All dogs, male and female, squat to pee when they are puppies. Typically, male dogs don't tend to begin lifting their legs (a sign of territorial marking) until they are between 6 months and 12 months old. However, it's normal for some males to continue to squat, lifting their legs only when they wish to mark--or they may choose to squat 100% of the time. When it comes to lifting a leg vs. squatting to pee -- to each their own!
You've Got Pee-Mail!
Lifting the leg to urinate is a learned behavior. For males, going No. 1 does not just mean evacuating the bladder, it also allows them to mark territory with their scent. Spraying urine serves as a message to other dogs. Lifting the leg allows for a modicum of aim -- dogs aiim higher up a pole, mailbox post or hydrant, where it will better attract other dogs and be carried in the wind.
Because lifting the leg is a learned behavior, some male dogs might not always do it, or might not do it at all, instead squatting like females--and this is perfectly normal. In fact, because they are simply evacuating their bladders when they squat, it means they are not marking, which makes for faster walks and lowers the likelihood of your dog deciding to mark your bookcase or trash bin. A male in a brood of females might never lift his leg because he never learned it was a thing to do. Similarly, some female dogs who live with males are known to lift a leg to let loose!
Squatting All of a Sudden?
While it is normal for male dogs to squat to urinate, dogs who suddenly begin squatting after a history of lifting their legs may be letting you know something is wrong. It could be a sign of urinary incontinence, or a bladder- or kidney-related issue. When your dog doesn't realize he's urinating, he will likely squat in response to the urine stream once he catches on to it happening. While urinary incontinence and subsequent squatting may be signs that your four-legged pal is getting older, it's wise to take him to the veterinarian to rule out bladder or kidney issues, regardless of how old he is.
Dogs who begin squatting suddenly after a history of lifting their legs may be feeling pain or discomfort as a result of arthritis or other orthopedic issues. It may also be a sign of a developing neurological condition. If you notice your pooch is purposefully squatting to urinate, and not having accidents, take him to the veterinarian. A checkup will confirm whether your pal is having issues with his spine or hind legs or whether he is suffering the aches and pains that come with old age.
By Vivian Gomez
About the Author
Vivian Gomez contributes to Retailing Today, the Daily Puppy, Paw Nation and other websites. She's covered the New York Comic Con for NonProductive since 2009 and writes about everything from responsible pet ownership to comic books to the manner in which smart phones are changing the way people shop. Gomez received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.