Gender-bending urination


Q: I read your February article about how some male dogs squat to urinate, and it made me wonder why my female dog lifts her leg to urinate. She has always done this.

Linda Williams
Santa Rosa, California

Dear Ms. Williams,

A: Your female dog is not alone. Some females lift a leg to urinate simply because it’s their preferred position; there’s no discernible rhyme or reason. In other cases, a female dog may lift a leg to urinate for the same reason a male does: to urine mark a spot and perhaps communicate a message to other dogs. People can’t know for sure what a dog might be trying to say, but maybe it’s “This is my territory” or “I’ve been here.”

Furthermore, just as with male dogs, some females may lift a leg as high as possible while urinating to appear bigger. It’s a “Don’t mess with me” message. (Little dogs appear to lift their leg to urinate more than larger ones.)

The one thing you need to be concerned about is that some female dogs dribble urine on themselves when they lift a leg to void. It doesn’t just leave an odor. It can burn a dog’s skin, or at least irritate it. If your dog is a dribbler, clean her leg with a warm, wet washcloth or a pet wipe. She’ll be happier for it — and so will you.


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