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When Male Dogs Start to Lift Their Leg to Pee: Why and How It Happens

By Aviram K.
April 11, 2022
3 min read
When Male Dogs Start to Lift Their Leg to Pee: Why and How It Happens
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

You walk your dog outside, as you do every day.

Suddenly you notice something is different. They pee differently!

Where your puppy used to squat to pee just yesterday, now they lift their leg. Weird, isn’t it? You’re not sure what to make of it, but it’s definitely strange.

Maybe it’s a sign of maturity? Or are they trying to show off for other dogs?

Who knows - but it’s definitely new behavior for your pup either way. Every time they go to the bathroom from now on, you’ll be watching and learning how this new method works.

Generally, puppies start lifting their leg to pee when they reach sexual maturity. For small breeds, this can be as early as six months old. But for larger breeds, it may not happen until they’re nine months or even a year old. They do it mainly to mark their territory.

In this article, I will explore why dogs lift their leg to pee, how it happens, and when to expect this behavior from your own pup.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents
01
Why Dogs Lift Their Leg to Pee
02
When Puppies Start Lifting Their Legs to Pee
03
Neutering Your Dog May Have an Effect on Leg-Lifting
04
Surprisingly, It's Not Just a Male Dog Behavior
05
Leg-Lifting is Peeing With Style

Why Dogs Lift Their Leg to Pee

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Most male dogs lift their leg to pee to mark their territory.

By lifting their leg, they can reach higher and cover more ground with their urine, thus leaving a stronger scent behind. This is especially important for intact (not neutered) males, as they try to attract females and warn off other males.

Lifting the leg also allows dogs to take aim better. They can ensure that the stream hits the desired target, be it a tree, bush or fire hydrant!

This precision urinating is less important for marking purposes but can come in handy if your dog needs to go quickly and doesn’t have time for a leisurely squat.

Some experts believe that lifting the leg is a throwback to the days when dogs lived in the wild and had to mark their territory against potential threats. By lifting their leg, they were able to show that they were bigger and more powerful than any other animal.

Whatever the reason, lifting the leg is natural for most male dogs and is nothing to be concerned about. In fact, many dog owners find it quite amusing to watch their dogs raise a leg and let loose!

When Puppies Start Lifting Their Legs to Pee

Most male puppies will start to lift their leg to urinate when they reach sexual maturity, which is usually around six to nine months of age.

However, this can vary depending on the breed and size of the dog. Sexual maturity often takes a little longer in larger breeds.

In most cases, male puppies will start to lift their leg to urinate by instinct.

However, some puppies may learn this behavior from watching other dogs. So, if you have an older dog who lifts their leg to pee, your puppy may start imitating them!

Neutering Your Dog May Have an Effect on Leg-Lifting

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If you get your dog neutered before he reaches sexual maturity, they may never start to lift his leg to urinate.

This is because the hormones that cause male dogs to lift their leg are produced by the testicles. When a dog is neutered, their testicles are removed, and the hormone production stops.

However, this isn’t always the case. Some neutered males will still lift their legs to urinate out of habit or because they learned it from another dog.

Surprisingly, It’s Not Just a Male Dog Behavior

While most people think of male dogs when they think of leg-lifting, females can do it too.

The reasons for this are not fully understood. Still, they could be due to many factors, including hormones and imitation.

In some cases, female dogs may start to lift their legs after being spayed. This is could be because the removal of the ovaries can cause a change in hormone levels, which can lead to changes in behavior.

Whatever the reason, if you see your female dog starting to lift her leg when they go to the bathroom, don’t be alarmed! It’s perfectly normal behavior and is nothing to worry about.

Leg-Lifting is Peeing With Style

It may seem silly and surprising when you first see your dog lifting their leg to urinate, but it’s perfectly normal behavior.

In fact, I would say it’s cool! Your dog is simply expressing themselves in the best way they know.

So, the next time you see your pup raising their leg to take care of business, just sit back and enjoy the show!


Tags
Dog PeeMale Dog
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