A Dog Lifts Its Leg to Urinate Against a Line of Hedges

Why Don’t Some Male Dogs Lift Their Leg to Urinate?

Many male dogs lift their leg to urinate. It’s so common that most owners don’t even give it a second thought. This natural behavior is a territorial behavior related to the marking of territory and works as a means to tell other dogs “Hey buddy, I was here!” (To learn more about the reasons why dogs lift their legs during marking, go to our article here.)

Why Some Dogs Don’t Lift Their Legs to Urinate

Although leg lifting happens all the time, there are still some dogs who don’t engage in it. After all, there is no medical reason why male dogs need to lift their leg to urinate. They can squat and eliminate urine the same way as dogs who don’t lift their leg, so why do some dogs perform this behavior while other dogs don’t?

The truth is that some of the behavior is hormonal, some is behavioral, and some is just unexplained. Most intact dogs don’t learn this behavior until 6 to 12 months of age, right around the time that their bodies are beginning to develop toward sexual maturity. Approximately 60% of dogs who lift their legs and are neutered later in life will stop lifting their leg after neutering. Dogs neutered before they ever leg lift will likely never leg lift.

In addition to the physical factors, this behavior might be related to complex canine social issues. Because leg lifting can be associated with dominance and territorial marking, dogs who are submissive may not show this behavior. Other dogs simply don’t find it comfortable and don’t want to do it, or feel no territorial drive.

Interested in learning more about why some male dogs lift their legs? Find out why that happens in this companion article.