If you are a dog parent, then you’ve probably spent a lot of time watching your furry friend’s daily peeing ritual. You know the drill: stopping every few steps while your pup sniffs around diligently, eventually deciding on a perfect spot to urinate. Can we reveal some insight into what’s going through their minds and their state of health?
A 1971 study looking at a sample of male and female beagles classified canine peeing positions into 12 categories. Which one does your fluffy one normally use?
Photo: Randall H. Sprague, and Joseph J. Anisko. “Elimination Patterns in the Laboratory Beagle.” Behaviour, vol. 47, no. 3/4, 1973, pp. 257–267. JSTOR
The study findings support the assumption that male dogs raises a back leg when peeing while females tend to squat. In fact, 97% of male pups in the study used the elevated-leg position! Female dogs by comparison use a wider range of positions – 68% of the time used the squatting position and 19.3% using the squat-raise.
For dogs, peeing isn’t just simply peeing. Urine is also used for scent-marking, a way to mark their territory or simply to say, “Fluffy was here.” With the elevated-leg posture used mostly by male dogs, they can pee at a higher surface and leave a bigger mark as the urine flows down. Interestingly, the beagle study noted that a male dog was likely to pee at a spot where another male had recently relieved himself, suggesting that boy dogs see urine as a way to size each other up.
That’s not to say lady pups do not scent mark at all. A 2004 study of 12 female Jack Russell Terriers found that they used raised-leg postures more and peeing on objects more often when they’re in unfamiliar territory, potentially for the purpose of scent-marking.
Is it disorientating to see your dog doing a handstand while peeing? Don’t worry – any of the 12 peeing positions is totally fine, male or female. However, it’s worth investigating if your pup suddenly changes position in case it is due to a health issue. Another sign to watch out for is increased urination frequency, which can indicate anything from overheating to urinary tract infection.