One of the seemingly universal truths about male dogs is that they all lift their legs to pee.
Only, this isn’t a universal truth.
In fact, while many male dogs (probably most of them) do lift their legs to pee, some don’t. If you have a dog like this, you may be wondering if there’s anything wrong with your dog. Does their leg ache? Are their parts okay under there? Are they really a male?
In this article, we’ll be answering these questions and other questions related to male dogs who, for whatever reason, choose to not lift their legs while they pee.
Why doesn’t my dog lift his leg to pee?
First, rest assured that this behavior is perfectly normal. If your dog does not lift their leg to pee, you should not take this as a sign that something is wrong. More than likely, it’s just not in your dog’s unique nature. In other words, they just don’t want to. In these cases, most dogs will simply squat to pee — much like female dogs do.
Neutered male dogs vs. unneutered male dogs
Most of the time, it is young dogs who are not neutered who lift their legs when they urinate. In some cases, young dogs who are not neutered won’t lift their legs, though. Again, it’s sort of a personal thing.
After a dog gets neutered, you may notice that some of them stop lifting their leg. Why this happens is rather unexplained by canine professionals. Many vets and dog scientists think that it’s related to hormones.
Dominant vs. submissive behavior
To understand this, we have to understand some of the innate behaviors of male dogs. For one thing, most male dogs like to be dominant. They urinate multiple times when you take them on a walk because they’re trying to show their territorial dominance. They’re saying “I was here, and here’s some information about who I am.”
Some male dogs, on the other hand, tend to be more submissive. Again, this is often a toss of the dice when it comes to personality and DNA. Just as some humans tend to be bolder and more overbearing and other humans tend to be meeker and shyer, dogs can have the same personality traits.
In this way, a dog who is submissive may not be interested in peeing numerous times on a short half-mile walk to show his territorial dominance. He’ll just pee when he needs to, and he may squat to pee instead of lifting his leg.
Lifting a leg to pee is a sign of dominance, so naturally, a dog who is not dominant by nature won’t feel it necessary.
It’s worth noting here that this is probably why dogs who get neutered sometimes stop lifting their leg after the neutering procedure has been completed. Their body is no longer making the hormones that spur the behavior of dominance, so they take the easier way out.
If a dog never lifted their leg — even before being neutered — it’s unlikely they’ll start after neutering.
Is it normal for a male dog to squat to pee?
Yes. It is perfectly normal for a male dog to squat when urinating. In fact, all puppies — whether they are male or female — will squat to urinate. This is simply how very small dogs go to the bathroom after they are first born.
As they develop and mature, however, most males (and even some females) will start to lift their legs to pee. This is generally a sign that the puppy is becoming an adult dog, and their hormones are starting to kick in. These hormones make male dogs more dominant. They tell dogs to start “marking their territory.”
When is it not normal for a male dog to squat to pee?
In certain cases, it may be a problem if your male dog squats to pee. Generally speaking, you should look out for this behavior and be concerned about it if your dog used to lift his leg to pee and now he squats. To clarify, if your dog got neutered in the interim between lifting his leg and squatting for urination, the neutering process is likely why his behavior changed. If your dog was not neutered, however, and you’ve now noticed that he is squatting to pee, this could be cause for concern.
What you’ll want to do here is look out for any other signs or symptoms. Most notably, take a look at how your dog walks, sits, and lays down. Do they have any problems with their back legs? Do they seem like they’re in pain? Do they walk slower, or have they stopped running or jumping?
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms or any other issues that give you pause, but should make an appointment with your veterinarian to investigate the situation.
How to teach my dog to lift his leg?
Some dog owners may be interested in teaching their male dogs to lift their legs when peeing. This can be a frustration for dog owners for several reasons. Most often, dog owners find that male dogs who squat to urinate end up getting urine on their front paws, on their fur, or on other objects.
Teaching male dogs to lift their legs when urinating
Usually, the easiest way to teach a male dog to lift his leg when peeing is to put them around another male dog who has this behavior. This is often how young male dogs learn.
You should also keep in mind that it’s not a problem if a male dog doesn’t lift his leg. Many dogs squat to urinate, and this may be the only way they urinate throughout their entire lives. Also, some male dogs will only lift their legs to pee when they are trying to mark their territory, but in other settings (such as when they are peeing in their own backyard), they’ll simply squat. This should not be seen as a negative behavior.
Is it normal for a dog to lift his leg to pee?
Yes, definitely. You’ll find that most male dogs lift their legs to pee, in fact.
Why male dogs lift their legs when urinating
Again, this is to show dominance, which is largely a male trait. Most dog researchers and veterinarians feel that, by lifting their legs, male dogs can aim their pee higher, which is better for marking their dominance in certain areas.
For example, you may notice your dog lifting his leg near a brick wall and peeing on the wall. His female counterpart would simply squat and her urine would end up on the ground near the wall. But by lifting his leg, the male dog is able to make his urine more noticeable, and he spreads it over a wider area.