When you're the proud owner of a male dog who squats to pee, you may be a little taken aback if a kid in the park asks, "Is that a girl dog?" People of all ages associate male dogs with lifting their leg when they urinate, when, in fact, many dogs do not — neutered or intact — and neither do some senior male dogs, or those with mobility issues.
And many dogs, both male and female, either squat or lift their leg for no other reason than pure choice, regardless if they are spayed or neutered. After all, a study from the 70s of dogs' peeing postures showed 12 different peeing positions between the two sexes, including males squatting and females lifting their leg.
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Girl dog or male squatting?
Consequently, a male dog squatting to pee is most often completely normal, especially in a young male — the behavior only develops as the dog matures, if it does at all. That said, most males prefer to lift their leg, but if your dog does squat to pee, you should only be concerned if he has typically lifted his leg, and squatting is a new behavior. It could alert you to an underlying medical problem that should be evaluated by your veterinarian.
A male dog who squats to pee seems fine with it, and just because conventional wisdom says that males lift a leg and females squat, that's sexist baloney and there's nothing wrong with your male dog if he chooses to squat when he pees, just as there is nothing wrong with a female dog who lifts her leg.
Urination and scent-marking
While it's interesting to learn what your dog's peeing style might mean, it is more important to know that, for dogs, urination is not solely for the purpose of relieving themselves. Urination serves the dual purpose of elimination and scent-marking.
Although both males and females mark, it's more pervasive in males. A male dog who is marking his territory will use the popular "elevate" peeing posture, raising his leg as high as he can on a vertical surface so the urine flows downward covering a larger area and leaving a strong message to any dog who passes by that this is one "big" dog.
It's a form of communication that contains messages about the sender's age, sex, and size, fondly known in dogdom as "pee-mail." This behavior is found in both intact and neutered dogs — similarly, the voluntary choice to not empty the bladder all at once thus holding back urine for several more markings serves to fortify the message.
And you may wonder, at what age does a male dog lift his leg to pee. In his book, "Ain't Misbehavin': The Groundbreaking Program for Happy, Well-Behaved Pets" author and animal behaviorist John Wright cites Dr. Peter Borchelt's research into sexual dimorphic behaviors (behaviors that differ between males and females), which shows that 90% of males urine-mark and 95% lift their leg to urinate by the time they are 24 months old.
Does neutering lead to squatting?
You may have heard there is an association between neutering and squatting in male dogs. Apparently, neutering does not lead to males squatting to urinate, according to VCA Hospitals. Nor does it alter a dog's temperament, training, and personality, which are shaped by upbringing and genetics, not male hormones.
As mentioned, most male dogs, intact or neutered, instinctively lift their leg to pee as they mature. Neutering does not prevent that inborn behavior and lead to a male squatting. Rather, a male who squats may not have been around other male dogs who lift their leg and, consequently, not had an opportunity to model that behavior. Either that, or your dog just likes to pee that way. After all, it's his choice.