This is usually accompanied by an amazing amount of additional information, including but not limited to the exact areas of the dog that smell bad, the dog’s whereabouts for the last several weeks, tales of a previous dog that also smelled bad, and even the owner’s dating habits.
Dude, it doesn’t matter. Bathe the dog.
Now before you who have the dating habits story all ready get mad, YES, a sudden change in the way a dog looks or smells can be extremely significant. If you are smelling something that is really not right, like a rotting smell, hie thee to a vet right away. Get an all-clear on any kind of injury.
Barring that, if you’re just smelling dog where dog does not belong, heck yes, bathe. And bathe as often as you’d like. There is no such thing, in the era of gentle and effective dog shampoos, as a dog who should not be bathed frequently. When you watch the dog shows on Animal Planet, every dog there, from Malamute to Dandy Dinmont, has been bathed within a few hours of that filming, and most of them will be bathed again when they get back to the hotel or motor home, then bathed again a few days later, etc. If you use good shampoos, there is nothing wrong with bathing weekly or even more often. Do yourself a huge favor and get a good shampoo. Nothing from the grocery store, nothing super cheap; readily available good shampoos are EQyss Premier–look at a horse feed store for this–Espree, SPA from Tropiclean, etc. I personally am a big shampoo addict and my favorite brands are Plush Puppy and Isle of Dog, but both are mail-order and expensive.
Whatever shampoo you use, always apply it very diluted (put a squirt into a cup and add warm water to the top, and pour that over the dog) and rinse like crazy. Double-coated dogs in particular are notorious for being difficult to rinse, and any shampoo left at the skin will burn the dog’s skin just like a chemical exposure would. So rinse until you feel absolutely ridiculous, and then rinse another five minutes.
If you want to really do it “right,” which will save you a lot of time and trouble and give you really good results, go to petedge.com (generally the cheapest) and order some concentrated shampoo, a dilution bottle, an undercoat rake, a greyhound comb, a slicker, and a Double-K ChallengeAir dryer. It’ll run you a few hundred dollars, but it will enable you to get professional grooming results. For a double-coated dog like a Siberian or Malamute, you wet the dog, shampoo, rake the shampoo through, rinse super well, repeat, then towel the dog and dry as you are raking again. You’ll get TONS of coat off this way and hugely reduce the shedding inside. Once the dog is almost dry and all raked, switch to the greyhound comb to get every hair combed through, the slicker to get the dog all full of air and softness. Bitsy will look like a show dog and will feel clean, you’ll enjoy vastly reduced shedding, and you can repeat in a week.
One MAJOR caution for thick- or double-coated dogs: If you don’t get the undercoat out and you’re not using a professional high-velocity dryer, you can set yourself up for skin reactions and even mold/mildew in the coat. Lots of people have no idea how to comb deep into the coat–they brush the top of the coat, so the last inch of hair looks nice, but under that is a dense web of dead and living undercoat that forms almost a cast over the dog. Once that gets wet, it doesn’t dry for days, and it will definitely mold.
If you’ve got that dead undercoat out–so everywhere you part the hair, including belly and behind the elbows and around the “pants,” you’re immediately looking right at skin–(zero mats or tangles or webbing), the dog can air-dry or fan dry (put the dog in her crate and point a box fan at her side) on any nice warm and dry day.
Hmm, that was a very long sentence.
You can easily check how fast she’s drying by digging your fingers in; if they still feel dampness she needs more time in the sun or by the fan.
Anyway, while air drying is absolutely possible, a good high velocity dryer is so dang great. I don’t know how I lived without one. I bathe in the tub, blow them dry in the tub, no shaking hair everywhere, no puddles, every dog is dry enough to get out in just five or ten minutes. When I am getting ready to show, I do a very long and extensive dry that takes 30 minutes or so, but for regular baths they’re good to go pretty quickly.