Most animals, depending on their sex, will go to the toilet in a slightly different way. Many of us will have seen the difference between how a female dog pees and how a male dog does, as female dogs are known for squatting and male dogs have their signature move of lifting their leg. While all dogs like to mark their scent, this is particularly prevalent in male dogs, and by raising their leg to urinate they are able to reach further height and distance.
If you have a male dog, it can be a cause for concern if you notice they are suddenly choosing to squat when they pee rather than lift their leg. This can be for a number of reasons, perhaps lack of exposure to other male dogs, personal preference, or it could be a sign that they are in pain.
In this blog we will take a closer look at why your male dog might be peeing like a female and what to do if this happens.
There are several reasons why male dogs will lift their leg to urinate. A lot of this will be down to evolutionary development to maximize the effect of scent marking and claiming their territory in the days that they lived in the wild.
Territorial scent marking is a trademark of dogs, both male and female, however this is a particularly common practice in male dogs. When male dogs pee they release testosterone as well as their scent, telling any other dogs who may come along that this area has already been claimed. By doing this, they are warning other dogs to stay away, and vice versa, dogs who catch the scent of another can know whether they are on a rival's turf or not.
There is the belief that male dogs lift their leg to pee to achieve greater height and range for their urine distribution, meaning that their scent will be at nose level for most dogs. Lampposts, fire hydrants and bushes are often amongst a dog’s favorite place to spray their scent!
Scent marking is one of the main ways in which dogs communicate with one another, making it a super important instinctual behavior. Some dog owners may find that this behavior becomes heightened at certain times, and can be a problem if dogs start to do this inside. However, outside of the home this is a very normal pooch habit.
Dogs navigate the world through their noses; it is one of their most heightened senses and allows them to keep themselves safe, discover new things, track trails, communicate with one another, and they can even check their own bodily waste for signs of ill-health - pretty neat, huh!
When Do Male Puppies Start Lifting Their Legs?
No matter the sex of a puppy, they all start out by squatting to pee. Squatting is a more stable way for younger dogs to support themselves until they have a better sense of balance and coordination to be able to lift their leg.
A young dog can start lifting their leg to pee from around 5 months old, more commonly around the 8 month mark. However, some male dogs may even take up to 2 years to start lifting their leg to pee.
Every dog develops at a different rate and so it isn’t usually cause for concern if your male pup hasn’t raised his leg yet while all his pals have. Keep an eye on the situation and if you notice any unusual behaviors in your dog, for example if he seems anxious or appears to be in any sort of pain, consult your vet to help get to the root cause.
Does Neutering Lead to Squatting?
Neutering is the term used to describe the medical procedure whereby a male dog’s testicles are removed, rendering them infertile and therefore unable to impregnate female dogs.
Many will choose to neuter their dog not only to stop them mating, but also to calm humping behaviors. But can neutering your male dog make him start to squat when he pees?
The short answer: no. Leg-lifting when urinating is a built in behavior in male dogs that should not be affected by the removal of the testicles. Contrary to popular belief, neutering does not actually calm your dog, but may simply aid in the easing of testosterone-led behavior i.e. humping or mounting.
What to Do if My Male Dog is Suddenly Peeing Like a Female?
Lifting their leg to pee is an instinctual behavior that is built into the biology of male dogs, and so most of them will start presenting this behavior at some point. However, some may not.
So, why does your male dog pee like a female? If your male dog is squatting down to pee, this could be for a number or reasons and it is important to keep an eye on your pup’s behavior to rule out anything sinister.
It could be that your dog hasn’t had much exposure to male dogs in their life, perhaps they were raised in an all-female litter and so followed the suit of their sisters. You could try training your dog, rewarding him each time he raises his leg to pee. Exposing him to other male dogs may help evoke this behavior too.
There is also the possibility that this is just your dog’s personal preference. Some male dogs may just find this a more comfortable or natural way of using the bathroom, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
If your dog continues to squat when they pee into adulthood, this could be a sign of an underlying medical issue that perhaps affects their mobility, or it could be an internal issue. If the change is sudden, this can be your dog’s way of telling you that they are experiencing some sort of discomfort, and this should be investigated immediately.
A Word of Caution
At the end of the day, if your dog is healthy and happy, and continues to squat down while he pees, then what does it really matter? There is no right or wrong in how a dog should be or how they should carry out their daily business, and forcing your dog into a behavior that they don’t seem comfortable with can actually cause more confusion and anxiety for your dog.
Every pup is their own unique little person, and they should receive love and care from their owners rather than judgment. Both male AND female dogs have the capacity to squat or raise their leg, and as long as any health concerns are raised to your vet and there are no dangerous medical reasons behind your dog’s toileting behaviors, we say just let them pee free!
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