What Dog Breeds Need Their Glands Expressed? [Don’t Ignore!]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

“Man’s best friend,” they say, but sometimes even the best of friends come with their unique set of needs.

Amidst all the tail-wagging, fetching, and cuddling, there’s a lesser-known aspect of dog care that demands our attention: the smelly and icky part of a canine’s bottom.

Specifically, what dog breeds need their glands expressed?

While it may not be the most glamorous topic to discuss, it is a crucial part of responsible pet ownership and can significantly impact their well-being. 

In this blog post, we will delve into why certain dog breeds need their glands expressed, what the signs of gland problems are, and how you can ensure your furry friend lives a happy and scoot free life.

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What Are Dog Anal Glands?

What Are Dog Anal Glands

Dog anal glands are two small pouches located just beneath their tail, producing a unique, smelly substance that acts as a scent ID for territory marking and identification.

Sometimes these glands get blocked, leading to discomfort, which you might notice if your dog is frequently scooting or licking its rear. 

In such cases, the glands may need to be “expressed” or emptied, a task best left to vets or professional groomers. Always consult a vet for any potential health concerns.

Are Certain Dogs More Prone to Anal Gland Problems?

Yes! Just like how some people are more prone to certain health issues, certain dog breeds are more likely to experience anal gland problems

Let’s take a closer look at some of the breeds commonly affected:

  1. Small Breeds: Small dogs, like Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, and Miniature Poodles, tend to be more susceptible to anal gland issues. Their smaller body size can sometimes lead to problems with gland expression.
  2. Breeds with Soft Stools: Dogs that frequently have soft or loose stools are at higher risk. Breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Bulldogs, and Beagles are known for this issue. When the stool is not firm enough, it doesn’t naturally compress the glands during bowel movements, which can lead to blockages.
  3. Overweight Dogs: Obesity is a risk factor for anal gland problems. Breeds like Labrador Retrievers and Basset Hounds, which are more prone to weight gain, might be at increased risk.
  4. Breeds with Skin Folds: Breeds with lots of skin folds, such as Bulldogs and Shar-Peis, can experience issues due to the skin around the anal area trapping secretions, leading to discomfort.
  5. Breeds with Thick Tails: Dogs with thick, muscular tails, like Rottweilers and Pugs, may have more difficulty naturally expressing their anal glands during normal bowel movements.

You should know that although these breeds may be more prone to anal gland problems, any dog, regardless of breed, can potentially face these issues. 

Regular monitoring and a healthy diet can go a long way in keeping those glands happy.

But if you ever notice your pup showing signs of discomfort or unusual behavior, don’t hesitate to reach out to your vet. 

After all, we all want the very best for our four-legged friends, no matter their breed!

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Do All Dogs Need to Have Their Anal Glands Expressed?

No, not all dogs need to have their anal glands manually expressed. 

In fact, most dogs naturally express their anal glands during bowel movements without any issues.

The glands are designed to empty themselves when your dog defecates.

However, some dogs, as mentioned earlier, may encounter problems with their anal glands.

In these cases, manual expression or help from a veterinarian or professional groomer may be necessary. 

It’s essential to be observant of your dog’s behavior and consult your vet if you notice any of these signs.

While it’s not a routine procedure for all dogs, those experiencing anal gland issues may benefit from occasional expression to ensure their comfort and well-being.

How do I know if my dog needs his anal glands expressed? 

How do I know if my dog needs his anal glands expressed

Your furry buddy might not always have the words, but their actions sure do the talking.

Let me share with you some clear signs that it’s time to give those anal glands a closer look:

  1. Scooting or Dragging: If your dog scoots their rear end on the ground, they might have anal gland discomfort. It’s like they’re trying to ease an itch or pressure.
  2. Licking a Lot: When dogs constantly lick or bite their rear end, it can mean anal gland troubles. They’re doing this to feel better.
  3. Stinky Rear End: If your dog’s behind smells really bad, it might be because of anal gland problems. It’s a strong, unpleasant smell.
  4. Bathroom Struggles: If your dog has a hard time or looks in pain when pooping, their anal glands might not be emptying right during bathroom breaks.
  5. Tail Trouble: Your dog might act uneasy, like tucking their tail, whining, or being restless when they have anal gland issues.
  6. Look for Swelling: Check around your dog’s rear end for any swelling, redness, or irritation. These can be signs of anal gland troubles.

Doggy says, you might wanna read this too: How do you know if your dog’s glands are infected?

How often should I express my dog’s anal glands?

How often should I express my dog’s anal glands

While most dogs can manage on their own, some may need a little extra help. 

The frequency of anal glands expression can vary from dog to dog. 

Here are some pointers to consider:

  1. Watch for Signs: Keep an eye on your dog’s behavior. If they’re scooting their butt on the ground, licking excessively, or giving off a funky odor, it’s time to think about expressing those glands.
  2. Vet Advice: Your vet is your expert guide. They’ll let you know how often your dog might need expression. Some dogs may need it more often than others.
  3. Don’t Overdo It: Expressing too frequently isn’t a good idea. Follow your vet’s instructions to maintain the natural balance of these glands.
  4. Diet Matters: Feed your pup a balanced diet to help them pass firmer stools, which can naturally express the glands. Ask your vet for diet tips.

How to express your dog’s anal glands?

We know it’s not the most glamorous topic, but sometimes, our furry friends need a little help with their anal glands. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it safely and comfortably for your pup.

Before We Begin:

  • Wash Up: Wash your hands well because you’ll be near your dog’s back end.
  • Gather Supplies: You’ll need disposable gloves, tissues, and gentle pet-safe lubricant. You can find these at pet stores or ask your vet for suggestions.

The Expressing Process:

  1. Pick a Good Spot: Find a comfy, well-lit area. Your dog can stand, sit, or lie down—whatever’s cozy for them.
  2. Put on Gloves: Slip on those disposable gloves to keep things clean.
  3. Lubricate: Put a little pet-safe lubricant on your gloved finger. It makes things smoother.
  4. Gently Locate the Glands: Stand or kneel behind your dog and lift its tail. With your gloved hand, gently feel around their rear end. The glands feel like soft lumps on each side of the anus
  5. Express the Glands: Place your thumb and forefinger on each side of the anal opening. Gently squeeze the glands. Be gentle; don’t press too hard. You should see a brownish, smelly fluid come out.
  6. Clean Up: Have tissues ready to catch the fluid. Toss them right away because it’s stinky.
  7. Repeat if Necessary: Usually, one squeeze is enough, but sometimes you might have to do the other gland.


  • Reward Your Pup: Give your dog a treat and some extra love to make them feel better about the experience.
  • Wash Again: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

If you’re uncomfortable with this process or have any concerns about your dog’s anal glands, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian or go to a groomer that is experience with the process.

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What happens if they aren’t expressed regularly?

If you don’t regularly take care of your dog’s anal glands, a few problems can pop up. 

First, these glands can get blocked, making your dog uncomfortable. This might lead to strange behaviors like scooting or excessive licking. 

Blocked glands can also become a home for harmful bacteria, which can cause infections. In severe cases, a blocked gland can turn into a painful abscess. 

Your dog’s mood may also change, and they might get constipated if they try to avoid the discomfort.

In some severe cases, your dog’s anal glands might start bleeding too, a situation where you need to see an emergency vet.

To avoid these issues, it’s important to watch your dog’s behavior and talk to your vet about how often to take care of their anal glands.

You might also want to learn the reasons why some dogs are still in pain even after expressing too.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

At what age do dogs need glands expressed? 

Dogs don’t have a specific age when their anal glands need expressing. However, some dogs, especially smaller breeds, might require regular gland expressions as they grow older. Always consult with a vet if you notice your dog scooting or licking its rear often.

Will removal of a dog’s anal glands have any adverse effects? 

Yes, removing a dog’s anal glands is a surgical procedure and can have risks like infection or complications. It’s typically a last resort for chronic problems. Most dogs live normally without them, but always discuss them with a vet before deciding.

How to prevent anal gland problems? 

To prevent anal gland issues, ensure your dog has a healthy diet with enough fiber, which can help with regular bowel movements. Regular exercise and vet check-ups can also help in early detection and prevention of potential problems.

In Conclusion: What Dog Breeds Need Their Glands Expressed

So by now, you’ve learned why certain dog breeds are more prone to gland issues, how to recognize the signs of trouble, and the importance of regular expression. 

While it may not be a topic that garners the most attention, it is undeniably vital for our furry companions’ health and happiness! 

Hey! If you found this post useful, check out these dog care tips too:

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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