Why Does a Female Dog Lift Her Leg to Pee? Should I Worry?
We all know that male dogs lift their legs to pee most of the time, but we don’t normally expect this from female dogs. Indeed, it can be surprising to witness this in action, and we might even wonder if there is something wrong with our pup if she does this. You might ask yourself… why is my female dog peeing like a boy?
If your female dog is exhibiting this behavior, it may or may not indicate an underlying problem. In this article, we will explore possible reasons for this habit, and discuss what you can do if you see it in your dog. Put simply, the reasons for this behavior could be cause for concern, or simply a result of your dog’s natural tendencies.
You might have wondered if it is only male dogs that lift their legs to pee, but the answer is that it can be both genders. There can be a variety of reasons why this might happen, depending on the type of dog that you have, the health condition she is in, or several other factors.
Why do female dogs lift their leg to pee?
Let’s now take a look at some of the possible reasons why a female dog sometimes pees like a male dog. They can include marking a territory, a result of the size of a dog, or weather factors that can affect the way your dog feels about peeing outside. Different dogs also urinate in different positions depending on what is comfortable for them. If your dog squats, it could be for a number or combination of reasons.
Here’s a closer look at these contributing factors:
“Marking” with pee is a known phenomenon among male dogs. There could be different reasons for this; it may be a cry for attention because a dog wants to feel noticed, an indication of a dog wanting to establish territory for themselves, or it could be a result of nervousness.
Although our assumption is that male dogs may exhibit this behavior of lifting their leg to pee, it is less expected that females will do so. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not possible. The desire to mark can be an indication of different types of needs, both emotional and instinctive, and these needs can be as common among females as among males.
Size of your dog
There are a lot of different dog breeds out there, of course, and some shapes and sizes more readily lend themselves to taking different types of toileting positions. Small dogs, for example, might take on this habit because of a desire to appear “bigger” than they actually are when lifting their leg to pee. And smaller legs are easier to lift than large ones, so it makes sense that this behavior may be more instinctive for females as well as males.
Occasionally, there are also versions of peeing position which fall in between squatting and leg lifting: some females exhibit the half-squatting, half-leg lifting tendency. As a pet parent, the cause of this particular peeing position can be difficult to interpret, but could be an indication of similar problems or desires that we’ve outlined above; you just need to determine which factors could be motivating your dog.
Being in heat
Female dogs might also lift their legs when they are in heat as a sign of mating potential to potential mates of the opposite sex. It’s a very pronounced movement that male dogs are likely to notice, as male dogs can detect when females are in heat, and the leg lifting adds as an extra sign.
You can think of it as your female dog lifting a hand and essentially waving at a potential stud. When a male dog sees a dog engaging in this behavior he interprets it as a signal that she's interested in mating.
So if your female dog is lifting their leg and is in heat, this could be a key factor driving this behavior. However if the dog has been spayed the situation may be different. Typically, if your female dog has been spayed we wouldn’t anticipate this being the reason as to why she’s raising her leg to pee. Nevertheless, this is not necessarily a hard and fast rule, so there's still a possibility that your dog might continue to display this behavior.
Should I worry that my female dog lifts her leg to pee?
If your dog does lift their leg to pee, this could be an indication of an underlying issue that requires further investigation. If you’re at all worried about this behavior and it occurs more than once or twice, it’s definitely something you’ll want to raise with a professional.
We would recommend booking in with your vet, who will be better able to assess your pup’s health and highlight any potential contributing factors. Before your appointment, try to take note of how frequently this habit is occurring and whether it’s only under certain conditions. This may help your vet to narrow down the cause.
How to keep your female dog clean if she lifts her leg to pee
If there are no real health concerns associated with this behavior, it may just be a quirk your female dog lives with throughout her life. In this case, it’s better to take steps to protect her potty hygiene and ensure she remains clean - even when lifting her leg to pee. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your dog clean and dry, such as with dog-friendly wipes or you may want to even consider a doggy diaper if it becomes a real concern.
The main priority for any pet parent is to protect their pup’s health and happiness, supporting them to live a full and enriched life. So it’s important to take steps to protect them from becoming sick or unwell as a result of their toileting habits.
If your female dog is lifting their leg to toilet, it may or may not be cause for concern, so as we’ve mentioned it’s best to consult with your vet if you’re at all worried.
Keep in mind that every dog is unique and has their own small quirks that sometimes don’t have any rhyme or reason, but it’s best to seek a professional’s support to ensure the underlying cause isn’t a threat to your pup’s overall wellbeing.
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