Yes, it's true that many female dogs squat to pee, but as mentioned, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some female dogs are known to raise their leg to pee, and when they do so, they do so as boldly as their male counterparts, strategically picking the best areas to leave their pee-mail. However, let's stick to regular squatting for now and take a closer look into the advantages this peeing position offers.
Peeing Versus Marking
In the dog world, pee is much more that simply emptying the bladder whenever the urge arises. With their powerful noses, dogs engage in peeing as a form of communication. The technical term for this is "urine marking."
When a dog urine marks, he or she dribbles a little bit of urine for the purpose of leaving his/her scent behind for other dogs to "read." Some dogs are quite obsessed on doing this and will stop repeatedly to urine mark various items and areas. In many case, urine-marking behavior is preceded by olfactory investigation (sniffing) of previously marked areas.
What's the purpose of urine marking? When other dogs stumble nearby these deposited urine drops, they'll be attracted to the scent which provides them information such as the sex, age, and reproductive states of the dog who left these drops behind.
While male dogs are known for urine marking with their leg raised, female dogs may urine mark too, although they are more prone to do so by squatting while raising the leg.
A Matter of Preference
Interestingly, there is much more than leg raising and squatting when it comes to peeing postures in dogs. Sprague and Anisko, in a study conducted in 1973, were capable of recognizing twelve peeing positions in dogs!
Among the variety of positions assumed by dogs, small dogs doing hand stands while peeing certainly deserves a place of honor for creativity! Variety seems to be the spice of life when dogs get to sprinkle their pee-mail.
If some female dogs squat, most likely it all boils down to personal preference and practicality. Squatting provides an advantage: with the legs flexed close to the ground, female dogs have lowered chances for messes.
On top of this, female dogs are likely less attracted to leg-raising for the simple fact that they aren't really much equipped for precision, something male dogs who lift their legs to urine mark are blessed with.
Just like boys have fun writing their names on the snow with their pee, male dogs appear to enjoy strategically directing their urine flow on certain surfaces. With female dogs, that's not going to happen, so to sum it up, directional urination remains for the most part, a "male thing."
Exceptions to the Rule
Dr. Bonnie V. Beaver, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, in her book "Canine Behavior: Insights and Answers" claims that 68 percent of female dogs tend to squat when peeing, while 97 percent of males dogs assume the classical elevated leg posture.
Based on this information, one may assume that urination in female dogs functions mostly for the mere purpose of elimination (emptying the bladder), while in male dogs, there's the additional function of scent marking (leaving pee-mail around for other dogs to "read"). However, as mentioned, there are exceptions to the rule.
Intact female dogs may upgrade from squatting to marking with a raised leg when in heat as a way to advertise their availability. Their urine, rich in pheromones, attracts male dogs to the area which heightens their chances of finding a mate.
However, being in heat is not the only reason for urine marking in female dogs. In a study conducted by Sharon Cudd Wirant and Betty McGuire, both spayed and intact female Jack Russell terriers were evaluated for their peeing behaviors.
The study found that these female dogs where more likely to urine mark, in particular, targeting objects in the environment, when away from home than when walked within their familiar home area. The preferred peeing position in this case was the squat-raise which consists of squatting while raising the leg.
This study therefore suggests that, urination in female dogs does not function for the sole purpose of elimination, but also has a significant role in scent marking, even when they are spayed or not in heat!
A Medical Issue
Sometimes, female dogs may be seen squatting repeatedly when suffering from a urinary problem. A common cause for excessive squatting in female dogs is a urinary tract infection.
Female dogs are more prone to these infections compared to male dogs due to their urethra and anal region being in close proximity of each other.
As it happens in humans, female dogs suffering from urinary tract inflammation will feel pressure and irritation, causing them to squat repeatedly due to constantly feeling the urge to urinate, however, when they manage to urinate, they release very little with just a drop or two being passed.
Other possible causes for female dogs squatting repeatedly to pee include the presence of crystals or stones in the urinary tract, presence of masses or a prolapsed bladder.
If your female dog is therefore squatting repeatedly, it would be important seeing the vet to play it safe and rule out any medical problems.
Did you know? Puppies may be seen squatting often to pee when they are peeing out of excitement or submissive urination. In such cases, you may observe an incomplete squat with small amounts of urine being expressed, but some pups may perform a full squat and some others may roll over exposing the belly before eliminating.