots, patches of missing fur, or debris matted into the hair. They have clean ears without odor, bright eyes without crust, healthy teeth without plaque, clipped nails, and are free from fleas and parasites. They may have a natural doggy smell but no sign of fungal infection odor.
Naturally-Odorous vs. Odorless Dogs
One of the biggest decisions to make when choosing a dog is whether to go with a naturally smelly breed or an odorless one. Sure, you don't select a canine friend based on smell alone, but are you willing to overlook the stinky factor in your life?
Every human has a distinct body odor; the same is true for dogs. However, some breeds tend to smell more than others due to increased oil production and thick coats. Breeds with a stronger scent because they have more active sebaceous secretion glands include Labrador retrievers, Saint Bernards, beagles, Yorkshire terriers, and cocker spaniels.
Another common reason some dogs smell more than others is that their loose skin folds tend to trap bacteria more than other breeds without the folds. Shar Peis, English bulldogs, bloodhounds, and pugs frequently smell bad, which worsens during humid summers.
There are also dogs with a higher tendency to suffer from frequent stomach problems and pass gas a lot. Boxers, Neapolitan mastiffs, Doberman pinschers, and English bulldogs are some of the famous farters that keep delivering their stinky love.
On the flipside, some dog breeds don't smell much, even when they skip bathing for months or longer. In general, those with fewer sebum-secreting glands, no skin folds, and short-haired single coats tend to have the least odor.
Shedding Problems and Digging Instincts
While no pup is perfect, certain breeds love to get down and dirty, whether due to their shedding problems or digging instincts.
It’s no fault of their own that long-hair and double-coat breeds shed nonstop. It's just part of their genetics. While you minimize the shedding problem by brushing them daily and giving them an omega-3 enriched diet to reduce shedding and promote a healthy coat, there is no way to eradicate the problem unless you choose a completely hairless breed.
Some owners try to solve the problem by shaving their dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, "shaving a double-coat can do long-term damage." Shaving destroys these dogs’ coat structure, resulting in serious ingrown hair problems and skin irritation. Over time, these dogs develop sebum over-secretion and bacterial skin infection, making them smell all the more.
If you want your home and yard to remain clean, avoid breeds famous for their digging instincts. While all dogs have the urge to dig, some breeds are more persistent than others. For example, certain small hunting breeds specialized in capturing rats, rabbits, and other ground-dwelling creatures are more likely to dig, making them the dirtiest dog breeds. Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes are among the most likely to be diggers.
The Top 10 Cleanest Dog Breeds
Now that you know which breeds to avoid, you’re probably narrowing your search to ones that smell less, shed less, and are less destructive.Certain breeds grooming themselves, too, which may make them appealing choices.
Here are the ten cleanest dog breeds:
1. Shiba Inu
These fox-like pups are perfect for someone who wants a minimal-maintenance dog that doesn't smell. Like cats, they’re relatively lazy and groom themselves for most of their waking hours. Even though they’re a bit stubborn, Shiba Inus take to house training well. Just brushing them now and then while you spend time cuddling is enough to keep them clean and odor-free.
2. Bichon Frise
These fluffy furballs are a great addition to your family if you want an adorable, playful pup that is hypoallergenic and gentle. They shed minimally and produce minimal dander.
Although you must regularly take them to the groomer to trim their curly coats, these little guys usually keep themselves clean. They are an excellent option for homes with young children. Their affectionate and cuddly nature makes them the best companion for everyone in the family.
3. Bedlington Terrier
Is it a lamb or a dog? Bedlington terriers have a unique curly hypoallergenic coat and adorable lamb-like appearance. Looks aside, they are highly intelligent, calm, patient, and gentle with children. Although they love a good run, they do well in apartment settings. However, you must begin socialization as soon as possible as they’re naturally shy and frightened of strangers without proper training.
Known as a barkless dog, the Basenji is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. In many ways, these dogs don't behave like a typical dog. They love to groom their extremely short coats and they yodel. Yes, they yodel and love climbing trees.
Basenjis are also the only dog breed that has no dog smell, making them the cleanest dogs that don't smell. If the odor problem is a big "no-no" on your list, this is definitely the cleanest dog breed to own.
Do note that they have a high energy level and need lots of physical and mental stimulation to stay happy. They’re also quite independent, so obedience and socialization training is necessary.
5. Japanese Chin
This pint-sized pup is perfect for those with allergies. They shed minimally, making them ideal for tidier households. They’re cat-like and love grooming themselves whenever possible, making them one of the cleanest small dog breeds.
Their gentle and patient personalities make them an excellent choice as companion dogs for seniors with small living situations. Since they don't bark much, you don't have to worry about your neighbors complaining about noise.
6. American Hairless Terrier
The American hairless terrier comes in two versions: completely hairless or extremely short coat. As a dog native to Louisiana, this breed withstands humidity and hot temperature well.
Popular for their vibrant and friendly personality, this breed is great with children and other pets. They do require some sun protection if you bring them along for long walks and playtime at the park. If you plan to get an American hairless terrier in a colder climate, outfit them with sweaters and booties to keep them warm and safe from frostbite.
As if being one of the cleanest dogs is not enough, the greyhound is also one of the sweetest dog breeds. They’re intelligent, calm, patient, gentle, and affectionate with people of all ages. Although these dogs are born runners, they also love to hog your couch and stay by your side.
They have a unique coat that only requires minimal grooming and an occasional bath to keep them clean. Even when they’re being curious, they usually keep themselves clean. The only problem with these elegant beauties is that they are clumsy and have poor spatial awareness. While some of their accidents make you laugh, they hurt themselves at other times.
Whippets look like a smaller version of greyhounds. These elegant and gentle pups are excellent for those looking for a low-maintenance clean dog breed. Although they’re still considered scent hounds, whippets do not emit an offensive odor like other breeds. Their coat is extremely short and requires minimal grooming needs. Instead of using a typical dog brush, you're better off using a brushing glove.
Like American hairless terriers, whippets do well even in humid environments. However, they need warm protection if you live in a cold climate area. Even though they love running, they also enjoy spending hours lounging on your sofa. This quality makes them an extremely adaptable breed for both large and small living situations.
Poodles come in three sizes-standard, miniature, and toy: a size for everyone! But they all share common traits. They’re intelligent, affectionate, and patient. They’re hypoallergenic and produce very little dander – the substance responsible for most allergic reactions. No matter which size you choose, they're all great for families with children or seniors.
Even though dalmatians are not hypoallergenic, they are among the cleanest large dog breeds. With a super thin coat, these beautiful pooches are easy to keep clean and do not have the usual doggy smell. Their spots make them one of the world's most beautiful and recognizable dogs.
Dalmatians are your best choice if you want an active companion that loves long walks, hikes, and playtime at the park. While they are an excellent choice for a family pet, they require early socialization and obedience training.
Which is the Clean Pup for You?
There are plenty of clean dog breeds that don't shed or smell. Besides making these traits your priority, you must also consider the breed's size, temperament, and energy level to find a perfect companion for your home. From the whippet to the ancient basenji and the unique American hairless terrier, the cleanest dog breeds are sure to bring joy into your life without leaving a mess behind.